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Pop/Rock - Released July 3, 2012 | Capitol Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
The best Beach Boys album, and one of the best of the 1960s. The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound. Conventional keyboards and guitars were combined with exotic touches of orchestrated strings, bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Theremin, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans, barking dogs, and more. It wouldn't have been a classic without great songs, and this has some of the group's most stunning melodies, as well as lyrical themes which evoke both the intensity of newly born love affairs and the disappointment of failed romance (add in some general statements about loss of innocence and modern-day confusion as well). The spiritual quality of the material is enhanced by some of the most gorgeous upper-register male vocals (especially by Brian and Carl Wilson) ever heard on a rock record. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows," "Caroline No," and "Sloop John B" (the last of which wasn't originally intended to go on the album) are the well-known hits, but equally worthy are such cuts as "You Still Believe in Me," "Don't Talk," "I Know There's an Answer," and "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times." It's often said that this is more of a Brian Wilson album than a Beach Boys recording (session musicians played most of the parts), but it should be noted that the harmonies are pure Beach Boys (and some of their best). Massively influential upon its release (although it was a relatively low seller compared to their previous LPs), it immediately vaulted the band into the top level of rock innovators among the intelligentsia, especially in Britain, where it was a much bigger hit. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Pop/Rock - Released May 16, 1966 | Capitol Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
The best Beach Boys album, and one of the best of the 1960s. The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound. Conventional keyboards and guitars were combined with exotic touches of orchestrated strings, bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Theremin, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans, barking dogs, and more. It wouldn't have been a classic without great songs, and this has some of the group's most stunning melodies, as well as lyrical themes which evoke both the intensity of newly born love affairs and the disappointment of failed romance (add in some general statements about loss of innocence and modern-day confusion as well). The spiritual quality of the material is enhanced by some of the most gorgeous upper-register male vocals (especially by Brian and Carl Wilson) ever heard on a rock record. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows," "Caroline No," and "Sloop John B" (the last of which wasn't originally intended to go on the album) are the well-known hits, but equally worthy are such cuts as "You Still Believe in Me," "Don't Talk," "I Know There's an Answer," and "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times." It's often said that this is more of a Brian Wilson album than a Beach Boys recording (session musicians played most of the parts), but it should be noted that the harmonies are pure Beach Boys (and some of their best). Massively influential upon its release (although it was a relatively low seller compared to their previous LPs), it immediately vaulted the band into the top level of rock innovators among the intelligentsia, especially in Britain, where it was a much bigger hit. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Pop/Rock - Released May 18, 2012 | CAPITOL

