Sunflower (The Beach Boys album)

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Sunflower
Studio album by The Beach Boys
Released August 31, 1970 (1970-08-31)
Recorded January 9, 1969 (1969-01-09)–July 21, 1970 (1970-07-21)
Studio Sunset Sound Recorders, Gold Star Studios, and Brian Wilson's home studio, Hollywood
Genre Rock[1]
Length 36:55
Label Brother/Reprise
Producer The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys chronology
Good Vibrations
(1970)
Sunflower
(1970)
Surf's Up
(1971)
Singles from Sunflower
  1. "Add Some Music to Your Day"
    Released: February 23, 1970 (1970-02-23)
  2. "Slip On Through"/"This Whole World"
    Released: June 29, 1970 (1970-06-29)
  3. "Tears in the Morning"/"It's About Time"
    Released: October 12, 1970 (1970-10-12)
  4. "Cool, Cool Water"/"Forever"
    Released: March 1, 1971 (1971-03-01)

Sunflower is the sixteenth studio album by American rock group The Beach Boys, released in August 1970, and their first on Reprise Records. The album was met with an enthusiastic critical reception which contrasted with unexpectedly poor sales, reaching only number 151 on US record charts during a four-week stay, and becoming the lowest charting Beach Boys album at that point. It was preceded by the similarly unsuccessful singles "Add Some Music to Your Day" and "Slip On Through"; later followed up with "Tears in the Morning" and "Forever". In the UK, the album performed better, peaking at number 29.

As the fifth consecutive album to give production credit to "the Beach Boys", it continued a pattern established in Friends (1968) with major songwriting contributions split between brothers Brian and Dennis Wilson. Bandmates Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, Bruce Johnston, and Mike Love also contributed to its writing. Its sessions begun in the midst of legal battles with Capitol Records in January 1969 and ended 19 months later after the group signed with Reprise, who continuously rejected several variations of the album's track listing and contents. Eventually, the group presented the label with enough formidable material deemed satisfactory for release.

In 2003, Sunflower was voted 300 in Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 1997, it was voted 66 in The Guardian's "100 Best Albums Ever".[2]

Background[edit]

Following their last album, 20/20, Brian Wilson proposed that the group change their name from "the Beach Boys" to "the Beach", reasoning for the simple fact that the band members were now grown men. Going to the effort of acquiring a contract which would declare a five-way agreement to officially rename the group, engineer Stephen Desper reported, "They all just kind of shrugged and said, 'Aw, come on, Brian, we don't wanna do that. That's how the public knows us, man. And that was it. He put the paper on the piano and it stayed there until I picked it up and took it away."[3]

Throughout 1969, the Beach Boys engaged in extended recording sessions for what would have been their final album entitled to Capitol Records.[4] Tension between the band and label inflamed on April 12 when the Beach Boys sued the label for unpaid royalties and production duties in the amount of two million dollars ($12,860,000 today).[5][nb 1] The band still issued two more singles through Capitol: "Break Away" in June 1969, a new original written by Brian and his father Murry; and "Cotton Fields" in April 1970, a rerecording of a track which appeared on 20/20 produced by Al Jardine.

At a press conference ostensibly convened to promote "Break Away" to the European media, Wilson said "We owe everyone money. And if we don't pick ourselves off our backsides and have a hit record soon, we will be in worse trouble... I've always said, 'Be honest with your fans.' I don't see why I should lie and say that everything is rosy when it's not." These incendiary remarks ultimately thwarted long-simmering contract negotiations with Deutsche Grammophon.[6] The band's contract with Capitol Records expired on June 30, after which Capitol deleted the Beach Boys' catalog from print, effectively cutting off their royalty flow.[5] In November 1969, Murry Wilson sold the Sea of Tunes publishing company (including the rights to the majority of Brian's oeuvre) to A&M Records' publishing division for $700,000.[7] Brian, who had not approved this decision, was devastated.[8]

