Sunday, February 20, 2011

17. The Beach Boys - Friends (1968)

45 Years, 45 LPs, 45 days...
Friends (1968)
Sunshine Dream (1982)
My first taste of Friends (1968) was through a 1982 Capitol compilation called Sunshine Dream, a double album that mimicked the concept of Endless Summer (1974), except this time the lion's share of tunes were late 60's Beach Boys. I purchased the album in early summer '84 and became instantly obsessed. Songs like "Friends" and "Be Here In the Morning" were unlike anything I'd ever associated with The Beach Boys.  I soon bought Smiley Smile (1967), 20/20 (1969), and the majestic Pet Sounds (1966). To my 18 year-old ears these records were uncommonly awe-inspiring and downright spiritual.
May 1984: Orlando, FL
And so began my new life as a Beach Boys fanatic. Over the next two years I continued to buy up their catalog wherever I could find it (note that this was at a time when most of their 70's LPs were out of print).  In the fall of '85 I bought my first bootleg SMILE LP, which opened a door to yet another era of Beach Boys music I had never experienced. By this time I'd also obtained a shiny new copy of the 1974 Brother/Reprise twofer of Friends/Smiley Smile.
Friends/Smiley Smile twofer (1974)

Friends is one of the first true Beach Boys records, in that each group member had stepped up their creative input to make up for Brian's increased absence. Brian is certainly present on Friends, but not like he was on Pet Sounds. Friends shows the other Beach Boys sharing songwriting and production credit, as well as increased vocal duties. Most notable are the beautiful "Be Still" and "Little Bird", the first Dennis Wilson compositions heard on a Beach Boys LP, and two of Friends' major high points.

1992: Carl & The Passions + Jeff
Very few bands have a musical history as rich  as The Beach Boys. Their body of work is so deeply layered that it requires a certain dedication to uncover it all. For me it's been a highly rewarding journey.

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