- I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org). As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia! Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton. I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times. I also wrote the liner notes for the three THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me? My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored. Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.
Friday, July 15, 2016
My Pop Worlds Merge: ANNY CELSI Writes About BRIAN WILSON's Band, And PET SOUNDS
Anny Celsi is one of my fave raves. I first heard Anny's music when intrepid This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio co-host Dana Bonn received a copy of her superswell 2003 album Little Black Dress & Other Stories. From first spin, I was enthralled by the track "Empty Hangers," which has earned a permanent berth on my All-Time Hot 300. Since then, I've tracked down (I think) all of Anny Celsi's releases, from Annyland's 1996 She Walks In through Little Black Dress & Other Stories, Tangle-Free World, and January. Because Anny's a sweetie, she also allowed us to use "Empty Hangers" on our most recent compilation CD, This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 3.
While I fell for Anny immediately, it took me a while to become a Beach Boys fan. As a kid in the '60s and early '70s, I knew the hits, and liked 'em well enough, but the standard-issue Endless Summer double-LP set was all the Beach Boys I was ever likely to need. Spurred on by a sudden, inexplicable love of "Sloop John B," I purchased a copy of Pet Sounds as a freshman in college, circa Spring '78. I liked it. My life did not change. The Yergers, the wonderful folks who owned Main Street Records in Brockport, tried their level best to turn me into a Beach Boys fan, but I guess I just wasn't ready. Not yet.
An odd sequence of events changed that by the late '80s. Capitol Records began a comprehensive series of Beach Boys CD reissues; I borrowed a copy of the two-fer Beach Boys Today/Summer Days (And Summer Nights!), and BAM! Hooked. Just like that. The Doonesbury comic strip ran a storyline about a terminal AIDS patient, trying to hold on to life long enough to hear Pet Sounds on CD. Silly as it seems, this inspired me to give Pet Sounds a fresh listen. I now agree with the many who hail it as the greatest album of all time.
I had a chance to see The Beach Boys in concert in...1989, I think? 1990? Somewhere in there. Brian Wilson, of course, was not touring with the group, and Dennis Wilson had long since caught that last wave home. Mike Love was there...yeah, hooray. But so were Al Jardine and Carl Wilson, and it was just fantastic. Even Love was sorta tolerable, kinda. And I got to witness Carl Wilson singing "God Only Knows" live, and that's an indelible concert memory I can cherish until I catch the last wave home. I saw Al Jardine with his band on one subsequent occasion, but I have never seen Brian Wilson live.
That will change on Monday, August 29th, when the legendary Brian Wilson brings his incredible band to Syracuse for a free--FREE!--show at the New York State Fair, recreating Pet Sounds live. I guess I shouldn't call it "free"--ya gotta buy a ticket for admission to the Fair, which'll set you back a hefty $6 in advance, something like $10 at the gate. Jeez. Hardly seems worth it now, right? Yeah, everyone else, just stay home that day. Save your money! Heh, heh, heh....
I cannot believe our good fortune in getting this opportunity here. Wilson's crackerjack band includes members of The Wondermints, as well as Al Jardine, and a great guy named Nelson Bragg, whose own terrific music I was introduced to by some chick named...oh, Anny Celsi. Right! Full circle!
The Brian Wilson Band has earned international acclaim for its impeccable ability to perform Pet Sounds, SMiLE, and the full width and depth of the Brian Wilson Bible. But don't take my word for it. Take Anny Celsi's word for it:
You should probably listen to her. I betcha she caught on way before I did.