The Beach Boys – Spirit of America

More of The Beach Boys

  • The Beach Boys compilation follow-up to Endless Summer finally arrives on the site with two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides mated with two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy get the midrange right, and since that is where The Beach Boys’ voices are, that puts it well ahead of the other pressings we played n the first two sides
  • “Spirit of America was downright refreshing in its succinct, bracing brevity, singles and album tracks alike.”
  • If you’re a fan of the Beach Boys, this 1975 release surely belongs in your collection

This original Capitol pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the Best Sides of Spirit of America Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1975
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Spirit of America

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Dance, Dance, Dance
Break Away
A Young Man Is Gone
409
The Little Girl I Once Knew
Spirit Of America

Side Two

Little Honda
Hushabye
Hawaii
Drive-In
Good To My Baby
Tell Me Why

Side Three

Do You Remember?
This Car Of Mine
Please Let Me Wonder
Why Do Fools Fall In Love
Custom Machine

Side Four

Barbara Ann
Salt Lake City
Don’t Back Down
When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)
Do You Wanna Dance?
Graduation Day

AMG  Review

The follow-up to 1974’s incredibly popular Endless Summer — which gave the Beach Boys their highest chart placement for an album (at number one, no less) in a dog’s age — Spirit of America was a similar attempt to mine the group’s classic Capitol Records catalog. . . And the album did have its unexpected joys, as well as a few lessons to teach a lot of bands from the 1970s.

Endless Summer had, indeed, mined the lion’s share of big hits associated with the band, but Spirit of America, which was more hooked around the band’s car song repertory than its surf music output, had its familiar moments — “409,” “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “Little Honda,” “Do You Wanna Dance,” and “Barbara Ann” were great selections (and perfect to reach out to a teenage/early-twenties listenership attuned to — if not always fully enamored of — oldies and early-’60s nostalgia), and most of what surrounded them was a good match. And there was a serious, unexpected twist in the range of the content going right into the second song on side one, the repertory making a sudden leap across five years to the end of the 1960s and the group’s then all-but-forgotten late-era single “Break Away.”

. . . Spirit of America was downright refreshing in its succinct, bracing brevity, singles and album tracks alike. The 1975-vintage Beach Boys themselves could have taken a lesson from that aspect of this collection and its predecessor.

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