Top 5 Weirdest Beach Boys Compilations

The world of compilations is a weird one. With some bands, it’s controlled. In the case of The Beatles, EMI was in charge of compilations. With the break-up occurring in 1970, the label sat on their inventory until an illegitimate mail-order quadruple (!) album set called Alpha Omega made the waves, prompting EMI/Apple to not only take legal action, but also release two compilations of their own! After the 1973 release of 1962-1966 and 1967-1970, it didn’t stop there. EMI milked and milked the eight years of Beatles music they had on hand, but on a consistent basis.

Some bands, however, have had incredibly strange compilations issued here and there and everywhere, even on their own turf. The Beach Boys, I think, are a good example of this given their longevity and how much Capitol (and parent EMI) had to mine from them. Capitol in particular went on a milking spree with their Californian boys, especially after losing them in 1969 when they moved on to Warner Bros. Records. After their WB tenure ended nine years later, The Beach Boys would move onto CBS/Caribou Records, and would float around from there until their final album – released on Capitol – hit shelves four years ago. Capitol had opportunities left and right, and pounced on them, as did EMI in other territories – where the boys had fared better following the 1966 release of Pet Sounds.

So without further ado…

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#5. American Summer

  • Label: Capitol/RCA
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Release: 1975

TRACK LISTING

  1. ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’
  2. ‘Break Away’
  3. ‘Long Tall Texan’
  4. ‘The Little Girl I Once Knew’
  5. ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’
  6. ‘Spirit of America’
  7. ‘Pom Pom Play Girl’
  8. ‘Summer Means New Love’
  9. ‘409’
  10. ‘We’ll Run Away’
  11. ‘Do You Remember?’
  12. ‘This Car Of Mine’
  13. ‘Please Let Me Wonder’
  14. ‘And Your Dreams Come True’
  15. ‘Shut Down, Part II’
  16. ‘Barbara Ann’
  17. ‘Keep an Eye on Summer’
  18. ‘She Knows Me Too Well’
  19. ‘Cherry, Cherry Coupe’
  20. ‘When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)’

From the looks of it, you had to be part of some club to get your hands on this one back in 1975, or it was – as some sources say – an album leased to RCA. That same year, Capitol released an “official” Beach Boys 2-LP compilation, a follow-up to the wildly successful Endless Summer. It too was no slouch on the charts, quenching the thirsts of millions of American record-buyers looking to go back to good ol’ pre-Vietnam War days and relive their youths. Perhaps that was all spurred by one George Lucas and a little movie called American Graffiti. Simpler times, for people who were teens in the early-to-mid 60s, were back.

Endless Summer, while chronologically jumbled, was a fine chronicle of the band’s early hit years. Spirit of America is imbalanced by comparison, but still mostly consistent with the times and era it has represented. American Summer is very imbalanced…

For starters, it seems like a lot of Spirit of America‘s line-up has been ported over, some of the album even goes in the same order! From that album we have: ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’, ‘Break Away’, ‘409’, ‘The Little Girl I Once Knew’, ‘Spirit of America’, ‘Do You Remember?’, ‘This Car of Mine’, ‘Please Let Me Wonder’, ‘Barbara Ann’, ‘When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)’, and ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’…

This big slice of the SOA line-up is peppered with things like… ‘Pom Pom Play Girl’? Summer Days‘ lush instrumental ‘Summer Means New Love’? ‘Shut Down Part II’? Also mixed in are some album cuts from the early days, but it’s overall an odd line-up. Not only does it crib heavily from another album released the same year, but it seems so thrown-together in such a weird way…

The cover is ultimately boring too. Just… You know, the beach. Nothing special here.

