NEW YORK — While Brian Wilson doesn’t plan to officially reunite with the surviving members of the Beach Boys, having an old friend sing on a new record certainly provided a comfort zone.
Former bandmate Al Jardine, who sang lead vocals on Wilson’s 1965 chart-topping single “Help Me, Rhonda,” appears on a few tracks on his recently released No Pier Pressure, and Wilson couldn’t be happier.
“He sang my song ‘Sail on, Sailor’ in 1972, then he sang ‘Sail Away’ for me on this album,” the 72-year-old singer-songwriter said in a recent interview. “He still sounds as good as he ever did.”
Brothers Dennis, Brian and Carl Wilson, along with their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, got together in 1961 to create songs about surfing, fast cars and girls and became a top musical group. Their hits include “Good Vibrations” and “California Girls.”
The Beach Boys combined the harmonies of a jazz-vocal group with the energy of a rock ‘n’ roll band. Wilson took it further with unusual musical arrangements, creative studio production and a tapestry of sounds that enhanced each song.
“We did it mostly with our voices, with harmonies. We did the harmonies together; we had five voices recorded four times to make 20 voices,” Wilson said, describing the rich vocal arrangements he was able to produce in the studio.
Regarded by his peers as a musical genius, the multitasking Wilson’s vision was an important part of the California Sound. Initially, his songs were catchy optimistic tunes, but they became more sophisticated and experimental. He wrote the music, performed it and worked his magic at the recording console.
“I love to make people happy, that’s one of my main things,” Wilson said of his distinctly gentle sound. But he wouldn’t describe himself as a “musical genius.”
“Not a genius, but a good producer, not a genius. I’ve been called a genius, but I’m not really a genius.” Then he added: “Well, it makes me feel like I have a lot of versatility.”
Wilson suffered a series of nervous breakdowns in the `60s and stopped touring with the group.
After a long recovery, he began recording again. For his eleventh solo album, he was able to attract young recording artists like Kasey Musgraves, Nate Ruess of fun. and Zoey Deschanel and M. Ward, known as She & Him.
Wilson will tour this summer with Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, who had a brief stint with the Beach Boys in the early 1970s.
The surviving original members – including Jardine and Love – reunited in 2012 for the band’s 50th anniversary.
When asked if he will ever tour again as a Beach Boy, Wilson replied: “No. Probably not.”
Still, Wilson loves performing, along with the adrenaline rush he gets when he’s onstage.
“When the audience claps very loud that makes me very happy.”