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Thursday 19 July 2018

Still riding a wave of pop perfection

'I love you and I thank you /Mr Wilson/Mr Cool' -- Mr Wilson, The Hormones

When Dubliner Marc Carroll penned the above words as a heartfelt tribute to the pop maestro Brian Wilson a decade or so ago, he took his love of the Beach Boys a step further and tried to cram as many of their song titles as possible into a coherent lyric -- which he managed -- and then completed his homage with chiming guitars and ecstatic harmonies which the man himself would surely be proud of.

Marc Carroll is not the only one to have praised Wilson in song -- John Cale opened his 1975 album Slow Dazzle with the identically titled Mr Wilson, a far cry from his days of dissonance and discord with the Velvet Underground.

So just how good is the man who is the subject of these songs? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but it's a straight-up fight between Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney for the title of the greatest melodicist in the history of pop music.

It's barely conceivable today just how prolific the young Wilson was in the early days of the Beach Boys. Between 1962 and the end of 1964 he managed to produce and arrange six albums, writing more than 60 songs in the process and also taking on board arduous touring commitments that went with pop stardom at the time. No wonder he freaked out on a plane, retired from the road and retreated to the sanctuary of the recording studio -- where he promptly got even better before he went off the rails entirely.



Bliss

1964 gave us arguably the greatest double A-side of all time in I Get Around paired with Don't Worry Baby, but by the following year he was forging even further ahead with the symphonic bliss of California Girls before reaching for the heavens with the Pet Sounds album. He got there, too.

Pet Sounds is one of pop's monumental peaks and continues to enthral new generations of music fans as time goes by. Even Brian's meltdown during the recording of Smile gave us Good Vibrations and Heroes and Villains and while it looked for more than a decade as if he was lost to the world of music, he came back damaged but back nonetheless.

Turning 70 next year and with his hearing faltering, we may never get to see Brian Wilson on stage in this part of the world again, so while many fans will forgive him the indulgence of performing Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, they'll gladly do so just to hear those Beach Boys classics one last time. Surf's up!

Beachboy legend returns

Brian Wilson plays the Grand Canal Theatre on September 7

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