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There are two types of people in the world; those who are interested in how the sausage is made and others who just want to enjoy the end product. This concept extends to fans of The Beach Boys as well.

Hardcore fans who hang on to every last bit of tape and studio chatter that went into a classic like “Good Vibrations” loved the 23 segments of the song that was included in the 2011 SMiLE sessions. Same goes for the masterpiece Pet Sounds, which also had its own deluxe four-CD release in 1997, breaking these classics down into bite-sized pieces so that sausage-making aficionados could indulge in the construction of Brian Wilson’s masterpiece.

Welcome to another example of how to get acquainted with the music of the Beach Boys. This five-disc collection contains 135 remastered tracks (108 previously unreleased) that present and analyze the music from the title albums. Other less comprehensive (and less expensive) configurations are available for those who want to enjoy the music without all of the details of its creation.

Both 1969 Sunflower and its darker 1971 sequel Surf’s Up came out at a turning point in the band’s history. Although they could tour profitably and make money warming up their numerous radio hits from the early 1960s, the group realized that times were changing, and so they had to. Contemporary music was politically and philosophically more demanding than the content of their compilation Endless Summer, ie; more songs about cars, girls and surfing. In addition, primary songwriter Brian Wilson slowly disappeared into his well-documented psychological problems that left the band alone in terms of creating new music.

The result is that the remaining members on Sunflower (1969) intensified it, one Writing or co-composing a dozen songs that capture the musical and fraternal spirit of camaraderie within the six-part piece and expand your ideas to more serious things. Although they are not pet sounds and musically there is nothing as adventurous as “Good Vibrations”, there are many holders. The ballad “Forever”, co-written by Dennis Wilson, is an underrated highlight, which even Brian found “the most harmonious thing I have ever heard”. Carl Wilson lets his rich voice play on his brother’s flowing “This Whole World” with some typically lush vocal harmonies. The sugary sweet “Add Some Music to Your Day” and “Deirdre”, both attributed to Brian, are two other sweet melodic gems. Coupled with the new Brother label founded by the band and distributed by Warner Brothers / Reprise, Sunflower was proof that the Beach Boys were ready for the next decade. It was hailed as an artistic triumph despite not being commercially affiliated.

As the gritty, cloudy cover art suggests, Surf’s Up (1971) was a foray into that, despite a deceptively innocent title that harks back to simpler days more solemn terrain. Songs like Carl’s highlight “Long Promised Road” about the treacherous way through life, Brian’s “‘Til I Die” (How deep is the valley / It kills my soul) and the ecological warning of the opening “Don’t Go Near the Water” provide a clear indication that the guys have left sun and sand behind and are lyrically and musically darker terrain. The now iconic title track, dusted off by a 1966 demo, remains one of the older Wilson’s best, elegiac, and complex creations, in contrast to the sunny meaning of his name.

It’s worth diving into both albums, too if you are not a BB fan. Each is augmented with bonus live material, various mixes, and songs that failed to make the cut that spanned the first two discs. Non-sausage-making folks will be delighted.

However, for dedicated followers interested in the ingredients in the sausage, two additional records are dedicated to searching tapes for isolated instrumental and vocal recordings. The fifth is more of the same and features demos, unreleased song snippets, session music, remixes, early and / or raw recordings, and chatter that should never be heard outside of the studio. A 47-page book that comes with the full box is beautifully designed and expertly written. It includes interviews with all participants and producers, and provides a clear, comprehensive background on each selection.

Choose the edition based on your appetite for that revamped / relaunched meal. In each version, these tonally refreshed songs are worth listening to or getting to know and are an essential chapter in the long, influential history of the Beach Boys.

Ref: https://americansongwriter.com