The Lozarithm Lens

By lozarithm

Beach Boys

There has been a lot of Beach Boys around this year, as they celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band with a tour and tie-in CD releases. You may have heard them performing live on Radio Two, or seen them on Later..., with Mike Love looking rather sinister under his baseball cap stage centre and a rather uncomfortable Brian Wilson singing, after a fashion, and a large number of younger dudes filling in the musical gaps in the background.

A number of Beach Boys albums have been remastered and just released on CD. Like Phil Spector, Brian Wilson was a strong advocate of mono because it gave him greater control over the listener's experience. With stereo, it was all too easy for us to mess up the sound by having one channel too loud, or one speaker too far away or muffled behind an aspidistra.

Capitol did originally issue some of their albums in stereo in America, but often these were "duophonic" artificially created affairs from the mono masters, and sounded ghastly. I found that my CD re-issues were either mono or stereo, or sometimes a combination of the two, switching between mono and stereo from track to track. I took the opportunity to order four of the new releases, each of which contained both mono and stereo versions of each album, and they arrived on this day. Smiley Smile, Summer Days and Today! were previously unreleased in stereo (individual tracks had turned up on compilations), whilst most of All Summer Long was only available in stereo before.

I was especially keen to hear Brian Wilson's masterpiece Good Vibrations in stereo. This had been pieced together over months of recording and editing in four separate Los Angeles studios, with the finished piece only existing in Brian Wilson's head. It was edited into the finished mono master from hours and hours of multi-track recording. Somewhere along the way afterwards the final vocal tracks went missing and so it was considered impossible for a stereo version to ever be made, although the 8-track instrumental backing did appear in stereo on an album called Stack-O-Tracks some years ago. With modern software, it recently became technologically possible to isolate the vocal tracks from the mono version and fly them onto the backing track perfectly synchronised, and the results are, after forty-six years, that I got to hear Good Vibrations in awesome stereo, with Carl and Mike's lead vocals dead centre and the harmonies both half-left and half-right. Magic.

If you want to see all four covers in full, they are shown in the alternative shot.

Smiley Smile replaced the abandoned album Smile, which was finally released officially in 2011, and blipped by me at the time.


Blip #794
Consecutive Blip #007
Day #916

Beach Boys CDs

Lens: Pentax 18-55 mm kit lens (close-up filter +2)

Beach Boys series

Lozarhythm Of The Day:
The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations (Stereo) (1966/2012)(Audio)(needs Spotify)

One year ago: Sunday 25 September 2011: All Quiet On The Canal

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