Category Archives: Brian Wilson
A few weeks ago we reviewed Fifty Sides Of The Beach Boys, a brand new, in-depth and entertaining look at the band that celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this year. As a connoisseur of all things Beach Boys, I really enjoyed the book and I wanted to find out what went into creating it. Author Mark Dillon was kind enough to answer some questions via email about Fifty Sides Of The Beach Boys, his method of writing and researching the book and much more. So let’s go surfin’ now!
Andy Burns: Congrats on Fifty Sides Of The Beach Boys – it’s a wonderful addition to the canon of Beach Boys literature. I’d like to start by asking, what was your first introduction to the Beach Boys, if you can recall?
Mark Dillon: Thank you, Andy. I was turned onto The Beach Boys by my cousin, Tracy. I was seven and over at my cousins’ house when she put on an 8-track tape of Best of The Beach Boys Vol. 2 and put these enormous headphones over my ears. The songs that really got me were “I Get Around,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “California Girls,” and “Help Me, Rhonda.” I became a fan for life.
Andy Burns: Your approach to the band’s story and music in the book is unique (and welcome). Could you explain where the idea sprung from?
Mark Dillon: I’d wanted to do a book about the group for about 20 years, but struggled over an approach that was both unique and timely. And then, about three years ago, I was walking on, appropriately enough, a beach — on Lake Huron, not those warm beaches The Beach Boys would sing about — when it dawned on me that the group’s 50th anniversary was approaching. I figured if there was ever a time for re-evaluation, this was it.
The next thing was coming up with a format that properly would celebrate those 50 years. My original thought was to talk to 50 artists inspired by the group’s music, each one dissecting one song. As I got deeper into the process, I figured if you’re going to talk about the songs and their creation, then who better to talk about them than the people who actually wrote and recorded them – in other words, the band members themselves and their collaborators. So, in the end, it’s a mix of hearing from The Beach Boys, the songwriters, players and engineers who worked with them, fellow artists and those who’ve written books about the group. I was shooting for a balance of oral history and cultural appreciation. In other words, here’s the story of the group and its songs, and this is why we should care 50 years later.
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Happy birthday, Brian Wilson! The brilliant mastermind behind some of the most enduring music of our time turns 70 years old today. Last night, BBP’s Perry Schwartz and myself had a chance to see Brian and the reunited Beach Boys in concert and it was a treat. Having Brian back harmonizing with his longtime bandmates was something special – they truly have a chemistry unlike any other band, and it’s one that fans around the world are still embracing. The group’s latest studio album, That’s Why God Made The Radio, just debut in the Billboard Top 200 chart at number 3 – pretty amazing for a group of senior citizens!
To celebrate Brian’s big 7-0 check out this classic from Brian’s Pet Sounds live DVD after the jump. It’s not the Beach Boys, but it’s the song that probably sums up Brian the best.
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This wasn’t supposed to happen. The Beach Boys weren’t supposed to record their best album in 40 years when four out the five members of the band are averaging seventy years old.
But that’s what they’ve done. That’s Why God Made The Radio, the band’s new album, out today, may not be Pet Sounds, but it’s not that far out of the ballpark.
March Madness: Madmen Of The Studio – Brian Wilson and Phil Spector Bring The Crazy To Some Of The Best Pop Recordings Of All Times
Rock ‘n’ roll mythology is filled with stories of madness. Most of these tales are less about mental instability and more an example of what happens when fame, fortune and indulgences in various forms guide the behaviours of the young.
There are, however, a number of legitimately mad men (and women) who have shaped popular music as we know it. These artists are part of a time-honoured fraternity of great and influential artists who have either been driven by or driven to new levels of madness as a result of their artistic endeavours. Consider these three ‘Vans’: Ludwig van Beethoven allegedly suffered from bipolar disorder which many believe helped him fuel his creativity. Vincent Van Gough spent years in a French insane asylum battling depression and severe mood swings. And finally, Eddie Van Halen…wel,l he may just be part genius/part alcoholic but he certainly has had his moments of instability.
