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4.2 out of 5 stars42
4.2 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 23 August 2008
Brian Wilson's solo career has been a fairly mixed affair with the triumphant return of Smile or the likes of Rio Grande mixed in with some poor (by his standards) album tracks.

Lucky Old Sun, however, is a great return to form for pop music's greatest composer. First performed at the Royal Festival Hall, the album version is solid from start to finish from the instant classic of "Midnight's another day" to the Beach Boys-like "Morning Beat". The spoken narratives (written by Van Dyke Parks) don't detract from the music and instead complement Brian and Scott Bennetts creation.

This is probably more accessible than "Smile" was as it's a much more coherent piece where Smile was such a leap that nobody has done anything like it since.

Brian's & Beach Boys fans will love this album and it deserves a listen or two from everybody else to.
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on 3 September 2008
The unimaginable has happened, and Brian Wilson has created a new masterpiece, with his latest album (a heartfelt tribute to the mythic Los Angeles of his youth). "That Lucky Old Sun" is a worthy successor to both "Pet Sounds" and "Smile", and contains the familiar layered harmonies and glorious melodies of Brian's previous greatest works, plus some as the same quirkiness as "Smile". Those unfamiliar with Brian's recent work, may need a couple of plays to adjust to the current sound of his voice, and the brief narrative sections that were written by "Smile" co-creator Van Dyke Parks. However, everything flows together well, and the album is Brian's most accessible and tuneful creation since the beginning of his solo career. The resulting effect is extremely uplifting. Much of the success of the album is due to Brian's supremely talented backing band - most especially lyricist Scott Bennett (who also helped with the production). As far as the songs go, there is not one weak link, and a wide variety of musical styles are incorporated. Personal favourites include "Forever She'll Be My Surfer Girl" and "Good Kind of Love" on which blonde vocalist Taylor Mills particularly shines (in 2007 Taylor released a fine solo album of her own, titled "Lullagoodbye"). A real highpoint of "That Lucky Old Sun" is the stunning "Midnight's Another Day" - a powerful and moving ballad, which many consider to be Brian's greatest song since "Surf's Up". The album concludes with the sublime harmonies of another true gem in "Southern California". "That Lucky Old Sun" is an album to purchase and treasure, and one to listen to regularly in its entirety.
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on 3 September 2008
The unimaginable has happened, and Brian Wilson has created a new masterpiece, with his latest album (a heartfelt tribute to the mythic Los Angeles of his youth). "That Lucky Old Sun" is a worthy successor to both "Pet Sounds" and "Smile", and contains the familiar layered harmonies and glorious melodies of Brian's previous greatest works, plus some of the same quirkiness as "Smile". Those unfamiliar with Brian's recent work may need a couple of plays to adjust to his current sound, and the brief narrative sections that were written by "Smile" co-creator Van Dyke Parks. However, everything flows together well, and the album is Brian's most accessible and tuneful creation since the beginning of his solo career. The resulting effect is extremely uplifting. Much of the success of the album is due to Brian's supremely-talented backing band - most especially lyricist Scott Bennett (who also helped with the production). As far as the songs go, there is not one weak link, and a wide variety of musical styles are incorporated. Personal favourites include "Forever She'll Be My Surfer Girl" and "Good Kind of Love" on which blonde vocalist Taylor Mills particularly shines (in 2007 Taylor released a fine solo album of her own, titled "Lullagoodbye"). A real highpoint of "That Lucky Old Sun" is the stunning "Midnight's Another Day"- a powerful and moving ballad, which many consider to be Brian's greatest song since "Surf's Up". The album concludes with the sublime harmonies of another true gem in "Southern California". "That Lucky Old Sun" is an album to purchase and treasure, and one to listen to regularly in its entirety. The accompanying DVD includes interviews with Brian and all of the long-term male members of his highly likeable band. It also contains live performances of two of the album tracks, "Good Kind of Love" and "Forever She'll Be My Surfer Girl".
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on 25 February 2009
Brian Wilson followed his 2004 album Gettin' In Over My Head with the 2008 disc That Lucky Old Sun. The album was a collaboration with lyricist Van Dyke Parks, who he had worked with on the legendary aborted Beach Boys project Smile. Both artists are on fine form throughout this album, with Brian performing some terrific melodies, and Parks turning in some great lyrics, with typical dimensionality ("First love is the moment/You can never repeat, but you'll always own it"). Brian's band, The Wondermints, help out on harmonies, creating something akin to a Beach Boys album - and creatively, this is maybe circa 1970.

Nostalgia features heavily on this disc, and although it doesn't suffocate it, the past is definitely the central concept here, with songs like "Morning Beat", "California Role" and others providing not so much an accurate portrait of the past, but a distorted view of the fabled American Dream. This is most certainly Brian in his comfort zone - and that doesn't matter, as it also provides comfort of the familiar variety to the listener too.

Although his voice isn't as strong as it once one - health problems have, after all, been a consistent feature in Brian's life - this is most certainly the same guy who gave us so many classics: pivotal musical moments immortalised both on dusty vinyl and shiny disc. That Lucky Old Sun does, says Brian, consist of "five rounds", interspersed with occasional narrative passages. There are no gaps in between songs, and as such, the album stands unavoidably as a body of work, although songs like the jubilant "Good Kind of Love" and "Forever My Surfer Girl" can be placed on their own as marvelous pieces of highly orchestrated, big production pop.