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
Goodbye surfing, hello God! The title of Jules Siegel's 1967 magazine feature on Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys sums up how well the group was outliving the early-'60s beach fad -- and revolutionizing pop music in the process. During 1966, the twin shots of Pet Sounds in May and "Good Vibrations" in October announced first that the group had entered the vanguard of pop music and then, not content with mere critical praise, seized control of the singles charts with a chart-topper as catchy as it was complex and costly to record. Early on, though, "Good Vibrations" had actually been slated to appear on Pet Sounds, which reveals the long odds on whether Wilson could ever finish an entire album of his pocket symphonies (at least, in the time frame of a label circa 1966). Nevertheless, beginning in August of 1966, he began planning a new album project, first called Dumb Angel and later SMiLE. Working from the ideas in his head, he and his studio musicians and bandmates recorded continually during late 1966 and early 1967, putting down hours of tape during dozens of sessions. He labored over every note and, more than that, every tone, often asking his musicians or the Beach Boys themselves to revise when the results didn't match his conception of the music going on inside his head. Such care and control produced music that was far beyond Pet Sounds, and when the impressionistic themes and lyrics of collaborator Van Dyke Parks were added, SMiLE began shaping up as the most unique LP ever produced by a pop group. That much is perfectly clear after listening to Capitol's release of The SMiLE Sessions, the first official SMiLE release ever. (As most music fans know, the album was never completed, although elements of the whole have trickled out ever since.) Each version of the SMiLE Sessions set begins with a re-creation of what a mono release of SMiLE could have sounded like, with a track listing patterned after Wilson’s 2004 recording, Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE. Each version also includes some SMiLE sessions in stereo, in order to hear Wilson's working method in the studio. Peeling away the layers from these tracks, several instruments at a time, reveals more of the music's magnificence, how each element combined in ingenious ways to become the songs that have entranced Beach Boys fans over the years. The sessions and studio chatter also reveal how much of the SMiLE sessions were a family affair; far from the previous conception of Wilson holed away in the studio with a coterie of handpicked musicians, virtually all of the Beach Boys make themselves heard with suggestions and contributions both vocal and instrumental (and beside the infamous credits of Paul McCartney, even Brian's wife Marilyn, a singer in her own right, is heard on backing vocals). It's difficult to object to anything about The SMiLE Sessions, considering the time and care invested into the entire package (which becomes yet more lavish with the varying Deluxe Editions available). Still, Brian Wilson's 2004 re-creation of SMiLE hangs over this set, and not just because SMiLE lost much of its mystery and taboo after Wilson re-recorded it. The choice to studiously re-create his 2004 rendition may have eased the burden of a difficult and controversial compiling process -- although thousands of hours still had to be spent compiling these sessions -- but it also forced principal reissue producers Mark Linett and Alan Boyd into giving listeners a version of SMiLE that wasn't in stereo, even though roughly 80 percent of the tracks were available that way. (For the record, the liner notes state that mono was used because that would have been Wilson's original choice in 1967, and also because not enough of the basic tracks were available in stereo.) As it stands here, having a full SMiLE album in mono and a collection of sessions in stereo immediately positions The SMiLE Sessions as something less than a true bootleg beater -- which will undoubtedly lead fans back to extra-legal means (at least, any time they want to hear a virtual mixdown of these glorious recordings in true stereo). Quibbles aside, everything about this package is richly detailed, immensely pleasing, and overall a wonderful experience. All of the CD editions include copious bonus tracks, such as nine minutes of a cappella vocals ("SMiLE Backing Vocals Montage"), whose beauty and fragility will help listeners realize that the Beach Boys obsessed just as much over their vocalizing as their music. Deluxe editions add essays from several angles, reminiscences from those who were there, and original artwork and photos from the period. True, no one will ever know what effect a SMiLE release in spring 1967 would have had on music or pop culture, and with the music so circular and the lyrics so obtuse, it's likely that SMiLE would have become merely a curio of psychedelic excess rather than a work that transformed culture. But regardless, it shows Brian Wilson's mastery of pure studio sonics and his ability to not only create distinctive pop music, but give it great beauty as well. Those qualities have inspired musicians for decades, and it's clear they will continue to do so. [The SMiLE Sessions is available in several different editions, all of which begin with a re-creation of what a mono release of SMiLE could have sounded like. The two-CD packages add one disc of sessions tracks, while the Deluxe Edition box set includes a total of five CDs, two LPs, and two 7" singles -- including the one disc and double-LP of SMiLE in mono, three discs of SMiLE sessions in stereo, and one disc of sessions from the "Good Vibrations" single. The Deluxe Edition box set also features a 2' x 3' poster and a 60-page hardcover book, all packaged inside a three-dimensional shadow box lid.] ~ John Bush
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Rock - Released June 1, 2012 | Capitol Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Plans for the Beach Boys' 50th anniversary tour came together surprisingly quickly, but nothing prepared fans for a full studio album just six months after their official reunion. Further surprises included apparently cordial relations between all surviving members, Brian Wilson in the producer's booth, the presence of 12 original songs on the album, and the complete absence of any attempt to cash in on fond memories of "Kokomo" or Endless Summer or "Do It Again" or "Help Me, Rhonda" -- depending on which generation the band might want to court. That's Why God Made the Radio is as good as it gets for those who love their Beach Boys. It includes frequently gorgeous charts from Wilson and just a little sweetening to the songs (musically with help from Wilson's regular band and arranger Paul Mertens, lyrically with help from Joe Thomas and Jim Peterik). The album is a record of two halves -- or sides, in case the band was thinking back to famous side-by-side classics like 1965's Today! The first half is mostly upbeat, with highlights "Isn't It Time" and the title track evoking pleasant curios from late-'60s LPs like Wild Honey or Friends. The second half is largely reflective, with songs that reveal the band's feelings about time passing and life ending (much more than any other material in their entire careers). Granted, no latter-day Beach Boys record comes without missteps, but fortunately there are only two. "Spring Vacation" is embarrassingly chummy, with the lines "As for the past, it's all behind us/Happier now, look where life finds us/Singing our songs is enough reason/Harmony boys is what we believe in/Some said it wouldn't last/All we can say is we're still having a blast." Meanwhile, the downright odd "Private Life of Bill and Sue" takes a fictional couple into the reality-show realm for a misguided cultural critique. For those worried about either Love or Wilson dominating the proceedings, it's clear to see that not only Wilson gets his moment in the sun. For Mike Love, it's "Daybreak Over the Ocean," which could have come off as an update of "Kokomo"'s tropical motif (with Mike crooning a little too close to your ear), but is thankfully treated very lightly. For Al Jardine, it's "From There to Back Again," easily the most beautiful song on the album, a Side 2 ballad epic that Wilson frames impeccably around Jardine's voice, aging but still sweet. (It ranks as one of their best ballads since the '60s.) These may not be the songs that will ever light up their live sets, but together they form what is easily the best Beach Boys record in 35 years -- and a surprisingly cohesive, reflective, listenable one at that. ~ John Bush
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Pop/Rock - Released February 5, 2001 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The best Beach Boys album, and one of the best of the 1960s. The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound. Conventional keyboards and guitars were combined with exotic touches of orchestrated strings, bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Theremin, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans, barking dogs, and more. It wouldn't have been a classic without great songs, and this has some of the group's most stunning melodies, as well as lyrical themes which evoke both the intensity of newly born love affairs and the disappointment of failed romance (add in some general statements about loss of innocence and modern-day confusion as well). The spiritual quality of the material is enhanced by some of the most gorgeous upper-register male vocals (especially by Brian and Carl Wilson) ever heard on a rock record. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows," "Caroline No," and "Sloop John B" (the last of which wasn't originally intended to go on the album) are the well-known hits, but equally worthy are such cuts as "You Still Believe in Me," "Don't Talk," "I Know There's an Answer," and "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times." It's often said that this is more of a Brian Wilson album than a Beach Boys recording (session musicians played most of the parts), but it should be noted that the harmonies are pure Beach Boys (and some of their best). Massively influential upon its release (although it was a relatively low seller compared to their previous LPs), it immediately vaulted the band into the top level of rock innovators among the intelligentsia, especially in Britain, where it was a much bigger hit. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Pop/Rock - Released August 17, 2012 | CAPITOL