Sometimes you have to wonder what came first…the madness or the music. In the case of Brian Wilson, founding member and creative force behind The Beach Boys, it’s hard to say. Wilson had a self-described difficult childhood, growing up with a brooding and abusive father, but that only made him more determined to please his dad and drive his band to great success. Even the early years of The Beach Boys, Wilson was shy, introverted and much more comfortable behind the scenes creating the surf sounds and harmonies.
Late in 2011 the buzz started building around 2012 being the ‘year of the reunion’. Both Van Halen and The Beach Boys were rumoured to be getting back together and everyone figures the Rolling Stones will do something Stones-ian to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Just a few weeks in to 2012 and we’ve already had a taste of what 2012 might have in store in terms of reunions in rock. Despite the fact that there have been very few noteworthy new albums released thus far, we’ve been teased with new music from the aforementioned Van Halen, The Beach Boys and, New Jersey’s favourite son, Mr. Bruce Springsteen, who released the first single from his forthcoming Wrecking Ball album with the E Street Band backing him up. If these three tracks are an indication of what’s on the rock music horizon, 2012 might be better known as the ‘year of the let-down’.
Not a particularly stellar week of new material to cover. At this time of year many of the new releases are compilations, greatest hits packages and holiday records. Nothing wrong with any of these formats but I’m not planning to cover compilations or greatest hits and we’ll save our review of holiday albums until we’ve heard from the Beiber.
What does it say about the two founding members of Biff Bam Pop when their Top 5 lists are so different from one another? Simply, that diversity is a way of life and music. No doubt there’s something for everyone on both of our lists, so search through and find some music that speaks to you. Now, on to my Top 5 list.
5) The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
Here’s a band that combines punkish vocals, 80’s rock guitar solos, and Springsteen-esque delivery to form what many are calling the best band in America right now. Stay Positive from The Hold Steady is anthemic, clever, and chock full of hooks that sink in immediately and leave you pushing replay once the album is done.
Listen to Sequestered In Memphis from The Hold Steady’s Stay Positive.
4) The Killers – Day & Age
What’s the sign of a good album? When you come to the end of it, you immediately want to hear it again. That’s how it was for me and the third studio album from The Killers. While “Human” may be the hit, it’s not representative of the album. For that, you’ve got to check out the Bowie-esque opening track “Losing Touch”.
Listen to Losing Touch from The Killers Day & Age.
3) Brian Wilson – That Lucky Old Sun
A concept album about California from the man who literally invented the sound of the state. Coming off the critical and commercial success of 2004’s SMiLE, few expected Brian Wilson to deliver anything that could compare. But working with longtime bandmate Scott Bennett, the former Beach Boy crafted a 35 minute song suite that’s arguably the best new work he’s done in 30 years.
Listen to Going Home/Southern California from Brian Wilson’s That Lucky Old Sun.
2) Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs
Considering the fact that I’m a late-comer to Death Cab, a year ago I would have been surprised to find their name on any Top 5 list from me. But Narrow Stairs is a great album, full of songs that get under your skin and stay there, none more so than the slow build and awesome release from “I Will Possess Your Heart”. Don’t listen to the edited version though – you’d be missing out on the foreplay.
Listen to I Will Possess Your Heart from Death Cab For Cutie’s Narrow Stairs.
1) Chinese Democracy – Guns N Roses
Forget the long wait. Forget the drama. Just listen to the music. This is a masterpiece of huge hooks, introspective lyrics, and limitless production. While Axl Rose may be the only holdover from the original GnR line-up, make no mistake that this is a band recording, with stellar guitar work from the man they call Buckethead. Want a power ballad? Check out “Street Of Dreams”. In need of an epic? “There Was A Time” is up your alley. Want a rocker to kick your ass? The title track is there waiting. Chinese Democracy is an amazing achievement, and one that reveals its riches with every subsequent listen.
Listen to There Was A Time from Guns N Roses Chinese Democracy.
Andy B’s other notable albums from 2008:
TV On The Radio – Dear Science
Bob Dylan – Tell-Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Volume 8
Metallica – Death Magnetic
The B-52s – Funhouse
Panic At The Disco – Pretty.Odd.
Girl Talk – Feed The Animals
Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends
Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
That Lucky Old Sun