Brian Wilson Reviews

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Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology

Review An anthology of solo recordings from the original Beach Boy, Brian Wilson, starting with his ‘comeback’ album on Sire, through to the current day & a new track ‘Run James Run’ which is unreleased & recorded specifically for this album. The record also features another unreleased track – ‘Some Sweet Day’ – from the sessions with Andy Paley. And the remainder comes from his various solo releases, the self-titled album on Sire, the ‘Smile’ release on Nonesuch, the duet ‘Soul Searchin’’ with his brother Carl from ‘Gettin’ In Over My Head’ right through to the most recent full length ‘No Pier Pressure’ on Capitol.
Unleash The Love (2-CD)

Review ‘BRIAN WILSON AND FRIENDS’ was recorded live in Las Vegas for Chicago television's prestigious ‘Soundstage’ program, in December 2014. This “Soundstage” special aired on PBS in April 2015 and was offered as a pledge piece for PBS in DVD and Blu-ray configurations. This is the FIRST time an audio CD has been offered and bonus tracks have been added not included in the original PBS airing. The program features Brian Wilson's phenomenal touring band (including long-time Beach Boys sidemen Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar) along with special guests Mark Isham, Kacey Musgraves, Nate Ruess (front man of Fun) and She & Him. The tremendous set list on the DVD and CD includes the Beach Boys classics’ ‘Good Vibrations,’ ‘Don't Worry Baby,’ ‘Wild Honey,’ ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ and many more.
1967 - Sunshine Tomorrow [2 CD]

Review 1-CD expanded edition of debut self titled album by Brian Wilson
Give More Love

Review Brian Wilson's solo debut finally arrived in 1988 to much fanfare and near unanimous critical hosannas. Unfortunately, its commercial impact was negligible, a disappointing outcome for both Wilson, who takes pride in his string of '60s hits, and his boosters, for the 11-song self-titled record represents the zenith of the pop genius's post-Beach Boys oeuvre. "Love and Mercy" heralds Wilson's return to form; lyrically gracious and musically grand, it's an opener quite nearly on a par with "Wouldn't It Be Nice." From there, Wilson and an assortment of coproducers (Russ Titelman, Jeff Lynne, Andy Paley, and Lenny Waronker) intermix brisk, playful rockers ("Night Time," "Little Children") with sumptuous pop concoctions (the a cappella "One for the Boys," "There's So Many"), wrapping things up with an ambitious suite, "Rio Grande." The reissue is generously fleshed out with interview segments, demos, and late-'80s rarities, including the delightful B-side "He Couldn't Get His Poor Old Body to Move." --Steven Stolder
Brian Wilson and Friends (CD/DVD)

Review For No Pier Pressure, his 11th solo studio album, Brian Wilson has returned to Capitol Records, his original label home with The Beach Boys. Wilson reunited with longtime collaborator Joe Thomas, and was joined at Hollywood's Ocean Way Studios by talented musicians he personally invited to record with him, including his former Beach Boys bandmates Al Jardine, David Marks and Blondie Chaplin, as well as Kacey Musgraves, fun.'s Nate Ruess, She & Him's Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, Peter Hollens, Capital Cities' Sebu Simonian, and trumpet master Mark Isham.
The album features The Right Time, Runaway Dancer and On The Island
Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings

Review One of the most mythic albums in rock-the one that pushed Wilson over the edge and sat unfinished in the vault for decades-returned in 2004 when Brian resurrected it , re-recorded it and earned his most rapturous raves in decades. The CD contains Heroes and Villains; Surf's Up; Mrs. O'Leary's Cow; Roll Plymouth Rock , and the rest of the captivating creations of Wilson and Van Dyke Parks. To watch a revelatory documentary about the history and ultimate triumph of SMiLE and see its complete performance in LA (plus an ocean of bonus features), go for the DVD!
Bidin' My Time

Review The Greatest Album That Never Was finally is. The Beach Boys' uncompleted 1967 album Smile has remained the elusive touchstone of Brian Wilson's brilliant, star-crossed career for decades. Artistic Holy Grail and troubling professional Waterloo for Wilson, a tantalizing prism of unfulfilled promise to his loyal cadre of fans, its story has become pop music's Rashomon. Finally completed via spring 2004 recordings with his stellar, longtime touring band (none of the original '60s sessions were used, though they've been recreated here with often stunning authenticity), it's arguably as alien to contemporary pop as it might have seemed in its intended '67 context--even to ears freshly primed by the glories of Pet Sounds.

Collaborator Van Dyke Parks's impressionistic, often mischievous lyrics conjure a collage of arcane 19th-century Americana that's equal parts artful ellipse and aloof nostalgia. But wed to Wilson's innovative composition and recording techniques (echoing beat author William Burroughs's fabled cut 'n' paste methodology and exemplified by the modular "Good Vibrations"), the resulting semisuite confections challenge the boundaries of both song and album form, but with an insouciant charm that's as different from Pet Sounds as that landmark was from "I Get Around." Turns out those hypothetical comparisons to Sgt. Pepper's weren't so far off the mark. --Jerry McCulley

Smiling with Brian
Amazon.com Music Editor Peter Hilgendorf called Brian Wilson to congratulate him on the release of Smile, and to talk about the recording and some of the history behind this highly anticipated release. Listen now.

Catch Up with Brian Wilson and the Legend of Smile:
Here are a few lists to help unravel the stories and sounds of Smile.


IN///PARALLEL

Review His stunning first solo Christmas album! Includes two new holiday standards, the title track and Christmasey (with lyrics by Jimmy Webb), plus brilliant renditions of Auld Lang Syne; Deck the Halls; The First Noel; O Holy Night ; new versions of the Beach Boys' classics Little Saint Nick and The Man with All the Toys , and more!
Everybody Knows

Review return of the great Beach Boys' genius
Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust (2 CD/1 Blu-Ray)

Review Brian Wilson's second full-fledged solo release is a tour de force of his physical art as the former Beach Boy mastermind overdubs himself into a chorale of well-tempered voices. Unfortunately, Wilson's coproduction (with Joe Thomas) leaves these feathery constructions floating on a too-thin instrumental base that comes nowhere near the oomph of Pet Sounds or "California Girls" or even the beaty stepping of Wild Honey. Only a couple of songs, "She Says That She Needs Me" and a retooled "Let Him Run Wild," hint at the sort of darkness that's driven some of Wilson's best work. (A second vintage Boys tune, "Keep an Eye on Summer," is also included.) And it's a mystery why he felt the need to hire Jimmy Buffett to help him construct "South American," Wilson's own "Kokomo." --Rickey Wright
Hotel California: 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition (2CD)

Review Deluxe two disc (CD + PAL/Region 2 DVD) edition. Brian Wilson And Friends was recorded live in Las Vegas for Chicago television's prestigious Soundstage program. The tremendous set list on the DVD and CD includes the Beach Boys classics' 'Good Vibrations', 'Don't Worry Baby', 'Wild Honey', 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' and many more.
Brian Wilson and Friends (CD/DVD)

Review Reissue of self titled debut album by Brian Wilson.
Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology

Review Brian Wilson Songwriter 1962 - 1969 is a documentary film in which the rich tapestry of music written and produced by this brilliant 20th century composer is investigated and reviewed. With the main feature running at over three hours in length across two discs, the songs Brian wrote for and recorded with The Beach Boys during the 1960s are here re-assessed to quite startling effect. FEATURES INCLUDE - Historical musical performances and rare and classic recordings re-assessed by a panel of esteemed experts Obscure footage, rare archive interviews and seldom seen photographs Exclusive contributions from fellow Beach Boys, Bruce Johnston and David Marks; Wrecking Crew musicians Carol Kaye and Hal Blaine; friend and Beach Boys manager Fred Vail; producers Russ Titelman and Bill Halverson; Wilson family friends Billy Hinsche and Danny Hutton, biographers Peter Ames Carlin and Domenic Priore and many others Live and studio recordings of many Brian Wilson classics
No Pier Pressure

Review An anthology of solo recordings from the original Beach Boy, Brian Wilson, starting with his ‘comeback’ album on Sire, through to the current day & a new track ‘Run James Run’ which is unreleased & recorded specifically for this album. The record also features another unreleased track – ‘Some Sweet Day’ – from the sessions with Andy Paley. And the remainder comes from his various solo releases, the self-titled album on Sire, the ‘Smile’ release on Nonesuch, the duet ‘Soul Searchin’’ with his brother Carl from ‘Gettin’ In Over My Head’ right through to the most recent full length ‘No Pier Pressure’ on Capitol.
1967 - Sunshine Tomorrow [2 CD]