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
After Reprise rejected what was to be their debut album for the label, the Beach Boys re-entered the studio to begin work on what would become a largely different set of songs. The results signaled a creative rebirth for the band, a return to the beautiful harmonies and orchestral productions of their classic mid-'60s material. Though the songwriting didn't quite reach the high quality of "California Girls" or "God Only Knows," Sunflower showed the Beach Boys truly working as a band, and doing so better than they ever had in the past (or would in the future). Many of the songs were co-compositions, and the undeniable songwriting and performance talents of Dennis Wilson and Bruce Johnston were finally allowed to flourish: Dennis contributed "Slip On Through," "Forever," and "Got to Know the Woman," while Bruce wrote "Deirdre" and "Tears in the Morning." After a succession of spare, unadorned lead vocals on rock-oriented albums like Wild Honey and 20/20, Sunflower returned the Beach Boys to gorgeous vocal harmonies on the tracks "Add Some Music to Your Day," "Cool, Cool Water," and "This Whole World." And the arrangements, tight and inventive, showed Brian Wilson once again back near the top of his game (though the production is credited to the entire band). Sunflower is also a remarkably cohesive album, something not seen from the Beach Boys since Pet Sounds. As with that album, Sunflower earned critical raves in Britain but was virtually ignored in America. [Sunflower was made available in 2000 as half of the two-fer collection Sunflower/Surf's Up.] ~ John Bush
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Pop - Released September 21, 2012 | Capitol Records

