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 Brian Wilson

American rock singer

 

Imagination

That Lucky Old Son

 

 

 

 

Brian Wilson

Imagination - 7.5

To my mind this is Wilson's best solo album and yes I do include Smile in that assessment. Here better than anywhere else he seems to have captured the Beach Boys sound and that's all we ever asked or wanted from him. There's no point somebody like Wilson moving in different directions or switching musical style. We want the California sun and sand and for my money we pretty much get it here with a number of very pretty songs alongside some intensely personal lyrics and soul searching. "Happy Days" is one of the best songs ever written about coming out of depression and getting back on track. Even the music shifts from dark brooding to happy singalong. Not surprisingly some of these tracks do hark back to the Beach Boy years and that gives the whole album a more rounded and relevant feel than many of his other solo projects.

 

That Lucky Old Sun - 5.5

This is in many ways a strange album. So many people herald Wilson and the Beach Boys as an influence and so many groups are heralded as the new Beach Boys that the whole thing has become a ridiculous merry-go-round. There only was one Beach Boys. The question is can one of the greatest exponents of pop/rock reclaim his surfing crown and re-visit the sights and sounds of the heady days of California? That's exactly what Wilson tries to achieve here. In all honesty the material isn't much different to much of his solo work, but you wouldn't really expect anything else. A Brian Wilson stuck in his ways is better than no Brian Wilson at all and it's something of a miracle that he is able to record and tour at all. So here we have sun, sand, memories and demons - yes another BW album. His solo output has always been rather ragged - excellent at its best, very patchy at its worst. And that's where That Lucky Old Sun falls - somewhere between being able to call up the heart-beat of California and falling into the pastiche black hole. Firstly let's deal with the contribution of the legendary Van Dyke Parks. Sadly it's all too small on this offering. He provides spoken links for the songs and these are delivered by Wilson in almost apologetic and embarrassed tones. The songs are all original apart from the title track which acts as the fulcrum for the series. The track sums up the Californian Dream in the same way as Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. So how strong are the songs? Well there's the usual vaudeville feel to many of them - a Wilson characteristic. Some of the lyrics are plain silly (I've Got a Notion/We come from the ocean), but overall there is a reasonable thematic feel to the album. The title track is echoed in many ways with Wilson once again delving deep into his own mind to discuss his mental instability on songs such as "Oxygen to the Brain" and "Midnight's Another Day." Brian Wilson's past is as checkered as the whole California surfer dream. This collaboration with Parks and Scott Bennett goes someway to extend the Wilson legend, but at times perhaps not quite far enough.