Review ‘BRIAN WILSON AND FRIENDS’ was recorded live in Las Vegas for Chicago television's prestigious ‘Soundstage’ program, in December 2014. This “Soundstage” special aired on PBS in April 2015 and was offered as a pledge piece for PBS in DVD and Blu-ray configurations. This is the FIRST time an audio CD has been offered and bonus tracks have been added not included in the original PBS airing. The program features Brian Wilson's phenomenal touring band (including long-time Beach Boys sidemen Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar) along with special guests Mark Isham, Kacey Musgraves, Nate Ruess (front man of Fun) and She & Him. The tremendous set list on the DVD and CD includes the Beach Boys classics’ ‘Good Vibrations,’ ‘Don't Worry Baby,’ ‘Wild Honey,’ ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ and many more.
I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir

Review 1-CD expanded edition of debut self titled album by Brian Wilson
Unleash The Love (2-CD)

Review Brian Wilson's solo debut finally arrived in 1988 to much fanfare and near unanimous critical hosannas. Unfortunately, its commercial impact was negligible, a disappointing outcome for both Wilson, who takes pride in his string of '60s hits, and his boosters, for the 11-song self-titled record represents the zenith of the pop genius's post-Beach Boys oeuvre. "Love and Mercy" heralds Wilson's return to form; lyrically gracious and musically grand, it's an opener quite nearly on a par with "Wouldn't It Be Nice." From there, Wilson and an assortment of coproducers (Russ Titelman, Jeff Lynne, Andy Paley, and Lenny Waronker) intermix brisk, playful rockers ("Night Time," "Little Children") with sumptuous pop concoctions (the a cappella "One for the Boys," "There's So Many"), wrapping things up with an ambitious suite, "Rio Grande." The reissue is generously fleshed out with interview segments, demos, and late-'80s rarities, including the delightful B-side "He Couldn't Get His Poor Old Body to Move." --Steven Stolder
Live - The 50th Anniversary Tour [2 CD]

Review For No Pier Pressure, his 11th solo studio album, Brian Wilson has returned to Capitol Records, his original label home with The Beach Boys. Wilson reunited with longtime collaborator Joe Thomas, and was joined at Hollywood's Ocean Way Studios by talented musicians he personally invited to record with him, including his former Beach Boys bandmates Al Jardine, David Marks and Blondie Chaplin, as well as Kacey Musgraves, fun.'s Nate Ruess, She & Him's Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, Peter Hollens, Capital Cities' Sebu Simonian, and trumpet master Mark Isham.
The album features The Right Time, Runaway Dancer and On The Island
Too Early To Tell

Review One of the most mythic albums in rock-the one that pushed Wilson over the edge and sat unfinished in the vault for decades-returned in 2004 when Brian resurrected it , re-recorded it and earned his most rapturous raves in decades. The CD contains Heroes and Villains; Surf's Up; Mrs. O'Leary's Cow; Roll Plymouth Rock , and the rest of the captivating creations of Wilson and Van Dyke Parks. To watch a revelatory documentary about the history and ultimate triumph of SMiLE and see its complete performance in LA (plus an ocean of bonus features), go for the DVD!
Beach Boys' Party! Uncovered And Unplugged [2 CD]

Review The Greatest Album That Never Was finally is. The Beach Boys' uncompleted 1967 album Smile has remained the elusive touchstone of Brian Wilson's brilliant, star-crossed career for decades. Artistic Holy Grail and troubling professional Waterloo for Wilson, a tantalizing prism of unfulfilled promise to his loyal cadre of fans, its story has become pop music's Rashomon. Finally completed via spring 2004 recordings with his stellar, longtime touring band (none of the original '60s sessions were used, though they've been recreated here with often stunning authenticity), it's arguably as alien to contemporary pop as it might have seemed in its intended '67 context--even to ears freshly primed by the glories of Pet Sounds.

Collaborator Van Dyke Parks's impressionistic, often mischievous lyrics conjure a collage of arcane 19th-century Americana that's equal parts artful ellipse and aloof nostalgia. But wed to Wilson's innovative composition and recording techniques (echoing beat author William Burroughs's fabled cut 'n' paste methodology and exemplified by the modular "Good Vibrations"), the resulting semisuite confections challenge the boundaries of both song and album form, but with an insouciant charm that's as different from Pet Sounds as that landmark was from "I Get Around." Turns out those hypothetical comparisons to Sgt. Pepper's weren't so far off the mark. --Jerry McCulley

Smiling with Brian
Amazon.com Music Editor Peter Hilgendorf called Brian Wilson to congratulate him on the release of Smile, and to talk about the recording and some of the history behind this highly anticipated release. Listen now.

Catch Up with Brian Wilson and the Legend of Smile:
Here are a few lists to help unravel the stories and sounds of Smile.



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