Brian Wilson did quite a bit of production work outside of his main gig with the Beach Boys, especially in the early to mid-'60s. This 23-track collection -- entirely drawn from pre-1966 releases, except for a 1969 single by the Honeys and a 1973 single by American Spring -- doesn't round up all of them, as some were unavailable for contractual reasons. But it's a good anthology of this facet of Wilson's career, with many obscure songs that are difficult to find and have been seldom reissued. As is usually the case for outside production/songwriting ventures by major stars, few of Wilson's non-Beach Boys ventures were hits, and in fact none of the items on this CD were. As is also usually the case in these situations, the material (frequently though not always written or co-written by Wilson) was more lightweight than what was being devised for the figure's principal project, the Beach Boys in Wilson's case. But this disc is still pretty enjoyable, featuring as it does a few genuinely outstanding cuts in which Wilson got to tinker with some production approaches. Foremost among these is Sharon Marie's 1964 Ronettes sound-alike single "Thinkin' Bout You Baby," which has a verse that was reworked with some changes to provide the Beach Boys' 1968 hit "Darlin'." Also of special note is Glen Campbell's 1965 single "Guess I'm Dumb," which has a confessional lyric and orchestral pop/rock production on par with the Beach Boys' own best album tracks of the period. Only slightly below this level is Gary Usher's 1964 single "Sacramento," which actually sounds a little more personal than much of the Beach Boys' output of that year. Brian Wilson himself is heard on the one-off 1964 single by the Survivors, with an A-side ("Pamela Jean") with an identical melody to that used for the Beach Boys' "Car Crazy Cutie," and an instrumental B-side ("After the Game") that's a vague forerunner of the lush instrumentals on Pet Sounds. The other tracks on this compilation are more frivolous, but they do testify to the large influence Phil Spector had on Wilson in the mid-'60s (particularly in the tracks by the Honeys). Other oddities of note are the Little Eva imitation by Rachel & the Revolvers; the 1973 Columbia single by American Spring, the band featuring Marilyn Rovell and Diane Rovell of the Honeys; and the cover of "Vegetables" (from the Beach Boys' Smiley Smile album) by the Laughing Gravy, a pseudonym for Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean. The ambitious package is tied together by excellent liner notes in a 20-page booklet.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger