Invariably, legacy acts of a certain age slow down when it comes to releasing new music. Record labels do a good job keeping the music front and center with new compilations. There is always the conundrum for the long-time fan, who has dutifully collected each collection. In the case of The Beach Boys (along with The Who and a few others), I have been intrigued with the seemingly endless sequence of collections on offer.

But with my firm belief in the genius that is Brian Wilson, I have generally enjoyed the Beach Boys collections over the years. The four disc box set released in 1993 during the heyday of box sets is rather compleat, as is the four disc exploration of Pet Sounds (itself an album that barely ran barely 36 minutes long).

In any event now we have Sounds Of Summer – The Very Best Of The Beach Boys. Expanded from its original 30 tracks into a three disc collection of 80 remastered tracks, it serves as a rather definitive collection of all the necessary tracks and a clutch of deep tracks to assuage the lon-time fan. In fact, the ubiquity of the hits often causes folks to overlook gems hidden in the albums.

The original collection was released two decades ago and hovered in the charts for over 100 weeks, testament to the band’s permanent place in the music pantheon. No less an observer than Bruce Springsteen has stated “There’s no greater world created in rock and roll than The Beach Boys, the level of musicianship, I don’t think anybody’s touched it yet.”

The new collection of course features nearly every US Top 40 hit of The Beach Boys’ songbook, including “California Girls,” “I Get Around,” “Surfer Girl,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “God Only Knows,” “Good Vibrations,” “Be True To Your School,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Kokomo,” “Barbara Ann,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” “In My Room” among many hits. The set includes 24 remixes.

Given the vast number of books and documentaries which attempt to explore, describe, define and/or explain Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, it is clear they have established a critical place in the context of American culture. 

The release is part of the 60th anniversary plans that Capitol Records and UMe are organizing around The Beach Boys. Further remastered reissues will follow, but this collection does a great job capturing the essence of an American institution.


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.