Friday, September 05, 2008

"An overbearing entity... a seemingly unbeatable presence always to be reckoned with; whose experience, influence and skill threatens to defeat competitors with little effort."
(That definition of '800 Pound Gorilla' comes from and as such, provides a sort of justification for why I plod ever onward here in this the blogsite...goes rolling...along...)

Yep, here 'tis, folks, post number 800. A pretty hairy number. (It's Gorilla Hair you see on the numbers there.) I have more entries in this blog than Barry Bonds has home runs, and while his career is basically over, this blog goes on. And on. And on. How have I kept this thing going for so long? Simple. This particular blogsite is my mental 'dumping ground' for anything that strikes my fancy. Instead of having several different blogs about several different things, I'm lazy; I just throw everything in here, and let it sit and stew. Pure blogger's gumbo. Have a heapin' helpin'.
I don't really think this blogsite meets all the criteria included in the above definition of '800 pound gorilla'. True, this blog is an "overbearing entity". That much we know. "A seemingly unbeatable presence"? I'm not so sure about that. Even though I'd like to think I'm at least semi-intellectual with many valid thoughts running thru my mind, it turns out the more I write, the less I know, and the best I can ever hope for is to semi-accurately approximate whatever it is I'm writing about. "Influence and skill"? I'll be the first to admit I have none of the former, and of the latter, I do type relatively fast, which means my fingers can go as fast as my brain spews out the thoughts, but oftentimes I have to go back and let my rational side edit what I've typed 'cos my brain spins so fast I often don't make sense.
But, I 'spose this blog is something to be "reckoned with". I know I "reckon with" it at least a couple times a week. It's like I have some unspecified duty to keep putting stuff here. Can't quite figure that one out; it must have something to do with the fact that I think there are readers out there. I was even contacted thru the e-mails by someone who wanted to ADVERTISE here. I'm not kidding! In another instance, I'd written a post about how stupid and inconsequential actress Sally Field appears in her "Boniva" commercials, and one of the medical websites actually posted that post there! (Sally, you see, takes only one "Boniva" pill per month, because taking the 'other' pill means she has to find a few seconds once a week to take 'em, and we all know that's too much work for poor Sally. Now she has more time to put on her Habit and fly around...)
Before I end this post, I wanna tell you about a just-released slice of Music that I think is just great. Usually, when I get a new album (or CD), it takes me a while for the music to creep into my brain and get comfortable with it. Not so with BRIAN WILSON's new album, "That Lucky Old Sun". The music is framed by that old tune, yes, but in total, the album is a playfully musical Fantasy of the Southern California Lifestyle, and how, in the lyrics, Brian is acknowledging his own return to form after being away so many years. Brian had a severe mental breakdown back in the mid-sixties, suffering immense pressure from writing and arranging all the Beach Boys' songs, and getting them to sound 'just right' on record. Add to that the fact that the entire music business wanted a piece of him because he'd been labeled a "genius", and he just lost it, turning to drugs, avoiding reality, really suffering, and for many years, the best he could do was achieve a sort of catatonic existence in which the world just floated by as he withdrew deeper and deeper into himself.
The long-awaited song cycle, "Smile", originally supposed to be released back in 1967, went unreleased because Brian didn't have his act together. It was finally finished and released a couple of years ago, and it's a unique and idiosyncratic musical document, and I thought it was great that he'd finally put the ghost of "Smile" behind him. With that record, Brian addressed a past which had withdrawn from, and emerged the victor. And with this newest album, Brian announces to all doubters that indeed, He's Back. The first few songs examine the California dream, and the last few songs detail how long he'd been away, how much better he's feeling these days, and in one of the tunes, he fondly remembers his brothers, supporting each other with golden harmonies, and the music playing on the A.M. Radio.
Listening to this album for the second time in a day, it feels like, in a way, he 'crossed' the experimentalism of 'Sgt. Pepper' with the song-montage techniques of 'Abbey Road', but left in some of the good-natured whimsy of his own 'Smile', and this is just a wonderful, glorious album. My only complaint is that it's a 'bit short', clocking in at just over 38 minutes, but this is one of those rare occasions where a new album is an immediate favorite of mine, and it feels like I've heard this music for years. Which I have, actually. I always loved the Beach Boys' sound. And Brian Wilson was a HUGE part of that. This is DEFINITELY an album worth seeking out. I am amazed at the emotional intelligence Brian displays here.

What I didn't expect from this album, though, is how much BETTER Brian sounds here. He seems to have recaptured a lot of his high range, his vocals don't sound as forced as they did here and there on the "Smile" album, and the song-to-song flow is just absolutely perfect; you couldn't ask for more. I absolutely have gone NUTS over this album. It's just a wonderful piece of music from a long-departed Genius who never really left us, and yet he's BACK. Great job, Brian!
One of 'Lucky Old Sun's' tracks is a little 30-second tune, "Can't Wait Too Long". That song was (in theory, anyway) supposed to be on the Original Beach Boys' "Smile" album, which was SUPPOSED to come out in 1967. That never happened, of course. And when I bought the finally-finished (2005) version of "Smile", the song was nowhere to be found. I thot it had been discarded; those things happen. So I was totally surprised to find out it's included here. And with that, Brian links up with his past. And the rest of this record surpasses that past.
It's been a long time since I've been so excited about a new release. I just can't recommend it enough. So is Brian a "genius"? I don't know. But it's original music from an original talent. Now you can see why the Beach Boys were so great. Brian was the 'heartbeat' of the group's sound, and his newest album can stand proudly among the many classic Beach Boys' releases. For, this is classic music. As a rock station in Spokane, Washington used to say, "It doesn't have to be old to be a classic." How true.

My copy of 'Lucky Old Sun' is on vinyl, and when I opened it up, I noticed that the label on side 2 looked kinda 'puffy'. Evidently, two labels were loosely stuck to the label on the record, and I was able to peel those off. Stuff like that sometimes happens in the record-stamping process, and I thot, 'How Cool'. So I made a CD transfer of the album, using the extra labels to adorn the little CD booklet I made for it.


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