Brian Wilson’s long tour is getting even longer -an additional date has been added at the Chicago Theatre on 1 October. Meanwhile, at the same city on July 16, at the Pitchfork festival, Brian was joined on stage by John Cusack, Joan Cusack and Paul Hipp. Finally, with the Midwestern flavor of the moment, here is a review from the show in St. Charles, Missouri.
Brian’s homecoming of the 50th Pet Sounds anniversary concerts was at the very appropriate venue of the Hollywood Bowl, a venue that I have had the privilege of visiting four years ago, when the Beach Boys played there at their 50th anniversary. Brian’s 50th anniversary show seems to have been just as special,including a very relevant wording change to Love And Mercy as evidenced in this great review from the LA Times.
Brian Wilson spent American Independence Day in Canada, performing at the Massey Hall in Toronto (ironically, he was in Las Vegas three days earlier on Canada Day..). His Canadian visit came with a bit of recognition, receiving the Spirit Award from the Montreal Jazz Festival. And Brian still seems to be spreading good vibrations in a troubled time wherever he goes.
Dexy’s records have been about as rare as…competent politicians, shall we say. It’s now 5 official albums in 36 years, but the good news is that their new record Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish And Country Soul, comes only four years after their last. As the title may indicate, this is a covers album -a project that seemed to have started with traditional Irish music, but expanded into covering some pop standards, and even the more modern How Do I Live.
If the covers concept may seem a bit of a cop-out, the attraction of the album is that the soulful, passionate nature of Dexy’s music is very much intact, and works well in the context of traditional music and classic pop. If the title may seem a bit confusing, mixing country, soul and Irish, let the record show that the soul is what stands out. And bar the occasional overwrought vocal, this is a record that may seem very out of time, but in it’s retro, nostalgic way, very much needed in these times.
Halfway through 2016, it’s easy to see the glass half empty – and the litany of entertainers we have lost in this period was increased by the passing of Rob Wasserman -best known to Brian Wilson fans for Fantasy Is Reality/Bells Of Madness. The world seems a bit angrier, less kind and crazier than six months ago.
But there some water in the wilderness -from Colombia to the fantastic new music from the Explorers Club, and of course, Brian Wilson touring his greatest work 50 years on. We trust and hope the glass will get fuller in the second half of the year.
It’s already a cliche to say it’s been a tough year with more bad news than good -yet there have been a few shards of great joy. Brian Wilson performing his greatest work 50 years after it’s release is one; Leicester City winning the English Premier League is another. And now you can add to the list the release today of The Explorers Club third album, Together.
Readers of this blog will know my love of their first two albums, Freedom Wind and Grand Hotel. The quality of these two records certainly made the release of Together a much awaited event, and I am very glad to report that it doesn’t disappoint. While the record remains firmly faithful to the Brian Wilson sound, there is a harmonic quality to the album that takes it well past the realms of simply copying the California to something that is both transcendent and much needed in these disharmonious times. A reference point may be the Beach Boys album Sunflower, and this is to the extent that this record is very much the equal of the 1970 Beach Boys fan favorite album.
One can see the love and care that has been put it into all eleven of the main tracks of the album, but some of the standouts include California’s Callin’ Ya, simply one of the great tunes of this decade and with that ethereal quality similar to From There To Back Again, and Before I’m Gone, with it’s fabulous ending. Quietly and Don’t Waste Her Time are timeless pop singles, while the title track will rightfully get you singing along in your head, even if it isn’t playing.
This year, including today’s events, we have heard a lot about a world that seems to be drifting apart. So now, more than ever, it really is time to get Together.
Both Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney are now 10 years older than the mythical age from the Beatles classic When I’m 64. Of course, both are going strong and there is much to celebrate as Brian takes a short break during his tour showcasing his greatest work. Happy birthday, Brian..and thanks!
As the Brian Wilson roadshow rolls on, despite lingering European jetlag, to bring light into a world seemingly consumed by darkness, the City of Boston seem to have got it right, proclaiming today Pet Sounds day.
On the day of an unspeakable tragedy in Florida, it’s worth reminding readers about some more light in the darkness…the upcoming album Together from the Explorer’s Club, and the fantastic already released single, California’ Callin’ Ya. Have a look at the video, to remind you of the sunshine and good side of America. And buy the single, to support a fantastic band (and get a nifty B-side which would have fitted well on Friends. )
The European/Middle East section of the Pet Sounds 50 tour is now complete, after final shows in Israel and Portugal. There was some poignancy to the Tel Aviv show, with the show taking place on the same night as the tragic shooting there, but as this review suggests, Brian’s music brought some sun into the darkness.