Classic Album – Beach Boys – Sounds of Summer (CD review)

Beach Boys – Sounds of Summer (best of) (2003) – CD review – No other American band’s music is woven into the fabric of our culture quite like the Beach Boys.  It’s still all over the place: in movies, commercials and on the radio.  Everyone knows at least one of their songs.  Yet, they don’t get anywhere near the credit of that quartet from across the big pond.  Sounds of Summer makes a pretty good case for these guys to be taken a little more seriously.

And, while there have been way too many Beach Boys’ compilations over the years, if you’re going to own just one…this is definitely the one.  Jam packed with 30 (yes, you read right, 30) songs on one single disc, all the major periods of their music are represented. There’s the great early surf and car songs (“Surfin’ USA,” “Surfin’ Safari,” “Shut Down,” “Little Deuce Coupe”), the harmony-filled  ballads (“Surfer Girl,” “In My Room,” “Don’t Worry Baby”), the Pet Sounds-era singles (“Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “God Only Knows,” and “Sloop John B”), and the experimental stuff (“Good Vibrations,” “Heroes and Villains”).

There’s even a smattering of their latter years with their so-so cover of Chuck Berry’s “Rock n’ Roll Music,” and the much better take on the Del Viking’s “Come Go With Me.”  Unfortunately, they had to include the downright embarrassing 1988 “comeback” hit in “Kokomo.”  There’s really not much to quibble about: all the major chart hits are here and some of the lesser, but still good songs as well.  For casual fans, this is the collection to get. As a side note, for those who prefer to download the mp3s: do the math – 30 tracks for a single album download is an absolute steal for the Sounds of Summer in digital form.

For those looking for more, there’s actually a companion piece to this disc, The Warmth of the Sun, with yet another 30 tracks.  While certainly not as hit-packed as this collection, it does get into the lesser-known, yet equally satisfying tracks from the Beach Boys.  –Tony Peters