The Beach Boys

Greatest Hits 1966-1969, Vol. 2

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This 28-song Japanese import covers the second half of the group's original stay on Capitol Records, when their sound and their songs (and the members themselves) all got very serious and their music got very complex. Hooked around their singles and B-sides, it's not only a good survey of their sound from the period and how it evolved, but also most enjoyable, embracing some of their most personal music and some of their most accessible sounds, everything from "Good Vibrations" to "Caroline No," and from chant-like pieces such as "You're Welcome" to achingly beautiful pop pieces like "Breakaway" and "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring" (which, stylistically, doesn't really belong here except that the group did do it on-stage during this period). The bass drum in "You're Welcome" sounds like it's in the same room with you and the piano, Theremin, and bass on "Wild Honey," and all of the instruments on "Gettin' Hungry," are just as close, and they sound like original raw studio masters, they're so clean and detailed. One only wishes that Capitol Records in America had mustered the courage to put out a set like this at any time during the vinyl era, and it speaks volumes for the nature of the Beach Boys' fandom in Japan that EMI-Toshiba would put it out there. The programming speaks for itself, and state-of-the-art sound is a major plus; the 31-dollar list price is a drawback, and the notes are in Japanese, though there are lyrics in English that seem to avoid most of the usual levels of mis-translation found on these imported CDs.