on January 25, 1999
Sure, while it is true that BB collectors have heard aLOT of this stuff over the years, this is a MAJOR breath of fresh air, when most BB fans still have "Stars and Stripes" fresah in their mind. A compilation that spans just about the 30+ years of "America's Band", it delves so deep into the vaults that you need scuba equipment for the lack of oxygen! But the dive is WORTH IT! Ranging from remixes of already well-known tracks, to long-"lost" tracks, this only adds to the already widely known fact that Brian Wilson WAS the BB's in the 60's and early 70's, but then handed off the creative torch to Deenis and Carl. One needs only to listen to the demo of "Breakaway" or the demo version of what would become "Loop de Loop" to realize that Brians range of different styles is unreal. From complex harmonies, to simple, surreal sounds of Brian and a piano, bass, and simple percussion, it's obvious that although he hit some stumbles along the way, Brian can NEVER do wrong.
Highlights: STEREO remixes of "Kiss Me Baby" and "California Girls", and the unreleased remix of "'Til I Die"--itself a deeply unmoving "autobiography" of Brian circa 1970-71. Simply beautiful.
A solid vault compilation. HIGHLY recommended.
on October 2, 1999
From what is expected to be the most profound vault of unreleased material, the remaining Beach Boys released some real gems. Look for the astounding "Old Man Sunshine", which should have been released at the time for another worldwide number one. Check out "Loop De Loop", which harkens back to the "Amusement Parks", "Palisades Park", and "County Fair" motif used earlier. The version of "Break Away" is what's called a guide vocal -- Brian had the instrumental track complete, and added his own lead/backing to demo the song to the band. Amazing. "God Only Knows" and "Do It Again" are rehearsals for their current tour (from which LIVE IN LONDON was recorded) of the time. Compare them with the live versions, phrase and breath for phrase and breath. The CD is wonderful for collectors, and even has some gems to be appreciated by the casual fan ("Help Me Rhonda" remix, for example). Steve Desper's editing on "Til I Die" is sloppy, but profound. Dennis always had a sad-sounding song to offer on each BB album from 1972 until his death, so the inclusion of "Barbara" is great. Sadly, an alternate version of Bruce's "Endless Harmony" wasn't used, so this is the only real duplicate amongst all the other unreleased material. For Bruce's song, and "Old Man Sunshine" alone, it's worth the purchase.
If you're a fan of Brian Wilson and his brother Carl, you should pick up this CD if only for "Soulful Old Man Sunshine," a previously unreleased 1969 track that's unlike anything else in the Beach Boys' catalog. Beyond that, there are wonderful new stereo mixes of "Kiss Me Baby" and "California Girls" that make you wish everything from before "20/20" could get the same treatment, plus Brian's demo of "Break Away." This, the greatest thing Murray Wilson ever did besides fathering the Wilson brothers, makes you wonder why Brian let Carl and Al take the lead vocals on the released track instead of doing it himself. (It also demonstrates that every other Beach Boy save Carl was superfluous when Brian was in full control of his faculties).
However, if you're new to the Beach Boys, a fan of their car and surfing songs only, or just getting into their post-"Today!" period, I'd avoid this for now.
PS: Lowlights include the last two songs, Mike's "Brian's Back" and Bruce's "Endless Harmony."
on April 27, 2000
This rreally isn't a soundtrack to the Endless Harmony video- more of a companion piece. It starts out with Brian Wilson's winsome, jazzy "Soulful Old Man Sunshine". It features a "Heroes & Villains" demo from Brian, along with a live version (with Al Jardine and Carl Wilson taking Brian's place on lead). Dennis Wilson only gets 2 songs- the poignant "Barbara" and the prophetic "All Alone" (the Beach Boys themselves admit fault for not encouraging him more- Dennis also was perhaps the funniest of the Beach Boys as heard in the radio promo). Interesting but melancholy describes the remix of Brian's "Till I Die". Carl gets a grabbag of songs (he had the strongest voice) with "Wonderful", "Darlin'", "God Only Knows", and one of his best songs "Long Promised Road". Al shines brightly on the catchy novelty "Loop De Loop". Also, onetime members Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar are featured on the medley "Wonderful/Don't Worry Bill" (the latter being their own song: a funky jazz jam-Wonderbill indeed, Mike Love!). But to be fair to Mike, "Brian's Back" is cute, made special by Carl's harmonies. Bruce Johnston closes the set with his jazzy "Endless Harmony". Don't forget the remixes of "Surfer Girl", "Kiss Me Baby" (one of Today's strongest songs), "Help Me Rhonda", and "Do It Again" (along with the surf medley).
on April 6, 2000
The reviewer below me feels that he hasn't gotten enough and has been ripped off. Well, if you're looking for the Beach Boys Greatest Hits Volume 1 and 2, um, buy those albums instead. Anyone that looks over the tracks before he purchases would have known that this isnt' it. But in a way, to the more serious fan of the group (and you're invited, casual fans, all it takes is one listen to Pet Sounds) it is! Instead of feeling empty, you'll be wanting more, more, more. The influence of the Beach Boys is shown here, whether it is the 'unfortunate' influence on the throwaway pop of the day (check out the concert medley, something very few bands pull off today but countless teenyboppers attempt) or the trancey shadow that "Til I Die" casts over the 1990's more advanced rockers. (The first song on Spritualized's 'Ladies and Gentlemen" album is great, but it can't hold a candle to this gem). While so many releases and reviews are dedicated to endlessly reaffirming Brian's genius (and this collection once again does its job in this department), Endless Harmony also dispells the myth that the Beach Boys were compromised of 1 genius and 4/5 also rans. Al's lead vocal on 'Help Me Rhonda' was about as honest as pop music could get in 1965, his 30 year Loop production shows that he learned something in all those years of studio work, and that he isn't such a slouch after all. Before it all went wrong, Mike and Bruce's campy songs (Endless Harmony and Brian's Back) at the very least show that at the start the descent into parody wasn't such a bad idea, at the best they offer a knowing wink to historians of the band. Dennis comes into his own (though sadly, on only two songs and only one of his own) on this collection, it should whet the appetite for the Brother re-releases on which he plays a much larger part. Carl's vocals and contributions make new "soul" artists like Eric Benet sound like English skiffle players. In summary, a brilliant collection, and very frustrating too-why not 10 discs instead of only 1?
on March 17, 2015
Beach Boys rarities are sprinkled across a number of various releases; whether as bonus tracks on the "two-fer" CDs, scattered throughout exhaustive box set which contain a large chunk of hits, or on hard to find long-out-of-print compilations. There have been frustratingly few "rarities only" releases in the mold of the fantastic Bob Dylan Bootleg Series, which means the average fanatical Beach Boys fan probably owns a dozen identical versions of I Get Around or California Girls in their collection. "Hawthorne CA" is an expensive (especially now that it's out-of-print) double CD set containing a bunch of a capellas, backing tracks, stereo remixes and a whopping two unreleased songs (one of which is 50 seconds long). A compilation called Rarities was only released on CD in Japan and has been made almost superfluous by the two-fer bonus tracks anyway. Endless Harmony, fortunately, is much better value, and actually stands as the only true "Beach Boys rarities" CD on the market. A few of the tracks now appear elsewhere - Dennis Wilson's All Alone was included on the superb reissue of his solo album Pacific Ocean Blue, while Soulful Old Man Sunshine, Brian's Back, and Sail Plane Song appear on the ludicrously expensive and rip-offity Made In California (I think some may be alternate mixes; I don't know, I haven't got that set), but it's still a great listen. Barbara is a lovely Dennis Wilson song from the early '70s which makes us wish the only legally-available version of the beautiful Carry Me Home (from the same era) is the Primal Scream cover. Loop De Loop is the more heavily produced surrogate of Sail Plane Song. The alternate and live versions are mostly enjoyable too. This disc should be your first purchase after you've accumulated all the original Beach Boys albums. After that, good luck!
