Culture | The Beach Boys

Issue: "Capitol stampede in Texas," Aug. 9, 2003


No other group has mirrored the ups and downs of the Baby Boom generation like the Beach Boys. After achieving fame as creators of the soundtrack to an American dream fueled by postÐWorld War II affluence and the concept of the "teenager," they foundered on the rocky shores of the counter-cultural '60s, eventually reemerging to tread water as the consummate nostalgia act. By the time they began reaping the whirlwind (most notably, the self-destructiveness of Brian and Dennis Wilson), they'd become icons of a sunny hedonism that never really was.

The 30-track Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys (Capitol) is the latest in the group's long line of anthologies. By deemphasizing chronology and emphasizing highlights, it masks both the sadness and the extent of a talented entity's decline and as such is of a piece with such other recent examples of misleading if enjoyable surface skimming as the Beatles' One and Elvis Presley's 30 #1 Hits.

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