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Album review: Brian Wilson's 'Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin'

August 16, 2010 |  7:41 pm

BRIAN_W_G_240_ On “Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin,” the summer mash-up between the surf-sound maestro and the Jazz Age composer, the most obvious retooling is on “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” Far from Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s wistful yet playful version, or any other classic take, Brian Wilson casts the song as a sock-hop shimmy with bouncy piano rhythms.

This album finds Wilson clearly invigorated by material he feels an affinity with; thankfully, he’s not so precious that he can’t flood it with sea salt, sunshine and all the qualities that make his music individual. At 68, his voice sounds roughened but expressive, an aged root growing through all the squeaky clean orchestration made for starry drives with the convertible top down.

Wilson listened to more than 100 Gershwin compositions before narrowing it down to these songs, which run the gamut from the traditionally covered to rarities. He also was given permission from the Gershwin estate to finish two songs, “The Like in I Love You” and “Nothing But Love.” “The Like in I Love You” is one of the best for showing Wilson’s deft hand at taking a scrap of melody and blowing it out so that it hits on many different emotional levels. A smile that maybe came after a few tears, the melody refracts but never leaves its sentimental but complex center.

— Margaret Wappler

Brian Wilson
“Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin”
(Walt Disney Records)
Three stars (Out of four)

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