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Topic: The Beach Boys
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August 27, 2013 at 9:00 AM
The Beach Boys, ‘Made In California’ (Capitol/UMe)
“Made In California” puts a final cap on the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary events, which also included the release of the band’s first studio album of new material since 1996 (2012’s “That’s Why God Made the Radio”) and a sell-out tour featuring all the surviving Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks and Bruce Johnston; the other original members, Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson, died in 1983 and 1998, respectively). The six-CD set presents a good mix of greatest hits, album cuts, live material and plenty of rarities (about a third of the set is previously unreleased).
The set is packaged like a high school yearbook, featuring a golden, padded cover, and lavishly illustrated with dozens of photos, faux “autographs” (“Stay cool and smile! Brian Wilson”) and parody ads. Quotes from the band members provide the text. One of the first spreads has a picture of a crew cut Wilson sitting at the piano in his parents’ home, next to a school essay from 1959 (when Wilson was 17) outlining “My Philosophy”: “I don’t want to settle with a mediocre life, but make a name for myself in my life’s work, which I hope will be music.”
The band is best remembered for fun-in-the-sun hits like “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “California Girls,” and “I Get Around.” What makes this set interesting to listen to chronologically is hearing the music becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex over time. The “Pet Sounds”/“Smile” era is much lauded by Beach Boys aficionados, but it’s often overlooked that the band’s music continued to progress well into the ‘70s, as evidenced by strong material like the save-the-environment plea of “Don’t Go Near the Water,” the haunting melancholy of “’Til I Die” and the mature pop sound of “Sail On, Sailor.” (more…)
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