Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLIII: Run James Run

October 21st, 2017








The one truly new song on Brian’s new solo anthology is Run James Run -and it’s a good one. Longtime fans will be familiar with the title as a working title for the Pet Sounds title track, but otherwise it is all new. Well at least new in the sense of a recent recording and new tune, but the music is brilliantly retro, hearkening back to the best of Brian’s early surf and car songs.

With some of the best guitar work on a recent Brian Wilson/Beach Boys song, lovely harmonies and a driving beat, it’s almost as if the last five decades haven’t happened. Run James Run is certainly up there with Brian’s recent best work. You can read more about it here.

23 Songs For Today

October 15th, 2017

1) Autumn Afternoon   – Association
2) Run James Run    -Brian Wilson
3) Rock ‘N’ Roll with Me -David Bowie
4)Just Like Always   -Glen Campbell
5)It Won’t Bring Her Back    -Glen Campbell
6) When Eddie Comes Home    -Jimmy Webb
7) Mia & Sebastian’s Theme (Late For the Date)    -Justin Hurwitz
8) It’s Over / Engagement Party    -Justin Hurwitz
9) Silver Lining   -Kacey Musgraves
10) Merry Go ‘Round    -Kacey Musgraves
11) Another Day of Sun    -La La Land Cast
12) (Hurts Like a) Bee Sting   -Lucky Soul
13) Locked Out   -Lucky Soul
14)Strut!    -Lucky Soul
15″) America    -Prefab Sprout
16) City of Stars    -Ryan Gosling
17) London Like a Distant Sun    -Saint Etienne
18) Whyteleafe    -Saint Etienne
19) What Kind of World    -Saint Etienne
20) Sweet Arcadia    -Saint Etienne
21) Lonely Days  – The Beach Boys
22) Always You   – The Sundowners
23) Beach Boys    -Weezer



October 12th, 2017

Quite a bit has happened in the last 10 days since my last post – we’ve had the sad passing of Tom Petty and tragedy of Las Vegas among other things. But the big news on the Beach Boys front is…at last…a new Mike Love solo album. You can see the details here and an interesting article which puts Mike Love in some interesting company as well as showing another side of the coin in terms of how many perceive him.

Not The End Of The Road

October 1st, 2017

With Brian’s Pet Sounds 50 tour ending in less than two weeks, and a solo retrospective album having just been released, one may see this as convenient point for Brian to retire, or at least stop touring. However, it’s clearly not the end of the road as  a recent radio interview reveals (thanks Rip Gooch for the heads-up).

Farewell Dennis Dragon

September 29th, 2017

Another sad passing of a Beach Boys associate -Dennis Dragon, best known from the Surf Punks and brother of Daryl “Captain” Dragon has passed away. He most notably played with the Beach Boys on Al’s Susie Cincinnati.

Playing Back 30 Years

September 25th, 2017

If you ignore the release of the Caroline No single under the name of Brian Wilson, the first solo Brian record was released30 years ago, namely the Let’s Go To Heaven In My Car single. That means that for more than half his musical career, Brian has been predominantly a solo artist with only the occasional work done with his old band. In that respect, a compilation is overdue. Given the quality of his often under-estimated solo work, it is a also rather good.

One can always quibble over the song selection (one song from Lucky Old Sun would be my main one) , but Playback does provide a fair selection of the last 30 years, including his greatest solo triumph, the completion of SMiLE. But aside from the two SMiLE tracks and the cover of Colors Of The Wind, the compilation does showcase 15 Brian Wilson compositions from the solo years.

Serious fans will know the 16 previously released tracks and will know from this blog my praise for songs such as Midnight’s Another Day, The Like In I Love You Melt Away and Lay Down Burden.  Serious fans will probably even know one of the “new” tracks, Some Sweet Day, a highlight from the 90s Paley sessions, finally seeing legitimate release and good sound quality. The one really new track is Run James Run, which hearkens back to the classic early Beach Boys sound with some wonderful harmonies, and continues to remind us that we almost certainly haven’t heard the last great Brian Wilson song.

We Need A Melody

September 22nd, 2017

Weezer-pacific-daydream-album.jpgPlayback: The Brian Wilson Anthology, the first solo Brian Wilson compilation is released today and as we digest that album and Brian’s solo career, we’ll take a detour to Weezer’s new album, which includes a heartfelt tribute to Brian and the Beach Boys. Simply called Beach Boys, it’s one of the best tributes ever, capturing the spirit and emotional depth of Brian’s best music.

An Odd Smile

September 18th, 2017

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of Smiley Smile – more than 16 months after Pet Sounds, which would be seen as productive these days, but was an eternity in the mid 60s. And a lot has happened since I posted on the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds in May last year.

Ah..Smiley Smile, the album released during the “Summer Of Love” in 1967 that befuddled a generation, changed the commercial and critical perception of the Beach Boys, and now survives as a minor cult classic. What can one say about this unusual album which sounds nothing like the Beach Boys, or any other group, released before or since. “Barbershop on acid” may be one description, but one really has to hear this record to believe it.
Smiley Smile shares a similar name, and at least five songs with the abandoned SMiLE album that you can read about here. Indeed much of the music was probably conceived at some stage during the SMiLE sessions, but aside from Good Vibrations and parts of Heroes And Villains, was completely re-recorded in Brian’s home studio.

There is a “stoned” feel that permeates much of the album, but there is also a wide variety of styles. The slick production of Good Vibrations also doesn’t sit well with the homespun feel of much of the remaining material. Quality is also a mixed bag…Little Pad and With Me Tonight have strong tunes beneath the goofiness, the alternative Wind Chimes is spooky but fascinating, but the bizarre approach to Wonderful doesn’t work when contrasted with the SMiLE versions.

As David Leaf noted, the progression from Surfin’ Safari to Pet Sounds was stopped with this album which seemed to go in a direction that no-one predicted or understood. This album must take some of the blame for the loss of critical and commercial appeal that blighted the Beach Boys in the late 60s and early 70s, and prevented the strong albums that followed this one becoming succesful in their own time. It also seems bizarre that the band approved this release when seeming to resist the groundbreaking, but surely more conventional album that SMiLE surely would have been had it been released in 1967.

Even so, an album with Good Vibrations,Heroes And Villains and some great harmonies and a sense humor is still better than average. Smiley Smile will befuddle you, but over time, you may well learn to love much of it.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLII: Darlin’

September 11th, 2017

Image result for darlin' beach boys big bang

With my wedding still fresh in mind, I offer one of the great Beach Boys love songs – one that has become a bit less obscure after featuring in a Big Bang Theory episode. Once again, the result of some musical recycling, this is a development of the Thinkin’ About You Baby melody, which became a distinct, stomping but eternally catchy love song. No wonder it became Sheldon’s ear-worm.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLI: I Do

September 1st, 2017

Image result for i do beach boys wedding

Today is my wedding day. So this song is pretty appropriate for today’s hidden beauty!

 I Do is the final development of the melody that was used on the first Beach Boys album in the song Country Fair. The recycling of the tune was definitely for the better, with a powerful production and a perfect wedding lyric.  Although recorded by the Beach Boys, their version remained unreleased until the CD two-fer release of Surfer Girl/Shut Down 2, which was a pity given that it was far better than a lot of the filler on the latter album. The privilege of originally releasing the song was given to the Castells, but its the Beach Boys own version that is now the definitive version of what should be a wedding classic.