So here it is, four discs devoted to what has been called the greatest album ever and one of the finest productions ever made.  There's a "new" stereo mix, vocal-only mixes, highlights of tracking dates, instrumental mixes, an original mono version, and a handful of "alternate" mixes.  Boy, it's like attending your best friends autopsy or something... you're totally freaked out but ya gotta look to see what made them special.  The stereo mix is more a curiosity than an improvement, and Mark Linnet (the man who helped put this together) admits it, but you sure do hear some elements jump out of the speakers.  The vocal-only stuff should be required listening for anyone who thinks they have a handle on backing vocal overdubs.  There's more genius going on here than all the records released in the last ten years combined.  The highlights of the tracking dates are the shit.  It's amazing that Brian Wilson was walking around with all this arranged in his noggin and knew where to put the instruments so the vocals would, later, fit right in.    Plus you get to hear some of the changes that were made on the way to the final take... it's cool.  Yeah, this is worth owning if you're pretending to understand production/arrangement/songwriting and stuff, but there's one big point I'd like to make... would any of this matter if the songs weren't, mostly, incredibly great works that communicated very personal feelings in a way that many people could understand?  And if the same songs had been recorded with a piano and one voice there'd still be a lot of good to account for.  (The Good Vibrations box set is due to come out in the future and should be even more exciting... imagine, several discs devoted to one song!!) 


Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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