The Beach Boys

Unsurpassed Masters, Vol. 15 (1966) "Good Vibrations"

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Legend has it that over 18 hours of recording sessions were held in order for Brian Wilson to document the Beach Boys' genre-breaking single "Good Vibrations." Unsurpassed Masters, Vol. 15 (1966) captures over three and a quarter of those hours, which likewise present Wilson at the acme of his proactive pop music prowess. While the unauthorized nature of this box set will render it hard to find, true enthusiasts should persevere, as the quality and quantity are indeed unsurpassed. In essence, there are two distinct renditions of the song presented here. The first has a heavier R&B vibe and includes the alternate "I bet I know what she's like..." verse as well as a new fuzz-bass solo and other subtle changes. The first sessions began in February of 1966 and the final ones were held some seven months later. Using the studio as his canvas and the crème de la crème of Los Angeles studio musicians as his literal sonic palette, Wilson can be heard taking the Wrecking Crew through their paces until thoroughly satisfied -- sometimes changing horses midstream if any other ideas were presented for him to explore. Among the luminaries involved in creating "Good Vibrations" are Hal Blaine (drums/percussion), Carol Kaye (bass), Al Casey (guitar), Don Randi (piano), and Larry Knechtel (organ). The sort of extreme repetition found on this volume will inevitably have limited appeal. Conversely, it is likened unto manna for those eager to experience the unique and real-time methodology Wilson incorporates as he extends himself far beyond the traditional role of songwriter or even musician. The stereo image is perfectly balanced and the depth of soundscape is remarkable for any recording, authorized or not.

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