Brian Wilson - Sweet Insanity

Is it as bad as everyone says it is then? Yes, this is the legendary lost Brian Wilson follow-up to his well received 'Brian Wilson' LP of 1988. Under the controversial psychiatric regime of Eugene Landy, Brian turned in 'Sweet Insanity', which included a rap song. He turned it in way over budget and with a myriad of lyrical co-writers, including the ever present 'presence' of Landy. The album itself though is far from the disaster it's painted out to be, barring the misguided rap song, of course. They could easily have dropped it from the running order, but I think the record company merely used it as an excuse to drop Brian and the baggage that he came with at the time. I do find 'Sweet Insanity' lyrically challenged, shall we say. Brian is either singing about girls or his loneliness with only the odd uplifting and acceptable lyric along the way. 'Water Builds Up' for instance is a genuinely great Brian Wilson solo tune that would also have made for a great commercially viable Beach Boys single, if given the chance and better production. 'Sweet Insanity' sounds a little overdone in places, although when listening to a bootleg, it's only ever a guess as to what the final master sounded like, kind of like listening to a third generation copy of a mate's album on an old, battered, C90 TDK cassette.

A few problems with the album then. Why 'Sweet Insanity'? It was initially titled simply 'Brian', a far more marketable prospect, it must be said. Why 'Smart Girls'? As I said, I believe the record company believed they were not going to recoup their advances by now, they could merely have dropped 'Smart Girls' from the tracklisting. Secondly, bad feeling towards Eugene Landy. The album was notionally produced by Brian Wilson, although under Landy's direction and as i've noted, the production is hardly a strong point of the LP. Why hasn't the album subsequently been released? Well, apparently, according to Brian, the master tapes were stolen. That could be true or they could have been destroyed or hidden by Brian himself. Whatever actually happened, as with the dozens of unreleased Beach Boys live and studio albums, it's unlikely we'll see this released officially within the lifetime of Brian himself. A good thing or bad thing? Well, five of the better tracks have been officially re-recorded and released on Brian's 'Gettin' In Over My Head' solo LP. Of the others, 'Something To Love', 'Water Builds Up' and 'Spirit Of Rock N Roll' are worthy of Brian Wilson and deserve to be heard. Possibly new lyrics required for 'Something To Love' and re-recordings for all three, but what can you do?

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Jude Bolton Australia siedwards@hotmail.com
I have something called The Milennium Edition of Sweet Insanity. It sounds like it has been remastered and, probably for the amusements of the bootleggers, contains short sound-bytes between several songs, including a Mr. Burns of Simpsons fame "excellent!" at the end of Smart Girls. As for the quality of music, the production (as it sounds on my bootleg) is hilariously overblown. I was too young to be listening to music in 1990, but if this is what passed as "hip, commercial production" back then, then thank God for the Pixies! I can overlook the production, though, and the lyrics, which are never a big sticking point for me where Brian Wilson is concerned, and enjoy some extraordinarily melodic compositions. "I Do" is unbelievably catchy and one of the most joyful pure pop songs I've heard, although, as the reviewer on www.beachboys.com says, the lyrics are entirely the opposite! As for the others, Someone To Love, Water Builds Up, and Hotter are great, energetic songs tha! t deserve to be rerecorded and properly released. I'm amazed at the level of infectiousness and energy that Brian is able to convey within the vocal melodies of these songs; these songs are made by their vocal melodies, with little or no support from the arrangements and production at all. That's quite a feat. Don't Let Her Know She's An Angel, Make A Wish, and Rainbow Eyes all appear on Getting In Over My Head, although I wouldn't pick any of them as highlights of the Sweet Insanity album. I prefer Thank You (Brian), another fabulous melody, and come on, the lyrics are quite touching! That wraps up all the songs on my Sweet Insanity disc, apart from Love Ya, which I haven't mentioned because I can't remember how it goes. Thanks for this album Brian! It's better than Imagination.


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