20/20 (The Beach Boys album)

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Studio album by The Beach Boys
Released February 10, 1969 (1969-02-10)
  • October–December 1966
  • September 1967
  • June–November 1968
Studio United Western Recorders, Capitol Studios, Gold Star Studios, CBS Columbia Square, ID Sound, and Brian Wilson's home studio, California; Bell Sound, New York
Genre Rock
Length 29:46
Label Capitol
Producer The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys chronology
Singles from 20/20
  1. "Do It Again" / "Wake The World"
    Released: July 8, 1968
  2. "Bluebirds over the Mountain" / "Never Learn Not to Love"
    Released: December 2, 1968
  3. "I Can Hear Music" / "All I Want to Do"
    Released: March 3, 1969
  4. "Break Away" / "Celebrate The News"
    Released: June 16, 1969
  5. "Cottonfields" / "The Nearest Faraway Place"
    Released: April 20, 1970
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[1]
Blender 4/5 stars[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[3]
MusicHound 3/5[4]
Rolling Stone (favorable)[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[6]

20/20 is the 15th studio album by American rock group the Beach Boys, released in February 1969. The album was named for being the Beach Boys' twentieth album release when compilations were included in the tally. It reached number three on UK record charts and number 68 in the US.

As the fourth-consecutive album not to be produced by Brian Wilson alone, the album includes songs that span across a variety of different genres including hard rock, country and psychedelic pop. Wilson was absent during most of the album's recording after admitting himself into a psychiatric hospital, requiring Carl and Dennis Wilson to retrieve several outtakes he had recorded years earlier. While Brian does not appear on the front cover, the inner gatefold of the original vinyl release features him alone, behind an eye examination chart.

The singles "Do It Again" and "Bluebirds over the Mountain" preceded the album's release by several months. The former was the band's first attempt at revisiting the surf sound they had abandoned since All Summer Long, topping UK and Australian charts, and the latter contained a B-side written by Charles Manson: "Never Learn Not to Love". 20/20 would be the last studio album released on Capitol Records that would contain new material for the next 17 years. The following singles "I Can Hear Music", "Break Away", and "Cotton Fields" concluded their contract.


A short time after the release of Friends in June 1968, Brian Wilson, due to growing mental instability and addiction to cocaine, entered a psychiatric hospital for a brief period of time.[7] Though Brian held writing credits on over half of 20/20, and occasionally contributed during recording sessions, large portions of his writing were sourced from material worked on prior to June 1968.

In the wake of the elder Wilson's partial absence, younger siblings Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson began to take the helm both inside and outside of the studio's control room for the production of 20/20. Carl produced a version of Phil Spector's "I Can Hear Music," giving the band their last US Top 40 US hit for the next seven years. Dennis progressed from his contributions on Friends to deliver the dramatic and dynamic "Be with Me" and the somewhat racy "All I Want to Do," sung by Mike and featuring a fade-out of Dennis and an unknown woman having sexual intercourse. "Never Learn Not to Love" derives from a Charles Manson song given to Dennis by Manson, originally titled "Cease to Exist". Dennis reworked the track and Manson was reportedly infuriated by the alteration of his original work, as well as receiving no songwriting credit, making threats toward Dennis in response.

Bruce Johnston had been waiting to contribute to the band after years in a supporting role. He was finally able to release one of his compositions on 20/20, the lush instrumental "The Nearest Faraway Place." The composition was reportedly inspired by Brian Wilson's work on Pet Sounds, and its title was based on an article found in Life. His second contribution, in the role of producer, was a cover of Ersel Hickey's "Bluebirds Over the Mountain". Begun in September 1967 as a potential solo single, it was completed with Carl Wilson's help during the album's late 1968 sessions. Perhaps reflecting on "Sloop John B" and feeling that lightning could strike twice, Al Jardine suggested to Brian that they work on another folk standard, "Cotton Fields." Wilson produced a recording, but feeling that Brian was holding back again, Jardine went ahead and rerecorded the song six months after Brian's version was released on 20/20. Al's instincts were on the ball, as it turned out, for while the retitled "Cottonfields" (the last Capitol Records single) was a US flop, it became a huge hit internationally in the Spring of 1970.

"Cabinessence" was recorded October–December 1966 except for Carl Wilson's vocal on the verses, which was recorded November 1968. "Our Prayer" was tracked on October 4, 1966, but as it was recorded in a single microphone, the track was in mono; because of this, overdubs were recorded in November 1968 to create a stereo mix. Both of these tracks and the "Workshop" tag on the album version of "Do it Again" derived from the Brian Wilson led Smile sessions; "Time to Get Alone," was first attempted during the Wild Honey sessions but according to engineer Stephen Desper was newly recorded for 20/20.[need quotation to verify] Initially intended for Three Dog Night, when they were known as "Redwood", it has been cited by reviewers as a highlight of 20/20.


Released in February 1969, 20/20 sold better than Friends, charting as high as number three in the UK and reaching a moderate number 68 in the US. It was followed up by the single-only release of "Break Away" (co-authored by Murry Wilson under a pseudonym with son Brian), and only succeeded in the UK.

Track listing[edit]

Charles Manson's contributions to "Never Learn Not to Love" remain uncredited.[8]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "Do It Again" Brian Wilson/Mike Love Mike Love/Brian Wilson 2:25
2. "I Can Hear Music" Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich/Phil Spector C. Wilson 2:36
3. "Bluebirds over the Mountain" Ersel Hickey Love/C. Wilson/Bruce Johnston 2:51
4. "Be With Me" Dennis Wilson Dennis Wilson 3:08
5. "All I Want to Do" D. Wilson/Stephen Kalinich Love 2:02
6. "The Nearest Faraway Place" Bruce Johnston instrumental 2:39
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "Cotton Fields" Huddie Ledbetter Al Jardine 2:21
2. "I Went to Sleep" B. Wilson/Carl Wilson Brian Wilson/C. Wilson 1:36
3. "Time to Get Alone" B. Wilson C. Wilson/B. Wilson/Jardine 2:40
4. "Never Learn Not to Love" D. Wilson D. Wilson 2:31
5. "Our Prayer" B. Wilson All 1:07
6. "Cabinessence" B. Wilson/Van Dyke Parks C. Wilson/Mike Love 3:34

Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
1969 Dutch Album Chart 20[9]
1969 German Album Chart 23
1969 UK Top 40 Album Chart 3
1969 US Billboard 200 Albums Chart 68
UK Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1968 "Do it Again" UK Top 40 Single Chart 1
1968 "Bluebirds Over the Mountain" UK Top 40 Single Chart 33
1969 "I Can Hear Music" UK Top 40 Single Chart 10
US Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1968 "Do it Again" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 20
1968 "Bluebirds Over the Mountain" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 61
1969 "I Can Hear Music" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 24

Chart information courtesy of Allmusic and other music databases.[10]


  1. ^ "20/20 Review". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Blender review". Archived from the original on March 10, 2005. 
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (2006). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). London: Oxford University Press. p. 479. ISBN 978-0-19-531373-4. 
  4. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 84. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  5. ^ Schmidt, Arthur (19 April 1969). "Records". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  6. ^ Brackett, Nathan; with Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York, NY: Fireside/Simon & Schuster. p. 46. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  7. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 140.
  8. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 138.
  9. ^ Dutch Charts - THE BEACH BOYS - 20/20
  10. ^ "UK Top 40 Hit Database". EveryHit.