How many versions of “She Loves You” do you need? Fewer than are found here, but more than you think. Well, That About Wraps It Up For The Sea is a tongue-in-cheek compilation with creative liner notes that tell the story of its genesis. In order to collect these tracks, Alan Jenkins needed to visit other dimensions and alternate timelines (think Flashpoint, Dark Matter and Frequency). The concept has poked its head so far above the ground that it’s been lampooned in a new Sonic commercial. In terms of this album, it means sixteen different takes, including many pleasant surprises.
If The Beatles provide the template, the rest take off from there. The beginning and end of The Kettering Vampires‘ version are not very interesting ~ merely echoes of the original riffs. But the mid-section, a languid, stretched interlude, removes the familiar signposts. One would probably not dance to this one; it’s music for waiting on waves. Whenever the album’s artists (many of whom are Jenkins) veer from the script, the set grows hard to define. Brane World‘s long breakdown references the B-52s. The Winding Numbers dissects the entire song, allowing it to morph into an ambient cloud for half of its running length before adding drums. In Aaaaaaaaxb‘s version, the song plays in the background while a duck is squeezed in the foreground.
The longest version, topping ten minutes, allows for only a few seconds of recognizable music before toppling into an Orb-like pit. This piece, from Culpho Dog Gymkana, justifies the entire project. The irony ~ it’s not surf rock at all, not even experimental surf rock, unless one considers the very strange sounds that the Beach Boys never released as singles. And Five Nightmare Fishing Scenarios breaks it down to chords and crashes, a little bit frightening, as the moniker implies. This sense of danger closes the project like a wave that is too big to ride, but that one is already on.
The further from shore these tracks get, the better they are. While some might have been excised, the collection as a whole is a fun way to imagine what might have been ~ or what still is, somewhere on another world. While you’re on the site, be sure to check out Jenkins’ three-volume Free Surf Music, a fine way to say goodbye to summer – or hello, if you’re Down Under. (Richard Allen)