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At long last a Brian Wilson solo "Best of"; due in September. Includes two previously unreleased tracks. #brianwilson The (supposed) press release:
Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology CD
“Time jumps and sometimes time lands,” Brian Wilson wrote in his 2016 memoir, I Am Brian Wilson.
Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology is vivid proof this singular musical icon—who has come through more than his share of challenging times—has been able to spend the past three decades continuing and extending one of the most significant legacies in all of popular music history.
In the first part of his illustrious life in music, Wilson stood at the artistic center of one of rock ’n’ roll’s most iconic groups, The Beach Boys.
There are any number of compilations that document all the fun, fun, fun and art, art, art of that remarkable body of work.
Now with Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology, we all get a chance to celebrate what could be considered the Second or Possibly Third Coming of Brian Wilson. This man—once written off by some prematurely as a musical casualty—has instead flourished and become one of the most uplifting survival stories of our times.
The Brian Wilson Anthology covers a notable period of renewal that started with the release of Wilson’s first solo album, 1988’s Brian Wilson.
Featured here are four of that acclaimed effort’s standout tracks, including the eight-minute symphonette “Rio Grande,” “Melt Away,” “Let It Shine” (written and coproduced with Jeff Lynne) and last, but hardly least, “Love And Mercy,” which has become known as one of Wilson’s most beloved classics. Indeed, “Love And Mercy” has gradually taken on such a meaningful place in Wilson’s legendary songbook that it was even used as the title of the acclaimed 2014 biopic that saw Wilson memorably played by both Paul Dano and John Cusack.
From Wilson’s 1998 Imagination album, this anthology includes two beautiful highlights, “Cry” and “Lay Down Burden,” the latter of which honors Brian’s late, great brother and fellow Beach Boy Carl Wilson, who died of lung cancer that same year.
In the wake of Imagination, Brian started to tour extensively as a solo artist, and by 2000 this icon, who famously stopped touring with The Beach Boys back in the ’60s, was proving to be a somewhat unlikely road warrior, even releasing his first live solo album, Live At The Roxy Theatre.
Beyond a strong set list that included lots of familiar hits and even a cover of The Bakenaked Ladies tribute song “Brian Wilson,” Live At The Roxy Theatre also featured some new material in “The First Time” and “This Isn’t Love,” a charming collaboration with Wilson’s Pet Sounds lyricist, Tony Asher.
Wilson’s next studio release, 2004’s Gettin’ In Over My Head, was a poppy, star-studded affair. Here you’ll find that album’s title track along with what is arguably Gettin’ In Over My Head’s finest and most moving song, “Soul Searchin’.” The track was built around a vocal recorded by Carl Wilson years earlier, allowing these two Wilson brothers to be reunited on one more magnificent song for the ages.
Ultimately, though, it was another 2004 album release that would mark a transcendent and long-delayed moment to remember in Brian Wilson’s illustrious creative life: Brian Wilson Presents Smile. This Grammy-winning release saw Wilson finally bringing to life the unfinished album that he had so famously failed to complete with The Beach Boys nearly 40 years earlier.
Bringing Smile back to life had started with a live reinterpretation of the album at the Royal Festival Hall in London on February 20, 2004, followed by other rapturously received live concert performances. And so it was that Wilson’s brave decision to revisit what was arguably his most painful failure became one of his greatest successes.
Inspired by that healing experience, Wilson and his amazing ten-piece touring band, as well as a ten-piece string section and an acoustic bassist, finally recorded and released a studio version of this long-lost masterpiece. Two of the many highlights of Brian Wilson Presents Smile are included here: “Surf’s Up” and “Heroes And Villains.”
Wilson’s positive creative energy from so successfully revisiting Smile could be felt on his next album, 2008’s conceptual That Lucky Old Sun. Included here is “Midnight’s Another Day,” not the sunniest song from the album, but one of the most haunting melodies on a collection full of lovely compositions.
Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, from 2010, was a memorable meeting of musical minds, with Brian bringing a fresh take to many of the Gershwins’ greatest contributions to the American Songbook, as well as completing two unfinished songs, including “The Like In I Love You.”
A year later, Wilson released In The Key Of Disney, which saw him recording his own distinctive arrangement of songs from Disney films. Featured here is Brian’s sensitive and moving take on Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s “Colors Of The Wind,” from Pocahontas.
Then in 2015, Wilson released No Pier Pressure, a strong album with a clear autobiographical streak and some notable collaborations. On this collection is the romantic and melodic “One Kind Of Love,” which was featured on the Music From Love & Mercy soundtrack album that same year.
Beyond all these assorted gems from over the past three decades, Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology also features two previously unreleased tracks: “Some Sweet Day,” which builds its own classic Wall of Sound, and “Run James Run,” a title some Brian scholars might recall was considered for the song “Pet Sounds,” with its slight James Bond theme song feel. This “Run James Run” was written and produced by Brian and Joe Thomas, and includes wonderful high background vocals from Matt Jardine, Al Jardine’s son and clearly a chip off the old block.
Taken as a whole, this song cycle stands as a welcome reminder that Brian Wilson’s true musical genius endures, offering us a new and altogether welcome reason to listen again and smile. In the end, Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology is testament to the fact that after all he’s come through and all he’s given us through his lifetime in music, Brian Wilson actually was made for these times.
Love & Mercy
Heroes & Villains
Let It Shine
Some Sweet Day
Lay Down Burden
The First Time
This Isn't Love
Gettin' In Over My Head
The Like In I Love You
Midnight’s Another Day
Colors Of The Wind
One Kind Of Love
Run James Run
Audio CD (September 22, 2017)
Label: Rhino/Warner Bros.