BRIAN WILSON, NO PIER PRESSURE – Rich Paschall

Young Voices and The Old Master, Rich Paschall

On the Brian Wilson “solo album,” as most seem to be calling it, Brian is only going solo on four of the 16 tracks,  When you consider that he is backed by a chorus of singers on those, then you may think he has more of a “Beach Boys” album than a solo affair.  The author of most of the Beach Boys hits, however, can not call it a Beach Boys album.  He doesn’t own the name.

The first guest performer has a song that was not well received by most critics.  “Runaway Dancer,” featuring Sebu (part of the duo Capital Cities), is nothing like the other tracks.  It has a heavy dance beat that screams “pop record.” Yes, it is laden with Wilson vocal work.  Wilson’s own voice can clearly be heard throughout.  Perhaps the new direction can be attributed to the work of Sebu Simonian off-site.  Wilson’s demo was titled “Talk of the Town,” when it was sent to Sebu, who recorded his vocals at another studio.  Sebu is also credited with “Additional production,” which could mean a lot of things.  If critics wanted just another Beach Boys tune, they didn’t get it.

“On the Island” brings an almost Bosa Nova beat and some sun and sand to the album.  The song features the work of “She and Him,” which would be Zooey Deschanel on vocals and M. Ward on electric guitar.  Deschanel’s vocal is perfect for the tune about being “lost in this island nation.”

One track is given over to an instrumental, well sort of anyway.  A mellow piece of jazz shows up as the fifth track of the deluxe album.  The very sounds suggest sunset over “Half Moon Bay.”  The work features Mark Isham on horn, but the Wilson touch is there too.  Voices are blended throughout to create harmonies giving this a soft and warm feeling.  It is a break from the other type of soft harmonies Wilson has layered throughout the album.

In case you think I loved every bit of this album, I must confess to be mystified by the song “Our Special Love.”  The track may have been the one slated to go to Frank Ocean. Wilson canceled him out, explaining that Ocean wanted to rap his performance.  If you think a driving dance tune was not well received by hard-core Beach Boys fans, just imagine a rap tune.  Peter Hollens, a You Tube generation performer if ever there was one, shows up instead.  Little of Hollens can be heard on the track as Wilson takes the lead on the chorus and the overproduced harmonies just about drown out much of Hollens work.  I am not even convinced the verses fit well with the chorus.  The music, uncharacteristic of a Wilson song, does not blend as you come to expect.

On the other hand, the light-hearted “Guess You Had To Be There,” featuring Kacey Musgraves on the verses with Wilson leading the Chorus is a perfect mix. The happy sounding tune is not as layered or overproduced.  A banjo mixed into the song seems to go with Musgraves work and one wonders if that is indeed her touch.  The lyric could easily be a commentary by Wilson on the ending of the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour.  Anyway, it all seems to fit.

The most energetic and contemporary sounding track features Nate Ruess of Fun.  Just like he does with the work in his own group, Ruess energizes “Saturday Night” and turns in a spirited performance.  Given author and composer credit along with Wilson and Joe Bennett, Ruess has a spirited contribution for the album.  Here is the live Soundstage performance:

The final track of the album, “The Last Song,” was originally scheduled to go to Lana Del Ray.  When the list of songs finally came out, her name was not to be found.  At first, Wilson told interviewers that Del Ray had canceled them, but it turns out that she actually recorded the vocal the previous year.  It was ultimately decided that the nostalgic piece about looking back on a career seemed to suit Brian Wilson much more than Lana Del Ray.  Was it the swan song of the music master?  No, Wilson never seems to run out of tunes.

Don’t be sad
There was a time and place for
what we had

If there was just another chance
for me to sing to you…

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional

14 thoughts on “BRIAN WILSON, NO PIER PRESSURE – Rich Paschall”

    1. To Wilson’s credit, he did not wanted to keep singing song’s of the 60’s and early 70’s like Mike Love. He wanted to keep creating. That is why the 2012 Beach Boys album and this Wilson album are great efforts. Some of the new songs still scream Summer.

      Like

      1. Tom Jones voice hasn’t changed. Amazingly. He mentioned in an interview that it happens with most singers. There are many of note who can’t hit the high notes any longer. Stress on the vocal chords I guess.

        Like

        1. A lot has to do with how well-trained your voice was in the first place. Those who weren’t vocally trained can lose their voices younger and more completely.

          Anyone who strained their voice — and rock singers do that often — lose their voices. Frank Sinatra almost lost his voice entirely while he was quite young and had to completely retrain his voice. Joan Sutherland (operatic soprano) lost her voice completely and was unable to sing at all.

          I strained my voice so badly that long before I turned 40, my voice was gone.

          Liked by 1 person

Talk to me!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.