Not one for casual fans
Greg Brady | Capital City | 03/17/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"You won't have heard any of these on your local "oldies" station. What this collects is very early material the group recorded with producer Hite Morgan and his wife.
It's interesting for the group's biggest fans to hear the demos of "Luau" and "surfin'" (the songs from their very first single ever released on Candix records). You'll also get a rare recording of Brian Wilson and his mother performing together as "Kenny and the Cadets", a rare instrumental ("Karate", also sometimes referred to as "Beach Boy Stomp"), an ode to Brian Wilson's girlfriend ("Judy") and a previously unissued demo from 1961 ("Lavender")
High Points: Track 6 "Surfin'" is the template for the earliest hits the band would have in their "sun and fun" period. It doesn't stand alongside finer material like "Surfin' U.S.A." but it points the way toward what they would become. "What is a Young Girl Made of?" is the better of the Kenny and the Cadets songs, an uptempo tune that sounds like a lost 50s track. An early version of "Surfin' Safari" has some minor lyric differences. (Track 14) The Candix rendition of "Surfer Girl" shows a much more garage band influence as Dennis Wilson struggles to hold the brushed snare rhythm. The guitars are also mixed much lower here than the more familiar hit. "Judy" is a nicely sloppy lovesong with a chugging bassline.
"Barbie" suffers from horrid background tracks, a treacly lyric, and a poor falsetto from Brian. "Beach Boy Stomp" is an interesting instrumental but the band isn't tight enough to really pull it off. An early overdub attempt on "Surfin' Safari" (Track 20) was wisely left in the can at the time. (Brian attempted to paste a Duane Eddyish guitar into one channel). "Lavender" is a Four Freshmen styled acappella tune that shows the band's harmonies are close to full bloom but it's just a demo. With full production, it might have been as special as "Their Hearts were Full of Spring" in the Beach Boys canon.
Mostly useful as a historical document. It's hard to hear some of these tracks and realize that they would go on to become one of the (THE?) most influential and creative pop groups ever."
Surfin' is the only life.
Johnny Heering | Bethel, CT United States | 03/01/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This CD features the pre-Capitol recordings of the Beach Boys. Before signing with Capitol Records, the Beach Boys recorded six songs for producer Hite Morgan. Six songs would make a pretty short CD, so the CD is padded out with alternate takes, audition demos and two songs by "Kenny and the Cadets" with Brian Wilson on lead vocals. "Surfin'", their first single, got to #75 on the Hot 100 and got them signed to Capitol Records. And the rest is history. The recordings on this CD aren't bad, but they aren't nearly as good as the Beach Boys later recordings. And it's a bit repetitive hearing "Surfin'", "Luau" and "Surfin' Safari" three times each. Still, this is a historically important CD that should be of interest to Beach Boys fans."