Beach Boys serve up the right extras — but in digital format

Capitol/UMe (digital)
5 Stars

Capitol/UMe (digital)
4 Stars

By Gillian G. Gaar

The two CD release “1967: Sunshine Tomorrow” in June 2017 served up plenty of rarities: studio sessions, lives tracks, and a stereo mix of “Wild Honey.” And just before 2017 came to a close, two further releases have been issued that dig even more deeply into the year that saw the release of “Smiley Smile” and “Wild Honey.”

If you’re a fan of those two albums, then “The Studio Sessions” should be of special interest; it features 22 previously unreleased tracks from the sessions. Most are backing tracks with backing vocals. But there are great a cappella versions of “Heroes and Villains,” “Here Comes the Night,” and “Let the Wind Blow,” two run throughs of the unreleased track “Tune L” (an instrumental), and the outtake “Good News” (with apparently unfinished lyrics) — all very nice to have. The release also includes backing tracks from the “Lei’d in Hawaii” sessions, a “live” album the group recorded in the studio, recreating their August 1967 shows in Honolulu (the final version of “Lei’d in Hawaii” appeared on “1967: Sunshine Tomorrow”)

“Live Sunshine” features a whopping 109 tracks; all but a handful are previously unreleased. You get rehearsal and live performances of all the Honolulu shows, in addition to November 1967 shows from Detroit, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Boston, and White Plains, New York. It’s great to have so many shows officially released, but it must be said that they’re not all stellar performances. The Honolulu shows in particular are uninspiring, especially trickier numbers like “Heroes and Villains” and “Good Vibrations” (at one point Mike Love calls the latter a “nerve wracking song” to try to do live); no wonder they wanted to try re-recording the album in the studio (granted, the shrieking fans at the shows probably didn’t help).

Contrast that to the stronger, more confident performances from the November shows (which also feature less screaming from the fans). More complicated numbers like “Heroes and Villains” have been dropped, with the rocking “Wild Honey” in its place (though sticking “Graduation Day” in there only kills the momentum). If you’re a completest, you’ll probably want all the available shows, though as a digital-only release, you can also pick and choose what tracks you want to download. More, please!


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