Archive for Brian Wilson

Video Du Jour: The Beach Boys

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , on January 5, 2012 by 30daysout

With news that the three surviving original Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine) are planning a 50th anniversary tour this year, I thought we could share this video from 1974.

The Boys appeared on “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” along with Chicago that year (they did a cool version of Chicago’s “Wishin’ You Were Here” with backing vocals from the Beach Boys, as on the record). But this one is the Beach Boys only, led by the late Carl Wilson singing “Darlin’.”

The Beach Boys official website

The Beach Boys hit the road to celebrate 50 years

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2011 by 30daysout

The four remaining Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and Al Jardine, are hitting the road this year to celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary. It all kicks off at the New Orleans Jazz Fest in April. No other dates have been announced yet, we just know there are 50.

The band went back into the studio recently to re-do the symbolic “Do It Again,” a great mid-tempo rocker that doesn’t get the recognition of the other hits in the band’s incredible collection. The tune will be part of a new album set to be released next year. There is also a plan to reissue (yet again) the band’s catalogue on CD. This has been done two or three times already. There were the double album discs, then they pulled those off the shelves and just sold the single albums, then they pulled those off the shelves and sold the double albums again. Who the hell knows what is in store this time. One thing you can count on is another “Pet Sounds” package. I already have six copies. Please stop.

I have no idea who will be in the backing band, but I seriously don’t know any other way they can pull this off effectively without Wilson’s crew that includes musical director Darian Sahanaja and guitarist Jeffrey Foskett. The pair have been playing with him for more than a decade and were instrumental in helping him bring Smile to life back in 2004. Wouldn’t it be cool if they did again with the Beach Boys? Crossing my fingers.

Whatever happens it’s great to see these guys put aside their differences and get back together for the sake of the music…and I’m sure a mighty handsome payday.

Beach Boys Official Website

Check out our interview with Taylor Mills, former backup singer in Brian Wilson’s band.

Video of the Week (Double Shot): Beach Boys

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , on January 6, 2011 by 30daysout

Here are a couple videos from the Beach Boys, early 1970s style.  Both seem appropriate for now because the Boys are apparently freezin’ their asses off in each video.

The first is the ecologically conscious “Don’t Go Near The Water” from 1971’s Surf’s Up.  This lineup of the Beach Boys features, of course, Blondie Chaplin on guitar and vocals (far left when you can see the full band) and Ricky Fataar on drums.  The hairiest members are Mike Love (who looks like he’d much rather be someplace else), Carl Wilson (nice hat!) and Al Jardine.  Dennis Wilson’s holding down the keyboards in place of Big Bro Brian, who’s probably at home in Calfornia where it’s much warmer.

The second video is “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone,” with the same lineup except this song is from 1972’s Carl And The Passions – So Tough.  Although it was written by Brian Wilson (with Jack Rieley) he’s still not in the video.  Carl sings lead and wears the same fuzzy hat in this one, shot on a rooftop someplace a la the Beatles and “Get Back.”  Could they be in Holland- they cut an album there in 1972 which became, uh, Holland.  Actually, they’re in Brighton, England, south of London in the cold winter of 1972 (see comment below).

The Beach Boys official website

Sampler Daze: Warner Bros. holiday samplers

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on December 10, 2010 by 30daysout

Guess this could be a holiday companion piece to our series on the WB-Reprise Loss Leader samplers that came out in the 1970s – these are two radio promo albums released by Warner Bros. in 1987 and 1988 to help radio stations and listeners celebrate the holiday season with the Warners’ stable of artists.

Yulesville came out in 1987, all decked out in red (or green) vinyl to look like a Christmas ornament and the track list was a mix of spoken-word promos and a handful of music tracks.  Artists like Brian Wilson, George Harrison, Madonna and others cut the PSAs (public service announcements) while the Ramones, the Pretenders and the like have holiday-themed tracks.

