Friends / 20/20 Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, Original recording reissued
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20/20 marked the 20th--and last--album of the band's first Capitol era. The album is a collection of singles (the nostalgic "Do It Again," Carl Wilson's vibrant showcase "I Can Hear Music") and a couple of key Smile scraps (the transcendent a cappella album intro "Our Prayer" and the American gothic-tinged "Cabinessence," with obtusely punning lyrics courtesy of Van Dyke Parks) set amidst productions that are mostly divided among various band members. Perhaps most notable is the continued blossoming of Dennis Wilson's talents on "Be with Me" and "Never Learn Not to Love" (the latter reputedly originally given to Wilson by temporary housemate Charles Manson; strange days, indeed). This digitally remastered edition of the long out-of-print twofer edition includes the reminiscences of Brian Wilson and insightful liner notes by Beach Boys and the California Myth author David Leaf and features five bonus cuts: "Break Away," the band's vocally spectacular, if woefully underappreciated, last Capitol single; the B-side "Celebrate the News," sung and produced by Dennis; the beautiful '68 outtake, "We're Together Again"; a snippet of Brian's soaring falsetto paying tribute to Bacharach's "Walk on By"; and a medley of "Old Folks at Home"/"Ol' Man River" that underscores the band's distinctly American historical and artistic heritage. --Jerry McCulley
Top Customer Reviews
Casual Beach Boys listeners probably know little about these two albums that did not do very well in the charts in 1968-69. At the time the Beach Boys had lost a lot of their popularity and leader Brian Wilson played only a minor role in the group compared to the days, when their were on top of their career.
None the less, both albums contain terrific material.
"Friends" is an album with no hit single ( the title track made it to # 47), and most of the songs are very short. But there is a charm to most tracks that make you think of the best material on "Pet Sounds" and "Smile". The production and instrumentation on most songs is sparse, almost minimalistic, and the structure relatively simple; but still mostly great. The title track is probably the most complex song, with great lead vocals from Brian and Carl. "Wake the World", "Meant For You", "When a Man Needs a Woman" and "Little Bird" are other highlights. Remarkable that all members contribute first class material and lead vocals.
"20/20" is a little more uneven. This album contains some fine singles like "Do It Again", "I Can Hear Music", "Bluebirds Over the Mountain" and "Cotton Fields". Other highlights are the two "Smile" leftovers "Our Prayer" and "Cabinessence". "I Went to Sleep" was recorded during the "Friends" sessions and probably should have been included there since it's a good song and the playing time on that album is very short. Another highlight is "Time to Get Alone" with beautiful vocals from Carl and Brian.
The bonus-tracks are all great. "Break Away" is probably their strongest post "Smile" single. Some of the lesser known tracks like "Celebrate the News" and "We're Together" are also fine.
FRIENDS is simply one of the most soothing, evocative albums ever released in pop music, and I can certainly understand why it was a failure when it was first released. With America in turmoil both politically and socially at the time, FRIENDS really was an inappropriate album for the moment. Good as it was, it just didn't fit in with the "bombs-bursting-in-air" mentality that the U.S. was adopting at the time. The failure was un-called for, but still very much understood. Now that time has passed, and the world is pretty much at peace, a soft album like FRIENDS deserves to be re-examined. After the complicated plans that the Beach Boys (mainly Brian Wilson) had for SMILE, the back-to-basics sound of FRIENDS was quite refreshing, for it also meant that the other Boys were again active contributors to their music, and not just leaving it up to Brian and some crack studio musicians.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful twofer. 20/20 is not my all-time favorite Beach Boys album, but it's right up there. As always in this packaging series, the liner notes are world-class.Published 5 months ago by Steven P. Lynn
I had 2 reasons for buying this. First, a while ago I bought some remastered Beach Boys CD's --- Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys, Warmth of the Sun, and Pet... Read morePublished 5 months ago by From the Musician's Pen
I bought these albums originally when they came out. Friends is simply one of the most musical albums they ever released. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jonny Chicago
GREAT SONGS. Not a bad song here. Even the Charles Manson semi-cover "Never Learn Not To Live" isn't BAD, just mediocre. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Brandon Matuja