Surf and turf. Though the Beach Boys would continue to mine their twinned subculture for all it was worth, there are only so many ways in which you can celebrate going fast on a curling rush of water or a hot turbocharge of pavement. These albums, respectively the group’s third, from 1963, and their fifth from a year later, show that no matter what the topic, Brian Wilson’s innate musicality was coming to the fore of the Beach Boys sound.
Inspired by the mega-productions of Phil Spector, and Brian’s own musical roots in complex vocal harmonies and chord progressions, as well as the overabundance of talented studio musicians in the L.A. area, this pair of albums highlights some of the Beach Boys” most favored hit singles — “Fun Fun Fun” and “Don’t Worry Baby” — and offers intimations of Brian’s sense of romantic yearning for a way of life that he could perhaps only view from the security of his imagination.
The ephemera, not only the album filler that helped to flesh out this release — “Denny’s Drums” unlocks the inner Cozy Cole of the middle Wilson, along with an arcane “Louie Louie” — but bonus tracks are amusing and revealing, especially in the mock-serious verbal byplay of “Cassius Love vs. Sonny Wilson” (shades of fisticuffs to come). Shut Down Vol. 2, the first of four (!) Beach Boys albums released in 1964, came out in the moments before another “Bea-” group on Capitol changed the shape of popular music, and showed that Brian Wilson was readying to cage-match their challenge.