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One night in June of 1965, I and the other Beach Boys invited some friends to the recording studio to take part in what was to be the first and only live party album. We even had some beers for everybody. I had made up a list of songs for us to have as a guideline. The party was live and happenin’. The engineer set up the microphones so that everybody in the room was heard loud and clear. Back in high school Mike and I and two of my friends at Hawthorne High School and “Hully Gully” at an assembly. Now, we really did it up good with instruments too on our party album. The group blend was really good and tight. There is somethin’ very special about recording live. The fact that you make little mistakes is overlooked. This is the realism of a live recording. The way that the conversation kept goin’ between songs was exciting. We were cookin’. Our friends were all smiles throughout the whole recording. The mood was up and we were on our way. As you might have noticed, we did some Beatle songs. “I Should’ve Known Better” was Carl’s favorite Beatles song. We all hoped they would get a kick out of our doin’ a tribute to their great songwriting. The boys and girls that we invited really enjoyed themselves. They really gave this album the excitement that it needed. On “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” Mike sang gutteral sounds. This cut was tearin’ up. We never got more excited than on this one. “Devoted To You” was a ballad which really slowed down the mood for a couple of minutes this one was an old Everly Brothers’ song. No we were rockin’ again with “Alley Oop.” This one was a funny song. It was about a guy of ancient times that nobody ever fooled with. His name was Alley Oop. Our good friend, Dean Torrence, came by just in time to sing the lead with me on “Barbara Ann.” He and I were screeching for those high notes. Dean always did have a handsome face. He and Jan and me used to hang out together. They were real cool guys. “There’s No Other” was a Phil Spector song. I loved singin’ the lead on this one. The party album was a challenge for us to try our hand at spontaneity. It worked. We all, including our friends, worked hard to bring to all of you a live recording like this one. So call some friends and sit down and join the party as you listen to his one. Have a good party.
- Brian Wilson
The last of the “double play” CDs of the Beach Bys 1960s catalogue combines two of the most unusual records ever released, Beach Boys’ Party!, and Stack-O-Tracks.
In fact, at the time of their respective releases (in 1965 and 1968), they were unprecedented, incredibly, in the quarter century since they originally came out, nobody else has made albums like these. The Beach boys, alone among the major groups in rock history, have dared to “expose” their innermost studio workings in a manner that’s usually reserved for collector’s recordings.
And while both Beach Boys’ Party!, and Stack-O-Tracks may have had somewhat “impure” origins, the results have fascinated Beach Boys fans, rock historians and musicologists for decades.
The Story Of Party
By the fall of 1965, the Beach Boys pipeline, at least from Capitol’s point-of-view, appeared to be drying up. After three years of delivering a seemingly endless wave of “fun in the sun” music, Brian Wilson was now going to take some time before producing his next record.
So as Brian developed the musical concepts for what would become Pet Sounds, Capital impatiently waited for Beach Boys “product” that could be in the stores in time for Christmas, 1965.
Despite the fact that the beach boys had come up with ten long players since signing in 1962 and tow big hit LPs already in 1965, Capitol, as record companies in the ‘60s always did, wanted more. Nobody at the company was worried about over-saturation. The marketplace in 1965 could presumably handle as much Beach Boys vinyl as Capitol could press, so the company pressed the Beach Boys for a new record.
It wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last, that record company demands altered the course of the Beach Boys story. On side two of 1965’s first Beach Boys LP, Today, Brian was clearly headed in a more serious direction. But when he needed to churn out a record in time for the summer of 1965, he came up with the fun-filled Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) album. Clearly, in retrospect, even though there were many important musical moments on Summer Days…, that LP was something of a lyrical stop-gap on the way to creating Pet Sounds.
So in the early fall of ’65, Brian…still developing his next step…was once again in the position of having to move backwards to satisfy the record company’s needs without letting it interfere with his own creative desires. He needed to buy some time.
Unfortunately for Brian and the group, the easy solutions weren’t available. In 1964, they’d released both a live album and a Christmas LP. All that was left for the record company was to put together a “Best of…” disk. But those usually signaled the end of a group’s hit making days, and Capitol and the Beach Boys were hardly ready to play that card. After all, the Beach Boys weren’t exactly washed up, they’d just scored two huge chart successes with “Help Me Rhonda” and “California Girls.”
