Beach Boys, 1967 Rehearsal

Actually an artifact as opposed to an album, I don’t know the slightest thing about the origin of this 8-song recording.  I happened across it online via the stellar music blog An Aquarium Drunkard, and while I wouldn’t call it an essential Beach Boy recording, it’s at least a curiosity any Beach Boy fangeek should try and track down.

Be warned that it begins with a stripped-down version of ‘God Only Knows’ that, while not uninteresting, just doesn’t approach the original, which has to be a part of the Top 5 Best Pop Song conversation.  It’s the sort of song, at least to me, where you can’t separate the production from the source material.  I bet Brian Wilson wouldn’t entirely dismiss that opinion.  But once you get past that, some real treasures emerge.  ‘California Girls’ passes muster rather well with this treatment, and you could probably argue the rendition of ‘Surfer Girl’ surpasses the original.

The minimal production accentuates the vocals even more, particularly the backing vocals, and while at first ‘Help Me Rhonda’ arrives lackluster and lacking, repeated closer listens reveal flourishes that get lost in its original recording’s wall of sound.  A capable enough cover of ‘The Letter’ and a hilariously self-deprecating ‘Heroes and Villians’ round out a short but worthwhile set.

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