opinions about the stories about beach boys album covers

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Estimated reading time is 32 minutes.

“BACK THROUGH THE OPERA GLASS” is the title of three lengthy articles that review most of the Beach Boys album covers released on major labels in the US. It is subtitled “The Stories Behind the Album Covers” and was written by Malcolm Searles. This massive project covers every important album from 1962 through the present.

Rather than publish it as a book—and a book would be welcome among those of us who like pages that we can flip through—Searles has made this available for free as three PDF files. Searles’ project is broken up into three sections (see below).

The three-part “The Stories Behind the Album Covers” is almost 500 pages long!

The pages are generously illustrated with the front and back covers of each album along with alternative cover art, variations on the cover from countries other than the US, advertisements from magazines from the times, in-house ads from record companies, still photos from publicity shoots, and more.

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of original Capitol stereo PET SOUNDS from 1966.

In 1966, PET SOUNDS were the first album cover to show the Beach Boys looking like they had finally caught up with such contemporaries as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Byrds. That is, they had parted with the uniform striped shirts and white pants that the public associated with them and had grown their hair long (at least, relatively long for 1966).

Beach Boys album covers

Searles discusses many aspects of the artwork for each album, including the fact that the Beach Boys and their management—originally Murry Wilson—trusted the packaging of their records to the art department of Capitol Records. They did not seem to show much interest in how their records looked until 1967.

While Searles’ project intends to assess the graphics of each album, he also includes facts, anecdotes, interviews, and his opinions on each album.

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of SURFER GIRL album from Taiwan.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of ALL SUMMER LONG album from Taiwan. 

The albums above were manufactured in Taiwan in the 1960s when that nation was not a signee to the international copyright laws. These albums were cheap copies of US and UK albums. Most of the cover “designs” are cheesy but some are interesting, such as the changes they made to these three. The manufacturers changed the white backdrop of each original cover to yellow, giving them a “cheesy” quality.

Illustrations

The Malcolm Searles article is filled with photographs and images, including at least one photo of the front and back cover of each of the major albums. So, I did not need to include a lot of redundant images in my article below. So, to read this article, you might want to open up the three Searles articles in separate tabs and refer back to them for each new album.

I did include a few photos, mostly covers of compilations that Searles did not review in his three articles and a few variations from Taiwan.

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of original Reprise HOLLAND album from 1973.

In 1973, the Beach Boys got the baffling idea that they needed to record their next album in Holland! Not for the studio, which they had shipped from California to Holland, but apparently for the groovy vibes. Out of it came a reasonably groovy (and still under-appreciated) album with a lovely photo on the cover.

Stories behind the album covers

The article below consists of me expressing my opinion about the front cover artwork of 58 albums—all LP albums. There are no CD-only titles listed here (but Searles does include them in Part 3 of his article and reviews a slew of compilation albums can be read here.) Hopefully, it works as a complement to the Searles piece. I broke the albums up into four sections:

Capitol Albums

Covers the Beach Boys’ Golden Years and includes all the group’s studio and live albums issued by Capitol between 1962 and 1970.

Capitol Compilations & Reissues

Covers the major albums that recycled previously released recordings along with a few reissues with new titles released by Capitol from 1966 through the present. Like most record companies of the time, Capitol assembled these “new” albums without any input from the Beach Boys. Unfortunately, most of these compilations were even more directionless than other “best of/greatest hits” albums of the time. (I did not include the cheesy Pickwick reissues of the Capitol recordings.)

Brother/Reprise Albums

Covers the albums released on the Brother/Reprise imprint between 1970 and 1978.

Caribou Albums and Beyond

Covers all of the albums released on Caribou between 1979 and 1985, the few new studio albums on other imprints, and key compilations and reissues.

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of Capitol CLOSE-UP album from 1969.

In 1969, Capitol issued several two-record albums by some of their artists with the same title and cover design. CLOSE-UP was released during what I have termed the Beach Boys’ Black Period (see “Capitol Compilation Albums” below.)

Grading the covers

I have assigned each of the covers a grade using a very simple three-star system:

I do not like the cover: ★
I like the cover: ★★
I really like the cover: ★★★

These grades reflect my opinion of each cover’s art and design. They are far from definitive.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of Brother Records logo (Native American on horseback).

This is the logo for the Beach Boy’s record company Brother Records. It was used on several album covers listed below.

Classification

I have classified the albums as follows:

Studio

A studio album consists of previously unreleased studio recordings.

Live

A live album consists of recordings made in concert.

Compilation

A compilation album consists of previously released recordings collected from various older albums.

Reissue

A reissue album consists of all or most of a previously released album. Reissues may have the same title as the original release or a new title and may have the songs in the same playing order as the original or resequenced.

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of BEACH BOYS TODAY album from Taiwan.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of PET SOUNDS album from Taiwan.

The two albums above were manufactured in Taiwan in the 1960s. Each cover was altered from the original in ways that make them interesting in a manner beyond mere novelty.

Sections to that article

Remember, the whole point of me writing this article is to get you to read Malcolm Searles’s article “The Stories Behind the Album Covers.” As noted, the Searles piece is divided into three parts:

Part 1

Covers albums released between 1962 and 1965 and is 128 pages long.

To read this part, click here.

Part 2

Covers albums released between 1966 and 1973 and is 196 pages long.

To read this part, click here.

Part 3

Covers albums released between 1974 and the present and is 161 pages long.

To read this part, click here.

 

 

Capitol Albums (1962-1970)

 

BeachBoys PetSounds First FL 1362 Taiwan 800

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of SMILEY SMILE album from Taiwan.

The two albums above were manufactured in Taiwan in the 1960s. Each cover was altered from the original in ways that make them genuinely attractive.

 

Surfin’ Safari

Capitol T-1808 (mono)
Capitol DT-1808 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: October 1962

Grade: ★★

The cover of SURFIN’ SAFARI features a posed photo of Dennis behind the wheel of an old truck with Carl in the truck bed, David sitting on the hood, and Mike and Brian up top holding the surfboard. It is hokey as all get out but also funny and, almost sixty years later, charming without being sappily nostalgic.

While there had been some surf music on the radio in 1962,  the genre’s biggest hit singles (such as the Chantays’ Pipeline and the Surfaris’ Wipe Out) were still in the future.

There were even fewer surf albums and such early titles as Dick Dale’s SURFER’S CHOICE and the Challengers’ SURFBEAT weren’t released until after the Beach Boys’ debut album. So for most of us, this was the first surf album!

 

Surfin’ U.S.A.

Capitol T-1890 (mono)
Capitol ST-1890 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: March 1963

Grade: ★★★

The photo on the cover of SURFIN’ U.S.A. is stunning! It was taken by surf photographer John Severson in January 1960 at North Shore on Oahu in Hawaii. The people at Capitol’s art department made fine use of the image and their choice of type and the layout of that type is tasteful but powerful.

This is arguably the best Beach Boys cover of the ’60s and may just be the finest cover on any surf music album of the time. (Other album covers from this time that are right up there are SURFIN’ WITH THE ASTRONAUTS and the Sentinals’ BIG SURF!)

 

Surfer Girl

Capitol T-1981 (mono)
Capitol ST-1981 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

September 1963

Grade: ★★

The photo on the cover of SURFER GIRL is not quite as posed as the photo on the first album. It’s also not as hokey nor as charming. Capitol’s art department again did an excellent job with the photo, both in the use of the thick black border around the image set against the expansive white background. While I like the choice of typeface, I think the title and group name would have been more effective had they been larger, condensed, and on one line above the photo. 

 

Little Deuce Coupe

Capitol T-1998 (mono)
Capitol ST-1998 (stereo)

Classification: Studio (with four previously released tracks)

Released: October 1963

Grade: ★★

The cover of LITTLE DEUCE COUPE features a photo of a 1932 Ford coupe (hence the two large ’32’s on the cover) and was provided to Capitol Records by Hot Rod magazine. Like the previous cover for the SURFER GIRL album, the image and the type against the white background are effective. As this was the first album of hot rod and car songs, this was the first hot rod/car songs album cover.

 

Shut Down Volume 2

Capitol T-2027 (mono)
Capitol ST-2027 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: March 1964

Grade: ★

The photo on the cover of SHUT DOWN VOLUME 2 features the five members of the group hanging around a blue Corvette Stingray. This is one of my least favorite covers on a Beach Boys album of the ’60s:  I don’t like that the art department cropped the photo and placed it against a bland mono-color backdrop. I do like the layout of the type at the top even if the choice of color could have been bolder (red?) and thereby more dynamic.

At the time of this album’s release, Capitol Records had also released and was heavily promoting the MEET THE BEATLES album, the group that would replace the Beach Boys as the best-selling pop group in America almost overnight. The difference between the Fab Four’s album with four serious Beatles looking like four serious artists and the Beach Boys looking like five kids from the neighborhood reflected the difference in the way the folks at Capitol Records would treat the two groups over the next few years.

 

All Summer Long

Capitol T-2110 (mono)
Capitol ST-2110 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: July 1964

Grade: ★★

The cover of ALL SUMMER LONG is their third album cover to feature a white backdrop and, like the first two, it works! Instead of a single image, there are fifteen tiny photos of the group, mostly at play at the beach. Several photos include girls who may be wives, girlfriends, or models. It’s an effective design but would have worked better had both the group’s name and the album title been in larger type on a single line with the song title at the bottom of the cover.

 

The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album

Capitol T-2164 (mono)
Capitol ST-2164 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: October 1964

Grade: ★

The cover of THE BEACH BOYS’ CHRISTMAS ALBUM features a posed photo of the group attaching ornaments to a Christmas tree. It’s so conservative that it looks like Capitol was trying to sell the Beach Boys to older record buyers—perhaps those people who dug Capitol’s other vocal group, the Lettermen.

One of my least fave Beach Boys album covers of the ’60s.

 

Beach Boys Concert

Capitol TAO-2198 (mono)
Capitol STAO-21198 (stereo)

Classification: Live

Released: October 1964

Grade: ★★

The cover of BEACH BOYS CONCERT features a photo of the five members performing on stage. The photo has a black background against a black backdrop, which gives a very impressive overall look and feel to the design. Except for the title: I do not like the typeface nor do I like its size nor do I like “BEACH BOYS” on one line with “CONCERT” below it.

The cover would be more impressive if “BEACH BOYS CONCERT” was smaller point and on one line. Were it not for the title, this might rate three stars.

 

Beach Boys Today!

Capitol T-2269 (mono)
Capitol DT-2269 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: March 1965

Grade: ★★

The cover of BEACH BOYS TODAY! features a severely cropped photo of the five members in the outdoors. It is surrounded by a bland brown border with the title and song titles in orange at the top. While tasteful, it has no pizazz and would be better suited to an album by those aforementioned Lettermen.

 

Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)

Capitol T-2354 (mono)
Capitol DT-2354 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: June 1965

Grade: ★★

The cover of SUMMER DAYS (AND SUMMER NIGHTS!!) features a rather odd photo: Brian, Mike, Dennis, and Carl all looking healthy while manning a yacht out at sea. But where is Al? The photo of the four of them had fans in 1965 thinking that their favorite quintet had become a quartet! It turns out that Al could not make the scheduled photoshoot so they just went ahead without him—which is weird.

The text is in the upper right with the beautiful blue sky as a backdrop: the group’s name in red, the album title in darker blue, and the song title in green. It’s an attractive cover, no doubt, but again would have been more appropriate for an artist that appealed to an older audience. It certainly did not show the Beach Boys as being in step with their contemporaries—like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Byrds.

 

Beach Boys’ Party!

Capitol MAS-2398 (mono)
Capitol DMAS-2398 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: November 1965

Grade: ★★

The cover of BEACH BOYS PARTY! has a design that is even weirder than that of the previous album. There are five photos, one focused on each of the individual members, along with a blurb advertising fifteen “fan photos” inside the album. These are set against an orange backdrop within a black border, giving the cover a Halloween-ish look and “feel.” It’s not a bad design but was looking very dated compared to albums by their contemporaries.

 


Contemporaries

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of Capitol HIT SOUNDS OF THE LETTERMEN album from 1965.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of Capitol RUBBER SOUL album by the Beatles from 1965.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of Columbia TURN! TURN! TURN! album by the Byrds from 1965.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of London DECEMBER'S CHILDREN album by the Rolling Stones from 1965.

Through the first few years of their career, Capitol consistently sold the Beach Boys to the perceived market for rock & roll music: teenagers with generous allowances. And to the major record companies, “teenagers” meant an undiscriminating audience with the wants, needs, and dreams of childhood. This was rarely ever an accurate interpretation of those years of growth and transition for most human beings, but it was vaguely accurate for the market for 45 rpm records in the ’50s. 

For the most part, it was also mostly true for the audience that bought rock & roll-related LPs. But by the beginning of 1965, the times they were indeed a’-changing and that change was accelerating as the year went by. Compared to the cover photos and artwork that graced the albums of many other groups, the Beach Boys looked like a group geared almost exclusively toward the teenybopper market.

Think of this short section as a sidebar (which is why the text is grey instead of black).

Despite the growing sophistication of the group’s music and, to a lesser degree, their lyrics, they remained a teenybopper group—especially in the eyes and opinion of many of us “serious” rock fans. Despite that, the cover designs on their albums resembled those that Capitol used for the Lettermen, a vocal group generally geared toward the middle-of-the-road (MOR) market.

Above are the covers for the latest albums by the Lettermen and three of the most successful “serious” rock groups of the time: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Byrds. Each was issued in late 1965 and each remains an example of a gorgeous album cover more than fifty years later. They are three of the loveliest cover photos ever to grace a rock album. In my 3-star system for Beach Boys albums, these albums would deserve four stars each!


 

Pet Sounds

Capitol T-2458 (mono)
Capitol DT-2458 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: May 1966

Grade: ★★★

The photo on the cover of PET SOUNDS features the five members of the group feeding goats at the San Diego Zoo. Goats are not quite what most of us think of as pets and they have nothing to do with anything on the album!

Had Brian ended the album with goats bleating instead of dogs barking, this photo would make sense. Nonetheless, I have been fond of this cover since first seeing it in 1966, at which time I hated the Beach Boys.

The excellent use of the Cooper Black typeface in the title at the top of the cover made it a household term, at least among Beach Boys aficionados.

 

Smile

Capitol T-2580 (mono)
Capitol DT-2580 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: Not released

This album was scheduled by Capitol for release for the Christmas season of 1966. But it was never completed by Brian Wilson and consequently shelved, becoming the legendary lost rock masterpiece of the ’60s. A two-record album was finally assembled from the original master tapes and released as THE SMILE SESSIONS in 2011—and that is where you will find my opinion and review of the cover art.

 

Smiley Smile

Brother T-9001 (mono)
Brother ST-9001 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: September 1967

Grade: ★★★

The cover of  SMILEY SMILE features a charming painting that is either a rip-off of or an homage to Henri Rousseau. The overwhelmingly green painting is of a childlike jungle with equally childlike animals. A break in the foliage reveals a cottage in the distance with a pair of lips in a smile above the door—sort of a reverse hex-sign. It is one of my favorite albums covers by any artist of the era!

The artist’s name does not appear on the finished artwork on the original cover slick nor does he/she receive any credit on the back cover. To this day, it is uncertain as to whether the art was commissioned or chosen by the Beach Boys or was a product of Capitol’s art department. Since this album was released on the group’s own Brother Records imprint, one would hope that the members had an active part in the design of their records.

But then, it was the Beach Boys.

 

Wild Honey

Capitol T-2859 (mono)
Capitol ST-2859 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: December 1967

Grade: ★★★

The cover of WILD HONEY features a photo of a stained-glass window with a bee and three flowers. It is vibrant and colorful and a joyous image to look upon, accurately reflecting the type of music on the record within.

 

Friends

Capitol ST-2895 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: June 1968

Grade: ★★

The cover of FRIENDS features a whimsically colorful (if somewhat amateurish) painting of the group in an outdoor setting. While the painting is awkward, it does work as an attractive and effective cover. This is also the first Beach Boys album to feature all six members, even if it is a painting.

 

Smiley Smile

Capitol ST-8-2891 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: August 1968

Grade: ★★★

This is the Capitol Record Club version of SMILEY SMILE and the front cover is identical to the Brother version issued the year before (above). As this album was the poorest selling Beach Boys album by far, it is baffling why Capitol had this special pressing made up for record club members.

 

Stack-O-Tracks

Capitol DKAO-2893 (stereo)

Released: September 1968

Classification: Compilation

Grade: ★★

The photo on the cover of STACK-O-TRACKS is centered on a tall stack of boxes holding master tapes for several Beach Boys recordings. All six members appear in a photo on the cover for the first time. The top of the jacket is black with the album title and a blurb that reads, “You sing the words and play with the original backgrounds to 15 of their biggest hits.”

Even with the silly blurb, this is not only one of the most interesting covers on a Beach Boys album, it is not only one of the most interesting covers on any artist’s album!

 

20/20

Capitol SKAO-133 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: February 1969

Grade: ★

The photo on the cover of 20/20 features the five touring members in their hippest gear, looking very au courant if rather self-consciously so. The photo is surrounded by another black border, their third black cover in less than a year. The may be my least favorite cover on a non-compilation Beach Boys album of the ’60s.

 

Live In London

Capitol ST-21715 (stereo)

Classification: Live

Released: May 1970

Grade: ★★

The cover of LIVE IN LONDON features a posed photo of the five touring Beach Boys and once again the photo is surrounded by a black border. It’s an okay design but nothing to write home about. This album was released in several countries around the world but wasn’t released in the US until 1976 (below).

 

 

Capitol Compilations & Reissues (1966-1986)

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of BEST OF THE BEACH BOYS VOLUME 3 album from 1968.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of STACK-O-TRACKS album from 1968.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of 20/20 album from 1969.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of GOOD VIBRATIONS album from 1968.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of LIVE IN LONDON album from 1970.

By 1968, Capitol Records was packaging the Beach Boys’ albums in a manner that seemed to indicate the record company was taking the group seriously. They released five albums with black borders (the four above plus CLOSE-UP) plus a sixth black album if you were lucky enough to live near a record store that carried the imported LIVE IN LONDON. This gave the group a sort of unofficial “black period,” which befits those years which were marked with constant internecine squabbling.

 

Best Of The Beach Boys

Capitol T-2545 (mono)
Capitol DT-2545 (stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: July 1966

Grade: ★★

The cover of BEST OF THE BEACH BOYS features five individual photos of the five main members of the group. It’s a rather uninspired cover design for an uninspired compilation of hits and non-hits, of great tracks and mediocre ones. The choice of a red, white, and blue color scheme cannot have been an accident. That said, it’s a decent-looking cover.

 

Best Of The Beach Boys Volume 2

Capitol T-2706 (mono)
Capitol DT-2706 (stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: July 1967

Grade: ★★

The cover of BEST OF THE BEACH BOYS VOLUME 2 features a then-recent photo of the group with a white banner at the top with the title in big, bold green and blue letters. Like the first “best of” volume above, it’s not a bad design but it is certainly a plain design.

 

Beach Boys Deluxe Set

Capitol TCL-2813 (3 LPs; mono)
Capitol DTCL-2813 (3 LPs; stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: October 1967

Grade: ★★

The cover of the boxed set BEACH BOYS DELUXE SET features a photo of the five recording members in what appears to be outdoors. There is a thick black border around the photo set against the otherwise white box. The groups’ name is in big red letters while the rest of the text is in smaller black letters.

This conservative but attractive design was used on several other “Deluxe” boxed sets for other Capitol artists at the time.

 

The Best Of The Beach Boys Volume 3

Capitol DKAO-2945 (stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: July 1968

Grade: ★

The cover of THE BEST OF THE EACH BOYS VOLUME3 is the first to feature a black backdrop, which made it stand out from all other Beach Boys albums at the time of release. There are two photos of the group: one with all six members running vertically along the left side, and one in the lower right quadrant with the five primary members taken on the beach.

This is a crappy design so, of course, Capitol used it on “best of” compilations by several of their artists at this time.

 

Close-Up

Capitol SWBB-253 (2 LPs; stereo)

Classification: Reissue

Released: July 1969

Grade: ★★

This two-record set repackages the SURFIN’ U.S.A. and ALL SUMMER LONG albums. The gatefold jacket features a large photo of the five touring members of the group taking the front and back covers. The photo is surrounded by a black border, their fourth black cover in a year. It’s a fairly plain design but it works fine (but it would have worked even finer without the black border and the photo bleeding off all four sides).

As two-record sets were becoming normal in the wake of the unprecedented success of THE BEATLES album in 1968, Capitol issued several of them by their better-selling artists at this time, each using this design.

 

Good Vibrations

Capitol ST-442 (stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: May 1970

Grade: ★★

The cover of GOOD VIBRATIONS features a photo of the five touring members of the group. The image is repeated three times in three different color overlays, achieving a vague pseudo-psychedelic effect. These photos are set against a black backdrop, their fifth black cover in little more than a year.

Again, not bad but also not memorable.

 

California Girls / All Summer Long

Capitol STBB-500 (2 LPs; stereo)

Classification: Reissue

Released: July 1971

Grade: ★

This two-record set repackages truncated versions of the SUMMER DAYS (AND SUMMER NIGHTS!!) and ALL SUMMER LONG albums. The two records are individually titled CALIFORNIA GIRLS and ALL SUMMER LONG with the former being the only title on the front cover. The cover features a then-current photo of the five touring members surrounded on three sides by a red border, making the otherwise cool photo look rather cheesy.

 

Fun, Fun, Fun / Dance, Dance, Dance

Capitol STBB-701 (2 LPs; stereo)

Classification: Reissue

Released: July 1971

Grade: ★

This two-record set repackages truncated versions of the SHUT DOWN VOLUME 2 and BEACH BOYS TODAY! albums. The two records are individually titled FUN, FUN, FUN and DANCE, DANCE, DANCE with the former being the only title on the front cover. The cover features a current photo of the five touring members surrounded on three sides by a purple border, making the otherwise cool photo look rather cheesy.

 

Endless Summer

Capitol SVBB-11307 (2 LPs; stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: June 1974

Grade: ★★

The gatefold jacket for the two-record album for ENDLESS SUMMER opens to feature a large, cartoon-like drawing of the five primary members of the group spread across the front and back covers. While it is a colorful design, I am not fond of the artwork, so my grade is only two stars.

 

Spirit Of America

Capitol SVBB-11384 (2 LPs; stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: April 1975

Grade: ★★

The gatefold jacket for the two-record album SPIRIT OF AMERICA opens to feature a large, cartoon-like drawing of things deemed to be Americana (Mickey Mouse, a baseball glove, an eagle, etc.) spread across the front and back covers. While it is a colorful design, I am not fond of the artwork, so my grade is only two stars.

 

American Summer

Capitol R-233593 (2 LPs; stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: December 1975

Grade: ★★

The cover of AMERICAN SUMMER features a photo of a beach with a couple of surfers at the ocean’s edge in the background. In the foreground is “THE BEACH BOYS” in red, white, and blue letters. This is a tasteful cover but not a particularly exciting cover.

This album was available through the Capitol Record Club.

 

Beach Boys ’69 – The Beach Boys Live In London

Capitol ST-11584 (stereo)

Classification: Reissue

Released: December 1976

Grade: ★★

The cover of BEACH BOYS ’69 – THE BEACH BOYS LIVE IN LONDON is made up to look like a noticeboard with scraps of paper and photos pinned to it. The album’s title is a mock-up of the front page of The London Telegraph newspaper with three photos of the five touring members pinned below it. The artwork on the back cover follows the same design as the front cover.

It’s very different from any other Beach Boys album ever released and I can certainly see others finding it groovy but I find it rather blah.

This album is a reissue of LIVE IN LONDON, which had been released in the UK in 1970 (listed above).

 

Sunshine Dream

Capitol SVBB-12220 (2 LPs; stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: June 1982

Grade: ★★

The jacket for SUNSHINE DREAM is a gatefold affair that opens to feature a large, cartoon-like drawing of a beach with dozens of things happening in and out of the water spread across the front and back covers. While it is a colorful design, I am not fond of the artwork, so my grade is only two stars.

 

Be True To Your School

Capitol N-16273 (mono)

Classification: Compilation

Released: June 1982

Grade: ★★

The photo on the cover of BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL features the five Beach Boys posing in front of what could be a school building from 1963. It’s a nice photo and the cover is much better (more serious-looking) than so many of the fun fun fun covers associated with the group’s Capitol reissues.

 

Beach Boys Rarities

Capitol ST-12293 (mono and stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: August 1983

Grade: ★

The photo and design on the cover of RARITIES is tacky and should have gotten everyone involved fired and probably sent back to college to major in anything that didn’t involve art or photography.

 

Made In U.S.A.

Capitol STBK-512396 (2 LPs; mono and stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: July 1986

Grade: ★

The cover of MADE IN U.S.A. features artwork in a collage-like jumble that depicts various items “made” in these here United States of America: a baseball, a Ford Mustang, a Frisbee, and other questionable items.

 

 

Brother/Reprise Albums (1970-1978)

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of FRIENDS / SMILEY SMILE album from 1975.

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of WILD HONEY / 20/20 album from 1975.

In 1974, Reprise reissued four of the older Capitol albums as a pair of two-record sets: SMILEY SMILE was paired with FRIENDS (top) while WILD HONEY was coupled with 20/20 (bottom). One could consider these cover designs to be tasteful or tacky.

 

Sunflower

Brother/Reprise RS-6382 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: August 1970

Grade: ★★★

The cover of SUNFLOWER features a photo of all six Beach Boys along with five of their children gathered in the great outdoors. It is set against a white backdrop at the top of which is the group name and album title. The group’s name is a blue flag-banner is effective but I would have loved to have seen Reprise put that name along with the album title in large Cooper Black letters in the upper left with the album’s song title to the right of that.

One of my faveravest Beach Boys covers and also one of my faveravest covers of the ’70s!

 

Surf’s Up

Brother/Reprise RS-6453 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: August 1971

Grade: ★★

The cover of SURF’S UP features an amateurish painting based on the sculpture End Of The Trail by James Earle Fraser. The sculpture is of a Native American warrior sagging atop his pony, looking utterly defeated. The artist who did the painting has not been identified. As covers go, it’s dramatic and attention-getting, something the group desperately needed in 1971.

 

Carl And The Passions – So Tough / Pet Sounds

Brother/Reprise 2MS-2083 (stereo / mono)

Classification: Studio / Reissue

Released: May 1972

Grade: ★

The cover of CARL AND THE PASSIONS – SO TOUGH features a painting of a car door with a beach reflected in the window. The artwork by David Willardson is so slick it could pass for an advertisement in a magazine. That’s not a compliment.

The disappointing cover was a teaser for the music on the record within.

 

Holland

Brother/Reprise MS-2118 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: January 1973

Grade: ★★

The cover of HOLLAND features a photo of two boys fishing off of a moored boat. The boys on the boat and everything around them are reflected in the water. The kicker is that the photograph is upside down! It sounds crazy but it’s a lovely photo for a mostly lovely album.

 

The Beach Boys In Concert

Brother/Reprise 2RS-6484 (2 LPs; stereo)

Classification: Live

Released: November 1973

Grade: ★★

The photo on the cover of THE BEACH BOYS IN CONCERT features Dennis standing at the edge of the stage, looking into thousands of fans. The photo is tinted red and the album title along with the Brother Records logo (illustrated above).

It’s not a bad cover design—it is attention-getting—but it’s not one of my faves.

 

Wild Honey / 20/20

Brother/Reprise 2MS-2166 (2 LPs; stereo)

Released: July 1974

Grade: ★

This two-record album collects the complete WILD HONEY and 20/20 albums in one set. The cover has a yellow backdrop (sand?) with a drawing of a girl in a bikini standing in front of a palm tree.

See the commentary on the Friends / Smiley Smile entry below.

 

Friends / Smiley Smile

Brother/Reprise 2MS-2167 (2 LPs; stereo)

Classification: Reissues

Released: July 1974

Grade: ★

This two-record album collects the complete FRIENDS and SMILEY SMILE albums in one set. The cover has a yellow backdrop (sand?) with a drawing of a girl in a bikini standing in front of a palm tree.

When I first saw these two albums in 1974, I was dumbstruck by the dumbness of the cover designs! Four hard-to-find albums were being made available on the retail market for the first time in years and deserved much better than these bland girls on the beach.

 

Pet Sounds

Brother/Reprise MS-2197 (mono)

Classification: Reissue

Released: May 1975

Grade: ★★

The cover of this reissue of PET SOUNDS features the same photo as the original Capitol album but with significant changes: The green border was replaced by a baby-shit brown border and the Cooper Black typeface was replaced with a bland san serif (Helvetica?). Reprise also did away with listing the title of the album’s songs.

 

Good Vibrations – Best Of The Beach Boys

Brother/Reprise MS-2223 (mono and stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: June 1975

Grade: ★★

The cover of GOOD VIBRATIONS – BEST OF THE BEACH BOYS features a lovely photo of ocean waves splashing against rocks. Unfortunately, the text is so subdued and tasteful, that the drama of the photo is lost. This could have been a killer cover . . .

 

15 Big Ones

Brother/Reprise MS-2251 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: July 1976

Grade: ★

The cover of 15 BIG ONES features five circular photos, one of each Beach Boy, against a field of blue. The glitzy, neon-tube-ish typeface shouts, “It’s the ’70s!” The overall design is as dumb as the album’s title and many of the tracks on the record.

One of my least fave Beach Boys covers.

 

Love You

Brother/Reprise MSK-2258 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: April 1977

Grade: ★

The cover of LOVE YOU features artwork with the group’s name and the album’s title in a mosaic-like design by Dean Torrence. While many fans dig this, it’s another one of my least fave Beach Boys covers.

 

M.I.U. Album

Brother/Reprise MSK-2268 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: September 1978

Grade: ★★

The cover of M.I.U. ALBUM features a photo of a sun setting redly over a distant shore as seen through the curl of a breaking wave. It is cropped into a circle and set against a bland peach-ish background with the title in hip white letters above it. Like the music within, it’s a bland affair and another one of my least fave Beach Boys covers.

 

 

Caribou and Beyond (1979-2021)

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of TEN YEARS OF HARMONY album from 1981.

The Beach Boys signed with James William Guercio’s Caribou Records and delivered two pedestrian albums that sold a few copies and were (mercifully) forgotten by all but the group’s hardcore fans. The two-record TEN YEARS OF HARMONY compiled recordings made for Reprise that celebrated egalitarianism over quality.

 

L.A. (Light Album)

Caribou JZ-35752 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: March 1979

Grade: ★

The cover of L.A. (LIGHT ALBUM) features six images that are meant to look like postcards. It’s a lame idea and a lame design with lame artwork and ... another one of my least fave Beach Boys covers.

 

Keepin’ The Summer Alive

Caribou FZ-36283 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: March 1980

Grade: ★

The cover of KEEPIN’ THE SUMMER ALIVE features a painting of the six Beach Boys performing on a sandy beach inside a glass dome located in the Arctic or Antarctic and is surrounded by snow and inquisitive penguins and polar bears. Hopefully, everyone involved with this cover was let go of and they found more meaningful work as extras in Hollywood.

For my taste, this is so ghastly that saying it’s another one of my least fave Beach Boys covers doesn’t come close to doing it the injustice it deserves.

 

Ten Years Of Harmony (1970-1980)

Caribou Z2X-37445 (stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: December 1981

Grade: ★★

The cover of TEN YEARS OF HARMONY is a plain white field with the title and the artist is a highly stylized script with the letters’ serifs all over the place. It is accompanied by the Brother Records logo (illustrated above) and is a very tasteful design that is hard to find fault with—except for a complete lack of any element that might excite a casual customer perusing the LP section at his favorite record store in 1981.

 

The Beach Boys

Caribou BFZ-39946 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: June 1985

Grade: ★★

The cover of THE BEACH BOYS features very large letters spelling out BEACH BOYS with each latter a section of a photograph of a beach scene. This is set against a stark white backdrop. This design may sound lame but it is rather effective and rather attractive.

 

Still Cruisin’

Capitol C1-92639 (stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: August 1989

Grade: ★

The photo on the cover of STILL CRUISIN’ appears to be the air scoop on the top of the hood of a car with a pair of racing flags. Utterly forgettable and another one of my least fave Beach Boys covers.

 

Lost & Found!

Sundazed LP-5005 (mono)

Classification: Compilation

Released: March 1991

Grade: ★★

The photo on the cover LOST & FOUND! features the five group members posed around a pair of Honda motorbikes from the early 1960s. The brown border around the photo makes this look like a mid-’60s album from Capitol.

This is a compilation of tracks that the group recorded in 1961-1962 before signing with Capitol.

 

Sounds Of Summer

Capitol B-0024219-01 (2 LPs; mono and stereo)

Classification: Compilation

Released: October 2003

Grade: ★★

The cover of SOUNDS OF SUMMER features a photo of a very bright sun shining over what appears to be southern California. Nice photo but a pedestrian design.

This album was initially released in 2003 only as a CD in the US. The vinyl LP wasn’t issued until 2016.

 

Smile aka The Smile Sessions

Capitol T-25658/27660 (mono)

Classification: Studio

Released: October 2011

Grade: ★★★

The cover of the two-record set lists SMILE as the title of this album while the records list THE SMILE SESSIONS as the title. The cover features a charming painting that is either a rip-off of or an homage to Henri Rousseau. The overwhelmingly green painting is of a childlike jungle with equally childlike animals. A break in the foliage reveals a cottage in the distance with a pair of lips in a smile above the door—sort of a reverse hex-sign. It is one of my favorite albums covers by any artist of the era!

The artist’s name does not appear on the finished artwork on the original cover slick nor does he/she receive any credit on the back cover. To this day, it is uncertain as to whether the art was commissioned or chosen by the Beach Boys or was a product of Capitol’s art department. Since this album was released on the group’s own Brother Records imprint, one would hope that the members had an active part in the design of their records.

But then, it was the Beach Boys.

Note: As the art for the original 1966 album was used for this 2011 album, the title of the album on the front cover is SMILE while the title of the album on the record labels is THE SMILE SESSIONS.

 

Beach Boys’ Party! Uncovered And Unplugged

Capitol B0023851-01

Classification: Studio

Released: November 2015

Grade: ★★

The cover of BEACH BOYS’ PARTY! UNCOVERED AND UNPLUGGED is a variation on the original 1965 album BEACH BOYS PARTY! except here there are six black & white photos set against a deep blue backdrop.

This album is a collection of outtakes from the BEACH BOYS PARTY! album released in 1965 (listed above).

 

That’s Why God Made The Radio

Capitol 509994-63199-1-3 (stereo)

Classification: Studio

Released: June 2012

Grade: ★★

The cover of THAT’S WHY GOD MADE THE RADIO features what I think is supposed to be a pattern of stylized waves against an off-white background. For some reason that only God probably understands, the typeface that had been used on the 15 BIG ONES album (listed above) was resurrected for this album. Except for the use of that ghastly typeface, this is a rather nice cover—kinda like the music on the record within.

 

Becoming The Beach Boys

Omnivore Recordings OVLP-195 (mono)

Classification: Compilation

Released: November 2016

Grade: ★★

The cover of BECOMING THE BEACH BOYS features five identical, silhouette-like images of a man carrying a surfboard. Each image is a different color. They are set against a textured-looking, light grey backdrop. It may not sound exciting but is an attractive design. This album’s subtitle is “Highlights From The Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions.” 

 

Feel Flows – The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions • 1969 - 1971

Capitol B0031864-01 (LP01 & LP02)

Classification: Compilation

Released: August 2021

Grade: ★

This two-record set repackages the SUNFLOWER and SURF’S UP albums and includes bonus tracks on each side. The cover features a tacky drawing of the six Beach Boys more or less as they appeared in the early 1970s.

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of GREATEST HITS album from UK from 1970.

The Beach Boys’ first hits package in the UK that wasn’t a variation on the previous US releases was this 1970 GREATEST HITS compilation that featured a significant portion of late ’60s tracks.

Endless reissues and repackages

For reviews of some of the more prominent reissues of the group’s catalog, Beach Boys Dot Com reviews more than thirty of them. The reviews open with this note:

“There have been more compilations of Beach Boys ‘hits’ than original albums. While many of these have been thoughtless, slipshod efforts by record companies to make money off the band’s deep catalog, there have been recent efforts to ‘clean up’ the superfluous best-of’s and present definitive collections. For the casual fan, these albums may be all that’s necessary, or they may provide starting points for the curious.  My overall opinion? They still haven’t got it right.”

The reviewer is more generous than I would be; the caption for the GREATEST HITS album above was lifted from his review.

To see these reviews, click here.

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: image of Reprise reissue of PET SOUNDS album from 1975.

In 1972, Reprise reissued PET SOUNDS as part of a two-record set coupled with the CARL & THE PASSIONS album. In 1975, they reissued PET SOUNDS a second time as a standalone album with a reworked front cover that was not an improvement on the original.

Books by Malcolm Searles

Malcolm Searles is the author of three books about rock and pop musicians:

•  Bread – A Sweet Surrender
•  The Association – Cherish
•  The Hollies – Riding The Carousel

He is credited as Malcolm C. Searles on these books.

 

Beach Boys Album Covers: cropped photo from the cover of HOLLAND album from 1973.

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from the Beach Boys’ HOLLAND album. For whatever reason, either photographer Russ Mackie or one of the Beach Boys decided the photo of an old tug boat would look better upside down! So, for those of you who have never turned your HOLLAND album upside down to see the photo as it was taken, I have saved you the trouble and done it for you.

 

Leave a Comment