Sep 012020

Following up on the Mount Rushmore of Rock & Roll: British Invasion, which American bands held the line against the invaders, trying to champion the rock & roll that those British groups had co-opted from the United States?

I will propose that the Beatles equivalent for this Mount Rushmore is The Beach Boys. Yes, I know they had an album’s worth of hits before the Fabs ever met Ed Sullivan, but I think that makes them even more deserving. They were at the top of the heap, they took the challengers’ best punch, lost the championship, but came back stronger than ever.

Here’s a Beach Boys deep cut that is one of my BB favorites:

I don’ think there is a counterpart to the Rolling Stones, but I think there are more worthy contenders for the remaining spots than there were for the British Invasion mount.

Who would you put up there? Anyone disagree with me about the Wilsons & family?

Jul 102015

OK, so Love & Mercy Week wasn’t the thread-a-day, gripping discussion shot in the arm to Rock Town Hall that I’d hoped it would be. Traffic to the site continues to be down, and Facebook and actual telephone calls continue to be an easy way out for even regulars to discuss threads outside the forum. One Townsman was content to air his objections to my movie review via private messages on Facebook, while E. Pluribus Gergely, the man who accompanied me to the movie felt his daily phone calls with encouragement for my “great work” would do the job. Offlist feedback and deep friendship are much appreciated, but that’s not why any of us drafts a post for public consumption in the Halls of Rock.

Who knows, perhaps enough people haven’t seen the movie to focus on my follow-up piece regarding Dennis Leary’s involvement. Regardless, as too often is the case, life (including work) got in the way of me drafting all the excellent threads I had in mind. In case you’d like to pick up any of the projected threads that I’m not going to have time to flesh out, they are as follows:

  • Friday the 13th: Eugene vs Murray
  • Paul Dano Seals Best Performance in a Terrible Movie Oscar
  • Antisemitism in Love & Mercy
  • Love & Mercy Through the Prism of the Manson Family

The one thread that I will complete this week is the concern I’ve had with Beach Boys worship since the late-’80s. It’s an issue I don’t believe will ever be resolved until my hot mute cavewoman of the prehistoric future drops the needle on “I Get Around” in the Cave of the Forbidden Zone.

Jul 072015

Dennis Leary (far right) as Dennis Wilson.

Dennis Leary (far right) as Dennis Wilson.

There was much to take in during a recent screening of the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy, which Townsman E. Pluribus Gergely and I took in over the weekend. My overall critique appeared yesterday and is still open to discussion, but I plan on spending the rest of this week examining some of the finer points of the film. Today I’d like to discuss the troubling casting of a young Dennis Leary as Dennis Wilson as well as the broader issues I had with other casting decisions in regard to the ’60s-era Beach Boys.

I’ve grown to like Dennis Leary over the years, although I found his entire act entirely contrived when he burst on the scene with his MTV faux-chain-smoking rants. (He never looked like he inhaled, did he? Bogus!) Anyhow, Leary grew on me a bit when he followed up his failed fallen cop show with that fallen fireman show, Rescue Me. For the first time he struck me as actually passionate about something: himself playing this character. The show and Leary’s commitment too it were absurdly sincere. Although I rarely appreciated the show at anywhere but chuckling arm’s length, the peak into Leary’s humble freak aspirations helped me appreciate him and his act. It was an impressive run.

Even more impressive is how Leary transformed himself into a young man for his role in Love & Mercy. The problem, however, is twofold:

Jul 062015

Brian plays Melinda his early sketch of "Lick My Love Pump."

Brian plays Melinda his early sketch of “Lick My Love Pump.”

There’s a scene early in Say Anything 2: The Healing of Brian Wilson, in which John Cusack’s Brian attempts to find the condo of his new infatuation and future wife, Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) by walking in circles and calling her name up to the dozen balconies overlooking the courtyard of her complex. I kept expecting Cusack to pull out a boombox and serenade his new infatuation with Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” There were some strong scenes in Say Anything 2, when the story inexplicably strayed from the middle-aged exploits of our hero, Lloyd Dobler, and zoomed back to the 1960s, to follow a confusing parallel tale of a brilliant, troubled musician during the creation of his band’s masterpiece, Pet Sounds, but the Dobler-Ledbetter second-chance-at-love scenes, set anachronistically around the same time as the original film’s timeframe, could not have been what any fans of the original Cameron Crowe classic were expecting!

Jun 022015

What's right and wrong about the casting of Paul Dano as Brian Wilson?

What’s right and wrong about the casting of Paul Dano as Young Brian Wilson?

A new biopic on Brian Wilson is coming out, Love & Mercy. I will likely dread seeing this, as is the case with almost any artist biopic, but I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to rock biopics and I do like John Cusack, who I read was set to star as the troubled genius behind the Beach Boys and the puppet for a succession of hangers-on, charlatans, and certainly well-intentioned healthcare professionals and adoring musicians. Then I saw this still from the movie. “That’s not John Cusack,” I exclaimed in my head, “it’s that creepy guy I don’t like!” I had to look him up to be sure: Paul Dano, a talented actor with a knack for playing troubled, annoying guys, but an actor worthy of the shotgun nevertheless.

It turns out Dano plays Young Brian Wilson, which I’m sure he’ll be good at, subtly projecting even Young Brian’s obvious anxieties. The more I studied this still from the movie, however, the more I started thinking about the Pros and Cons of this casting decision. I’ll leave it to you to get inside my head—and to share your thoughts on the casting of Dano and Cusack as one of the greatest songwriters of the 1960s.

Check out the whole cast here. I don’t know who the guy is who’s playing Mike Love, but I’m counting on him to deliver!

Aug 162013

I thought I was dreaming when I saw mention of this last week, but it seems Brian Wilson has been collaborating with Jeff Beck and will next tour with Beck and a band featuring original Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks (but not “The Beach Boys”).

Call me cynical, but the first thing I thought of when reading about this unlikely pairing is that Brian is, once more, aspiring to reigniting the musical legacy battle versus The Beatles that he and his bandmates last competed in through 1966. After that, the battle turned into a blowout, with The Beach Boys dropping back faster than the Kansas City Royals (of recent vintage) in June.

Call me befuddling, but here’s what I’m getting at: What has Jeff Beck ever had to do with The Beach Boys? Absolutely nothing. However, Beck did align himself with The Beatles’ camp in 1974, when he teamed with legendary Beatles producer George Martin to record the smash hit instrumental record Blow By Blow. On that album he displayed brilliant taste by recording an instrumental version of a Beatles’ song with perhaps their worst lyrics ever committed to vinyl, “She’s a Woman.”

Jeff Beck and The Beatles would forever be linked. Beck has been performing a version of “A Day in the Life” for years. You know that song, right? It’s the grand finale from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, the band’s runaway July tear in their once-vital battle versus The Beach Boys.

Brian Wilson and Mike Love have long displayed frustration with their inability to get back into the race with The Fab Four. Although it’s late September, in terms of this race, and The Beach Boys have been mathematically eliminated since early August, what else can Brian Wilson and whatever form of The Beach Boys Mike Love is willing to stand in front of do to “win” their long-over battle against The Beatles?

I’ll start this highly conceptual Last Man Standing with the following entry…after the jump!

Continue reading »

Jun 252013

I am neither able nor willing to make out whatever small talk Carl and Brian Wilson are sharing, but this is a nice little display of brotherly love. Check out how tuned in Brian looks. I’m not use to seeing him so tuned into the presence of another human being.


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