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A melomaniac's review of the 1972 album "Sail on Sailor" by The Beach Boys.

The Beach Boys' 1966 masterwork Pet Sounds was included as a bonus track in their 1972 album because they were so commercially bankrupt that they needed to entice listeners to purchase Carl and the Passions' "So Tough," a new album.

A radio ad from the time period is featured on Sail on Sailor - 1972, a new box set that chronicles the period that produced both So Tough and 1973's Holland, and it spends more time on the six-year-old Pet Sounds (which was then enjoying a reevaluation that helped secure its reputation as one of the all-time greats) than it does on the new album it is supposed to be promoting. 

Who could blame them if no one, not even their record label, believed in the Beach Boys? The band had evolved beyond the stereotypical boys-next-door surfer dudes stereotype as their music veered into more intricate and radio-unfriendly territory.

The fact that Beach Boys' creative force Brian Wilson had been in a slump since the abandoned Smile project in 1967 made it difficult for him to finish more than a few songs for the band's most recent albums didn't help.

Even Surf's Up, the band's 1971 comeback single that was meant to usher in a new era, barely cracked the Top 30.

The album sounds out of place, both within the Beach Boys discography and in its new Sail on Sailor - 1972 context. The box's previously recorded 1972 concert from New York's Carnegie Hall provides a more accurate picture of the group's legacy.

The rest of the band was comfortable with Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar's desire to further explore the soul notes of 1967's Wild Honey because they had little interest in duplicating the group's popular songs.

The only Beach Boys song that comes to mind is "Marcella," one of the three songs Brian Wilson co-wrote, and it didn't even manage to reach the Top 100.

On the other side, even though its sales didn't show it, Holland was a triumphant homecoming. The album, which was created in 1972 but not released until the beginning of 1973, was the group's first to be created outside of its native California.

The Carl Wilson-led Beach Boys were inspired by the new surroundings of a barn in the Dutch village of Baambrugge, and they invested more than a quarter million dollars in creating a vision for their future.

While Carl's "The Trader" and the 10-minute, three-part "California Saga" suite were among the highlights, "Sail on Sailor," co-written by Brian Wilson in one of two credits this time, charted outside the Top 75.

The six-track Mount Vernon and Fairway EP that was packaged with the initial copies of Holland is one of the extras included on the six-disc Sail on Sailor - 1972 box.

It is an overabundance of stilted storytelling and misplaced ambition that Brian Wilson imagined as a fairy tale about the heyday of radio, and it serves as a reasonably accurate reflection of Wilson's mental state at the time.

The rest of the band rejected his initial suggestion to include the album's primarily spoken-word tracks. It represents, in a sense, the most direct conflict between the past and the present, between looking ahead and back. It serves as the focal point of the set.

During this time, Dennis Wilson developed as a vocalist and songwriter, which is likely why some of these changes occurred: Seen on So Tough's album-closing song "Cuddle Up" is his tender "Cuddle Up," and "Carry Me Home," a Holland outtake that makes its official debut on Sail on Sailor - 1972, is wonderful.

Both songs are predecessors to Wilson's lone solo album, the exquisitely wounded Pacific Ocean Blue from 1977.

On the two CDs of outtakes, demos, and alternate takes that make into Sail on Sailor, he has a stronger presence than he did on Feel Flows.

The 2021 box that documents the Sunflower/Up Surf's era and cautiously moved the drummer to the front.

Unfortunately, the unexpected commercial success of an oldies collection, relentless nostalgia-focused touring, the departures of Chaplin and Fataar, Brian Wilson's deteriorating health, and the three-year wait for the lacklustre 15 Big Ones all quickly halted the Beach Boys' creative momentum.

The world coundn't ever see an album as versatile and sophisticated at the same time, fans keep arguinig but as long as the music plays everything still seems at peace.

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