How Deep Is The Ocean? (Paul Williams)
Once again, a Brian Wilton cultist-cum-critic
decides to write a book focusing primarily on the music Brian
made after "Pet Sounds," when the Beach Boys were
at their commercial low-point and Brian was losing touch with
the real world (and himself). The best Beach Boys music were
songs like "I Get Around", "Wendy", "Don't
Worry Baby", "Surfer Girl"... songs plenty of
people still listen to and enjoy. These were made between 1962
and 1965, and they are exhilirating, innovative, and emotionally
resonant. The music that the cultists admire-- from the unreleased
"Smile" sessions to "Sunflower" etc.-- sounds
cloistered, half-realized. The fact that Williams has devoted
so many pages to music that hardly bears much repeated listening
is nauseating, considering how little of value has been written
about the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson during their "true"
glory days, between the Surfin' USA and Pet Sounds albums.
The book itself is reasonably well-written but the sense of
idolatry is hard to shake. Yes, Brian was a genius, but one
that flared out after a few heady years of nonstop activity.
From Williams's book you'd get the sense that Brian was a musical
Rembrandt who could do no wrong, but was tragically misguided.
In a series of reviews and annoyingly rambling interviews, Paul
Williams sets out to excuse just about everything Brian Wilson
ever did. Still, one can't help but be drawn in by the man's
enthusiasm, and his reviews of the recent Good Vibrations box
set and the I Just Wasn't Made For These Times CD are perceptive.