BestBeachBoysV2

#4. Best of the Beach Boys Vol. 2

  • Label: Capitol/Starline
  • Country of Origin: US/UK
  • Release: 1967

TRACK LISTING (US)

  1. ‘Barbara Ann’
  2. ‘When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)’
  3. ‘Long, Tall Texan’
  4. ‘Please Let Me Wonder’
  5. ‘409’
  6. ‘Let Him Run Wild’
  7. ‘Don’t Worry Baby’
  8. ‘Surfin’ Safari’
  9. ‘Little Saint Nick’
  10. ‘California Girls’
  11. ‘Help Me, Rhonda’
  12. ‘I Get Around’

TRACK LISTING (UK)

  1. ‘Surfer Girl’
  2. ‘Don’t Worry Baby’
  3. ‘Wendy’
  4. ‘When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)’
  5. ‘Good to My Baby’
  6. ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’
  7. ‘Then I Kissed Her’
  8. ‘The Girl from New York City’
  9. ‘Girl Don’t Tell Me’
  10. ‘The Little Girl I Once Knew’
  11. ‘Mountain of Love’
  12. ‘Here Today’
  13. ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’
  14. ‘Good Vibrations’

Capitol began to milk The Beach Boys with compilations starting in 1966. Best of The Beach Boys was reportedly Capitol’s attempt to make up for Pet Sounds‘ lower sales in the US, and boy did it fill the gap, the record easily went gold and also was a smash hit in the UK where the band was beginning to really catch on at the time. Its sequel, released in mid-1967 after the SMiLE collapse and during the long wait for a “replacement” studio album, sports not only a weird selection, but equally weird sequencing!

The silly live foolery of ‘Long, Tall Texan’ doesn’t segue smoothly into the ethereal ‘Please Let Me Wonder’, while ‘Little Saint Nick’ sits in the middle of a strangely-consistent side two. Really, it’s side one that’s all shaken up. You go from Party! (‘Barbara Ann’) to the weirdest from Concert to the highest height of Today! to the ragged fun of the earliest days (‘409’) to the angelic, sophisticated production of ‘Let Him Run Wild’.

Look at that cover, too! Despite a nice group photo, it’s so bland and uninspired, with questionable arranging of the type. It also did not scream mid-1967 at all, probably helping bury what was left of the band’s credibility to the American public. As such, the compilation was not the runaway success its predecessor was, only hitting #50 on the chart. That was a low for them at the time. Ouch!

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Its British counterpart fared far better, because England dug the band back then and saw what Americans should’ve seen in them at the time. Anyways, the British version boasts a different, much better, but still pretty diverse tracklisting. That set doesn’t jump around as much, is in chronological order, and only contains a few early hits – ‘Surfer Girl’, ‘Don’t Worry Baby’, and ‘Wendy’… The rest focuses entirely on 1965 and 1966. It even goes for some interesting selections, like ‘Good To My Baby’ off of Today!, Party!‘s ‘Mountain of Love’, Summer Days‘ opener ‘The Girl from New York City’, and Pet Sounds‘ ‘Here Today’. There’s some familiar hits, and some deeper tracks. It’s a satisfying collection.

While it uses the same cover and design scheme as the US LP, the text arrangement is a little nicer. As you can see, it’s a main line Capitol release, not a budget-label Starline title. Shows how little Capitol thought of their premiere act in the US during the last few years of the 60s…

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Image via Discogs.

#3. Good Vibrations

  • Label: Capitol/Music for Pleasure
  • Country of Origin: UK/France/Netherlands/New Zealand
  • Release: 1975

TRACK LISTING

  1. ‘Good Vibrations’
  2. ‘Do It Again’
  3. ‘Farmer’s Daughter’
  4. ‘The Monster Mash’
  5. ‘I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times’
  6. ‘Salt Like City’
  7. ‘Surfin’ USA’
  8. ‘Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’
  9. ‘With Me Tonight’
  10. ‘Finder’s Keepers’
  11. ‘When a Man Needs a Woman’
  12. ‘Amusement Parks U.S.A.’

This is where things are going to get a little weird… One look at that track listing seals the deal! Dive through non-American Beach Boys compilation LPs from the early-to-mid 1970s and you’ll see a lot of “seemingly thrown together from several piles” sets, making you wonder what the compilers were thinking, or if they listened to the recordings in question. No overriding themes or anything, just random tracks in random orders. This Europe-only corker with its schlocky budget-release cover (Capitol’s Music for Pleasure, the successor to the Starline label, was good at this) has one heck of a line-up!

