Brian Wilson’s ‘Sun’ album due Sept. 2

Times Staff Writer

Brian Wilson extends his personal and creative renaissance of the last decade with an ambitious new themed album, “That Lucky Old Sun,” a work to be released in September exploring the Southern California culture that he helped define musically in the 1960s as the guiding creative force of the Beach Boys.

Wilson also returns to his former group’s longtime label, Capitol Records, for this project that comes on the heels of his completion in 2004 of his “Smile” album, which he shelved in 1967 because of mounting personal and professional problems.

“Brian Wilson is an iconic talent with enormous musical influence all over the world and we are very proud to be representing him,” said Guy Hands, executive chairman of Capitol’s parent company, EMI Music. Hands and other EMI and Capitol executives are scheduled to appear with Wilson today at Capitol’s headquarters in Hollywood for the formal announcement of their renewed partnership.


“That Lucky Old Sun,” slated for release Sept. 2, got its world premiere last September in London’s Royal Festival Hall, the same venue where he unveiled the finished “Smile” after aborting it 37 years earlier.

“Smile” had been widely anticipated as a rival to the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” as a dramatic advance in pop music of the time. After its belated release in 2004, “Smile” landed at No. 2, behind Kanye West’s “The College Dropout,” among the Village Voice’s nationwide poll of pop music critics on the year’s best albums.

“That Lucky Old Sun,” written by Wilson in collaboration with “Smile” lyricist Van Dyke Parks and Wilson’s latter-day band member Scott Bennett, features an “interwoven series of ‘rounds’ with interspersed spoken word,” its composer said in a statement released today.

It comprises a series of narratives with the sun, voiced by Wilson, as the narrator of a series of snapshots of life in Southern California.

Reviewing the London performance, England’s Mojo magazine called it Wilson’s “most ambitious new work since returning from the wilderness, [recalling] ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Smile,’ not least in its playfully baroque arrangements -- a playground riot of glockenspiel, timpani, strings and harmonies all played with a smile -- and melodic nods to the Beach Boy canon, complementing the autobiographical bent of the lyric-book.”

Wilson, 65, and his band are scheduled to introduce “That Lucky Old Sun” to hometown audiences in a string of three performances Sept. 12 to 14 at the Hollywood Bowl.