There are a few interesting things announced on the horizon for Beach Boys fans. First up is the odd compilation "The Big Beat - 1963." What exactly is the story here? Well, read all about it here:
Basically, we're seeing a bunch of weird activity from record labels housing oldie bands, as there are a bunch of confusing, vague copyright laws floating around that basically dictate that labels have to put out "unreleased" material in order to avoid having it pass into public domain and thus be freed up for anybody to legitimately release. Apparently, this pertains mainly to the odd category of material that has not been "officially" released but does already exist out there. Basically, the labels have to put out anything that has already been bootlegged, because that's the stuff that any label has direct access to and can put out legitimately if it falls into public domain.
As far as this release goes, it's a hodge-podge of demos and tracks with varying degrees of Brian Wilson/Beach Boys involvement. For those that have a fetish for early era Brian productions and collaborations, this will be an interesting release. But this is by no means any sort of "opening of the vaults" of Beach Boys outtake material from 1963. This is odds and ends, sourced from everything from master tapes to acetates to cassette tape dubs. The idea here (as with the supposed/alleged and equally bizarre release of Beatles outtakes from 1963 rumored to take place on the same day) is to simply technically get this stuff "officially" released by the end of this year. To this end, we're seeing download-only releases. December 17th is allegedly the date.
I'll reserve judgment until I hear this collection, but I'm not super enthused about. Some of it is literally pulled from the same sources as bootlegs, so we're not even sure right now how much of this will sound better than what's already out there, and if so, how much better.
Potentially more interesting is Kevin Gray at Analog Productions taking a crack at a big hunk of the Beach Boys catalog on SACD and high quality vinyl.
On the plus side, this will probably be the best-sounding remasterings to date. That's a big deal. Gray is an excellent engineer (and will make this stuff sound better than recent album remasters).
However, at the risk of sounding negative yet again, I'm not that enthused about this. I own these albums numerous times over, and many of the tracks even more times. I want to see archival studio and live material. Not another milking of the band's catalog. Expanded reissues of each album with a disc of bonus material would be much preferable.
Additionally, they have once again randomly skipped over albums in the band's catalog. They've of course ignored anything post-1973, but have even left gaps in the 1962-1973 timeframe. What's the point? It will be great to hear "Sunflower" and "Holland" and whatnot in SACD quality. But this isn't a full catalog overhaul. The fact that Capitol in the last year or two did the same thing; issued part but not all of the band's catalog in a random fashion, makes this exercise even more puzzling. This also makes it even less likely that we'll see expanded deluxe editions of the albums anytime soon.
We can only hope this full help fund some archival releases, but I'm kind of bored with that contention. It isn't really true, as "Sounds of Summer" sold a butt-load of copies and it took nearly a decade for more substantial archival material to be released.
Hopefully they are independently still planning on something along the lines of the "Beach Boys Central" website; downloads of unreleased material. I don't want to buy "Surfin' USA" again folks. I want to buy some live 1972 and 1975 shows.