Also a Beach Boys
album, their last for Capitol Records
until 1988's Still Cruisin'
and the first on which band members other than Brian Wilson
made significant contributions. In fact the cover of the Ronettes
' I Can Hear Music is the first track by the band on which Brian Wilson does not appear at all (strangely he also doesn't appear on the album cover - the only Beach Boys album before Summer In Paradise
where a cover photo didn't include him).
The title comes from the fact that (counting 3 compilations, the instrumental-mix album Stack-O-Tracks and a live album) this was the band's 20th album.
Despite its ragbag, contract fulfilling nature (it's essentially a collection of outtakes plus recent singles), the album is one of their best, and provided their last UK no 1, Do It Again.
Do It Again, the album opener, is the band's first song since 1964's Don't Back Down to deal with the subject of surfing. A UK number 1, this combines their old surfing style with a more up to date fuzz guitar sound.
I Can Hear Music is a cover version of a Ronettes single. Carl Wilson produced this track, and shows how much he'd learned from his big brother. A wash of acoustic guitars backs some immaculate haronies, and there's an exquisite a capella section (listen out for Mike Love's bass vocal - 'do re mi fa so la ti do/I hear the music all the time now baby')
Bluebirds Over The Mountain is a cover of an Ersel Hickey country song, with some inappropriate Jimi Hendrix style guitar on the tag (by the band's onstage bassist Ed Carter). With horrible lyrics and a strange mix, this Carl Wilson/Bruce Johnston production is regularly considered one of the band's worst, although it was inexplicably a hit in some countries.
Be With Me is a Dennis Wilson song, the first to showcase his dense production style. More or less a love song, the occult references in the lyrics have led many to speculate that this is one of the songs where Wilson co-wrote with Charles Manson.
All I Want To Do is a Dennis Wilson rocker with Mike Love lead vocals. An undistinguished track, this is best remembered because of the tag - an audio verite record of Dennis with two groupies...
The Nearest Faraway Place is Bruce Johnston's first song for the band - an instrumental based around electric piano, which is obviously intended to sound like Brian Wilson's instrumentals, but far lusher.
Cotton Fields is a remake of an old Leadbelly song, with additional lyrics by Al Jardine. The band were unhappy with Brian Wilson's production on this country-flavoured track, and remade this as and released it as asingle with Jardine producing, which reached the top 5 in the UK.
I Went To Sleep is a leftover from the Friends album, by Brian Wilson. A beautiful waltz-time melody with inconsequential lyrics, this is a quiet highlight.
Time To Get Alone is a track originally written for Redwood (who later became Three Dog Night) by Brian Wilson. A simply stunning piece of music, this is full of beautiful little touches (listen for the strings under the chorus melody, for instance).
Never Learn Not To Love, although credited to Dennis Wilson, is actually by Charles Manson with Wilson adding some minor musical changes and altering some lines of lyric. (Manson asked for money instead of credit). Despite this, it is a powerful track, one of the band's best from the late 60s.
Our Prayer and Cabinessence are both left-overs from the Smile album and best dealt with there.
Band line-up for this album is Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston.
Currently available on Capitol Records as a twofer with Friends.
Previous album - Friends
Next album - Sunflower
Next album (UK only - not released in the US until the late 70s) - Beach Boys Live In London