Wilson's voice itself is fine, fine, fine. Youthful, sure and wholesomely optimistic,...
Cormac Heron 2003-11-07
It's been six years since Brian Wilson released the critically acclaimed Imagination and a hell of a lot has happened since then. Touring sold-out performances of Pet Sounds, playing at the Queen's jubilee and then performing Smile in its full entirety is all more than great. The question Wilson was always being asked by journos, however, is will he be releasing anything fresh? To answer this, the gauntlet is thrown down in the shape of Gettin' In Over My Head.
Harmonies of gold open the album and drip beautifully for a full twenty eight seconds. If there was ever any doubt of the man's continued genius then this opener blows that right out of the water. Wilson's voice itself is fine, fine, fine. Youthful, sure and wholesomely optimistic, it sets the tone for the majority of the record.
To be sure at times the melodic voice can sound a bit, well, worn but what else would one expect? To this listener, this emanates experience and, arguably, puts a different slant on an otherwise joyous collection of songs. ''You've Touched Me'', ''Rainbow Eyes'' and the title track are fine examples of my point, but the harmonies, as ever, are flawless. This is definitely music from the genius behind Pet Sounds and, in many ways, the ghost of the Beach Boys seems omnipresent throughout. From the sound of the songs' production to their intricate arrangements, we are constantly reminded of the Wilson legacy. Perhaps the most poignant reminder is ''Soul Searchin'' where Brian duets with Carl on a recording made before his brother's death.
Gettin' In Over My Head also boasts the fact that Wilson is joined by Eric Clapton, Elton John and Paul McCartney. McCartney and Wilson on the same disc! Yeah it sounds amazing, but it's not. Maybe if all these guests appeared on a Beach Boys record thirty years ago it might have been, but now they are all too big to blend into the release. What happens is they seem to get in the way of an otherwise excellent and personal Brian Wilson album. A solution might have been to make it an entirely different project called Brian & Friends, but let's face it, those records are never really as good as the unadulterated 'solo artist's album' are they?
Overall though the brilliance far outshines the medicrocre. ''You've Touched Me'', ''Make A Wish'' and ''Desert Drive'' could be seen as bona fide Beach Boys' tracks, and Wilson's golden harmonies make for christmas pressies all the year round (and I haven't even touched on how beautifully the album closes).
The other knight to make it onto Gettin' In Over My Head is the talent behind Sgt. Pepper's artwork, Sir Peter Blake. Why do things happen too late? Is there such a thing as late? Is time a concept so intangible it hardly exists? I don't have a clue either, but the good thing is Brian is out of his bed and, whilst he is managing to tackle projects such as duetting on a recording of his deceased brother, the man's emotional strength must be sky-high and applauded. Roll on the promotional tour I say.