But Brian, still approaching the height of his 1960s creative powers, stood his ground and made it clear he wasn’t about to quickly produce another studio album just to satisfy Capitol. He was determined to take it slower; he wanted to craft the kind of record upon which he would be willing to put his and the Beach Boys name. The next record was going to be special, and he wouldn’t rush it.
An impasse of sorts had been reached. Fortunately, somebody came up with a fast and easy solution. The Beach Boys would do another “live” album, except that rather than a concert record, this one would be done “live in the studio” at a Beach Boys’ Party!. A compromise was at hand.
The Beach Boys – joined in pictures and on the sound effects track by their wives, girlfriends, cousins, and friends to make it look like there really was a part – spent a few days in Western Studio #2, singing some of their favorite songs of the fifties and sixties. And before you cold say “union scale,” they had recorded their eleventh LP for Capitol.
Artistically, Beach Boys’ Party! was no more than a pit stop on the way to Pet Sounds. Ironically, it outsold the record Brian had in his head and was about to record…Pet Sounds. Go figure.
Actually, the commercial appeal of Party! isn’t a mystery. The Beach Boys always have been the ultimate sing-along group, who knows how many parties in the early and mid-60s featured Beach Boys records on the turntable. And, of course their fans, like followers of any celebrities, harbored the fantasy of going to a party with them. So this record, in its casual simplicity and almost accidental honesty, gave the fans just what they most craved – the chance to spend some time “hangin’ out” with the Beach Boys.
It didn’t matter that there wasn’t really a party; in 1965, this was as close as you could get to being with your favorite group. And Beach Boys’ Party! released in November of 1965, found a place, as Capitol had hoped, under many Christmas trees that year.
Production Note: Unlike every other Beach Boys album ever made, Party’s instrumentation, with the exception of bass guitar was all acoustic. Basically, it’s just bongos, guitars and exuberant vocals and viola, a top ten LP.
TRACK – BY – TRACK
Lead Vocal: Mike
The Olympics, another Los Angeles group, reached #72 with their version of “(Baby) Hully, Gully” in early 1960. The Olympics are best-known for their terrific Coasters-like record, “Western Movies,” a top ten hit for them in 1958.
“I Should Have Known Better” / “Tell Me Why”
Lead Vocal: Carl and Al
The Beatles may have been the Beach Boys main musical rivals, but as you can hear on these two songs from A Hard Day’s Night, the “California Five” Loved the Fab Four’s music.
Lead Vocal: Brian and Mike
For Party! the Beach Boys reprised this crowd favorite from their 1964 Concert album. It’s the only song covered on Party! that also appeared on another Beach Boys record.
“Mountain of Love”
Lead Vocal: Mike
“Mountain of Love” had already been a hit twice…#21 for Harold Dorman in 1960 and a #6 smash for Johnny Rivers in 1964…when the Beach Boys recorded it for Party.
“You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”
Lead Vocal: Dennis
Like his brothers, Dennis’s voice has always been incredibly expressive. Even with all the goofing off going on in the background, he still manages to get his heart across on this cover of one of John Lennon’s best ballads (from the Beatles’ Help soundtrack).
“Devoted To You”
Lead Vocal: Brian and Mike
In their youth, Brian and Mike spent countless hours together harmonizing to the hits of the day, and on “Devoted To You,” we get a chance to hear them on one of their teenage favorites, a 1958 top ten hit for the Everly Brothers.
Lead Vocal: Mike
“Alley Oop” was a hit for three different groups in 1960. The Dyna Sores reached #59 with it, Dante & The Evergreens made it to #15 and the Hollywood Argyles soared to #1.
“There’s No Other (Like My Baby)”
Lead Vocal: Brian/Group
Brian has always ha a soft spot in his heart for Phil Spector’s record of “There’s No Other…” and on this cut, the Beach Boys pay tribute to the influential creator of the “Wall Of Sound.”
