Imagination (1998) Oct 5, 2019 18:36:41 GMT
Post by Kapitan on Oct 5, 2019 18:36:41 GMT
I've had not only mixed feelings about this album, but inconsistent feelings about it.
It's the first Beach Boys-related album I got when it was more or less new. I didn't get it immediately, but I did get it in 1998, so within the first six months of its release. Wilson had toured Minneapolis and had a very positive review, and roughly simultaneously I saw I think the A&E doc that used a clip of the Bernstein / Surf's Up performance--my first exposure to Smile! I had Pet Sounds at the time, but that was it, and I was treating it like a unique event, the single example of Wilson's genius poking through the banality and mediocrity of the Beach Boys. That's how I thought about them before!
Once I'd heard about Smile and heard that bit of "Surf's Up," I came to immediately appreciate him much more. I bought this newish album and hoped it would show a somewhat newly freed and healthy (or so I thought of him) Wilson finally unleashing his oddball brilliance.
Instead, I heard an adult contemporary piece of pop. I tried--really, really hard--to find hints of the avante garde because I thought that's where Wilson's brilliance lay. So I'd grab on to lyrics like "I miss the way that I used to call the shots around here" and imagine I'd found the genius breaking free, or maybe the first part of "Happy Days" and think it was some new oddity (not knowing it was almost 30 years old...).
But even as I hoped I liked it, forced myself to like it, I openly mocked the production. To some extent, I still do. The nylon stringed guitars, the noodling, the overall sheen: it's just not for me.
Increasingly, though, I really appreciate the songs. I like the ones most people like, including "Your Imagination," "She Says That She Needs Me," "South American," and "Lay Down Burden," but I also really, REALLY like the pop fare of "Dream Angel" and "Where Has Love Been?" I wish the Beach Boys remakes weren't there, but honestly I wasn't familiar with the originals when I first heard this album anyway (much less the recycled components of things like "SSTSNM" and "Happy Days").
It's a good album. The production still strikes me as dated, as it did even when it was a new album. But Brian is singing really well throughout, doing justice to this solid batch of songs. Sure, I'd have loved to hear his then-current band redo the whole thing circa 2004-08, but this album is much better than I gave it credit for at times along the way. If imperfections disqualified albums from our libraries, they'd be small, small libraries after all.