“Live Let Live” (Brian Wilson Cover)

Originally posted 2008-11-29 22:08:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

This post will be a shorter one, as Ace Ventura 2 is on in the background.  Any time Jim Carrey’s on screen, my attention is pulled towards the television.  Today was a fun day, as the original seven cast members of WCJM Radio got together to do our first Moore Hits in the Morning show that was actually in the morning!  The 10th Anniversary Show went off without a hitch, except for the producing mistakes I made.  Those will be edited out LONG before you hear it online!  I’ll be working on the show soon and I hope everyone will go online and listen to it!

Tonight, I bring you a great song off of Brian Wilson’s new album “That Lucky Old Sun”.  I love this album and it proves how great this guy still is.  His singing voice just seems to get better and better.  It has such a full sound now that it didn’t have back in the late 80s.

This song I chose not for its lyrics, which are a bit on the unexpected side, but for its incredible tune.  I just love when the music kicks in after the first vocals-only part.  The chords are great and Brian’s voice is even better.  The lyrics provided by Van Dyke Parks are still very witty.  That man says things in song a way no one else ever has before.  It’s funny to me that probably my favorite song on the album was written by the classic duo of Wilson/Parks and not the new duo of Wilson/Bennett.

This is a short song, but I think it captures the essence of Brian’s efforts to speak out against pollution, etc.  When you think of California, you think of sunshine, beautiful views, and wildlife.  Brian sang about the other two things throughout the rest of the album, so this song covers the last topic and brings the album full-circle.

Enjoy this song tonight as I go off for a LONG winter’s nap and finish off my big weekend!

“Night Time” (Brian Wilson Cover)

Originally posted 2007-11-05 22:52:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Tonight’s Laptop Session is a song from Brian Wilson’s 1988 solo album, aptly titled, “Brian Wilson”! I saw a YouTube video of him playing this on Letterman in 1988, and hearing the overproduced “80s” sound made me want to give it the Laptop Sessions treatment, as I did with Brian’s song “I’m So Lonely” (from the Beach Boys 1985 album).

No, this isn’t one of Brian’s greatest songs, but I think a lot of people write it off because its production, and not necessarily because of the quality of the song. But again, that’s one of the big reasons why I’m doing the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs series.  I don’t think songs should be ignored because of the time-period of which they were produced.  Giving a song a fresh sound, done in a solo liver performance on acoustic guitar will allow people to hear the song and not just the recording.

“Night Time” is one of those songs from Brian Wilson’s first solo album that his therapist (who called himself “producer” at the time) Eugene Landy said he had a hand in writing.  I’m not sure about that, but from everything I can gather, Brian was still in a pretty fragile mental state.  It was only a year earlier that he was passed-over (or declined, depending on who you ask) to work on the Beach Boys #1 hit single, “Kokomo”.  I can only imagine “Kokomo” with Brian’s voice in there.  It would’ve been great.  Of course, I’m glad they ended up giving Carl Wilson a chance to shine on the “That’s where we wanna go…” line.  So, I guess it wasn’t all bad that Brian wasn’t a part of “Kokomo”.

Brian Wilson’s first solo album was critically acclaimed.  It really has some great songs on it.  All of them have an incredibly polished late-80s sound to it.  Though, it does sound like a Brian Wilson production.  It almost sounds like an updated “Love You” album with better synthesizers.  Fans of “Love You” will remember that it was a fairly revolutionary album at the time because of the synthesized keyboards Brian Wilson used throughout.  I, for one, could do without them- it would make the album sound less dated today.  But then again, it also gives me the opportunity to record a bunch of Beach Boys and Brian Wilson cover songs for you!  Therefore, the synthesizer, and all 80s music, seems to be my friend.

I think it’ll be a treat for hardcore Brian Wilson fans out there, too, who probably already like “Night Time” and the entire “Brian Wilson” album.  If you haven’t heard “Night Time” before, I really hope you’re in for a treat.  Enjoy tonight’s Laptop Sessions Brian Wilson cover song!

Brian Wilson’s “Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin” (2010) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-09-19 21:10:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  3.5 / 5 stars

For songwriters with strong, distinct voices, albums populated by covers are typically stopovers between other, more serious efforts.  For Wilson, it appears that projects such as this are where he looks these days to keep himself occupied while he waits for inspiration to strike.

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin delivers just about what you’d expect from the former Beach Boy: lush harmonies laid over a bed of smart, tight pop music, albeit the pop music of a bygone era.

Perhaps the slogan for this release should have been, “Brian Wilson updates the music of the Gershwin brothers… to the sixties!”

The greatest criticism I can lob at Reimagines is its apparent contentment to revisit the established.  Wilson was given access to fragments of songs written but never finished by Gershwin that numbered in the triple digits, and yet there are only two new compositions — “The Like in I Love You” and “Nothing But Love” — which provide the bookends for the full-length tracks.

Simply put, this is what prevents Reimagines from reaching the same creative heights as Mermaid Avenue (the original, and Vol. II not so much), a similar project conducted by Wilco and Billy Bragg.  The key difference there, of course, was that they dipped exclusively into unfinished lyrics and wrote the music for them.  The results on Mermaid Avenue should be attributed just as much to Wilco and Bragg as to Guthrie, whereas Reimagines often reads as a collection of Gershwin tracks with the Brian Wilson filter applied.

In other words, Reimagines often plays more as a tribute from Wilson and his band than as a fresh and creative project.

