The Beach Boys

Beach Boys Video Party! [DVD]

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This two-hour bootleg DVD has no less than 43 clips of the Beach Boys in the 1960s and early 1970s (usually with Brian Wilson in the onscreen lineup), taken from live concerts, television performances, promotional films, and even theatrical movie releases in which the group appeared. Many have shown up, in part or full and often in better quality, on official video releases; the image and sound quality varies from excellent to funky; and some '60s Beach Boys clips that have surfaced elsewhere aren't included here. And yet there's no denying that this is a whole lotta fun, fun, fun, and perhaps the best performance-only Beach Boys video that's likely to be compiled, unless an official company is somehow able to compile a similar release from better or original sources. Although some critics have labeled the band a subpar live act, the pre-'66 footage (which fills up the majority of this disc) truly demonstrates this wasn't so -- they were an exciting and lively group on-stage, if sometimes corny in presentation, and not fully able to reproduce the magnificence of their recorded sound. It's also good that many of the clips here are wholly live, or at least contain live vocals, though some are obviously mimed.

Highlights and/or rarities are many, starting with a live clip of "Surfin' Safari" when David Marks was still in the band, and running through numerous Ed Sullivan Show and Shindig numbers where they present many of their big early hits, including "I Get Around," "Wendy," "Fun Fun Fun," and "Help Me Rhonda." Britain's Ready Steady Go audience gives the band's "I Get Around" and "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)" such a tumultuous reception that they all but drown out the between-song interview chatter. It gets even better with the inclusion of the four songs they did in late 1964 on The T.A.M.I. Show, which have been rarely screened as their section is missing from most prints of that classic concert movie. Beach Boys connoisseurs seeking a few non-obvious songs will be pleased by their performances of non-hits like "Please Let Me Wonder," "Long Tall Texan," "The Things We Did Last Summer," "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow," and "Johnny B. Goode." And then there are their fairly little-known cameos in the movies Girls on the Beach and The Monkey's Uncle, the band actually backing Annette Funicello singing the theme song for the latter film.

As good as much Beach Boys music was in the second-half of the 1960s and early 1970s, it must be said that the clips from this era on the DVD are a bit of a letdown. Brian Wilson isn't always there; the gap between the sophistication of the studio arrangements and their relatively pedestrian onstage re-creations is often evident; and the band themselves are more subdued and less engaged. Still, it ain't all that easy to find celluloid representations of Beach Boys songs like "Breakaway," "Friends," and "Cool Cool Water," whether live, mimed, or via promo film. There's certainly more rare Beach Boys '60s footage out there, too, but what's here is a plentiful helping of the band in their prime (and a little past their prime).