Sunflower Album

  • US Release: August 31st 1970
  • UK Release: November 1970
  • Chart High: US #151; UK #29
  • Singles: 
  • Add Some Music b/w Susie Cincinnati 
  • Slip On Through b/w This Whole World
  • Tears in the Morning b/w It’s About Time
  • Cool, Cool Water b/w Forever


During the middle of summer 1970 in the US, Sunflower is finally released. (November 1970 in the UK). There hasn’t been a new Beach Boys LP since February 1969, their longest gap between releases ever. After considerable revision, including a title change, the new LP – with its clean jacket design and a shot of the group and some of their children relaxing on the grass – is finally released in America on their new Brother/Reprise Records label.

Sunflower is in effect a reworked version of Add Some Music: it consists of “Slip On Through”, “Add Some Music To Your Day”, “This Whole World”, “Tears In The Morning”, “At My Window” and “Our Sweet Love” from that album, rejected by Reprise in late May 1970. “All I Wanna Do” (Not to be confused with “All I Want To Do” from 20/20), “Dierdre” and “Forever” are pulled from the aborted so-called “last Capitol Album” the recently completed “Got To Know The Woman” (first attempted in mid 1969) and the SMiLE relic, “Cool, Cool Water”. “It’s About Time” is completed in July.

Although filled with impressive music, the album swiftly becomes the group’s least successful album in terms of it’s sales performance, peaking at a lowly #151 in the US and only selling to their faithful fans – who are dwindling in numbers. When the album is released in November in the UK, where The Beach Boys are still very popular, the record peaks impressively at #29 after several glowing reviews, the best since Pet Sounds. Two tracks, “Cool, Cool Water” and “Got To Know The Woman” are presented in “quadraphonic”, a short-lived system designed to provide surround-sound.

Pictured: Tears In The Morning single Cover (Top) Slip On Through single label (Bottom)

Jim Miller will write in Rolling Stone, dated October 1st, 1970         

“After a long period of recovery, mediocrity, and general disaster, The Beach Boys have finally produced an album that can stand with Pet Sounds: the old vocal and instrumental complexity has returned and the result largely justifies the absurd faith some of us have had that The Beach Boys were actually still capable of producing a superb rock album – or, more precisely, a superb rock muzak album. “Add Some Music To Your Day”; hip supermarkets might program this album for contented browsing among the frozen vegetables and canned fruit.”

“As a reassuring note, most of the lyric impotence of the group remains, though not so prominently displayed as on such colorful recent outings as Friends. In what is mainly a simple collection of love songs, Dennis Wilson has explored some aspects of rhythm and blues while Brian continues to work within his own distinctive framework. Thus on one hand we have “It’s About Time” and “Slip On Through”,  hints of the soft hard rock that marked “I Get Around”, “Help Me Rhonda”, etc., transferred to the domain of contemporary Motown. Dennis even pulls off a rib-tickling imitation of Barry Melton imitating James Brown on “Got To Know The Woman”…

Pictured: Early 1970 promo photo



“…All of these tracks are executed with a certain aplomb that often was lacking in post “Good Vibrations” Beach Boy music, as if the self-consciousness of such homogenizing enterprise as making as new Beach Boy record has been again overcome. As a result, the naivete of the group is more astounding than ever – I mean, good Christ, it’s 1970 and here we have a new, excellent Beach Boys’ epic, and isn’t that irrelevant? In any case, Brian’s new stuff is great, especially “This Whole World” and “All I Wanna Do”. Which brings up the engineering and production work on this album: it’s flawless, especially in view of the number of overdubs.” 

“There is a warmth, a floating quality to the stereo that far surpasses the mixing on, say, Abbey Road. The effects are subtle, except for the outrageous echo on “All I Wanna Do” that makes the song such a mind wrenching experience. And there is “Cool, Cool Water”, Brian’s exquisite ode to water in all its manifestations, which, like “Add Some Music”, is encyclopedic in its trivial catalogue of the subject at hand.”

“Deidre” and particularly Brian’s “Our Sweet Love” rejoin the ongoing tradition of “Surfer Girl”, although “Our Sweet Love” is most reminiscent of the mood of Pet Sounds. As a whole, Sunflower is without a doubt the best Beach Boys album in recent memory, a stylistically coherent tour de force. This album will probably have the fate of being taken as a decadent piece of fluff at a time when we could use more Liberation Music Orchestras. It is decadent fluff – but brilliant fluff. The Beach Boys are plastic madmen, rock geniuses. The plastic should not hide from the geniuses who molded it.”

Pictured: Sunflower Promo Material.

