IF THIS IS GOODBYE

Chicago and Brian Wilson have concluded their tour together for this summer. Chicago will be on tour again shortly with what will likely be a longer set. The following review of their 2022 stop in Chicago previously appeared on SERENDIPITY.

Brian Wilson and Chicago in concert, by Rich Paschall

Two headlining groups hit the road for a 25-city tour this summer. Since one of the headliners was Chicago, they of course came to Chicago. The other was Beach Boys’ founder Brian Wilson’s band featuring Al Jardine, another founding member, and Blondie Chaplin, a touring member of the Beach Boys in the 1970s. Matt Jardine, Al’s son, is also in the group and sang some of the songs the old timers would be hard pressed to sing. Someone has to do the high parts.

The 12-piece group included some musicians that have been touring with Wilson for quite some time. Musically they are quite tight. They provide the studio-quality sound Wilson prefers. Their set list is mostly a collection of Beach Boys hits, many written by Wilson himself.

While they have played together many times in recent years, this group did not exhibit the polish they have shown in the past. This could be due to Brian’s lack of involvement and the need to redistribute some of the singing assignments. The musicians are great, but there was certainly an inconsistency in the vocal quality of a few songs.

Brian Wilson has been to Chicago before. I saw him on the Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary tour and a few times after that with his own band. Mike Love owns the name the Beach Boys and thus Brian and the other surviving Beach Boys can not use it.

Brian Wilson with Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin

In the past, Brian seemed quite engaged in the performances. At 80, Brian is clearly struggling. Reviewers along the tour seem to agree that you do not know from night to night how engaged Wilson will be. Wilson comes out on stage with the help of a walker and is assisted by two crew members. We could not see from our location if Brian was actually playing the white baby grand piano you see at his shows. Long-time Wilson assistant, singer, and keyboard player Darian Sahanaja had a clear view from Wilson’s right and could jump in as needed, as could Matt Jardine on vocals. Wilson only sang on a few songs. Despite the weak sound of his voice on his most praised song, God Only Knows, the audience rose to its feet following the tune. The quality was not important to the adoring fans. The fact that Wilson was there and performed his most revered hit was enough.

If Wilson is to continue after this summer’s tour, it is clear his health and focus will need to improve. If he has to say goodbye to Live concert performances, we can be grateful that he has given us so many hits to enjoy. Rather than anything from the current tour, I have chosen the nostalgic piece written by Wilson, Joe Thomas, and Jon Bon Jovi from 10 years ago:

The forever touring Chicago came through town again. I really can not say how many times I have seen them over the decades, but I can say they never disappoint. After Brian Wilson’s group played for an hour and a half and there was a half-hour intermission, Chicago went on to play a set that lasted almost two hours. We had no idea we were in for a four-hour concert experience. Both groups are headliners and gave us lengthy set lists. Wilson was to play 18 songs, while Chicago had 25 on their list with a couple of encore songs.

In recent years Chicago has undergone a number of lineup changes. Keith Howland broke his arm prior to the tour and decide to call it a day. Lou Pardini bowed out and thanked the group for “a great and wild ride.” Pardini is 70. As long as they can surround those great horn players with excellent musicians and singers, the group is likely to go on for a while.

Chicago, the band

Founding members James Pankow and Lee Loughnane on trombone and trumpet do not seem to have lost any of their energy as they played through a warm summer night. I did notice Pankow made a shirt change at one point in the evening. It had to be warm on stage. Sax and flute player Ray Herrmann rounds out that horn trio and the sound we have loved for decades.


The above was from my vantage point. It does not seem as easy to hold the camera steady as it used to.

Chicago played all the songs we would expect from the group. They also gave us one that appears on their new album. Yes, Chicago, Born For This Moment, aka Chicago 38, is their first studio album of all new material in 8 years. Why stop now? The 14-track, double LP will be out in October, but most of the songs are already posted by the band. You don’t have a turntable anymore? That’s OK, there is a CD, or you can stream it or just listen on YouTube. They are currently promoting the single, “If This Is Goodbye.”

