If you're a fan of writing and you've never read Nick Kent's The Dark Stuff, you're missing a great book. You're also missing the best piece of writing on Brian Wilson's crazy days in the 1970s, when the Beach Boys' genius was battling demons and trying to understand, uh, something. Love maybe.

Anyway: in Kent's “The Last Beach Movie Revisited: The Life of Brian Wilson,” the writer is in Los Angeles with Paul and Linda McCartney. They're standing at the door of Brian Wilson's Spanish mansion in Beverly Hills, but Wilson's not interested in seeing them. It's 1974. Writes Kent:

“But Brian wasn't coming out. He stayed in there, petrified, all his guts clenched up, eyes shut tight, praying with all his might that all the tiny atoms of his body would somehow break down, so that he could simply evaporate into the thin, smog-strained air surrounding him. It was all to do with something his brother Carl had told him not long before, something about Paul McCartney once claiming that Brian's song 'God Only Knows' was the greatest pop song ever written. And, in his mind, it all had become hopelessly twisted: 'Like, if “God Only Knows” is the greatest song ever written, then I'll never write anything as good again! And if I never write anything as good, then I'm finished. I'm a has-been and a wash-up, just like everyone keeps saying.'

With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps we DO have Paul McCartney to blame for Wilson's breakdown. After all, Wilson never did write a better pop song than “God Only Knows,” never even came close. Did he?

Capitol's reissuing some classic Beach Boys stuff under the banner of “Summer Love Songs,” a transparent stab at a few more CD sales from an incredibly lucrative catalog. There are some new stereo versions, which is fine but Beach Boys stuff is generally better experienced in mono. But that's just us.

1. Why Do Fools Fall In Love [new stereo mix from newly recovered analog multi-track master]

2. Don't Worry, Baby [new stereo mix from newly recovered analog multi-track master]

3. Wouldn't It Be Nice

4. God Only Knows

5. Surfer Girl

6. California Girls

7. Please Let Me Wonder

8. In The Parkin' Lot

9. Your Summer Dream

10. Kiss Me, Baby

11. Hushabye [new stereo mix]

12. I'm So Young [new stereo mix]

13. Good To My Baby [new stereo mix]

14. Fallin' In Love [previously unreleased track, written and recorded by Dennis Wilson]

15. Time To Get Alone [new stereo mix]

16. Our Sweet Love

17. Help Me, Rhonda

18. Keep An Eye On Summer

19. Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)

20. Girls On The Beach

LA Weekly