Historical Note: “There’s No Other…” was the first big hit for the Crystals; it went to #20 in 1962.
“I Get Around” / “Little Deuce Coupe”
Lead Vocal: Mike
In an era when rock stars were beginning to take themselves more seriously, the Beach Boys showed how natural it was to make fun of themselves. On this sloppy, “spontaneously rewritten” spirited medley of two of their biggest hits, the Beach Boys come across as “regular Joes.”
“The Times They Are A-Changin’”
Lead Vocal: Al
Al Jardine has always been something of a “folkie” at heart. On par, he got a chance to cut one of Bob Dylan’s most important songs, the ‘60s generational anthem, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”
There’s more than a little irony here. As they sang this song, the Beach Boys couldn’t know that the times were changing so fast that not long after this record was released the Beach Boys would become, unlike Dylan, unhip.
Lead Vocal: Brian and Dean
Highest Chart Position: #2 (#1 on Cash Box)
Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean dropped by the studio to visit his buddies and suggested they cut the Regents’ “Barbara Ann” (a 1961 #13 hit). Unbelievably, as Brian began work on his most complicated productions (Pet Sounds and “Good Vibrations”), an edited version of this completely “unproduced” Party cut went to the top of the charts in early 1966.
Historical Note: Dean’s presence on a Beach Boys hit was only fair play, as Brian sang falsetto on a number of Jan and Dean records including two of their biggest hits, “Surf City” and “Dead Man’s Curve.”
In the fall of 1967, Beach Boys records stopped selling. Smiley Smile and Wild Honey (both released in 1967) and Friends (which came out in 1968) fared poorly on the charts, particularly in comparison to the group’s first eleven albums and the 1966 Best of the Beach Boys package.
As it seemed that the Beach Boys wouldn’t be coming up with any other new “product” in 1968, Capitol created Stack-O-Tracks to fill a void that could have remained empty. Given that when it was released in ’68, record buyers didn’t seem to care if the Beach Boys still existed, the album was a commercial failure…an unsuccessful attempt to cash in on the Beach Boys staggering catalogue of hits. It was the only Beach Boys album Capitol released in the ‘60s that did not make it onto a the LP charts.
But while Stack-O-Tracks may have been born out of unrequited record company greed and may have appeared to the public to be a rip-off, it really wasn’t. Stack-O-Tracks turned out to be one of the most unique albums in rock history.
Stack-O-Tracks , unlike any official LP ever released by any other group, presented only the backing tracks of many of the Beach boys’ best records, putting forth the concept that Brian’s great music, even without the surf and car lyrics and more importantly, even without out their incredible vocals, was worthy of consideration. Stack-O-Tracks is an extraordinary opportunity for music lovers to study the work of one of America’s most important producers and composers.
Because so much is going on in a typical Brian Wilson production, the only way you could hear everything in the instrumental tracks was if there weren’t any vocals. So for musicians and producers, Stack-O-Tracks was a rare and wonderful chance to study at the foot of the master and learn more of how he had assemble those tracks. For the rest of us…for everybody who ever dreamed of singing with or playing in a rock group…Stack-O-Tracks gave us a shot of singing and playing along and pretending we were making Beach Boys music.
Stack-O-Tracks, unavailable in America over twenty years, it once again offered with the hope that the recordings Brian Wilson produced in the 1960s will be appreciated not just as hit records but as significant and sometimes classical music that will survive long after there’s no gas for the T-Bird in “Fun, Fun, Fun.”
Collector’s Note: Ironically, because so few copies were sold, Stack-O-Tracks has become the most obscure and “collectible” Beach Boys album ever released. The original LP was accompanied by a song booklet that included chord charts and sheet music for the album’s songs. Unfortunately, the limitations of the smaller CD format make it impossible to reproduce that rare and valuable booklet in a readable fashion.
