NY Times Takes On "Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin"
NY TIMES "What do George Gershwin and the Beach Boys’ prime mover, Brian Wilson, have in common? A jaunty, exuberant tunefulness for one thing, and a desire to push pop into high-art territory for another. In 'Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin,' Mr. Wilson dresses Gershwin tunes in surfer attire. With varying degrees of success he turns the melodies into post-Beach Boys pop with stacked harmonies performed in a barbershop tradition that erases vocal individuality for the sake of a creamy harmonic blend. The best cut is a pulsing, bouncy 'They Can’t Take That Away From Me,' in which Mr. Wilson sounds like a child in the throes of puppy love jumping for joy. 'I’ve Got a Crush on You,' garnished with piano triplets, is taken back to the happy days of early rock ’n’ roll. An instrumental 'I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’' is the best section of a four-song medley from 'Porgy and Bess' that also includes 'Summertime,' 'I Loves You, Porgy' and 'It Ain’t Necessarily So.' The arrangement, featuring banjo, harmonicas and several percussion instruments, evokes lazy 1930s summer afternoons shuffling down a dirt road, fishing rod in hand. The medley’s embarrassing low point, 'I Loves You, Porgy,' sung by Mr. Wilson, feebly trying for melodrama, demonstrates the overall uninterest in lyrics on an album in which the arrangement, not the singer, does the interpretive work. Two beyond-the-grave 'collaborations' — obscure minor Gershwin tunes outfitted with wispy lyrics by Mr. Wilson and the instrumentalist Scott Bennett — are throwaways. Then there’s 'I Got Rhythm,' arranged as a trudging surf-style anthem with martial syncopation. A similar approach to the song was taken by the Happenings, whose hit version in 1967 had a fluency and lightness that is missing in this too self-conscious one. On an album that feels like a posthumous competition, Mr. Wilson emerges the clear loser. STEPHEN HOLDEN"