The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” was exclusive to this LP at the time, while the Pretenders’ “2000 Miles” appeared on the 1983 album Learning To Crawl and Prince’s “Another Lonely Christmas” was originally the B-side to the 1984 single “I Would Die 4 U.”  There are a few other music tracks, including “Yulesville” by Edd “Kookie” Byrnes (from 1959!), Erasure doing a short little holiday ditty and a couple of godawful tracks from long-forgotten bands like 54.40 and the so-called New Monkees (featuring no one named Jones, Dolenz, Tork or Nesmith).

The next year, in 1988, Warner Bros. pulled out all the stops and unleashed a double holiday promo album, Winter Warnerland.  This one had more PSAs from their artists, more tracks from label losers (another one from 54.40!) but also had some cool stuff from the likes of R.E.M.,  Los Lobos and Daniel Lanois, as well as some contributions from Warner Nashville label mates Mark O’Connor and Randy Travis.

Lonesome George Harrison turns up again, this time doing a promo bit as Nelson Wilbury, his alter-ego from the Traveling Wilburys.  Pee Wee Herman livens up the proceedings with his weirdness, and former Chicago lead singer Peter Cetera turns in a country-rock version of “Silent Night” that works for some strange reason.

One of my favorite tracks on this one is “Santa Claus Is Getting Down,” a blues tune from guitarist Jesse Ed Davis.  Davis was an A-list session guitarist of the era who played with people like John Lennon, George Harrison, Leon Russell, Taj Mahal and many others.  Davis popped up at the Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus event in 1968 and was a featured player at the Concert for Bangla Desh in 1971.  Davis is probably best known for contributing the guitar solo on Jackson Browne’s hit single “Doctor My Eyes.”  During most of the 1970s and 1980s Davis was troubled by his drug abuse, and finally in 1988 he died in California of a suspected heroin overdose.

To be honest, I’m not sure what kind of circulation these albums had at the time.  Aside from promotional distribution to radio stations and news media types, it seems that Winter Warnerland had some kind of commercial availability as a CD in 1988 or so.  Both albums turn up frequently on eBay and other internet selling services, so maybe they’re more easily obtained today than they were when they were released – only now they’re more expensive.

MP3: “Merry Christmas Message” by Brian Wilson (from Yulesville)

MP3: “2,000 Miles” by the Pretenders (from Yulesville)

MP3: “Holiday Greeting” by the Bee Gees (from Yulesville)

MP3: “Happy Holidays Message” by Joey Ramone (from Yulesville)

MP3: “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight)” by the Ramones (from Yulesville)

MP3: “Another Lonely Christmas” by Prince (from Yulesville)

MP3: “Christmas Medley” by Pee Wee Herman (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Deck The Halls” by R.E.M. (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Rudolph The Manic Reindeer” by Los Lobos (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Holiday ID” by Nelson Wilbury (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Santa Claus Is Getting Down” by Jesse Ed Davis (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Silent Night” by Peter Cetera (from Winter Warnerland)

MP3: “Holiday Greeting” by Pee Wee Wilbury (from Winter Warnerland)

Video of the Week: “Heroes and Villains,” Van Dyke Parks

Posted in News with tags , , on October 17, 2010 by 30daysout

Beach Boys fans will recognize this song – Van Dyke Parks performs “Heroes and Villains” with Clare and the Reasons in New York City on WNYC’s “Spinning On Air” with David Garland, for an in-studio session broadcast Oct. 10.  “Heroes and Villains” is of course the co-composition by Parks and Brian Wilson, as featured on the Beach Boys’ Smiley Smile album.  If you’re a Van Dyke Parks fan, go here to see another performance, Parks doing “The All Golden.”

Everybody’s Talkin’ About Harry Nilsson

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by 30daysout

(Editor’s Note:  Our L.A. correspondent Randy Fuller covered a screening of the new documentary about Harry Nilsson – here is his report.)

John Scheinfeld’s documentary, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?), is currently getting a week’s screening in Los Angeles (through 9/23), with Portland (9/24 – 9/30) and San Francisco (10/1 – 10/7) to follow.   It’s a gentle and powerful film examining the life of the singer/songwriter through his music and the words of the people who were close to him. Those whose comments tell the story of Harry Nilsson include Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Jimmy Webb, Mickey Dolenz, Robin Williams, Eric Idle, Al Kooper, Randy Newman and a host of others.

