For audio samples you'll 
need the RealPlayer


SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2004

 

     
 

 
BRIAN WILSON


DONOVAN


JULES SHEAR

 
CROSBY NASH
 
KEN STRINGFELLOW
 
JEFF LARSON
 
     
 

BRIAN WILSON
Gettin' In Over My Head
(Bri-Mel / Rhino)

During the halcyon mid ‘60s Beach Boys years, Brian Wilson could crank out three albums worth of Top40 hits and studio tracks in a one year’s time. Recorded in the wake of the Beach Boy’s last artistic gasp, Wilson’s least appreciated album had to be an intriguingly titled effort that never even officially came out. Recorded in the early ‘90s aftermath of his underrated self-titled ‘88 comeback on Sire Records, the album, Sweet Insanity, contained a range of brilliant Beach Boys flecked tunes that could make Frankie Valli light up. Despite it’s convoluted history, Wilson’s trailblazing mix of Doc Pomus meets The Four Seasons came sharply into focus on Sweet Insanity. Several years after those sweet and sour Landy years, Wilson fulfilled the mission with his overdue ‘98 comeback Imagination. Now, after six years of an endless summer of touring with pop luminaries The Wondermints and fine players like guitarist and vocalist Jeff Foskett, Wilson’s 2004 album Gettin’ In Over My Head is yet another masterful long player worthy of many listens. Released on Bri-Mel / Rhino, Gettin’ In Over My Head is filled with sonic surprises none the least of which are superior rerecordings from the famous Sweet Insanity sessions and other tracks Brian originally made in the early ‘90sspecifically a remake of a Wilson classic entitled “Save The Day”, redone here as a much less lyrically complex song as the upbeat “Fairy Tale”, with new lyrics and added arrangements. Adding another dimension and finally providing some recognition of Wilson’s greatness as a pop artist and composer among his peers, i.e. the surviving rock gods, other GIOMH spotlight tracks here feature Brian in the company of album guests Paul McCartney, Elton John and Eric Clapton, who adds some tasty guitar licks on a highlight track called “City Blues”. Regarding the redone tracks originally planned for the ‘90 ill-fated Sweet Insanity album (now referred to as ‘sweet conspiracy’ in a new remake of “Rainbow Eyes”)—Wilson treats them well on these newer takes. Further tracks recorded during the mid ‘90s with L.A. pop producer / A&R guru Andy Paley are revived on Gettin' In as well, including the spooky title track and an enormous cover of “Soul Searchin”, written by Brian and Paley and featuring lead vocals from Brian’s brother, the late great Carl Wilsonthe greatest interpreter of Brian’s fabled melodies and lyrics. First rate cover art reminiscent of those classic Beach Boys covers, complete lyrics and fine liner notes by Wilson confidant David Leaf caps off what may very well be Wilson’s best album to date. www.brianwilson.com

 


 
 

DONOVAN
Beat Cafe
(Donovan Discs / Appleseed)

Four decades after he rearranged the musical deck chairs of a generation, folk-rock poet Donovan Leitch returns in 2004 with Beat Cafe. A freshly recorded reminder that Donovan's music broke borders and defined genres, Beat Cafe crisscrosses the psychedelic folk-rock and folk-beat sound explored on “Sunshine Superman” and “Catch The Wind”. Featuring Donovan’s vocals and guitar, Beat Cafe finds the visionary troubadour in fine form alongside drumming legend Jim Keltner, long time Donovan bass ace Danny Thompson and producer Jim Chelew on keyboards. Commenting on the ultra cool bohemian folk-jazz vibe of his first album in six years, the folk-rock legend adds, “As the recording progressed, I realized we were exploring in the spirit of the Bohemian cafe happenings, no fixed arrangements. I can do this with Danny and Jim, so experienced and free are they as artists.” Decidedly more in the spirit of his ‘60s work than his other recent titles, Beat Cafe is further enhanced with splendid artwork and new liner notes from the man himself. While his guitar work on Beat Cafe is understated, ethereal and quite jazz-tinged, for a great example of Donovan’s early pub days sound and Dylan-inspired acoustic guitar and singing check out Sixty Four, the first archival CD release on his own Donovan Discs. Again adorned by great, essential CD art, liner notes and lyrics, the nine track half hour CD features unreleased 1964 tracks from Donovan, backed up by bass legend Brian Locking, who—fresh after his stint in The Shadows—joined the then burgeoning folk singer for these early sides that were recently discovered in the vaults. While Beat Cafe explores Donovan’s new millennium sound, and Sixty Four, his early ‘60s Dylan sound, two new 2004 Edsel Records reissue CDs takes a look at a pair of albums Donovan released in 1974 called 7-Tease and it’s 1976 follow up, Slow Down World. Featuring a number great players including Jim Keltner, Klaus Voorman and Jesse Ed Davis (on Slow Down World) and David Briggs and Kenny Buttrey (on 7-Tease), 7-Tease in particular revived and mixed some of the eclectic pop spirit of classic ‘60s albums like Hurdy Gurdy Man with a refreshing ‘70s approach. www.donovan.ie


