Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Review #18: The Beach Boys Lost & Found

Yeah...another Beach Boys album up to the plate. It's called LOST & FOUND (1961-1962). The disc is a compilation of rare material from an era Capitol hardly ever touched, when the Boys were shopping around with their father for an opportunity at a recording contract. The story of The Beach Boys Capitol signing is much less interesting than, say, The Beatles, but material from this era is still somewhat interesting.
This disc came out in 1991 and was released by DCC Compact Classics, Inc., but it's not exactly what I'd call legit.

The disc kicks off with a home recording of "Surfin'"s B-Side, Luau, a simple ode to a Hawaiian party, written by a young fella named Bruce Morgan, son of the couple that let the Boys use their studio. Next is the first version of Surfin'. It is a very interesting version, with Mike using a very, very deep vocal.
After that is excerpts from the first recording session. The first track is Studio Chatter (Number 1), which features the Boys being told by an engineer of producer to run through a first take of "Surfin'". Then a first take follows, with only bass, acoustic guitar and percussion backing them. More chatter follows, although it's really just the engineer saying "Surfin' take seven!". After the announcement is the "master" of Surfin', used for legendary Candix-301 and is noticeably twenty seconds longer than the version found on Surfin' Safari. Next is another quick chatter track, where Brian, already in command, yells to the engineer "LUAU!!", which is of course, followed by the first and second takes of "Luau". The first take breaks down quick, as the Boys can't get the intro right and then the second, full take follows. Concluding the first session segment is the "master" of "Luau", which is really the main attraction of the disc. The track was, without reason, missing as a bonus track on the Surfin' Safari/Surfin' USA CD. It is available nowhere other than here. It's a great track, with some good guitar work from Carl, I assume.
The next two tracks were the sides to a rare "Kenny And The Cadets" single. Barbie, another Bruce Morgan tune, is a great performance, but put simply, the song is weak and cheesy beyond reason. Brian does a great falsetto vocal and there's great group vocals at the bridge. The next track is another B. Morgan tune, called What Is A Young Girl Made Of and features just Brian and female backing vocals provided by Audree Wilson, Brian's mother. The backing track is just quick drumming and a simple guitar riff. However, it's just like the last track: bubblegum '50s pop.
The disc's next set of tracks is from the last Candix session. A version of Surfin' Safari opens the session, with some interesting alternate lyrics! Other than that, it sounds just like the final version, released as the first Capitol Beach Boys single. Chatter follows with the Boys talking and the engineer discussing something. After the take number is cleared up by the engineer ("Is it four or five?"), the second and last version of "Surfin' Safari" follows. It sounds virtually identical to the last version. The last (and longest) chatter track is next followed by one of Brian's greatest songs, the first one he ever wrote: Surfer Girl. The Boys run through just one take of it and it sounds just like the immortal single, released the next year. After that, they run through two takes of Judy, a track Brian would never issue. It's more of a rocking track and consists of nothing more than Brian repeating "Judy, Judy, Judy" and a bridge. Both takes run for the exact same time (that must be hard to pull off!) and based on the whole personal nature of the little lyrics that are there, you can tell Brian never took it seriously. Next from the session is a Carl-penned instrumental, Beach Boys Stomp or Karate. It's really slow and not made of much variations and feels a little longer than the two minutes and fifteen seconds that it is. The concluding track from the session is another run-through of "Surfin' Safari" that features some newly overdubbed guitar and drums. The notable feature is that if you have a stereo that you can switch to the right and left channels, you can clearly separate the vocals from the backing track.
The disc closes with a demo called Lavender, written by Dorinda Morgan, the wife of Hite, who let the Boys use their studio and be on his label. It's a soft, lullabye-esque track, where all five do a great a cappella performance.
This 1991 edition includes great essays from Dorinda Morgan and the men who worked on the restoration. The cover is a great ode to the old cheesy Capitol covers of the early sixties with an incredible group shot (including Carl sitting on a clearly marked "Little Honda"!).
This album is strictly for Beach Boys die-hards, as it includes 21 tracks with only 10 different songs and 3 version of "Surfin'", "Luau" and "Surfin' Safari". However, it does give an incredible insight to one of the most important beginnings in rock history.

MUSIC: 6/10

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