Director Scheinfeld said after the film, in an in-person Q&A at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 theater, that his biggest disappointment about the film is that he could not persuade Ringo Starr to sit for an interview.   Scheinfeld said “There are three people Ringo finds it very difficult to speak about: John Lennon, George Harrison and Harry Nilsson.”

The movie has just been released after a period of at least four years of being tinkered with. The final cut comes in just under two hours long, down from a previous version that clocked in at three hours.  Scheinfeld mentioned that all that lost footage didn’t stay on the cutting room floor.  “A DVD should be out by Christmas,” he said, “and there will be about another 90 minutes of footage – almost another whole movie – as part of the package.”

In the film, Parks and Dolenz have quite a few stories to tell about Nilsson’s legendary spiral into alcoholism and, ultimately, self destruction.  One of Nilsson’s cousins who was close to him also gets a lot of face time and adds a more personal touch to the account.

Comments from Nilsson’s friends about how they never knew how many days they’d be gone when they agreed to get together with him made the crowd laugh, while accounts of ruined relationships with two of his producers – Rick Jarrard and Richard Perry – were sadly touching.

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Review: Is It New Or Is It Old?

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by 30daysout

Well, here we are almost to the end of summer 2010 … and we have a handful of new records that sound nothing like the summer of 2010.

Now I am a HUGE fan of Brian Wilson, and the Beach Boys – but I must admit Wilson’s new Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin leaves me kinda cold.   Wilson has said many times that George Gershwin is his all-time fave, and as a result Gershwin’s heirs have asked Wilson to create a tribute to the long-dead composer.   There’s no doubt that Brian Wilson’s genius ear for arrangement is still on-target, that’s obvious on the beautiful, accapella version of “Rhapsody In Blue” that opens and closes the album.  And “Summertime” (from the musical “Porgy and Bess”) with Wilson’s voice is just about perfect for this time of the year.  It’s on some of the other tracks where I get a little lost:  the instrumental “I Got Plenty O’ Nuffin’ ” sounds like a Pet Sounds outtake, and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” was better when it was “Little Deuce Coupe.”  Oh, this is all right I supppose, particularly if you’re more a fan of Gershwin than of Wilson.  In my case, I kinda wish Brian had devoted all this energy to writing some new songs.  Ah well, maybe next time.

Listen to piano demos Brian Wilson used to create songs for the new Gershwin album

John Mellencamp strips it all down and gets back to his “roots” with the new No Better Than This. Rather than reinterpreting old songs like Brian Wilson, Johnny Cougar’s done the opposite – he casts some freshly written tunes in “old” settings.  He visits Sun Studios in Memphis to cut a rockabilly tune, he records a bluesy tune in San Antonio’s Menger Hotel, where Robert Johnson recorded … you get the idea, right?  The title song manages to rock out,  and that Menger Hotel tune “Right Behind Me” manages to summon up the right amount of spookiness.  Complete with low-fi production from T-Bone Burnett, No Better Than This seems to be the right step for Mellencamp.

MP3: “No Better Than This” by John Mellencamp

Let’s go back even farther in time, say Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three.  The band’s Riverboat Soul could have been heard on a dark night along the Mississippi, circa 1933.  For lack of a better adjective, this is pure Americana – with heaping teaspooons of ragtime, bluegrass and back-porch blues.   Impeccably played and sung, the songs never break character for a modern-day wink and that makes Riverboat Soul all the better for it.

MP3: “La La Blues” by Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three

You gotta love YOSO, and not just for the name.  YOSO is made up of former members of Toto (singer Bobby Kimball) and Yes (keyboard player Tony Kaye and bassist/singer Billy Sherwood).  Elements is the band’s first album, and there are strong original numbers like “Path To Your Heart” and “To Seek The Truth.”  Kimball’s vocals are pretty solid, but on a few numbers he threatens to lose control; I think “Walk Away” could have been stronger with a few more takes.   In case you have a short memory, Elements comes with a second CD of live performances of a few of the new tunes and some Toto/Yes classics like “Hold The Line,” “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” and “Rosanna.”  Now this is classic rock!

