Judging by the hits on my blog, by far and away the most popular thing I have written about (and I didn’t write that much) was about the upcoming vinyl record re-issues by Analogue Productions of some of the Beach Boys catalogue. AP have picked 13 lp’s to re-issue with some being both issued in the stereo and mono versions.
Note: Since he announcement some of the remainder of the catalogue has been re-issued by Capitol Records.
First off the presses just before Christmas were the Boy’s first five lp’s in mono; Surfin’ Safari, Surfin’ USA, Surfer Girl, Little Deuce Coupe and Shut Down Vol.2.
So far I have dipped my toe in the pool with Surfer Girl.
Before I get to how the lp looks and sounds I will ramble a bit about the Beach Boys…
Around the age of 11 I became aware of the Beach Boys records – I had bought singles by the Beatles and Hollies and others then POW I became aware of the Beach Boy’s. This is long before the days of internet and TV and Radio channels galore. Records were expensive and as a 11 year old I didn’t have a hope in Hell’s chance of affording an full-price lp. Early in 1970 saw a couple of budget price Beach Boy compilations released (one on Star Line and one on MFP). At last I had not one but two Beach Boy lp’s! And they got pretty well played on an old Dansette Record Player. I still have the records – can’t quite bring myself to bin them.
Not long after, three things happened; I started a paper round (££££), the Beach Boys became rather un-hip and stereo had fully taken over from mono in the lp world. The upside of this was I was able to pick up a number of their albums in mono at around half price (19/11 in old money) in Record Shop sales. Some I never saw, but I picked up about half of them. The down side was I liked an un-hip band (not good at school for image!) but they just seemed so much better than most of the Prog Rock bands records classmates had under their arms.
As I went through my teens my taste developed and widened but even to this day I still love some of the old BB records. As I came on to them later than many I didn’t struggle with how their music changed and actually prefer their post Pet Sounds output (up to and including Holland) to their earlier records, and while occasionally play their later recordings I rarely play the early stuff – and when I do it is in the car – just how they were made to be heard originally – mixed for the car radio.
So back to Surfer Girl – it was one of those I picked up half price – and is what appears to be an original UK mono pressing – I lost it to my big brother for a while (he liked the Surfin’ songs! but he did take me, as a 14 year old, to see the Boy’s play the Brighton Dome on their Carl and the Passions tour) and I picked up a tatty but playable early US copy in my days of selling records at the Brighton Record Fair (where are you Mart?). So I was able to see how the AP Surfer Girl compares to two records made when the source tapes were still fresh!
Here I may disappoint you – all three sounded pretty darn good – none got in the way of the listening pleasure – it is amazing how even a well played record can sound. Nit picking, I could play the AP re-issue louder as it presented a clearer picture but wonder if they have cut the vocals too hot, or maybe I need to tweak my cartridge? Yes there were differences, but all have the same “sound” and the vocals, and instruments weave their magic in the medium size mono soundstage – remember it is a 1963 acoustic – don’t expect miracles – and different systems may well bring out greater differences – but after a few seconds I just got dragged into enjoying the music and marvelling at the brilliance and artistry of Brian Wilson and the Boys – Brian would have been 20 or 21 at the time of making this record – astounding.
The AP reissue sleeve is very high quality and picks up the essence of the original although I am not sure what happened to the colouring of the photo on the cover which – see above photos of the US and UK originals.
Well done to all those involved in the re-issue programme – I am struggling to remember the last time these were available on vinyl as the Surfer Girl lp. There was the mo-fi issue in the late ’80’s and in ’94 in the US all the Capitol lp’s were re-issued but in the UK it must be 40 years ago and realistically the re-issue will be cheaper than a good original.