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REVIEWS
CONCERTS, ALBUMS,BOOKS ETC.
Brian Wilson - Philadelphia July 14 Mann Center
One Mans Review
The Brian Wilson Suite is a good concept, but judging by the indifference of a
large part of the crowd, is either in the wrong spot of the show and much too
long, or is totally unnecessary. I tried to listen and had fun identifying
each new song as they played it, but it was difficult to enjoy as much of the
crowd was talking during it. About midway through , it started to sound more
and more like movie background music. I don't think the arrangements were
creative at all and don't know if that had anything to do with the non
reaction of the crowd. I think maybe if it were placed in the Pet Sounds set,
at the beginning as an intro to Pet Sounds and were shorter, it might be
better accepted.

The second set that featured only Brian and the Band delivered the goods. This
was as close to a Brianista set as one could expect.BNL Brian Wilson leading
into songs like Till I Die was a great and much different approach to opening
a concert as opposed to the usual start off with a bang approach of many
shows. This set was almost like being in heaven, very surreal. Songs you would
never think you would hear in concert, certainly not in a Beach Boys show came
pouring from the stage one after another, a hard core fans dream.Til I Die,In
My Room ,Kiss Me, Baby,The First Time
Lay Down Burden,Add Some Music,Please Let Me Wonder.

Please Let Me Wonder was wonderful to hear.The twelve string guitar just
sounded so clean. My favorite spot was during the instrumental break where the
vibes and the 12 string guitar have a "dual". It came off great.

The set ended with a few of the more well known Beach Boys songs, songs like
Don't Worry Baby,Darlin,Do It Again and Help Me Rhonda. All done well.

After the intermission Brian , the band and the orchestra returned and
performed Pet Sounds in its entirety. It was captivating to hear the sounds I
heard. Some of it sounded as if I was listening to the record, it was
performed so well. Brian surprised me, delivering the goods on the vocals,
many of which I had some doubts as to whether he could do them justice.Songs
that are difficult to sing, he sang well. You Still Believe In Me, Don't Talk,
I Just Wasn't Made For These Times all sounded fantastic. Some have mentioned
that the orchestra was useless, not able to be heard, but I tend to feel the
opposite. During the Pet Sounds section, I felt the orchestra was heard where
it was needed to be heard and was deliberately made to be as unobtrusive as
possible. On songs where the orchestral parts needed to be dominant, they
were. Otherwise, the orchestra was there to supplement the music, not dominate
it. The best part of it all was hearing songs like That's Not Me, IJWMFTT, I
Know There's An Answer live!

The night ended with some more hits that had the crowd singing and dancing
capped off with a piano and vocal only version of Love and Mercy.

It was a great show, one I am glad I got to see.If there is anyone who can see
it and has not decided whether to go or not, or who came away from last years
shows disenchanted, let me say do yourself a favor and go! Brian is 100 times
better than he was on last years tour. He sings better, and is much more
animated this time around. Seeing this concert has convinced me that there is
little if any enhancing of the vocals on the Roxy CD, which I now can
appreciate a lot more.

I noticed that Jeff Foskett would just let out a huge smile and point to Brian
anytime Brian went for a high note and hit it. Seems like he is really proud
to be where he is. The musicians in the band are extremely talented almost all
of them play multiple instruments, many times playing more than one instrument
during a song.

All in all it was a great show and I am grateful that I was able to be there.
JB
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SUNFLOWER/SURF'S UP TWOFER

'Sunflower's' quality is worth
     unearthing

     July 21, 2000

     By BEN WENER
     The Orange County Register

     There's a strange correlation between the Beach Boys' music pre-
     and post-"Pet Sounds," the pinnacle of their brilliant but erratic
     career, that you won't find at any other point in the whole of pop
     history. Simply put, the more attention is paid to the sun 'n' surf of
     their early days, the more neglect is given to the sadness 'n'
     solemnity of their later ones.

     That's terribly unfair, of course, if only because we're talking about
     two entirely different bands. The first Beach Boys were hit-makers,
     pop stars, California icons led by an undeniable genius. Their milieu:
     the three-minute tune. Entire albums worth hearing (excluding "Pet
     Sounds"): two - the artistic leap forward "The Beach Boys Today!"
     and the more fun-filled "Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!),"
     both from 1965.

     Everything else of note during this period is singles. Incredible
     singles, mind you, all the way through the greatest of them all,
     "Good Vibrations." But singles all the same.

     However, the second Beach Boys (there are more, but we've
     stopped counting) were misguided seekers, pop exiles, California
     misfits led (on good days, and those were few) by a certifiable
     loony. Their milieu: the grandiose album. Entire ones worth hearing:
     a lot more than you think.

     These Beach Boys have always gotten the short end of the stick. In
     1966, they were heroes; by summer '67, villains. And as time
     marched on, the die-hards came looking for someone to blame for
     the band's so-called artistic collapse. Only the real enemy wasn't
     the audience (which had abandoned them) or Mike Love (who had
     abandoned Brian Wilson's vision) or Brian himself (who also had
     abandoned the Wilson vision).

     No, it was that sinister "Smile," Brian's "unfinished masterpiece."
     Those who heard it in the making still insist there has been nothing
     like it before or since. The rest of us have pondered mere
     fragments, our imaginations having to fill in the gaps.

     It is both holy grail and albatross: Everything the band put out
     before its "Endless Summer" revival in 1974 - not just the rush-job
     "Smiley Smile" but everything - has had to live in its shadow.

