Saturday, May 23, 2015


In anticipation of the Wilson biopic Love And Mercy arriving in theatres in June, here's a reissue of his first solo album, from back in 1988. Actually, it's a reissue of the reissue; this is the expanded 2000 version that has been out of print awhile. That's important because it includes an extra 14 tracks past the original 11.

This has always been "what if" album, thanks to Wilson's precarious mental health, his somewhat childish approach to lyrics, and the meddling of his then-psychiatrist, the notorious Dr. Landy. Restricting access to Wilson, who knows what damage Landy did, especially if pros such as Jeff Lynne and Andy Paley could have could have convinced him to re-write some words and replace glaring sounds like the synth bass. However, there are some absolute gems along the way as well.

Love and Mercy has become Wilson's theme song since his comeback, and there are many more beautiful harmony moments among the tracks, including the sublime Melt Away. At Warner Music's insistence, Wilson came up with an epic track in the manner of the legendary Smile material, and Rio Grande is actually pretty fascinating and complex, despite being made to order. Much of the material confirmed that Wilson did indeed retain a large percentage of his talent from his '60's heyday.

The bonus cuts are more for the collector/enthusiast, including demos, b-sides and interview segments about the album. The best are the working versions of the songs, a look at Wilson's building process, with the multi-layered instruments and complex arrangements, still and always a genius in the studio. If you ever wondered about the methods and madness behind the music, the movie has been very well reviewed, and should give you most of the story.

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