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Sunflower is the sixteenth studio album by American rock group The Beach Boys, their first on Reprise Records. The album reached a respectable number 29 in the UK though only achieved number 151 on the US albums chart during a four week stay, becoming the lowest charting Beach Boys album until 1978's M.I.U. Album equaled it. Sunflower contrasts with previous albums by containing significant songwriting contributions from all members of the band.

The album's critical reputation has grown since its original appearance. In 2003, it was ranked 300 in Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.


 [hide*1 Recording


Early Reverberation sessions[edit][]

After their last album, 20/20Dennis Wilson was the first Beach Boy to head back into the recording studio, and the other members followed suit.[nb 1] Over this period, the Beach Boys worked on more than a dozen tracks, some of which are noted outtakes.[nb 2]

After working on the eventually completed songs "All I Wanna Do", "Deirdre", "Forever", and "Got to Know the Woman", they turned their attention to "Break Away", written by Brian Wilson and his father Murry, who used the pseudonym Reggie Dunbar. At the time, it was thought that it would be their last single for Capitol and was a very small hit in the U.S., where it reached number 63. It did much better overseas, peaking at number six in the UK. "Celebrate the News" was the b-side, and neither song was released on a Beach Boys album. After they were done recording "Break Away", the band went on a tour of Europe. When they got back, they recorded two more Dennis Wilson songs, one of which being "Slip on Through".[nb 3][1] Next on the agenda was a rerecording of "Cotton Fields", a Lead Belly song that was released on The Beach Boys previous album, 20/20Al Jardine was the producer for this recording of the song.

The album entitled to these extended 1969 sessions was to be released on Capitol Records.[2] Tension between the band and label inflamed on April 12 when the Beach Boys sued Capitol Records for unpaid royalties and unpaid production fees in the amount of two million dollars.[nb 4] After returning from an extended tour of Australia and New Zealand, the band assembled an album from unused Add Some Music material which would finish their commitment to Capitol.[citation needed] It had working titles ofReverberation[citation needed] and The Fading Rock Group Revival[citation needed]. Although a master tape (dated June 19, 1970) of songs was put together,[citation needed] this album was never released. It is unknown if Capitol rejected the album or if the Beach Boys never submitted it.[nb 5] The Beach Boys ended up fulfilling their contract with Live in London; Capitol had such little faith in the album that they chose to release it only where the Beach Boys' records were still selling respectably well—the UK. That business decision forced fans around the world into record stores to 'special order' the import version.[nb 6]

Rejected Add Some Music album[edit][]

In fall of 1969, The Beach Boys intensified work on their new project, now entitled Add Some Music with the subheading An Album Offering From The Beach Boys.[3] Their reputation had fallen sharply in the US since 1967, but Mo Ostin decided to sign them to Reprise Records in November (reportedly[by whom?] on Van Dyke Parks' urging) despite Brian Wilson's personal attempts at sabotage by painting his face green before meeting with label executives.[citation needed] Part of the deal was to revive their Brother Records imprint, initially founded during the Smile era and used only for the Smiley Smile album, and the "Heroes and Villains" and "Gettin' Hungry" singles before becoming dormant.

After giving Live in London to Capitol, the band began to work seriously on a new album. Throughout the latter part of 1969 and early half of 1970, they recorded a myriad of outtakes:

After signing their new contracts with Reprise, The Beach Boys redoubled their efforts in the studio, finishing "This Whole World", "Tears in the Morning" and "Add Some Music to Your Day". In addition, they recorded "Our Sweet Love" and several other tracks reduced to outtakes. A rough piano run-through of The Beatles' "You Never Give Me Your Money" was also taped.[citation needed]

After the Reprise "Add Some Music To Your Day" single failed, Capitol Records released their last Beach Boys single, "Cottonfields". While it failed to chart in the US, the song hit #1 in Australia, Sweden, and Norway, and hit #5 in the UK. Before leaving for a tour of Australia and New Zealand, they finished putting the album together and submitted it to Reprise. The album was entitled Add Some Music, and featured some of the tracks listed above plus most that would eventually survive to the finalized Sunflower LP.[3] Add Some Music was rejected by the label.[3] After listening to it, and after the failure of the lead single, Mo Ostin suggested that they come up with a few stronger tracks or their days at Reprise Records would be short-lived. The band was unhappy,[according to whom?] but went into the studio one last time.

Final Sunflower sessions[edit][]

"All I Wanna Do"MENU   0:00 Production for "All I Wanna Do" has been described by Rolling Stone as "mind-wrenching"[5] and "proto-shoegaze" by Pitchfork,[6] whileAllMusic called it "possibly one of the most beautiful and unusual songs and recordings" on Sunflower.[7]----
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During February 1970, they started to assemble what would subsequently be known as Sunflower, and released the lead single, "Add Some Music to Your Day". Reprise was so excited about the single that they convinced retailers to carry more copies of it than they ever had for any other Reprise single. Unfortunately for the band, the single (with the B-side "Susie Cincinnati") did not sell as well as they had hoped, only reaching number 64 on theBillboard top 100 chart. The Beach Boys finished the last two Sunflower songs in July 1970.

