CD Review of U.S. Singles Collection: The Capitol Years 1962-1965 by The Beach Boys
Recommended if you like
The Four Seasons, surfing,
nifty packaging
The Beach Boys:
U.S. Singles Collection:
The Capitol Years 1962-1965

Reviewed by Michael Fortes


et’s get the important stuff out of the way: this set is not for everybody. And by “everybody,” I mean some Beach Boys fans too. If you’re looking for a concise, sensible compilation of the Beach Boys’ early singles, burn it yourself, ‘cause this isn’t it. And if you’re budget-minded, stop reading right now.

But if you’re a die-hard completist who simply must have every piece of product that bears the Beach Boys’ name, well, this set just might feel really special.

Here are the facts: U.S. Singles Collection: The Capitol Years 1962-1965 consists of 16 CDs. That’s right, 16. Each disc contains as many as eight and as few as three songs each. Seems kind of stingy on the surface, but there is a reason for the madness – each disc is presented as a miniature replica of the original 45 rpm vinyl singles the Boys released during their first four years at Capitol Records. The A and B sides of the original mono singles are presented, and where available, those songs are repeated in glorious stereo. In some cases, “bonus” tracks are tacked on, like a live version of “409” to round out the first disc, and the instrumental “Punchline” that we last heard on 1993’s comprehensive five-disc overview Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys (in which all five discs were jam-packed to capacity with hits and rarities, for half the price of this Singles box). The final platter is itself a “bonus” disc containing four songs last seen on other discs that every die-hard Beach Boys fan probably played out years ago.

Average asking price: $100, give or take a few bucks.

As a vanity piece, sure, it’s attractive. Singles sleeves from the 1960s haven’t lost their aura of coolness, and what cooler way could there be to collect all those mono and stereo versions of the original singles all in one place? Oh, right, actual vinyl singles! There’s actually a market for authentic vinyl reissues, which might have been lost on Capitol when putting this set together. Just ask the folks at Sundazed, or the Jimi Hendrix estate (which itself has released a couple of limited edition vinyl Hendrix singles box sets).

Bottom line: these three-to-eight song CD singles all boxed together at an exorbitant price were a dumb idea when the Beatles put out a similar set in the early ‘90s. They were also a dumb idea when the Clash and the Stones put out singles boxes in the last few years. And guess what? They’re still a dumb idea when the Beach Boys do it. Meanwhile, the Beach Boys are still sitting on unreleased goodies, like the bulk of the original Smile sessions, and many stellar concerts from the early 1970s. The time and effort put into getting this redundant set on the market would have been much better spent negotiating for the release of a live album chronicling the legendary Beach Boys-Chicago joint tour from 1975, for example. If Dennis Wilson’s long-in-limbo Pacific Ocean Blue and Bambu sessions could make it onto the shelves in this dire time for the music industry, who knows what else we could be hearing?

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