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    American Spring ( 1971 )
    Tennessee Waltz / Thinkin' 'bout You Baby / Mama Said / Superstar / Awake / Sweet Mountain / Everybody / This Whole World / Forever / Good Time / Now That Everything's Been Said / Down Home / Shyin' Away / Falling In Love / It's Like Heaven / Had To Phone Ya

    Produced by Brian Wilson and much beloved by the almighty rock critic, Paul Williams. I can't say why, because I don't exactly agree with him. Sure, there are touches here and there that Brian puts in, and this was a Brian Wilson production. 'Surfs Up' and 'Sunflower' were Beach Boys ( read, Carl Wilson and Steve Desper ) productions and sound far superior to this in pure sound. This 1971 album by Brian Wilson's then wife Marilyn and her sister Diane Rovell (both ex-The Honeys) is something of a curiosity, much sought after by Brian Wilson collectors. With no real artistic direction, the running order is something to be debated about. I do realise i've reviewing the 'plus' version with bonus tracks, but songs already or about to be recorded should have been factored in. 'Shyin Away', 'Fallin In Love, both brilliant songs. 'Had To Phone Ya' ended up on '15 Big Ones' by The Beach Boys. 'Good Time' ended up on 'Love You' and 'Thinkin About You Baby' is a re-write of 'Darlin'. Best song here though, by a country mile, is Dennis Wilson's 'Fallin In Love'. Dennis released the song as 'Lady', but no matter. Brian treats this with respect, decent small string section, sweet, quiet lead vocals, as if everyone is in awe of the composition, quite rightly. Dennis, forever in the shadow of his elder brother, came up with quite a few songs in the seventies that out-shone Brian, who was hardly at his creative best.

    'This Whole World' is a changed, elongated version of the 'Sunflower' song, and it works. The melody was always gorgeous in the first place, yet Brian sticks in some experimentation in the break and it works. 'Shyin Away' is a nice, bouncy tune full of trademark Brian Wilson melodic changes. 'Forever' is another Dennis Wilson song, this time one that appeared on 'Sunflower'. Sometimes my favourite song of alltime, the version here retains something, but lacks the Brian vocals towards the end, that really make the song transcendant, when performed by The Beach Boys. Songs such as 'Everybody' hint at a dated Phil Spector sound, and with minimal promotion, it's not surprising this album died without a trace. Is it a lost masterpiece? Sadly no. Brian is mostly going through the motions, touches of genuine inspiration are absent and Marilyn and Diane are no Beach Boys. It seems to me that the story of The Beach Boys in the early seventies was helped by Brian, but certainly not led by him.

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    Readers Comments

    John John, County Kildare
    Don't forget "Sweet Mountain". Very generous of Brian to bypass The Beach Boys and let someone else use this beautiful song, even if it was the missus.... :-)

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    this page last updated 28/11/07

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