In a parallel rock ‘n’ roll universe somewhere, Phil Spector bursts into a recording studio brandishing a chainsaw, demands the knob-twiddling lackey on duty go to the nearest hardware store to snag twelve more, and eventually proceeds to replace his wall of guitars with a wall of switched-on chainsaws. Keeping the pop song, the singer, and a minimum of drums, he chops up the resulting sound into fourteen tracks, calls the band the Jesus and Mary Chain, and calls the album Psychocandy.

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Well that scenario never actually happened, but the band and the album did. In late 1985, Scottish brothers William and Jim Reid and their band the Jesus and Mary Chain let loose a storm of songs, many indebted to the 1960s Spector style and all buried up to their sonic necks in feedback and distortion. The gorgeous single “Just Like Honey” opens the album – in fine “Be My Baby” style – with the drum intro from that very song. The rest of Psychocandy set the tone for the burgeoning “shoegaze” genre that would pour out of the U.K. in the early ’90s.

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The band released five more albums and several compilations up until 1998, when – after numerous personnel changes, side projects, and, uh, disagreements, they called it quits. Then in the 2000s – like so many other old-but-suddenly-rejuvenated bands – the Jesus and Mary Chain reappeared, played a few festivals, put out a few greatest-hits box sets, and finally produced a new album, their first in nearly twenty years. Released in March 2017, Damage and Joy is their best in a long time, featuring piles of that wonderful JAMC catchiness/edginess, and showcased recently at the NYC stop of their current tour.

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On November 17, 2017, the brothers Reid, along with current drummer Brian Young (formerly of NYC band Fountains of Wayne), bassist Mark Crozer (whose band Mark Crozer and The Rels opened the evening with an enjoyable set of Brit-rock), and guitarist Scott Von Ryper, pummeled an adoring audience at the PlayStation Theater with a blinding, colorful, strobe-driven light show and their trademark distortion-bathed pop-rock creations. In keeping with their earlier-days penchant for playing with their backs to the audience (often resulting in violence on the part of frustrated fans), the band members came off as unidentifiable, haze-engulfed silhouettes against the stage lights, which were trained more on the crowd than on the stage. Only singer Jim Reid appeared to have an actual face. Also in the background, the band’s name in ALLCAPSNOSPACES.

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Jim Reid                                                                                        William Reid

Kicking off with Damage and Joy’s intense opener “Amputation,” the band propelled through greats like “Head On”* from 1989’s Automatic, “April Skies” from 1987’s Darklands, “Far Gone and Out” from 1992’s Honey’s Dead, plenty more from Damage and Joy like “Always Sad” (special guest vocalist Bernadette Denning), “Black and Blues” (special guest vocalist Skye Ferreira on the record but unfortunately not at the concert), and the scintillating “All Things Pass”* (no relation to George Harrison). Winding it all up, the frenzied 1992 single “Reverence.” A six-song encore including classics like “Just Like Honey,” “Cracking Up” from their 1998 album Munki, and the crowd-pleaser single “Sidewalking” sent the audience out into the night, ringing in their ears, spots before their eyes, and amazing songs reverberating in their reeling heads.

JAMC_5 (; © Angela Datre)                                         l-r: Scott Von Ryper, Mark Crozer, Brian Young

images courtesy,,,© Angela Datre

YouTube videos courtesy RHINO, The Jesus and Mary Chain Official, NIGHT, Kirik, pojk_tant

* live videos from the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, 11/16/17 but pretty close to the NYC performances


Brazil, Bossa Nova and Bill Evans

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On November 4, 2017, Grammy-winning Brazilian pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias walks out onto Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall stage wearing a striking sequined gown, all smiles and sexiness, settles onto her piano bench and – with Marc Johnson on bass and Joe Labarbera on drums – slinks into a gorgeous tribute to pianist Bill Evans. No singing just yet, only free-flowing jazz including a “finished” rendition of a work that Evans had begun just before his death in 1980, “Here’s Something for You,” beginning with film footage of Mr. Evans’ evolution of the piece and seamlessly segueing into Ms. Elias’ own performance.

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After intermission the real party starts as Ms. Elias – now clad in a skintight, shoulderless black dress, crimson arm-warmers, and matching red pumps – starts the fire with the classic Ary Barroso composition “Brazil (Aquarela do Brasil)” (which I first came to know through the Ritchie Family’s disco version in 1975), followed by selections from her award-winning album Made in Brazil and her latest, Dance of Time. An exquisite Chet Baker number, “Embraceable You,” then up-and-jumping again with more Ary Barroso.

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Finally, a musical voyage through Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Desafinado,” the song that, as Eliane explains, brought bossa nova from Brazil to the States in 1959. And to me in 1995, via one of my first ever CD purchases, The Antonio Carlos Jobim Songbook, with its cool, colorful cover and jazz artists’ interpretations of numbers like – besides “Desafinado” – “Só Danço Samba,” “Wave,” “Agua de Beber,” and “Chega de Saudade.” Oh and the original hit that nuzzled its way out of radios tuned to the local “easy listening” station in 1964, “The Girl from Ipanema.” This evening Eliane Elias certainly embodies the smooth seduction of the vocalist on that one, Astrud Gilberto.

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Joining Eliane on the second-set journey are guitarist Rubens de la Corte, drummer Rafael Barata, and, once again, bassist Marc Johnson – who treats the audience to an emotional and otherworldly moment when he switches from fingers to bow on his instrument. Mr. Johnson also played with Bill Evans from 1978 to 1980 – and is the husband of Ms. Elias.

Encore! But of course, as another extended Elias working of a Jobim standard, “Só Danço Samba,” pours forth and concludes one of the most beautiful Jazz at Lincoln Center shows ever. Viva Brazil!

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images courtesy,,,,,

YouTube videos courtesy bluenotefrance, Concord Music, steve3ri, Urief Urief, Serdar Yasar, Jan Hammer, ru.vocal

A taste of fresh Beef

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During my early rock ’n’ roll life the name Captain Beefheart pops up here and there, on posters in record departments, on track lists of sampler albums put out by the Warner/Reprise label. I probably hear a song or two on the radio without much care or concern. But it takes a few months living in a charmingly rundown tenement in the Little Italy section of the Bronx with my bandmate, Alter Boys vocalist/lyricist John C, to realize that Captain Beefheart (real name Don Van Vliet, or just “Beef” to John and me) is one of the greatest vocalists/lyricists/song stylists to ever grace God’s Golfball (a favorite Beefheart phrase for the Earth).

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Now, thirty-something years later (and nearly seven years since Van Vliet’s passing), a collection of his songs has emerged on Knitting Factory Records, piloted by one-time/some-time Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas and featuring vocals by Beefheart fan Nona Hendryx of Labelle fame. Due out November 10, The World of Captain Beefheart is a long-overdue and stunning tribute. Lucas was a member of the Magic Band (Beefheart’s moniker for his constantly-changing army of backup musicians) on their last two albums, Doc at the Radar Station (1980) and Ice Cream for Crow (1982). He’s also led a free-jazz, Van Vliet-repertoire outfit called Fast ‘N Bulbous, named after a ridiculous recurring phrase on the album Trout Mask Replica. Diehard Beefheart fans will recognize his name – and all the song titles here. But to the person who’s never experienced the music of the Captain (or who just never cared much – like I’m sure would include me if I hadn’t crossed paths with John C back in the 1980s), it should prove a nice introduction to the Beefheart library – via the more accessible avenue of Hendryx’s deep soul singing (on par with Van Vliet’s own bluesy-tenor register) and the slightly more straightforwardly-pop production. But the heart – or the beef – is there every step of the way.

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1972’s Clear Spot leads the pack here with four songs, including the first two, “Sun Zoom Spark” and “My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains.” Up next are a couple from Beefheart’s first album, Safe as Milk, released in 1967 – with the down-home blues of “Sure ‘Nuff ‘n Yes I Do” and the decidedly-un-Beef-like ballad “I’m Glad” lending themselves perfectly to Nona’s soulful vocals. The early-70s works Lick My Decals Off, Baby and The Spotlight Kid are represented with one track each (“The Smithsonian Institute Blues (or the Big Dig)” and “When It Blows Its Stacks”), and 1978’s Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) provides the instrumental “Suction Prints” as well as the funky closer, “Tropical Hot Dog Night.” Of course no Beefheart collection would be complete without something from 1969’s epic Trout Mask Replica. Here we get two – both from that album’s third side – “Sugar ‘n Spikes” and “When Big Joan Sets Up” (“Big Joan”’s problem being her “hands are too small” – hmm, sounds like someone else we know). And tempering the characteristic Beefheart musical anarchy are “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles” and “Too Much Time,” both from Clear Spot and showcasing the Captain’s poppier side. “Too Much Time,” in particular, is another one that seems tailor-made for Ms. Hendryx.

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Joining Lucas and Hendryx on this disc are Fast ‘N Bulbous members Jesse Krakow on bass and Richard Dworkin on drums, as well as keyboardist Jordan Shapiro of Gods and Monsters, another Gary Lucas project.

