The Beach Boys – Sunflower

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  • A KILLER copy of Sunflower with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • This pressing is surprisingly rich and smooth, with excellent bass and the kind of breathy immediacy to the vocals that only vintage vinyl can offer
  • 4 1/2 stars: “[Sunflower] signaled a creative rebirth for the band, a return to the beautiful harmonies and orchestral productions of their classic mid-’60s material.”

This album — like Surf’s Up, which was released just after it — can really sound wonderful on a good pressing. If you love Pet Sounds, you’ll find plenty of the Beach Boys’ signature harmonies here, all recorded with real richness and warmth.

This original Reprise pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the Best Sides of Sunflower Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Sunflower

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Don’t Go Near the Water
Long Promised Road
Take a Load off Your Feet
Disney Girls (1957)
Student Demonstration Time

Side Two

Feel Flows
Lookin’ at Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)
A Day in the Life of a Tree
‘Til I Die
Surf’s Up

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

The results signaled a creative rebirth for the band, a return to the beautiful harmonies and orchestral productions of their classic mid-’60s material. Though the songwriting didn’t quite reach the high quality of “California Girls” or “God Only Knows,” Sunflower showed the Beach Boys truly working as a band, and doing so better than they ever had in the past (or would in the future). And the arrangements, tight and inventive, showed Brian Wilson once again back near the top of his game (though the production is credited to the entire band). Sunflower is also a remarkably cohesive album, something not seen from the Beach Boys since Pet Sounds. As with that album, Sunflower earned critical raves in Britain but was virtually ignored in America.

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