The Beach Boys

Landlocked: The Unreleased 1970 Album and More

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Where to begin with this jewel. Part of some anonymous bootlegger's excellent digipack series, complete with mock Capitol-style artwork, Landlocked: The Unreleased 1970 Album and More is an exquisite 19-song assembly of the material intended for the unissued record, with some superb bonus tracks added. There are at least a half-dozen songs on this CD that easily rate as some of the best work that the group did during the '70s, and three of those could qualify as some of their most beautiful and affecting work ever. The sound is excellent throughout, the orchestral backing (right down to the kettle drums) on "When Girls Get Together" pumping out of the speakers in dazzling fidelity, and "Loop de Loop" (which sounds like a charming, not-too-distant cousin of "Heroes and Villains"), the ornate "San Miguel," the breezy and charming "I Just Got My Pay," and the ebullient "Soulful Old Man Sunshine" (which could pass for a Motown cut and is worth the price of the CD by itself) are all a match for the quality on the 2001 vintage Capitol remasterings of the group's authorized late-'60s albums. This disc also contains "The Monterey Saga," an early, working version of a piece that eventually evolved into "California Saga" from Holland -- the latter is quite good in its own right, even as the group tries to sing lyrics that were written from a historical/fantasy context (with heavy use of synthesizer), and offers a glimpse into the group's songwriting and production process. "Big Sur" is among the prettiest songs the group ever recorded. There is no "Susie Cincinnati," "Til I Die," or "Lookin' at Tomorrow," but as bonus tracks listeners get the unissued studio version of "We Got Love" (which is a lot more impressive than the live cut that was eventually released) and early versions of "Sail on Sailor," "Awake," and "My Solution," plus a live rendition of Dennis Wilson's "Only With You" from 1972 (sung by Carl Wilson). All of that and the band's delightful "Fourth of July" -- a thoroughly dazzling expression of musical dexterity and patriotism (that would have seemed totally out of place in 1970) -- and the unmixed backing track on "Sail on Sailor," in perfect fidelity, makes this disc as essential to any Beach Boys collection as the expanded version of Pet Sounds or the most coherent of the Smile bootlegs, and an ideal gift as well.