on April 9, 1999
This is basically a sort of legal bootleg, almost as random but with much better sound quality. Gems that make it worthwhile: the writing tapes and finished record of "Soulful Old Man Sunshine" and "Loop de Loop" (what fun); this weird mix of "'Til I Die"; a brief piano rehearsal of "Heroes and Villains", and a live version of that song from years later that showed what a good live band they could be. Also interesting to note that they included the "Bicycle Rider" lines back into the song for live performances, which had not been in the released record. Also, good early versions of "Break Away" and "Do It Again."
on May 9, 2000
I must say I've had this CD ever since it came out and I still listen to it nonstop. It's like a shortened "Beatles Anthology" but manages to cram a lot of gems. I love this CD but I don't think the casual listener might enjoy it so much until they take the "Beach Boys experience". A lot of people seem to make the mistake that this CD is some sort of compilation disk. It's really just one for the fans to enjoy. As for the music, "Soulful Old Man Sunshine" is quite the uncovered gem, featuring a great opening sequence and a good lead vocal by Carl. There are some wonderful stereo mixes of "Kiss Me Baby" and "California Girls", both which were badly in need of remastering. I also like the soundchecks of "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations". However, my favorite moments on the CD would have the be the electrifying live cuts, including an upbeat "Heroes & Villians", an outstanding "Darlin'" featuring scorching vocals by Carl (in fact, this is the BEST version of "Darlin'" I've ever heard), and a lively "Long Promised Road". The little-known "Wonderful/Don't Worry Bill" medley is also a very nice addition. Al's "Loop de Loop" is perhaps inessential listening, but it has an amusing SGT. PEPPER'S feel to it, especially with all the weird fades and sound effects. Dennis shines with "Barbara" (quite a nice song from perhaps the most under-rated member of the group) and even Mike churns out a pretty little tune called "Brian's Back", which is nice, albeit the stupid lyrics. There are also some radio promos, alternative versions of songs, and a very nice remix of one of the group's best songs, "Til I Die".
The bottom line is, you're not a true fan if you don't enjoy this CD.
This is not a good release for a casual fan or someone exploring the Beach Boys, but for fans and collectors, this is essential material. A compilation of random, scattered unreleased tracks from the Beach Boys' career, the focus is their late '60s/early '70s material.
There's a number of live tracks, alternate mixes, etc., most of which I won't speak of because while they're great, they're not exactly extraordinary-- I'll discuss that stuff.
Opening with the unbelievable "Soulful Old Man Sunshine", filled with jazzy big band-esque arrangement and stunning harmonies, this is an essential lost gem in the Beach Boys catalog finally being released.
Also essential-- a demo of Smile sections! Brian at the piano singing several sections, including the main H&V theme, Barnyard, I'm in Great Shape, this is really essential-- Smile in two and a half minutes!
A couple other pieces that deserve noting-- we get some early versions of "Do It Again" and "Break Away"-- the latter is actually Brian's demo and is really revelatory in terms of his construction of songs, as much so as the Smile demo.
There's also two unreleased Dennis pieces, "Barbara" as a solo piano number and "All Alone", both are brilliant, particularly the former, and an extended mix of "'Til I Die".
All in all, a great value-- collections of unreleased tracks run the risk of being extraneous, but there's precious little here that could qualify in that light, and much of this are incredible finds that any fan will be grateful to hear.
on March 30, 1999
A great collection of songs. Lots of oddities and a lot of great material. My favorite is Brian's Back, with the soaring Carl Wilson vocals. This is not a soundtrack album so much as an incredible document of one of America's best bands in all of their glory. Three brothers, their cousin, and two friends.... Endless Harmony.