So we start with ‘Good Vibrations’, a track that should really be a closing to a compilation given its legacy, we then follow that up with the retrograde ‘Do It Again’, okay okay… Then we go back five years to… ‘Farmer’s Daughter’, an album cut from Surfin’ USA? Ooookaaaaay, then we’re thrust into ‘Monster Mash’, another novelty from the 1964 live album, and then onto… The beautiful melancholy of ‘I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times’??? Who sequenced this???

Oh, and then it’s back to fun-in-the-sun with ‘Salt Lake City’ and ‘Surfin’ USA’, then we get to the 1964 live version of ‘Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’, but then… ‘With Me Tonight’? Okay, the weirdo minimalism of 1967’s Smiley Smile made it on here… But then we jump to a fun track from the Surfin’ USA LP, ‘Finder’s Keepers’… But then Friends‘ quirky, divisive ‘When a Man Needs a Woman’… So we go from surfing to rocking to an oddball minimalist love song to 1963 shenanigans to Brian’s song about the joys of childbirth. Oh yeah, and then top that off with the mid-60s ode to amusement parks.

This is no dig on any of these songs, they’re all good or great on their own, but hearing them in such an order is puzzling. What did the listeners in Europe even think when spinning this at parties or at home? One look at the back of the sleeve…

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… and it seems like the compiler – Mr. Stan Britt – put it together with good intentions… Good, good, gooooood, good intentions… Okay, I’ll stop now. I ask Mr. Britt, were you a superfan of the obscure and weirder stuff that wanted to get that material onto a hits compilation somehow rather than the usual surf flavor? I know that in Europe, the post-1965 albums were embraced with open arms, but even then… A lot of these tracks are album cuts, not the hits derived from them. Ah well…

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#2. The Beach Boys

  • Label: EMI/Music for Pleasure
  • Country of Origin: Netherlands
  • Release: 1973

TRACK LISTING

  1. ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’
  2. ‘Good To My Baby’
  3. ‘Don’t Hurt My Little Sister’
  4. ‘When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)’
  5. ‘Help Me Ronda’
  6. ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’
  7. ‘How She Boogalooed It’
  8. ‘Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)’
  9. ‘Car Crazy Cutie’
  10. ‘We’ll Run Away’
  11. ‘Miserlou’
  12. ‘Whistle In’
  13. ‘Summertime Blues’
  14. ‘Anna Lee, the Healer’
  15. ‘Boogie Woodie’
  16. ‘Tell Me Why’
  17. ‘Louie Louie’
  18. ‘Good to My Baby’ (!)
  19. ‘Please Let Me Wonder’
  20. ‘I’m So Young’
  21. ‘Kiss Me, Baby’
  22. ‘She Knows Me Too Well’
  23. ‘In The Back of My Mind’
  24. ‘Bull Session with Big Daddy’

Released only in the Netherlands on the MFP label, this too feels like it was thrown together… But from chunks of previously-released albums, not songs. And this is a double album no less!

Side one is the entire first side of The Beach Boys Today!, side two is surf-car stuff sandwiched between Wild Honey‘s jokey party romp ‘How She Boogalooed It’ and Smiley Smile‘s closing track ‘Whistle In’, if you know a thing or two (see what I did there?) about those two 1967 LPs, you’ll know that these are unorthodox bookends to songs like ‘Car Crazy Cutie’ and ‘We’ll Run Away’! Also, ‘Don’t Talk’ from Pet Sounds mixed in? Now we’re really getting eclectic here!

Side three… I see we’re ping-ponging again! Friends track ‘Anna Lee, the Healer’ sits alongside the early 60s fun, and… ‘Good to My Baby’? Again??? Why? Upon further inspection, I found out that sides two and three are actually cribbed from an earlier Dutch Beach Boys compilation issued in 1973… In the same order! So MFP simply cut and pasted the line-up of a 2-year-old compilation and chucked it into the middle of this set? Whilst forgetting one of the songs from said earlier compilation was already on the new set???