Bonus Tracks: The original Stack-O-Tracks line-up included fifteen songs. For this release, Capitol has added three bonus cuts, “Help Me Rhonda,” “Our Car Club” and “California Girls.” “California Girls” is especially noteworthy, as Brian recalls, “I wrote ‘California Girls,’ and I went in the studio prepared and confident that I would cut a sound achievement. Surely, it happened from the first sound of Carl’s 12-string guitar to the mellow horns to the shuffle rhythm of the bass and organ and guitars and the drums. It was an experience in a ‘building’ arrangement which means more than the sound and rhythm get more exciting as it goes along”
Liner Notes by David Leaf © 1990 David Leaf
(David Leaf is the author of the critically acclaimed biography, The Beach Boys and The California Myth.)
The following is a list of some of the key musicians who regularly played on Beach Boys sessions:
Drums: Hal Blaine
Horns: Steve Douglas, Jay Migliori, Roy Caton, Lou Blackburn
Guitars: Glen Campbell, Tommy Tedesco, Jerry Cole, Barney Kessel, Billy Strange
Bass: Ray Pohlman, Carole Kaye, Lyle Ritz, Julius Wechter, Bill Pitman
Harmonica: Tommy Morgan
Accordion: Carl Fortina, Frank Marocco
Piano: Leon Russell, Al De Lory, Dan Randi
Percussion: Gene Estes, Frank Capp, Jim Gordon
The Sid Sharpe Strings
1. Hully Gully
(F. Smith – C. Goldsmith)
Arvee Music Company BMI – Master #55168
2. I Should Have Known Better
(J. Lennon – P. McCartney)
SBK Blackwood Music Inc. under license from ATV Music (Maclen)/SBK Unart Catalog Inc. BMI – Master #55191
3. Tell Me Why
(J. Lennon – P. McCartney)
SBK Blackwood Music Inc. under license from ATV Music (Maclen)/SBK Unart Catalog Inc. BMI – Master #55171
Beachwood Music Corp. BMI – Master #55190
5. Mountain of Love
Unichappell Music, Inc./Morris Music BMI – Master #55193
6. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
(J. Lennon – P. McCartney)
SBK Blackwood Music Inc. under license from ATV Music (Maclen)/SBK Unart Catalog Inc. BMI – Master #55204
7. Devoted To You
House of Bryant Publications BMI – Master #55200
8. Alley Oop
Kavelin Music/Gary S. Paxton Music, Inc./Acoustic Music BMI – Master #55201
9. There’s No Other (Like My Baby)
(P. Spector/L. Bates)
Andrew Scott, Incorporated/Mother Bertha Music, Inc. ASCAP/BMI
– Master #55202
I Get Around
Irving Music, Inc. BMI
Little Deuce Coupe
(B. Wilson/R. Christian)
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #55194
11. The Times They Are A-Changin’
Warner Bros. Inc. ASCAP – Master #55206
12. Barbara Ann
Adam R. Levy & Father Enterprises, Inc./Cousins, Inc. BMI
Master #55205 – Charted 1/1/66 – Reached #2
(B. Wilson – M. Love)
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71420
14. Salt Lake City
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71421
15. Sloop John B
(arr. Brian Wilson)
New Executive Music BMI – Master #71422
16. In My Room
(B. Wilson/G. Usher)
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71423
17. Catch A Wave
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71424
18. Wild Honey
(B. Wilson-M. Love)
Irving Music, Inc. BMI - Master #71425
19. Little Saint Nick
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71426
20. Do It Again
(B. Wilson-M. Love)
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71428
21. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
(B. Wilson-T. Asher)
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71429
22. God Only Knows
(B. Wilson-T. Asher)
Irving Music, BMI – Master #71430
23. Surfer Girl
Guild Music Company BMI – Master #71431
24. Little Honda
(B. Wilson/M. Love)
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71432
25. Here Today
(B. Wilson-T. Asher)
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71433
26. You’re So Good To Me
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71434
27. Let Him Run Wild
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #71427
28. Help Me Rhonda *
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #53272
29. California Girls *
Irving Music, Inc. BMI – Master #53792
30. Our Car Club *
(B. Wilson-M. Love)
Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc. BMI – Master #50366
Tracks 1-13, 16-20, 2, 28, 30 recorded Mono
Tracks 14, 15, 21, 22, 24-27, 29 recorded Stereo
Beach Boys’ Party!
