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Beach Boys bury the hatchet and go on the road

This year, the Beach Boys mark a half-century since their first hit on Capitol Records with the release of 50 Big Ones -- Greatest Hits, yet another reminder of the timeless genius of this iconic band.

Of course, their history is littered with the kind of darkness which belies the sunny spirit of their earliest work which, paradoxically, gives the music an added depth. That the surviving members can bear to be in the same room as each other given what's gone down over the years is a minor miracle, particularly in the case of Brian Wilson and Mike Love.

Founder members along with Wilson's late younger siblings Carl and Dennis, for decades the pair have been at loggerheads. After Brian had a nervous breakdown in 1965 and quit touring to concentrate on the studio side of things, relations began to fray.

While Love was more than happy for the band to continue in the vein of their earlier hits such as the peerless I Get Around /Don't Worry Baby (surely the greatest double-A side of all time?) Brian was moving forwards at a rate of knots. He pushed himself to the edge completing Pet Sounds (greatest album of all time -- no question) and its ill-fated follow-up Smile and descended into drug-fuelled exile. After well-received solo recordings and joyous tours Brian has finally buried the hatchet with Love for a reunion tour, but if you want to see just how bad things got back in the day then check out Steven Gaines' jaw-dropping biography Heroes and Villains. Believe me, you'll never hear surf music in the same way again.

>George Byrne

50 Big Ones -- Greatest Hits is released today on EMI. The Beach Boys appear on Later ... with Jools Holland on Tuesday