Still Making 'Sounds'

Legendary Beach Boy Brian Wilson brings hits to House of Blues

By Ed Condran
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 6, 2009

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An Evening With Brian Wilson
Where: House of Blues at Showboat, A.C.
When: Saturday, Nov. 7, 8pm
How Much: $35, $45, $55 and $65

It should be a long joyful stroll down memory lane Saturday at the House of Blues, since the legendary Brian Wilson will perform his greatest hits throughout the evening.

The brilliant Beach Boy has written a plethora of tunes, which have scaled the pop charts. “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” “Surfer Girl,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” “Little Deuce Coupe” and many other songs, which are now regarded as pop classics, are among the cuts Wilson helped craft.

“I loved writing and recording those songs,” Wilson tells AC Weekly. “There’s a reason the songs are so popular and so well remembered. We did something very different back then. It was something special. Those big productions and vocals were just amazing. I knew it would be influential. It’s just great to be back doing these songs, doing what I love.”

Part of what inspired Wilson’s creative genius during his Beach Boys ’60s heyday was his group’s battle with the Beatles.

“Competition is a wonderful thing,” says Wilson. “We put out Pet Sounds and it prompted Paul McCartney to create Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He wanted to top Pet Sounds and he did it. And that made me want to top what they were doing. It was an amazing time back then and the great thing is that the songs are still there, so why not enjoy those songs?”

The Beach Boys tunes, which take listeners back to a time and a place, exude innocence, good times and a simpler way of life.
“Those days were so different than now,” Wilson says. “It feels like a million years ago but when you hear those songs you can go back to such a great time.”

Wilson, 67, loves to look back perhaps because he’s not too keen on contemporary pop-rock.

“I think it’s at an all-time low,” Wilson says. “It’s a shame that the Phil Spectors of the world aren’t doing anything anymore. I guess they ran out of ideas. It’s a shame when the innovators of my day aren’t working. But that’s not going to stop me.”

When reminded that Spector is unable to work since he’s doing time in prison, Wilson pauses for a moment. “I understand that he’s in prison,” he says. “But he was one of the great ones from my era.”

Well, if there were a Mount Rushmore of ’60s pop artists, Wilson’s familiar face would be carved into the edifice. Wilson wasn’t just the singer-songwriter of the Beach Boys. He was also their producer and arranger.

The Beatles had George Martin to handle the knobs. Wilson did everything but write the lyrics.
“It was challenging but it was well worth it when you look at the songs that were made,” Wilson says. “I can still do these songs. It was all worth it.”           

Wilson’s crowning achievement remains Pets Sounds, one of the most critically acclaimed and seminal albums in the history of rock n’ roll. It was the Beach Boys’ most ambitious and well-produced album. However, the disc wasn’t embraced immediately by the public since it deviated from the group’s light-hearted formula of cars, girls and surfing. Wilson, who was responsible for most of Pet Sounds, created a masterpiece.

“We did something very different,” says Wilson. “We had that big production and the vocals were just amazing. I remember after listening to it that I knew it was something so special. I knew it was a classic album halfway through the production. I knew it would be influential and controversial too.”

Pet Sounds was hardly a commercial blockbuster. “I was sad about that,” Wilson says. “But I knew it would eventually catch up in sales.”

Wilson was right about that since Pet Sounds remains a steady selling album and its influence started just after it hit the bins.   
However, members of the Beach Boys, particularly the enigmatic Mike Love, had expressed displeasure with the prototypical teen angst rock ‘n’ roll record.

“I never could understand why Mike Love didn’t like Pet Sounds,” Wilson says. “He didn’t appreciate the artistic value of the disc. I think he wanted something more commercial. He just went on about he didn’t like it. I kept saying to myself, ‘How the heck could he not love such a great album?’”

Now Love claims he has nothing but admiration for Pet Sounds and his cousin Brian.

“I love Brian,” Love says. “The man is a genius. I only want the best for him. We go back a long, long way.”
Love and his cousins sang together since they were children.

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