Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Brian Wilson - Brian (2 CD)

Compliation (single artist)


I've decided in the interest of keeping this blog updated that I'm going to cut back on the essays. I seriously have no idea if anyone is reading this stuff anyway, and God knows the time I can spend doing this is limited, so unless anyone objects, it'll be just the basics from here on out.

Okay, here goes. Brian Wilson is my favorite composer, and he is rightfully celebrated throughout the world as one of the all-time greats. However, most of the admiration goes towards the music he created throughout the early and mid-sixties, up to and including SMiLE. The albums after that (basically Smiley Smile through Sunflower) still feature a good deal of Brian involvement and are cherished at least by fans if not the general public. Following this era, the Beach Boys released three albums that contained little involvement from Brian (Surf's Up, So Tough and Holland) but the other members of the group were at a songwriting peak, and so these albums are revered as well.

This leads us to the "wilderness era", aka "Brian Is Back". This era (roughly 1975 til Dennis Wilson's death in 1983) is one that is generally abhorred even by fans of the Beach Boys. The general exception is an album called the Beach Boys Love You that was hailed by many as a "return to form" for Brian. And certainly this is a fantastic (if unfinished sounding) record by the band that really showed Brian hadn't lost "it".


But as always, there's more to the story when it comes to the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson. If we examine Brian's ENTIRE output from the "wilderness era", we can see that Love You really wasn't a fluke. In fact, the guy was writing amazing material throughout this entire period! It was just sandwiched between the increasingly mediocre output of Carl, Mike and Al.

The spark for this compilation was the acquisition of two rare, long-form radio interviews Brian did in 1976 (Crawdaddy Radio) and 1977 (King Biscuit Flower Hour). In these interviews, Brian is lucid, conversational, happy and optimistic and talks openly about the band, drugs, his shrink and the rest of his life.

I chopped up the best bits of both interviews and interspersed them with Brian's "wilderness era" songs, so as to approximate a radio special that showcases nothing less than a secret artistic renaissance for Brian Wilson. This is really Pet Sounds for adults. Gone are the wistful teen angst ballads, as Brian tackles more mature themes that any dude in his thirties can relate to. Of course, there's some silly stuff too, but the overall vibe is that of an older, wiser individual coming to grips with adulthood.

Even if you're a longtime fan, you should appreciate both disc one and two
of BRIAN.