Mr. Van Vliet’s clever, surreal poetry, Howlin’ Wolf-style singing, and blues-rooted avant-garde, often cacophonous music occupy a somewhat dark and unexplored corner in rock ‘n’ roll. Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas lead us bravely into that corner, wax-encrusted candelabra in hand (hey, it was Halloween last week), with The World of Captain Beefheart. And catch ‘em live in NYC at City Winery January 22!

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images courtesy,,,,

Do you dare to go…Beyond the “Monster Mash”?

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There’s no stopping it now, it’s that time again. Here’s a collection of creepy, kooky stuff in the same vein (ouch!) as the ubiquitous Bobby “Boris” Pickett hit, but a bit more obscure.

Link to playlist:

You can also click on individual songs for YouTube videos.

Enjoy…at your own risk…

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Ron Haydock & The Boppers – HALLOWEEN

The Naturals – THE MUMMY

Bob McFadden and Dor – THE SHRIEK OF AGONY

The Creatures – MOSTLY GHOSTLY

Allan Sherman – MY SON, THE VAMPIRE



Skipper Ryle – WOLF GAL

Ethel Ennis – MAD MONSTER PARTY (bonus track not on the Spotify playlist!)

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Screaming Lord Sutch – DRACULA’S DAUGHTER

Don Hinson & The Rigamorticians – MONSTER JERK

Dickie Goodman – HORROR MOVIES (the video is a different version from the song on the Spotify playlist)

Larry’s Rebels – HALLOWEEN

Gene Moss – SURF MONSTERDrac's Greatest Hits (

Zacherley – WEIRD WATUSI

The Poets – DEAD

Bobby Please & The Pleasers – THE MONSTER


Ted Cassidy – THE LURCH (video from “Shindig” 1965! You’ll need to turn it up a bit)

Joe Johnson – GILA MONSTER




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If there’s a hell below…it’s probably a lot like 42nd Street in 1972

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During lunch in the Westhampton Beach High School cafetorium (a sinister-sounding hybrid of cafeteria and auditorium), a portable phonograph is often plugged in at the edge of the stage platform, and the music is piped through the room’s speaker system. So I chomp on my daily peanut butter sandwich to the sounds of the O’Jays, the Trammps (half a decade before they skyrocket to fame on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack), and Curtis Mayfield. In the fall of ’72 “Freddie’s Dead” from Super Fly engulfs the lunch period like warm maple syrup. Mayfield’s so-smooth soul singing is a thing of pure beauty, spread across that unmistakable bass backbone with a bit of flute and just the right amount of sweet strings. One could forget the song is actually about the death of one of the film’s characters, Fat Freddie. What can compare to the moment when those strings glissando down like a police siren and Curtis comes back to let us know he’s just tryin’ to find a little love and some peace of mind?

The-Deuce-logo-color ( 45 years later, HBO has produced an early-seventies time capsule a la their short-lived series Vinyl, this time dedicated to the pimps, prostitutes, and general sleazeball characters of 42nd Street and entitled The Deuce. Now we get to see what was happening here, in da big, bad city, while us kids were eating lunch way out in the Hamptons in the shelter of the cafetorium. And singing the theme song at the start of each episode is…the late, great Curtis Mayfield. His 1970 hit “(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go” graces the opening credits against vintage shots of Times Square the way it useta be.

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Kicking off Mayfield’s debut album, Curtis, “(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go” is an intense eight minutes of Latin-percussion-driven fire ‘n’ brimstone directed to…uh, black and white alike (let’s just say he certainly ain’t politically correct), over one of the greatest fuzz-bass riffs ever invented. While we’re at it, check out the other monster on Curtis, “Move On Up.” For some reason it never charted as a U.S. single despite those classic R&B horn hooks and universal you-can-do-it-if-you-try message.

Mayfield was born in Chicago in 1942 and by 1958 had formed the Impressions with school friend Jerry Butler. Seven years later, at the forefront of the Chicago soul sound, he wrote the legendary “People Get Ready,” among other Impressions hits. In 1970 Mayfield went solo, releasing the above-mentioned gems, as well as work with the Staples Singers and several movie soundtracks. He moved to Atlanta in 1980, recording and performing until a stage accident in 1990 left him paralyzed from the neck down. He continued to write music and record vocals – while lying on his back. Curtis Mayfield died on December 26, 1999 at age 57, leaving us nearly forty albums of his music including twelve with the Impressions.

So don’t worry…if there’s a hell below and we all go…Curtis’ll be there coolin’ it off.

