Feel Flows: The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969–1971 is the latest retrospective collection of Beach Boys albums which features new track remasters, rare tracks and outtakes from a specific time frame. This time round, the focus is on the two Beach Boys albums that ushered in the Seventies viz. Sunflower and Surf’s Up.
By this time, the Beach Boys were exclusively recording material at Brother Studios, the recording studio located at 1454 5th St, Santa Monica, California established by brothers Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson. Thus, inevitably, the band would be recording songs on a daily basis, virtually. Thus, there is a deluge of music on Feel Flows: The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969–1971, with several alternate mixes of well-known as well as prized unreleased material, previously only available on bootlegs.
Up to and including the Pet Sounds album, Brian Wilson was the brains behind the Beach Boys music but after the psychological toll exacted on Brian by drugs and the pressure to deliver his magnum opus Smile, in the midst of opposition from the label, his father and Mike Love – Brian withdrew from leadership role in the Beach Boys.
His brothers, Dennis and Carl picked up the slack as far as creative and production duties were concerned and this is most evident on these two excellent albums. Neither of them can be considered a match for Pet Sounds (or Smile for that matter) but the Beach Boys trademarked sophisticated compositions and textured harmonies continued to be on display for all to savour.
But of course, for the diehard Beach Boys aficionado, the allure of Feel Flows: The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969–1971 is all about the rare treasures to be found. Of course, the obligatory backing tracks and A Capella versions are all in evidence but for us, the highlights are found on the fifth disc, with several unreleased nuggets like “Behold the Night”, “Old Movie (Cuddle Up)”, “Hawaiian Dream”, “I’ve Got a Friend”, “You Never Give Me Your Money”, and “Won’t You Tell Me” (demo) catch the ear.
And it’s the last named demo – two versions no less – of the unfinished classic “Won’t You Tell Me” that illustrates how fecund Brian and the Beach Boys have always been and for that Feel Flows: The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969–1971 deserves all the attention it gets.
… still there’s more …