     Which has meant that everything from '67-'73, a uniformly solid
     period of music-making from the Hawthorne clan, has been
     overlooked, pushed aside, sniffed at for not being "Smile."

     Well, enough of that. There's too much great music that's being
     ignored, from the Four-Freshman-on-acid zaniness of "Smiley
     Smile" (a clear influence on the Beatles' White Album) to the
     stripped-back approach of "Wild Honey" (ditto McCartney's solo
     debut) to the lackluster but hardly meritless "Friends" and "20/20."

     Those four titles had long been available as two-fer CDs. Now,
     delayed and devalued for years, the Beach Boys' '70s output is
     being given the same treatment - starting with the best of the bunch,
     "Sunflower" and "Surf's Up." (Also out this week is the
     double-vinyl "In Concert," now on one disc. The rest of the band's
     Brother years and beyond will hit stores Aug. 15.)

     "Sunflower," a commercial clunker when it was released in 1970 (it
     was their first album that failed to crack the Top 100), is by far the
     best work the band did after "Pet Sounds." And though it may not
     match that landmark in invention, it certainly equals it in terms of
     tunefulness.

     It's not just that there isn't a bad track to be found - a major
     achievement for these guys after four sketchy efforts - it's that the
     highlights are so richly creative.

     "This Whole World," for instance, is one of Brian's forgotten
     treasures, a Spector-esque delight filled with glockenspiel, chimes,
     gorgeous doo-wop harmonies, a chugging rock riff and one of its
     author's last unerringly sweet vocals. Likewise, "Cool, Cool Water"
     (a revamped and extended "Smile" outtake) is a world unto itself,
     so awash in icy colors that its meditative nature can't help but
     transport.

     What's more, the Beach Boys still feel like a group - check the
     swooning "Add Some Music to Your Day" or the Jerry Lee
     Lewis-ish "Got to Know the Woman" for proof. Both songs sound
     like older, wiser variations on early favorites like "Be True to Your
     School" and "Barbara Ann."

     And then there's the echoing eloquence of "Deirdre," the sort of
     gentility that once would have made Davy Jones an even bigger
     star. Or Bruce Johnston's "Tears in the Morning," worthy of
     George Harrison. Or "Forever," which with just a bit more
     ornamentation could have easily slipped onto "Pet Sounds."

     It's just a remarkable album, expansive in construction, exceptional
     in execution. It would be the last time the Beach Boys would hit
     such a peak.

     By comparison, "Surf's Up" is considerably weaker - less cohesion,
     less beauty, less Brian. Not that the other Beach Boys weren't
     coming into their own; Carl, for one, was developing into quite the
     white-soul brother, a risky move dating from the "Wild Honey"
     sessions that was beginning to pay off.

     But what the album lacks in overall splendor it makes up for in its
     final moments - Brian's heartbreakingly autobiographical "'Til I
     Die," by far one of his greatest compositions, and the stunning title
     suite, another leftover from the "Smile" days.

     Of course, Brian's participation in "Surf's Up" was minimal at best,
     and he wouldn't resurface as a fully integrated band member until
     the abysmal "15 Big Ones" and the vastly underrated "Love You"
     (which, given their chronology, have tragically been combined in a
     two-fer to come).

     We'll examine that one when it arrives in stores. Until then, savor
     Brian's last gasp of pure genius - and in the process reacquaint
     yourself with the totality of America's band. They've always been
     about more than just "Fun, Fun, Fun." "Sunflower," above all, is a
     shining example of why.
========================

BRIAN WILSON  Live at the Roxy Brimel, $17.95

                 A kind of official bootleg available only through
                 Brian Wilson's Web site (www.brianwilson.com),
                 the twin-CD set ``Live at the Roxy'' tangibly
                 captures the joy and glee the Beach Boys
                 mastermind put into his first-ever live solo shows
                 last year.

                 He sounds pumped up and majorly stoked to be
                 finally singing his songs in front of a fabulous band
                 and getting showered with love and affection from
                 the celebrity-studded Hollywood nightclub
                 audience. He introduces one of his new songs --
                 ``It's gonna be in a movie!'' -- as if he's never had a
                 song on a soundtrack before.

                 Nobody knows Brian Wilson music better than the
                 man himself. His concert program balanced big hits
                 such as ``California Girls,'' ``I Get Around,''
                 ``Surfer Girl'' and ``Don't Worry Baby'' with lesser
                 known gems including ``Kiss Me Baby,'' ``This
                 Whole World,'' ``Please Let Me Wonder'' and the
                 surprise opening number, ``The Little Girl I Once
                 Knew.'' The brilliantly arrayed 10-piece band
                 includes not only members of the young Los
                 Angeles-based rock band the Wondermints but
                 also the ringer who has been singing Brian's original
                 vocal parts in the road version of the Beach Boys
                 for most of the past two decades, guitarist Jeffrey
                 Foskett. They manage to make Wilson's cherished
                 classics sound fresh and light while maintaining the
                 sturdy orchestrations of the studio versions.

                 The entire two-act show is contained on the two
                 CDs, and although the recording is intended as little
                 more than a souvenir, a documentary of this signal
                 event in Wilson's storied career, it really is much
                 more. This is nothing less than a triumph over the
                 forces of darkness, proof of the extraordinary
                 human capacity for recovery and rehabilitation, not
                 to mention the power of the love of a good woman,
                 his wife, Melinda.

                 For Wilson, this rich, emotional performance was a
                 long, tangled personal journey back from
                 somewhere very far away. His pure, unfettered joy
                 is this recording's unique charm.

                 -- Joel Selvin -SF Gate-