Brian Wilson - Gettin' In Over My Head
Review by Ronnie

"How can we still make music after MTV?"
-lyrics from "How Could We Still Be Dancin'"

First off, let me state that I've heard that there have been a few bad reviews of the new Brian Wilson album, 'GETTIN' IN OVER MY HEAD'. If you believed these nay Sayers, Brian should be singing "how can I still make music after PET SOUNDS?"! I've resisted the temptation to read the other reviews until after I've written a review for EAR CANDY (this is my modus operandi when reviewing ANY new music-"don't read the press until you are done"). Of course GIOMH won't be considered a "classic" album in the vein of PET SOUNDS. Besides, how do you overcome an "albatross" like that classic album? To have everything that you record compared to an album you did in 1966? That's like getting mad at the Beatles for saying that they departed too much after RUBBER SOUL. But, the new album does have merit as a Brian Wilson solo release and I will only compare GIOMH to Brian's other two solo albums, BRIAN WILSON and IMAGINATION (and to be totally fair, also his unreleased SWEET INSANITY album).

With that said, what do I think about Brian's new solo album? It is a big jump over 1998's IMAGINATION. One of the ways I judge albums is by counting how many melodies stay in your mind throughout the day after you have listened to it. By using this method alone, GIOMH is a great Brian Wilson solo album. There are at least 3 songs that I find myself humming throughout the day: "How Could We Still Be Dancin', "Soul Searching" and "Getting' In Over My Head". But then again, Brian Wilson is a master of melody, with few peers in rock 'n roll. These 3 songs alone make GIOMH a great progression over IMAGINATION. You can just hear Brian's enthusiasm and confidence permeating the digital "grooves" of the CD.

The guest appearances by Elton John, Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney are simply icing on the cake to already strong songs. Only Elton truly shines, adding an electrifying performance in the way that he added spark to John Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Through the Night". Clapton and McCartney's contributions pale in comparison. While Clapton's guitar work is a welcomed addition to "City Blues" (the hardest rocking song on this CD), it is the overall production/arrangement of the song that makes it rock. Brian's duet with Paul McCartney on "A Friend Like You" is probably the weakest track on the CD - but this STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER-melotron-sounding track is interesting and shows that Brian can still write different styles. Maybe Paulie can have Brian help out with his next album, since Brian's GIOMH is better than anything that Sir Macca has released in over 15 years! Finally, there are the vocals of Carl Wilson on "Soul Searchin'". Hearing this track makes me realize how much I miss Carl's vocals - this is classic "Beach Boys" at its best.

Also included are 3 songs from Brian's unreleased SWEET INSANITY album: "Don't Let Her Know She's An Angel", "Rainbow Eyes" and "Make a Wish". All three of these are vastly superior to the original versions, both in strength of performance and production. The updated recordings have "energy" and "punch" that are missing from their earlier versions. In hindsight, it shows that it was the right decision NOT to release SWEET INSANITY.

Critics were so quick to be the first to criticize the new Brian Wilson album they missed one important point - Brian still has that ability to send chills down your spine simply by recording the music in his head. And by the evidence of GIOMH, he still has this gift in him and hopefully there will be many more in the future.

One final note: Brian is showing real balls by releasing two albums in a single year. I really like that attitude of, "let's show them how we used to do this in the '60s!" Brian has shown more musical energy in one year than many musicians half his age. While GIOMH is not a "great" album like 1988's BRIAN WILSON, it is easily the best album he has done since. And that says a lot!