Brian Wilson - Gettin In Over My Head

With the Brian Wilson opus "Smile" being released later this year "Gettin In Over My Head" is sadly being overlooked by many as a stop gap until the main event. While it's not the best album of Wilson's career, how could you ever possibly top "Pet Sounds", it's certainly one of the stand out albums of 2004 so far.

Much has been made of the fact that it's the first album to feature the mammoth talents of Elton John, Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney on one album. While the former two artists contributions are at best average. Elton offers his considerable vocal talent to "How Could We Still Be Dancing", a song which harks back to the early days of the Beach Boys rather than his more revered work. Eric Clapton's contribution to "City Blues" ruins what could otherwise been a storming track and it's to Clapton's detriment that he simply didn't know that a subtle addition works far better than riffing your way over a track. You get the feeling that this mix only features a brief excerpt of what Clapton actually laid down in the studio. It's actually McCartney that comes out shining on "A Friend Like You", a song which Brian wrote after meeting Paul at the Landmine Benefit and the Queens Jubilee concert. It's a well reported fact that Beach Boys and The Beatles had a friendly rivalry which inspired them both to greater heights. Lyrics such as "I'm so grateful a friend like you. You're the one who helps me make it through" are typical of the naive childlike vision of Wilson and combined with the unique vocals of McCartney this is surely amongst the best material of Wilson's career.

If the collaborations on the whole serve as a great marketing ploy, its the Wilson standards "Make A Wish" and "Saturday Morning In The City" which really lift this album. Joyous celebrations of music complete with the trademark Wilson set pieces. On "Fairy Tale" Wilson seems detached from the song and lyrics such as "Magic music played. Love was everywhere" just don't ring true with the unsure mournful tones. When he sings "I'm not sure what love means" on "Don't Let Her Know She's An Angel" it brings it home that Wilson for nigh on 40 years has written the soundtrack of youth as if he is eternally entranced in the time he just passed 16. This ultimately is Wilson's appeal - the coming together of youthful naive ideas with complex musical symphonies.

"Gettin In Over My Head" is an album with demands you attention. Without a shadow of a doubt this is one of the best albums of the year.

Alex McCann

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