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I got this as a birthday present on, I think, my 12th birthday, and I've loved it ever since! I was born in the early '80s, and I've also played and loved the original NES versions of SMB1, 2, and 3; in fact, I think SMB1 was the very first video game that I ever played! It was also the game that got my older brother into video games. At one point, he and I owned all three of the original NES versions, but our copy of SMB3 disappeared a long time ago and we never got a replacement. But that doesn't bother us too much, because the game is on this collection --- and improved, too! The inclusion of the originally "Japan only" game, The Lost Levels, is also very cool, but holy cow, is it ever HARD!(Actually, that one was the follow-up to the original SMB in Japan, and was their SMB2. Our SMB2 was the Japanese game Doki Doki Panic, re-worked to include Mario characters, which explains why it's so different from the other SMB games.) I think Nintendo did a beautiful job with their "overhauling" of these games, especially SMB1 and Lost Levels, which were, in their 8-bit forms, the most "primitive"-looking and -sounding of the games here. (I've never played the 8-bit Japanese SMB2, but I've watched someone play it on YouTube.) Super Mario All-Stars is one of my favorite game "collections," maybe even my VERY favorite! Some people may consider it blasphemous --- how DARE Nintendo tamper with these classic games like this?! You leave CLASSICS the way they ARE, you don't try to IMPROVE them! --- but not me! As much as I loved (and still love) the original versions, I love the games even more here!...Read more
Although I'm personally partial to stereo, I do respect those who prefer mono, and I'm sorry to say that there is still really no mono CD reissue of The Beach Boys' Christmas Album. While Capitol has put Christmas Album out on CD numerous times over the years, there has never been a complete mono reissue. Capitol has put out the whole album on CD in stereo a couple of times, and they have put the album out in jumbled "part mono, part stereo" configurations (with one or two of them replacing the "album" version of "Little Saint Nick" with the single version), but they still seem averse to the idea of putting the WHOLE thing on CD in MONO. I don't consider this CD to be a reissue of the album, because while it DOES in fact contain MOST of the original album tracks --- and in MONO --- it's missing two of the tracks from the album, and has the other album tracks in a different order, interspersed with a few tracks that weren't on the album. The two album tracks that are missing are "Auld Lang Syne" and (again) "Little Saint Nick." Instead of including those tracks, it uses the single version of "Little Saint Nick" (again), and the alternate mix of "Auld Lang Syne," which omits the voice-over. The other tracks here that weren't on the album are the group's 1974 Christmas single, "Child Of Winter," and a couple of tracks from the shelved 1977 album Merry Christmas From The Beach Boys. If you prefer stereo like I do, and want the whole album in stereo, the Ultimate Christmas and Christmas With The Beach Boys CDs are out there. (Not only do they have all of the original album tracks in stereo, but they also include a stereo mix of the single version of "Little Saint Nick," the alternate mix of "Auld Lang Syne," the '70s tracks that appear here, and much more bonus stuff.) But if you're looking for a MONO CD release of the album, I'm afraid this CD is the closest thing there is. Considering that Capitol seems to like putting out the Beach Boys' holiday material so much, and that they have released mono album/stereo album CD reissues of most of the Beach Boys' other '60s albums, I really can't understand why they haven't done that with The Beach Boys' Christmas Album!...Read more
(Note: This review is actually for the import CD version that is being sold as I write this. I originally wrote my review for the vinyl version before deciding that my review should be for this CD version instead, and I didn't want to write my entire review over again! That's why my review has "vinyl" for the "format," and why I dropped my star rating so severely.)
