Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXXXIX: Sail Away

October 18th, 2016

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As Brian’s American tour ends for 2017, we add to our hidden beauties a song featuring the two former Beach Boys who were an integral part of the tour’s success.

This track could make you believe that we’ve sailed back to the Holland-era Beach Boys , with lead vocals traded between Brian, Al and Blondie Chaplin. It’s another slice of pop perfection, which certainly invokes Sail On, Sailor in more than one way, while still sounding fresh and original. The only injustice is that this wasn’t a big hit (or even a small one).

Mostly About Literature

October 15th, 2016

I Am Brian Wilson.jpg The big music news at the moment has nothing to do with the music itself – it’s all about Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for literature. Whatever you think about the merits of Dylan winning the particular prize, it remains a recognition for the cultural impact that music had on the 60s and beyond. And while Brian Wilson as a lyricist will never win such a high honor, one can never deny the emotional impact of the combination of  his music and his and others lyrics on many people, and indeed also on culture, something Dylan himself as acknowledged.

This has also been the week that Brian Wilson has (re)joined the world of literature himself through his second autobiography, but first outside the influence of Landy. I Am Brian Wilson came out on the 11th, with a wave of publicity and interviews now overshadowed by Dylan’s award.

It’s also the week that the Pet Sounds tour was extended well into 2017 -not quite Dylan’s Never-Ending Tour but one that now goes even past the 50 year anniversary of Smiley Smile. There’s more talk around the rock-and-roll album coming out soon, and no evidence of slowing down in the year Brian turns 75.

Toppermost Of The Poppermost

October 9th, 2016

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys most significant single release- Good Vibrations, the only song released by the group that topped both the UK and USA charts, and marked the high point of the group’s commercial success. Musically, it was a bridge between Pet Sounds high production values and the modular approach that Brian would follow in attempting to put together SMiLE. We all know that story didn’t end well (at least for another 37 years), but for one shining moment, the Beach Boys were toppermost of the poppermost, with a song that was both ere-defining and timeless.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXXXVIII: This Beautiful Day

October 2nd, 2016

It’s time to induct some of No Pier Pressure into the hidden beauties pantheon. Here is what I wrote last year on the opener.

The quiet invocation is a feature of a number of Beach Boys albums, but this is the first time we see one on a Brian Wilson album. In the spirit of Our Prayer, Meant For You or Think About The Days, the overall mood is more important than the lyrics. As with some of Brian’s great work, the feeling of beauty and joy, that elusive moment, is captured by the loveliness of nature.

Brian Is Live

September 25th, 2016

Brian Wilson & Friends Brian Wilson continues his prolific later years release schedule, with a live album presaging both the No Pier Pressure album and the collaboration with Beach Boys Al and Blondie that has extended into the “never ending” Pet Sounds 50 tour. While there is nothing new here, the record is a nice testament to the ongoing ability of Brian to tour and share his music with fans around the world. More than that, the new songs fit in will with the rest of album and confirm Brian as an ongoing creative force.

The only regret is the non-inclusion (and non-performance) of the fabulous From There To Back Again, which would have been a wonderful showcase for both Al and Brian. But you can’t have everything, and in this age, we have a lot more of Brian than we deserved or ever expected.

Summer’s Gone…

September 22nd, 2016

..except here in the deep south (Southern Hemisphere) where it’s on the way.  Of course, Brian is continue his never-ending tour, which now officially extends into 2017, and is still garnering good reviews on the road.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXXXVII: Why?

September 13th, 2016

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Our third instrumental hidden beauty is somewhat later than the first two, from the 1977 MIU sessions. Uncovered on the Made In California box set in 2013, this instrumental sees Brian Wilson in fine form, with a lot of key changes that evoke his greatest moments, even although it would seem to be an incomplete work.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXXXVI: Let’s Live Before We Die

September 11th, 2016


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Our second incomplete but great instrumental has the modern-sounding title of Let’s Live Before We Die, but dates back to the All Summer Long sessions, and was released on the Keep An Eye On Summer: The Beach Boys Session 1964 50 years later. With Brian apparently on piano, it exuded a romantic vibe in the Summer Means New Love/ Surfer Moon vein.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXXXV: Bobby Left Me

September 9th, 2016

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Our next three hidden beauties are all instrumental tracks written and produced by Brian Wilson that seem to be missing vocal tracks, but still stand well alone as powerful testaments to Brian’s production ability . Another thing the three tracks have in common is that they have only seen official release in the past few years. Bobby Left Me was apparently recorded on October 18, 1963 in the same session as Little Saint Nick, one assumes with a girl voice in mind (according to Brad Elliott, it was for Sharon Marie). There doesn’t seem to be any sort of vocal version, however, so we just have the lovely instrumental track, officially released on the 2013 Big Beat collection.

Book Season

September 3rd, 2016

As the seasons change around the world, and Brian returns to Europe for a few more dates, it’s also book time for two of the Beach Boys. Mike Love’s Good Vibrations: My Life As A Beach Boy is released on September 13, followed by I Am Brian Wilson on 11 October. Possibly as a bit of  pre-publicity for the Love book, the story that Dennis Wilson saw Charles Manson kill a man has been making the paper rounds.