Archive for the ‘Beach Boys’ Category

Everything But The Brian 1: Little Bird

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

We’ve still got a lot of Brian’s Hidden Beauties to go, but as we get to celebrating 50 years of Beach Boys albums where other band members made significant songwriting contributions, it is appropriate to start a new series. Everything But The Brian will include songs that are associated with Brian and the Beach Boys, but not written by Brian.

Of course there will be a lot of Dennis, and it is appropriate to start with another song from the golden anniversary of Friends. In fact, this could have been in Brian’s Hidden Beauties, as Brian is generally acknowledged as an uncredited composer. But this song was also historic as the first substantial Dennis song on a Beach Boys album, as well as the first evidence of Stephen Kalinich’s collaborations with the group. It’s a peaceful, contemplative song that fits in with the peaceful nature of Friends,  as well as the Beach Boys era celebrating beauty in nature and simple joys.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLXIV: When A Man Needs A Woman

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

We complete our trio of hidden beauties marking the golden anniversary of the Friends album with When A Man Needs A Woman. The fifth track of the album is Brian’s ode to the facts of life just at the point he became a father for the first time (Carnie Wilson was born in April 1968.) Like just about the entire Friends album , the song reflects the “transcendental” era of the joys of daily life, with suitable light musical background and harmonies.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLXIII: Diamond Head

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

We continue our focus on the golden anniversary of the Friends album as we look at the penultimate track. Seemingly written by committee and possibly partly made-up in the studio, Diamond Head still has the hallmarks of classic Brian Wilson. He creates an impressive Hawaiian soundscape in this instrumental, showing that his production skills were still intact. The final track of the album jolts us back to reality, but on Diamond Head , the relaxing, contemplative nature of the album is at its fore.

The Friends That Stay A Long Time

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

The hippie dream may seem long dead in the divided 2018 world, but it started unraveling in the chaos of 1968. And so 50 years ago today, the Beach Boys sent Friends out into a rock universe that was heading into harder, edgier territory. Seemingly at odds with Revolution, Street Fighting Man and Sympathy With The Devil and ignored chartwise, at least in the States, this album can almost be seen as the first “new age” album and has now become something of a minor cult classic.

However, if one moves away from the historical context of this album, one can also see it as an album celebrating what the Beach Boys do best- beautiful songs, beautiful harmonies. Another noteworthy feature is the emergence of Dennis Wilson as a songwriter- Be Still and Little Bird are his first serious songwriting contributions and neither disgrace this album. Brian Wilson is still very involved, at least co-credited on the remaining ten tracks and apparently uncredited as a part-writer on Little Bird. The Wilson brothers provide a thematic unity throughout the album of peaceful music, celebrating the simple joys of life, although this is shattered somewhat by Transcendental Meditation, the album closer and weak spot of the album. The remaining eleven tracks – while not absolute classics in themselves -work well together to ensure a quality album.

Friends remains an impressive achievement, and a definite refutation of any theory that great Beach Boys music ended with the 1967 demise of SMiLE. Sometimes simpler is better.

At The Philharmonic

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

It’s easy to knock the new Beach Boys album as a cash-in that quickly repackages known songs to make more money. But given the renewed chart interest that seems to have been created by the record, there is certainly no harm in getting Brian Wilson music known to a potentially new audience -and for that reason alone, this record is worthwhile.

As a record, the orchestral overdubs have mixed results -working better on the slower songs with less production like In My Room and Disney Girls. The up-tempo tracks feel a bit disco-fied, while the orchestral overdubs feel superfluous on the Pet Sounds/SMiLE tracks. A bonus is the opener California Suite, which while not a Brian composition, does invoke Brian’s melodic vision.

For completists, this may be the 50+ version of many of these songs. But if a few more people understand Brian’s genius via this record, then it is worthwhile.

Symphony Time

Friday, June 15th, 2018

I’ve been away for a while, hence the relative silence of this blog -but since my last post, there has been a new Beach Boys album -of sorts- released. The Beach Boys With The Philharmonic Orchestra was released on Friday, but with my travels, I still need to digest the record but expect a review soon. Meanwhile, it has charted quite impressively in the UK (#4).

Meanwhile, Brian Wilson has added some further tour dates  , which means he will have quite a busy schedule when he returns to the road in July.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLXII: Be Here In The Morning

Friday, June 8th, 2018

With the Friends album’s 50th anniversary just a few weeks ago, it’s a good time to induct a few more tracks from the album to our pantheon of “hidden beauties.” Be Here In The Morning has one of the highest-pitched vocals on any Beach Boys record -and many fans including myself were surprised to find out that it is not Brian Wilson’s falsetto, but Al Jardine.

As with much of the Friends album, this is a laid-back track extolling the simple joys of life and love, and getting away from the increasing craziness of the world outside.

Pet Sounds 50 ..And 2

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Since I last posted, we’ve had Pet Sounds 52nd birthday, taking place while Brian Wilson is still touring the album’s 50th birthday. Here is what I wrote about the greatest album in the universe on it’s golden anniversary. There’s been a wedding that some of you have heard about, and in much more obscure but highly welcome news….after 14 years, a new album from A Girl Called Eddy.

Brian’s Back (And The Beach Boys Go Classic)

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

With the news that Brian Wilson’s back surgery has gone well, we also now have a “new” Beach Boys album on the way. The Beach Boys With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra isn’t really a new album -it is the classic Beach Boys songs with new orchestral overdubs, but has been endorsed by all the living members and it is coming very soon.

23 Songs For Today

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

1) BRIGHT EYES (Art Garfunkel)
2) NO FAIR AT ALL (Association)
3) WHEN I GROW UP (TO BE A MAN)
4) RAIN (Beatles)
5) KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVENS DOOR (Bob Dylan)
6) EIGHT MILES HIGH (Byrds)
7) A NEW CAREER IN A NEW TOWN (David Bowie)
8) MANHATTAN SKYLINE (David Shire)
9) BROTHERS IN ARMS (Dire Straits)
10) BUILD (Housemartins)
11) GOING UNDERGROUND (Jam)
12) DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA (Julie Covington)
13) WE’LL TAKE THIS TRAIN (Kane Gang)
14) WATERLOO SUNSET (Kinks)
15) NEVER’S END (Lloyd Cole And The Commotions)
16) HEART OF GOLD (Neil Young)
17) TECHNIQUE (Prefab Sprout)
18) WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS (Queen)
19) WORLD LEADER PRETEND (REM)
20) A LOVE SO BEAUTIFUL (Roy Orbison)
22) I WON’T SHARE YOU (Smiths)
23) ONE (U2)