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
The Beach Boys' post-1966 catalog is littered with LPs that barely scraped the charts upon release but matured into solid fan favorites despite -- and occasionally, because of -- their many and varied eccentricities. Surf's Up could well be the definitive example, beginning with the cloying "Don't Go Near the Water" and ending a bare half-hour later with the baroque majesty of the title track (originally written in 1966). The album is a virtual laundry list of each uncommon intricacy that made the Beach Boys' forgotten decade such a bittersweet thrill -- the fluffy yet endearing pop (od)ditties of Brian Wilson, quasi-mystical white-boy soul from brother Carl, and the downright laughable songwriting on tracks charting Mike Love's devotion to Buddhism and Al Jardine's social/environmental concerns. Those songs are enjoyable enough, but the last three tracks are what make Surf's Up such a masterpiece. The first, "A Day in the Life of a Tree," is simultaneously one of Brian's most deeply touching and bizarre compositions; he is the narrator and object of the song (though not the vocalist; co-writer Jack Rieley lends a hand), lamenting his long life amid the pollution and grime of a city park while the somber tones of a pipe organ build atmosphere. The second, "'Til I Die," isn't the love song the title suggests; it's a haunting, fatalistic piece of pop surrealism that appeared to signal Brian's retirement from active life. The album closer, "Surf's Up," is a masterpiece of baroque psychedelia, probably the most compelling track from the SMiLE period. Carl gives a soulful performance despite the surreal wordplay, and Brian's coda is one of the most stirring moments in his catalog. Wrapped up in a mess of contradictions, Surf's Up defined the Beach Boys' tumultuous career better than any other album. ~ John Bush
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Pop/Rock - Released October 28, 2011 | Capitol Records

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
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Pop/Rock - Released June 29, 2012 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The best Beach Boys album, and one of the best of the 1960s. The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound. Conventional keyboards and guitars were combined with exotic touches of orchestrated strings, bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Theremin, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans, barking dogs, and more. It wouldn't have been a classic without great songs, and this has some of the group's most stunning melodies, as well as lyrical themes which evoke both the intensity of newly born love affairs and the disappointment of failed romance (add in some general statements about loss of innocence and modern-day confusion as well). The spiritual quality of the material is enhanced by some of the most gorgeous upper-register male vocals (especially by Brian and Carl Wilson) ever heard on a rock record. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows," "Caroline No," and "Sloop John B" (the last of which wasn't originally intended to go on the album) are the well-known hits, but equally worthy are such cuts as "You Still Believe in Me," "Don't Talk," "I Know There's an Answer," and "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times." It's often said that this is more of a Brian Wilson album than a Beach Boys recording (session musicians played most of the parts), but it should be noted that the harmonies are pure Beach Boys (and some of their best). Massively influential upon its release (although it was a relatively low seller compared to their previous LPs), it immediately vaulted the band into the top level of rock innovators among the intelligentsia, especially in Britain, where it was a much bigger hit. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Pop/Rock - Released March 3, 2003 | Parlophone Catalogue

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released January 1, 1966 | CAPITOL

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Pop - Released January 1, 1963 | CAPITOL

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Exceptional Sound Productions
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Rock - Released May 29, 2003 | Capitol Records

After gaining control of the Beach Boys' entire catalog (including all the band's post-1969 material), Capitol released two-fers covering their out of print '70s records and a Brian Wilson-selected compilation titled Classics, then later, this hits compilation -- the longest single-disc American collection ever seen. With all but five tracks coming from their 1962-1969 peak, and every one a Top 40 hit, Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys is also the best, a worthy digital-age successor to previous classics like Endless Summer and Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. Though the songs don't appear in chronological order, the compilers improved the concept of a hits compilation by bunching the disc into minisets -- one of classic adolescence songs ("Be True to Your School," [RoviLink="MC"]"When I Grow Up [To Be a Man],"[/RoviLink] "In My Room"), one of surfing songs ("Surfin' Safari," "Surfin' U.S.A.," "Surfer Girl"), one of frat-boy classics ("Dance, Dance, Dance," "Barbara Ann"), and another including selections from their masterpiece Pet Sounds ("God Only Knows," "Sloop John B.," "Wouldn't It Be Nice"). Nearly any compilation on an important artist can be argued, but it's the rare one that covers as many bases and leaves out so few classics as Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys. ~ John Bush
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Pop - Released January 1, 2013 | CAPITOL

