A Good Day For A Brianfest

March 4th, 2015

More breaking news…it’s time for a BrianFest.  In celebration of Brian’s music and life, and for the benefit of the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, the event will be held on March 30 2015 in Los Angeles. Brian will be, as will Al Jardine and a number of big musical names. Something more to look forward to, in this very exciting year for Brian Wilson.

Mercy Trailer

February 25th, 2015

The pieces of the 2015 Brian Wilson puzzle are gradually falling into place , with the release today of the trailer for the Love And Mercy biopic, opening in just over three months time in general release in North America. You can see the trailer here on Brian’s Facebook page, and it certainly is enticing.

The Right Time For New Brian (And Al) Music

February 20th, 2015

Of course, any time is the right time for new Brian Wilson music, but The Right Time is the new Brian Wilson release and preview of the No Pier Pressure album, which is only a matter of weeks away. You can watch the video of this very pleasant track, with a great vocal from Al Jardine and guitar from David Marks (could say it’s the closest one will get to a new Beach Boys song , but I won’t…). The album is now available for preview on ITunes and Amazon too.

We also had the sad news of Lesley Gore’s passing which was noted by a number of the Beach Boys, including Brian. I don’t know too much about her music, but she seemed to be a brave and pioneering musician.

Reflection On February

February 8th, 2015

February. The shortest month, the month of love. The middle of winter in the northern hemisphere, the hottest month where I live. And a big month in recent Beach Boys history- two days ago saw both the joy of Brian Wilson’s twentieth wedding anniversary and the sadness of remembering Carl Wilson’s passing in 1998. February 20 will see the 11th anniversary of the premiere of SMiLE - the greatest night of my Beach Boys experience. And having watched again Beautiful Dreamer , the night that set Brian Wilson free.

Pier Pressure On

February 1st, 2015

We have a release date. We have a tracklist. And we even have bonus tracks. Yes, it is all systems go for the release of Brian Wilson’s 11th studio album (and when I first saw the number 11, I thought someone had got their counting wrong, but it’s absolutely correct, as long as you include Orange Crate Art with Van Dyke Parks).

The release date is April 7, which will  make the second quarter of 2015 an exciting time for Brian Wilson and his fans, with the biopic coming out in June. But without any further ado, here is the tracklist

1. This Beautiful Day
2. Runaway Dancer [featuring Sebu Simonian]
3. What Ever Happened [featuring Al Jardine and David Marks]
4. On The Island [featuring She & Him]
5. Our Special Love [featuring Peter Hollens]
6. The Right Time [featuring Al Jardine and David Marks]
7. Guess You Had To Be There [featuring Kacey Musgraves]
8. Tell Me Why [featuring Al Jardine]
9. Sail Away [featuring Blondie Chaplin and Al Jardine]
10. One Kind Of Love
11. Saturday Night [featuring Nate Ruess]
12. The Last Song
13. Half Moon Bay

The deluxe edition has three extra tracks, Don’t WorrySomewhere Quiet and  I’m Feeling Sad, and these are placed between tracks 7 and 8 of the standard edition. Bottom line is that there is a lot of new Brian Wilson music to look forward to.

Happiness In Melancholy Music

January 29th, 2015

My two favorite records are the Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds and the obscure Paddy McAloon record I Trawl The Megahertz. A quarter of a century and an ocean separate these records, but what links them? And why do they make me happy?

Both records could officially be filed under pop rock, but they are far more genre spanning than that, with dense, intricate arrangements, using a wide variety of conventional and unconventional musical instruments. They don’t conventionally “rock” and they could be described as lush and beautiful. But lyrically, they are not “easy listening.”

Both of them could indeed be seen as lyrically reflective, even sad. Pet Sounds starts with the exuberance of Wouldn’t It Be Nice, but ends with the downer of Caroline No, and the last five songs are all reflective, restless, and down on love and life. The title track and centerpiece of I Trawl The Megahertz is a twenty-two minute account of an all-consuming love gone wrong and almost breaking the narrator. Indeed, the breakdown of love in I Trawl The Megahertz and Caroline No can be seen as far deeper than just passing teenage fancies. These losses are akin to betrayal -just about the harshest act one can do to a living human.

