Brian Douglas Wilson was born on June 20, 1942 in Inglewood, California. When he was two his family moved to Hawthorne. He is best known as the genius songwriter for and performer with The Beach Boys. Their first two albums were 1962’s SURFIN’ SAFARI and 1963’s SURFIN’ U.S.A. The last Beach Boys studio album released was 2012’s THAT’S WHY GOD MADE THE RADIO. Brian released his first solo album (self-titled) in 1988. NO PIER PRESSURE (2015, Brimel/Capitol Records) is his eleventh solo studio effort. It peaked at #28 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was co-produced by Brian and Joe Thomas.
Starting things off is ‘This Beautiful Day’, one of ten songs here written by the duo of Brian and Joe Thomas. It is a short easy listening track that includes only the following lyrics: “Life goes on and on/Like your favorite song/What we feel inside/On this wayward ride/If we could find a way/If you would only stay/If we could hold onto this feeling/And this beautiful day”. ‘Runaway Dancer’ was written by Brian, Joe, and Sebu Simonian. The latter was born in Syria and is one-half of the L.A. based indie pop duo Capital Cities. This light dance number is about a gal and puts saxophone to good use: “She doesn’t give you an explanation/Standing out in the rain/There’s a lack of communication/You can’t explain/Yeah, it’s been the talk of the town/She’s walking ‘round everywhere/Looking for an answer/Someone caught her fooling around/Acting like she don’t care/Runaway dancer”.
‘Whatever Happened’ is one of two songs featuring Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks. It’s nice to hear these three Beach Boys perform together again on this easy listening, inquisitive song: “Somewhere in between/These things I’ve seen/I have somehow lost my way/The starry nights, the harbor lights/The moon across the bay/Whatever happened to my favorite places?/Nothing’s where it used to be/Whatever happened?/What’s gonna happen to me?” ‘On The Island’ features indie duo She & Him, who are Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. Zooey is an actress whose credits include the holiday film ELF and the sitcom NEW GIRL. This is a carefree adult pop tune: “We booked a seven day cruise on our summer vacation/Ended up lost in this island nation/Saturday morning/A walk in the sand/The rhythmic beat/Of this tropical band/On the island/We’ll be wasting our time/(Wasting our time)/On the island/I’ll be feeling just fine”.
‘Half Moon Bay’ features Mark Isham. He has worked on the scores of nearly 100 films including ‘Fly Away Home’, ‘What Women Want’ and ‘Dolphin Tale’. This peaceful instrumental makes good use of horns and is accompanied by some sweet vocal harmonizing. ‘Our Special Love’ features Peter Hollens. He’s known for his a cappella style and his videos on YOUTUBE. This is an emotional love song: “A special love can’t be found anywhere in the world/Except for here, that’s where you are/What I’m thinking of can’t be found anywhere in the world/Except for here, that’s where you are/If you knew that you would fall when you first met her/Now she’s gone and you just can’t forget her/How’d your everything leave you wondering?/Fly away”.
‘The Right Time’ reflects on the status of a romantic relationship: “Whatever happened to me and you/And everything we’ve been going through?/So many pieces but never in a very straight line/Right, could it be the right, could it be the right time for getting together?/Right, could it be the right, could it be the right time?/I’m thinking forever”. Kacey Musgraves is featured on and is a co-writer of ‘Guess You Had to Be There’. In 2014 she won a Grammy for Best Country Album for SAME TRAILER DIFFERENT PARK. Here, she collaborates on a terrific adult pop song: “Yeah, I guess you had to be there/It was a hell of a ride/Lines were blurried and hurried/But it felt like the stars had aligned/We were sharing a new day/Singing a new song/And everyone’s problems were suddenly gone/Everything I ever wanted is right before my face/And all the beautiful people/Were always at my place”.
‘Don’t Worry’ has an upbeat 70’s feel to it musically. It offers these words of advice: “Don’t worry where you’re going or how far/Everyone has to find their own North Star/Someday you’ll find a place where you wanna be/That’s all that ever mattered to you and me/Don’t worry where you’re going or how far/You’ve got to follow the Sun/Think for yourself/Love everyone”. ‘Somewhere Quiet’ is one of two songs composed by Brian and Scott Bennett. It includes this conversational chorus: “I wanna take you somewhere quiet/So I can hear what’s in my heart/Are you as real as I imagine/Or just the one who plays the part?”
‘I’m Feeling Sad’ is a light pop song of regret: “Take a walk to the grocery store/Can’t remember what I came for/No place to go but I’m on my way/’Cause it’s sad/Sad when you’re not at home/Sad ‘cause I’m all alone/Sad as a guy can be.../And it’s all right in front of me/I was too blind but now I see/That it’s so hard to be alone/Waiting here at home”. Al Jardine is featured on ‘Tell Me Why’. This is a ballad that any guy who is longing for his lost love will sure relate to: “I think about the night we met/There’s just some things you don’t forget/I haven’t heard from you again/Since you went away/But now you’re gone and I’ve gotta get on with my life/How many times do I have to explain?/How many nights till I see you again?/How many times can I sit here alone?/Is there a chance that you’ll ever come home?”
‘Sail Away’ features Blondie Chaplin and Al Jardine. It is an adult pop song of adventure: “So many years ago but I remember/A distant sunset on the open sea/Fascinated by the sailing ships/On a crimson shore that seemed to call out to me/I still can feel the hope that fills my heart/I still can taste the ocean breeze/Sail away/As I sail away to the farthest reaches/Follow the sun to the white sand beaches/I only know what the west wind teaches/Won’t you sail away with me?” ‘One Kind of Love’ is a heartfelt love song: “Sometimes from out of the blue/An angel comes to you/But you’ve got to have an open heart/I nearly failed the test of time/But now that you are mine/Girl, I’m here to stay/Oh, it’s a revelation/I feel alive again/There are no limitations/With love/There’s only one kind of love/The kind that I’ve been dreaming of/Don’t you know it’s unconditional?”
Nate Ruess who is known as the vocalist for the indie pop band Fun, and for his solo work, delivers a great lead vocal on ‘Saturday Night’, a song he co-wrote. It is a commercial sounding adult contemporary love song: “Answer the call, you can try if you want to/Go for it all and we’ll find a new way/Back in the corner is our favorite table/There’s no place that I’d rather stay/Saturday night on Hollywood Boulevard/Hanging around with nothing to do/Saturday night/I’m just where I wanna be/Spending my time here with you/On a Saturday night”. ‘The Last Song’ is the longest, at four minutes and thirty-six seconds. It is a lovely inspirational ballad that includes these words: “Hold on tight and everything will be alright/I never really felt this way before/Don’t let go/There’s still time for us so let’s take it slow/I wish that I could give you so much more.../There’s never enough time for the ones that you love”.
The Deluxe Edition of the album includes two bonus tracks. ‘In the Back of my Mind’ is a Brian Wilson-Mike Love composition. This oldie is the song of a guy who doesn’t want to lose his girl: “I know it’s so hard to find a girl who really understands your mind.../But in the back of my mind I’m afraid it’s gonna change”. ‘Love and Mercy’ is a ballad that finds Brian longing for peace: “I was sittin’ in my room and the news comes on T.V./A lotta people out there hurtin’ and it really scares me/Love and mercy, that’s what you need tonight/So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight”. LOVE AND MERCY is also the name of a 2014 movie based on Brian Wilson’s life in the 60’s and 80’s.
NO PIER PRESSURE is an absolute delight to listen to! It has a warm, inviting, and intimate feel to it. These songs about romantic love will draw you in quickly, making you feel as if you are the main character. This album freely embraces a biblical concept-that is, that we all need companionship. No man is meant to be an island. At this point, Brian Wilson could just rest on his laurels and fade into the sunset. Instead, here, he fuses his talent and ideas with those of some of the young and exciting stars of today and, in so doing, gives his devoted fans a perfect gift. I’m rating NO PIER PRESSURE 100%. For more info visit: www.brianwilson.com and www.capitolrecords.com.