 
  JULES SHEAR
Sayin' Hello To The Folks
(Valley Entertaiment)

One of the greatest singer-songwriters of the past twenty years, Jules Shear bows down and salutes icons and contemporaries alike on his 2004 CD Sayin’ Hello To The Folks. He’s been produced by, written songs for and himself produced greats like Todd Rundgren, The Bangles, Roger McGuinn and Cyndi Lauper and on his first release for NYC-based Valley Entertainment Shear pays a tribute to his stellar influences and the entertaining results are just what you’d expect from a legend like this. According to Jules, “These are all songs that I loved growing up. Music like this was all on one radio station.” With Shear covers of The Dave Clark 5 (“I’ve Got To Have A Reason”), Procol Harum (“Too Much Between Us”), James Brown (“Ain’t That A Groove”) and Brian Wilson (“Guess I’m Dumb”), the 12 track Sayin’ Hello To The Folks gives a good indication of just how amazing and open-minded the ‘60s and early ‘70s were for music fans. Jules also pays homage to his 1983 producer Todd Rundgren with a fitting cover of the ‘71 Runt classic “Be Nice To Me”. “I had the toughest time deciding which not to do”, Jules adds, “But they were hits in my bedroom and it was a thrill for me to sing them all and let someone else hear them.” www.valley-entertainment.com


 
  CROSBY NASH
Crosby Nash
(Sanctuary)

Commenting on the 2004 Crosby & Nash double CD set on Sanctuary, Graham Nash states, “It was really strange, and really wonderful that it was so easy. It felt like we’d just carried on where we’d left off 28 years ago.” Hard to believe it’s the first studio album from the duo of Crosby & Nash since the 1976 release of Whistling Down The Wire, yet you only have to play the lead off track of this 20 track collection, “Lay Me Down”, to recognize that patented sound from two of the main guys that wrote the book when it came to ‘60s pop and folk-rock. David Crosby has lost none of his knack for bowling you over with his cutting edge lyrics (the politically charged “They Want It All”) and engaging multi-dimensional pop edge (on the celestial, wordless vocal harmonies of “How Does It Shine”). The pair simply shine on their shared vocal on the James Raymond composition entitled“Puppeteer”—a song that taps into the spirit of John Lennon and simply glows with that haunting spirit of ‘69 in full flight. A creative balance of introspective balladry and vintage sounding early ‘70s West Coast rock, Crosby / Nash features the dynamic duo surrounded by solid players such as Russell Kunkel (drums), Dean Parks (guitar) Leland Sklar (bass), as well as Crosby’s son James Raymond on keyboards and Jeff Pevar—the ‘P’ from Crosby and Raymond’s trio CPR—on guitar. www.crosbynash.com

 


 
  KEN STRINGFELLOW
Soft Commands
(Yep Roc)

What Ken Stringfellow’s been doing since his 2001 album Touched comes into focus on the 2004 release on Soft Commands. A co-founder of power pop group The Posies, Stringfellow’s sound has really matured on Soft Commands, his first for the incredibly on target Yep Roc imprint. Stringfellow’s guitar and keyboard work is exemplary and overall the CD would make a great choice for those old enough to remember how great bands like The Zombies and Procol Harum with Matthew Fisher (and producers like Gary Usher) were back in the late ‘60s. The lead off cut “You Drew”, subtly lifts the lid off one of the finest retro-pop classics of the year. www.kenstringfellow.com



 
  JEFF LARSON
Sepia
(New Surf North)

California singer-songwriter Jeff Larson continues his unbroken track record of crafting catchy West Coast pop of the highest quality with his 2004 CD Sepia. In the finest spirit of icons like the group America, The Eagles and Beach Boys’ singer Carl Wilson, Larson fine tunes his passionate pop portraits with heartfelt lyrical content and dynamic melodic action. On Sepia, he shapes an accomplished musical rapport with some of the best in the West including Gerry Beckley (backing vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Dewey Bunnell (backing vocals) from America, Brian Wilson band member Jeff Foskett, all topped off by the vivid electric guitar colorations of veteran producer Hank Linderman. An album worthy of your replay button, Sepia further establishes Larson among the West Coast pop elite and is a most commendable sequel to his 2002 CD Fragile Sunrise. www.new-surf.com




 
 
 
   
Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by mwe3.com. Send to: MWE3.com CD Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein, P.O. Box 630249, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249
 e-mail:
rss54@mwe3.com
   
 
CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home
 

 

Copyright 2000-2004 MWE3.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved