Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXX: Anna Lee, The Healer

October 18th, 2014

Photograph of the Baths showing a rectangular area of greenish water surrounded by yellow stone buildings with pillars. In the background is the tower of the abbey.

In these times, we can all do with a bit of healing and therapy -no wonder the spa industry is growing so fast, but even back in 1968 things were certainly getting a little bit crazy.  The Friends album was a haven of peace and simple joys, and typical was this ode to a healer.

Anna Lee, The Healer is a simple production with mostly just a piano and bass line, but with it’s wonderful harmonies and simple message, it’s another winning but understated track from Brian and the Beach Boys.

A Pet Sound Goes Global

October 9th, 2014

God Only Knows stars By now, everyone on Planet Brian, and indeed a good portion of Planet Earth will have heard, seen and thought about the BBC version of God Only Knows.   Brian Wilson has had many triumphs in the last 15 years, and while this may be nowhere close to the most artistically satisfying, it will surely give Brian Wilson the widest exposure he has ever had since the heady days of the mid 60s, at least in the UK.

As the only artist featured twice, and the one given the last word, the man behind the melody of the one of the greatest songs ever written is certainly given pride of place on the record and video. There is evidence of more subtle homage being paid to Brian Wilson in parts of the record. He shares the spotlight with a wide range of genres, and while you may not love everyone of the record, you can’t argue with the pulling-power of a One Direction.

One can be cynical and talk about  the BBC punting their music channel and and their own star power. But the world will see Brian, and will hear a Pet Sounds classic. Some will surely want to dig deeper into the beautiful, healing music of Brian and the Boys.  For Brian and the hurting world, that can only be one direction, the right direction upwards.

Brian For George

September 30th, 2014

If you haven’t seen it, head it here to see my favorite Beach Boys play tribute to my favorite Beatle in what appears to have been a very succesful tribute to George Harrison.

The Perverse Possibilities Of The Barbican

September 25th, 2014

When I was in London, I suddenly realised, via Twitter, that Saint Etienne were playing a show on the Saturday night of my visit. One frantic IPad booking later, one of my concert dreams was coming true…I was going to see Saint Etienne in the city that is their inspiration for much of their music and films.

And it was their music and films that were celebrated, as the much of the concert showcased their new film, How We Used To Live, with the band playing the soundtrack live in the second half of the show. Most of the music was lovely new instrumental textures, written by Pete Wiggs, but it also included the lovely Sarah Cracknell song Ready Or Not, the only part of the soundtrack that isn’t new music. The film showed London in the post-World War 2 era (up until around 1980) with a lot of nostalgic images including some trains for this railway lover.

The first half of the concert included a mixture of old Saint Etienne favorites, new vocal songs, and obscure songs by London bands. The setlist for this part was

Milk Bottle Symphony

Gently (Spandau Ballet song)

Carrie-Anne (new song, not Hollies!)

Slightly Drunk (Squeeze song)

You Never Know (new song)

Sorry (new song)

Mario’s Cafe

Burning The Boats (Madness song)

Overall, a lot of new material and less familiar favorites were played. But this is a band who are extremely prolific (each of their albums has come with at least another album’s worth of good material), and it creates a lot of anticipation for material to come. It was a special show, and a special opportunity, and I’m very glad to have been part of it.

 

 

A Brief Dispatch From The Isles

September 18th, 2014

I’m on holiday in England during the Scottish independence referendum so just some brief dispatches before I return to more active blogging. The biggest Brian Wilson news remains the positive reaction to the Love And Mercy biopic , and the likelihood of a general release. Brian will also be appearing on the 28th at the “George Fest”, an all star tribute to George Harrison.

In my own personal music news, I saw Saint Etienne live at the Barbican in London, promoting their new film How We Used To Live.  More detail in my next post.

