The Sound Of Mercy

August 30th, 2015

Music from Love & Mercy.jpg For a while, it looked like the soundtrack of Love And Mercy could be the latest of the Beach Boys  and related lost albums -with word that it should be coming out soon, but some unknown issue delayed releasing it alongside the movie (which would have seemed logical). As it happened, it has ended up in the slightly delayed category, with a digital release on 14 August and CD following on Friday September 18.

Of course, there is nothing really new here from a Brian Wilson perspective -the new song, One Kind of Love was on No Pier Pressure, and only the live version of the title song would be any sort of addition for collectors. What we do get though is Atticus Ross’s music, much of it a mash-up of Brian’s tunes, which ranges from very satisfying (Silhouette) to music which is probably better appreciated in the context of the film (Losing It). The Bed Montage is also haunting, especially with the ghostly sounds of ‘Til I Die in one of the most moving scenes of the movie -reminding us why this one of the absolute great songs.

It’s not a groundbreaking new Brian Wilson or Beach Boys release, but as a soundtrack to a very good movie, it does stand well by itself and worth the investment.

23 Songs For Today

August 23rd, 2015

1) Thinkin’ ‘Bout You Baby-    American Spring
2) A Little Time-    The Beautiful South
3) Guess You Had to Be There – Brian Wilson & Kacey Musgraves
4) Fantasy Is Reality/Bells of Madness-    Brian Wilson/Carnie Wilson/Rob Wasserman
5) Fading Sun-    Carolin No
6) Rainy Days And Mondays-   The Carpenters
7) Step Inside love-    Cilla Black
8) Each And Every One-    Everything But The Girl
9) Angel-   Grey Eye Glances
10)Sailor-    Hem
11) These Are The Things About You-    Ivy
12) All Systems A Go-Go  – The Januaries
13) Somebody To Love-    Kacey Musgraves
14) Follow Your Arrow-    Kacey Musgraves
15) No Frontiers-    Mary Black
16) Give It a Go-    Molotov Jukebox
17) Trying-    Molotov Jukebox
18) Punchlines-    Molotov Jukebox
19) Underneath the Stars-    Sarah Cracknell
20)I Close My Eyes-    Sarah Cracknell
21) Sleep Away Your Troubles-    The Softies
22) We Could Make It Happen-    Swing Out Sister
23) Do I Love You?- The School

Mercy At Last

August 19th, 2015

At last, Love And Mercy has opened in South Africa, and I took as an early an opportunity as I could to see the movie. Somewhat surprisingly, it actually opened at just about the other end of Cape Town from me, but that wasn’t going to deter me.

Of course, the wait and the drive was all worthwhile. Hearing Brian’s music in cinematic sound was worth the price of admission alone, but it stands alone as a good movie and good story.  It’s a happy ending -not that common today, especially in a music biopic -and the theme of redemption through love may not be original, but ultimately it may exactly what life is all about.

Much of the movie drama comes in the Brian/Landy/Melinda triangle but some of the greatest scenes are those of Brian in the studio, illustrating the production genius that puts Brian on another level from just about any other human. When Hal Blaine tells Brian that he is in another class, the movie audience all knows we are dealing with something very special.

So a great movie that deserved greater things than it seemed to have got on it’s run around the world. Maybe there will still be something in the DVD release, or around Oscar. Maybe Brian Wilson will still remain the secret of a few. But this movie has shown that the world should appreciate far more  a true genius, and a flawed man finding redemption, while he is still with us.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXXIX: Thinkin’ ‘Bout You Baby

August 10th, 2015

Image result for thinkin' bout you baby spring

Another complicated song history -another Brian song with a female touch. If you ever hear Thinkin’ ‘Bout You Baby, and you have even a fairly casual knowledge of the Beach Boys major and middling hits, you will probably realise much of the tune is Darlin’, the hit centerpiece of the underrated Wild Honey album in 1967. But there is a history to the song before and after, in the form of Thinkin’ ‘Bout You Baby which was a 1964 song for Shanon Marie, produced by Brian. And then in 1972, it came out again in the slower, more romantic Thinkin’ ‘Bout You Baby form, co-produced by Brian and sung by his then wife and sister-in-law as American Spring.