James Pankow told us this was NOT goodbye and they would be through again next year. If you can keep writing great songs and delivering quality on stage, why say goodbye just yet?

SUMMER SONGS

Since we are in the midst of summer, you might need a few summer songs. You may not agree with some of them so feel to add yours in the comments.  This article originally appeared on SERENDIPITY last summer. 

The Top 10 of a Musical Genius

From the time the Beach Boys hit the surf and the top of the charts in the 1960s, Brian Wilson has been considered a musical genius. His prolific songwriting propelled the careers of the original “Boys.” Their music remains popular to this day.

Wilson was not just trying to crank out rock and rolls songs for public consumption. He was trying to create a new sound, the “California” sound of blended harmonies and instruments. His obsessive work in the studio while seeking a certain type of perfection was both his strength and ultimately his weakness.

Brian Wilson

Today Brian is again touring, writing, and producing. His opinions on music are held in high esteem by songwriters everywhere.  Many, including Paul McCartney, Bono, James Webb (American songwriter), and Rolling Stone Magazine, consider Wilson’s “God Only Knows” among the best songs of all time.

So when Brian offers an opinion regarding rock and roll music, it usually garners some attention.  A few years ago he gave us a top ten list of his favorite songs of summer.  To no one’s surprise, a couple of Beach Boys’ songs made the list, but there are also a few interesting choices:

1. Hot Fun In The Summertime: Sly and the Family Stone.
2. In The Summer Time: Mungo Jerry.
3. I Get Around: The Beach Boys.
4. Be My Baby: The Ronettes.
5. California Girls: The Beach Boys.
6. Give Me Some Lovin’: Spencer Davis Group.
7. Hey Jude: The Beatles.
8. Honky Tonk Women: The Rolling Stones.
9. My Obsession: The Rolling Stones.
10. Mony Mony: Tommy James and the Shondells.

I don’t know how some of these songs were chosen for a summertime list, but it is Brian’s list so he can do as he pleases.  I am happy to modify it a bit. You can follow with your own list in the comments if you are so inclined. First of all, any song I have to look up because I never heard of it needs to go.

“My Obsession” by the Rolling Stones is an early hit that really offers little in the way of music and lyrics.  It is certainly forgettable in every way and a surprise on any list provided by Wilson.  Of course, we all have early rock favorites that will probably sound weird to anyone else.  So, I am kicking that one off the list and replacing it with one of the Beach Boys’ top hits of all time, Little Surfer Girl.

Next, I have to replace the overdone Hey Jude. While McCartney still uses this epic to kill 10 minutes of every concert, I think it is time to retire it. Seriously, have you seen any performance of McCartney, live or on television, that did not contain an overblown version of this hit?  I can not associate it with summer anyway, so I am replacing it with “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful.  Every oldies station will indeed play the heck out of this song from now until Labor Day, but I never tire of it. That’s my standard.

I like “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Mony, Mony” but let’s replace them with Summer hits.  Add Jan and Dean’s number one hit from 1963, “Surf City.”  With a similar sound to the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean successfully rode the airwaves on their musical surfboards for many years, cashing in on the California-style rock.  Another song I’m adding is “Saturday in the Park.” by Chicago — if for no other reason than to include a song from one of my all-time favorite bands, but will it make my Top Ten?

When I discovered Billboard’s list of the Top 30 Summer Songs I see there are a few more that could go on my list by the masters of their style, the Beach Boys.  Go forth and create your own list and enjoy the sounds of summer.

Yes, next week you will get my top ten summer songs that are really about summer. I know you can’t wait. Just sing Hot Fun In The Summertime until then.

HEY BABY, THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG – Rich Paschall

Time to escape from politics for a moment to remember my favorite songs. What are yours? Be sure to click on “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for my top ten.

SERENDIPITY: SEEKING INTELLIGENT LIFE ON EARTH

Which Ones Hold Your Memories? by Rich Paschall

A lot of people have a song or two that are special to them.  It might be their prom theme song or other high school or college dance song.  It might be their first dance from their wedding.  It just might be the song that was playing when they met, or when they first realized they were in love.

