This pressing is significantly superior to every other reissue, and yes, that includes the analogue productions reissue, which sounds great and might be technically superior as far as EQ goes, but it fails to retain the stereo-field present on this amazing original pressing. The album itself contains some of their greatest work, with All I Wanna Do being at least 15 years ahead of its time and might arguably be their best song.
With some instrumental and vocal harmonic complexities that were certainly better than those delivered on Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys finally seemed poised to lay down an album that could fill a huge space, provided that huge space is a supermarket, or even a confined space, like an elevator, in need of some mindless lovable muzak, just perfect for browsing the high end yogurt section, where girls in oversized linen trousers and head scarves smile on endlessly, as if trying to remember the punchline to a joke they overheard while having a latte on the other side of the store … and while unable to, giggled anyway at the memory.
The album is primarily composed of love songs distributed across the record in varying degrees of effortlessness, breezy dreaming and mindless intoxication. With Brian continuing his own personal exploration of what makes up a good song, he’s stepped knee deep into the contemporary mellow soft rock California realm of all things pleasant. It’s a self-conscious homogenized affair, where in 1970, the album and the backwards step into naivety, making the album and the band totally irrelevant.
On a positive note, finally the Boys have graced us with an album of original material … matter of fact the guys handed in over thirty songs and let the record label sort the mess out. Of course, in the end there’s a floating warmth to the record, and certainly the production and engineering are flawless, yet it all comes across as quite mindless, and dare I sound, jaded, the conception sounds far too out of focus, where again, the Beach Boys manage to create an even worse album than before, staying on the charts for less than four weeks and peaking at the #151 slot. The single “Add Some Music To Your Day” was the record’s saving grace, where based on that single alone (which peaked at #64) was responsible for nearly all the album sales.
With Brian hopelessly addicted to cocaine at this point in time, he rambled on to friends and the music press that the band was broke, that their funds had vanished and they were considering filing for bankruptcy. What strikes me as most compelling, is that so many critics claimed that the album was great, yet their claims were never validated, with those claims comparing Sunflower to other failed adventures by The Beach Boys … though that certainly begs the question, is almost anything not good when compared to something really bad? Others have said that Sunflower marked a return to some balance within the band, with few outside musicians playing, meaning that the Beach Boys were once again responsible for their own sound. Yet again, when you listen to folks talk about this record, they point to this minute, or that aspect, or how this chord transitioned into these harmonies, though no one stands up and touts Sunflower as being the greatest album of all time, the Beach Boys defacto Sgt. Pepper.
So, discounting “Add Some Music To Your Day” what song found here holds up as well as “Good Vibrations,” “Sail On, Sailor,” “Good Timin’” or even the blistering slow dance number “Surfer Girl.” Even with all their studio double tracked double vocals, spilt stereophonic textured effects, and overtly considered harmonic balances, for me this is nothing more than a late summer bit of interlocking playfulness that is entirely forgettable.
Listen, the Beach Boys have always loomed much larger in my mind than they came across on records, they never actually made the transition into the hazed 60's, they weren’t really good at this whole easy going concept thing either. So if you think along the lines that I do, but have never given voice to those thoughts for fear of being criticized, go get yourself a Greatest Hits album, I promise, you’ll be much happier.
*** The Fun Facts: Working titles for the album were as follows Reverberation,Sun Flower, and Add Some Music, before they finally agreed on Sunflower.
After you get over Pet Sounds and all the myth and legend of SMiLE, you quickly realize how beautiful and oft-overlooked Sunflower really is (despite it's critical acclaim, it was a commercial flop). Of course this pressing sounds great. I'm happy to finally own a clean copy without distracting surface noise!
Errrrrrr track A1 Cottonfields oh really what on the original USA Reprise/Brother album don't think so!!!!!!
That great track (in it's single version) but so so sadly as both a crazy "cut off the steel guitar feature and solo for USA AM Mono radio edit as a quick fade" and its "wonderful Duophonic's mono to fake stereo mix was an exclusive on the UK EMI-$tateside pressing! The sleeve notes are made a full mockery off in the UK by having this vile Duophonic pap mix included, when great detail and back patting was made of the mixing of this album in Stereo.
As several have previously mentioned, this is an excellent Beach Boys LP and was sadly under-appreciated and poorly sold in the US, but did get overwhelmingly positive reviews in England and even charted there in the mid 20's (vs. in the #150's in the US)
It is easily their best (released) work since "Pet Sounds", and seems like the natural follow-up to "Friends" (we will skip on "20/20" since it is an odd-bag collection with some older outtakes and some newer tunes). Truly a democratic work, all six members (Brian, Carl, Dennis, Al, Mike and Bruce) bring their own contributions to the table, Dennis easily being the stand-out, as he had just begun writing songs with the "Friends" LP and is in full bloom here.