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The Beach Boys In Concert
The Beach Boys

Brother 6484
Released: December 1973
Chart Peak: #25
Weeks Charted: 24
Certified Gold: 10/4/74

This is simply everything a live album should be, and then some. Most of the performances hold their own beside the quality of the originals (even in those stubborn, hard-to-get-at places -- "Marcella," "Heroes And Villains," "Funky Pretty") and yet they're never static. They remain faithful without becoming plodding or repetitive.

The production is Carl Wilson's idea of pretty good with a few messy spots, which means it's unflaggingly superb but you can hear him whispering "Shut up, you guys" right before he launches his haunting vocal on "Caroline No."

The set itself is carefully selected to touch on all facets of their 12-year-career, and it highlights the ease with which they can slip from a Phil Spector sound ("Don't Worry Baby") into one influenced by Chuck Berry ("Surfin' USA"), or from "Good Vibrations" into "Fun, Fun, Fun."

An accurate listing of the high points here would have to include all 20 cuts, but the ferocious intensity they bring to "Darlin'" puts that one in a class all its own. "Marcella" is their most electrifying single moment, beefed up by a brilliant pedal-steel from Ricky Fataar and a louder, faster, grittier arrangement than the version on Carl and the Passions. The set's one new song, "We Got Love," mixes fresh rhythms with that eternally versatile arranging style, and generally bodes well for the futures of all concerned.

There are five very able sidemen playing alongside the band's six touring members; aside from that there's no outside help -- just one tiny overdub, an ooh-part on "Funky Pretty." Nitpickers may want to note that this collection doesn't include such eminently includable numbers as "I Get Around," "Do It Again" and "Long Promised Road," which were presumably left off, because, since nothing else was expendable, they would have necessitated a three-volume set.

- Janet Maslin, Rolling Stone, 1/31/74.

Bonus Reviews!

The six Beach Boys' double-set LP is a mirror of their expansion while holding onto their good time surfing roots. This domestic tour LP has the usual host of past single hits plus eight new works. The older works have the feeling of openness ("Good Vibrations," "Surfin' USA," "Sloop John B."), while works like "Marcella" take on the broad sound produced by the large on-location venues. The group's harmonic vocal work remains its strong point.

- Billboard, 1974.

From the sound of this double LP, the only way one can get into a Beach Boys concert is by claiming to be a personal friend of the deceased. The stiff, in this case, is the band itself which babbles through a four-sided batch of mouldy oldies with all the grace of an epileptic juggler. Harmonies are off, instrumentation is pitiable and the dense Beach Boys sound, which one launched a zillion hit singles, comes off sounding thick as a brick and just as buoyant. A must for masochists.

- Ed Naha, Circus, 3/74.

Strangely enough, the Beach Boys can bring their show off live. I say strange because they rely so heavily on special effects, tight vocal harmonies, and plenty of over-dubbing. Yet they don't lose much of this onstage, and in fact, the energy helps to intensify their sound. This is an unexpected surprise, complete with a new tune or two, and proves that their woodies haven't rusted and their surf-boards aren't merely relics on the wall.

- Jon Tiven, Circus Raves, 4/74.

With virtually no audience presence on this live album, it's a good deal less exciting than either of their Capitol live recordings. But some of the concert renditions ("Don't Worry Baby") are superior to the studio originals, and the record as a whole is consistently rewarding. A farewell to the band's third golden era, with a big sound and an excellent cross-section of songs. * * *

- Bruce Eder, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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