The group's reputation had fallen sharply in the US since 1967, but Warner Bros. executive Mo Ostin agreed to sign them to Reprise Records in November 1969.[citation needed] This deal was brokered by Van Dyke Parks, who was then employed as a multimedia executive at Warner. The contract dealt by Reprise stipulated Brian's proactive involvement with the band in all albums[9] in response to the minimal involvement he had with 20/20. Another part of the deal was to revive the Beach Boys' Brother Records imprint,[citation needed] initially founded during the Smile era and used only for the Smiley Smile album, and the "Heroes and Villains" and "Gettin' Hungry" singles before becoming dormant.[10]

After returning from an April–May 1970 tour of Australia and New Zealand, the band assembled a new studio album named Reverberation, comprising unused material which would finish their commitment to Capitol, but the idea was dropped, and the band instead fulfilled their contract with the May 1970 album Live in London.[11] Capitol had such little faith in the album that they chose to release it only where the Beach Boys' records were still selling respectably well—the UK.[citation needed][nb 2]

Recording history[edit]

Dennis Wilson was the first Beach Boy to head back into the recording studio, and the other members followed suit.[nb 3] Over this period, the Beach Boys worked on about four dozen studio tracks.[10][nb 4] By late 1969, the Beach Boys accumulated enough material for a new studio album, initially entitled Sun Flower,[nb 5] and assembled a provisional 14-song tape reel[dubious ] shortly before achieving a record contract with Reprise. The reel's track listing follows:

The project was then renamed Add Some Music with the subheading An Album Offering From The Beach Boys[10] while they finished several more songs.[nb 6] In early 1970 before leaving for a tour of Australia and New Zealand, they assembled Add Some Music and submitted the album to Reprise, which the label rejected. The track listing was as follows:

Around this time, the band assembled an album for Capitol with some tracks that would later be placed on Sunflower. It had working titles of Reverberation and The Fading Rock Group Revival.[11] Although a master tape (dated June 19, 1970) of songs was put together, this album was never released.[12][11] It is unknown if Capitol rejected the album or if the Beach Boys never submitted it.[citation needed]

After consideration of Add Some Music and the failed Reprise single, "Add Some Music to Your Day", Mo Ostin suggested that the group offer a few stronger tracks or their days at Reprise Records would be short-lived. The band was unhappy,[citation needed] but went into the studio one last time. During February 1970, they started to assemble what would subsequently be known as Sunflower and finished its last two songs in July 1970: "Cool, Cool Water" and "It's About Time".[10]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Timothy White deemed "This Whole World" a "mini-opus" with a "catch-in-the-throat vocal sob" from Carl Wilson.[10]

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The album begins with "Slip On Through", written and sung by Dennis. Brian later recalled "It was a really dynamic song. Dennis, I was very proud of, because he really rocked and rolled on that one. Dennis did really interesting energetic things on that."[10] "This Whole World" was composed and written by Brian, who noted inspiration from "[his] love of the world, how [he loves] people, and how people should be free."[10] Carl sings lead vocals while Brian sings in the background; their voices were doubletracked, as was common practice for many of their recordings.[10] Brian also recounted the writing of "Add Some Music to Your Day", saying: "I think we wrote it my house in Bel Air. It was written by me and Mike and Joe Knott, who was a friend of mine who wasn't a songwriter but he contributed a couple of lines. But I can’t remember which ones! The lyrics are wonderful."[10] "Got to Know the Woman" is another Dennis composition, which White noted was "one of the few Beach Boys songs that could honestly be called funky, its tinkly Dixieland piano a perfect foil for the coarse frivolity of the verses, which contain a boorish come-on to the object of one’s lowest bump-and-grind fantasies.[10] "Deirdre" was written by Bruce Johnston with minimal contributions from Brian related to its lyric.[13] Side one concludes with "It's About Time", an autobiographical rocker written by Dennis, Al Jardine, and outside writer Bob Burchman about the pitfalls of stardom and fame.[14]

Production for "All I Wanna Do" has been described by Rolling Stone as "mind-wrenching"[1] and "proto-shoegaze" by Pitchfork.[15]

