The “summer of Brian” has been extended to cater for Brian’s extensive UK fanbase, with a number of September dates in England and Scotland announced. The venues for these shows also look larger than those on his previous tours, including arena size venues, including the O2 in London which can take 20 000 people. No pier pressure, then.
As we pass the equinox, and summer becomes a prospect in the north, and starts fading here in south, we are getting closer to Brian Wilson’s new album, which according to this article was almost a Beach Boys album. The “retirement” word is also mentioned, but with Pet Sounds 50th anniversary so close, surely next year is an opportunity for Brian, if not the Beach Boys, to do something final on a positive note.
The passing of time also sees more classic pop people leaving us -this week saw us lose Michael Brown of Left Banke, mourned by Bob Stanley in this great article here, and just today, we heard about the passing of Jackie Trent.
There’s an interesting article in the LA Times where Brian Wilson talks about the Blurred Lines verdict, where Marvin Gaye’s estate successfully sued for royalties for a Marvin Gaye sounding similar to the recent hit. The line between inspiration and plagiarism is always a fine one in music, as Brian notes for Surfin’ USA, and this theme is also thoughtfully explored by Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley in the Guardian.
Also in the article, Brian says that he is already thinking about his next album (after No Pier Pressure) and it will be the” long awaited” rock and roll album. Let’s see….
The big local news in my city, Cape Town, has been fires. Massive fires that have swept away acres of vegetation, destroyed houses and threatened many more. The bravery of the firefighters has been notable, and there has human and other tragedy.
Yet fire is also part of the cycle of this part of the world -the local vegetation relies on periodic fires and rebirths. Being a Brian Wilson fan, one’s mind immediately goes to the latter part of SMiLE and the sinister “fire” music, Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow.
Behind the odd title, showy firehats and fire whistles on the music, I always felt this was the heaviest bit of music related to Brian and the Beach Boys. Whereas their other music relied on harmony and melody, this piece has always been about power, dissonance, heaviness. It’s always scared me a bit – and been music I have respected more than loved.
But just as Cape Town does need it’s fire, I realise that SMiLE needed this as well – to burn away all that’s past, and be healed by the cool, cool water of In Blue Hawaii and to allow the Good Vibrations to flow. SMiLE is about healing in many ways -hear the brilliant way a broken heart is mended in Workshop, but we need the pain, the flames. And although Fire may have burned away the chances of SMiLE coming out in 1967, it led to the ultimate healing of Brian,
This blog is aiming to review the Beach Boys albums exactly 50 years after the day of their release. It wasn’t that long ago that we covered Surfin’ Safari -now less than two-and-a-half years later, we have made a huge musical advance to this album and a major step to Pet Sounds. On side two, the five ballads are not only musically far ahead of the pack (the Beatles hadn’t even released Help! yet), but lyrically are very much around the theme of realising that love was far more than a game.
Side one establishes Brian’s pop mastery credentials- Dance Dance Dance and Do You Wanna Dance? were the major hits, although When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) is superior lyrically and production-wise – and 50 years later, has an additional element of poignancy. The inferior version of Help Me Ronda and the throwaway chat of Bull Session With Big Daddy probably prevent this album from becoming the absolute classic it should have been, but it still remains one of the key testaments to Brian’s genius.
New album-tick. Biopic-tick. So what’s missing -the tour. Until today, that is, as Brian Wilson has announced a summer tour to support his new album. The tour not only features Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, but another late-blooming legend, Rodriguez. I have previously blogged about the parallels between Brian and Rodriguez -both did extraordinary work many years ago, but have really only being recognized now for the legends that they are. It feels like a good match, and I wish everyone concerned a series of brilliant and legendary concerts.
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.
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.
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.
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.