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images courtesy,,,,,,,

Happy Birthday, Schizomusica

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Yes, this blog turned one year old this past week. Soon it’ll be walking and talking! That first post on October 6, 2016 was all about The Lil Smokies, a bluegrass-pop concoction from Missoula, Montana. And here we are, a year later and the band’s just released their second album, Changing Shades. So…

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These guys certainly have a sound – pop melodies and lyrics over a bluegrassy banjo-dobro beat with half-country/half-Kansas (the band) fiddle coursing through its veins. Changing Shades continues what they started with their 2013 self-titled debut. Opener “The City” wastes no time mentioning David Bowie’s death, but is still a lively uplifter that showcases the Lil Smokies formula to a tee…and don’t miss that sudden Beach Boys-like vocal thing towards the end! “Might As Well” grabs hold of you with Jake Simpson’s scratchy, chugging fiddle, keeps holdin’ on with Matt Rieger’s gritty guitar, then heads down Smokies Highway with nice harmonies and cowboyish riffs. Other highlights are the energetic banjo-fest “Winded” and the enigmatic “Hitchcock,” which may or may not be about Alfred, or Robyn, or neither. “Kings and Queens” (wherein the “changing shades” lyric lives) is a down-home number that has Andy Dunnigan doing his best James Taylor. The catchy “Feathers,” previously available as a YouTube video only, is included here, as is “The Gallery,” which closes the album with perhaps the band’s most heartfelt moment.

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The Lil Smokies are performing at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC on November 10, along with similar-sounding outfits Mipso and The Brothers Comatose. Y’all come on down!

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Now for another Schizomusica favorite, Aussie-American band The Walk-A-Bout. Well, one-quarter Australia and three-quarters Long Island. When we last left them they had just unleashed their debut six-song EP, mysteriously titled The Walk-A-Bout, and now…another two tracks have appeared, on the really mysteriously-titled Walk-A-Bout 2. “Oasis” and “Drifting Tide” they are, and get ready for some more hearty rock featuring Kevin Anderson’s barefoot-comfy riffs and Sully Sullivan’s sunset-on-the-sea singing – with some fun percussion so ya can move ‘n’ groove.

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Check out The Walk-A-Bout at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett on October 14.

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And finally, a group from New Haven, Connecticut, whose 5-song disc Dreams of Trees Pt. 1 was featured here back in April, No Line North. They’ve just teamed up with Lys Guillorn & Her Band (that’s their full name) on a split single due out October 21. “How To Make a Mountain,” Ms. Guillorn’s side, is a folky kinda thing that – well, how ’bout the Lil Smokies with Lucinda Williams on vocals? NLN’s side, “Dirty Holiday,” is sort of like…sorry but I have Lil Smokies on the brain…that band again but minus the banjo and dobro, and rockin’ out with Jon Schlesinger as the resurrected Jim Carroll singing lead. And after that wacky ending I bet someone broke a few violin strings! There’s gonna be a record release gig at Lyric Hall in New Haven on October 21 with both bands plus more.

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So let’s all hoist an Oktoberfest beer to another year of Schizomusica!

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images courtesy,,,,,,,

Brian vs. Mike: Showdown of the Century!

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56 years after forming, the Beach Boys are still in existence, though as two separate groups – one led by Brian Wilson (performing as “Brian Wilson”) and one led by Mike Love (performing as “The Beach Boys”).

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In this corner!

On August 17, the Mike Love faction took over NYC’s Beacon Theatre on their “2017 Wild Honey World Tour.” Mr. Love (sporting an orange Beach Boys logo baseball cap), along with long-time Beach Boy Bruce Johnston (wearing a navy blue one) and their since-1998, six-piece touring band featuring Jeff Foskett on guitar and vocals, let loose with an evening of California-themed showmanship and nostalgia. Entertainment was the name of the game, complete with a distracting video backdrop. And talk about audience participation – as soon as we took our seats there was annoyance behind, in front, and all around. Luckily there were empty seats (in fact an entire empty row) in a better section, so after intermission – and an overpriced cocktail at the bare-bones bar – it was time to move on down.

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Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wild Honey album, the show featured “Darlin’,” “Aren’t You Glad,” and, kicking off the encore, the lively, theremin-driven title track – with the stage bathed in honey-orange light. But that was it for Wild Honey. The rest of the 40-song performance hit the waves and the drag strips, fell for pretty girls, sailed ships, and, as expected, ended up in Kokomo. Along the voyage were the requisite collection of covers and even a few highlights from Pet Sounds, including “Caroline No” (didn’t expect that one without Brian around) and an eerie “God Only Knows” sung by the late Carl Wilson, his recorded voice dubbed over instead of Foskett, who sang most of Carl’s parts. The miracle of modern technology or just a macabre attempt to inject extra meaning into the song? Either way, both numbers came off kind of empty Brian-less.

