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Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005

LISTENING POST

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Brian Wilson


Ironic, isn't it, that Brian Wilson, the one with the famously debilitating anxiety problems, has outlived his two supposedly more well-adjusted brothers. Commercially, it means that The Beach Boys name is the property of cousin Mike Love, who for the past 20 years has successfully turned it into a touring Disneyland attraction. Brian, who is generally credited with being the mastermind behind The Beach Boys sound not to mention the group's main writer, left the group in spirit if not body sometime in the early 1970s, a decade in which he literally refused to get out of bed.

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Brian's occasional attempts to re-enter the music business over the past 30 years have mostly been unsuccessful, but his decision to resurrect "SMiLE," the ambitious concept album he abandoned in 1967 when he fell victim to psychological demons, was a good one, and not just for purely nostalgic reasons. Several years ago, Wilson found a new sense of fulfillment by touring his 1966 masterpiece "Pet Sounds," which Love reportedly never much cared for anyway. Darian Sahanaja, the leader of Wilson's touring band, The Wondermints, subsequently broached the subject of doing "SMiLE" in concert. Wilson balked at first, but eventually agreed. The performance was so lovingly received at London's Festival Hall that Wilson decided to finally make a complete album, which was released in September to equally loving response.

Because the 62-year-old Wilson has never lost his childlike purpose in making music over the years, "SMiLE" is both shamelessly nostalgic and genuinely fresh, a kind of time capsule conveying the raw American optimism of the '60s unfiltered to the present. The Wondermints, who back him on the album, understand not only The Beach Boys' sound but also how a person like Wilson thinks. They help him resurrect both the music and the feelings that gave birth to it. "SMiLE," which Wilson will be bringing complete to Japan, doesn't suggest the '70s and the '80s didn't happen, but it does prove you can go home again.

Jan. 30, 5:30 p.m., Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo (sold out); Jan. 31, 7 p.m., Tokyo International Forum, 9,500 yen & 10,500 yen (Kyodo Tokyo, [03] 3498-9999); Feb. 2, 7 p.m., Aichi Koseinenkin Kaikan, Nagoya, 10,500 yen (Sunday Folk, [052] 320-9100); Feb. 3, 7 p.m., Osaka Koseinenkin Kaikan, 10,500 yen (Kyodo Osaka, [06] 6233-8888).


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