Booklet
Designed as the triumphant conclusion to the Beach Boys 50th anniversary reunion, Made in California is indeed something of an extravaganza. Packaged as a hardcover yearbook -- a motif that runs right through to the liner notes, which include a high school piece by Brian Wilson among the various essays, along with plenty of rare photos -- Made in California makes no secret of hiding its nostalgia, but that doesn't mean the average Beach Boys fan wishing to take a stroll down memory lane should turn to this luxurious box. This six-disc set may tell the Beach Boys story quite thoroughly, but the devil is indeed in the details, details that may only compel the devoted. Certainly, Made in California is filled with rarities and oddities, some genuinely rare and unreleased, with the bulk of the set comprised of many alternate mixes, vocal sessions, instrumental tracks, radio spots, and an abundance of live tracks from throughout the years. Along the way, all the hits are unveiled in some fashion, but the compilers have made a practice of choosing interesting or intriguing mixes over original hit single mixes; for Pet Sounds alone, the selected songs ping-pong between 1996 and 2001 stereo mixes, while elsewhere there are stereo mixes from 2003, 2007, 2009, and 2012, along with the occasional mono mix. All those dates suggest just how often the Beach Boys catalog has been remastered and reissued over the years, but there is only one real corollary in their catalog: the 1993 five-disc box Good Vibrations. Twenty years on, the remastering has certainly improved but that's not the only reason Made in California has an edge over Good Vibrations. Those two decades brought an official restoration of The Smile Sessions and, in 2012, the 50th Anniversary reunion album That's Why God Made the Radio, which provides a better, sweeter conclusion to the group's story than "Kokomo." That said, this 174-track box finds a way to overlook plenty of great, even important, songs from all eras of the Beach Boys, with "She Knows Me Too Well," "Getting Hungry," "Funky Pretty," and "You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone" being among the prominent inexplicable omissions. Thing is, the listeners who will really dig into the box -- the ones who will thrill to the early demos as much as they do to the unreleased Dennis Wilson songs, as well as the unreleased "California Feeling" -- won't care that these songs are missing, as they'll have them somewhere else in their collection, and the casual fan will be fine without them. But even if it tells the Beach Boys story thoroughly, Made in California is most decidedly not for the casual fan. It is for the dedicated, the kind who knows the story by heart but wants to hear it told slightly differently. For them, it's worth taking this roundabout journey while immersing themselves in the packaging; those with less invested will likely prefer sticking to the familiar paths provided by either the original albums or concise compilations. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2013 | CAPITOL

For a few months in 2012, the Beach Boys managed to put aside all their differences and bask in the glow of an entirely successful reunion. They had a new album of original material that people liked and sold well, and they toured the world performing a set that stretched upwards of 40 songs, their concerts receiving acclaim from fans and critics alike. It was too good to last and it didn't. Halfway through the tour, it was revealed that Mike Love planned to carry on with Bruce Johnston as the Beach Boys, leaving Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and David Marks behind, and that meant this 50th anniversary tour was truly a once-in-a-lifetime thing; it was the only time the group members put aside their differences and celebrated the music they made together. That warmth was evident on 2012's That's Why God Made the Radio and in the accompanying tour, and it's somewhat present on Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour, the double-disc souvenir of this reunion. Released in time for the summer of 2013, this album appears to collect highlights from a variety of concerts -- the liner notes provide no source material -- and it seems to perhaps have been sweetened in the studio, as the overall sound is exceedingly bright and crisp, pushing the harmonies to the forefront and sacrificing feel for cleanliness. Perhaps the sound is too pristine, but the essential good vibes can shine through: the set list is hit-heavy with just enough new tunes and surprises ("Getcha Back," "Marcella," "All This Is That" being the prime fan favorites given a hearing here) to keep things lively, and the band never sounds tired of playing these old tunes. At home, the experience isn't quite as moving as it was in person -- there was an undeniable kinetic energy seeing the five members sharing the stage once again -- but it's nevertheless a pleasant dose of nostalgia. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine