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Rhythm & Views

The Beach Boys

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Obsessed audiophiles have always sequenced alternative singles collections and albums for significant pop and rock artists. Before the digital age, we spent hours gathering B-sides, bonus tracks and outtakes, and recording them onto cassette tapes, putting forward bands much different from the mainstream incarnations shoved down our throats. From a tougher, punk-edged Springsteen ("Dollhouse," "Roulette") to a balladeer version of Motörhead's Lemmy ("1914," "Love Me Forever"), refashioning music legends was usually a rewarding task.

The Warmth of the Sun takes a bittersweet approach to the Beach Boys' sugary discography, emphasizing the band's minor, melancholy opuses. While not completely alien to oldies radio, a track like "All Summer Long," for instance, with its descending melody, is unusual in that the summer's inevitable end haunts the singers like a ghost, as if at any moment, daddy will torch the T-Bird on the shoreline. In a more defensive gesture, "Catch a Wave" gives the listener step-by-step instructions on how to tackle the "coastline craze," which, prophetically, is "not just a fad."

While these tunes are justifiably negligible, the pounding beat and soaring harmonies of "You're So Good to Me" may serve as the incredible Beach Boys song you feel should have been a bigger hit. Or maybe you'd rather swoon at the recorded-in-mono, surf-tinged doo-wop of "The Warmth of the Sun," a dark meditation on the dim light that love offers.

In any case, a slimmer collection would have fared better--why include "Disney Girls" and "California Dreamin'"? Still, Sun shines a different light on a played-out pop legend.

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