The first, done at the behest of Lenny Waronker, was "Cool, Cool Water," an outtake from the Smiley Smile sessions, later attempted for Wild Honey. Waronker, then an A&R executive at Warner Music, heard the unfinished tape, and convinced Wilson to finish the track for Sunflower. Waronker was so impressed with the song's inspired simplicity, that he noted, "If I ever get the opportunity to produce Brian, I'd encourage him to do something that combined the vividness of Good Vibrations with the non-commercial gentleness of Cool, Cool Water."[nb 20]

The other song that they recorded was "It's About Time", a rocker that briefly became a concert staple for them. Bruce Johnston also rerecorded his vocal to "Tears in the Morning". After recording over 30 different songs, and going through several different album titles, The Beach Boys' Sunflower was mixed in both stereo and quadraphonic, and finally released in August 1970.[3][8]


The picture of the band on the front sleeve, featuring all six group members, was taken on the golf course at Dean Martin's Hidden Valley Ranch near Thousand Oaks in Ventura County, California. Dean's son Ricci Martin, a friend of the band, took the photograph, also featuring Brian's daughter Wendy, Alan's first son Matthew, Mike's children Hayleigh and Christian, and Carl's son Jonah. As adults, Matthew Jardine and Christian Love would go on to perform in the Beach Boys' touring band.

The inner gatefold spread on the original vinyl LP featured a series of photographs taken by designer/photographer Ed Thrasher at the Warner Brothers studio backlot.

Live performances[edit][]

Six of the 12 songs from the album have been performed live by The Beach Boys; However, none have been played with any frequency. Songs from the album that have been played live include "This Whole World" (first played live in 1988),[9] "Forever", and "Add Some Music to Your Day". "Slip on Through", "It's About Time", and "Tears in the Morning" were all initially played live following the album's release, but they have not been performed since.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [10]
The A.V. Club positive[11]
Blender [12]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music [13]
Pitchfork Media 8.9/10[14]
Robert Christgau A−[15]
Rolling Stone [16]

Despite not being the commercial hit it was expected to be in the US, Sunflower received considerable critical acclaim upon release and in subsequent years.Pitchfork Media has called the album "perhaps the strongest album they released post-Pet Sounds."[17] Rolling Stone magazine gave the album four stars, saying it is one of the Beach Boys' best albums. Music critic Robert Christgau gave it an A-. The album has gained more popularity since its release.

Johnston's "Deirdre" was sampled in the 1995 Super Nintendo Entertainment System game, EarthBound.


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Guardian United Kingdom 100 Best Albums Ever[18] 1997 66
Rolling Stone United States 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2003 380
Sunday Herald United Kingdom The 103 Best Albums Ever, Honest 2001 *

(*) denotes an unordered list

Track listing[edit][]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "Slip on Through"   Dennis Wilson Dennis Wilson 2:17
2. "This Whole World"   Brian Wilson Carl Wilson (lead), Brian Wilson (background) 1:56
3. "Add Some Music to Your Day"   B. Wilson/Joe Knott/Mike Love Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, C. Wilson, B. Wilson, and Al Jardine 3:34
4. "Got to Know the Woman"   D. Wilson D. Wilson 2:41
5. "Deirdre"   Bruce Johnston/B. Wilson Johnston 3:27
6. "It's About Time"   D. Wilson/Carl Wilson/Bob Burchman/Al Jardine C. Wilson 2:55
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "Tears in the Morning"   Johnston Johnston 4:07
2. "All I Wanna Do"   B. Wilson/Love Love and B. Wilson 2:34
3. "Forever"   D. Wilson/Gregg Jakobson D. Wilson 2:40
4. "Our Sweet Love"   B. Wilson/C. Wilson/Jardine C. Wilson 2:38
5. "At My Window"   B. Wilson/Jardine Johnston 2:30
6. "Cool, Cool Water"   B. Wilson/Love B. Wilson and Love 5:03

European track listing[edit][]

This variation of the album was released by EMI subsidiary, Stateside Records, in November 1970. Its opening track was "Cottonfields." "Got to Know the Woman" and "Deirdre" were placed in inverse order on side 1. The contents of the individual tracks were unchanged. This track listing has been superseded with the regular Sunflower running order, now released worldwide.


The Beach Boys
Session musicians and production staff

Sales chart positions[edit][]

Year Chart Position
1970 UK Top 40 Album Chart 29
1970 US Billboard 200 Albums Chart 151
US Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1970 "Add Some Music to Your Day" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 64

Chart information courtesy of Allmusic and other music databases.[19]