June 18th, 2013
When I was a child of the late 70s, I remember listening to a radio show called Forces Favorites; basically people sending messages to loved ones serving in the army and requesting songs about loving and missing people. I wasn’t a pop music fan then -I was mostly waiting for the sports shows and my beloved cricked updates, but this was my first exposure to pop and rock music of any era.
Now, 27 songs from that era having been lovingly remade on the compilation album, Drink A Toast To Innocence: A Tribute To Lite Rock, a project driven by Andrew Curry, with support from Elizabeth (Queen of song) Racz. It’s a remarkable collection, and an instant time machine back to an era which was maybe not as innocent as it seems now, but where the songs may have been light, but dealt with real longing, hope, heartbreak and love.
In such an extensive collection, it’s not fair to single out specific songs, but it’s great to see Cabin blog favorite Lisa Mychols here, doing Don’t Give Up On Us. Everything is worthwhile here, and you can find out more, including ordering information on the project page.
June 12th, 2013
Readers of this blog will know that Lisa Mychols will always be one of my favorite people, and therefore it is with some joy that the news came out that she would be releasing a new solo album this year. Promising her most personal work yet, all fans of Lisa, and indeed of good pop/rock music will not be disappointed with Above Beyond & In Between.
Lisa showed she was the queen of the pop Christmas album with Lost Winter’s Dream, and on this record, she shows a mastery of all pop styles, from the punchy opening Hearts Beat In Stereo, to aching ballads like Dreamer’s Awake. Highlights for me include the emotional Stay Till Tomorrow, the radio-hit-that-should-be Taken, and Make Believe which invoked the pop splendor of the title song from Lost Winter’s Dream.
It’s all great stuff, of course, and you should be heading down to CD Baby to get yourself a copy of this, and support an artist who not only has musical Brian Wilson connections, but is a huge talent and a wonderful person in her own right.
June 11th, 2013
The 50th anniversary Beach Boys box set moved closer to reality today with the release of the tracklist, as well as being available on Amazon with the release date given as August 27. With six discs, it’s a rich collection of deep cuts, unreleased songs and alternative versions, which should keep fans talking for a long time, including what was left off.
June 6th, 2013
Today we heard the good, but not unexpected, news that Brian Wilson will have a new solo album coming out, which he has been recording for the last little while. The best part of the news is that it is with Capitol records, Brian’s traditional musical home, and ensures that his new music already has a record deal.
Based on the press release, this may be the closest thing we get to the rock and roll album Brian has been promising/threatening for years, although it is hardly going to be the sort of record that I suggested in my April Fools post. One thing is clear -Brian is in one of his inspired phases, and I am pretty confident we will hear some more new classic Brian songs soon.
June 5th, 2013
Confession time – I’m not a massive fan of live albums. I miss some of the studio finesse, and often the track selection panders towards the commercial hits as opposed to the real depth in a band’s catalog. Having said that, the Beach Boys six live albums are all important documents of different eras of the band, and if as seems likely now the 50th anniversary tour is the final one of the Beach Boys group, the release of the Beach Boys Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour is an event of great significance.
Closer to home, this is the only one of those six touring era that I have personally experienced, and therefore this record is something of a souvenir of four very special shows that I was lucky enough to attend. With the tracklist closely following the setlist of most of the shows over the 2 CDs , it brings back immediate memories of the five Beach Boys burying the hatchet and calling back the past.
One can quibble about the omission of the pivotal I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times or even Summer’s Gone, but one would do better appreciate 41 classic songs done with something of a modern power-pop touch by the excellent Beach Boys band -this is probably the main musical interest of the album. However, ultimately, it is all about the classic songs, most of them written by Brian Wilson, being done one more time, and realizing that after 50 years, there is both the turning back of time, as well as timelessness.
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 CD Baby, 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).