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Beach Boys - Beach Boys' Classics

2006-03-29 21:35
 
The Beach Boys are simultaneously the most reviled and reluctantly loved band in the history of American pop. Brian Wilson's music is often written off as cheesy, insufferable and too saccharine for modern-day sensibilities. But when his music fills the room, people seem to have a good time, and go home feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. The truth is that The Beach Boys are about as important to pop music as The Beatles were, especially on the US side of the Atlantic.

Before they became victims of their self-created cliche, The Beach Boys were at the forefront of progressive songwriting and recording (Paul McCartney himself once intimated that Pet Sounds (1966) was a wake-up call to take the Beatles into serious territory - resulting, of course, in Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)).

As such, the first three tracks of this triple CD collection are probably worth every bit of reverence ever given them. "I Get Around", "Don't Worry Baby" (probably one of the top five pop songs ever written), and the Chuck Berry-styled "Surfin' USA" capture the Beach Boys at their finest, while setting up three musical cornerstones between which the band would bounce its next 20 years' worth of material.

Drafting elements of classic rock n' roll, doo-wop and even some Phil-Spector-styled soul production ("Help Me, Rhonda"), most of the classic hits on this collection should sound familiar.

"California Girls", "Barbara Ann", "Good Vibrations", "Sloop John B.", and the like are nothing if not rock standards. Even lesser-remembered hits like the ingenious "Surfin'" will provide a superb listening experience for older fans and younger rock musicians alike.

Sadly, the last quarter of this collection descends into a pain-by-numbers mish-mash of 80s MOR (Market-Oriented Rock). For the Beach Boys, it seemed a case of one unnecessary wave too far.

But that shouldn't detract from the first two thirds of this superbly mastered package. The Beach Boys Platinum collection will likely gather dust for long periods on your shelf, but your CD collection won't seem complete without it - if you're serious about rock n' roll, that is.

- Anton Marshall

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