Gary Usher

Gary Usher: Add Some Music to Your Day (A Symphonic Tribute to Brian Wilson)

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Gary Usher recorded orchestral versions of a handful of Beach Boys tracks in 1970 with the Los Angeles Symphony. It was slated to be released on his Together record label, but never saw the light of day due to the financial failure of that venture. With renewed interest in the career of Brian Wilson, the collection finally managed an overseas release in 2001. The results are titled Add Some Music to Your Day: 1970 Symphonic Tribute to Brian Wilson). A more appropriate title might have been "Add Some Musak to Your Day." The arrangements and orchestrations are inspired by the elevator music stylings of '60s middle-of-the-road acts such as Ferrante and Teicher and Mantovani. This is unremittingly mediocre dentist's office music, so sugary it will make you want to rinse and spit immediately after listening. It actually suffers by comparison with The Many Moods of Murry Wilson, the notorious vanity recording by Brian Wilson's father. At least veteran Don Ralke competently arranged the music on that disc, including a version of "The Warmth of the Sun" that is superior to the one contained herein. That LP at least reflects the assuredness of people who love and respect the easy listening genre, no matter how hackneyed and saccharine. Usher and his arranger, Curt Boettcher, seem to have had a thinly veiled contempt for that type of music and its audience, and it shows. The only bright spot is their reworking of "Fall Breaks and Back to Winter," which does a fine job of capturing the surrealistic mood of the Beach Boys' Smiley Smile album. It's too bad the rest of the disc doesn't live up to that track's promise. Brian Wilson's songs certainly deserved better, and Gary Usher might have left this album unreleased for a reason, as it's easily the worst project he was ever involved in during an otherwise distinguished career. Even completists of both men might want to think twice before acquiring this disc.

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