Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Originally released by Marina in 2000, Caroline Now! Celebrates the songs of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys with a main focus on their lesser known gems including previously unissued compositions. It features exclusive contributions by such eminent Wilson-o-philes as Alex Chilton, Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake, Kim Fowley and Belle & Sebastian's Stevie Jackson. Most of the tracks appear in quite different sounding reworks. Highlights include The High Llamas' electronic version of "Anna Lee The Healer" and Saint Etienne's sparse "Stevie." The legendary '60s group The Free Design specially reformed for this occasion with their first recording in 30 years. The 24-page booklet features extensive liner notes, an exclusive Brian Wilson interview and many rare photographs. Get ready for some good, good vibrations!
Rolling Stone (8/31/00, p.73) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...A well-researched tribute that serves as a good starting point for adventurous listeners to hang ten beyond the Beach Boys' familiar shallows into deeper waters..."
Q (10/00, p.132) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...[A] lovingly paid tribute....Standards are high with obscure songs wisely highlighted..."
CMJ (10/00, p.54) - "...Millenium-ified renditions of [this] pop genius' early tracks set that fact in stone..."
Melody Maker (8/8/00, p.48) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...Norman Blake, Belle And Sebastian's Stevie Jackson and The High Llamas all make superb contributions to this collection of cover versions of obscure Brian Wilson and Beach Boys songs."
NME (Magazine) (8/5/00, p.28) - 7 out of 10 - "...There are many treasures of feydom to discover here....the many crests counter all doubts and the Wilson legacy remains unsullied. Be thankful."
Tributee: The Beach Boys.
Some three years in the making, Caroline Now! The Songs of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys is more than just a much deserved tribute to arguably the greatest of all American pop bands; it's also a lovely and engaging introduction to some of the finest talent the contemporary pop world has to offer, highlighted by such newsworthy developments as the reemergence of ex-Vaselines frontman Eugene Kelly (the Spector-esque opener "Lady"), the solo debut of Belle and Sebastian's Stevie Jackson (the wistful "Good Time"), and, most remarkably, the first new Free Design recording in some three decades (the rapturous "Endless Harmony"). Wisely, the set focuses on the Beach Boys' more obscure material (much of it dating from the 1970s), a decision that allows the performers far more latitude in imprinting their personal stamps on the songs; at the same time, with so many of the acts featured on Caroline Now! making their admiration for Brian Wilson's work thoroughly evident in their own records, there's nothing too radical either; the High Llamas' "Anna Lee, the Healer," for example, sounds exactly like you'd expect it would. Still, by and large, the disc boasts an artistry and consistency most tributes lack, thanks as much to the brilliance of its subject as to the torch-carrying affections of its contributors; with Mike Love beating a dead horse leading an ad-hoc Beach Boys lineup on the state fair circuit and with Wilson himself touring in what often seems like a musical adaptation of Flowers for Algernon, god only knows it's reassuring that at least someone's keeping their musical spirit truly alive. ~ Jason Ankeny