It’s a great tune in whatever form, and Carl certainly makes it his own on the hit Wild Honey version, which has become a concert favorite for Brian and the Beach Boys. But for a more hidden treasure, why not check the Thinkin’ ‘Bout You Baby version.

Next Lesson

August 5th, 2015

Do I Love You? - The School As another teaser for their upcoming album, Wasting Away And  Wondering, The School have released another single, Do I Love You? Once again, it’s a lesson in pop craftmanship, contrasting a soulful Northern Soul stomp with some moments of pure pop yearning. Watch it here, buy the single and look forward to the album.

Remembering Cilla Black

August 2nd, 2015

Here is one of my favorite memories of Cilla Black -who sadly and somewhat shockingly, passed away today. Love Of The Loved  is an obscure Lennon/Mc Cartney song, which became her first single. It didn’t do much on the charts, but it showcased a great voice and created a base for her great successes.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXXVIII: Fantasy Is Reality/Bells Of Madness

July 30th, 2015


Another quite convoluted song history comes along with today’s hidden beauty. Even the title Fantasy Is Reality/Bells Of Madness betrays the many parties involved. Released in 1994 on a Rob Wasserman album of collaborations, it was written by Sam Phillips, Wasserman and Brian, and sung by Carnie Wilson.  The combination of Brian and his daughter also reflected something of a reunion after the Landy years - a year later Brian married Melinda.

The song is often cited as the highlight of the album, and stands alone as a beautiful, poignant track, especially the Bells Of Madness section which may be more Sam Phillips input. The Fantasy Is Reality is a bit of a Shortenin’ Bread rewrite, but it does all hang together, and some credit must go to Brian, even as an inspiration.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXXVII: The Spirit Of Rock & Roll

July 25th, 2015

Image result for "brian wilson" "the spirit of rock and roll"

The Spirit Of Rock & Roll has one of the most convoluted histories of any Brian Wilson track. Originally performed by the Beach Boys , including Brian at a 25th anniversary show in 1986, it was then recorded by Brian for his second solo album, Sweet Insanity, which remains unreleased. Brian’s solo recording of the song included a version featuring a certain Bob Dylan! The song remained an “unofficial” item until 2006, when it was released on the Hallmark Beach Boys collection Songs From Here & Back, ostensibly a Beach Boys recording, but actually done by Brian and his band!

So what of the song, which treads a nostalgic line of early rock and roll in the same vein as Do You Remember? and the unreleased Slightly American Music. It’s a fairly straightforward melodic rock song, but with the sort of soaring melody that does bear the hallmark of Brian Wilson. It’s certainly an obscure, fascinating and worthwhile beauty.

Guess You Have To Hear This

July 19th, 2015

Image result for pageant material Kacey Musgraves made herself known to Brian Wilson fans as co-writer and singer on Guess You Had To Be There from Brian’s latest album. The track is a bit of a grower, and the fact that Musgraves was something of a country “rebel” made her worth checking out.

So I have to admit that her new and quite successful album Pageant Material is something of a guilty pleasure. There are some barn-dance stompers like the single Biscuits and Good Ol’ Boys Club which are fun but lightweight. But the real meat here is a series of mid-tempo and slower tracks such as Fine, High Time, Late To The Party, Miserable, Die Fun and especially Somebody To Love which approach the musical and lyrical depth and resonance of Brian Wilson’s best work.

Pluto, Better Than Disney

July 17th, 2015

Pluto by LORRI and Ralph, 13 July 2015.jpg Pluto is too far to see-ee-ee

So sang Brian Wilson on his heavenly exploration song, Solar System. It is certainly too far to see with the naked eye, or even a pretty decent telescope. But now the mysteries of this distant world are being revealed by the space probe, New Horizons, downloading pictures slower than an old dial-up modem, but already revealing a fascinating world.

It may not be an official planet any more, but Pluto certainly shows there are many wonders remaining to be found in the Solar System, especially if there are over 200 dwarf planets orbiting the sun.