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Brian Wilson SOLO album reviews
What can I possibly say about Brian Douglas Wilson that hasn't been said before? This man is one of the most incredible musicians of the 20th century...in fact I'm not sure who I'd place as his peers in this respect. Rachmaninov? Leonard Bernstein, certainly! Lennon and McCartney - probably...you get the idea!
Brian grew up in Hawthorne, a suburb of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s. His father, Murry, was a frustrated musician having had a small amount of air-play for one of his songs but he was determined to live out his ambitions through his eldest son...no matter what it took! He taught Brian to sing from a young age, taking time out, of course, to belt him round the head with a piece of 4x2 while just an infant. While some sources say this caused Brian's deafness it is much more likely to be a neural birth defect in truth.
The family sang round the piano: Murry, mother Audree, Brian and youngest brother Carl creating basic 4 part harmony (middle brother Dennis was rarely present, partly because Murry didn't invite him, thinking him an musically illiterate 'goofball' but mainly because he would rather be out surfing or with girls - Dennis was the TRUE Beach Boy!) But basic 4 part harmony was not enough for Brian! He explored richer tapestries of harmony through vocal groups like 'The 4 Freshmen', learning their chord patterns and arrangements by heart. However, if he tried adding his newly-beloved sixths and major-sevenths in Murry's sing-alongs he soon felt his father's wrath and fist!
Brian and Carl, along with cousin Mike Love and school-friend Al Jardine wanted to start their own group. Audree insisted Brian invite Dennis too but he was reluctant at first, influenced unfairly as he was by his father's condemnation of his sibling. However, the five did get together and The Beach Boys were born.
The Beach Boys spawned a series of hit records from 1963 to 1967, early hits being about surfing, cars and girls - many of these are so firmly entrenched in public memory that their choruses and hooks can be sung by massive percentages of the populace - ofetn without those people knowing they are singing Beach Boys songs! 'Fun, Fun, Fun', 'Surfing USA', 'Don't Worry Baby', 'California Girls' and 'Help Me Rhonda' are typical examples of the hit machine that the BB became in a Beatles-dominated era. The band toured the world, playing the hits and living the 'life' - but Brian was not happy.
On a flight out to yet another tour just before Christmas 1964 Brian had a nervous breakdown and returned home immediately. He was replaced for live shows by session musicians, much to cousin Mike Love's perpetual annoyance, while Brian stayed in LA recording the instrumental tracks for new Beach Boys songs with Phil Spector's famous band of musicians, The Wrecking Crew. The rest of the group returned from tours, sang their vocal lines on the recordings and new Beach Boys albums hit the turntables! And then came Pet Sounds.
Brian Wilson at VH1.com