The music on Among Friends was actually performed at San Francisco's Keystone Korner during a recorded engagement by the Bobby Hutcherson sextet. Pianist Cedar Walton opened each set with a few numbers and he was playing so well that in 1990 Evidence decided to release his material as a separate CD. Walton performs three songs ("Ruby My Dear," "My Old Flame" and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face") solo, interprets four other pieces (three standards plus his own "Midnight Waltz"), in a trio with bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Higgins, and Hutcherson himself makes the group a quartet on "My Foolish Heart." Excellent hard bop-based music from the talented pianist.
As compilations go this is up there with the best. 28 tracks of the Beach Boys at the top of their form (or close to the top, anyway). And at the price this is great value. It's easy to forget just how important the Beach Boys were to the progression of popular music in the 1960s. Brian Wilson used to watch what the Beatles were doing and try to match them on the artistic level. The Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds' was born of this rivalry and Paul McCartney regarded it as one of the greatest popular-music albums ever made. It spurred the Beatles to complete 'Revolver' and then make 'Sgt Pepper'. Brian Wilson was the Beach Boys' creative genius and when he broke down they lost their leadership position. However they left a huge repertoire of major hits, many of which are captured on this compilation. Some of the most finely crafted pop-music recordings ever made are here. Pete Doggett has written a paragraph in the accompanying booklet giving a little background to each of the tracks, which makes for interesting reading.