Capsule Review: That Lucky Old Sun by Brian Wilson

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September 9, 2008

8:17 PM

I pride myself on knowing the release date of every major album at least a month in advance, but, somehow, the release of Brian Wilson’s latest, “That Lucky Old Sun,” slipped past my radar. His last completed album, “SMiLE” (2004), took him a whopping 37 years to complete — hence my shock.

After unceremoniously ripping off the polyolefin wrapping on the CD case, a smile quickly crossed my face — this is Brian Wilson, the little-understood schizophrenic behind the Beach Boy’s revolutionary 1966 album “Pet Sounds.”

It’s easily the best music in our parents’ catalogue. The guy’s a 60-something doo-wopper crooning about the fabled lost girls along the beaches on California’s southern coast. What could be sillier?

Wilson starts the album with the eponymous track, “That Lucky Old Sun” — a tune made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1949. With this fresh reimagining of the Ol’ Blue Eyes classic, Wilson reexplores his ’50s and ’60s musical influences, using classic pop/rock sounds all too befitting to a Beach Boys album.

Moving onto the first track, “Morning Beat,” Wilson wails into his mic, soaring over the steady beat of his three-piece drum-kit and electric organ. It’s flawless — the album holds the same genius that overflowed from “Pet Sounds” and influenced Paul McCartney and John Lennon when they recorded “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

“That Lucky Old Sun,” in short, is a love song, not only to the golden age of beach rock and its legendary California roots, but also to each of us who have missed living under the warm glow of that fabled endless summer.

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