(21 October 2004) Wilson Phillips is back after a ten year hiatus with concept album, California (Columbia (USA) CK 92103, 2004). The eleven track CD is wonderfully produced and filled with great and familiar covers, with songs about California, or songs recorded by famed California bands. The trio took these classic hits and put their own special touch on these pop songs with their amazing three part harmonies, reaquainting all of us with their superb talent.
The daughters of Beach Boy Brian Wilson (Carnie and Wendy) and the Mamas and the Papas' John and Michelle Phillips (Chynna) sound better than ever since their glory days in the early nineties. Their talent shines through with their distinct California sound.
Take a step back in time to this famous set of songs from the sixties and seventies, but with an updated feel, especially in the smooth production. However, the addition of the Mellotron certainly brings back remnants of the original classic sounds. Chynna's powerful singing in Linda Ronstadt's classic "You're No Good" has a strong pop sound, coming across as almost electronic at times. Neil Young's "Old Man" has a new spin on it, and Carnie's solid vocals are splendid.
The acoustic and electric guitar throughout adds to the terrific atmosphere created in this album. The title track, "California," sung by Wendy has a different feel from Joni Mitchell's original version. However, change is good, and it is refreshing to have a different slant on great music. "Already Gone" by The Eagles definitely rocks, and Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" is a wonderful remake, showcasing the Wilson Phillips flair.
"Turn, Turn, Turn" by Pete Seeger boasts the fabulous trio's harmonies backed by great instrumentals. New renditions made famous by their respective parents in "Monday, Monday" (The Mamas and the Papas) and the energy driven "Dance Dance Dance" (The Beach Boys) were right on the mark and made you want to get up and dance.
"Get Together" is a great track, with wonderful accompaniment by the string quartet comprised of Joel Derouin, Michele Richards, Evan Wilson and Larry Corbett. The beat is lively in the powerful "Doctor My Eyes" and enhanced by the orchestral strings.
"In My Room" features special guest vocalist Brian Wilson and the trio has marvelous harmonies throughout this classic. The best part is when Brian exclaims at the end of the song, "That sounds great! I love your sound!!" That remark is certainly the undeniable consensus. And, just when you think it's over, there is a hidden track with a reprise of "Already Gone" that has a more simplistic approach than the previous track with just guitar accompaniment, and highlights the beautiful tonal clarity of Wilson Phillips.
Like a great wine, Wilson Phillips have improved with age. They put a new edge on some great, classic tunes and their fans will certainly rejoice at their return.
Another album of original tunes will anxiously be awaited, but in the meantime, what a great comeback for this talented trio!