Monday, August 24, 2009

Album of the Day #165: SUNFLOWER - The Beach Boys

Artist: The Beach Boys
Title: Sunflower
Label: Brother/Reprise (now licensed to Capitol)
Year: 1970
Songs: Slip On Through [Dennis Wilson]/This Whole World [Brian Wilson]/Add Some Music To Your Day [Brian Wilson, Joe Knott & Mike Love]/Got To Know That Woman [Dennis Wilson]/Deidre [Bruce Johnston & Brian Wilson]/It's About Time [Dennis Wilson, Bob Burchman & Alan Jardine]/Tears In The Morning [Bruce Johnston]/All I Wanna Do [Brian Wilson & Mike Love]/Forever [Dennis Wilson & Gregg Jakobson]/Our Sweet Love[Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson & Alan Jardine]/At My Window [Alan Jardine & Brian Wilson]/Cool, Cool Water [Brian Wilson & Mike Love]
Produced by: The Beach Boys
Thoughts: There are some albums that defy description. There is no other way to describe it other than listing the entries in a Thesaurus for "awesome". Sunflower is easily one of these albums. My most recent listening of this album was with the new Capitol Vaults vinyl reissue, meaning that calling its' sound crystal clear would be an understatement.
The greatest thing about Sunflower is that it truly is a Beach Boys album. No single member of the group overshadows another. It's not Pet Sounds, where Brian was at a creative apex. All five members of the group add their unique talents that make the Beach Boys....well....The Beach Boys.
If there's one song on the album that proves this, it is "Add Some Music To Your Day", probably one of my favorite Beach Boys songs. All six get a shot at vocals, except Dennis. To me, it really epitomizes everything that the Beach Boys stood for, which was that you just needed some music and all would feel better.
While Dennis misses lead on "Add Some Music...", his creative burst that began on Friends goes super nova on this album. "Slip On Through", the amazing, grabbing opener and the funky "Got To Know That Woman" add to the frantic musical variety on side one. Then there's the amazing "Forever", written with future Pacific Ocean Blue co-producer Gregg Jakobson in the middle of side two. I probably don't have to go into details about how beautiful the song is, but you have to hear it in order to understand its' sheer beauty.
Brian co-wrote some amazing songs with Mike (particularly the haunting "All I Wanna Do") and Al, but probably his best contribution is the one-minute-fifty track "This Whole World", another jaw-dropping piece of music.
Carl only gets a writing credit on "Our Sweet Love", but his real showcase is the Dennis/Al song "It's About Time". Here, that rock 'n' roll voice that would develop over the Jack Reiley albums (Surf's Up, Carl & The Passions and Holland) makes its' amazing debut.
Al, for his part, has writing credits on some of the album's best songs, but unfortunately never gets to sing lead. Still, he is such an integral part of the harmonies that he did make audible contributions (particularly the "do-do-do"s in "Our Sweet Love").
Mike does his usual amazing vocals, especially with the really pretty performance on "All I Wanna Do". One of Mike's really amazing traits is his great bass vocal, which really helps the unique blend of harmonies on "Forever" all come together (and Brian's hi-parts towards the end of the song call for a shout-out).
Finally, there's Bruce, who co-wrote "Deirdre" with Brian and contributed his wonderful side two opener, "Tears In The Morning".
The album closes with "Cool, Cool Water", which had been in development since 1967. Parts of the SMiLE bit "I Love To Say Da Da" were worked into it and made it onto the final version you hear at the end of Sunflower. The song's inclusion convinced Warner that the album was releasable, but as an album filled to the brim with such good songs I don't know how they could have thought that the rest of the album was weak.
The album is available as a two-fer with Surf's Up, which was also just released by Capitol on vinyl. The new version of Sunflower is really something else. The LP is housed in a gatefold cover that almost replicates the original LP. Of course, the Warner and Reprise logos are now replaced by Capitol logos and the copyright information is edited, but otherwise everything is right there. That gatefold is easily one of my favorites! The inner sleeve is rather cute in that it replicates what the cover would have looked like had the Boys kept the Add Some Music title. This is a fun idea and kudos go out to whoever came up with it! The LP's label also replicates the orange Brother/Reprise labels that adorned all of the Boys' 1970s Reprise releases (with the Capitol logo, of course).
To sum up, buy this album now. Maybe my ears are clouded because I love the Beach Boys (probably a little too much), but I don't know how anyone could not like this album.


Rick said...

"Lots of People with no place to go...." Great album....showcasing a lot of Dennis Wilson's hidden abilities!

danhofstra said...

thanks for the comment, Rick...great blog, by the way on some interesting topics!