Johnston offered up his composition from 1971’s Surf’s Up, “Disney Girls” (woulda rather heard anything else from that record, but Mike and Bruce were calling the shots). Love’s tribute to George Harrison, “Pisces Brothers,” with its accompanying visuals, seemed a bit overindulgent…and in the quietest moment of the night (yawn), an a cappella rendition of “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring,” originally by Beach Boys idols the Four Freshmen, showcased some proficient harmonies while the rest of the band took five. Okay, a concert can have its low points but…hey, at least we were spared the hokey “Transcendental Meditation” that closes 1968’s Friends album.

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And of course the greatest hits, the crowd-pleasers, the sing-alongs, with special guest burst-of-energy Mark McGrath (of late-90s band Sugar Ray) stirring up the audience at the beginning on “Do It Again” and at the end on “Barbara Ann” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.” And what would a Beach Boys show be without a spot-on rendition of their biggest, “Good Vibrations.” With cheesy slideshow of course.

Spot-on renditions. Entertainment. Nostalgia. Nothing wrong with that, but…

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And in this corner!

On September 23, the Brian Wilson show lit up NYC’s elegant Radio City Music Hall in style with “Pet Sounds: The Final Performances.” Mr. Wilson, seated front-and-center at his white piano, with blue-suited original Beach Boy Al Jardine, flamboyant guitarist-vocalist Blondie Chaplin, and a nine-piece veritable rock ‘n’ roll orchestra, offered a heartfelt helping of hits, not-so-hits, and of course the iconic Pet Sounds in its entirety. And we got to witness it all just a few rows from the stage, thanks to Brian’s preference that, since the show was not a sell-out, those with nosebleed seats should be closer to him and take the empty orchestra seats.


Marking another 50th anniversary, that of Pet Sounds (the worldwide tour actually kicked off in 2016), the performance revolved – musically and physically – around the 75-year-old steadfast-yet-fragile heart and soul known as Brian Wilson. Beginning in the warm West Coast sun with “California Girls,” “I Get Around,” and the hot-rod hit singles, the first set featured a visibly emotional Brian singing “In My Room” and “Surfer Girl.” A bunch from the recent remix compilation 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow including “Let the Wind Blow” and “I’d Love Just Once to See You,” gorgeous lead vocals by Jardine’s son Matt on “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Let Him Run Wild” (and by Wondermint/keyboardist Darian Sahanaja on “Darlin’”), then it was time for life-of-the-party Blondie Chaplin’s entrance and a fun, fun, fun finish to set number one: “Feel Flows” from Surf’s Up (a pleasant surprise), “Wild Honey” (extended dance mix with Chaplin going punk-rock on guitar), and what’s become Chaplin’s signature Beach Boys lead vocal, “Sail On Sailor.”

A short intermission in the beautiful Radio City lobby sipping prosecco and admiring the grand staircase, and then…the main attraction. From the sparkling opening of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” to Brian’s unintentionally humorous intro to the instrumental “Let’s Go Away for Awhile” as a song with “no words or music” (what?), to – in many opinions – the greatest Beach Boys song ever, “God Only Knows” (in my opinion, one of the greatest songs period), in a genuinely tear-inducing interpretation miles above Mike Love’s resurrection of Carl Wilson. From Paul Von Mertens’ buzzing bass harmonica on “I Know There’s an Answer,” to more of Brian’s emotion surfacing on “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times,” to an extended percussion jam on “Pet Sounds” the song, to “Caroline No” which saw Brian get up and shuffle quickly offstage as the original album-ending dog and train sound effects plowed through the speakers, the stage dramatically backlit in sunset-red.

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Now the inevitable encores: “Good Vibrations” with a real artistic element adding to the original sound (and minus unnecessary eye candy in the background) – straight into a non-stop barrage of get-up-and-dance favorites culminating with “Fun, Fun, Fun” and a “Rhapsody in Blue” ending. How Brian is that. Finally, all was summed up by twelve voices and a piano with “Love and Mercy” from Wilson’s 1988 solo album. A hand-holding band bow, initiated by Brian, and the lights were up. For all of Mike Love’s purported transcendentalism, the Brian Wilson evening transcended just about everything.

And the winner! I don’t know, you decide.


images courtesy,,,,,,,

Brian Wilson YouTube videos courtesy tonyrx93 and Rick Malecz; Mike Love YouTube video courtesy rangersdcfan (from Vienna, VA 8/20/17, not NYC – but you get the picture)