Before Pet Sounds, before SMiLE, heck, before "Surfin' USA," The Beach Boys were a scrappy family band with little but big dreams and tight harmonies. Things happened quickly for brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine; in September 1961, the quintet first captured their voices together, and by the following May, they had signed a seven-year contract with major Capitol Records. In the few months in between, The Beach Boys recorded nine songs including "Surfin'," "Surfin' Safari" and "Surfer Girl" for local music entrepreneurs Hite and Dorinda Morgan. Those songs have been released and re-released countless times over the years, both on high-profile, collector-oriented releases from labels like DCC Compact Classics and Varese Sarabande, and on cheap budget issues likely to be found in the aisles of a grocery store. Now, Omnivore Recordings is stepping up to the plate with the most comprehensive look yet at the early days of America's Band. Becoming The Beach Boys: The Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions, due on August 26, promises to include "every surviving take, false start, master take and studio banter," making for a truly definitive collection.
This 2-CD set ties in with Jim Murphy's recent book Becoming The Beach Boys 1961-1963 in which he chronicles the group's earliest years. Featuring 62 tracks (over 40 previously unreleased), Omnivore's CD provides the perfect companion to Murphy's deeply-researched book. He provides the liner notes for this release, and the booklet will also include photographs of the earliest records issued by the Morgans as well as images of the original session tape boxes.
Murphy writes, "Appropriately enough, 'Surfin',' the Beach Boys' first effort, released in late November 1961, had its origin near the ocean. During a Saturday morning fishing trip on the Redondo Beach Pier, Mike and Dennis noted there were guitar instrumentals conjuring the feel of surfing, but no one had yet sung about it. 'I remember Dennis and Michael going to the beach, and when they came back they were talking about making a song about surfing,' Carl recalled. 'That's the first thing I remember as far as the reality of a group actually forming.'"
Omnivore's release of Becoming The Beach Boys: The Complete Hite and Dorinda Morgan Sessions has been authorized by The Beach Boys. Filling in yet another part of the enduring puzzle of the greatest vocal group in rock-and-roll history, it's due on August 26 on both CD and DD. Check out the pre-order links below!
The Beach Boys, Becoming The Beach Boys: The Complete Hite and Dorinda Morgan Sessions (Omnivore, 2016) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
- (Demo) 2. (Takes 1-2) 3. (Take 3) 4. (Take 4) 5. (Take 5)
- (Take 6) 7. (Take 7) 8. (Take 8) 9. (Master)
- (Demo - Take 1) 11. (Demo - Take 2) 12. (Demo - Take 3) 13. (Takes 1-2)
- (Takes 3, 5-6) 15. (Take 7) 16. (Takes 8-11) 17. (Take 12) 18. (Master)
- (Rehearsal - Take 1) 20. (Rehearsal - Take 2) 21. (Rehearsal - Take 3)
- (Take 1) 23. (Take 2) 24. (Take 4)
- (Takes 3-4) 26. (Takes 5-6) 27. (Take 10) 28. (Overdub - Take 1 on Take 60
- (Overdub - Take 2 on Take 10) 30. (Stereo Overdub)* 31. (Master)
- (Take 1) 2. (Take 2) 3. (Take 3) 4. (Take 4) 5. (Take 5)
- (Take 6) 7. (Master) 8. (Overdub - Lead Vocal)
- (Take 1) 10. (Take 2) 11. (Overdub - Takes 1-2) 12. (Overdub - Take 4)
- (Master) 14. (Demo - April 1962 Guitar Solo)
"Beach Boy Stomp" (a.k.a. "Karate")
- (Take 1) 16. (Rehearsal - Take 2) 17. (Overdub - Take 1 on Take 1)
- (Overdub - Take 2 on Take 1) 19. (Master)
- (Overdub - Take 1)* 21. (Takes 2-4)* 22. (Take 5)*
- (Take 7)* 24. (Single Master) 25. Album (Master)
"What Is A Young Girl Made Of"
- (Demo) 27. (Overdub - Take 1)* 28. (Overdub - Take 3)* 29. (Overdub - Takes 4-5)*
- (Overdub - Take 6)* 31. (Overdub - Take 7)* 32. (Master)
All Tracks Performed by The Beach Boys Except "Barbie" and "What Is A Young Girl Made Of" Performed by Kenny And The Cadets
All Tracks Mono except (*) indicates stereo
I'm a huge Beach Boys fan, but I find this release ridiculous.
