The Beach Boys: Sail on Sailor 1972 (UMe/Capitol/Brother, 6 CDs). This fine set, which expands on the albums “Carl and the Passions — So Tough” and “Holland,” including remastered versions of both, is a wonderful follow-up to last year’s “Feel Flows,” which covered the period 1969-71 and the albums “Sunflower” and “Surf’s Up.” The year 1972 was one of change for the Beach Boys, especially with the diminished participation of main songwriter/arranger Brian Wilson.

By 1972, their record sales were drying up and their 18th studio album, confusingly named “Carl and the Passions – So Tough,” was a commercial disaster. Its two singles, “You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone” and “Marcella,” did not crack Billboard’s Hot 100. In an attempt to build sales, the album was bundled in a 2-for-1 deal with copies of 1966’s “Pet Sounds,” then undergoing a critical reappraisal. Drummer Dennis Wilson injured his hand in a household chainsaw accident and was unable to perform, and longtime bassist Bruce Johnston quit.

Guitarist Blondie Chaplin and drummer Ricky Fataar, from the South African band Flame, which had been signed to Brother Records, were recruited to replace Dennis Wilson and Johnson. The band, now led by guitarist Carl Wilson, regrouped in a barn outside of Amsterdam and recorded “Holland,” which yielded the classic hit “Sail on Sailor.”

This new compilation contains 80 previously unreleased tracks, demos and outtakes, including the first official release of Dennis Wilson’s fan favorite “Carry Me Home.” Included on the “Holland” disc is a remastered version of Brian Wilson’s EP, “Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairytale),” a fragmented children’s story with a prince, a pied piper (Brian, sounding a bit creepy, actually) and a magic transistor radio. There also are isolated backing tracks, a cappella versions, and radio promos.

The treat is the band’s complete Nov. 23, 1972, concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall on discs three and four, which was captured on 16-track tape, a rare technological luxury at the time. The band, which had a much more rock approach by then, rips through 23 classics, including “I Get Around,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” “Surfin’ USA,” “Sloop John B,” “Don’t Worry, Baby” and “Good Vibrations,” before ending with a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

“Carl and the Passions – So Tough” is a disjointed, eight-song effort, with only two songs — “You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone” and “Marcella” – written by Brian Wilson with lyricist Jack Rieley. Brian also arranged “He Come Down,” with its familiar Beach Boys vocals and a gospel flavor as it celebrates Maharishi consciousness, and did the orchestrations for Dennis’ two contributions, “Make It Good” and “Cuddle Up,” both written with Captain and Tennille’s Daryl Dragon. Al Jardine and Mike Love also collaborated on two tracks, as did newcomers Chaplin and Fataar, with the latter’s “Hold on Dear Brother” sounding like weak The Band.

The eight bonus tracks include Jardine’s demo of his setting Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” poem to music, a cappella versions of “All This Is This” and “Marcella,” and a good new mix of “He Come Down.”

“Holland” sees the band creating more as a team. Carl shipped and reassembled their home studio in The Netherlands. The album begins with the rapturous “Sail on, Sailor,” written by Brian with frequent collaborator Van Dyke Parks, Rieley and others, but sung by Chaplin. There is light Southern psychedelia, and doowop touches, in “Steamboat,” by Dennis, before the 10-minute “California Saga” trilogy, highlighted by Love’s jaunty “Big Sur,” but also containing “The Beaks of Eagles,” with a rather ponderous recitation, and Jardine’s “California,” which blends “Cool Cool Water” and “California Girls.” The album closes with another Brian song, “Funky Pretty,” with round-robin vocals by Jardine, Carl, Love, Chaplin, Fataar and Brian.

In addition to Brian’s EP, which is narrated by Rieley, there are seven bonus tracks on disc 2, including a new mix of the upbeat, slightly country “We Got Love,” and the unreleased “Hard Time” (a bit funky) and Dennis’ “Carry Me Home” (moody, about the fear of death). There also is a mostly instrumental, new mix of “Sail on Sailor.”

