So. I'm sitting here listening to a free audio stream of Brian Wilson's Smile album, which is due for release on 9/28/04. Thanks go out to Ryan Cormier, of the News Journal, for the link idea. It's pretty clear that I'll be snapping this record up as soon as it gets to the stores.
There was a report on the (re)making of this record this afternoon on NPR. I remember Wilson's work with the Beach Boys of my childhood, in the 60s and 70s. I never, at that time, had a clue as to what was happening in the background. Brian Wilson is a fascinating figure.
If you have missed the Brian Wilson story, the Cliff Notes version is that Wilson, the musical force behind the Beach Boys, came to feel trapped making poppy surf-music for a very commercial franchise-band. He'd started breaking out of the mold and managed to record some gems (Good Vibrations) and had made real progress on Smile. The record company and his band-mates didn't dig it and it was shelved. Wilson shortly there-after slide into a breakdown and was out of commission for quite a while. Over the last almost 40 years, the Smile album has become a legend; the lost album that promised so much.
I remember when Brian Wilson started to come back into focus. In 1994, Wilson and his Daughter Carnie were featured on Rob Wasserman's Trios album on a haunting track (that I think Wilson wrote) called "Fantasy Is Reality/Bells Of Madness." Remember, at this point he was just starting to reappear after a long struggle out of serious mental illness.
Since then, Brian Wilson has been rising back to a spot fairly high on the scale of serious pop music. He's gained the respect of a new generation of music lovers who heard his early work as "oldies" or "classic rock." Now we know how much more he can do.
A while back, he presented a concert version of Pet Sounds, the album that gave us Wouldn't It Be Nice and Sloop John B. Earlier this year he did the same with Smile and soon it'll be in the stores!