The special song could be remembered from a rock concert or play.  It may be the one that was on the radio when you were off on a road trip.  You know the one!  Everyone sang along at the top of their voices.  When you meet now and hear that song, everyone sings it again, just like 20, 30, or even 40 years ago.

Here is my top ten list. They all hold special memories, but if I was to write this tomorrow…

View original post 581 more words

SUMMER SONGS – RICHARD PASCHALL

It’s time to make your summer playlist. Here are some suggestions. Sing along.

SERENDIPITY: SEEKING INTELLIGENT LIFE ON EARTH

The Top 10 of a Musical Genius

From the time the Beach Boys hit the surf and the top of the charts in the 1960’s, Brian Wilson has been considered a musical genius. His prolific song-writing propelled the careers of the original “Boys.” Their music remains wildly popular to this day.

Wilson was not just trying to crank out rock and rolls songs for public consumption. He was trying to create a new sound, the “California” sound of blended harmonies and instruments. His obsessive work in the studio while seeking a certain type of perfection, was both his strength and ultimately his weakness.

Today Brian is again touring, writing and producing. His opinions on music are held in high esteem by song writers everywhere.  Many, including Paul McCartney, Bono, James Webb (American songwriter), and Rolling Stone Magazine, consider Wilson’s “God Only Knows” among the best songs of all time.

So when Brian offers…

View original post 497 more words

WITHOUT PEER

Brian Wilson has been a busy guy in recent years.  This year his band is touring for the 50th Anniversary of the highly praised Pet Sounds.  Concerts feature the entire album as well as other hits.  Last year he released a new album as recalled in this article from 2015.

Brian Wilson’s No Pier Pressure, Rich Paschall When the Beach Boys finally got back together in 2012 for a 50th Anniversary Tour, Brian Wilson, the musical genius behind the sound, agreed to …

Source: WITHOUT PEER

SONGS OF SUMMER – RICHARD PASCHALL

It’s time to look again at Brian Wilson’s top 10 summer songs as well as a few adjustments to his list. No, summer is not over yet.

SERENDIPITY: SEEKING INTELLIGENT LIFE ON EARTH

The Top 10 of a Musical Genius

From the time the Beach Boys hit the surf and the top of the charts in the 1960’s, Brian Wilson has been considered a musical genius. His prolific song-writing propelled the careers of the original “Boys.” Their music remains wildly popular to this day.

Wilson was not just trying to crank out rock and rolls songs for public consumption. He was trying to create a new sound, the “California” sound of blended harmonies and instruments. His obsessive work in the studio while seeking a certain type of perfection, was both his strength and ultimately his weakness.

Today Brian is again touring, writing and producing. His opinions on music are held in high esteem by song writers everywhere.  Many, including Paul McCartney, Bono, James Webb (American songwriter), and Rolling Stone Magazine, consider Wilson’s “God Only Knows” among the best songs of all time.

So when Brian offers…

View original post 497 more words

The Beach Boys and other updates

If you have been reading here, you know that I was favorably impressed with the Beach Boys performances in Chicago. That’s why I was excited to hear the new album that came out this past week. The Beach Boys harmonies are still there, applied by the master, Brian Wilson. This album is the perfect bit if nostalgia, but with all new songs. Imagine what type of music these guys should be doing 50 years after their start. This is it. The Beach Boys sounds of the 60’s and 70’s are here, but with lyrics that appropriately pay tribute to their journey, the good times and the not so good. If you did not think they could do it after all this time, check out some of the songs on You Tube. For an idea of what their current tour looks like, check below.

You Tube is totally addicting. For me it is just like MySpace was only a few years ago. Then I would go to MySpace music to listen to new songs and see new artists. I think it is still the better way to go for that. On You Tube I get lost in the vlogs (that would be blog with a V) and news stories and even find myself looking a pieces of movies I somehow missed. Hours of time get tossed aside as I link from video to video. This Sunday I will give proper credit to an idea I got while watching a vlog by Danny J. My topic this week is Original Ideas and other Thievery.

