So I finally got around to picking up this 7" charity single, even though it was initially issued nearly two years ago I believe. The early limited edition was apparently white vinyl; what I got was on good old fashioned black vinyl.
I finally got my turntable hooked back up again, and figured I would finally track this single down to hear the still-otherwise-unreleased "A Capella" mix of "Friends."
As for the A-side, it's seemingly the same version/mix of "Don't Fight the Sea" flown in from Al's album. It's fun to see it on vinyl, and hilarious to see that it contractually/legally can't be credited to "The Beach Boys" even though there are more Beach Boys on it (five) than plenty of stuff released under the band's name over the years. I think the song is great, and great to hear Carl's awesome vocals on it. Al sounds stellar as well. The song was first tracked in the late 70's, but much if not most of what we hear on this version sounds like it comes from sessions circa 1989 during the "Still Cruisin'" era; this is apparently the era during which most of Al's vocal comes from (one later verse was recorded in the late 2000's), as well as Brian's vocals (Brian apparently briefly "on loan" from Landy to do the session), and Carl's as well as the backing vocals from Carl, Al, and Bruce. Inexplicably, Mike apparently was not on the song until Al had him add some bass backing vocals in the late 2000's.
The B-side is great fun, proof that they need to put out a collection of vocals-only mixes. It's just what you would expect, more layers of lush group vocals revealed. These guys sang (and sing) like no others together. For some reason, this "A Capella" mix does bring the backing track up in the mix briefly late in the song. I can't explain why, though I wonder if there was some technical reason. I don't know if this mix will ever see a wide release, but in any event, while I'd much prefer to have it on CD, this was well worth the $10 I spent for a shiny new copy.