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Monday, July 20, 2015

Brian Wilson: What I Really Want For Christmas


1) The Man With All The Toys; 2) What I Really Want For Christmas; 3) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; 4) O Holy Night; 5) We Wish You A Merry Christmas; 6) Hark The Herald Angels Sing; 7) It Came Upon A Midnight Clear; 8) Christmasey; 9) The First Noel; 10) Little Saint Nick; 11) Deck The Halls; 12) Auld Lang Syne; 13) On Christmas Day; 14) Joy To The World; 15) Silent Night.

This one will be done with in brief. As you remember, the Beach Boys had already fulfilled their national obligation with a Christmas album as early as 1964. However, now that Brian has offi­cially reached the natural age of a Santa Claus, he might have felt the need to balance that early teenage offering with a well-aged, well-tempered reading of the classics — in fact, a couple of the songs here are reprised from Christmas Album, most noticeably the Wilson/Love co-written ʽLittle Saint Nickʼ and ʽThe Man With All The Toysʼ. And yes, one more ʽAuld Lang Syneʼ for the world to cherish and enjoy.

And what you get, in light of Brian's previous career, is probably what you'd expect. Sincerity a-plenty, wonderful harmonies from the Wondermints, pretty and tasteful arrangements played on a wide variety of instruments — and that dear old crackly voice. Newly written songs include the title track, with lyrics provided by Bernie Taupin (and if you're wondering what it is that Brian really wants for Christmas, well, he couldn't get it even if he were President), and ʽChristmaseyʼ, co-written with Jimmy Webb — melodically, both are indeed «Christmasey», nothing particular­ly special or irritating.

If you really love Beach Boy-style harmonies for what they're worth, though, they do a really really fine job on the choral numbers, such as ʽJoy To The Worldʼ and ʽSilent Nightʼ. This is, of course, perfectly rehearsed professionalism rather than sparkly youthful enthusiasm, but frankly, I am not sure which of the two I would prefer in 2005. And another thing is that back in 1964, it was never clear if the Beach Boys sang these Christmas carols because they really admired them, or because Capitol, or Papa Murry, told them to — here it is perfectly obvious that Brian is en­joying the process, and why shouldn't he? Come to think of it, of all veteran rockers it is Brian Wilson, with his wonderfully childlike mind, who is the most natural candidate for an old-fashio­ned Christmas release. Not that I'd truly recommend this album — I don't usually recommend Christmas albums unless they have ʽThe Night Santa Went Crazyʼ on them — but at least this one is not a total waste of time. Lovely harmonies.

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