Released 11-1-65. (Capitol DMAS-2398) Charted 11-27-65. Reached #6.
All songs were recorded on the following dates: 9-8, 9-14, 9-15, 9-23 1965.
Engineered by Chuck Britz
Released 8-19-68. (Capitol DKAO-2893)
In the preparation of these compact discs, every effort has been made to make these historic recordings sound as they did when Brian, Carl, Mike, Dennis and Al first made them. The Producers auditioned numerous tapes in order to find the masters which have been used throughout. These original mono and stereo masters were then transferred to digital utilizing a specially modified tape machine and custom-made analog to digital converters.
The resulting digital tape was next processed using the Sonic Solutions digital noise reduction system. They system allows the removal of tape hiss and other defects without any adverse affect on the music. The previously unreleased bonus tracks have been selected from a variety of sources, and were mixed directly from the original three and four track master.
Los Angeles, CA
Reissue Compiled and Coordinated by Mark Linett.
Digitally Remastered by Joe Gastwirt and Mark Linett at Ocean View Digital, Manhattan Beach, CA.
Assistant Engineer Dave Mittson “Salt Lake City,” “Sloop John B,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “God Only Knows,” “Little Honda,” “Here Today,” “You’re So Good To Me,” “Let Him Run Wild,” “California Girls,” remixed by Mark Linett at Your Place Or Mine Studios, Glendale, CA.
Additional CDD Premastering at Brains & Genius Recording Studio, West Los Angeles
Archival Research and Archival Information by Ron Furmanek, Andy Paley.
Liner Notes by David Leaf.
Art Direction by Tommy Steele.
Design by Chuck Ames.
Photo Research by Brad Benedict.
Stack-O-Tracks literally means an album of just the instrumental tracks from 12 of my records. There are no voices on this album. Making an instrumental track is a whole experience. It starts after you have written a song. As I write a song, I write some of the instrumental piano and pluck some of the different notes for the arrangement. It’s impossible to lay the whole arrangement on the piano but you play just enough to get the overall feelin’ of the record. It is an art in itself. I always get that bigger picture of my records at my piano before I record them. I go in there prepared.
“In My Room” was an indication of my simplicity with our earlier records. I used a harp on it. It added a holiness to it. The harp was played by Maureen Love, Mike’s sister. “Catch A Wave” was more rhythmic. The guitars were more clean and driving as if to say that they didn’t wanna stop. The piano was played by me and it was perfectly synchronized with the guitars. The 3 different sounds combined to make one unique sound. I was ecstatic about this.
“Wild Honey” was primarily a piano type record. I used my grand piano at my studio in Bel Air. “Little Saint Nick” was in the spirit of “Little Deuce Coupe” with its shuffle beat rhythm. The real test is to make it sound easy. Some people find the shuffle to be just as fun to dance to as rock and roll. “Do It Again” was a classic. It had everything a listener could want: sound bliss, rhythm, and excitement. It really rocked slowly.
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” was recorded with 2 accordions. That gave it a unique sound. This track is one of my biggest accomplishments ever. It rocked along and it even slowed down toward the end. This is called a retard. Then it went right back to the regular rhythm for the fade sequence.
“God Only Knows” was done with a strip of masking tape over the strings of my piano. This gave the piano plucking sound. I also used the bottoms of 2 plastic orange juice containers for our percussion. This track was holy. “Little Honda” was my biggest excitement record of the early sixties. This track was so exciting that even the best of them would agree.
“Here Today” was a work of art in my opinion. It was assertive track with utilization of basses played up higher. The trombones gave it that masculine touch. “You’re So Good To Me” was spearheaded by a guitar sent through a Leslie organ speaker. It gave it an eerie effect.
“Let Him Run Wild” was also a very sensitive piece of music, ranging from cool vibraphones to driving, loud horns and basic instruments such as drums and basses and guitars. Making a track calls for good concentration and a heart full of musical feelings to stay up on your toes and always have the overall sound and feeling in mind. Even though these tracks are presented without my vocal arrangements and harmonies, they are my music. I am proud to share with you my music, because I believe music is God’s voice.
- Brian Wilson
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