Band members Related acts
- Carl Wilson (RIP 1998) -- vocals, guitar
supporting musicians: (1981)
- John Daly -- guitar
- Gerald Johnson -- bass
- Alan Krigger - tambourine
- Rand McCorkick - keyboards
- Koel Peskin -- sax
- Myrna Smith (RIP 2010) -- vocals
- James Stroud -- drums, percussion
- Brian Wilson (solo efforts)
- Dennis Wilson (solo efforts)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Carl Wilson
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: includes original lyric inner sleeve
Catalog ID: 6256
Throughout their dysfunctional history The Beach Boys have always been somewhat of an ongoing soap opera. Against their train wreck history, even though he had his share of issues, singer/guitarist Carl Wilson always served as the band's peacemaker, as well as the post-Brian Wilson band leader. God only knows why it took so long, but Carl came late to the solo sweepstakes, only getting around to releasing his debut in 1981 and that came at a point where The Beach Boys had essentially split into two warring factions that were unable, or unwilling to record, or tour with one another.
Having apparently tried to interest the rest of the band in recording new material, in 1981 a frustrated Wilson signed to James William Guercio's Columbia affiliated Caribou subsidiary. "Carl Wiison" teamed Wilson with Guerico in the production seat and singer Myrna Smith-Schilling (coincidently married to Wilson's then manager Jerry Schilling). co-writing all eight songs. While I'd love to tell you this was an amazing, undiscovered masterpiece, it wasn't. There really was a reason Brian Wilson wrote the majority of The Beach Boys classic tunes. It wasn't that Carl was a bad songwriter; rather he simply wasn't a great songwriter and Smith seemingly didn't bring a great deal to the creative table. Adding to the problem, the usually sure handed Guercio seemed at a loss in terms of what to do with Wilson. As a result the album had the feel of someone trying to find a suitable artistic and commercial niche for themselves. Wilson's crystalline voice remained a treasure, but it was wasted on far too many of these faceless selections. That said, the second side of the album was quite good with a number of Beach-Boys-styled ballads that serve to showcase the best attributes of Wilson's voice ('Hurry Love', 'Heaven' and the touching 'Seems So Long Ago'). Backed by extensive touring and television appearances the parent album hit the US charts, peaking at # 185.
Wilson" track listing:
1.) Hold Me (Carl Wilson - Myrna Smith) - 4:03 rating: *** stars
Blessed with an instantly recognizable voice, Wilson seldom sounded as tough as on the opener 'Hold Me', Technically the song was actually a duet with co-writer Myrna Smith who with her gutsy, R&B-ish voice, actually threatened to completely bury Wilson. You could hear him literally hanging on for dear life as Smith literally blasted him out of the studio ... Nice choice for a single. It should have done much better in terms of sales:
- 1981's 'Hold Me' b/w 'The Right Lane' (Caribou catalog number ZS6 01049)
YouTube also has a July 4th 1981 lip synch performance of the song from a Wilson appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand: Carl Wilson - Hold Me and Heaven (DJ L33 Remaster) American Bandstand July 4 1981 The Beach Boys HQ - YouTube
2.) Bright Lights (Carl Wilson - Myrna Smith) - 3:47 rating: ** stars
'Bright Lights' was a rather bland slice of early-1980s corporate pop. Yeah it had a decent enough hook, but to my ears this one didn't sound much different than the '80s stuff folks like Rupert Holmes, Pablo Cruise, and Randy VanWarmer were churning out.
3.) What You Gonna Do About Me? (Carl Wilson - Myrna Smith) - 4:25 rating: **** stars
Admittedly it was another slice of corporate rock, but 'What You Gonna Do About Me?' had a great melody and one of Wilson's slinkiest vocals. Say what you will about the man, but he had an amazing voice. If you were going to sell out to popular tastes this wasn't a bad way to go.
4.) The Right Lane (Carl Wilson - Myrna Smith) - 5:13 rating: *** stars
Apparently trying to cash-in on the public's appetite for corporate rock, 'The Right Lane' sounded like something a band like Chicago, or REO Speedwagon might have recorded. Hardly the most original performance on the album, but the song was still worth hearing since it demonstrated Wilson could churn out a real rock song. John Daly's guitar solo provided the song's highlights. Caribou released the song as a promotional 12":
- 1981's 'The Right Lane' bw ''Hold Me' b/w(Caribou catalog number AS 931)
One of the album's most Beach Boy-ish performance, 'Hurry Love' was a gorgeous ballad that served as a near perfect showcase for Wilson's beautiful voice. Hard to understand why Caribou didn't chose it as a single - maybe because it was too Beach Boyish ?
2.) Heaven (Carl Wilson - Myrna Smith - Michael Sun) - 4:23 rating: **** stars
Spotlighting that special voice, 'Heaven' was easily the album's standout performance. Another beautiful ballad that easily matched the cream of his Beach Boys' performances, it was a wonderful performance that should have provided Wilson with a massive radio hit. Easy to see why it was tapped as the leadoff single.
- 1981's 'Heaven' b/w 'Hurry Love' (Caribou catalog number ZS6 02136)
No idea when or where it was recorded (though it looks like Hawaii), but YouTube has a live performance of the song at: Carl Wilson "Heaven" - YouTube
3.) The Grammy (Carl Wilson - Myrna Smith) - 3:04 rating: **** stars
With a bouncy confessional edge taking loving potshots at the music industry 'The Grammy' was definitely goofy, but I'll admit that it was a guilty pleasure. Easy to picture Meatloaf taking a stab at this one ...
4.) Seems So Long Ago (Carl Wilson - Myrna Smith) - 4:56 rating: **** stars
The album's most personal song and the prettiest performance (Wilson's voice shimmered on this one), 'Seems So Long Ago' was apparently a reflection on growing up in the Wilson family household and on his late mother. The song certainly seemed overly nostalgic, but then for those of us who are lucky, time makes us forget much of life's unpleasant aspects. Regardless there was something very touching in Wilson's quiet reflections on growing up in the Wilson household. I guess I'm a far bigger softie than I ever thought.
If you're on a limited budget I'd suggest starting with brother Dennis Wilson's debut solo set, but this one's not bad and is easy to find on the cheap.
In 1997 Wilson was diagnosed with cancer. By the time it was discovered the disease had already spread to his lungs and brain. He underwent extensive chemotherapy and insisted on touring with the band during their summer tour, passing on in February 1998. His sons Jonah and Justyn subsequent established the Carl Wilson Foundation with raises funds to fight cancer and help those fighting the disease: http://www.carlwilsonfoundation.org/index.htm
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