Conceived and produced by guitarist Tim Weston, Wouldn't It Be Nice: A Jazz Portrait of Brian Wilson (Blue Note CDP 7243 8 33092 2 1; 65:39) is not your average tribute album. Employing an impressive array of musicians, from Jeffrey Osborne and the Yellowjackets to Dori Caymmi and Shelby Flint, the album is an eclectic and disarming exploration of Wilson's compositions, often bringing out shades of meaning bubbling below the well-traveled surfer anthems. The range of approaches alone is impressive: Don Grusin gives a swinging, semi-gospel read (with Tollack Olestad on harmonica) to "Surfer Girl," Eliane Elias takes a meditative solo piano look at both "Our Sweet Love" and "Friends," and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" is given a dark, emotional read with the combination of Osborne's deep vocals and Ralf Rickert's mute horn breaks.
A young man in Louisville sees his dating failures are related to his always being nice. All of his dates end up going with the rude, obnoxious guys. Deciding to change his ways, he goes after a new acquaintance, who unfortunately is tired of the male bores she meets and is seeking Mr. Right - the rose-bearing guy who wants to be nice to her.
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
Although admittedly a posthumous release, I was very surprised at the rather dismissive tenor of many of the reviews of this album to date. Hopefully this record will be reappraised soon as being a release worthy of anyone's consideration as I feel it does enhance an already rich legacy left behind by this very fine and innovative band. (So what if Charisma wanted to ride the slipstream of the lucrative ELP juggernaut?)