These two albums, criminally underrated in their day (1972-3), have made their long-overdue CD debuts in stunningly remastered versions. Even if you think you know this material, you'll still be picking up fresh instrumental and vocal details on the remasters. Musically, this ranges from the merely charming to the seraphically beautiful. Obviously there was more than enough talent in the band by this time to go around (all the band members produce; and Brian Wilson, who had pioneered the band's brilliant mid-'60s material, writes surprisingly little of the material here).
High points include "Make it Good" and "Cuddle Up," two stunning orchestral love songs from Dennis Wilson (liner note writer Scott McCaughey accurately compares them to Richard Strauss and Scott Walker) and "Marcella," one of the band's all-time best and most infectious rockers. The semi-hit "Sail On Sailor," and Carl Wilson's astonishing "Trader," which begins as a chugging blue-eyed soul number a à la "Wild Honey" before switching gears into a haunting piece of minimalism with ravishing group harmonies, are also noteworthy. As a bonus, this also features the CD debut of Brian's charming children's fairy tale "Mt. Vernon and Fairway" (originally packaged as a seven-inch bonus EP); it's deliberately slight, but the instrumental snippets that gird it have an undeniable magic.
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