MP3: “Walk Away” by YOSO

Brian Wilson’s Gershwin album coming next week

Posted in News with tags , , on August 11, 2010 by 30daysout

Musical genius Brian Wilson is set to release his new album Brian Wilson Reimagines George Gershwin next week.  You can listen to some clips and see a video documentary on the making of the album:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Brian Wilson official website


Review: Wily Veterans & Classic Rock?

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2010 by 30daysout

Summer’s here and the time is right for some classic rock.  Or more accurately, new music from artists that at one time made classic rock and pop music.  Cynics might look at these people as once-vital artists who now have to cash in on past glory in order to keep the utilities on.  But I prefer to keep a warm spot on my heart for these folks, who are all too happy to remind us why we loved them in the first place.

Al Jardine is the only member of the original Beach Boys who wasn’t a blood relative of Brian Wilson.  Even so, Jardine’s new A Postcard from California manages to evoke the spirit of the Beach Boys more successfully than the recent work of even the Sandbox Genius (that would be Brian, who’s about to release an album of George Gershwin covers).  And by evoking the spirit of the Boys, I mean not only that sublime surf-and-hot-rods sound but also the goofy social commentary and cracked sense of humor that characterized a lot of the Beach Boys’ later work.  At 68 years old, Jardine’s voice is just as perfect as it was when he sang “Help Me Rhonda” in 1965.

Now Jardine isn’t the most prolific songwriter so he covers a handful of old Beach Boys tunes that won’t make you forget the originals – despite the presence of guest performers like Neil Young, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America, Steve Miller and Norton Buffalo, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Brian Wilson his own self.  One of those oldies is “Don’t Fight the Sea,” which is actually an unreleased Beach Boys track that features harmonies by the late Carl Wilson, Bruce Johnston, Brian Wilson and Mike Love (Carl and Bruce cut their parts in the 1980s, Brian and Mike recorded their parts more recently).  This environmentally conscious song, like the others on this album, take on a new urgency with the current disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Brian Wilson turns up again on “Drivin’,” a duet that features self-serving vocal backgrounds from America … some of that weird humor here.  Another highlight is Jardine’s revisiting of his “California Saga” epic, this time with harmony help from Crosby, Stills and Young and with a spoken-word piece from Alec Baldwin (!).

Listening to A Postcard From California over the Fourth of July weekend, the album managed to grow on me.  You have to be in a certain place to enjoy this kind of Grandpa Rock – being an AARP member and qualifying for senior discounts doesn’t hurt – but if Al Jardine can take me back to another time and another place even for a fleeting moment,  I’d sign on for that trip any time.

Track samples from A Postcard From California at Al Jardine’s website

YouTube: “Help Me Rhonda” (with Steve Miller, Norton Buffalo and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers)

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Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Beach Boys

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2010 by 30daysout

Today we’re going to pull out a record from my own collection – Holland, the 1973 album from the Beach Boys and one of my all-time favorites from the band.   By the early 1970s, the days of hit singles (and even hit albums) were behind the Beach Boys, mainly because Brian Wilson’s control of the band had dissipated as he faded into a haze of drugs and mental illness.

The band’s manager (Jack Rieley, who also wrote lyrics for some of the Beach Boys’ music) suggested the group cut an album in Holland in hopes that a change of scenery might help snap Brian back to reality.  So in 1972 the Beach Boys, their families and handlers and recording people all flew to Baambrugge, Netherlands, along with truckloads of California recording equipment.  After a few false starts and panic attacks, even Brian Wilson got on the plane.

With younger brother Carl Wilson as the ringleader, the rest of the band stepped up to fill in for brother Brian – Dennis Wilson wrote two songs, “Steamboat” and “Only With You” (with lyrics supplied by Rieley and Mike Love, respectively) and Carl wrote “The Trader” (with anti-imperialist lyrics from Rieley).  New members Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar, who joined the previous year, chipped in with “Leaving This Town” and “We Got Love.”

All of the songs above are a mixed bag, if you’ve never heard any of them before it might be hard to recognize the Beach Boys’ trademark sound as you know it.  They’re pleasant and professional, they’re a little edgy and experimental but honestly whenever Holland comes up those are rarely the songs people talk about.

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