Often, the disc sounds like a Beach Boys record, and those Wondermint harmonies are so precise, it's hard not to believe that Carl and Dennis aren't on backing (and on "Can't Wait Too Long", you'll be swearing they are). References to his late brothers abound, even if the nods are mostly celestial ("I had a dream/Singing with my brothers/In harmony/Supporting each other").

In the final analysis, That Lucky Old Sun is, at the very least, a good, solid fifth album (that's including the Smile revival), chock full of fabulous songs ("Mexican Girl, "Going Home" to name two of many) and even if it proves to be his final work - which is always likely, as Imagination looked that way for six years - then it will be a most satisfying curtain call indeed.
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It might be an exaggeration to describe Brian Wilson as the greatest composer of the American rock era but his immense influence on the popular music of the era is undeniable. With the Beach Boys, and on his solo albums, his genius for baroque melodies, exquisite harmonies and breathtaking arrangements is unparalleled and his art has not diminished.

Themed around Frankie Laine's 1949 hit That Lucky Old Sun is a day in the life of Brian under the Californian sun. With a nod to his troubled past "At 25 I turned out the lights/Cause I couldn't handle the glare in my eyes" he also evokes the classic Beach Boys era, "Summer 61/A goddess became my sun/I fell in her ocean eyes/As endless as the skies/Forever she'll be my surfer girl."

Brian's voice, at 68 years old, is now achingly expressive and with his trademark harmonies and That Lucky Old Band packed with baritone sax, clarinet, flute, French horn, trumpet etc his flair for the dramatic is as powerful as ever.

There is a feel good factor about this album and, with his thanks to his loving wife Melinda, perhaps Brian Wilson, genius and legend, has laid the ghost of his troubled past to rest.
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on 5 September 2008
I'll keep it short and sweet - forget Smile (which is pretty cool) because this is your genuine bonafide genius at work epic that frankly knock spots of what Brian has done solo before. Over the top? Listen and judge for yourself. This album is as much about "Brian Wilson" and his life as it is about LA and California. It is also probably one of the purest, most innocent, emotional and loving albums you're ever likely to hear. Some of the lyrics are frankly, heart wrenchingly poignant and beautiful. The production and musicianship is top drawer and the Van Dyke Parks narrative, IMO works, it wasn't out of place at all - it was a part of the "whole" and totally natural. Creatively though, it is simply awesome and thoroughly deserving of all the plaudits being heaped upon it. I can't praise this album enough - listening to it today was an experience, and one I shall be repeating a lot! Oh and by the way, there are also several out and out Brian Wilson classics contained on an album that doesn't have a moment that is anything less than stunning.
Absolutely Brilliant!!
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VINE VOICEon 29 September 2008
I've found Brian's solo work a little "mixed" but this, possibly his most autobiographical work to date, is just fabulous. It takes as its theme the California that produced the fabulous Beachboys sound, and the image of surf and sun. It travels through a travelogue of L.A. an "apology" from Brian for the lost years, a moving statement on depression and its ultimate futility, a fond memory of his "Surfer Girl" and a moving tribute in "Southern California" to his brothers, Carl and Dennis. all backed by the beautiful harmonies of that band. Beautiful. You just wish, occassionally that Carl's voice could reinforce Brian's or even that the now notorious Mike Love, could have a nasal part to play. Beautiful!
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on 3 April 2009
If you like Brian Wilson or the Beach Boys you will love this and probably know what to expect. Gorgeous harmonies, catchy melodies, sonorous soundscapes, this album has the lot. The partnerships here BW has are better than on his previous solo albums (as a rule of thumb) and the album has a feeling of consistency that some of his previous solo work has lacked. Simply put, Brian Wilson is on an upward curve the likes of which we haven't seen from him since the mid 60s. I cannot wait for whatever he comes up with next. The clouds that blighted his life have been banished and That Lucky Old Sun is the warm, shining proof. Buy it, listen to it and fall in love with it.
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VINE VOICEon 23 August 2008
Brian Wilson's solo career has been a fairly mixed affair with the triumphant return of Smile or the likes of Rio Grande mixed in with some poor (by his standards) album tracks.

Lucky Old Sun, however, is a great return to form for pop music's greatest composer. First performed at the Royal Festival Hall, the album version is solid from start to finish from the instant classic of "Midnight's another day" to the Beach Boys-like "Morning Beat". The spoken narratives (written by Van Dyke Parks) don't detract from the music and instead complement Brian and Scott Bennetts creation.

This is probably more accessible than "Smile" was as it's a much more coherent piece where Smile was such a leap that nobody has done anything like it since.

Brian's & Beach Boys fans will love this album and it deserves a listen or two from everybody else to.
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on 24 January 2016
If Smile finally cleared out Wilson's closet, That Lucky Old Sun neatly closes the circle he began drawing in 1961 with the single "Surfin'", returning him to an idealized Southern California after Smile brought him across the country and through its history. Musically and lyrically, That Lucky Old Sun is as cohesive as its predecessor, though more modest in scale and ambition. Wilson and co-writers Scott Bennett and Van Dyke Parks have created an amazing portrait of L.A. and Wilson's place within it, blending nostalgia with hope for the future and honest biographical detail. The title track is an appropriately chosen oldie, written in 1949 by Beasley Smith and Haven Gillespie with lyrics that contrast the toil of life with the easy indifference of nature to our travails. In the past, it's been a hit for Frankie Laine, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra, but here, Wilson uses it as a musical thread to tie his album together, reprising it three times after opening the album with it.
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