Archive for the ‘Brian Wilson’ Category

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLIX: Ride The Wild Surf

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

In our 158 “hidden beauties”, we have only covered one of the songs that Brian co-wrote with Jan Berry, and which only appear on Jan And Dean albums. That number moves up to two, with our 159th entry. Surf City is the best known of these collaborations, but possibly the one song that captures the exhilaration and excitement of riding the waves is Ride The Wild Surf, also featured in the movie of the same name.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLVIII: One Kind Of Love

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

The “new” song for the Love And Mercy movie had already been released on the No Pier Pressure album – although as a late addition as it mentioned in the original publicity for the album. Nominated for a Golden Globe, and retained during Brian’s “Pet Sounds 50” tours, it has got some reasonable publicity – which is deserved for a gentle and meaningful love song focusing on the importance of unconditional love.

A Solo Artist

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

52 years and one day ago, the first record with a Brian Wilson solo credit came out. With Caroline No as the feature signal, and Summer Means New Love as the flipside, it is surely one of the greatest single releases ever. Of course, the solo credit was an anomaly for a singer who was very much part of the Beach Boys at stage. It took another 30 years before Brian marked his debut as predominantly a solo artist with another single –Let’s Go To Heaven In My Car.

Another 10 years later was another milestone -Brian’s first solo show, filmed for the Imagination DVD. That show was a one-off, but from the following year, Brian was officially on tour, and this year, will mark his 20th successive year on the road. Brian Wilson will always be a Beach Boy, but has now spent more than half his musical career doing predominantly solo music, and a fair portion of that as a touring artist.

2018 On The Road

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Brian Wilson’s 2018 tour is being fleshes out a bit more, with 14 dates now confirmed.  However, it isn’t all Pet Sounds 50th anniversary (in it’s 52nd year); three of the dates are designated Greatest Hits Live. Looks like it will be a quieter year, but Brian will still take his music for the 20th year in succession on the road.

23 Songs For Today

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

1) BRIGHT EYES (Art Garfunkel)
2) NO FAIR AT ALL (Association)
4) RAIN (Beatles)
9) BROTHERS IN ARMS (Dire Straits)
10) BUILD (Housemartins)
12) DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA (Julie Covington)
15) NEVER’S END (Lloyd Cole And The Commotions)
16) HEART OF GOLD (Neil Young)
17) TECHNIQUE (Prefab Sprout)
20) A LOVE SO BEAUTIFUL (Roy Orbison)
22) I WON’T SHARE YOU (Smiths)
23) ONE (U2)

My favorite musicians: #1

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

This being a Brian Wilson blog, it shouldn’t come as the biggest surprise in the world that the Beach Boys are my #1 musical act. And while I rate Brian Wilson as the single greatest musician of recent times, this post also acknowledges the contribution of Dennis, Carl, Al and even Mike -not to mention Bruce, David, Blondie and Ricky -who all helped keep Brian’s music alive on the charts and on the stage, as well adding their own songs and musicanship to the mix.

In making both the most critically acclaimed album ever (Pet Sounds) as well as the most legendary unreleased album (SMiLE) , the Beach Boys moved well past the early surf and turf days to become leaders in making pop and rock meaningful. While the turmoil of 1967 pulled them away from the top of the charts, they continued to make meaningful music as a group, right up until the 2012 reunion album. In addition, there is the extensive solo canon of Brian, the underrated but powerful music of Dennis, and some wonderful solo songs from Carl. Add to this the productions of Brian for outside artists and one has a huge legacy of wonderful music linked to the Beach Boys.

My favorite musicians: 21-30

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Before looking at my next 10 favorite musical artists, here is a link to a touching story about Brian Wilson’s school righting a wrong from 60 years ago. 

So here are my artists ranked 21-30 . I haven’t done any ranking within the bands of 10. A reminder that this list is very personal, and exclusion, or lower ranking of an artist does not imply that I am conclusively saying they are not as good as my topped ranked musicians. It’s just about the music that works for me.


Innocence Mission: Lovely mostly acoustic music from a husband and wife duo.
Free Design: Sunshine pop group who are quite obscure, but made a comeback in popularity in 2000s.
Hollies: Known for their 60s British pop, also responsible for one-third of Crosby, Stills and Nash.
October Project: Best known for their two 1990s albums, but are still around in various combinations and solo work.
Housemartins/Beautiful South: Paul Heaton’s two groups have been responsible for great British pop since the mid-80s.
Bee Gees: One of my first loves as I grew up in the Saturday Night Fever era. Their early music was my first real introduction to great 60s music.
Neko Case: Alternative country superstar who has made consistently good music since the 90s.
Fifth Dimension: One of the few on my list who are performers rather than songwriters, but are here for their great interpretation of Bacharach, Webb and other great writers.
High Llamas: First band I really got into based on internet discussions.
Kacey Musgraves: Became aware of her after her collaboration with Brian Wilson, but now rate her one of the best current songwriters.

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.