Brian Wilson turns 75 years young today – and hot on the heels of a well-received biopic and a record-breaking concert tour that continues through this fall, the legendary artist is looking back on his solo career for a new compendium arriving on September 22 from Rhino Records. Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology captures, via 18 tracks, the Beach Boy’s extraordinary journey from his 1988 Sire Records solo LP debut through 2015’s No Pier Pressure. Two never-before-released tracks will also premiere here.
Playback begins, appropriately enough, with four selections from 1988’s Brian Wilson including the Jeff Lynne collaboration “Let It Shine,” the dreamy Russ Titelman co-production “Melt Away,” the SMiLE-esque suite “Rio Grande” (produced with Lenny Waronker), and of course, “Love and Mercy,” Wilson’s cri de coeur which still closes each of his solo concerts today. The collection picks up a decade later with two tracks from Imagination (overlooking the Don Was-helmed soundtrack album I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times and the Van Dyke Parks-composed Orange Crate Art on which Brian served as vocalist): the ballads “Cry” and “Lay Down Burden,” the latter an affecting tribute to his late brother Carl Wilson. (Surprisingly, the infectiously bright title track didn’t make the cut here.) Soon after, in 2000, Wilson made his triumphant return to live performing – an occasion marked by the inclusion of original songs “The First Time” and the Tony Asher co-write “This Isn’t Love” from Live at the Roxy Theatre.
After issuing Pet Sounds Live to commemorate his complete live performance of the 1966 Beach Boys landmark, Wilson delivered his third full-length album of original songs with 2004’s Gettin’ In Over My Head, from which the moving title track and R&B-influenced “Soul Searchin'” (a posthumous duet with brother Carl) have been culled. Later that year, however, Wilson released his most seminal solo work: the completion of The Beach Boys’ abandoned SMiLE. Brian and his band first performed the finished work on February 20, 2004 at London’s Royal Festival Hall, bringing it into the studio a couple of months later. Two tracks from the Grammy-winning Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE are featured here: the scene-setting “Heroes and Villains” and epic finale to the suite’s second movement, “Surf’s Up.”
Following his 2005 Christmas album, Brian returned to solo recording in 2008 for a song suite dedicated to California, That Lucky Old Sun. The touching “Midnight’s Another Day” has been plucked from Wilson’s Americana journey in song. In 2010, he debuted the first of two concept albums released in conjunction with Walt Disney Records. Brian Wilson Sings Gershwin featured his reinventions of some of George and Ira Gershwin’s classic showtunes as well as two songs completed by Wilson from George Gershwin sketches. One of them, “The Like in I Love You,” appears on Playback, along with Brian’s rendition of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s Oscar-winning “The Colors of the Wind” (from the film Pocahontas), which appeared on the 2011 follow-up In the Key of Disney.
Wilson’s romantic ode to his wife Melinda, “One Kind of Love” was introduced on 2015’s No Pier Pressure (his first album after The Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary reunion and studio album That’s Why God Made the Radio) and was also featured in the biopic Love and Mercy. Playback doesn’t end there, however, making room for two premiere songs. “Some Sweet Day” was written and recorded by Wilson and Andy Paley in the early 1990s, and makes its official debut here. “Run, James, Run” (a working title for the “Pet Sounds” instrumental on the album of the same name, inspired by the James Bond films) is a new song recorded in 2017 for this compilation.
Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology includes new liner notes by David Wild, and the cover boasts a previously unpublished photo of the artist by Robert Matheu. It’s due from Rhino Records on September 22 on CD, double-LP vinyl, and digital platforms. Pre-order links (not yet active as of this writing) are available below!
Brian Wilson, Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology (Rhino, 2017)
- Love and Mercy
- Heroes and Villains
- Surf’s Up
- Melt Away
- Let It Shine
- Some Sweet Day (*)
- Rio Grande
- Lay Down Burden
- The First Time
- This Isn’t Love
- Soul Searchin’ (Duet with Carl Wilson)
- Gettin’ In Over My Head
- The Like in I Love You
- Midnight’s Another Day
- Colors of the Wind
- One Kind of Love
- Run, James, Run (*)
Tracks 1, 4-5 & 7 from Brian Wilson, Sire 25669, 1988
Tracks 2-3 from Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE, Nonesuch 79846-2, 2004
Tracks 6 & 18 previously unreleased
Tracks 8-9 from Imagination, Giant 24703, 1998
Tracks 10-11 from Live at the Roxy Theatre, BriMel 1001, 2000
Tracks 12-13 from Gettin’ In Over My Head, Rhino/BriMel R2 76471, 2004
Track 14 from Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, Disney Pearl D000428902, 2010
Track 15 from That Lucky Old Sun, Capitol, 2008
Track 16 from In the Key of Disney, Disney Pearl D001345502, 2011
Track 17 from No Pier Pressure, Capitol 602537978038, 2015