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Side two opens with Johnston's second original, "Tears in the Morning", a melodramatic song with strings, horns, and accordions.[10] The Brian Wilson–Mike Love song "All I Wanna Do" was referred to by AllMusic as "possibly one of the most beautiful and unusual songs and recordings" on Sunflower[16] with an arrangement consisting of synthesizers, rotating organ, and pronounced reverb.[17] "Forever" is the album's final original from Dennis, co-written with friend Gregg Jakobson; Brian praised the song saying: "'Forever' has to be the most harmonically beautiful thing I've ever heard. It's a rock and roll prayer."[10] Jardine wrote the lyrics to "At My Window" about a bird, for which Brian also received a songwriting credit.[10] "Cool, Cool Water" was an outtake extracted from 1967 Smiley Smile sessions, later attempted for Wild Honey. Lenny Waronker, then an A&R executive at Warner Music, heard the unfinished tape, and convinced Wilson to finish the track for Sunflower. Waronker was so impressed with the song's inspired simplicity, that he noted, "If I ever get the opportunity to produce Brian, I'd encourage him to do something that combined the vividness of 'Good Vibrations' with the non-commercial gentleness of 'Cool, Cool Water.'"[nb 8]

Unreleased songs[edit]

After the release of Sunflower, Stephen Desper assembled a collection of songs consisting mostly of Sunflower outtakes deemed suitable for a follow-up album, named Landlocked.[nb 9] Landlocked eventually evolved into Surf's Up.[11][nb 10]

Several songs which were cut from Sunflower eventually saw release in other formats. In 1970, Dennis' "Fallin' in Love" was renamed "Lady" and released as an A-side single credited to "Dennis Wilson & Rumbo".[10] In 1972, "Good Time" was released as a single with new vocals by American Spring.[10] Later, "Good Time" was placed on The Beach Boys Love You (1977) with its original vocals.[citation needed] In 1980, "When Girls Get Together" was released on Keepin' the Summer Alive.[10]

Artwork[edit]

The picture of the band on the front sleeve, featuring all six group members, was taken on the golf course at Dean Martin's Hidden Valley Ranch near Thousand Oaks in Ventura County, California. Dean's son Ricci Martin, a friend of the band, took the photograph, also featuring Brian's daughter Wendy, Alan's first son Matthew, Mike's children Hayleigh and Christian, and Carl's son Jonah. As adults, Matthew Jardine and Christian Love would go on to perform in the Beach Boys' touring band.[original research?] The inner gatefold spread on the original vinyl LP featured a series of photographs taken by designer/photographer Ed Thrasher at the Warner Brothers studio backlot.[original research?]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[18]
The A.V. Club positive[19]
Blender 4/5 stars[20]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars [21]
Pitchfork Media 8.9/10[22]
Robert Christgau A−[23]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[24]

After recording over 30 different songs, and going through several album titles, The Beach Boys' Sunflower was finally released in August 1970.[10][11] The album received considerable critical acclaim upon release in both the US and the UK, with one British writer declaring it the Beach Boys' analogue to Sgt. Pepper.[17] This was offset by the album reaching only number 151 on US record charts during a four-week stay,[10] becoming the worst selling Beach Boys album at that point.[25] Jim Miller praised the album for Rolling Stone, calling it "without doubt the best Beach Boys album in recent memory, a stylistically coherent tour de force", but mused: "It makes one wonder though whether anyone still listens to their music, or could give a shit about it."[1]

The album was preceded by the singles "Add Some Music to Your Day" (B-side "Susie Cincinnati") and "Slip On Through" (B-side "This Whole World"). Reprise was so excited about "Add Some Music to Your Day" that they convinced retailers to carry more copies of it than they ever had for any other Reprise single, but disc jockeys refused to play it on the radio.[17] "Add Some Music to Your Day" peaked at number 64 during a five-week stay, while "Slip On Through" did not chart at all.[10]