Good Vibes On Love And Mercy

September 8th, 2014

Love and Mercy

Initial reports on the Brian Wilson biopic Love And Mercy appear to be good, if this is anything to go by. The movie has just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the initial vibrations seem to be positive. Still a long way to go before the film captures the public imagination in the same as the Ray Charles or Johnny Cash movies, but here’s hoping.

8 Years Strong

September 4th, 2014

This month sees the eight anniversary of this blog – it seems like a flash, but also a lot has happened, including the 50th year reunion, a great new Beach Boys album, Brian Wilson solo works and even, for me, Mike Love visiting my town and the Flames reuniting here. So while I started the blog wondering whether there would be much to say on the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson side, there has been a lot to say. With new Brian Wilson music, his biopic and the Pet Sounds 5oth anniversary all coming up relatively soon, I expect there to be a bit to say as well.

The passing of time unfortunately also sees the passing of people, and the Beach Boys world has been saddened by the loss of David Anderle, with Brian saying on his Facebook page  “David Anderle passed away. I’m devastated beyond words. That’s just all I have to say. Love and Mercy. Your friend always, Brian.”  And these are times of much tragedy and reflection, as well as joys; but we know we will always have the music and the warmth of the sun.

23 Songs For Today

August 31st, 2014

1. Save My Love   – Bruce Springsteen
2. On the Way Home    -Buffalo Springfield
3. Goin’ Back    -The Byrds
4. Draft Morning    -The Byrds
5. Tribal Gathering    -The Byrds
6. Everybody’s Been Burned    -The Byrds
7. My Back Pages    -The Byrds
8. Precious And Few    -Climax
9. Helplessly Hoping    -Crosby, Stills & Nash
10. Wooden Ships   – Crosby, Stills & Nash
11. The Lee Shore   – Crosby, Stills & Nash
12. Carry On    -Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
13. Deja Vu    -Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
14. Page 43    -Crosby & Nash
15. Hear The Wind    -Gene Clark
16. Past Addresses    -Gene Clark
17. Changes    -Gene Clark
18. The Answer’s At The End    -George Harrison
19. Always in Love    -Gramercy Arms
20. You Walked Away   – Ireen Sheer
21. Reflections Of My Life    -Marmalade
22. Do I Love You    -Scott Walker
23. Easy To Be Hard    -The Sugar Shoppe

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXIX: Isn’t It Time

August 25th, 2014

From an old summer song, to a much newer summer song (from a much older band) -today we induct another song from the latest/last Beach Boys album. Here’s what I wrote about in 2012

The third track and second single from That’s Why God Made The Radio is one I will always associate with my California trip and the shows that I saw there. I heard it during the soundcheck of the Berkeley shows, and then twice at the actual shows that I went to. In both cases, the audience reaction was as good as any of the classic hits, because…this is a classic hit.

Written by the same committee as the title track with Mike Love an additional member, Isn’t It Time may not be the strongest song on the album from a pure musical perspective. But with the eternal theme of kindling old flames, the vocal interplay between the different lead vocalists, compelling rhythm and catchy melody, it’s an almost perfect pop song.

Sunshine From A Less Sunshiney Country

August 18th, 2014

Sunshine Pop may be most associated with the sunshine of California, but exponents of the genre have come from many places. These include Canada, not necessarily the first place one associates with sunshine, but is the home to the The Sugar Shoppe. The group recorded one album produced by Wrecking Crew member Al De Lory, and this album was reissued on CD last year, including bonus tracks.

While the music can be described as fairly standard sunshine pop, it certainly isn’t as sugary as the group’s name may suggest. Songs like The Attitude and Let The Truth Come Out have quite an edge to them, while one of the highlights is the bonus track cover of Easy To Be Hard which is moving and very relevant today. Other highlights include Donovan’s Skip-A-Long Sam, Privilege and Take Me Away which encapsulate the melody and spirit of Sunshine Pop. There are a few weaker songs, which detract slightly, but it certainly shows that the sunshine doesn’t end on the 49th parallel. Any fans of good pop music should head here and get a dose of sugar which can only be good for you.