Monday, November 16, 2009

Beckley Lamm Wilson - Like a Brother (2000)

Supergroups come and go with varying degrees of success. One would think that combining the vocal talents of Gerry Beckley (America), Robert Lamm (Chicago), and Carl Wilson (the Beach Boys) would be a recipe for success. And at times it is. This particular endeavour is largely hit or miss.

There aren't any songs on the album that could be considered "bad." There are a handful of good tracks mixed in with a handful that one would struggle to use superlative adjectives to describe. The best that can be said for much of this album is that it's pleasant and unoffensive.

In all fairness to Gerry, Robert, & Carl given the rigorous touring schedules of their respective bands finding the time to get together to record this album proved rather prohibitive. Add to that Carl Wilson's cancer and subsequent passing there were certainly plenty of obstacles which likely played a part in preventing this album from being far better than it actually ended up being.

That being said, there are some excellent songs on this album-- the Gerry Beckley sung Today, the Harry Nilsson cover Without Her, the wistfully nostalgic Watching the Time Go By, and the hopeful yet somber farewell from Carl Wilson to his sons: I Wish For You. Incidentally Watching the Time Go By had previously appeared on Robert Lamm's 1999 solo release, In My Head. On Robert's solo version he sings the first verse, whereas on the BL&W version, Gerry Beckley sings the first verse. Both versions are rather enjoyable and neither is really superior nor inferior to the other.

With this album being released a few years after Carl Wilson's untimely passing, the album was dedicated to his memory. Indeed, the strongest material on this album is the material that features either he or Beckley on vocals. And in light of Carl's passing his songs take on a decidedly more haunting and poignant tone, especially I Wish For You which is said to be the final song he recorded before his passing and Like a Brother which was a tribute to Carl's brother, Brian.

One is left wondering how much better this album might have been had it not been treated almost as an afterthought to Beckley, Lamm, & Wilson. If the album had been recorded over a shorter time span and all three members of the band had made a concerted effort to MAKE time to record this album rather than record and collaborate only when they were able to find the time to do so this album could and likely would have been considerably better. The talent was certainly there and the stronger material on the album does bear witness to the quality the entire album could have aspired to had it been give the time and focus it truly deserved.

Related Links
Like a Brother (wikipedia entry)
Like a Brother ( mp3 download $8.99--includes 3 songs not on the original CD release!)
Gerry Beckley (wikipedia entry)
Robert Lamm (wikipedia entry)
Carl Wilson (wikipedia entry)
Gerry Beckley (official website)
Robert Lamm (official website)


Charlie said...

My favorite is the title track. Carl is outstanding. He was inspired by Brian and it shows you what inspiration can do for an artist. I agree with the rest of your review. Too much of the disc is a hot or miss proposition. It appears they a held back their best songs for themselves.

Unknown said...

Carl Wilson sings Today, not Gerry Beckley.