Sunflower Sessions
February 18-20 1970, Bel air, CA

Twelve days after completing the latest batch of recordings, the group sets to work mastering the new album, the first for their new label, Warner/Reprise. They title the disc Sunflower. Featuring production by The Beach Boys collectively, and by Brian Wilson, Bruce Johnston, Dennis Wilson, and Al Jardine individually, it features “Slip On Through”, “Take A Load Off Your Feet”, “Forever”, “Games Two Can Play”, “Add Some Music To Your Day”, “When Girls Get Together”, “Our Sweet Love”, “Tears In The Morning”, “Back Home”, “Fallin’ In Love” (which becomes known as Lady), “I Just Got My Pay”, “Carnival”, “Susie Cincinnati” and “Good Time”.

The recordings have been made intermittently over the past 15 months. A photograph for the album’s cover is taken by the group’s friend, Ricci Martin, son of Dean, of the six Beach Boys sitting and standing on the grass in the blazing sun, surrounded by their children. Within days the master tape is submitted to Warner/Reprise Records. However, the company cannot hear an  abundance of potential hits and rejects it, considering the album too weak as a debut for the label. Instead, as a way of testing the group’s new material , the label decides to release two of the new recordings as a single, Add Some Music b/w Susie Cincinnati (Which ends up peaking at a disappointing #64 in the US Billboard chart). The label requests that another batch of songs be written and recorded; The Beach Boys, dejected but undeterred, duly oblige.

Pictured: Spain version of the Tears/It’s About Time Single


Sunflower Sessions
May-July 1970, Los Angeles, CA

Uppermost in the thoughts of The Beach Boys in early May is the need to hand over an acceptable studio album to Warner/Reprise, following the rejection from the label in February. Work on this will occupy most of the following ten days. By the end of the month, they deliver a reworked new album to the record company’s headquarters in Burbank, California. Entitled Add Some Music (An Album Offering From The Beach Boys), the LP is intended to feature the following recordings: on side one “Susie Cincinnati”, “Good Time”, “Our Sweet Love”, “Tears In The Morning”, “When Girls Get Together” and “Slip On Through”; on side two: “Add Some Music To Your Day”, Take A Load Off Your Feet”, “This Whole World”, “I Just Got My Pay”, “At My Window” and “Fallin’ In Love”.

Warner/Reprise again rejects the recordings. They are somewhat disappointed by the music on the album, but also wish to distance themselves from anything that bears the name Add Some Music, an abridged title of the group’s first and unsuccessful single with the label back in February. The relationship between the two parties is at an all time low, and The Beach Boys are told once again to come up with a new batch of stronger recordings.

It is now early July and the group starts and completes “Its About Time” during the first days of the month. The song is recorded on 2-inch 16-track tape; take 21 marked as master. Following Brian Wilson’s approval of the song, the collective Beach Boys begin a lengthy six-day recording session for “Cool, Cool Water”, working with engineer Steve Desper. The group is now optimistic that the song will provide the finishing touch for their first Warner/Reprise album. After the final session, the final master for Sunflower is delivered to Warner Bros. This is the third time in five months that the group has proposed a new LP – and the label finally announces itself satisfied. The record is scheduled for a US release on August 31st. 

Pictured: The group, late 1970

ON TOUR - Monterey, California
Saturday, October 3rd, 1970

Following an invitation the previous month by Brian Wilson’s friend Van Dyke Parks, the group plays two acclaimed sets at the eighth annual Big Sur Folk Festival in California. These shows will come to be seen as landmark events in the chequered history of The Beach Boys. The performances in front of a crowd of 6,000 help to establish the group’s image in the eyes of the rock hierarchy, and they are subsequently “rediscovered” as an important live act.

They close the afternoon section of the show and appear first during the evening. Only Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine, and Carl Wilson are present: Dennis Wilson is away filming the film Two-Lane Blacktop, and Mike Kowalski takes his place behind the drum kit. The California-born session drummer Kowalski has played with Sonny & Cher, Nick Drake and John Martyn, among others. Also joining the live band is Beach Boy stage regular Daryl Dragon on keyboards and bass.

Jann Wenner writes in Rolling Stone:  

“They did “God Only Knows”, “Sloop John B”, “Vegetables” and some superb stuff from their new Sunflower album like “It’s About Time” and “Tears in the Morning”. Other highlights were “Cotton Fields”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Darlin”. The Beach Boys quite obviously were excellent. They could have gone on for another two hours and no one would have known. They were the best act of the day” – Next Release

Pictured: March 1st, 1970, Portland, OR show poster