Although somewhat unimaginatively titled, 1973's Beach Boys in Concert is significantly more than a hastily compiled live collection of hits. To the contrary, the set includes highlights from the band's earliest sides ("Surfer Girl") through to the groundbreaking Smile era ("Good Vibrations" and "Heroes and Villains") as well as more concurrent material ("Sail On Sailor" and "Marcella"). These are complemented by a generous representation of deeper cuts including "You Still Believe in Me" from Pet Sounds, "Let the Wind Blow" from Wild Honey (1968), as well as later tracks like "Leaving This Town" and "Funky Pretty." The song "We Got Love" was originally recorded and penciled in for inclusion on Holland, but the laid-back rocker didn't make that release and instead makes its debut here.
It's important to note that the incarnation of the "touring" Beach Boys captured circa 1972 and 1973 does not include contributions from founding member and spiritual leader Brian Wilson. By this time the band's personnel had expanded, featuring Blondie Chaplin (guitar/vocals) and Ricky Fataar (drums). Carl Wilson (guitar/vocals) stumbled upon the pair during their tenure in the band Flame, eventually procuring them for this harder-edged version of the group which Carl had begun molding in the absence of brother Brian. He also steps in vocally for Brian on standout renditions of "Caroline No," "Good Vibrations," and a co-lead vocal with Al Jardine (guitar/vocals) on an absolutely breathtaking "Don't Worry Baby" that easily rivals the original. Other notable performances include a poignant reading of "The Trader," as well as the upbeat driving rocker "Darlin'." Although present, Dennis Wilson (electric piano/backing vocals) offers no solo. Sadly, his most notable contribution is the brief spoken introduction to "Surfin' USA." Beach Boys in Concert was the final live album to be issued -- excluding archival vault releases -- capturing the seminal American combo as a viable, hard-working rock & roll band with timeless material instead of the parody that Mike Love so perfectly embodied during their final years. This is the way the Beach Boys deserve to be remembered. [In Concert was also released on LP.]