In a retrospective review, Pitchfork Media called the album "perhaps the strongest album they released post-Pet Sounds."[26] Rolling Stone magazine gave the album four stars, saying it is one of the Beach Boys' best albums.[citation needed] Music critic Robert Christgau gave it an A-.[23] Paste wrote that the album "was, in many respects, their Abbey Road—a lush production that signaled an end to the 1960s, the decade that gave them creative flight. Sunflower was, in fact, largely produced by the youngest Wilson brother, Carl. Dennis Wilson contributed four stellar new compositions as well. Brian Wilson also wrote a number of new tracks at the time, many of which embody the 'Bedroom' aesthetic at its most pure—sweet melodies set to intimate lyrics and tender falsetto vocals."[27] Popdose declared that "it stands as the definitive post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys album".[28] The A.V. Club believed: "Sunflower is like the band’s answer to the wave of 'sunshine pop' and 'bubblegum' acts that had emerged over the previous couple of years, showing that no one could write and record slick, melodic, harmony-drenched songs quite like The Beach Boys."[29]

Johnston's "Deirdre" was later sampled in the 1995 Super Nintendo Entertainment System game, EarthBound.[30]

Live performances[edit]

Six of the 12 songs from the album have been performed live by The Beach Boys; However, none have been played with any frequency. Songs from the album that have been played live include "This Whole World" (first played live in 1988),[31] "Forever", and "Add Some Music to Your Day". "Slip On Through", "It's About Time", and "Tears in the Morning" were all initially played live following the album's release, but they have not been performed since.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "Slip On Through"   Dennis Wilson Dennis Wilson 2:17
2. "This Whole World"   Brian Wilson Carl Wilson (lead), Brian Wilson (opening line) 1:56
3. "Add Some Music to Your Day"   B. Wilson/Joe Knott/Mike Love Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, C. Wilson, B. Wilson, and Al Jardine 3:34
4. "Got to Know the Woman"   D. Wilson D. Wilson 2:41
5. "Deirdre"   Bruce Johnston/B. Wilson Johnston 3:27
6. "It's About Time"   D. Wilson/Bob Burchman/Al Jardine C. Wilson, M. Love (bridge) 2:55
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "Tears in the Morning"   Johnston Johnston 4:07
2. "All I Wanna Do"   B. Wilson/Love Love and B. Wilson 2:34
3. "Forever"   D. Wilson/Gregg Jakobson D. Wilson 2:40
4. "Our Sweet Love"   B. Wilson/Carl Wilson/Jardine C. Wilson 2:38
5. "At My Window"   B. Wilson/Jardine Johnston, B. Wilson (various sections) 2:30
6. "Cool, Cool Water"   B. Wilson/Love Group (sections one and two), B. Wilson and Love (final section) 5:03
European track listing

This variation of the album was released by EMI subsidiary, Stateside Records, in November 1970. Its opening track was "Cottonfields." "Got to Know the Woman" and "Deirdre" were placed in inverse order on side 1. The contents of the individual tracks were unchanged. This track listing has been superseded with the regular Sunflower running order, now released worldwide.

Personnel[edit]

Partial credits per Timothy White and 2000 liner notes.[10]

The Beach Boys
Additional musicians and production staff

Accolades[edit]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Guardian United Kingdom 100 Best Albums Ever[2] 1997 66
Rolling Stone United States 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2003 380
Sunday Herald United Kingdom The 103 Best Albums Ever, Honest 2001 N/A

Charts[edit]

Chart information courtesy of Allmusic and other music databases.[32]

Albums
Year Chart Position
1970 UK Top 40 Album Chart 29
1970 US Billboard 200 Albums Chart 151
US Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1970 "Add Some Music to Your Day" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 64

