The Beach Boys: Made In California Boxset – album review

The Beach Boys – Made In California (Universal Music)

Format: 6CD Boxed Set

Release Date: 2nd September 2013

Forming in the early sixties, The Beach Boys boast a rich back catalogue that is crammed full of hits and harmonies to die for. ‘Made in California’ pulls together an overview of hits, re-mastered cuts and unheard live material from the bands history to continue their 50th anniversary celebrations. 

Having formed in the early 1960’s in southern California, The Beach Boys on went on to create some of the most recognisable songs and harmonies in the history of music. Spearheaded by Brian Wilson, one of three brothers in the band, the bands influences included many of the rock ’n’ roll greats such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard. The Beach Boys influence has reached far and wide with notable nods from The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Flaming Lips, Elvis Costello, The Bee Gees, Kraftwek and Daft Punk to name but a few.

This mammoth six disc collection is broken into different sections, chronologically. Starting out with the bands early surfin’ influenced rock and roll, through more psychedelic tinged Pet Sounds/Smiley Smile era, various in house conflicts, nervous breakdowns, tragedy and back to 2011’s Smile Sessions album.

The singular thing that runs throughout the collection is the unbelievable harmonies and hypnotic melodies created in the sound. From all the most recognisable hits, to the B-Sides, to the fantastic live material to the very interesting radio spots that are all included here (my favourite being ‘Wonderful KYA!’). There are previously unreleased tracks throughout this collection that will appeal to the die hard Beach Boys fans. Several of the unreleased tracks stem from the recent Smile sessions, as well as newer stereo mixes of unreleased tracks. There are also re-mastered tracks from various other re-mastering sessions over the years.

Early takes and solo takes of tracks with the band experimenting in the studio really show the genius of Brian Wilson and the band to create such compellingly beautiful music. The building of the complex harmonies show how the production values helped carve an iconic and groundbreaking sound. From hearing such sessions it would have begged the question, how can you pull this kind of multi-layering in the studio, off live? The inclusion of career spanning live material on the fifth disc shows that the band never had such problems. The songs sound so strong in lots of different styles and arrangements ranging from mid 60’s mono recordings to early 90’s acoustic tours via the early to mid 70’s era.

One of the great things about these kinds of collections for music fans is the evolution of a band, and their sound. The inclusion of many different stereo and mono mixes shows this evolution perfectly. The collection is long and sprawling, and the casual fan might struggle with such a hefty compendium, however, this collection showcases one of the greatest bands of all time in all their glory.

The Beach Boys website is here. They’re also on Facebook & Twitter.

All words by Dom Walsh. You can read more from Dom at his author’s archive here. Dom also tweets as @bwfcdom83.

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