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Pluses & Minuses
on October 14, 2012
All Summer Long is one of the best of the early Beach Boys albums. Very few of their albums were 100% good, and during this period that can be blamed largely on the ridiculous contract they were under, a contract that required 10 albums in 3 years. Under that kind of pressure it is a wonder that this album (and the even better follow-ups - Today and Summer Days) was as good as it is. But even though there is obvious filler on this album, the filler actually seems purposeful. And it's pleasant. And it's over quickly. And the great songs (the title track, I Get Around, Hushabye, Wendy, Girls on the Beach, Don't Back Down) are among the best the group ever did.
The big positive for this release is that it finally presents for the first time on CD Brian Wilson's original mono mix for the album (the way I first heard it back in 1964). Previous releases used the stereo mix albeit with I Get Around, Our Favorite Recording Sessions, and the title track in mono. Here you get first the mono album, followed by the album in mostly the original stereo (more on that below). The mono mix is clearly superior with much more oomph and great balance, whereas certain instruments in the stereo mix often stick out sounding tacked onto everything else (which they probably were, plus only the stereo has Mike Love's infamous cough during the organ break of Wendy). One great difference with the mono is the ending of Don't Back Down in which the instruments continue playing (they suddenly stop on the stereo) and the fade-out is about 12 seconds longer. Best of all, as with the previous two-fer packages, the disc has been remastered using the HDCD (24 bit) system without limiting or compression, so while the sound quality is not better than the more recently available version, it also is not worse.
The stereo version contains the original 1964 stereo mixes except on three songs. The title track's stereo mix was done more recently and was first heard on the 2006 compilation "The Warmth of the Sun." The stereo mix for I Get Around is listed in the liner notes as a "stereo extraction mix." I am not totally sure what this means but I am guessing the original multitrack tape for the song is lost, and thus someone used modern computer tools to isolate and separate instruments and voices on the original mono mix and thus create a stereo mix from that. This has been done on some songs on the other 2012 reissues (including Help Me Rhonda and Good Vibrations) as well. The results frankly are not impressive, and at any rate you cannot go wrong with the original mono mix. In the stereo portion of the album, Our Favorite Recordings Sessions is again presented in mono. These 3 songs did not receive stereo mixes in 1964 and the original stereo vinyl album had these three in Duophonic aka fake stereo.
One major complaint I must make on this is the lack of liner notes. No essays, no photos, no recording dates, no comments on the remastering process (other than that it is HDCD), no explanations as to what is a stereo extraction mix. Just a list of songs with songwriting credits, and a bit of information as to who produced the mixes. Also there is plenty of room on this CD for bonus tracks.