Thursday, September 16, 2010
Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin (2010)
Wilson has said many times that his favorite piece of music has always been Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." He even remembers being captivated by it when he was only two years old. The lone survivor from the famous trio of brothers convinced Disney's Pearl Records to support his idea for an album using the late composer's songs. As it turns out they were quite receptive to the idea and Gershwin's estate even offered him more than one hundred unfinished songs to complete however he wanted. With lyricist Scott Bennett, who is also a member of the songwriter's current band, he completed two that became "The Like in I Love You" and "Nothing but Love."
Among the rest of the fourteen tracks are standards that include a four song suite from Gershwin's opera, Porgy and Bess. "I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’" was turned into an instrumental that sounds like an outtake from Pet Sounds in large part due to the presence of a bass harmonica used as a lead instrument. "I Got Rhythm" could be a fast and happy Beach Boys single from the mid-60s. With its sprightly call and response lead vocal and chorus "They Can't Take That Away from Me" is another highlight. Wilson also turned in a nice job on one of Gershwin's finest numbers, "Someone to Watch Over Me." The album opens and closes with an almost a capella arrangement of the introduction to "Rhapsody In Blue."
It's possible not everyone will buy into the fact that these songs are Wilsonized versions of pre-World War Two pop classics because they don't sound anything like what most people would expect to hear when listening to music inspired by The Great American Songbook. Liking this CD depends mostly on whether or not you enjoy the surf-rock icon's post-Beach Boys output. Also, Wilson's voice is not what it used to be. Even though he can still sing well his angelic falsetto is gone.
You can decide about the merits of this music for yourself by listening to all of the songs at Amazon and Wilson's official website.