Rolling Stone and Billboard have both featured articles on the album Brian Wilson has been working on ever since the end of the Beach Boys tour, and now appears to be scheduled for release in the northern hemisphere autumn. The original plan for another Beach Boys album seems to have morphed first into work with Jeff Beck, and now something featuring some alternative females stars. The tracks and descriptions in both articles sound intriguing, and I imagine there will also be some intriguing work left on the shelf for the bootleggers or “special editions” in years to come. Whatever the overall quality of the album is, there is one thing that I have no doubt – there are more great Brian Wilson songs to be heard.
It’s already time for our next 50 year celebration of a Beach Boys studio album. 1964 was a pivotal year in terms of the Beatles coming to America, and this was Brian’s first studio album response after the British Invasion. While there is some step up in terms of song quality and studio time, Brian’s response was to create the archetypal “fun in the sun” Beach Boys album, in which the surf and car themes of the previous albums are extended into a general summertime theme, with a generous dose of romance.
I Get Around was the monster hit and rock classic, but most people should also recognise Wendy, Little Honda and the title track, used for the movie American Graffiti. Much of the rest is worthwhile, although there is some filler in the studio blooper reel Our Favorite Recording Sessions.
The album ends on the motivational pep-talk Don’t Back Down, ostensibly a surf song, but also possibly pre-empting the changing times ahead. There is something of an end-of-the-innocence-era here, with Brian’s breakdown on tour occuring a few months later, and Brian soon taking a leap into more complex production and emotional lyrics. As a reminder of a more innocent era, and for some great music, this album remains in the upper tier of the group’s records and a very spritely and hip 50 year old.
Brian’s brief British Isles tour encompassed Ireland and England, but not Scotland, but Scotland was on Brian’s mind whether his geographic mistake was quirkiness or misunderstanding. However, the tour seems to have garnered a positive reaction, with Matt Jardine now playing a prominent role alongside his father. It looks like we may be seeing a lot less of Brian on tour, but he is still out there, and who would imagined twenty years ago that Brian would have done so many solo dates.
Covering Games Two Can Play here a month ago made me reflect on another treasure of the late 60s period, and another one of the rare songs with words and music by Brian alone. Busy Doing Nothin’ was a centerpiece of the Friends album, and contrasted a seemingly domesticated and happy writer, with a sense of restlessness.
Of course, there is a lot more than nothing happening here musically -this is one of Brian’s bigger late 60s productions, with understated orchestration adding to a really enjoyable song. And indeed, directions were given to Brian’s house in Bel-Air, though you would need to know where to start.
This doesn’t look lik.e a big touring year for Brian, but there are two upcoming dates in the British Isles which will include Al and Matt Jardine. Al has also indicated he will do some of his own shows this year, which seems to increase the chances that the 2012 reunion was a special last-time for a band that could legitimately call themselves the Beach Boys.
As we celebrate the 72nd birthday of the man that I rate America’s greatest songwriter of the modern era, we mourn the passing of one of the other greats, Gerry Goffin. You would need to be pretty much on another planet not be touched by at least a few of Goffin’s songs – a nice reminder, if you need one, can be seen here, written by Bob Stanley from Saint Etienne. And there is no better tribute to the greatness of Brian Wilson than the fact that he is working on more great songs, with the suggestion now of a release in the northern hemisphere autumn for his new album.
The Soccer World Cup has started, and after suggesting things were quiet in Beach Boys land in recent posts, the temperature amongst some Brian Wilson fans has increased to Amazon jungle proportions. With news drifting out that Brian’s new album would feature collaborations with people like Lana Del Rey and Zooey Deschanel, some fans were clearly not happy , resulting in Brian Wilson putting out a statement asking fans not to judge the music before they heard it.
The good thing in this, I suppose, is that this story is seen worthy of the Guardian. I do also think the majority of fans are happy that Brian seems well on his way to a new album, is prepared not to stay within past formulae and will be thankful for at least one more great Brian Wilson song. We can challenge the artist and his decisions, but it helps to first take the advice from this artists greatest work first….listen…listen…listen.
It’s very much winter here in the southern hemisphere, but for many Beach Boys and Brian Wilson fans, summer is here -the magical time epitomized in so many Beach Boys songs. Things are relatively quiet on the new front, but an interesting Irish Times article on Brian Wilson provides an interesting perspective on where Brian has been and where he is now. The release of the biopic later this year remains an enthralling prospect as well, alongside the possibility of the new album.
Most minor league or non-Beach Boys fans will believe (as I did) that Brian Wilson stopped doing great music after the failure of SMiLE. For me, it took the third disc of the Good Vibrations box set to prove otherwise, and indeed you could probably put at least three great albums of Brian Wilson songs from the 67-71 period, including the many outtakes that have emerged over time. One of these outtakes is Games Two Can Play, only found legally on the 1993 box set, and indicates the charm of Brian’s work in that period; quirky, great vocals, a little restless, busy doing nothing but wanting to do something.
There’s a bit of inspiration from Joe South’s Games People Play, as well as from Brian’s own health consciousness from that period -overall, it’s a catchy, fun tune that could will always be a treasure shared by those who know how great Brian’s music was in that era.
We’re going back to a bit of Brian’s recent history, and inducting another track from That Lucky Old Sun into our hidden beauties. Good Kind Of Love is the one of the rare tracks where Brian is the sole writer; it is also something of a pocket symphony and a lovely throwback to the heady days of the 60s, which may have not been so innocent, but where the emotions seem simple and heartfelt.
A special Best Buy edition of That Lucky Old Sun saw Carole King perform this song with Brian on an exclusive extra track, which provided an extra link between this song and great classic American songwriting. While it may not have got the exposure it deserved, it’s another treasure for Brian fans that could easily be part of the Great American Songbook.