Beach Boys – Feel Flows: Album Review

To celebrate  50 years of The Beach Boys’ timeless music , Capitol/UMe  release an expansive 5CD and digital box set titled Feel Flows – The Sunflower and Surf’s Up Sessions, 1969-1971, chronicling  moments of change in the legends musical career. 

Release date :  30th July 2021

Label: Capitol

Format: 5CD set/ also be released in 4LP black vinyl and limited edition Translucent Blue and Translucent Gold colour vinyl, 2LP black vinyl and 2CD editions. 

The  music world  is full of Beach Boys Greatest Hits albums and when any radio station decides to play Beach Boys songs, any discerning fan could guess what has been selected. Yes, you name any one of  Good Vibrations, God Only Knows, Wouldn’t It Be Nice and you probably wouldn’t be wrong. Yet the tracks on this quality drenched 5CD package would go unnoticed even though they include some of the best compositions ever written by the Beach Boys. 

The  Sunflower album was recorded amidst  severe financial problems and declining popularity but a rejuvenated Brian Wilson plus purple patches of composition from other band members, revived the musical quality. Denis Wilson’s Forever in particular was rated highly by brother Brian. It would be fair to say that it was a struggle to replicate the quality of Pet Sounds but Sunflower is well matched to it and the stunning live performances on the album reflect the band’s belief in the music.

Benefitting from recent remastering, there is a freshness and vitality to the excellent arrangements. Having wallowed in the album Sunflower there are live versions to listen and no less than 8 previously unreleased bonus tracks. All this on 1 CD  but later in this collection, and more interestingly,  come some acappella versions, which celebrates the human singing voice as a musical instrument which is rarely demonstrated in the world of rock n’ roll. If that wasn’t enough for those who like to experience the studio recording process, there is a disc dedicated to the  studio sessions with alternative recordings, longer versions, track and backing vocals. All of which just ooze quality. 

To say that this album was under-appreciated is an understatement and this compilation of recordings will hopefully set the record straight and gain them the status they deserve in Beach Boys mythology.

Merely focussing on Sunflower would be enough, but the summer treats don’t end there as the album Surfs Up is given the same treatment. This album, assembled from some Sunflower session outtakes, also recognises a smouldering change within the Beach Boys image and band politics. Many tracks are attributed as Carl, Denis, Mike Love and Al Jardine compositions as well as lyrically more socially conscious. Musically the album retains the high standard of the Sunflower sessions borne out by the inclusion on the Feel Flows compilation of  Surfs Up outtakes like the melodious Big Sur and Sound Of Free, with its subtle time changes.

The whole package is presented in book-style  including photos, lyrics, artefacts and interviews with Al Jardine, Brian Wilson, Bruce Johnston, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson and Mike Love.  Feel Flows will also be released in black vinyl and limited edition Translucent Blue and Translucent Gold colour vinyl, 2LP black vinyl and 2CD editions. 

With  135 tracks, including 108 previously unreleased tracks, this  delve into Beach Boys history is a must buy for lifelong Beach Boys followers and for those who need educating that our favourite American lads were more than surf boards, blonde haired babes and hot rods! The album represents  a maturity but still retaining the brilliant Beach Boy sound.

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