In Caroline No, the betrayal may seem superficial (where did your long hair go, where is the girl I used to know?) but you only have to listen to the song to know that it is a hurt deeply felt. Betrayal is all over I Trawl The Megahertz, especially in the deeply felt lines

Your daddy loves you;

I said ‘Your daddy loves you very much;

He doesn’t want to live with us anymore.

Betrayal, sadness, lost love -so you may ask me how can you find happiness in these albums. I would like to suggest three reasons, which are all very much part of the greatness of these records. Firstly, there is the simple beauty and brilliance of the music alluded to above- the power of melody, and in the Beach Boys’ case, the loveliness of harmony.

Secondly, there is the joy, relief, catharsis -call it what you want- in the sense that just about all of us have been through the emotional storms suggested by these records.  Very few people will live a lifetime without lost love, and indeed, a lost love felt so deeply that it feels like betrayal. Even if we contributed our fair share to the demise of the love, sometimes it is just feels better to feel the hurt, anger and betrayal from someone else and say “this is me as well.”

And finally, because these are ultimately hopeful records. Caroline No ends with the sound of a train leaving, symbolic of moving on, change. The change may be difficult, but there is a move on to something new, and hopefully eventually, something better. At the end of I Trawl The Megahertz, the narrator says hopefully

By day and night, fancy electronic dishes are trained on the heavens.

They are listening for smudged echoes of the moment of creation.

They are listening for the ghost of a chance.

They may help us make sense of who we are and where we came from

And, as a compassionate side effect,  teach us that nothing is ever lost.

Ultimately, the way these records make me feel is hard to describe in words – I’ve tried to capture it a bit in the above, but the overall impact is almost ineffable. And -not so coincidentally- Ineffable is the title of a wordless track on I Trawl The Megahertz, a beautiful example of how music can paint brilliant pictures and capture emotions without any words. Both of these records have their fair share of instrumentals which pull at the heartstrings as much as the songs with words. Both have so much more I could say about them. And they both make me happy.


Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXXII: Midnight’s Another Day

January 19th, 2015

As we await a new Brian Wilson album shortly, it’s worth reminding us ourselves that Brian has already written some rather amazing songs in the last ten years. Up there with the best is the centerpiece to the That Lucky Old Sun album. Here are the comments that I wrote shortly after the song was first released

If anyone still doubted Brian Wilson could write a great new song in the 2000s, Midnight Another Day was evidence that Brian’s skill in creating music that digs into the deepest ineffable emotional states was still very much intact. This is certainly a song that can be mentioned in the same breaths as Warmth Of The Sun, ‘Til I Die and Caroline No as Brian again faces up to his darkest demons and the sustaining forces that led him back to the light.

The song was previewed on Brian’s website weeks before its live premiere at the Royal Festival Hall concerts in September 2007.  The live version left the audiences breathless and sometimes tearful as Brian reclaimed his premier songwriting territory.

It’s now time to induce this song into our canon of Hidden Beauties – a treasure for fans of Brian, but sadly not widely known to the music-listening public.

Getting The Year Going

January 11th, 2015

To whet the appetite further for the new Brian Wilson album, there is some positive pre-release publicity from Rolling Stone, which is always a positive sign. We also have a confirmed release date for the Love And Mercy movie as June 5, making the second quarter of this year the probable time for the most Brian Wilson excitement. I’ve also been listening to the Keep An Eye On Summer: The Beach Boys Sessions 1964 which has a few unexpected surprises…more later.

Welcome 2015

January 3rd, 2015

Welcome to 2015- which should be a big year for Brian Wilson with a new album and biopic expected this year. It’s also the 2oth anniversary year of the Webpage For Brian Wilson and I am hoping to revamp the site a bit this year. So this is a short post to start the year, but expect a lot more….

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXXI: What I Really Want For Christmas

December 20th, 2014

Twice in the last week, I’ve heard Brian’s latter-day Christmas song On Christmas Day in grocery shops here in South Africa- a huge surprise, given its obscurity. Since I’ve already covered that song in the Hidden Beauty series, it’s now time to cover the title track of Brian’s recent (well, recent enough, since it’s almost ten years) Christmas album.

With Bernie Taupin doing lyrical duties, Brian pens a simple but effective melody that certainly covers what we do indeed want from the season, especially in the weary world of 2014. It may not be a seasonal classic, but it’s certainly a hidden beauty.