Brian Wilson’s Route 66

Brian Wilson is 66 today.

Here’s a link to the Coverville tribute to Pet Sounds.

A link to a guy who has put a bunch of a cappella takes of the Beach Boys’ versions of the songs from Pet Sounds on YouTube.

My second favorite song from Pet Sounds:

Brian from SMiLE:

Brian from a 1967 performance of a song from what would have been SMiLE:

A Neil Young song that namechecks the Beach Boys and a song from Pet Sounds. The studio version (which I can’t find) is even more evocative.

A John Hiatt song which has what I think are lovely harmonies – inspired by the Beach Boys?

***
And on another matter, the New York Daily News cover from Wednesday, June 18:


ROG

The Kennedy Center Honors, Part 2

More on the Kennedy Center Honors that took place on December 2 and is airing on CBS on Wednesday, December 26 at 9 pm EST.

I was afraid the Kennedy Center might treat Brian Wilson as some has-been of the 1960s, but it appears not to be so, as they cite his more recent works as well as his classic Beach Boys songs.

It’s odd that I never owned a Beach Boys album until Pet Sounds, which is my favorite . But once I got into the group, I did so in as major way. I’ve probably repurchased more Beach Boys music (vinyl to CD) than any group save for the Beatles. I now own, in one form or another:
Beach Boys Concert (32:03) (r. 19th October 1964)
Christmas Album (27:32) (r. November 1964)
Pet Sounds (35:39) (r. 16th May 1966)
Smiley Smile (27:00) (r. 5th September 1967)
Wild Honey (23:55) (r. 4th December 1967)
Friends (24:57) (c. 6th July 1968)
20/20 (29:33) (c. 1st March 1969)
Sunflower (36:10) (r. 31st August 1970)
Surf’s Up (32:59) (r. August 1971) – my second-favorite album
Carl and The Passions – So Tough (33:47) (r. 14th May 1972)
Holland (35:49+11:57=47:46) (r. 8th January 1973) this I have on vinyl with the story on a separate disc.
15 Big Ones (37:51) (r. June 1976)
Love You (33:40) (r. March 1977)
This doesn’t count a number of compilations, from a pair of double LPs in the early 1970s to the box set in the 1990s. The fifth CD in the box set has a 9-minute, “in process” version of “God Only Knows”, the last three minutes of which begs to be released as a single. The box set was actually a present to a friend, which I got back after she died.

Of Brian’s solo discography, I have:
Brian Wilson, 1988
Imagination, 1998
Gettin’ In Over My Head, 2004
SMiLE, 2004
What I Really Want For Christmas, 2005

The final artist to be honored is Diana Ross, or as the announcer puts it on a box set called The Motown Story, “Miss Diana Ross.”

There were LOTS of Supremes albums at my house when I grew up. Of this list, we had all of them in the 1962-1967 section except the Christmas album. When the group became Diana Ross and the Supremes, I still got a number of the albums; from that section, all except Funny Girl, Cream of the Crop, Greatest Hits 3 and Farewell.

But after her first two solo albums, I was disinclined to buy any more. I think, like many of the Motown artists, I resented how Berry Gordy pushed her to the fore. According to the December 5 Wall Street Journal, the main character in the new movie Juno wants people to know that her name came not from the capital of Alaska but from Zeus’s wife. (“She was supposed to be really beautiful but really mean, like Diana Ross.”)

Not that I was unaware of Miss Ross. Her version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough was the backdrop to some Black History Month assembly in 1971. Certainly I heard the hits such as Love Hangover and Upside Down. I heard Endless Love endlessly. I still have a visual of her singing in a thunder storm in Central Park.

But the bulk of her solo work eluded me. So, while I was (allegedly) doing Christmas shopping for others a couple weeks ago, I was compelled to buy The Definitive Collection Somehow, I managed to miss the anthemic “I’m Coming Out” and a number of other songs. As it’s likely my only DR on CD, matching my Supremes CD greatest hits compilation as the lone digital representation in my collection, I’m actually glad to have it.

ROG

The Rules: Part 3 (of 37): Playing Music

As you may know if you know me, or if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I am a compulsive about some things such as filing my recorded music. I’ve likely mentioned that I’m also obsessive about playing music I own. I figure that if I own it, I should play it. If I don’t play it, I should probably get rid of it.

