Q - 6/01, pp.126-74 stars out of 5
- "...FRIENDS is 1968's quiet masterpiece and Brian's favorite, while, 20-20 is a hodge-podge which astonishingly revives SMILE's 'Cabinessence'..."
2 LPs on 1 CD: FRIENDS (1968)/20-20 (1969).
Includes liner notes by Brian Wilson and David Leaf.
Digitally remastered using HDCD technology.
Personnel: The Beach Boys (vocals); Brian Wilson (vocals).
Audio Mixer: Mark Linett.
Audio Remasterer: Joe Gastwirt.
Liner Note Authors: Diane Rovell; Mark Linett; David Leaf; Brian Wilson .
Recording information: Brian Wilson's Home studio (02/1968-11/1968); Brian's Home Studio (02/1968-11/1968); Capitol Recording Studios (02/1968-11/1968); Capitol Records Studios (02/1968-11/1968); CBS Studios (02/1968-11/1968); Gold Star Recording Studio (02/1968-11/1968); I.D. Sound (02/1968-11/1968); I.D.Sound (02/1968-11/1968); ID Sound (02/1968-11/1968).
Photographer: Brad Benedict.
Utterly ignored at the time of their release, the Beach Boys' final two albums for Capitol Records, 1968's FRIENDS and 1969's 20/20, are now recognized as minor masterpieces. FRIENDS is, in modern terms, the Beach Boys' chill-out album, their first release with none of the R&B-laced rockers preferred by Mike Love. The 12 brief tracks (nearly half of them don't even hit the two-minute mark) are deeply influenced by the group's newfound interest in spirituality, with Dennis Wilson's "Little Bird" and "Be Still" among the peaceful highlights. The two key tracks are "Busy Doin' Nothin'," a peculiar bossa nova with some of Brian Wilson's oddest lyrics, and "Diamond Head," a temporary return to the pictorial soundscapes of SMILE. The more varied 20/20 goes FRIENDS one better by ending with the spine-tingling wordless a cappella exercise "Our Prayer" and the glorious "Cabinessence," two re-recordings of SMILE outtakes. Of the new material, the hit single "Do It Again," the glorious "I Can Hear Music," and Bruce Johnston's instrumental homage to Brian "The Nearest Faraway Place" are the best, and the genuinely spooky "Never Learn Not To Love," Dennis' slightly rewritten cover of "Cease To Exist" by his soon-to-be-infamous buddy Charles Manson, is the most notorious.