Marvin’s The Man

May 22nd, 2019

And now for something a bit different. You’re The Man was supposedly the title track of Marvin Gaye’s follow up album to the classic What’s Going On,, released as a taster single. However, after the relative failure of the signature, and differences with Motown founder Berry Gordy, the album was supposedly shelved…until now.

The release of You’re The Man is therefore the supposed bridge between What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On, but what we actually get is a double album’s worth of songs recorded in that era, but not part of a studio album. It’s a mixture of political songs, love ballads, Christmas songs and a funky close-out track which was probably not anywhere close to an intended album, but still provides a lot of reminders of Gaye’s genius. The title track resonates in this difficult political era, while there is a lot of emotional, soulful and sometimes poignant romantic and topical songs. He may have checked out a while ago, but Marvin Gaye is still the man for 2019.

Pet Sounds 53

May 16th, 2019

Happy 53rd birthday to the greatest album of all time. I’ve written a bit about the album over the year; you can see some of my posts here, here and here.

Everything But The Brian XII: Thoughts Of You

May 12th, 2019

As an outlet for Dennis Wilson’s creativity, Pacific Ocean Blue did not disappoint as the first Beach Boys solo record. Hints of Dennis’s talents were evident on many Beach Boys albums after Friends, let alone the many songs that were left off these records, but this was the first time we were exposed to a full record of his talents.

There are many minor classics on this record, but Thoughts Of You is one of the best, a beautifully tender love song , sung with heartfelt passion by Dennis.

Zombies Live With Brian

May 8th, 2019

Brian’s touring for 2019 has already started with the BeachLife Festival , but from August 31, he will be doing “something completely different.” In a transatlantic collaboration of note, he will be performing with the Zombies in a tour described as Something Great From ’68.  The Zombies will be performing their classic Odessey And Oracle album, while for the first time, Brian will be focusing on the Friends and Surf’s Up album (although the latter was only released in 1971). Brian will be joined by Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, while the Zombies will include their “original and current” line-ups. 15 dates have been announced across the USA for what should be some special shows.

Wilson Movie

April 28th, 2019

A new Brian Wilson documentary is due this year -focusing on Brian Wilson’s late-career renaissance, and titled Long Promised Road. The movie is directed by the unrelated Brent Wilson , and the title is from a Beach Boys song which has Carl Wilson as the primary writer and vocalist. No specific release date has been set out, but it should be out at some point this year.

Everything But The Brian XI: Leaving This Town

April 24th, 2019

As a Beach Boys fan based in South Africa, the inclusion of two musicians from my own country as fully-fledged Beach Boys for a period in the 70s is a fascinating part of the history of the band. While Durban may be quite close to Los Angeles in spirit, it is geographically just about on the opposite side the world. Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar were not only a key part of the live band for a while, but also contributed musically to the band in their most soulful era.

Leaving This Town  is a centerpiece of the Holland album, and lyrically it could be seen as something of a thirtysomething Pet Sounds, with themes of choice and change, which resonate with many. The harmonies are typically Beach Boys, but the soulfulness and long instrumental break, with the release at the end, make this song distinct.

Holy Man Queen

April 20th, 2019

Earlier this year, I posted on the song Holy Man in the Everything But The Brian series, and noted that there was an unreleased version featuring Brian May and Roger Taylor, from a not-so-little-known British band. Well that unreleased version has now been released  thanks to Record Store Day. You can hear the this version featuring the Queen superstars here.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLXXI: In My Room

April 17th, 2019

The criteria for inclusion in my Brian’s Hidden Beauties series is any song written or co-written by Brian Wilson that I feel is underrated for some reason. Given that In My Room is a staple of many compilations, it’s inclusion here may seem odd -but since it was only a B-side, I am going to rule that it qualifies as not quite a top-tier Beach Boys hit, and therefore worthy of inclusion. And it gives me an opportunity to write about this song.

The very first Beach Boys music I owned was a copied cassette of a greatest hits collection- and this was one of the songs that really impressed me, and made me realize that the Beach Boys were not just a surf novelty band. For 1963, it was an astonishingly personal song and introspective song, matched possibly only by their soon to be transatlantic rivals from the Liverpool’s There’s A Place.

Given Brian’s retreat from public life in the 70s, this song takes on an additional poignancy, but it remains one of the most perfect of the early Brian Wilson songs, and a song that many people, especially those of us with a more introverted nature, can relate to always.

23 Instrumentals For Today

April 10th, 2019

1. The Mist Covered Mountains -Alan Clark, Eddie Gomez and The Acetones
2. Be Here In The Morning Darling -The Beach Boys
3. The British Opera -Bee Gees
4. Othello -Chilly Gonzales
5. Arrival of the Birds -The Cinematic Orchestra
6. Piano Variations On Thoughts Of You -Dennis Wilson
7. Eveningland -Hem
8. River Flow -Ken Bryan
9. Going Home [Theme of the Local Hero] -Mark Knopfler, Alan Clarke, Mike Brecker & Tony Levin
10.  …but we were happy -Paddy McAloon
11. A Country Melody -Roger Nichols
12. Getting That Way- Rory More O’Donoghue & Sarah Joyce
13. Little Chef -Saint Etienne
14. Swim Swan Swim- Saint Etienne
15. Church Pew Furniture Restorer -Saint Etienne
16. Breakneck Hill – Saint Etienne
17. Angel of Woodhatch -Saint Etienne
18. Yearning -Scott Walker
19. Finale -Scott Walker
20. Saturday, Sunday, Monday -Swan Dive
21. Rêverie -Claude Debussy
22. Spellbound Concerto -Rosza
23. Un Bel Di- Giacomo Puccini

Three’s Very Charming

April 6th, 2019

5o years ago, Scott Walker was close to the top of the album with his third solo album. Indeed, his first three solo albums, while not imaginatively titled, all made top 3 in the album charts, with Scott 2 reaching the peak in era where the charts were dominated by the Beatles, Stones, Dylan and The Sound Of Music. This was followed by Scott 3, released in March 1969, and reaching number 3 in the charts in April that year.

Scott 4 may be the cult favorite, but Scott 3 is a close contender for Scott’s best album, with 10 new Walker compositions, featuring breathtaking orchestral arrangements, lovely melodies and bittersweet lyrics. It’s Raining Again is often seen as Scott’s signature composition, while Copenhagen, Rosemary, Big Louise and Two Weeks Since You’ve Been Gone are all shimmeringly beautiful. We Came Through and 30th Century Man see a bit of a change of pace and style. The album ends with three Jacques Brel songs, which could be seen as an afterthought, but try not to be moved by Scott’s interpretation of If You Go Away.

This album may seem far away from Scott’s “difficult” later music, but the contrasts between beauty and horror are still there, even if lovingly suger-coated throughout. If you want Scott at his most beautiful, yet still challenging, three is definitely your number.