Soccer’s Gone…But Brian’s Back

July 16th, 2018

So the World Cup is over…and the side I backed, Croatia, fell at the last hurdle but still had their best tournament ever. The soccer tournament may be best remembered as a rare glimpse of global unity in a dis-unified age. However, another type of harmony is back..Brian and his band resumed their tour in Canada yesterday.

Everything But The Brian 1: Little Bird

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.

Brief Dispatches

July 7th, 2018

This blog wishes Elvis Costello well after his recent cancer diagnosis and surgery. The singer recently cancelled the rest of his tour dates to recuperate from surgery. Here’s to a 100% recovery and lot of good vibrations going Elvis’s way.

Coming back to tour after surgery  in just over a week is Brian Wilson. His next date is on the 15th July, in British Colombia.

 

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

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.

23 Songs For Today

June 30th, 2018
  1. The Morning After -Ashley Monroe
  2. I’ll Still Love You (When Every Song Is Sung) – Cilla Black
  3. I Don’t Want To – Deana Carter
  4. I Could Never Say Goodbye – Enya
  5. Native Land -Everything But The Girl
  6. Accidently Kelly Street -Frente!
  7. Tomorrow On The Runway -The Innocence Mission
  8. Happy & Sad -Kacey Musgraves
  9. Rainbow -Kacey Musgraves
  10. Nothing At All -Kasey Chambers
  11. Call Off The Search -Katie Melua
  12. Blue -Lucinda Williams
  13. Shiver -Natalie Imbruglia
  14. Sleep All Summer -Neko Case
  15. If I Turn Away -October Project
  16. Native New Yorker -Odyssey
  17. Manhattan -Saint Etienne
  18. You’re In A Bad Way -Saint Etienne
  19. My Heart Can’t Tell You No -Sara Evans
  20. It Don’t Matter Now (Missing You) -Sarah Darling
  21. Leader Of The Pack -The Shangri-Las
  22. If You Could Only Be Me – Spanky & Our Gang
  23. Earthbound/Epilogue -The 5th Dimension

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLXIII: Diamond Head

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

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

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.

When I’m 76 Part 2

June 20th, 2018

 

Today, we celebrate the 76th birthday of the Mozart of pop ‘n rock, Brian Wilson. We are thankful for his immeasurable contribution to melody, harmony, music and culture and wish him a day of peace and joy with his family – with his music featuring high on the charts, there is much is celebrate.

Meanwhile, the birthday boy of two days ago has announced the release of his latest solo album. No doubt, he will also be flying up the chart soon.

When I’m 76

June 18th, 2018

It’s that time of year as the days reach their longest in the north, and the shortest in the south, that the Gemini twins of song celebrate their birthdays two days apart. It’s Sir Paul’s turn first, so very best birthday to Paul McCartney and thanks for a very full time of great music.