Gettin' In Over My Head

Brian Wilson

Rhino/Brimel, 2004

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Faithful Vault readers probably know the musicians I have an immense amount of respect for. One of these is Brian Wilson, who as far as I’m concerned cemented his legacy with Pet Sounds and 2004s SMiLE, though it's not like his legacy needed any further proof. Yet his solo career has been marked by a number of failures, which somehow haven’t managed to damage his reputation as a pop genius.

Imagination featured Wilson’s best vocals since his Beach Boys days; needless to say, the trend did not carry on over to Gettin’ In Over My Head. There were countless moments where I cringed because Wilson sings out of key or strains to hit notes that have long since passed him by. For example, the a cappella intro tag to “You’ve Touched Me” sounds gut-wrenchingly awful. From the outset you can isolate Wilson’s vocals, totally out of sync with his band’s.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Conversely, the music itself is the highlight of the record. Instead of the sterile 80s-style production of Imagination, this record actually hearkens back to Wilson’s Pet Sounds days. The title track is the prime example, while also being the best effort on disc, a beautifully textured pop song with some stunning arrangements. It is songs like these that show Wilson is far from obsolete.

For this recording, Wilson invited a few friends to play along, and the list by itself is quite impressive. Elton John, Eric Clapton, and Paul McCartney make major contributions, with Clapton’s probably being the most effective. When I had heard Macca would be playing alongside Wilson, I nearly freaked. Unfortunately, the song “A Friend Like Me” is 100% garbage. Two of the greatest songwriters of the rock era should have been able to come up with something a little more substantial than a song that sounds like a children’s TV theme. Wilson’s mindset has always resembled that of a child’s, but never anything this bad.

To put it simply, the music along cannot overcome the deficiencies of the vocals and inanity of the lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, Pet Sounds was by no means revolutionary in terms of its lyrics, but they weren’t clichéd and vapid like this (sample: "She had a body that you'd kill for, you hoped that she'd take the pill for"). You get the sense Wilson was trying to convey a new sense of his own personal happiness but overdosed on sugar before writing about it. Other lyrics of note: “Next door they are having a garage sale / Rover is barking now OK and here’s mail…” Seriously, the kids I work with could have come up with that.

Thank God that I had bought SMiLE before Gettin’ In Over My Head. I might have never bought another Wilson record. I don’t care what else of his catalog you purchase, just don’t waste the money on this

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rhino/Brimel, and is used for informational purposes only.