Brian Wilson’s No Pier Pressure, Rich Paschall
When the Beach Boys finally got back together in 2012 for a 50th Anniversary Tour, Brian Wilson, the musical genius behind the sound, agreed to sign on. Wilson had been a nervous performer over the years, and there were many years he could not perform. His mental health history not only is well documented, but it will be played out soon on-screen in the biopic, Love and Mercy. After decades away from the often feuding Beach Boys, Wilson was ready to go.
To start the anniversary year, Brian Wilson produced and arranged a brand new Beach Boys album, as well as having written most of the songs. In true Beach Boys’ form, it was steeped in harmonies of the voices that had blended so well over the decades. Fans still revere their work for the unique sound. The genius behind the Beach Boys had done it again.
Although Wilson did not originally want to perform many shows for an anniversary tour, he finally agreed to 50 shows for the 50th year. The tour went so well, shows continued to be added. There was talk of yet another Beach Boys album in the future and by the time the “boys” got to their 75th show in London, Wilson, who was usually cloistered in a studio, was willing to continue. True to the Beach Boys history, the tour ended on a sour note.
Mike Love, front man, lead singer on most of the hits, and owner of the name Beach Boys, fired Wilson, Al Jardine and most of his crew. The mastermind of the tour was stunned. For his part Love claimed he did not fire Wilson but had other commitments. The other commitment was to tour with a stripped down show and a crew of replacement Beach Boys. Yes, he booked his own tour even as the highly acclaimed, Wilson engineered, production was on the road. Love, by the way, is Wilson’s cousin and a founding member of the Beach Boys along with Al Jardine.
The backlash was immediate. Fans were outraged. Love took to the LA Times to pen a letter claiming he would never fire Wilson. He pleaded innocent. Wilson fired back with his own letter: “What’s confusing is that by Mike not wanting or letting Al, David [Marks] and me tour with the band, it sort of feels like we’re being fired.” David Marks is an original member of the Beach Boys and a neighbor to the Wilson Brothers and Love as they grew up.
The new album, That’s Why God Made The Radio, grew in popularity as the 50th Anniversary tour rolled on. “What’s a bummer to Al and me is that we have numerous offers to continue, so why wouldn’t we want to? We all poured our hearts and souls into that album and the fans rewarded us by giving us a Number Three debut on the Billboard charts and selling out our shows. We were all blown away by the response,” Wilson was reported in Rolling Stone as having written.
Wilson continued to perform over the next two years in a limited amount of shows. Al Jardine and sometimes David Marks came along for the ride. It is hard to say whether Love and his version of the Beach Boys or Wilson and Friends were more popular.
So was the idea of a new album dead? Was Wilson near the end of a long and successful ride? Was he ready to fade away while Love kept singing songs from the 1960’s. The answer was delivered loud and clear. Wilson is about to make 2015 one of the biggest years of his career.
Wilson went back to the studio and created a new album. Perhaps it would have been one for the Beach Boys, but there are former Beach Boys and longtime Wilson musicians on hand to give it that Wilson arranged, Beach Boys sound. The album debuted this month to strong reviews. It is filled with songs you would expect from Wilson, along with a few surprises.
Wilson clearly could not take the lead on all of these songs, so there are plenty of artists on hand to share the parts. Lead vocal credits are given to Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, one-time Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin, country singer Kacey Musgraves, You Tube star Peter Hollens, Zooey Deschanel (She & Him), Sebu Simonian (Capital Cities) and Nate Ruess (Fun.) Some of them also get a song writing credit and/or contribute background vocals. David Marks contributed guitar work to two of the songs that featured Al Jardine.
A blast from the past comes from a new song, Sail Away, featuring the lead of Chaplin and Jardine. It is reminiscent of Sloop John B and Sail On, Sailor and will evoke past Beach Boys hits.
Much of the new album is featured on a PBS Soundstage special, Brian Wilson & Friends. There are also some other Wilson hits to thrill the live audience. For some insights to other songs here’s the official Soundstage trailer:
Tomorrow: New Voices energize No Pier Pressure
Read more on the Mike Love, Brian Wilson letters: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/brian-wilson-to-mike-love-it-sort-of-feels-like-we-re-being-fired-20121009#ixzz3XWsts54u
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