Released today (August 27th) is the long-awaited Beach Boys box set, Feel Flows – The Sunflower And Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971. The collection, assembled by producers Mark Linett and Alan Boyd with the help of Brother Records consultant Howie Edelson, features newly remastered versions of 1970’s Sunflower set and its 1971 followup, Surf’s Up.
Linett & Boyd are best known for their Grammy Award winning work on the Beach Boys’ 2011 box set, The Smile Sessions, which took home the prize for Best Historical Album.
Feel Flows includes a whopping 135 tracks, including 108 previously unreleased tracks, live recordings, radio promos, alternate versions, alternate mixes, isolated backing tracks and a cappella versions, culled from the album sessions — including the majority of the late-Dennis Wilson‘s unfinished 1971 solo set, tentatively titled, Poops/Hubba Hubba.
Howie Edelson provides the new liner notes, which features new and exclusive interviews with the living Beach Boys — Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston — along with archival quotes from the band’s late-co-founders, Dennis and Carl Wilson, along with others involved with the band during the 1969-1971 period.
Feel Flows has also been released in abbreviated versions including a four-LP set on both black vinyl and limited edition “Translucent Blue” and “Translucent Gold” color vinyl, two-LP black vinyl, and double-CD editions.
Several years after its release, Carl Wilson looked back on the Sunflower sessions, which coincided with the lowest ebb in the Beach Boys’ popularity: “Oh, Sunflower was really a snap, as far as ease. We didn’t do it quickly, y’know? It just, sort of, had its own flow. But, we recorded more things than we released on it and just decided to release it when we had that particular collection of songs.”
We asked Brian Wilson about relocating the Beach Boys in 1967 from Hollywood’s top professional studios into his Bel Air home on Bellagio Road — the band’s musical headquarters for the next five years: “Well, I wanted to have a home environment trip, where we could record at my house, so we had an engineer build a studio in our den; convert it into a studio. We could function easier, because we were at home at our house. So, the guys knew the house and they knew the studio so they were able to play good.”
Al Jardine recalled how Brian and Carl Wilson had an almost sixth-sense while working together, and how Carl was on top of everything that Brian was laying down: “He was always very aware of the studio environment. He was a good studio cat. Brian would consult him on things as we grew musically. He trusted Carl and he could bounce things off him before the rest of us. And it was, kind of, a buffer. Carl played kind of that role, and Carl learned a lot from that.”
Bruce Johnston recalled that the “Feel Flows” era was among the most productive and friendliest bunch of sessions the Beach Boys ever undertook: “Everybody was kind of grown up — but still young, and they used the studio as the ‘man cave.’ And they brought songs in and I, I found it kinda interesting to work on everybody’s songs. We were all very cool friends, and Brian probably knew he couldn’t make a whole album at that point; so we got the best outta Brian, but we also discovered, y’know, what other guys in the band could write and it was kinda interesting. And it had a lotta textures as far as the songs go, the voices, the leads — it was pretty good.”
Frontman Mike Love explained that around the time of the Beach Boys’ Sunflower album, the group became a much more democratic organization: “When Brian ceased being the dominant producer back in the late-’60s into the ’70s, then other people started taking a bigger hand; like Bruce got more involved, Carl (Wilson) got more involved, and even Dennis (Wilson) did some solo stuff, y’know, produced some stuff — so did Alan. So, y’know, it got a little but more Democratic back there for several years.”
Al Jardine told us that it took him years to finally fully appreciate Dennis Wilson’s work. He says that he’s consistently amazed at the depth and beauty of Dennis’ songs: “Oh, he was the most underrated member of the band in those terms. His compositions, I think, were stronger, and they got stronger and stronger as we went along — as he went along — until obviously he couldn’t go any further. And I just think that given time, y’know, he would’ve been the. . . probably the best composer in the band, outside of Brian, of course. Yeah, he just had that natural, intuitive instinct about music and lyrics. He always. . . he was the kind of guy who could get to the point without beating around the bush and, y’know, could just nail it.”