January 14th, 2017
A lot of people are revealing the 10 records that influenced them most as a teenager, so I thought I would join the bandwagon and list mine. You may notice this is a Brian Wilson/Beach Boys free list, as my love for the group only emerged in my 20s. The list probably reflects more the acts that impacted me the most, with the albums being the ones that the have had the longest lifetime impact.
1) Beatles -Abbey Road
2) Simon & Garfunkel-Bookends
3) Bob Dylan- Blood On The Tracks
4) The Jam- Sound Affects
5) The Smiths- The World Won’t Listen (I know technically a compilation…)
6) Kane Gang- The Bad And Lowdown World Of The Kane Gang
7) Bruce Springsteen- Born To Run
8) George Harrison- All Things Must Pass
9) David Bowie- Hunky Dory
10) Paul McCartney & Wings- Band On The Run
January 9th, 2017
When Brian Wilson commenced his return to the road in 1999, his opening track was The Little Girl I Once Knew - chosen it seems as a balance between a minor chart hit/Beach Boys classic and an avant-garde track showcasing Brian’s production skills. Certainly, after California Girls (intro notwithstanding) and Help Me Rhonda, the silences and unconventional song structure were something of a shock, leading to a subdued chart performance.
In retrospect, this single-only track was an important stop on the road to Pet Sounds and SMiLE, with the pocket symphony approach and loss-of-innocence lyrics. As at the start of the 1999 tour, the song is a clear testament to the creativity and genius of Brian.
January 5th, 2017
2016 became more than just a year….by the end of December, it was a malevolent living entity, killing heroes and dividing people in a way that seemed planned by some dark demonic forces. While some people undoubtedly had good years and there was a lot more good than people may give the year credit for, the buzz on social media was certainly around more hope in 2017 than fondness for the year for the year past.
Given the nature of the year, it’s not surprising the biggest story in Beach Boys land was not the autobiographies of Mike Love and Brian Wilson, or the successful Pet Sounds 50 tour, but the possibility of Mike Love’s Beach Boys playing at Trump’s inauguration. There isn’t any doubt Brian Wilson wouldn’t consider it for a second after signing up for the Not Afraid initiative, where he has a prominent place at the end.
So what does 2017 hold? Brian’s rock and roll album? The Bedroom Tapes? The only thing for certain is that Brian’s Pet Sounds 50 tour will extend beyond the 51st anniversary of the album, and while it isn’t exactly a never-ending tour, Brian’s later day role as a road warrior continues. The one thing we have learned is that nothing is certain, and I can only wish readers of the blog health and happiness, as well as love and mercy.
December 23rd, 2016
I have two recommendations to add to your seasonal album collection in what has been a good year for Christmas music. First of all, Kacey Musgraves, who should be known to Brian Wilson fans for Guess You Had To Be There from Brian’s latest album, has released her first holiday album, A Very Kacey Christmas which promises a Christmas classic. There are some sassy versions of Christmas chestnuts, but the real meat is the originals, especially Christmas Makes Me Cry, which takes the season to a deep, emptional level.
Katie Melua may have less direct Brian Wilson connections, but her well-crafted pop may well already have a few fans on this page. Her Christmas album, In Winter, takes her to her Georgian roots with the Gori Women’s Choir and it is a lovely combination, with some truly transcendental moments, particularly on the more traditional songs such as the Ukrainian carol The Little Sparrow and Nunc Dimitis.
December 14th, 2016
If you would like to spread a bit of love and mercy this Christmas, supported by Brian Wilson, here is an opportunity. Visual artist Tim Wakefield has created a limited edition artwork of “Love and Mercy,” available now as part of Soundwaves Art: Icons of Music 2016 Fundraiser. Wakefield made the piece by digitally manipulating, shaping and coloring the sound waves from the studio recording of the song. Brian Wilson signed each print at London’s Silver Clef Awards ceremony, where he received a lifetime achievement award. The proceeds will benefit some very good causes. it is printed on fine art paper and numbered with a certificate of authenticity, costing $600.
You can see more details here , and see other pieces supported by artists such as ABBA and Roger Waters.
December 10th, 2016
December is always a month of reflection as we look ahead to the new year. At a personal level, having both my parents and my own birthday during this month, and having lost my father during December, the month feels even more personal. Naturally, there is a lot to reflect on during this year, but one recent death has made me reflect on my childhood and fascination with space travel. John Glenn was last survivor of the Mercury 7, the pioneering American space group immortalized in the book and movie, The Right Stuff. He certainly lived a full life, including being a Senator and return to space aged 77. But now the last living link to a pioneering space group has gone.
It is certainly easy to look at this year as one of loss, division and frustration – I can’t seem to blog faster than every famous musician or cultural icon who passes away. It is also seems facile to give false hope and positives -it’s been a tough year for many. But there are those who had successes -promotions, weddings, great new jobs- and there is much to be thankful for, including the continued renaissance of Brian Wilson. There have been so many setbacks too, including a world that seems to be turn on itself. But as we remember a group of men who expanded our frontiers, and a world that technology is bringing together, we have to believe that we are still moving forward.
December 3rd, 2016
For this writer, this is one of the highlights of the No Pier Pressure album, featuring enough vocal interplay between Brian and Al that Mike Love may have been persuaded that he could have just missed a session for another Beach Boys album. Anyway it’s down as a Brian Wilson solo song, but Al’s still strong voice is an important part of it. The imagery of the lyrics and lovely harmonies certainly take this song to a special place.
November 27th, 2016
Many of the stronger songs on No Pier Pressure have enough Beach Boys on them to persuade you that this is just the follow-up to That’s Why God Made The Radio. What Ever Happened is ft. Al Jardine and David Marks, who are certainly not rap stars, but bona fide Beach Boys.
Regardless of who is on the track, it’s a lovely nostalgic song which reflects on the change happening around us, and in our lives, without being sappy or over-sentimental. It’s definitely a credit to all of Brian, David and Al’s body of work.
November 20th, 2016
The penultimate track on That Lucky Old Sun starts off as a pretty standard rocker, but then has an astonishing acapella break where Brian mentions “at 25 I turned out the light, cause I couldn’t handle the glare in my tired eyes.” Although Brian never really went away in 1968/1969, there is a sense of completion in this wonderful work, where Brian returns to his origins in Southern California and the roots of all the things that made him great.