Thursday, September 04, 2008

B.W. Spins Tunes: That Lucky Old Sun

Brian Wilson's music is a bit like the great Bert Lahr Lay's potato chip commercials — you can't listen just once.

I put on That Lucky Old Sun a few days ago (it came out Tuesday but the local paper streamed it starting Aug. 22), and my first reaction was "OK, that's nice. It's not Smile, but it's OK."

Funny thing, though. I can't get the tunes out of my head. I'll walk away from the computer (which always has music playing when I'm here) or get out of the car, but the songs will keep playing. "FOR-ever - YOU'LL be my SURFER GIRL" ... "They HAVE the GOOD KIND OF LOVE" ... "I'm goin' HOME - HOME" ...

Brian Wilson's band is as good as Springsteen's E Street Band in terms of bringing the master's music to life. Of course they're not The Beach Boys — may the gods of rock forgive me — they're better. This album shows they're more than just a great Beach Boys cover band, as they tackle Wilson's best new music since 1998's Imagination album. Scott Bennett, one of the band's multitalented forces, contributed the lyrics.

The Rolling Stone review says That Lucky Old Sun "evokes the healing feeling of the Beach Boys' great Smile-recovery LPs, 1967's Wild Honey and 1968's Friends." Yeah, that's probably right. It's as if, three years after Wilson exorcised the Smile demons and finally finished that brilliant project, he picked up where he left off, only more relaxed and nostalgic. As you might suspect with a song called "Forever You'll Be My Surfer Girl" in the mix, he does a lot of looking back, both musically and lyrically, but it has a new and fresh sound.

Two thumbs up, four out of five stars, 7.9 out of 10, by whatever scale you want to use, this is a worthy addition to the Brian Wilson canon.

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