Released in the U.K. in December '66, this was the first Beatles "hits" collection. It had a pretty "groovy" cover and had a great selection of tracks. Unfortunately, this CD reissue is disappointing; the sound quality is pretty bad, and it doesn't seem "legitimate" (whether it is or not). That's sad, because if it had better sound and seemed more "legit," it would have gotten at least four stars from me. Most of the 16 tracks on the original compilation (this CD has two B-sides, "Rain" and "I'm Down," that weren't on the original comp) were #1 singles in the U.K.; several of those songs were not included on the original British albums. (Most of them DID appear on the U.S. albums.) The collection also included the only Beatles song to be originally released in the U.S. but NOT in the U.K.: "Bad Boy," which had been specially recorded by the Beatles for inclusion on the U.S. album Beatles VI. (The song made its U.K. debut on this compilation.) However, the song "Please Please Me" was left off, possibly because its status as a U.K. #1 single had been contested. (According to the notes of the original CD version of Past Masters Vol. 1, that song was #1 in three of the four U.K. music charts that existed at the time the song was first released, but it was "only" #2 in the fourth chart, which was/is the most widely quoted one. That chart, I believe, would be Record Retailer, which is apparently the British equivalent to the U.S. Billboard chart. This may also explain why the song was excluded from the Beatles 1 compilation.) I'm actually kind of surprised that Capitol didn't put out this compilation, or a "version" thereof, in the U.S., considering that several of the tracks were #1 hits over here as well as in the U.K.; in fact, one song, "Yesterday," was a #1 single here, but not released on a single at all in the U.K. (at least not during the '60s)! A couple of other U.S. #1s that Capitol could have included had they put this (or something similar) out in the U.S. were "Love Me Do" and "Eight Days A Week." Like "Yesterday," "Eight Days A Week" was not a single in the U.K.; "Love Me Do" was also a U.K. single, but it didn't make it to #1 there. Besides "Bad Boy," the only other track on this comp that, as far as I know, wasn't a single in the U.K. or the U.S. was "Michelle." A Collection... was (is) a great compilation (though the tracks are not in chronological order, with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" coming directly after "Eleanor Rigby," which I think sounds a bit odd); unfortunately though, as far as I know, no GOOD (and legitimate) CD of A Collection... has ever existed. When the Beatles' material was first reissued on CD in the '80s (with the albums being the British ones), the comp was ignored, possibly because all of the tracks on it could be found on the albums and on the Past Masters compilations (although that didn't stop Capitol from later reissuing the Red and Blue Albums on CD [twice!], or putting out Beatles 1 [twice!]). Here's a track listing for this comp (including the two CD-exclusive tracks):
She Loves You
From Me To You
We Can Work It Out
I Feel Fine
Can't Buy Me Love
A Hard Day's Night
Ticket To Ride
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Like I said, though, this CD has bad sound quality, so I don't recommend it. (By the way, I don't know why some product links at Amazon give the date "1965" for this A Collection...! The inclusion of the songs "Paperback Writer," "Yellow Submarine," and "Eleanor Rigby" [all from '66] shows that it COULDN'T have been released in '65!)
In 1964, The Beach Boys released their first Christmas album (they later recorded a second one, but it remains unreleased), which was titled, well... The Beach Boys' Christmas Album. Over the years, it has been reissued on CD in several variations (with differing artwork, differing bonus tracks [or no bonus tracks], and even different titles, among other differences. The most recent reissue came out in 2011, but it had no bonus tracks and used the single version of "Little Saint Nick" in place of the album version (it also had the first five tracks in mono). This version, Ultimate Christmas (which came out in '98), is still the best reissue, in my opinion anyway. It contains all of the album tracks in stereo, plus over an additional album's worth of bonus treats, half of them taken from the group's still-unreleased second Christmas album.
The Beach Boys' Christmas Album was (and is) almost evenly split between more "rock"-styled recordings (the first five tracks) and more "traditional" performances, most of them with orchestration (the rest of the album). The "rock" tracks are "original" compositions (written either by Brian or by Brian and Mike). The best of these is "Little Saint Nick," followed closely by "Merry Christmas, Baby." "Santa's Beard" is probably the third bset original song. "Christmas Day" is O.K. but too short, at least lyric-wise. (Incidentally, the song features Al's first lead vocal as a Beach Boy.) "The Man With All The Toys" is definitely too short both ways, and the lyrics that ARE there really don't tell much of a story, at least not to me. I can't help wondering why this song was released as a single instead of one of the other songs on the album. The non-original songs, most of which appeared on side two of the album, are "standards" that you'd find on any number of other artists' Christmas albums ("Frosty The Snowman," "We Three Kings Of Orient Are," "Blue Christmas," "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," "White Christmas," "I'll Be Home For Christmas," and "Auld Lang Syne"). The orchestration that is featured on most of the "standard" songs is great and often beautiful, and the same can be said about the vocals on all of the album (hey, it's the Beach Boys, so what would you expect?). There is only one religious song on the album, though ("We Three Kings"), and while it sounds beautiful, it is a bit tedious (this particular CD also has the song fading out on the acapella ending; that's one of the few complaints I have about this CD, because I love that acapella ending!). And, the voice-over on the album closer, "Auld Lang Syne," kind of ruins the track, in my opinion. Including a "Merry Christmas/Thank you" message to the fans was a nice thing to do, but it would have been better to place the message AFTER the song. (I must admit, though, that I find Dennis' flubbed reading of the message --- ..."if you hap-[stammer] happen to be listening..." --- to be kind of charming! I also find it surprising that Brian, a perfectionist if ever there was one, apparently allowed this very noticeable flaw to slide!) The Beach Boys' Christmas Album was (and is) overall an enjoyable, often fun, often beautiful album, and the inclusion of over a dozen bonus tracks makes this package that much better!
Several of the bonus tracks feature the group singing holiday lyrics over the instrumental backing tracks of other songs, and half of them are drawn from the 1977 album Merry Christmas From The Beach Boys, which was shelved when Warner Bros. insisted on putting out a "regular" album (that album turned out to be M.I.U. Album, which was released in '78). Here's a run-down of the bonus tracks:
-- Little Saint Nick (single version): Features some instrumentation not found on the album version; appears in stereo here. (It is in mono on most other reissues.) When the song was put on the album, those instruments were removed to make the song match the sound of the other "original" songs more closely. (The single version was originally released the year before the album came out, by the way.)
-- Auld Lang Syne (alternate mix): Omits the voice-over so that you can hear the group's harmonies in all their unadulterated splendor.
-- Little Saint Nick (alternate version): Features the lyrics sung over the instrumental backing track of the group's earlier song "Drive-In"; it appeared here for the first time in stereo.
-- Child Of Winter (Christmas Song): The extremely rare 1974 Christmas single, which was released only a couple days before Christmas. Talk about bad timing!
Now we're getting into the Merry Christmas From... tracks; the next seven tracks are from that album:
-- Santa's Got An Airplane: A "sequel" to "Little Saint Nick" that uses the backing track of the originally-unreleased song "Loop-De-Loop."
-- Christmas Time Is Here Again: Uses the same backing track as "Peggy Sue," which appeared on M.I.U. Album (and was released as a single). This track was mysteriously excluded from the 2004 Christmas Album reissue (which was called Christmas With The Beach Boys), although that reissue was otherwise identical, track-wise, to this one.
-- Winter Symphony: An altogether "new" recording that features an extended, horn-laden break and some great late-'70s vocals by Brian. (Compare his voice here to his voice on the '60s tracks --- quite a contrast!)
-- (I Saw Santa) Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree: A charming track that features the children of various group members (and has nothing to do with the song "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" that was done by Brenda Lee). It uses the backing track of an unreleased Brian solo recording called "Hey There Momma."
-- Melekalikimaka: This is the M.I.U. Album song "Kona Coast" in Christmas form (it has nothing to do with the Bing Crosby song).
-- Bells Of Christmas: This is the "Christmas version" of the M.I.U. Album song "Belles Of Paris."
-- Morning Christmas: This song was recorded by Dennis, who wanted to do a song for the album. It may be the most beautiful bonus track, and maybe even the most beautiful track on the whole CD.
-- The CD also includes a couple of Public Service Announcements (one of which has the group singing the "announcement" to the tune of "Little Saint Nick," and the other of which features a message by Dennis over the group's recording of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"), and a 1964 interview with Brian about Christmas Album. (By the way, compare Dennis' voice on his message here to his voice on his message on the album version of "Auld Lang Syne.")
