May 21st, 2013
The music world will be focusing on the sad passing of one Los Angeles musician, Ray Manzerak of the Doors, but today’s review looks at another Los Angeles artist, Anny Celsi. She’s featured on these pages before, and is now back with her third album, January.
January is a month of new beginnings, as well as endings, and sometimes a massive post-festive comedown, but for Anny Celsi, it is one of musical consolidation. There are familiar styles -sunshine pop, country flavored rock -but done with a fresh approach and melodies that sound like instant hits.
Au Revoir, My Darling kicks off the album with a instant classic pop sound that will soon playing over in your head, while Travelogue evokes the romanticism of travel. Ghosts In The Room has a fantastic horn-driven production, while Wait is achingly beautiful and the closer Citybird has country leanings but a great understated pop sound.
It’s another great record for Anny Celsi -you can buy the album on her website, and you should also check out her back catalogue.
May 16th, 2013
It’s the 47th anniversary of the release of Pet Sounds today; of course, if I was ruler of the world, it would be a public holiday, but for now, we can just appreciate the greatest album ever released. Today, I’m thinking about something written about Pet Sounds when it was rated the best album ever in New Musical Express, a few years after I really started loving the album.
The by-line to the album being the best was ““proof that swooning emotions, pearling harmonies and lines about missing your girl are still valid.” It’s a very different world in 2013 – a far more connected world , but also a more divided one. Popular music has diverged into so many directions -and there may been many critical and commercial picks for best album since then. But in the end , for me an album with “swooning emotions”, “missing your girl” and the basic search for love and acceptance, has to be number one, even if you don’t talk about the melody, harmony and production. Happy birthday, Pet Sounds!
May 11th, 2013
It’s been just over 40 years since the Beach Boys released the output from their encampment in the Netherlands, the Holland album. I will personally be heading in that direction in just over a week. And now, it is the main feature in the latest Endless Summer Quarterly, which has the usual mix of news, reviews and in-depth articles on all eras of the Beach Boys.
This edition focuses on the transcendental meditation practices of Mike and Al, particularly in the late 60s and early 70s, with a specific focus on the Holland album. There are pictures of Brian’s current recording sessions, and news of upcoming releases, and sadly the many passings of people with a Beach Boys connection. You can order ESQ here.
May 4th, 2013
Last October, I had the good intention to review each Beach Boys album on the 50th anniversary of their release. Of course, in those early days, the albums came out pretty thick and fast -with Surfin’ U.S.A. following Surfin’ Safari by some five months. So I’m about a month late, but still more than four months before the next one (Surfer Girl).
Of course, Surfin’ U.S.A, sees the Beach Boys entering the premier league in terms of hit albums and singles early on in their career. No other Beach Boys album captures the atmosphere of the surfing craze as well as the their second effort. Five surf-flavored instrumentals fill out the vocal tracks, which feature some of Brian’s first falsetto-style lead vocals on Farmer’s Daughter and Lana. Surfin’ U.S.A and Shut Down are, of course, surf and drag standards respectively, but the real meat of this album is Lonely Sea which is the first time we see the band in introspective mode, and is an early pointer to the glories of Pet Sounds.
Overall, this is an entertaining if not completely substantial album, but given that most of the instrumentation is by the band, it shows that the Beach Boys were perfectly competent singing and playing the “surf” style of music. An album to crank up by the big waves on a lonely beach on a hot summers day!
April 20th, 2013
I’m about to go on an extended business trip, so this blog will be quiet for the next ten days or so. Life in Beach Boys/Brian Wilson territory is certainly not quiet, with news coming out that John Cusack is in talks to play Brian Wilson in the upcoming biopic. And social media continues to be filled with dispatches from Brian Wilson’s current recording project, with Al definitely involved as well as Jeff Beck. Another person who is involved is Australian bass player, Tal Winkenfeld , who has posted that Brian is recording new songs which she can’t get out of her head. We may not have a united Beach Boys, but the next few years should still be quite interesting (remembering a Dennis Wilson movie is also in the works).
April 17th, 2013
The 50th anniversary tour live album seems to well on it’s way to an active release with a cover, and a tracklist now available. The tracklist pretty much reflects the order and main songs of the historic shows and will should be a great souvenir of the shows.
And as the first inklings of summer hit the northern hemisphere, there seems to be quite a bit of Beach Boys news, including an upcoming Brian Wilson autobiography, or more realistically, a second attempt at Brian telling his story to someone, with that someone not being Eugene Landy.
April 14th, 2013
The current two way split of Beach Boys tours means that there is very little chance of any proper shows with the fabulous five of the 50th reunion shows. However, if the latest news pans out in reality (and in Beach Boys land, reality is always a good thing to wait for before getting too excited), 2013 could be a good year for Beach Boys music. A live album and a new box set have been spoken about for some time, and are now penciled in for May and August.
At the same time, tweets and pictures of Brian Wilson’s current recording are coming out on social media. Whether they are linked to the box set, or new solo music, is not certain yet, but it looks like there were will be a lot of new things to talk about this year in Brian and Beach Boys circles.
April 11th, 2013
The Brian/Al/David show is taking more shape, with seven dates now confirmed , and the hint of more to come. While it’s not at the level of the Mike/Bruce shows, who have a considerable number of summer dates, it will certainly be interesting to compare the shows. Maybe we’ll get a live performance of From There To Back Again?
April 6th, 2013
My last post was clearly an April Fools, but the convoluted story on how She Says She Needs Me eventually became a released Brian Wilson song is not. The first attempts to record it were in 1965, with the song being revisited around 1976, and again 1988, before being finally re-recorded and released on the 1998 Imagination album. Prior to the official release, it appeared on “unofficial” recordings under a number of titles, including Sherry She Needs Me, Sandy She Needs Me and Terri She Needs Me.
It is interesting hearing the various incarnations of the song, especially the “Wrecking Crew” backing track from 1965, and indeed it seems odd that such a strong track wasn’t completed and put on a record instead of some of the weaker selections on the Beach Boys albums from that year. However, the final version, with lyrics by ex-Mrs Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, was a great piece of music, showing the melodic strength of the song, and an evocative instrumental break. Unlike April Fools, this song is for real, even if it took some time to become an official piece of Brian Wilson music.
April 1st, 2013
Details of Brian’s current recording and new release have been sent to the music press today -and indeed, it is Brian’s long-awaited rock and roll album. However, what is surprising is just how rock and roll the new album is likely to be. Maybe taking a leaf from Paul McCartney’s recent colloboration with the surviving Nirvana members, the album will not only feature David Grohl on drums, but also Angus Young from AC/DC on guitar. With Brian on bass, it will go back to the primitive rock trio sound. Brian says “this isn’t going to a pussy Phil Spector soundalike rock and roll thing, this is going back to raw rock and roll – no melody or harmonies, just the real thing.” Clearly the rest of Brian’s band are not involved.
Certainly, this is a surprise to this writer, but we await the results with interest.