On the other hand, to label Reimagines as a straightforward tribute to the Gershwin brothers would be to unfairly marginalize the creative spirit that Wilson so evidently brought to these recordings, not to mention the crispness and emotion that each of his lead vocals are imbued with.  There can be no question as to his intentions; he clearly threw himself into the project, as supported by reports that he would spend eight hours a day in the studio perfecting his vocals.

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin (2010)

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin (2010)

There are many, many positive words to be said about this record.

For starters, even on a project that lends itself to slow paced, old-school compositions — and he does indulge at times — Wilson and his crack band of music makers manage to carve out a record that verges on rock.  As would be expected, there are some beautiful bass lines and some wonderfully fun harmonies that beg to be sung along with.

There are other touches, many of them subtle, that should allow for Reimagines to be accepted among Wilson’s studio discography, as opposed to a one-off side effort.  Paul Von Mertens’ contributions can’t be overstated, serving as a link between the instruments that were employed on many of the original recordings of these songs and Wilson’s more rock/pop-oriented arsenal of drums, guitar, and bass.  Likewise, Probyn Gregory’s acoustic guitars add significantly to many of the tracks, filling in the gaps admirably.  The acoustic guitar is not an instrument one might readily associate with Wilson’s general sound, which makes it all the more notable.

“Rhapsody in Blue,” snippets of which serve as the intro and outro of the record, should be familiar to fans as a song that Wilson has noted in past interviews as one of his influences.  That this is the song he chose to place at the corners is quite fitting, and that he would choose to sing the multiple vocal tracks entirely on his own may, if nothing else, be read as a sign that he is still in command of his music.  Reports of his mental acuity — or lack thereof — may not have been greatly exaggerated, but no one should presume to claim that Wilson is present on his recordings in name only these days.

“Summertime,” the first full-length cover, touches on bits of Billy Stewart’s chart-topping 1989 version in the intro but quickly spreads out into a ballad filled out with horn blasts, twinkling bursts of piano, and strings that loom ominously on the horizon.  This version is a bit slow, but after the recognizable Wilson-esque romp of “The Like in I Love You,” it’s as though he is flexing his classical muscle, as he continues to do on “I Loves You, Porgy.”

Subsequently, the instrumental “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin'” sounds like it could have been found on a Pet Sounds outtakes tape, the bass harmonica adding greatly to that feel.  “It Ain’t Necessarily So” is probably the first track on the album that is a fully realized blending of traditional and more modern styles, to the point that the two are difficult to distinguish between.

This is when Reimagines works so well: when Wilson manages to blends a traditional approach toward these songs with his own distinctive sound.  Contrary to some recent criticism, Wilson does not merely reconfigure the words to fit over instrumentals that conjure his previous songs, except perhaps for “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”  Where it works exceedingly well, by the way.

Where the album does fall short is on tracks like “‘s Wonderful” and “Love is Here to Stay” that fail to transcend lounge music, being little more than standard covers that don’t diverge all that much from the originals.

“I Got a Crush on You” sounds like it was ripped off a best ballads of the fifties disc, and it works surprisingly well.  It is followed by “I Got Rhythm,” which sounds like a cross between SMiLE and surf rock on the intro, before settling down into a groove that sounds like all the best parts of a sixties Beach Boys song.  Then comes the indisputable latter-half gem “Someone to Watch Over Me,” easily one of the most beautiful little tracks Wilson has recorded in years.

The original tracks are the strongest efforts on the album, and it is for this reason that the decision to stick primarily to covers will always baffle and disappoint me.  It is the single strongest justification for why I’ve denied Reimagines a rating of 4 stars: for all the promise of what could have been.  It is still an enjoyable record and I would argue that it has earned its place as a serious effort, in league with Wilson’s recent and quite excellent albums.

The BEST COVER SONGS of 2011 (The Year-End Review Awards)

Originally posted 2012-01-16 10:00:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

What better way to kick off a Monday at the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song music video blog than to unveil the Weekend Review’s picks for the top ten cover songs of 2011.  After all, this is kind of our thing.  And this has been a busy year for covers.  Not only were there two – not one, but two! – collections of Buddy Holly covers released as tribute to the legendary singer/songwriter in 2011, but there were also two covers EPs put out by Relient K.  This is not to mention Brian Wilson digging back to his childhood (farther back than the Gershwin brothers this time) for the inspiration to In the Key of Disney.

A regular amount of covers wasn’t enough for 2011.  No, no: 2011 needed more covers!  Now, as you’ll recall from our mission statement, it has always been the goal of this blog to put an end to the proliferation of bad covers on YouTube.  In keeping with that tradition, we will now take the time to recognize these non-YouTube covers that have demonstrated excellence this year, standing out from the pack of mediocre (or worse) ones:

1)  “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” – Cee Lo Green (Cover of Buddy Holly)

2)  “Caroline No” – America (Cover of the Beach Boys)

3)  “Here Comes My Girl” – Relient K (Cover of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)

4)  “Colors of the Wind” – Brian Wilson (Cover of the Disney song)

5)  “Baby” – Relient K (Cover of Justin Bieber)

6)  “Not Fade Away” – Florence and the Machine (Cover of Buddy Holly)

7)  “Interstate Love Song” – Relient K (Cover of Stone Temple Pilots)

8)  “It’s So Easy” – Paul McCartney (Cover of Buddy Holly)

9)  “Listen to Me” – Brian Wilson (Cover of Buddy Holly)

10) “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Brian Wilson (Cover of the Disney song)


Honorable Mention:

“Surf Wax America” – Relient K (Cover of Weezer)