The Warmth Of The Sun

The Beach Boys

What should you say to another Beach Boys’ ‘Best Of’ release? The Warmth Of The Sun is 28-track compilation, a ‘complement’ to the group’s release from 2004, Sounds Of Summer: The Very Best Of The Beach Boys. But Warmth boasts six tracks mixed in stereo for the first time, along with songs not only handpicked by the surviving band members themselves, but sequenced by them as well. This is supposedly a collection showcasing ‘the creative arc’ of this seminal California rock and roll group.

I might get thrown out of the country for admitting this, but I ain’t and never have been the biggest Beach Boys fan. I appreciate Brian Wilson’s songwriting and production abilities. I recognize the world-class harmonies, and own Pet Sounds and Smile. During those rare moments when I listen to these guys, I usually go for the more ‘experimental’ stuff, even if it’s popular songs, like “Good Vibrations,” “Sloop John B,” or really anything on Smile. What we have on The Warmth Of The Sun though, with a handful of exceptions (and I’ll note them later), is the old sun-and-sand, 2:50 minute epics that made the boys so beloved but what eventually brought Brian Wilson to madness (or near to it).

With songs that span three decades, there are definitely some gems here. “The Little Girl I Once Knew,” one of my personal faves “409,” the sumptuous “Disney Girls (1957)” and “All This Is That” (in my humble opinion these last two are the best tracks here), and even “California Dreamin’” Then there are the real special moments. “All Summer Long” revisits the sun-and-sand themes, but with its new stereo mix, the song has an unusual percussion backing that illustrates what the boys were capable of. “Sail On Sailor” is fun, sung by Blondie Chaplin. And I just love the way “It’s OK” grooves. We are treated to the depth of what these boys from the west coast were capable of; I just wish within the 28 selected songs, we were given even wackier, more experimental examples. Then again, the Smile and Pet Sounds packages that have been released in recent years have plenty of that.

If you’re looking for a user-friendly Beach Boys collection, I’d highly recommend this CD. If you are looking for stereo mixes on “Wendy” and “All Summer Long,” this is the one to have. Want the Beach Boys’ take on “Then I Kissed Her”? Then rush out and buy this CD. When another greatest hits package appears from a band like the Beach Boys, I question whether Capitol isn’t simply flogging its old catalog or selling an exhausted horse. Either way, Warmth Of The Sun will either crash on the shore or ride out the never-ending wave.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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