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4.4 out of 5 stars
23
Brian Wilson
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 17 September 2000
We have long waited for the master to reappear in in recorded form - given his still continuing feud with other Beach Boy members, that wrecked the best band in the world. With the assistance of his guru/psychiatrist, Dr Eugene E Landy(described by Brian on the sleeve notes as his 'life saver')Brian created an eleven-track walk through new material that has many echoes of what might have been. Much of the material is melancholy and introspective and you can hear the soul-searching and tormented genius at work - the words and music wrenched achingly from his mind. The album opens with a strong work alluding to Brian being in a cinema watching the deteriorating world. The hook 'the loneliness of this world it's just not fair' calling to mind the 'Caroline No!' yearning that Brian introduces into so many of his personal songs. The voice is not so pure now, but he still hits the high notes. All the lead and backing vocals are Brian's - harking back to the Pet Sounds tour de force. The highlights of the album: Melt Away - Brian saying he is a secret guy, but when he is with this girl he feels his heart 'unlocking'. Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long - A staccato track - again echoing 'Caroline No' with the 'where did your long hair go'questioning the changing status of relationships. Little Children - a simple, short song - interesting for naming Wendy and Carnie, his children, and how they acted as kids. Meet Me In My Dreams Tonight - another one of Brian's dream allegories - put to a rousing rhythm but this time it has the hopeful end 'there's a wonderland waiting for you and I'. One For The Boys - an a capella virtuoso performance from Brian. He does hit all the high notes here; just as if he had never been away. Finally - a magnum opus, reminiscent of what one imagines 'Smile' might have included, 'Rio Grande'. It's a long track in three parts and reminds me somewhat of Heroes & Villains crossed with say, California Saga on Holland. a sweeping track to a cowboy ryhthm. It has rain drops, a key-change; all the Brian 'tricks'of his grand works. The lyrics (not so hot), like many on the album, were penned by Andy Paley, who plays guitars, drums, keyboards throughout. In summary, a good, not great, album reminding us what might have been, if Brian had had more support after the breakdown in the sixties. Buy it and listen to the master studio craftsman at work.
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on 30 May 2017
This marks Brian's emergence as a solo recording artist and demonstrates he still has the talent that propelled him to fame and fortune in the 1960s.
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on 22 December 2017
lovely quality with extra tracks
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on 10 September 2017
Great album bought this when it was first released and lent it out and never got it back. Great to hear it again. Good value too.
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on 1 October 2003
The best thing Brian Wilson has turned out since "Sunflower" (1970). You hold your breath for the first few seconds but when the chorus of "Love and Mercy" kicks in you know you're in for a treat. The album is really Brian with helpers; most of the songs are co-written with others and/or co-produced as well. Needless to say, some combinations work better than others. One of the best is with Jeff Lynne (ELO, Travelling Wilburys) on "Let it shine", which combines the best elements of both men's song-writing and producing talents - curiously it's instantly recognisable as a Wilson song and a Lynne song. There are no dud tracks on this album although the eight minute opus "Rio Grande" may not be to everyone's taste as it is a little self-indulgent. The album has a strong 80s feel about in places where it is synthesiser heavy. Having said that, this album has a number of treats on it that make it worth buying - "Night Time", "Meet Me In My Dreams Tonight", "Love and Mercy", "Melt Away" would all grace any album, and the a capella fun of "One for the Boys" might just remind you of a certain Californian group! There are a good number of better Brian Wilson efforts that you ought to have before this (Pet Sounds, Friends, Today!, All Summer Long) but it is a good solid album and definitely worth the cash.
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on 9 November 2003
I am one of Brian's fans who considers him to be, not only a genius but a God. This album, the remaster, had a production cost of one million dollars. I guess $1,000,000.00 is about 500,000 pounds. Regardless, this album is worth all of it. "Love and Mercy" sounds great on the first listening as well as the eighty-seventh. On "Let It Shine" you can actually hear the brilliant melding of Brian and Jeff Lynne. I do believe that this version, the remaster is superior to the original release. Goodbye Dr. Landy.
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VINE VOICEon 12 July 2008
Having recently purchased and thoroughly loved the overdue re-issue of Dennis Wilson's "Pacific Ocean Blue" I felt compelled to revisit Brian Wilson ,s 1988 solo album . Released after a period with notorious therapist Eugene Landy who on the album's release was given several song co-writing credits( Removed after Landy,s ejection from Wilson's life in 1991 ) the album was critically lauded but didn't do that well on the sales front. Why the hell not I feel duty bound to ask ? For while this album doesn't have the depth and wracked majesty of Dennis's album ( not that comparisons are that valid) it has a lavish pop splendour of it's own. It has tunes that would make an extremely irate scorpion sheathe its sting.
From the first glistening notes of the fantastic "Love And Mercy" the listener is sucked into a billowing comfort blanket of melody , colourful chimes , stratospheric harmony and sheer musical indulgence. But no guilty pleasure this. Sumptuously co- produced by veteran producers Russ Titelman and Lenny Waronker ,along with Andy Paley ( who also co-writes three tracks) Brian Wilson is opulently embellished by flutes, saxophones, accordion , violin, flute , piccolo trumpet , banjo and more keyboard variants than you could shake a giant tambourine at.
The songs are just terrific. "Walkin The Line" co-written with Nick Laird-Clowes of tasteful English popsters The Dream Academy has a doo-wop edge while "Melt Away" is a gorgeous cascade of harmonies and Christmassy jangles and is described by Brian in the superb liner notes as a philosophical sing , along with "Love And Mercy". I just love "Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long" -described in the notes as s sequel to "Caroline No " it has a truly ecstatic melody and always , always make me feel better than I was before playing it, even if I felt great anyway. " Little Children " is a touch twee with some rather cringe worthy lyrics ( " If it's gets too floody they get in their boats") but is still a skipping joy of a song. The acappella "One For The Boys" leads into the twinkling ballad "There's So Many" before the swinging "Night Time"." Let It Shine" is written with Jeff Lynne and is yet another stunning stack of harmonies before a song about a dream lover set rather aptly to a dream effervescent melody. "Rio Grande" is the most ambitious track on the album and a concerted effort to ignite the same artistic fire that infused "Pet Sounds" and "Smile" .Clocking in at over eight minutes it's a rock opera that veers from twanging good old boy country , to woozy choral overload via warped pop/rock doo -wop . Its an extraordinary piece of music.
The extra tracks on this CD version constitute Brian Wilson talking about a track on the album "Love And Mercy" which is interesting but kind of ruins the flow .That would have been better left till the end of the album I feel. Plus there are other previously unavailable tracks as well as demo and instrumental versions of many album tracks. "He Couldn't Get His Poor Old Body To Move" written with Lindsey Buckingham was the b-side for "Love And Mercy" and is jolly though predictable romp , while another b-side "Being With The One You Love" is a comparatively stale pop song .However its better than Let's Go To Heaven In My Car" a dreadful song redolent of the eighties with horrendous guitar solo's and an overproduced glossy sound. "Too Much Sugar" is about healthy eating so is way ahead of it's time though it's ironically way too sugary for my palette. "Night Bloomin Jasmine" sounds like a song in transition which is what it was- as the hook was transfused into "Rio Grande".
Brian Wilson stands alone as a great solo album -the extras are nice as curio's but have little intrinsic value unless you are a real Wilson completist. I'm more interested in hearing great music who ever it's by. This just happens to a true musical legend at the top of his game after many years in the wilderness. Fair to say it,s an unmitigated triumph all around...unless your name is Eugene Landy .
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on 17 February 2009
This is a brilliant album, full of joyful harmonies and fantastic melodies. In my opinion it is right up there with anything he ever achieved with the Beach Boys and that`s saying something. Anyone with an ear for a good tune should get this, it is just amazing. In my opinion Brian Wilson is the joint greatest American composer, alongside the late, great Harry Nilsson. I can`t wait to get his latest album and if it is anywhere near as good as THIS then it will be something.
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on 1 September 2015
Bought this when first released and still as good now as it was then, Of course the stand out song is love and mercy and with the film just being released on DVD hopefully it will bring a whole new generation to see the genius of Brian
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 16 July 2015
I was surprised to find here only a dozen or so reviews of this sublime recording, particularly since it came out as long ago as 1988. This is a remastered deluxe reissue, and it's great to have it. It's as good as any Beach Boys album.
The song Love and Mercy blazes out of the speakers like a sunburst, BW's voice like he's raring to go. What a perfect way to begin.
I could go through every track, but I'd rather pick out highlights from an album with not a single dud track (though one or two are perhaps a touch less inspired than the others).
When I first had this on LP I was besotted and beguiled by Melt Away which, according to the notes in the superb booklet, seems to be Brian's favourite track too. It has a melody to die for, and encompasses in about three minutes what he's been striving for all his life. I'd rather hear this one perfect song than the overrated, overplayed Good Vibrations any day.
Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long is great fun, one of a few that have more than a hint of a Spector 'wall-of-sound' production.
One For the Boys is an a capella peon to his old band, all swirling ecstatic harmonies - BW takes care of almost all the many vocal parts on all songs.
The last five songs are, in their different ways, wonderful: the slower, ruminative, blissful, and utterly lovely There's So Many, the exultant, uncomplicated Night Time, and the glorious Let It Shine glowing with an inner musical light that is impossible, indeed futile, to resist.
Oddly enough, the eight-minute extravaganza that is Rio Grande which closes this stunning set of songs is probably my least favourite track (which might partly explain why I always preferred the Beach Boys of Do It Again and California Girls to the BB of Good Vibrations and Heroes & Villains, good as they are).
The fourteen extra tracks consist of everything from an interview with BW to unheard songs and alternate takes. It's the original record - in superb resonant sound, I'm happy to say - that matters, but there are wonders here too.
Brian Wilson is one of pop's purveyors of and dealers in bliss, and there's plenty of it here. It could almost, after all his personal problems back then, have been called Free at Last! He certainly sounds freed. He sounds awed by the beauty of life too, in love with love...and mercy.

Let it shine
Oh let it shine...
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