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This was the second time that they had sued Capitol, the first being in the spring of 1967, and it may have contributed to a lack of promotion of The Beach Boys' final Capitol releases.[citation needed]
  2. ^ The live album finally appeared as an official American release in 1976.[citation needed]
  3. ^ He produced five tracks in the first two months of 1969: "Forever", "San Miguel", "Got to Know the Woman", "What Can the Matter Be?", and "Celebrate the News". Bruce Johnston's "Deirdre" was also recorded during these sessions. In early March the entire band went into the studio to record "Loop de Loop" and "All I Wanna Do", and also finish Dennis's "Forever".[12]
  4. ^ Many were outtakes: "Loop de Loop (Flip Flop Flyin' in an Aeroplane)" was a Brian Wilson/Carl Wilson/Jardine composition completed by Jardine in July 1998 for the Endless Harmony Soundtrack; "San Miguel" a Dennis Wilson/Gregg Jakobson composition released in 1981 for Ten Years of Harmony; and "What Can the Matter Be?" After they were done recording "Break Away", the band went on a tour of Europe. When they got back, they recorded two more Dennis songs, one of which being "Slip On Through", and the other was the outtake "I'm Going Your Way".[12]
  5. ^ The overall recordings were entitled (in chronological order) Reverberation or The Fading Rock Group Revival, Sun Flower, and then Add Some Music before finally reverting back to the name Sunflower.[11][10]
  6. ^ "This Whole World", "Tears in the Morning" and "Add Some Music to Your Day". In addition, they recorded "Our Sweet Love" and several more tracks reduced to outtakes.[12]
  7. ^ Every outtake associated with this master tape has seen an official release in subsequent years.[11]
  8. ^ In 1988, Waronker realized this wish in "Rio Grande", a song he co-produced for Brian's debut solo album.[10]
  9. ^ The songs were "Loop De Loop", "Susie Cincinnati", "San Miguel", "H.E.L.P. Is on the Way", "Take a Load Off Your Feet", "Carnival" (aka "Over The Waves"), "I Just Got My Pay", "Good Time", "Big Sur", "Lady", "When Girls Get Together", "Lookin' at Tomorrow", and "'Til I Die".[11]
  10. ^ It was long thought that Landlocked was a complete album that was scrapped by the Beach Boys in between Sunflower and Surf's Up, but it has since been proven that such an album never existed.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Miller Jim (October 1, 1970). "Sunflower". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "100 Best Albums Ever". The Guardian (UK). September 19, 1997. 
  3. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 147.
  4. ^ Griifth, JT. "Landlocked". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Gaines 1986, p. 221.
  6. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 149.
  7. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 169.
  8. ^ Gaines 1986, p. 224–225.
  9. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 150.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y White, Timothy (2000). Sunflower/Surf's Up (CD Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Doe, Andrew G. (2012). "UNRELEASED". Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Sessionography:
    • Doe, Andrew Grayham. "GIGS69". Endless Summer Quarterly. 
    • Doe, Andrew Grayham. "GIGS70". Endless Summer Quarterly. 
  13. ^ Sharp, Ken (September 4, 2013). "Bruce Johnston On the Beach Boys’ Enduring Legacy (Interview)". Rock Cellar Magazine. 
  14. ^ Greenwalk, Matthew. "It's About Time". AllMusic. 
  15. ^ Hefner Macauley (18 July 2000). "The Beach Boys: Sunflower/Surf's Up". Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  16. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "All I Wanna Do review". AllMusic. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c Carlin 2006, p. 153.
  18. ^ Bush, John. "Sunflower – The Beach Boys : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  19. ^ Phipps Keith (April 17, 2002). "The Beach Boys: Sunflower/Surf's Up : Music". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  20. ^ Blender review
  21. ^ The Virgin Encyclopedia Of Popular Music, Concise (4th Edition), Virgin Books (UK), 2002, ed. Larkin, Colin.
  22. ^ Hefner Macauley (18 July 2000). "The Beach Boys: Sunflower/Surf's Up". Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  23. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: The Beach Boys". Retrieved 2012-10-27. 
  24. ^ The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th Edition) Fireside (US), 2004, ed. N. Brackett, C. Hoard ISBN 0-7432-0169-8
  25. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 154.
  26. ^ "The Beach Boys: Sunflower/Surf's Up | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. 2000-07-18. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  27. ^ Chidester, Brian (March 7, 2014). "Busy Doin' Somethin': Uncovering Brian Wilson's Lost Bedroom Tapes". Paste. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  28. ^ Holmes, Chris (October 25, 2011). "The Popdose Guide to the Beach Boys". Popdose. 
  29. ^ Murray, Noel (October 16, 2014). "A beginner’s guide to the sweet, stinging nostalgia of The Beach Boys". The A.V. Club. 
  30. ^ "The Beatles, Beach Boys and Monty Python really were in Earthbound". Destructoid. June 28, 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  31. ^ "The Beach Boys Tour Statistics". setlist.fm. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  32. ^ "UK Top 40 Hit Database". EveryHit.