- 19 Oct 17
It gives me no pleasure to report it, but this isn't great. I bow to no man in my worship of Brian Wilson's genius, but there's scant evidence of it on this collection of solo work, which has a couple of unreleased tracks tacked on to attract completists.
'Love & Mercy' is a good tune - it served as an emotional closer at Wilson's recent Dublin show - but it's overcooked here. It has a gaudy '80s sheen, which to be fair hobbled most of his contemporaries too. 'Rio Grande' is interesting enough, a multi-section suite first conceived back in 1970, but it sounds like a cover band having a go at bits of Smile. Speaking of which, there are two selections from Brian Wilson Presents Smile - 'Heroes And Villains' and 'Surf's Up'. The latter, of course, is one of the finest songs known to man. But, to these ears, the versions on the Beach Boys' Smile just sound better. It’s all too close to the middle of the road: the man who wrote ‘The Warmth Of The Sun’ offering, at one point, half-baked nonsense from The Flintstones movie.
The best thing here is ‘Soul Searchin’’, constructed around a vocal track from late brother, Carl, which highlights another problem. Brian’s voice has been a bit lifeless since his re-emergence from his heart breaking mental struggles. His welcome and hard won recovery may have come at the price of his genius.