Archive for the ‘Brian Wilson’ Category

Remembering The Magic Gardens Of 1967/2017

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

The 5th Dimension - The Magic Garden.jpg In remembering 2017, there is a natural inclination to also remember the original Summer of Love in 1967, 50 years ago. Being the year that I also turned 50, there an even greater inclination to reflect back to that pivotal year that I have no real memory of, but have many musical mementos to call upon.

1967 was the year of Sgt. Pepper and it’s less known but equally interesting Magical Mystery Tour.  The Beach Boys failed to release SMiLE but Brian and the boys were actually quite productive, both in releasing albums, performing live and recording songs. There were a lot of other great albums, not least of all Forever Changes. Another great record, released late in December 1967 and previously reviewed on this blog, was The Magic Garden, Jimmy Webb’s masterpiece, performed by the Fifth Dimension and reflecting the ups and downs of the era, and life in general.

50 years later the music overall isn’t as great, but there are pockets of brilliance, in hearing more unheard gems from the Beach Boys from the many Sunshine Tomorrow releases, but also in some great new music, not least from the likes of Lucky Soul and Saint Etienne. Brian Wilson also reminded us that he has been a lot more than just a Beach Boy, but also a very viable solo artist for more than half his musical career.

2017 was a year of a lot of pain for the world, as the bad decisions of 2016 became more real. However, with Mugabe out and Zuma down, for the first time in many years, my part of the world begins 2018 with some real hope. It was also the year that I got married. So we begin 2018 with cautious optimism – I wish all the readers a wonderful year, both musically and otherwise.

Pet Sounds 52

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Additional dates have now been added to the May 2018 Pet Sounds tour, meaning that the tour will now be substantially extended into the 52nd anniversary of the great album! You can see the new dates here

The Beach Boys Christmas Surprise

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Exactly 3 months after the belated Smiley Smile, the Beach Boys released another album just a week before Christmas. It wasn’t a seasonal album but a collection of all-new songs that saw the band move from psychedelia and complexity to simplicity and basic R&B. It was also released just a few days before I was born, so as Wild Honey celebrates its 50th birthday, it will be last Beach Boys album featured in my 50 anniversary posts that is older than me.

After the trauma of the scrapping of SMiLE and the critical and public befuddlement at the “odd” Smiley Smile, the Beach Boys clearly needed to take another direction. However, coming so soon after Smiley Smile, this new album direction was released to a public that, in the USA, at least, was already indifferent to the Beach Boys.

The new direction took the “back to basics” element of Smiley Smile and added the boogie-woogie feel that Brian and his family had grown up. The result is a spirited, up-tempo album that still hinted at the melodic genius of Brian. It was also an album for Brian to “cool out” to, in Carl’s words, after the traumas of 1967, although as with all the albums in the immediate wake of the SMiLE sessions, there is still a connection to the material from those sessions in Mama Says, a fragment of Vegatables abandoned for Smiley Smile. Brian is, from a composers point of view, still very involved, although How She Boogalooed It is the first original non-instrumental track put out by the band not written by Brian.

Individual track highlights include Aren’t You Glad which hints at Bacharach, the beautiful, soulful Let The Wind Blow and Darlin’ which is a retread of the earlier tune Thinking About You Baby but features a fantastic Carl vocal and great production.

The rest of the songs all fit in well to the overall mood of the album, but the fact the harmonies, production and tunes are not all top-drawer prevents this album from being right at the top of the Beach Boys pile. Having said that, this is still a vastly underrated album that gives many other much more vaunted works of 1967 a good run for their money in the quality stakes, and this year’s release of Sunshine Tomorrow and the rich body of the band’s work at this time has helped with the critical re-appraisal of the record.

Indeed, the fact that 1968 releases from the Stones, Dylan and the Beatles reflected a “back to basics” ethos may indicate that Wild Honey was ahead of its time. While there were probably many other factors in these 1968 releases going in that direction, it is hard to believe that Wild Honey had absolutely no influence on this direction, even given the Beach Boys’ diminished “hipness” as that stage. Once again, the band put out a work ahead of its time, and for all times.

More Sunshine Tomorrow Than You Ever Thought Possible

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

As a Christmas present to fans who were generally quite impressed with the 2 CD Sunshine Tomorrow collection, there is suddenly a whole lot more available for legal download -29 unreleased studio tracks on Sunshine Tomorrow 2: The Studio Tracks and an astonishing 109 live tracks on Live Sunshine. You can see the full tracklists here in Rolling Stone. This certainly also bodes well for some interesting releases in the next few years as the Friends/Sunflower/Surf’s Up albums reach their 50 year copyright expiry anniversary…

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLVII: Rio Grande

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Rio Grande in Big Bend NP.jpg

We continue looking at some tracks highlighted on the recent Brian Wilson compilation -and move onto the longest and last track on the first solo album. Brian wasn’t the first Wilson brother to write an ode to a river – we have Dennis Wilson’s River Song from Pacific Ocean Blue – but it is the longest track on any Brian Wilson album and hearkens back to the modular style of SMiLE with its multiple sections. While some parts may feel a bit like SMiLE-by-numbers, there are sections of genuine beauty and power that reminded us that Brian Wilson had a lot to give musically.

Al And Brian

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, ocean and outdoor Although the Pet Sounds tour featuring Al Jardine is continuing in 2018, Al Jardine will also be doing a few shows without Brian Wilson, featuring his son Matt. These promise to be intimate, acoustic shows -there are four dates now but more may be added.

Meanwhile, the successful Pet Sounds tour has hit the radar of some of the top-grossing tours at the moment -some way behind U2 and the Rolling Stones but still very solid for someone who toured very little from 1964 to 1999.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLVI: Let It Shine

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Image result for let it shine brian wilson

We’re looking at some “hidden beauties” highlighted on the new Brian Wilson compilation, and we’re going to back to Brian’s eponymous first solo album from 1988. Let It Shine , a collaboration with Jeff Lynne who was working at a similar time on the classic first Wilbury album. It is a stellar song, combining Lynne’s slickness with a soaring melody that became something of a fan favorite, and was even performed live at some of Brian’s shows after returning to touring.

The 2018 Tour

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

We knew that Brian had said that 2017 wouldn’t be the end of the touring road (just the Pet Sounds one) but now we have confirmation of some 2018 dates, with more presumably to follow. The road warrior continues!

Edit: Looks like these are Pet Sounds dates. So even the Pet Sounds touring isn’t over

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLV: Gettin’ In Over My Head

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Image result for brian wilson gettin in over my head

Gettin’ Over My Head isn’t at the top of Brian Wilson fans and critics favorites, but for this writer, there are some great songs on the record. Not least of all is the title track, an elegant and emotional ballad which also dates from the Paley sessions and was reworked for this album.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLIV: Some Sweet Day

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

Image result for "brian wilson" "some sweet day"

The other “new” track from Playback isn’t that new- Some Sweet Day dates back from the early/mid 90s sessions with Andy Paley, and is well over twenty years ago. Like Run James Run , it has a retro feel to the classic girls group sound, but with it’s great instrumental break, and memorable melody, it is still a great addition to the “official” Brian Wilson canon, and a clear inductee to the Hidden Beauties pantheon.