Reimagines Gershwin (Disney)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Sept. 24, 2010
Brian WilsonReimagines Gershwin (Disney)
From its jazz-style cover depicting piano keys levitating and scattering into colorful bars, you might think Brian Wilson's homage to George Gershwin explores new musical frontiers. While this 14-song collection demonstrates how the composer's evocative work fed the foundation of the Beach Boys' Southern California soundscape, it doesn't reimagine them as advertised. Instead, "Rhapsody in Blue" is arranged as a thematic variation of "Our Prayer" from Smile. Likewise, "Someone To Watch Over Me" is a stand-in for Pet Sounds' "Caroline, No." Knowing that "Summertime" has been singularly rendered by artists as disparate as Ella Fitzgerald and the Residents makes this version sound comparatively rote. The two previously unpublished Gershwin songs that Wilson "completes" here fall into the same conservative mold. Hearing Gershwin done in the style of Wilson's groundbreaking works is pleasant enough, but the middle-of-the-road veneer of this prestige project is the stuff of PBS pledge gifts.