24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Wake The World.....,
This review is from: Friends / 20/20 (Audio CD)
Most armchair music fans would say to you that, Pet Sounds aside, the Beach Boys never produced an album of any substance. True, they were a great singles band, but in an age where the Beatles were knocking out the goods record after record, is it any wonder that the Californians' back catalogue has been completely overlooked?
Well, let's redress the balance. Prior to Pet Sounds, most of the Beach Boys' albums sounded like a collection of hit songs, hastily packaged (as was the fashion in the early 1960s) to satisfy an unsatiable public. Post-Pet Sounds, nothing sounded as good, as together. That is, apart from Friends, the brightest lost gem of an album in all of music history.
Considering the internal wranglings and strife that was rampant in the band during the period of the album's creation, not to mention the lackadaisical approach to songwriting employed by chief Beach Boy Brian Wilson, Friends is a magical, blissful and altogether tranquil trip. The Beach Boys were older, wiser (in most cases), married, fathers - and it shows. Hedonism was out the window, songs about little birds, massuesses and child birth were in.
Crucically the album hangs together in two ways - the harmonies and instrumentation of the Pet Sounds' era return (albeit in a far subtler way, as with "Passing By"), and all the tracks (Transcendental Meditation aside) follow a similar vibe. Highlights? Pretty much the whole thing, but especially Dennis' sublime "Little Bird", Carl's voice on "Wake The World" (which, after less than 90 seconds, just fades) and Brian's auto-biographical "Busy Doin' Nothin'".
20/20, essentially an odds-and-sods compilation (and Capitol's last Beach Boys release), is not in the same league. Classics like "I Can Hear Music" and the Smile out-take "Cabinessence" stand out, but otherwise it sounds like Beach Boys-by-numbers fare. It's no real surprise, though, for you know that a Beach Boys' album cover without Brian means that the disc inside isn't gonna make the grade.
Fantastically remastered and brilliantly packaged, this two-fer is utterly essential. Friends easily deserves five stars alone - Pet Sounds fans take note.