Wilson Phillips - California
The chequered history of Wilson Phillips would make anyone gasp in disbelief. Comprising of Carney and Wendy Wilson (daughters of Brian) with Chynna Phillips whose famous father is John from The Mamas and Papas, the female trio sold eleven million copies of their self titled debut album. They split in 1992 for the Wilson sisters to release a Christmas album and in 1997 they toured as the Beach Boys family with some of the original members of the band. Like her dad Brian, Carney has had to overcome her demons in public. Her ongoing battle with obesity came to a head when she had her stomach stapled live over the internet.
On a brighter note these three women are back together for their first album in ten years. Essentially a covers album "California" celebrates the essence of the sunny state, but predominately the music. "Old Man" is a song originally by Neil Young. The string quartet gives this version a touch of culture. Carney Wilson is the lead vocalist on this track and her gutsy delivery is perfect for this song. The pedal steel guitar courtesy of Dan Dugmore is quaint, old fashioned and well realized. While you'd expect a suitably summery feel, excellent musicians and harmonizing it is also quite dramatic. The Fleetwood Mac classic "Go Your Own Way" is given a restrained, faithful yet slightly slower make over from Wilson Phillips, but proves to be very moving with haunting melodies and professionally produced. The vocals as ever are sumptuously divine.
More lively and a lot rockier is "Doctor My Eyes" written by Jackson Browne. This has an unfussy live appeal with a touch of country music creeping in. A bit 70s, but rattles along with the group coming across as a more sophisticated Bangles. "Dance Dance Dance" is a female reading of the Beach Boys hit which retains the heart and soul of the original with a modern, contemporary sheen. It may be short, but its very very sweet.
"California" is undemanding, but a fitting tribute to some first rate and highly regarded songwriters. It's good to hear that Wilson Phillips haven't lost their touch for making great music, but next time ladies release an album of your own songs - just don't leave it another ten years though!!!
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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