opinions about the stories about beach boys album covers

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.

 

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