It’s the time of year for saving money!
There are many reasons why you might want to buy Sail On Sailor – 1972, the new six CD Super Deluxe Edition hardcover book-styled box set celebrating The Beach Boys’ important but sometimes confusing late ‘60s and early ‘70s period. This transitional time marked led to the band’s resurgence as an important musical entity, as the group put aside the matched-suit surf-flavored pop star-lite imagery, a corner they’d been marketed back into. The change was significant. Like a Butterfly emerging from a cocoon, The Beach Boys soared into the new decade as a well oiled forward-leaning, long-haired ’n bearded, hippy-friendly rock ‘n’ roll machine.
Sail On Sailor – 1972 contains nicely remastered versions of two of the group’s most misunderstood, often overlooked — and, yet, for some fans — beloved albums: Holland and the awkwardly titled Carl & The Passions / So Tough.
Holland is indeed one of my all time favorite Beach Boys recordings. It was recorded in 1972 and in my book the album lines right up there with Surf’s Up, Pet Sounds and Today as important statements in the group’s catalog.
Even with founding visionary Brian Wilson mostly retired at this time, the expanded and upgraded band — which at this point featured new members Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar from South African power-pop band The Flame, whose 1970 Brother Records release Carl Wilson produced — coalesced into a hard working musical unit on Holland.
The group delivered at least two bona fide Beach Boys classics here including this boxed set’s namesake “Sail On Sailor” and “The Trader.” I would add the final portion of their “California Suite” to that list, written by Al Jardine and featuring an insanely hooky, sing-song-y melody. So strong it was, this track was issued as one of the single releases from the album, subtitled “On My Way To Sunny Californ-i-a.”
[Side Note: I go into much more detail about the background on this set in my review of the vinyl version of Sail On Sailor – 1972 which you can read over on Analog Planet (click here). I have tried to summarize it for you more here.]
Between 1970 and 1973, The Beach Boys morphed and stabilized into a very different, more hard rocking yet thoughtful band quite in tune with the times and the let-it-all-hang-out vibe of the post 1960’s hippie Laurel Canyon scene (Beards! Acoustic Guitars!). But they spice up their mix with a healthy dose of late ‘60s Rolling Stones-styled energy thrown in for good measure which was smart given that The Beach Boys were a rock band at their root. Remember, after The Beatles split up the Stones more or less ascended to the #1 slot as far as British Invasion era bands were concerned, especially with their powerhouse trio of studio and live releases Let It Bleed, Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out and Sticky Fingers. Frankly, most all of the bands at that time were pumping up the volume at that time with bigger amps and more dynamic stage presence, so The Beach Boys weren’t going to be left behind in the dust.
That aspect of the group was never more clearly presented (at least to this reviewer and more or less life time Beach Boys fan — they were the first rock concert I ever saw in 1975) with the inclusion in Sail On Sailor – 1972 of the first complete concert of the band from this era, recorded around Thanksgiving that year at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This performance is outstanding and the sound quality is excellent. Originally captured on a then cutting edge 16-channel multi-track recorder, the show is beautifully mixed anew by producer Mark Linnet.
This concert recording was intended for an album back in the day, but for some reason it never got released. Why that happened we don’t know but the reality is it sounds fantastic and most of the performances are exemplary. The band does a good cross-section of some of their classic hit singles, but mostly they feature a lot of deep album tracks from their more recent FM-radio leaning albums including Carl & The Passions and Holland as well as some of the later ‘60s releases such as Smiley Smile, Wild Honey and even 20/20.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was hearing them pull out — and completely pull off, in almost proto punk fashion! — a killer cover of The Rolling Stones “Jumpin Jack Flash! Seriously, you have to hear this to believe its The Beach Boys (see YouTube link below).
Sail On Sailor – 1972 is rounded out with loads of previously unreleased demos and session recordings including a cappella mixes of tracks from this period which sound pretty amazing. I’m still working my way through re-listening to them all again so I have no particular favorites at present but I can tell you there is some fascinating and at times mesmerizing material here.
Speaking of mesmerizing, I do have to point out that on Sail On Sailor – 1972 you will get to hear previously unreleased recordings from Brian Wilson’s sessions for his magical-mystical-whimsical bonus EP that was included in original pressings of Holland called “Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairytale).”
Don’t overlook that little EP because some of the incidental music here contains some of Brian Wilson’s most beautiful melodies ever — even though they are short, soundtrack styled snippets, they’re absolutely gorgeous.
The six CD version of Sail On Sailor – 1972 comes housed in a hardcover book styled package with wonderful liner notes which tell the backstory of how these albums were created. It includes many interesting photography and memorabilia from the times.
Sail On Sailor – 1972 is a terrific tribute to two wonderful Beach Boys albums which more people need to explore. If you are already a Beach Boys fan, you’ll no doubt want to get this for all the outtakes and bonus material as well as the live concert. If you’re a relative newbie who got into them via Pet Sounds and maybe the seemingly modern-day-hipster-approved Sunflower (a good record but it has never been my first pick recommendation to new listeners), you do owe it to yourself to explore this music because it’s some of The Beach Boys’ finest.
You can find Sail On Sailor – 1972 streaming on Qobuz Hi Res (click here), Tidal (click here) and Apple Music (click here) so if you have access to those services it is a great way to preview the music. But if you love The Beach Boys you’ll probably want to get this deluxe edition set for your physical music collection.