Various Artists

Here Today!: The Songs of Brian Wilson

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Brian Wilson famously abandoned the road for the studio in 1965, but in the years prior to that transition he was already something of a studio rat, spending a fair amount of time writing for (and sometimes producing) artists outside of the Beach Boys. He worked with Jan Berry, produced and composed for the female surf rock trio the Honeys (he would marry Marilyn Rovell), and tried to land songs with Phil Spector, but it wouldn't be until late 1964 that the covers came quickly, not coincidentally coinciding with his progression as a composer. Most of the songs on Ace's 2015 compilation, Here Today! The Songs of Brian Wilson -- a 25-track collection of covers -- date from that purple patch from the mid-'60s, and include many songs cherry-picked from the excellent Today! and Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) records -- recovered roughly at the same time, plus a selection of tunes he gave away during that era and a suite of songs from Pet Sounds that were covered between 1967 and 1991. Despite the opening ringer of "Do You Have Any Regrets" -- a song from the abandoned 1991 Sweet Insanity album covered by Darain Sahanaja, the lead singer of the Wondermints, a group which proved instrumental in the 21st century revival of Smile -- and "Surf City," everything here dates from between 1964 and 1966, which is appropriate, as those three years were Brian Wilson's golden age. Here Today! isn't so much a primary text for that era as a useful, often delightful, supplement, adding color and texture to a well-known story. Often, this shading arrives through alternate versions of songs the Beach Boys first cut -- Bobby Vee does "Here Today," Tony Rivers & the Castaways do "The Girl from New York City," Basil Swift & the Seegrams tackle "Farmer's Daughter" -- and if these versions don't reimagine the originals, they are nevertheless a testament to the studio craft of Los Angeles in the mid-'60s. As much as Wilson's writing is indelible -- he wrote few better songs than "Guess I'm Dumb," here in a relatively rare, slightly speedier version by Johnny Wells, not Glen Campbell -- it's the overall feel of Here Today! that truly impresses: this was music made when working in the studio with a large cast of supporting musicians was the norm, and it's all the more glorious for that.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Darian Sahanaja 03:49 Amazon
2 Bobby Vee 02:29 Amazon
3 Johnny Wells 02:42 Amazon
4 The Tokens 02:54 Amazon
5 The Seegrams / Basil Swift 01:57 Amazon
6 Bruce & Terry 02:46 Amazon
7 The Castells 01:50 Amazon
8 Jan & Dean 02:54 Amazon
9 Redwood 02:47 Amazon
10 The Surfaris 02:14 Amazon
11 The Hondells 01:42 Amazon
12 Rally-Packs 01:44 Amazon
13 Joey & The Continentals 02:03 Amazon
14 Tony Rivers & The Castaways 02:05 Amazon
15 The Tymes 02:16 Amazon
16 The Super Stocks 01:47 Amazon
17 Jay & the Americans 02:51 Amazon
18 Keith Green 02:16 Amazon
19 Peggy March 02:29 Amazon
20 Betty Everett 03:19 Amazon
21 Carmen McRae 02:55 Amazon
22 Hugo Montenegro 02:49 Amazon
23 Nick DeCaro 03:38 Amazon
24 Dean Brodrick / Louis Philippe / Louis Phillipe 03:40 Amazon
25 Kirsty MacColl 02:59 Amazon
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