Like The Beach Boys' Christmas Album, the bonus songs are enjoyable, fun, and beautiful (even if they're not that "deep"), and I also think the last three tracks are touching. However, I find it a bit odd that this CD doesn't include "The Lord's Prayer," which was the B-side of "Little Saint Nick." I think it would have fit, even if it isn't necessarily a Christmas or "holiday" track! (In fact, it WAS included on previous Christmas Album reissues.) Also, the sound on most of the Merry Christmas From... tracks isn't so great. I don't think they really sound "bad," though.
While I don't find this CD perfect, I still think it's the best Christmas Album reissue to be put out. I love it! Unfortunately, though, new copies seem to have gotten expensive. The next best reissue to this one is Christmas With The Beach Boys, which you can still get new for very cheap. However, as mentioned above, it misses one of the bonus tracks. If you don't have either CD, I recommend Ultimate Christmas if you don't mind getting the CD used or if you have the dough for a new copy. Otherwise, get Christmas With The Beach Boys.
[Update from 12-6-13: Sadly, it seems that even used copies of this CD have gotten very pricy since I first wrote this review.]
In 1962, after doing some recordings for producer Hite Morgan (most of which weren't originally released), The Beach Boys signed with Capitol, where they released their first album, Surfin' Safari, which was produced by Nick (or Nik; I've seen it both ways) Venet. Besides being The Beach Boys' first album, the album was also full of other firsts. It was the first "full-length" Beach Boys release to feature David Marks, who had replaced founding member Al Jardine. (Al returned to the group the following year, and Marks left.) It included the group's first Capitol single (both sides --- the A-side "Surfin' Safari" and the B-side "409"). The group had previously recorded "Surfin' Safari" (with some different lyrics) for Hite Morgan, but the recording here was the first (and only) one that was originally released; as the group's first Capitol A-side, it became the group's first Top 20 (and first Top 40) hit, reaching #14. (The group also originally recorded "Surfer Girl" for Morgan.) "409" was the first "car song" released by the group. However, it reached no higher than #76. Those two tracks made up the first Beach Boys record to be released after Marks joined the group. "Ten Little Indians" and "County Fair" (the A- and B-sides, respectively, of the second Capitol single) also didn't fare too well, with "Ten Little Indians" only reaching #49 and "County Fair" not charting at all. (Personally, I think "County Fair" really should have been the A-side, and the very-brief "Ten Little Indians" the B-side.) The album also included "Surfin'," the recording that was released as the group's first, pre-Capitol single A-side (and that reached #75); the song was also reportedly the very first song ever written about surfing. However, Capitol (who had licensed the recording) sped it up before they put it on the album. Just why they did that is a total mystery to me. (Capitol has reportedly falsely claimed that it was a re-recording that they used on the album.) Of the tracks on the album that were not released on singles in any form, I think "Heads You Win, Tails I Lose," "Summertime Blues," and "Little Girl (You're My Miss America)" are the best, and the latter two also made for a few firsts. The "cover" of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" was, I think, the first "cover version" released by the group that wasn't an instrumental (or a quasi-instrumental). "Little Girl" was the first song on which Dennis Wilson sang lead all the way through, and is a good "teenage love" song. (It was also the first ballad released by the group.) Also included on the album was the group's cover of "Moon Dawg," a number originally done by a group called The Gamblers. This was the first instrumental, or rather, quasi-instrumental, released by the group. The album provided the group with yet another first when it became their first Top 40 album, reaching #32. I like this album, and think it's pretty fun. While it is nowhere near as "complex" as most of the group's later records (instrumentally or vocally), I think it's still very enjoyable. However, the "stereo" mix of the album is in "Duophonic," not "true" stereo. I'm really not a big fan of Duophonic, but I'll take it. As a bonus, this CD also includes "Luau," which was the (non-charting) B-side of the "Surfin'" single, and which didn't appear on any of the albums. That's a nice touch....Read more
I'm giving this set five stars because I love Creedence, and the set has LOTS of really good (and great) stuff on it. (Yep, I'm giving it five stars despite the fact that I'm not really into "live" stuff! That's how terrific I think the selection of studio tracks is!) However, the vast majority of the studio tracks can be found on the Chronicle compilations. If you already have those collections (as I figure many if not most fans do), I really don't see much point in getting this set unless you just REALLY want the live recordings (or you're a Creedence collector)....Read more
