The Beach Boys

Hawthorne, CA

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AllMusic Review by

Ever wanted to hear the Beach Boys' 1965 album track "Salt Lake City" in stereo instead of mono, or maybe an a cappella version of "Can't Wait Too Long," which the band recorded in 1967 but never released until it was tacked onto a 1990 reissue? If so, then you're undoubtedly one of the more obsessive Beach Boys fans out there, and Hawthorne, CA was produced with you -- and only a scant few others -- in mind. More akin to an audio scrapbook or musical documentary than a true rarities compilation, this two-disc set is packed with over two exhausting hours of session excerpts, alternate versions, backing tracks (à la Stack-O-Tracks), and a handful of stereo remixes. It's also interspersed with dialogue from bandmembers, a process that only enhances the already fragmentary nature of a collection like this. The only genuinely new songs are "Lonely Days," an artifact from the Wild Honey era, and Dennis Wilson's "A Time to Live in Dreams" from 1968. Still, almost every track has never been released previously, and fans of the band's lost masterpiece Smile will find several tracks of intriguing material, including revealing stereo versions of "Heroes and Villains" and "Vegetables." Also included is a considerable excerpt from the original tapes of the Beach Boys' first garage session (for the "Surfin'" single), complete with Dennis' wacky mic testing and threats from various bandmates that they'll get popped in the nose if they laugh during another take. Hawthorne, CA proves two things over and over again -- with every a cappella mix, it proves the Beach Boys were one of the most amazing harmonists of the rock era, and with several of the newly stereo versions, listeners can hear what a good stereo remix can do to even the most lackluster songs, like 1970s "Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song)" -- itself a misguided attempt to duplicate the success of 1966's "Sloop John B." A bounty of intriguing songs for the collector and true-believer fan, but far from necessary for disinterested listeners.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 0:48 Spotify
2 2:40
3
0:56 SpotifyAmazon
4 0:45 Spotify
5 2:31 Amazon
6 2:03 SpotifyAmazon
7 2:35 SpotifyAmazon
8
0:15 Spotify
9 1:56 Amazon
10 1:51 SpotifyAmazon
11
0:25 Spotify
12 2:26 SpotifyAmazon
13
0:29 Spotify
14 2:05 Amazon
15 2:49 Amazon
16 2:32 Amazon
17
0:21 Spotify
18 1:49 Amazon
19 2:08 Amazon
20 1:12 Amazon
21 1:06 Amazon
22
2:12 SpotifyAmazon
23 2:33 Amazon
24
0:29 Spotify
25 2:52 Amazon
26 3:08 Amazon
27 0:22 Spotify
28 2:19 Amazon
29 2:25

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 0:51
2
0:43 Spotify
3 3:13
4 4:09
5 3:40
6 0:56
7 3:01
8 0:49
9
0:52 Spotify
10
0:14 Spotify
11 2:35
12
feat: Brian Wilson
1:35
13 3:39
14
0:19 Spotify
15 1:50 Spotify
16 3:17
17
0:10 Spotify
18 3:15
19
0:21 Spotify
20 3:12
21 3:29
22
0:27 Spotify
23 2:51
24 3:16
25 1:20
26
0:39 Spotify
27 2:33
28
2:28 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick