Brian Wilson - That Lucky Old Sun
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  • The album is good but not a standout from a melodic standpoint, and there is comparatively little experimentation compared to SMilE

    • by Jack Stardust

      Brian Wilson’s Grammy Award winning album “SMiLE” set the bar quite high for the aging Beach Boy. Doubtless, Wilson is past his prime, is somewhat obsolete, and indeed, sometimes sounds quite tired on “SMiLE”’s follow-up album “That Lucky Old Sun”.

      “That Lucky Old Sun” takes its title from the titular track, which was written in the late forties, and which Wilson covers in multiple variations on the album, whose recurring motif is pervasive throughout many of the other tracks. This stylistic move takes its cue from “SMiLE”, wherein “Heroes and Villains” was the recurring piece. While this lends the album

      a sense of unity, the album clocks in at just under 40 minutes, and the value of this repetition is diminished by “‘Sun”’s short length.

      In many ways, this is a spiritual sequel to “SMiLE”. Whereas “SMiLE” was a concept album about the United States, this one is about Southern California. While that teenage Beach Boys aura is unmistakeable, there is also a sense of nostalgia that reeks of middle age on the parts of both Wilson and steadfast collaborator Van Dyke Parks. “Forever She’ll Be My Surfer Girl” apes Beach Boys balladry sonically and lyrically.

      The album is pervaded by ...

      • Wilson’s occasionally heartbreaking regrets. “Nodded off in the band room, woke up in history.” sings Wilson on the album’s closer “Southern California”. Indeed, anyone with biographical knowledge of wilson should note that this is Wilson’s most personal album, referencing mental illness on many tracks.

        Of further note are the poems set between the songs on this album. Coming from Wilson, they don’t feel quite right. But as far as the writing goes, they are above-average, but this should be no surprise to people familiar with Van Dyke Parks work. Chock-full of alliteration, and clever So Cal metaphors, these songlets work

        wonders in transitioning between the fleshier songs.

        Now for my personal response: As a casual fan of The Beach Boys and Wilson, I can tell you that I would rate the album as lesser than the classic Beach Boys (”Pet Sounds” era) and the baroque and immaculate “SMiLE” (Wilson’s opus) but greater than Wilson’s work without Parks, and later Beach Boys (like “Love You). The album is good but not a standout from a melodic standpoint, and there is comparatively little experimentation compared to “SMilE”. Fans of the Beach Boys, Parks, and Wilson have seen this before, but this is quality material.

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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in March, 2009. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 141703632320431/k2311a0317/3.17.09
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