These magnifying glasses were ordered for my mother, who cannot see well enough to read without magnification. She was really happy to get these! They look exactly as pictured and described here. I have read that the powers aren't as specified. Well, to be honest, my mother and I don't know if they are or not, but even if they're not, the glasses work great, MUCH better than plastic lenses. They also seem well-made; neither my mother or I find them to be "junk" at all. She and I both give them five stars! We have no issues with them at all, and I figure that they will probably be functional enough for most other people as well....Read more
This set is not really a "proper" Four Seasons collection; in fact, over half of the tracks aren't really even by the Seasons. The most-known tracks here are probably "Sherry" and "Big Girls Don't Cry"; the rest, or most of them, are probably going to be unfamiliar to many if not most Seasons fans. All of the tracks are "early" recordings; chronologically, the tracks don't go beyond the year '63. The tracks that are technically not by the Four Seasons are somehow related to members of the group; among them are a few solo sides by Frankie, and a bunch of recordings by the Four Lovers, the group (or perhaps more accurately, groups) who eventually became the Four Seasons. If you're looking for a collection of all or most of the Four Seasons' hits, you're going to have to look elsewhere, but this set is, I suppose, a good one to get if you happen to be interested in the early history of the group and its members and want to hear some of those recordings. (I will say, though, that I think the Four Seasons and Four Lovers tracks are probably the best ones.)...Read more
I'm going to warn to warn you right off: If you're looking for a CD of original recordings of '60s hits, you've definitely come to the wrong place. But this CD is still good for what it is, at least in my opinion. It features over 50 songs, or rather, snippets of songs, divided into 7 medleys. The songs are not the original '60s performances; they are re-recordings that have been souped up with "techno" beats and other, very "DJ-style" touches. I can certainly see how people could view this CD as a rip-off, but personally, I like it. I think it's a fun CD, and that if you've got a '60s/oldies-themed party going, it would be a good CD to put in the player!...Read more
I think this is a great collection of tracks. Despite this CD series' title, this CD is NOT only rock 'n' roll. While it does have its more "rocky" tracks, such as "Mony, Mony" (by Tommy James & The Shondells), "Devil With A Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly" (by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels), "Magic Carpet Ride" (by Steppenwolf), "Eli's Coming" (by Three Dog Night), "Summer In The City" (by The Lovin' Spoonful), and "Gloria" (by The Shadows Of Knight), it also has several more "soulful" numbers, like "Soul Man" (by Sam & Dave), "Higher And Higher" (by Jackie Wilson), "Respect" (by Aretha Franklin), "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" (by Otis Redding), "Groovin'" (by The Rascals), and "In The Midnight Hour" (by Wilson Pickett). There are also a couple of samples of folk-rock, like "Mr. Tambourine Man" (by The Byrds) and "California Dreamin'" (by The Mamas And The Papas), and a few doses of "poppier" material, like "Happy Together" (by The Turtles), "I Got You Babe" (by Sonny And Cher --- yech! [Sorry, Sonny & Cher fans]), "Windy" (by The Association), and "The Letter" (by The Box Tops). There's even just a bit of funk, or something that sounds pretty funky to me, anyway: "It's Your Thing" (by The Isley Brothers). Also here is "And When I Die" (by Blood, Sweat And Tears); I don't really know exactly what category to throw that one into! (Rock-pop-blues-jazz?) I really like this CD, but I do have just a few complaints (hence my four-stars-instead-of-five rating): One, "Mr. Tambourine Man" is in a somewhat poor mix, at least in my opinion; two, I don't care so much for "I Got You Babe" (you probably figured that out already), which is my least favorite track here; and three, I prefer the version of "Gloria," which was recorded by Them (with Van Morrison) to the Shadows Of Knight cover version included here (although this one WAS the hit). (And by the way, while this isn't something that bothers me, I do know that this recording of "Groovin'" differs slightly from the one that became a hit for The Rascals; the one that was the hit has a different harmonica track.) Nonetheless, I think this is a great CD, and if you like music from the '60s, I recommend it to you!...Read more