This DVD captures Brian Wilson and his ten-piece rock & roll orchestra at Royal Festival Hall in London during their 2002 tour. These shows were notable for complete performances of the timeless pop music masterwork Pet Sounds (1966). Although credited to the Beach Boys, in reality it could just as easily have been considered the first Brian Wilson solo effort. After nearly four decades, Wilson has finally and rightfully reclaimed his magnum opus. Pet Sounds Live in London (2003) centers on a note-for-note re-creation of the entire album in its original 13-song incarnation. Most immediately striking about the concert footage is how crisp the visuals are. There are no signs of digital artifacts and the colors are sharp, well-defined, and present a rich contrast against the darker backdrops. The audio matches (if not surpasses) the visual opulence incorporating several playback options: standard 2.0 stereo, Dolby 5.1 surround, and DTS surround. Here is where the brilliance of the material meets the unquestionable talents of the support musicians -- which include Scott Bennett (keyboards/vibraphone/percussion/vocals), Mike d'Amico (percussion/guitar/vocals), Jeffrey Foskett (guitar/banjo/percussion/vocals), Probyn Gregory (guitar/French horn/trumpet/tannerin/vocals), Jim Hines (drums/percussion), Bob Lizik(bass/vocals), Paul Mertens (alto sax/soprano sax/flute/piccolo/bass harmonica), Taylor Mills (vocals/percussion), Darian Sahanaja (keyboards/vibraphone/percussion/vocals), and Nick Walusko (guitar/vocals). Interestingly, Foskett was a member of the Beach Boys road band from 1980 to 1991, while d'Amico, Sahanaja, Walusko, and Gregory are the driving force behind the Los Angeles-based power pop combo the Wondermints. The ensemble is nothing short of spectacular as it brings to life resplendent revivals of "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "I Know There's an Answer," and "Sloop John B.," as well as the more emotionally demanding "God Only Knows," "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)," and "Let's Go Away for Awhile." Of particular mention is Mertens' lyrically poignant flute solo on "Caroline, No" or the provocative percussion that quite literally envelops listeners within the 5.1 mix. In addition to the main feature, there is also a 40-minute documentary titled Pet Stories with memories and reminiscences from primary studio contributors to the Pet Sounds long player. Among the luminaries are Tony Asher (lyrics), Hal Blaine (percussion), Carol Kaye (bass), Don Randi (piano), Frankie Capp (percussion), and Tommy Morgan (bass harmonica). They reveal intimacies on the crafting of the landmark effort and their insights shed new perspectives on just how involved and sonically rich the tunes are. Without question, Pet Sounds Live in London is heartily recommended, if not compulsory, for all manner of enthusiast. If you have ever been moved by Wilson or the Beach Boys' version, this DVD is obligatory.
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