The Beach Boys -- Pet Sounds 40th Anniversary CD/DVD (CapitolRecords/EMI)
When Pet Sounds was issued in the summer of 1966, it was all but dismissed. However, time has been the wiser when it comes to the undeniable brilliance of Brian Wilson's masterwork. With inspiration from the likes of Burt Bacharach ("Let's Get Away For A While") and The Kingston Trio ("Sloop John B."), Wilson single-handedly opened the pop music floodgates, liberating the genre from simply being the soundtrack to sock hops.
The audio CD of this double-disc set presents the original monaural and 1996 stereo mix of the long player -- along with the early mono version of "I Know There's An Answer" titled "Hang On To Your Ego". The DVD takes Pet Sounds into the 21st Century as the entire album is offered in both ultra high resolution stereo as well as a practically cocoon-like Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround option. It is here that listeners are bathed in the true grandeur of Wilson's rich instrumental arrangements and sumptuous vocal harmonies.
Apart from flawless audio content, the DVD also packs in five separate visual features. "The Making Of Pet Sounds" is a short mini-documentary with recent recollections by Wilson and the Beach Boys themselves. "Pet Stories," spotlights several of the recording session musicians and lyricist Tony Asher -- each of whom were specifically chosen by Wilson. There is also a segment from Sir George Martin's BBC-TV show Rhythm Of Life in which the legendary Beatles producer joins Wilson in the studio to get perspective on how Pet Sounds came together. Look for vintage videos for "Sloop John B.," a short promotional movie for Pet Sounds and the rarely-seen "Good Vibrations" film as well.
George Harrison -- Living In The Material World (Apple/EMI)
The re-evaluation of George Harrison's post-Beatle catalogue continues with the unveiling of Living In The Material World (1973) -- his second studio solo effort. The album was a huge success and topped charts worldwide undoubtedly due in part to the #1 single "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)".
So, 33 (and quite possible 1/3) years later, the music has been revisited, upgraded and made available in not one, but two new incarnations. The standard CD comes in a typical plastic jewel case and added to the audio disc's 11-song running order are the bonus tracks "Deep Blue" and "Miss O'Dell" -- both formerly available on hard-to-find and long out-of-print 45 rpm singles.
Those springing for the special limited package will find a pair of discs housed in a mini-box with an oversized 40-page, full-color booklet. In addition to the expanded and remastered CD, the companion DVD is loaded with exclusive audio and video content. The goodies include a short film originally commissioned by Harrison in 1973. There is footage of the album being pressed and manufactured, as well as highlights from the 'feast' photo shoot that yielded the memorable band personnel dining outdoors.
The DVD also boasts a clip capturing Harrison -- backed by Eric Clapton -- during his final concert tour in 1991 singing "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)." Finally, never-before-released demos of "Miss O'Dell," and "Sue Me, Sue You Blues," are visually accompanied by a slide-show of archival materials.
Whether replacing your well-worn copy or turning onto Living In The Material World for the first time, it is highly recommended that potential purchasers make haste and dig a bit deeper for the DVD incarnation. Especially since once they are gone, you can expect to pay 'collectors' prices', that is if you can find one at all.
Lou Reed -- Coney Island Baby (RCA/Legacy)
2006 marks three decades since Lou Reed's tough, yet introspective Coney Island Baby (1976). His inimitable songwriting is in full form for the opening mid-tempo rocker "Crazy Feeling," the jazzy, ethereal "Kicks," and the moody biographical "Coney Island Baby." Proving that he still has what it takes to kick out the jams, "Ooohhh Baby" propels forward with the vintage Lou Reed sneer and charm, which seethes above the rock-solid backbeat.
The contents have been extended to encompass half-a-dozen supplementary sides. Presented first are the single-only "Nowhere At All," as well as the studio outtakes "Downtown Dirt" and "Leave Me Alone." The latter two were first made available on the Between Thought & Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology (1992) box set. Finally are a trio of formerly-vaulted demos for the tunes "Crazy Feeling," "She's My Best Friend" and the title track "Coney Island Baby" -- with Reed leading a combo that includes one-time Velvet Underground member Doug Yule on guitar and bass.
Sublime -- Sublime:10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Geffen/UMe/Gasoline Alley/Skunk)
In the decade since Sublime's self-titled, major label debut effort, much has been said about the tragic and untimely passing of the trio's singer/songwriter and guitarist Bradley Nowell. His death -- mere weeks prior to the album's worldwide release -- has tended to overshadow (or arguably overamplify) Sublime's brilliant and genre-defining work.
Although Sublime (1996) was recorded digitally, technology has come leaps and bounds since then and the proof is in this newly-remastered package. The improved sonics are particularly evidence on woofer-pumpin' rhythm on "Doin' Time," or the beat-box driven "What I Got". The garage punk free-for-all "Paddle Out," similarly stands strong thanks to fidelity that simply overpowers its predecessor.
Keen-eyed fans might notice the alternate song sequencing, reflecting Nowell's initial intentions to open with a lo-fi cover of Bob Marley's "Trenchtown Rock" and a version of "Doin' Time," that quoted the Great American Songbook entry "Summertime" by George & Ira Gershwin. How many other neo-surf/punk bands were doing that?
The second CD is crammed full of extras. Of the 15 audio tracks, over half are being offered for the first time. Among them are instrumental readings of "What I Got," "Doin' Time," "Caress Me Down," and "April 29th 1992 (Miami)." Disc Two is likewise the place to find the videos for "What I Got," "Wrong Way," "Santeria," "Doin' Time," and "What I Got (reprise)." These videos do not require a DVD player and can be viewed on your desktop PC.
Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist and technical producer at WBT AM/FM in Charlotte, NC. He is a regular contributor to All Music Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and Gaston Gazette. Comments and questions can be sent to <email@example.com>.