So brian wilson finally followed up 1988's eponymous debut, after
a few false starts(notably 1991's SWEET INSANITY aborted just before release and the mid 90's sessions with andy paley).Wilson spent most of the 90's either in legal disputes or in sporadic
side projects such as I JUST WASNT MADE FOR THESE TIMES album and tv doc and also ORANGE CRATE ART ,the album with VAN DYKE PARKS .Despite the deaths of his mother AUDREE WILSON and fellow
beach boy CARL WILSON in the months before release,BRIAN WILSON
was undoubtedly more at ease with life and more relaxed in his
This more happy and relaxed state of mind is clearly evident
throughout IMAGINATION. The album opens with the title track, an
infectious pop song laden with BW harmonies recalling the spirit of DO IT AGAIN or KEEPIN' THE SUMMER ALIVE, and surely would have been a massive hit had it been credited to THE BEACH BOYS.
Next up is SHE SAYS THAT SHE NEEDS ME the highlight of the album,and a track that would sit comfortably on PET SOUNDS.Here
Wilsons vocals sound as good as theyve done since the glory days
of the sixties.SOUTH AMERICAN and WHERE HAS LOVE BEEN are both
pleasant if not groundbreaking tracks before Brian,s new version of KEEP AN EYE ON SUMMER , originally released in the early sixties.This version,in my opinion ,is better than the original,though others will disagree.DREAM ANGEL is a wonderfully catchy song ,slightly reminiscent of BREAKAWAY, and would surely have graced any BB album.The pace slows somewhat for the next two tracks CRYING and LAY DOWN BURDEN, Brian's tribute to CARL.Both tracks are beautifully recorded and feature trademark harmonies and moments of brilliance.If the album had continued to the standard of these first eight tracks IMAGINATION would be considered up there with PET SOUNDS ,FRIENDS ,SUNFLOWER, and even BRIAN WILSON .Unfortunately, it dosent.LET HIM RUN WILD is an unnecessary remake of the BB classic and dosent quite work whilst SUNSHINE and HAPPY DAYS are certainly listenable and pleasant enough ,but only serve to the end the album on a down
rather than an up.
All in all though IMAGINATION is a fine album ,not quite up there with his very best but certainly not far off.Since the albums release Brian has returned to the forefront of the music industry with his very successful tours of both PET SOUNDS and
SMILE and 2004 looks set to see his revival sealed by GETTING IN OVER MY HEAD his new solo album (due for release june 21 )and
also the slightly delayed release of.......SMILE (SEPTEMBER!)
lIFE IS GOOD !