Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXIX: Isn’t It Time

August 25th, 2014

From an old summer song, to a much newer summer song (from a much older band) -today we induct another song from the latest/last Beach Boys album. Here’s what I wrote about in 2012

The third track and second single from That’s Why God Made The Radio is one I will always associate with my California trip and the shows that I saw there. I heard it during the soundcheck of the Berkeley shows, and then twice at the actual shows that I went to. In both cases, the audience reaction was as good as any of the classic hits, because…this is a classic hit.

Written by the same committee as the title track with Mike Love an additional member, Isn’t It Time may not be the strongest song on the album from a pure musical perspective. But with the eternal theme of kindling old flames, the vocal interplay between the different lead vocalists, compelling rhythm and catchy melody, it’s an almost perfect pop song.

Sunshine From A Less Sunshiney Country

August 18th, 2014

Sunshine Pop may be most associated with the sunshine of California, but exponents of the genre have come from many places. These include Canada, not necessarily the first place one associates with sunshine, but is the home to the The Sugar Shoppe. The group recorded one album produced by Wrecking Crew member Al De Lory, and this album was reissued on CD last year, including bonus tracks.

While the music can be described as fairly standard sunshine pop, it certainly isn’t as sugary as the group’s name may suggest. Songs like The Attitude and Let The Truth Come Out have quite an edge to them, while one of the highlights is the bonus track cover of Easy To Be Hard which is moving and very relevant today. Other highlights include Donovan’s Skip-A-Long Sam, Privilege and Take Me Away which encapsulate the melody and spirit of Sunshine Pop. There are a few weaker songs, which detract slightly, but it certainly shows that the sunshine doesn’t end on the 49th parallel. Any fans of good pop music should head here and get a dose of sugar which can only be good for you.

Still Having An Endless Summer Long

August 10th, 2014

ESQ Summer 2014 Edition As the first signs of spring come to Cape Town, it’s still time to reflect on the 50th anniversary of  the All Summer Long album. The new edition of Endless Summer Quarterly has an extensive look at the record, with commentary from Mike Love. There is also discussion on the two Jan And Dean albums released at a  similar time, Ride The Wild Surf and Little Old Lady From Pasadena, as well a short note on Brian’s new album.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXVIII: All Summer Long

August 3rd, 2014

American graffiti ver1.jpg

Having recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys’ classic summer album, it’s a good time to have a closer look at the title track. As Brian Wilson tracks go, this one is pretty well known, especially being featured American Graffiti movie. However, it wasn’t an A-side of a single, and usually misses out in the “biggest hit” compilations, so I think it is still fair to feature it in my hidden beauties.

You probably know this song, but it features all of Brian’s greatest qualities – great pop hook, brilliant production, captivating vocal arrangement. And while the lyrics celebrate the simple joys, behind them is the realisation that summertime will be over soon….

The Next Masterpiece…

July 31st, 2014

If we weren’t excited enough already about the new Brian Wilson album, have a look at this. It’s speculative of course -but it’s an interesting perspective, especially on the latest/last? Beach Boys album.

And in other news, Brian has announced a new tour date in California in October with Al Jardine.

And finally, my Brian Wilson website may be getting a makeover. Watch this space.

Brian’s Autumn?

July 24th, 2014

Alongside the new album news in my last post, we have news of the Brian Wilson biopic. The good news is that will be premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival. The not so good news is that the film is still looking for a distributor. Of course, the hope is that the combination of a new album and film will bring Brian back to the public consciousness.  So I’m looking forward to this Northern Hemisphere fall that will hopefully see Brian Wilson rise.

Hear You In The Fall

July 20th, 2014

Rolling Stone and Billboard  have both featured articles on the album Brian Wilson has been working on ever since the end of the Beach Boys tour, and now appears to be scheduled for release in the northern hemisphere autumn. The original plan for another Beach Boys album seems to have morphed first into work with Jeff Beck, and now something featuring some alternative females stars. The tracks and descriptions in both articles sound intriguing, and I imagine there will also be some intriguing work left on the shelf for the bootleggers or “special editions” in years to come. Whatever the overall quality of the album is, there is one thing that I have no doubt – there are more great Brian Wilson songs to be heard.

We’ve Been Having Fun All Summer Long

July 13th, 2014

It’s already time for our next 50 year celebration of a Beach Boys studio album. 1964 was a pivotal year in terms of the Beatles coming to America, and this was Brian’s first studio album response after the British Invasion. While there is some step up in terms of song quality and studio time, Brian’s response was to create  the archetypal “fun in the sun” Beach Boys album, in which the surf and car themes of the previous albums are extended into a general summertime theme, with a generous dose of romance.

I Get Around was the monster hit and rock classic, but most people should also recognise Wendy, Little Honda and the title track, used for the movie American Graffiti. Much of the rest is worthwhile, although there is some filler in the studio blooper reel Our Favorite Recording Sessions.

The album ends on the motivational pep-talk Don’t Back Down, ostensibly a surf song, but also possibly pre-empting the changing times ahead. There is something of an end-of-the-innocence-era here, with Brian’s breakdown on tour occuring a few months later, and Brian soon taking a leap into more complex production and emotional lyrics. As a reminder of a more innocent era, and for some great music, this album remains in the upper tier of the group’s records and a very spritely and hip 50 year old.

Ireland, England, Scotland…

July 6th, 2014

Brian’s brief British Isles tour encompassed Ireland and England, but not Scotland, but Scotland was on  Brian’s mind whether his geographic mistake was quirkiness or misunderstanding. However, the tour seems to have garnered a positive reaction, with Matt Jardine now playing a prominent role alongside his father. It looks like we may be seeing a lot less of Brian on tour, but he is still out there, and who would imagined twenty years ago that Brian would have done so many solo dates.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CXVII: Busy Doing Nothin’

June 30th, 2014

Covering Games Two Can Play here a month ago made me reflect on another treasure of the late 60s period, and another one of the rare songs with words and music by Brian alone. Busy Doing Nothin’ was a centerpiece of the Friends album, and contrasted a seemingly domesticated and happy writer, with a sense of restlessness.

Of course, there is a lot more than nothing happening here musically -this is one of Brian’s bigger late 60s productions, with understated orchestration adding to a really enjoyable song. And indeed, directions were given to Brian’s house in Bel-Air, though you would need to know where to start.