Lastly, side four is all of the second side of Today! So essentially this double-album is The Beach Boys Today!, with an unpredictable burger patty splitting up its two sides… Didn’t think I’d see such a thing, but now I know it exists!

BugInbeachboys

#1. Bug-In

  • Label: EMI/Regal/Starline
  • Country of Origin: UK/Netherlands
  • Release: 1970

TRACK LISTING

  1. ‘Little Deuce Coupe’
  2. ‘Don’t Hurt My Little Sister’
  3. ‘Finder’s Keepers’
  4. ‘You Still Believe In Me’
  5. ‘With Me Tonight’
  6. ‘All I Want To Do’
  7. ‘Who Do Fools Fall in Love?’
  8. ‘The Surfer Moon’
  9. ‘Cherry, Cherry Coupe’
  10. ‘The Girls on the Beach’
  11. ‘Be Here in the Mornin’
  12. ‘I Was Made to Love Her’

This is the one…

Out of all these compilations I dug up, I think this one has the strangest track-listing of them all, and it’s sequenced with little regard for the band’s timeline. The cover gives you absolutely *no* idea what’s in store for you, on top of looking pretty bad in terms of design. I can imagine the unsuspecting customer picking this up, expecting an album full of surfing and early 60s fun-in-the-sun hits, but getting… That line-up. But maybe Europeans weren’t s0 thrown off, for they knew the side of the band that the American people ignored after 1967. That being said, present this to a casual American fan expecting ‘Surfin’ USA’ and its close relatives, they’ll probably be utterly confused by the time they get halfway through…

Anyways, a few surfers, some angelic early stuff, Smiley Smile weirdness-goodness, Friends‘ minimalism and offbeat qualities, the sexy 1969 rocker ‘All I Want To Do’, Pet Sounds tearjerkers… All over the place! It’s not an everything burger, it’s cheeseburger with chocolate bars and orange slices. (I’m sorry for that image!)

It’s like taking all your Beach Boys songs on your iPod and shuffling them… Actually, I’m going to do that. I’m going to close my eyes, pick a song, put on shuffle, and see what happens! 12 tracks! (And this will include post-Capitol stuff, so…)

The results…

  1. ‘Darlin” (from Wild Honey, 1967)
  2. ‘Airplane’ (from Love You, 1977)
  3. ‘Barnyard’ (from SMiLE, 1966)
  4. ‘Pet Sounds’ (from Pet Sounds, 1966)
  5. ‘H.E.L.P. Is On the Way’ (outtake, 1970)
  6. ‘I’m the Pied Piper’ (from Holland, 1973)
  7. ‘School Day’ (single mix, 1980) *I’m so sorry about this one*
  8. ‘Caroline, No’ (from Pet Sounds, 1966)
  9. ‘Morning Christmas’ (outtake, 1977)
  10. ‘Time to Get Alone’ (1967 Version)
  11. ‘Lana’ (from Surfin’ USA, 1963)
  12. ‘I’ll Bet He’s Nice’ (from Love You, 1977)

Wow…

Just wow… I’ll name this compilation, I dunno, “Sand Dune Tunes”! I dunno. Try this some time, see what you get.

Let’s do another, for fun!

  1. ‘Wake the World’ (from Friends, 1968)
  2. ‘Land Ahoy’ (1962 outtake)
  3. ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ (1967 outtake)
  4. ‘Heroes and Villains’ (from SMiLE, 1966)
  5. ‘Barbara Ann’ (from Beach Boys Party!, 1965)
  6. ‘Darlin” (Live, In Concert, 1973)
  7. ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin” (from Friends, 1968)
  8. ‘Break Away’ (1969 single)
  9. ‘Kokomo’ (1988 single)
  10. ‘Do You Like Worms’ (from SMiLE, 1966)
  11. ‘Everyone’s in Love With You’ (from 15 Big Ones, 1976)
  12. ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’ (1979 single)

So there you have it. Five oddball Beach Boys compilations!

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