The Beach Boys, 20/20 (2001 – Remaster)

Lenny Kaye

By Lenny Kaye

on 02.21.12 in Reviews

20/20 (2001 - Remaster)

Beach Boys
Attempting to keep pace with a rapidly-changing culture

Finishing up both the ’60s and their obligations to Capitol, this pairing of albums reveals not only the considerable schisms within the band, but their out-of-step attempts to keep pace with a rapidly-changing culture. In an America increasingly spelled with a “k,” amid assassinations and turmoil in the streets, the Beach Boys could well appear an anachronism — and sometimes their naivete turned on them, as in Dennis Wilson’s well-meaning dalliance with the Manson clan, documented on “Never Learn Not To Love” on 20-20. But with Brian absenting himself from the studio (“Busy Doin’ Nothin” kind of sums it up), the other Boys stepped to the fore, especially Carl, whose production of “I Can Hear Music” is matched by the unexpected flowering of Dennis (“Be With Me”). Al Jardine steered the band back into folkish waters with “Cottonfields,” perennial Beach Boy wingman Bruce Johnston had a chance to see what he might contribute with the instrumental “The Nearest Faraway Place,” and even Mike Love’s infatuation with the Marahishi (“Transcendental Meditation”) gave the band a spiritual dimension where least expected. Despite his abdication, Brian’s spirit permeates these albums, with Smile outtakes like “Cabinessence” and an expansive “Our Prayer” showing where the oversoul of the Beach Boys still resided.