The Beach Boys' recent 50th anniversary tour had its ups and downs. First Brian Wilson said he wasn't going to re-join the group. Then he agreed. The reunited band played Good Vibrations during the Grammy Awards—with a few technical difficulties and universal acclaim. Then the band hit the road, where they took a little heat for creakiness. Then came unnecessary political comments by band members and recent reports that Mike Love had fired Brian from the group, which Love subsequently denied.
Lost in the all the dust and drama was news that two new Beach Boys CD packages were on their way: 12 albums remastered and issued in glossy mini LP gatefold covers and a greatest hits box (The Beach Boys: Fifty Big Ones) with tracks plucked from the fresh remasterings.
Both packages were released yesterday by EMI and I must say the results are a vast improvement over the previous sets re-issued in 1999. I've given the new releases several hard listens, comparing them with earlier issues, and found the clarity on the new tracks startling. Even more exciting is all of the new information displayed on the latest remasters. You actually can hear instruments you never even knew existed on the originals, resulting in a greater appreciation for Brian's layered rock-meets-harmony vision.