Brian Wilson

Record review

Phases & Stages

Brian Wilson

Gettin' in Over My Head (BriMel/Rhino)

Like the collage gracing the cover, Brian Wilson's third solo album is a mixed bag. While 1988's eponymous debut remains his only solo venture considered essential, Gettin' in Over My Head has its moments. Much ado has been made of guest shots from Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Eric Clapton, and of these, only the latter's guitar solo on "City Blues" delivers. The song's horn-spiked R&B flavor counters what most people remember about the Beach Boys, but it demonstrates the significant role the genre played in their music. Further evidence is found on the majestic "Soul Searchin'," featuring one of Carl Wilson's last recorded vocals before his 1998 death from cancer. By contrast, Brian's duet with Paul McCartney on "A Friend Like You" is treacly and downright embarrassing. Likewise, "Fairy Tale" and "The Waltz" are awkward attempts to convey the wonderment of youth. Rocker "Desert Drive" is a much better encapsulation of why oldies remain goodies. Despite it being just another formulaic California car song, Wilson and his band play it with enough good-natured conviction to actually make driving around in the desert sound fun. If you've followed Wilson's treacherous saga, it's heartening how upbeat Getting' in Over My Head sounds, even with a fair number of tracks misfiring.

**   

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