To that end, I play music on a musician’s or classical composer’s birthday week. This week, in honor of their birthdays today, it’s Frank Sinatra and Dionne Warwick. This birthday thing also applies to compilers of compilations, so the guy with the Omnibus coming out is heard in January, while the Eddie-torial pledge dude gets played in November.

There used to be a time when I’d play a given artist two or three times during the course of a year, but with an increasing number of recordings, I’ve had to figure out how to parse some groups.

Simon & Garfunkel I play in November, Art’s birthday; I also play my one Garfunkel album. Simon solo I play in October.
I have so many Rolling Stones albums that I play the store-bought ones in July, Mick Jagger’s birthday, and the ones I’ve burned in December, Keith Richards’ birthday.
Led Zeppelin gets played in January, Jimmy Page’s birthday; solo Robert Plant in August.
I play Crosby and CPR in August, Stills in January and Young in November. CSN(&Y) I play in February, Nash’s birthday, since I have no Nash on CD.
The Police get played in July, Stuart Copeland’s birthday, while Sting gets played in October. (Why not Andy Sumner as the Police trigger? Because his birthday came later in the year, in December.)
Don Henley in July; the Eagles in November, Glenn Frey’s birthday.
With so many Beach Boys albums, most of them I play in June, Brian Wilson’s birthday, along with solo Brian Douglas Wilson. However, the box set and the greatest hits I play in December, the birthdays of Dennis Carl Wilson and Carl Dean Wilson. (I didn’t know until yesterday that Dennis’ middle name was Carl; how odd.)
The Beatles are the most convoluted. Solo artists in their respective months, of course. In October, for John, I play the canon, the British albums as they were originally produced, since he was the leader of the group; also the Past Masters, which represent, mostly, the singles. February I play the American albums, since George was the first Beatle to come to the U.S., visiting his sister Louise. June, Paul’s month, gets the other items: the Anthologies, the BBC, the remixes of Yellow Sub and Let It Be, and LOVE. As for July, Ringo gets all the many Beatle cover albums.

Speaking of which, I’m in the midst of moving my tribute albums from their own section to the end of the run of the given artist; there are now so many that I forget.

As for the rest of my music: February gets compilation love albums, compilation soul albums (except Motown, played in November for Berry Gordy’s birthday) and, if the Oscars are in February, soundtracks, which usually takes a couple months in any case. As for the rest of the albums, other compilations, artists with birthdays I don’t know, I play whenever I want. Well, except the Chieftains and Clannad, which I listen to in March, and Christmas albums, which I play between December 1 and Epiphany. Oh, and Halloween albums for guess when?

The requirement to play, say John Lennon in October, doesn’t preclude me from playing it again in March just because I feel like it.
ROG

Underplayed Vinyl: Beach Boys


My first Beach Boys album was Pet Sounds, followed by some of those other late 1960s/early 1970s albums, such as Smiley Smile, Surf’s Up and Holland, plus the pairing of Wild Honey and 20/20. I never owned any of those early beach/surf/cars tunes until I bought those wildly successful double LP compilations, Endless Summer and Spirit of America.

So, when 15 Big Ones came out, complete with the “Brian is back!” mantra, it didn’t have the same meaning to me as it might have for a more faithful BB fan.

1. “Rock And Roll Music” (Chuck Berry) – 2:29
2. “It’s OK” (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:12
3. “Had To Phone Ya” (Brian Wilson/Mike Love/Diane Rovell) – 1:43
4. “Chapel Of Love” (Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich/Phil Spector) – 2:34
5. “Everyone’s In Love With You” (Mike Love) – 2:42
6. “Talk To Me” (J. Seneca) – 2:14
7. “That Same Song” (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:16
8. “TM Song” (Brian Wilson) – 1:34
9. “Palisades Park” (C. Barris) – 2:27
10. “Susie Cincinnati” (Al Jardine) – 2:57
11. “A Casual Look” (E. Wells) – 2:45
12. “Blueberry Hill” (A. Lewis/L. Stock/V. Rose) – 3:01
13. “Back Home” (Brian Wilson/Bob Norberg) – 2:49
14. “In The Still Of The Night” (F. Parris) – 3:03
15. “Just Once In My Life” (Gerry Goffin/Carole King/Phil Spector) – 3:47

The album begins with the Chuck Berry song. Most critics hate this rendition, even though it went to #5 in the charts. I thought it was OK. More than OK, though was “It’s OK”, which to my ears, was vintage Beach Boys. “Had to Phone Ya” was charming. “That Same Song” I loved, as well as “Back Home”, which apparently Brian had around for over a decade. “Susie Cincinnati”, which had been cut from the Sunflower album, I learned from that album’s CD liner notes, was a fun little song. “Talk to Me” was a strange little tune, with weak vocals, but I sorta liked it anyway.

