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Endless Summer

The Rock Hall pays tribute to the Beach Boys.

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It makes sense that the Rock Hall’s new exhibit, Catch a Wave: The Beach Boys, the Early Years (which opens today), focuses on the years 1961-1966. The summer-lovin’ Californians made their masterpiece, Pet Sounds, in 1966. The album wiped out leader Brian Wilson, who spent months trying to top it with Smile -- a project that took its toll on both his mind and the band (Wilson would eventually complete Smile in 2004). “After his musical instincts developed, we turned into something completely different,” says Al Jardine, a founding member of the group. “There really is a difference between the two periods.”

Catch a Wave documents the years when the Beach Boys sported striped shirts, looked like the all-American boys next door, and wrote songs about cars, girls, and surfing. “It was a very innocent expression of music,” says Jardine, who sang lead on the No. 1 single “Help Me, Rhonda.” “I really enjoyed this period. It was the seminal years with lots of good feelings.” The display includes clothing, guitars, and programs contributed by Jardine and the Wilson family (Brian is still alive, but brothers Carl and Dennis aren’t). But it’s the Pet Sounds artifacts -- like handwritten lyrics to “God Only Knows” and the album’s master reel tape box -- that’ll excite fans most. Jardine appreciates the praise, especially since no one really knew what to make of the record (a commercial failure upon its release) back in the day. “Capitol Records didn’t understand it,” he recalls. “It was quite a challenge. It was a really moody era for us.” Since then, Pet Sounds has topped many Best-Album-of-All-Time lists. “The integrity of it has held up over the years,” says Jardine. “But we had no idea we were making such a highly regarded record.”
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Starts: June 22. Continues through Dec. 31, 2007

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