Released to protect their copywrite in Europe –Dylan did the same thing a couple of years ago, and the Beach Boys released the 1963 The Big Beat for the exact same reason, these two albums are still pretty amazing. The Live In Sacramento 1964 is two sets performed on the same night, the year “I Get Around” went to the top of the charts, the Keep an Eye on Summer – The Beach Boys Sessions 1964, has its antecedents in both the 1963, but also the complete Smile and Pet Sounds session.
The best thing about the Liver is definitely not the girls screaming but seeing how the band put together their sets up close and personal. The playing is fine in a Ramonesy sort of way, the harmonies are absolutely wonderful and the spirits are sky high.
The recording of the first set is cleaner and the setlist, while, with the exception of an instrumental added to the second set, the same songswise, is smarter, they encore with “Fun Fun Fun” during the first set but blow it off early during the second set. What bizarre thinking had them conclude the entire evening with “Papa Om Pow Pow”?
Mostly pop rock surf songs, the nuance on “Don’t Worry Babe” is blown by… twice. “Monster Mash” is irrelevant and while “The Wanderer” is a great (a showcase for Dennis Wilson) but so what? The Beach Boys had just released THEIR SIXTH ALBUM, the growth of All Summer Long ( they don’t perform the title track) are ignored for a Beach Boys party vibe. It makes you think that, like the Beatles before them, there was a widening rift between the live and the recorded band. The second set includes “Let’s Go Trippin’” which sounds a whole lot like the Raybeats from some 15 years later, and both sets combined are clean cut all American fun. During one of the introductions, a soldier off for two years, says goodbye to Sacramento. 1964, right? The future hadn’t happened
The difference between the Pet Sounds sessions and the 1964 sessions is that everything in the Pet Sound Session is more intricate, they are major symphonies that wiped the rock and roll sleight clean yet again. So, hearing all the little pieces, all the instruments and voices taken out of the mix and left to stand alone, is deeply pleasurable. But while the vocals, the harmonies, are fun to listen to from 1964, the instruments don’t really make much of an impression. On a personal level, I consider All Summer Long the equal of Pet Sounds, but it doesn’t lend itself to deconstruction. There is more banter here but none of it is very revealing.
For a Beach Boy fanatic, both albums might not add much to the story but what they add you’ll want to hear. And to hear brothers Dennis, Carl and Brian performing together on stage can’t help but make you Smiley Smile.
Live In Sacramento 1964 – B+
Keep an Eye on Summer – The Beach Boys Sessions 1964 – B+
and just for taste
The Complete Pet Sounds Sessions – A+
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