I wish I could say that the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys has been handled with nothing but class, but with their brief reunion already over, it has been a little messier than that. For a band to stay together (sort of) for 50 years is nothing less than remarkable. Given the history of the group, the volatile situation surrounding the reunion is none too surprising. Although it is unlikely that we will see Mike Love and Brian Wilson together onstage again, the classic music that they have made over the years can never be denied. The new two-CD set 50 Big Ones is an excellent overview of the recorded works of The Beach Boys from 1962 to 2012.
For this official version of The Beach Boys story, the 1966 Pet Sounds album marks the halfway point of their career. There are 25 songs from the years 1962-1966, and 25 from 1967-2012. Although the collection is not presented in strictly chronological order, the majority of the first disc is drawn from the period up to and including Pet Sounds, and the second from then all the way up to this year's That's Why God Made the Radio.
Disc one opens with “California Girls,” and includes such other early classics as “Surfin’ Safari,” “Little Duece Coupe,” and “I Get Around.” Brian Wilson’s fantastic Phil Spector homage “Don’t Worry Baby,” and the glorious “Surfer Girl,” and “All Summer Long” are just a few more classic titles on this disc. Things get really interesting however with a couple of the more obscure tracks that are included.
The first of these is the 1965 non-LP single “The Little Girl I Once Knew.” As a casual fan of The Beach Boys, I must admit that I had not previously heard this song before. It is a very good however, and one of the relative rarities that make 50 Big Ones a bit more attractive than “just” a hits collection. Although released much later, the song “Getcha Back” is another relatively unknown tune. The song was released in 1985 on an album titled The Beach Boys. This was their first new release after the 1983 death of Dennis Wilson, and the last to feature Brian Wilson until That’s Why God Made the Radio.