Wouldn’t it be nice…

“Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long?” Wait for what, a Beach Boys Reunion? This did not seem likely last year. Brian Wilson had not worked with the boys in a generation and Al Jardine and Mike Love were not even talking. They were actually performing separately as the Beach Boys. Brian had returned to performing with his own band and had reached some success with the completion of Smile, the famous Beach Boys album that was never completed decades ago. As a matter of fact, Brian did not even finish writing it until 2004. Good Vibrations was released from it in the 60’s, however, after being recorded for an unheard sum of 50,000 dollars over 6 months. NO, that is NOT a Marky Mark song.

The story of Smile would take a long time to tell. It was meant to be the Beach Boys concept album, but Brian was depressed when the Beatles came out with their own concept album first, Sgt. Pepper, and he was discouraged because the boys did not want to record it anyway. They wanted to stick with the fun in the sun type recordings that made them famous. Even their most acclaimed album, Pet Sounds, was not exactly done in the spirit of harmony, even though their famous voices continued to blend like no other group had. Brian continued writing and producing the Beach Boys hits but his heart was not in it and his mental health was deteriorating. He became too nervous, or too paranoid, to perform. It took therapy, anti depressants and the passing of years to cure that. Meanwhile, his two brothers, Carl and Dennis, had passed away but long time friends and replacement Beach Boys kept the show rolling. They rolled right through decades of popular concerts, reminding us that surf’s up…somewhere anyway.

I saw the Beach Boys along with Chicago years ago (OK, decades ago). It was a great combination to see for someone who liked both of these groups. Although, I saw Chicago many times since, I never thought I would see the Beach Boys again. I do admit that I thought it would be great if Brian could rejoin them and they would actually perform together. Comments in interviews over the years made it seem as unlikely as Diana Ross performing with the original Supremes. Then came the word, they were back together, would appear on the Grammys and go on tour! I could not wait. This will be a hot ticket, I thought, and I better watch for the concert date here. Even better news was Maroon 5 would perform with the Beach Boys on the Grammys. Another favorite group would perform with the Boys! This is just too good. It would be a great Grammys broadcast. The only thing that could finish that off any better was to have Neal Patrick Harris finish the show with a medley of every Beach Boys song ever recorded! Actually, that last was a rather bad idea, good thing they passed on it.

When the moment came to see them live, it wasn’t that nice after all. They sounded OK, but 50 years after the California brothers, cousins and friends became the Beach Boys, they looked old…really old. I guess that’s because they are rather old. When Foster the People sang “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long,” I thought “NO, it wouldn’t! What’s your hurry?” Yes, decades ago I also thought it would be nice. Now, I have second thoughts. Maybe the reunion will not be as special as I hoped, even if they are backed by the much younger Brian Wilson band. I was a little discouraged.

This week my tune changed, however, as I heard a brand new tune for the first time. It sounded like it could have been on a Beach Boys album of the 1960’s or early 70’s but it had just been released. The Beach Boys went back to the studio and the harmonies were still there. The California sound was still there. By god they sound just like…the Beach Boys! It looks like Brian has done it again and taken the boys along for the one more ride. They are riding a wave of nostalgia, better than any I thought that old surf board could catch.

The new song was about the radio. That is where we always found our new music. There was no You Tube, or file sharing. No one could email you a song of post it on your wall. There was no space, my space or yours to find new music. We got ours from the radio. When I heard the new song, I did what I might have done as a teenager. I ran to the record store and bought the single for 99 cents. Of course, this time the record store is named “iTunes” and I did not get a vinyl disc that went around on my turntable at 45 revolutions per minute. This was a digital download that I keep on my desktop. If I want to put it on an mp3 player I will have to find a teenager for assistance. The Boys homage to those old days is “That’s Why God Made the Radio.” Best of all is that radio is still there for our top rock and roll songs. Good Vibrations of all types pour out of my car radio all the time. I think they always will. Now I am psyched again about the Beach Boys in concert next month all over again. It is great that peace and harmony has been restored to those old friends, and very cool harmonies at that.