1964 and 1968 live recordings let you hear how far the band had come! Concert was, in fact, their highest-charting album. Includes bonus live versions of Heroes and Villains and Don't Worry Baby .
Like virtually every band in the mid-'60s, the Beach Boys were expected to deliver their hits in person--no mean feat considering the ever more baroque concoctions that Brian Wilson was constructing in the studio. Tellingly, at the time the 1964 Concert was recorded in Beach Boys hotbed Sacramento, the band had but a few hits of their own and so they padded their set with Jan and Dean's "Little Old Lady from Pasadena" (cowritten by Brian), Dion's "The Wanderer," "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" by the Rivingtons, Bobby Pickett's "The Monster Mash," and, of course, Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." The instrumental backing here is sparse and simplistic; it's the band's vocal interplay that carries the day before a throng of screaming fans. By the time the year was out, Brian suffered his first nervous breakdown and gave up touring to concentrate on his studio productions.
Live in London was culled from live shows recorded at a time (1968) when the band were virtual pop-cultural outcasts in their home country, but still enjoyed an enthusiastic following in England. These recordings document the Beach Boys' remarkable resilience in the face of Brian's deliberate distancing and their frigid American career prospects; when the going got tough, the tough got spectacularly professional. Augmented by a horn section, the band locks into a powerful groove, giving energetic, largely note-perfect versions of the expected hits along with some key album cuts. Digitally remastered, this long out-of-print twofer edition features commentary by David Leaf (The Beach Boys and the California Myth), as well as two bonus cuts: a 1964 concert rendition of "Don't Worry Baby" and a 1967 live version (from the unreleased Lei'd in Hawaii album) of the challenging "Heroes and Villains" that features a rare appearance by Brian Wilson performing with the band. --Jerry McCulley