The rest is rather hit or miss. The remaining covers seldom distinguish themselves from the originals, or are far lesser versions, though I appreciated “Palisades Park” for the near slavish imitation it was.

Yet, as I recall, I played the album. Played it a lot, actually. It had enough songs that I liked that I largely ignored the ones I didn’t. I barely remembered the uninspired, but short, “TM Song”, e.g. And it wasn’t that I hated the rest; it was more that it wasn’t as good as it might have been.

15 Big Ones is now available on CD, paired with Love You, the follow-up Beach Boys album, that received far better reviews, at least that I’ve read. I own it, but don’t remember it nearly that well. 15 Big Ones sold better, fueled by that Top 10 single, getting to #8 and going gold, while Love You peaked at #53.

Guess I know what Underplayed Vinyl will be next year. Brian Wilson turns 65 today; who woulda thunk it?
ROG

Summer of Love

It’s not even summer yet and I’ve already begun to tire of mention of the term “Summer of Love”. The early adopters of the counterculture movement seemed to have decided that the folks that invaded Haight-Asbury, in the words of the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir on CBS News, “just didn’t get it.”

But I’ll admit that there’s one thing that largely endured: the music. Here’s a list of all the bands that played at the Monterey Pop Festival, which opened four decades ago tomorrow, withe the approximate number of LPs of theirs I own, suggesting their impact on me then; and the number of CDs I own of theirs I own, suggesting their impact on me more recently.

Friday, June 16
* The Association – 1 greatest hits LP. Hey, they tried to be “relevant” on the smothers Brothers Show when the sang Requiem for the Masses.
* The Paupers – nope
* Lou Rawls – 1 CD
* Beverly – who?
* Johnny Rivers – 1 greatest hits CD
* The Animals – at least one LP that includes the song “Monterey”, 1 greatest hits CD
* Simon and Garfunkel – at least six LPs, plus at least four solo Simon LPs, and one Garfunkel LP. S&G box set, Paul Simon box set, plus other CDs of each
Saturday, June 17
* Canned Heat – maybe one LP
* Big Brother & The Holding Company -one LP, plus three other Janis Joplin LPs and three Janis CDs
* Country Joe and The Fish – one LP, plus their appearance on the Woodstock LP
* Al Kooper – the Super Sessions with Mike Bloomfield and Steve Stills LP; the first Blood, Sweat and Tears LP
* The Butterfield Blues Band – one LP, one CD
* Quicksilver Messenger Service – one LP
* Steve Miller Band – two CDs
* The Electric Flag – one LP
* Moby Grape – one LP
* Hugh Masekela – alas, none
* The Byrds – one LP, two CDs
* Laura Nyro -two LPs
* Jefferson Airplane – at least six LPs, a two-disc greatest hits CD
* Booker T and The MG’s – no, though well-represented in the two Stax-Volt CD box sets I have
* Otis Redding – ditto
Sunday, June 18
* Ravi Shankar – one LP; I also have CDs of two of his daughters
* The Blues Project -one LP
* Big Brother & The Holding Company – see above
* The Group With No Name – don’t know
* Buffalo Springfield – 1 LP, 1 greatest hits CDs, plus four CSN(Y) LPs, two CSNY CDs, two solo Stills CDs (once owned on LP but lost or stolen), eight Neil Young LPs, at least seven Neil Young CDs
* The Who – seven LPs, three CDs, four Pete Townshend LPs, three Townshend CDs
* Grateful Dead – four LPs, one greatest hits CD
* The Jimi Hendrix Experience – four LPs, three CDs
* Scott McKenzie – nope
* The Mamas & The Papas – five LPs, a three-disc greatest hits CD

Meanwhile, Brian Wilson is playing Monterey this month, 40 years after the Beach Boys declined for a variety of reasons. I have a LOT of Brian Wilson (at least 4 CD), and Beach Boys albums (a boatload of LPs and CDs, some duplicative).
ROG