I own about ten different Beach Boys collections, but I am always willing to look at a new one. Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys is an outstanding single-CD compilation with 30 songs covering the Boys' entire career, the best single-CD set yet from the greatest American group of the '60s.
Not only does the collection have 30 great songs, but it also has invaluable information on each one: year of release, highest chart position, producer, songwriter, and the name of the lead singer, which helped me finally sort out once and for all who sounds like what. All of that for $13.99 - now that's value.
The story of the Beach Boys is the story of the pursuit of paradise. The Beach Boy's immaculate blending of angelic voices provide the auditory and symbolic thrill of an earthly paradise. The darker Brian Wilson songs don't touch this same nerve. The public has largely ignored them as aberrant. The Beach Boy's amazing success with compilations and live shows over the years emphasizes this point: the public would rather not have to do the filtering.
Historically, the New World was sold as an earthly paradise from the outset. America was a land where "God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state" (Roger Williams, 1644). America was a land of vast natural resources and uncountable acres of land free for the homesteading.
Prior to that, America was the home of Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth. Instead of Eternal Youth, Ponce de Leon found Florida, land of the Eternal Old, but that's another story. The hope of eternal youth persisted, just below the surface, until the frontiers of America had been exhausted: no magic fountain, not even boundless land. Even if America didn't hold the secret to eternal life, it didn't seem unreasonable that America could still yield paradise.
American history is littered with tales of failed Utopian societies. There has been one great success: Mormon Utah. The Shakers and the Harmony Society awaited the millennium communally. The denizens of Fruitland, in 19th century New England collected thousands of books on metaphysics, but neglected to figure out agriculture and went down the horticultural toilet in a few years.
"Brook Farm" was created with the notion that the individual, not God or nature, had the power to create a better world through spiritual and mental development. "Modern Times" was an experiment in communal anarchy.