Musically this compilation, which at last puts together all the Beach Boys hits and best known songs from both their surfing days with Capitol and their (slightly) more serious stuff when they left to form their own label Brother, deserves five stars. Even the bad songs were good, and they still sound good today, 30-40 years on.
However, in other areas it's not perfect. Although the post-1969 tracks are scheduled chronologically, with one exception, the Capitol ones are all over the place - I wouldn't mind if there was any logic or theme to it, but there isn't, it's just perverse, and irksome. I also wouldn't mind (as much) if the original recording, release or copyright dates were shown in the booklet tracklisting, but instead only the date of the digital remastering is given, which is useless.
Nearly all the tracks have been remastered. I was surprised to find that half of the Capitol recordings (including "Good Vibrations") are in mono, and, if you're listening on headphones, you'll notice quite a high level of background hiss on a couple of (the lesser) tracks on CD1.
The essay in the booklet is quite general and very sycophantic; I would certainly not call it extensive. My scant knowledge of the Beach Boys, beyond remembering their hits from the 60s, has not been improved.
So you see that EMI have tried their hardest to spoil an excellent collection, and it gets one star docked for their trouble. It comes in the old-style double CD jewel case, without a slipcase (which is no loss, actually). If you browse the shops or the Amazon listings, you will see there is no shortage of Beach Boys "Best ofs"; this one is definitely the best and well worth the extra few bob, despite my niggles!