Agreed. Is this why Omnivore hasn't finished the Big Star Third box yet?
Mark I. says
Wonderful news, thanks Joe! As usual, you're all over it.
This is one of the Holy Grails of the BBs fanworld. Some of the earliest recordings by one of rock's most important and influential acts.
Philip Cohen says
Brother Records, The Beach Boys' company has already stopped one previous label that attempted to release a complete Morgan Productions 2-CD set. As a Beach Boys completist, I'll happily buy this if it is released.
Terry Hackbarth says
As the article says ..."Omnivore’s release of Becoming The Beach Boys: The Complete Hite and Dorinda Morgan Sessions has been authorized by The Beach Boys."
As you mention, it has been released in other forms many times (although not quite as many times as that Steely Dan one with "Mock Turtle Soup" on it). I have a version with several takes of each song, and I don't think I need one with *every* outtake.
Seems strange to pick and choose before you've heard them all.
Phil Cohen says
There may be a reason why The Beach Boys finally decided to not challenge this release: because they didn't want these 54 to 55 year old recordings to enter public domain in the UK & Europe.
Yes, these outtakes are basically footnotes and trivia for completist fans, but so are the truckloads of Beach Boys outtakes released by the unofficial "Sea of Tunes" label. Yeah, I bought 'em all.
Phil Cohen says
Now there can be no doubt that this release is authorized: Beach Boys compiler/remixer Mark Linett (under his user name "YRPLACE", as in his studio "Your Place or Mine") has confirmed this on the Beach Boys fan forum http://www.smileysmile.net
It is quite interesting to see the April 1962 overdubbed version of "Judy" amongst the material included. This was the version on the tape which Murry Wilson used to audition the group for Capitol. The tape box is shown in the booklet with the 5-CD set "Good Vibrations: 30 Years of The Beach Boys". It is now apparent that this tape contained tracks from the group's first session at Western Studios (with engineer Chuck Britz) [the hit version of "Surfin' Safari", "409", and an apparently unfinished mix of "The Lonely Sea", without the harmony vocals that were added during the "Surfin U.S.A." album sessions ]. A version of "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring"(heard on the "Good Vibrations:30 Years of The Beach Boys" 5-CD set) was apparently also included, though not listed on the box.
"Surfin' Safari" was listed with ditto marks underneath, indicating the inclusion of two versions(likely the Morgan-produced version and the Britz-engineered Western Studios[Hit] version). "Judy" was listed on the tape box, leading some to wonder whether there was ever a Western Studios version of that song. We now have the answer. The Morgan-produced recording of "Judy" was subject to additional overdubbing at the Western studios sessions in April 1962. For Omnivore to have access to that overdubbed version of "Judy" makes it obvious that The Beach Boys have cooperated fully with this project. Then, the entire contents of the audition tape will have been released. Wow!!!
I just got this today & by reading Phil's comments above, this should be one exciting release considering it's content, well, best I get to checking it out, oh, as of this writing, not available on Amazon till the 26 of August.
Philip Cohen says
As I mentioned, there had been an attempt to release this material before (16 years ago) which was stopped by The Beach Boys. Apparently, that attempt got as far as the creation of a few promotional CD-R's. A week before the official release, one person who had hoarded a set of those CD-R's for the past 5 years permitted the 2000 version (titled "First Wave") and its artwork to circulate on the internet, ostensibly so that people can compare the 2000 Steve Hoffman mastering versus the 2016 Mark Linett mastering. The 2000 version has all but two selections present in the 2016 version.
I've listened to the material and can report that it offers no revelations. There are almost no variations in the overall arrangements; merely an attempt to get a take free of instrumental mistakes. The 1-CD "Lost and Found" has all of the "master" takes and the best alternates.