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Friends / 20/20 Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, Original recording reissued

4.2 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, April 10, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Their 1968 and 1969 releases, with the bonus tracks Break Away; Celebrate the News; We're Together Again; Walk on By, and Old Folks at Home/Old Man River.


What happens when the goose stops laying golden eggs? That's the dilemma the Beach Boys faced when Brian Wilson underwent a self-imposed creative cooling-off period after the mysterious Smile album debacle. And after producing what averaged to better than three albums a year for the previous half-decade, who could blame him? Nevertheless, the band's failure to capitalize on the musical revolution symbolized by Sgt. Pepper saw their American fortunes plummet from world-beaters to also-rans, seemingly overnight. But ironically, as the times were a-changin', so was the Beach Boys sound, even if few in America were listening. Friends is easily the band's most tranquil album, a missive of peaceful good tidings fatefully issued amidst the assassinations and street riots of 1968. And if Brian was absent from many of the group's photos during the troubled era, he was still involved behind the scenes, as the vocal harmonies of the title track, "Be Here in the Mornin'," and others attest; his instrumental arrangements may be low-key, though ever inventive, as "Diamond Head" also confirms. Still, the blunt, confessional message of Wilson's "Busy Doin' Nothin'" is equally hard to miss.

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

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Meant For You
  2. Friends
  3. Wake The World
  4. Be Here In The Mornin'
  5. When A Man Needs A Woman
  6. Passing By
  7. Anna Lee, The Healer
  8. Little Bird
  9. Be Still
  10. Busy Doin' Nothin'
  11. Diamond Head
  12. Transcendental Meditation
  13. Do It Again
  14. I Can Hear Music
  15. Bluebirds Over The Mountain
  16. Be With Me
  17. All I Want To Do
  18. The Nearest Faraway Place
  19. Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song)
  20. I Went To Sleep
  21. Time To Get Alone
  22. Never Learn Not To Love
  23. Our Prayer
  24. Cabinessence
  25. Break Away
  26. Celebrate The News
  27. We're Together Again
  28. Walk On By
  29. Old Folks At Home/Ol' Man River

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 10, 2001)
  • Rmst ed. edition
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, Original recording reissued
  • Label: Capitol
  • ASIN: B00005ABWY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,457 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
"Friends" and "20/20" were the two last albums the Beach Boys recorded for Capitol before moving to Brother/Reprise Records.

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.
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Format: Audio CD
What happened to the Beach Boys after the ill-fated SMILE project went bust is common knowledge to any music fan, so I won't recount too much of it here. But when SMILE refused to appear, and it had been more than a year since the Beach Boys' last hit song "Good Vibrations" (already a tough act to follow), what had once been the biggest pop group in the world had now been reduced to just another band. With pop music more and more based on experimentation, the Beach Boys' approach to recording was looked at as quaint and out of step with the times. Even if it was good music after all, it wasn't risk-taking enough to truly win over even their longtime fans. As a result albums like FRIENDS (1968) & 20/20 (1969) remain cult classics in the Beach Boys' recorded history, and only now have been rediscovered and looked at for what they have been all along: just more great music from an even greater band.

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.
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Format: Audio CD
After FRIENDS (1968) failed to set the charts on fire, the Beach Boys shook off that setback and moved on to the next project. The 20/20 album (1969) was more a patchwork of hit (and non-hit) singles and some really good Beach Boys originals, but even with the slapdash atmosphere, it was still a finely-crafted album that deserved far better than the reception it first received on release. For those fans who hadn't yet moved on from the Beach Boys' classic fun-in-the-sun early days, a song like "Do It Again" was really a diamond in the rough. The Boys look back at their youthful innocence was just what the public ordered, and became the band's first top 20 hit in several years. While the Boys may have wanted to move forward as musicians, they certainly hadn't forgotten how they got started, and "Do It Again" works because, and not in spite of, its flashback approach. Unfortunately, that was the only real big hit on 20/20, but that's not to say the Boys weren't trying. With the Beach Boys now officially a band again and not guest stars on their own albums, Carl Wilson took over from his older brother Brian as a producer on the Spector classic "I Can Hear Music". The fact that this song only reached #24 certainly is not a measure of the song's overall importance, for it does indeed show that the Beach Boys were more than just "The Brian Wilson Show". In fact with Brian pretty much a supporting act on 20/20, we must look at the album from this viewpoint. Carl Wilson had probably the most beautiful of all the Beach Boys' voices, and building on his heartbreaking performance on PET SOUNDS' "God Only Knows", he contributes even more beautiful vocals on the folk standard "Bluebirds Over The Mountain" (check out that electric guitar!Read more ›
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