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When the Beach Boys got goin’ in 1961, all I wanted to accomplish was to make some good music for people to listen to. I never dreamed that it would get as big as it got. Along the way, we’ve had many ups and downs, but somehow, we always managed to come through it okay.
Capitol Records wanted to do a retrospective of the Beach Boys career up ‘til now and a boxed set seemed to be in order. They hired three guys to help put this together. Mark Linett is a guy I knew I could trust on this project ‘cause he’s engineered for me in the past. He put in many long hours seeking out and looking though and listening to hundreds of old tapes. His skills are subtle and not easy to spot, but when you hear the sounds on this collection, you’ll know that he’s for real.
David Leaf, an old friend, also put a great deal of effort into this project. His knowledge of my and the Beach Boys history is incredible, and he put it to good use here, so that the songs seem to tell a story as the years go by. He also had to write his thoughts in a very limited space, and he did a great job.
Andy Paley is one of my best friends. Whether we’re collaborating on a song or in the studio, I consider him a musical genius. I know Mark and David went to him with their questions about this material, and he was always there. Thank you, Andy, for helping me with this…you’re the best!!
This box contains the heart and soul of the Beach Boys music. The hits are here along with some cool songs that didn’t come out as singles…some not even as records at all. We’ve even included some of the Smile sessions so that you see that as well as straight ahead stuff, we also have a crazy side to us.
You’ll also hear us live and in concert with all the flaws.
No matter which side you prefer, just remember when you listen to this music, you’re hearing us at our best.
To me, the best part of the whole Beach Boys experience, was the excitement that the boys and I whipped up together. It’s always been infectious, and I’m sure you’ll catch it too as you listen.
So, from me and the guys…my brothers Dennis and Carl, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks…and all the musicians who helped make this magic music…enjoy!
Liner Notes by David Leaf.
An American family making music just because they loved the way it made ‘em feel…it all began so simply so long ago. Now…on the Thirtieth Anniversary of this familial band’s first top ten hit…after dozens of chart success, thousands of sold-out concerts, over a hundred million in sales, countless gold records and albums full of acclaimed artistic triumphs… in the face of carping critics, internal disagreements, financial fiascos, self-destructive tragedies and public relations disasters…the whole world still vibrates to the sound of perhaps the most popular and influential American vocal group ever, THE BEACH BOYS.
On this first ever comprehensive musical retrospective of the Beach Boy’s music, Capitol Records is proud to present over six hours of highlights from an unparalleled recording career that now spans eight presidential administrations. As we listen to this abundance of positive harmonic sound (a significant portion of which has never before been released), the very first thing one can’t help but wonder is, “Where did it all begin? What is the source of this main vein of American pop culture?” Actually, the answer is two words…BRIAN WILSON.
In the 1960’s, the Beach Boys created a body of work so commercially and artistically valuable that their records would simultaneously solidify rock’s importance in the marketplace, confirm its validity as a art form, an challenge and overturn the conventions that governed artists in the music business.
And most remarkably, almost all of the music was written, arranged and produced by a just-out-of-his-teens Brian Wilson. Drawing on a creative well as deep as the nearby Pacific, Brian embellished, embraced and conceived musical innovations that would forever alter both the record-making process and the record company/artist friendship. But more important than all that historical reappraisal is the one basic underlying quality that has made the Beach Boys’ best records timeless: There is nothing to compare with the way their music makes you feel.
From the very beginning, music was always a central part of the Wilson family’s life. Brian, (brother) Carl, (mother) Audree and (father) Murry (who had enjoyed one small success as a songwriter) spent countless happy hours gathered around the family’s Hammond organ, imitating the popular fifties vocal group, the Four Freshman. As Carl remembers, “There were many years when Brian did nothing but play the piano. Months at a time. Days on end. Four Freshman records…all music.”
Carl was hardly just standing by the piano, singing his part. While middle brother Dennis was out exploring the world, and, not so incidentally, learning how to surf, Carl (in a style heavily influenced by Chuck Berry) was busy practicing to become one of the youngest guitar heroes in rock history. By the time the Beach Boys went into the studio for the first time, Carl (who was only fourteen) was ready to play an important role in the group’s sound.
As boys, the Wilson brothers and their first cousin Mike Love began singing together at family gatherings. Long before they ever dreamed of starting a group, Brian and Mike spent many nights together, listening to the radio, singing along with ‘50s R&B and early rock ‘n’ roll records. And, as Mike recalls, “we’d go to youth night at Angela Mesa Presbyterian Church. After singing church songs, we’d walk home with my sister Maureen singing three-part harmony, Everly Brothers songs.”
1961 is the year it all quickly came together. Al Jardine (a folk music fan and a Hawthorne High School and El Camino Junior College classmate of Brian’s), got together with Brian and a couple of other friends to try some harmony singing, but, as Al notes, “that group didn’t cut it too well.” When Brian told Al that his brothers and cousin could sing, Al came to the Wilson’s Hawthorne home and joined the family (the Wilson Brothers, Mike and sister Maureen) around the piano. Murry: “In early 1961, Mike and Al were coming over to the house, and Brian was teaching hem songs, with Carl. They sang Four Freshman songs, almost like the Four Freshman, except they had a sweeter, younger sound.”
It was a combination of inspiration and opportunity that took it one step further. First, Dennis came up with the idea for a song about a big west coast fad, surfing. Then, on Labor Day weekend in 1961, with the Wilson parents out of town, the guys took their food money, rented instruments and created ‘Surfin.’
“Surfin’” caught the ear of Dorinda Morgan (she and her husband Hite were Murry’s publishers), and that October, the Morgans produced “Surfin’” for their own “X” Records. But before it could be released as a single, the band needed a name. The “boys” wanted to be called “The Pendletones,” after their favorite shirts; the record company men at Candix (the label that had the hit with “Surfin’”) suggested “The Beach Boys.”
Since that day in the fall of 1961 when they became the Beach Boys and began their trip out of the suburbs of Southern California onto the charts and into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, their records have told you all you ever needed to know about the group.
So let’s get to the music.