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Albums Of The Week: The Beach Boys | Sail On Sailor: 1972 Box Set

The pop-rock icons' latest box puts two overlooked early ’70s albums in the spotlight — and adds the usual trove of live recordings, demos, session outtakes and excerpts.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Two of the The Beach Boys’ landmark albums — 1972’s Carl And The Passions – So Tough and 1973’s Holland — take center stage in Sail On Sailor: 1972, an expansive new multi-disc box set that documents and dives deep into their transformative and fruitful early-’70s era.

The latest chapter in The Beach Boys’ archival series was produced by Mark Linett and Alan Boyd, the team behind 2013’s Grammy-winning SMiLE Sessions and last year’s acclaimed Feel Flows – The Sunflower and Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971. The comprehensive six-CD Super Deluxe Edition features newly remastered versions of Carl And The Passions – So Tough and Holland, plus Holland’s Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairytale) EP (complete with its original instructions to “please listen in the dark”).

The set also boasts an unreleased live concert recorded at N.Y.C.’s famed Carnegie Hall on Thanksgiving 1972, the first release of a complete Beach Boys concert from this era with the original setlist. The Carnegie Hall show, which has remained unreleased for 50 years, was recorded on state-of-the-art 16-track tape, rare for the time and a great advantage given the number of instruments and vocalists in the band.

Similar to Feel Flows, which topped many year-end lists in 2022, Sail On Sailor: 1972 includes a bounty of unreleased outtakes, live recordings, radio promos, alternate versions, alternate mixes, isolated backing tracks and a cappella versions, culled from the historic album sessions. In all, it contains 105 tracks, 80 of which are previously unreleased.

Housed in a beautifully designed 12.5″ x 10″ hardback book-style package, Sail On Sailor: 1972 is rounded out with a detailed 48-page booklet with extensive liner notes by noted radio veteran and Beach Boys aficionado Howie Edelson, featuring new and archival interviews with The Beach Boys, rare photos of the band, images of tape boxes and reels and other recording artifacts, producers notes from Linett and Boyd, and promotional memorabilia from the day, providing an in-depth look at the recording of these albums.

The year 1972 was a pivotal period for The Beach Boys. Fresh off riding a wave of newfound popularity and critical acclaim from their back-to-back albums — 1970’s progressive and wide-ranging Sunflower and 1971’s kaleidoscopic Surf’s Up — Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine didn’t waste any time getting back into the studio to record their 18th studio album, Carl and the Passions – So Tough. For the first time in their careers, new members were brought into the fold: guitarist/bassist Blondie Chaplin and drummer Ricky Fataar — two former members of the Carl Wilson-produced South African group The Flame, who were signed to the band’s Brother Records — officially joined the group after serving as their main support act. Together the newly expanded Beach Boys redefined their sound, look, vibe and message for a new era of fans.

The tongue-in-cheek title paid homage to a concert the band played with Carl at Hawthorne High around 1961, and a nod to the increasingly important roles as de facto producer and leader that he was taking on. The album was recorded from Dec. 4, 1971 to April 13, 1972 at various studios across Los Angeles with most tracking done at the band’s private studio in Brian Wilson’s home on Bellagio Road. Released May 15, 1972, the incredibly varied eight-song record, with contributions from all seven members, peaked at No. 50 in the U.S. and No. 25 in the U.K. on the strength of such standout tracks You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone, Marcella, Here She Comes and Cuddle Up.

Seeking new surroundings and creative inspiration, The Beach Boys left sunny Southern California to record their 19th studio album, decamping to the small village of Baambrugge in Holland where they set up a makeshift recording studio in a barn and recorded the album’s basic tracks in the summer of 1972. A massive and massively expensive undertaking, the band’s entire L.A.-based studio was dismantled, shipped overseas, and rebuilt by engineer Stephen Moffitt. Meanwhile, the band members and their families and staff lived in different hamlets and soaked up the new environment. Eventually, the record would end up being finished at Village Recorders in L.A. towards the end of the year. The aptly titled Holland was released on Jan. 8, 1973 and received widespread critical acclaim, charting at No. 37 on the Billboard 200, with opening track Sail On, Sailor becoming an FM staple and giving them their first radio hit in years. Holland was the last studio album to feature Chaplin and Fataar as full members of the band.

While both albums found success upon release, they’ve only continued to grow in stature 50 years after their release. For those in the know they’ve become favorites of the band’s diverse catalog. Avowed fans Elvis Costello and Tom Petty have professed their love for the album, and Petty even wrote the liners for the 2000 CD reissue, describing it as “beautiful” and exclaiming, “the playing shows The Beach Boys to be one of the U.S.’s strongest rock bands at this time. I saw this lineup in concert several times and the shows seemed not only contemporary, but perhaps a little ahead of us all.”

Sail On Sailor: 1972 offers an opportunity like never before to revisit this creatively fertile and transitional time in the band and experience this underappreciated era, a time when The Beach Boys threw out all the rules and reinvented themselves once again.”