10th Record: Beach Boys “Carl & the Passions: So Tough”


I was right about hitting the Beach Boys again, and I guess it sorta ties into things from the last entry as well.

I love the Beach Boys and for sure go deeper into their catalog than casual fans (for me, up to “Surf’s Up” (1971) and then a smattering of Brian’s solo material), but I’ve never gotten into the stuff they did in the 70s. That’s obviously this record, released just a year after “Surf’s Up,” but I don’t think I even own some of the other records from that decade that hardcore fans might celebrate. I have this one, not because I’m a fan but…because Reprise weirdly decided to package this release with a pressing of “Pet Sounds” as well! It’s considered one of the best sounding versions of “PS,” especially if you’re not able/willing to drop a couple hundred bucks on a 90s vinyl remastering. Cheaper, I think, than the 80s green label reissues I mentioned in the last post — I’m not sure I’ve grabbed a “PS” in that series.

Anyway, I was fine with hearing this record and excited to be able to sneak in a listen of such a lifelong friend. Still, I held my nose as I dropped “Carl & the Passions” on the table … I just don’t get into the “rock” sound they were chasing, and even the two Brian Wilson contributions here aren’t that great (and marred by some bad Mike Love stuff as well). I gutted through it but admit I was washing dishes and tidying up while it played. I did sit down for some “Pet Sounds,” though, and tried to give that much more attention.

Hmm…my copy sounds okay, but it’s still not feeling very punchy. There’s something weird going on with the sound, and I’m not enough of even an armchair audiophile to guess what it is — some compression at the top end, maybe? I think I got very spoiled by the great digital releases of this album (and other Beach Boys albums), and it’s hard for me to find that same feeling and dynamic range in these half-ass vinyl pressings. It still sounds pretty good, a casual listener would never even notice anything; I was just hoping to have my socks blown off. Maybe by the time we spin through this section again (approximately 200 spins from now?) I’ll have that expensive DCC vinyl (or at least the 80s green label)! Either way, I doubt I’ll get this nerdy about most of the stuff I hear in the meantime…

Discogs Link
Vinyl: NM-
Cover: VG (a little ringwear)


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