After the concert discs comes 21 tracks from 1972 sessions on disc five. Five are instrumentals with backing vocals. Of particular interest is a songwriting session for “Sail on Sailor,” as well as an a cappella mix. The unreleased “Oh Sweet Something” is nice, and there are three unreleased Brian instrumentals. Disc six contains 20 mostly unreleased tracks, including six unreleased 1973 live recordings of the new songs, with Billy Hinsche singing lead on “Sail on Sailor.” Six tracks are Brian’s work sessions for his EP. There also are Brian’s working-through demos for “Little Child” and “Susie Cincinnati,” and him combining his “I Need Your Love” with Steve Winwood’s “Gimme Some Lovin’.”

The set comes with a 48-page hardcover book with extensive liner notes and rare photos. Grade: box set A-

The Cure “Wish” deluxe set. Courtesy Elektra/Fiction/Rhino Records.


Cure: Wish: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Elektra/Fiction/Rhino, 3 CDs). Digitally remastered by Cure leader Robert Smith, who was never happy with the original mix, and Miles Showell, this edition of the last album by the original “Disintegration” lineup, and ninth album overall, shows how the album might have gone with its hefty selections of demos and instrumental alternate versions. Instead of just being Smith’s somewhat tortured vision, the 1992 album is a true band effort, and it embraces rock much more than previously, with the guitars cranked up for more of a live band feel and less use of synthesizers. The sound is often dense, buzzing and it yielded one of the band’s biggest hits in “Friday I’m in Love,” which topped the British charts and reached No. 2 in the U.S.

Initially, the album was going to be two: one called “Higher” and an atmospheric companion, “Music for Dreams.” Then it was going to be called “Swell.” The cover’s prominent drawing is meant to depict a song called “The Big Hand,” an early favorite during the sessions that was cut but is included here as a bonus track. The song is a confessional exploration of drug addiction. Interestingly, most of the band quit after the following tour in support of the album.

Among the other standout tracks are “High” (his lover gets higher than he can), the ballad “Apart” and “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea” with its standout opening drums by Boris Williams. The latter is one of several songs about impossible love. The opening “Open” talks about despair. While in “Doing the Unstuck,” Smith closes each verse with an uncharacteristic instruction of “Let’s get happy,” the closing “End” has Smith addressing the conflicted thoughts of an artist performing for an audience. He sings: “I think I’ve reached that point/Where giving up and going on/Are both the same dead end to me/Are both the same old song.” The song’s chorus repeats: “Please stop loving me/I am none of these things.” (In interviews, Smith said it was a message to himself, a reminder not to fall into the trappings of ego and delusion.)

Bassist Simon Gallup is extraordinary throughout, adding a melodic undercurrent that connects singles like “High” to goth throwbacks like “Trust.” Weaving between the rhythm section, one can hear guitarists Pearl Thompson (soon to accompany Jimmy Page and Robert Plant) and Perry Bamonte, a one-time roadie who adds some levity. Both “Doing the Unstuck” and “The Cut” rock out, with the latter being wah-wah drenched but also having a viola drifting through.

Disc two has 21 previously unreleased demos, of which 17 are instrumentals. The playful “Frogfish” is a bit jazzy and there is a softer version of “The Cut.” Disc three opens with five instrumentals, then six remixed or extended versions. There are nice versions of “Friday I’m in Love,” “High” and “A Letter to Elise.” The disc ends with a live, very heavy version of “End” (8:39). Included are the six B-sides from 2004’s “Join the Dots” box set and the four instrumentals on 1993’s cassette-only “Lost Wishes” EP.

The press release states that after listening back to the album this year, Smith said, “There’s a side to the album which I had kind of forgotten, a very gentle, yearning thing which is quite beautiful. ‘Trust’ is one of the best things we’ve ever done, I think, it’s played with great feeling, and ‘To Wish Impossible Things’ is another gorgeous, melancholic piece … in fact it could well be my favorite song on the record.”

The years that followed “Wish” saw Thompson and Gallup quit temporarily, while Williams left for good.
In all, 24 tracks are previously unreleased, and the set comes with a 24-page booklet, with liner notes, lyrics and previously unseen photographs. The original album was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Alternative Music Album category. Grade: A-

Tom Von Malder of Owls Head has reviewed music since 1972, just after graduation from Northwest-ern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has reviewed videos/DVDs since 1988.

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