Murry Wilson. Not a nice guy. Bitter hack – who was sure he was “a genius too”. Murry Wilson. Pretty sure he was the manager of The Beach Boys for a lot longer than he ever was – and written up as a bad guy who would bash his kids, emotionally neglect them and had a glass eye he would take out and make the boys stare deep into his eye socket as a punishment! But there was a downside to all of this behaviour too. He actually thought he was a musician.
Okay, jokes aside, Murry was a songwriter (hacking it out as a jobber) and petty-musician/arranger – but he never made it. So he let his bitterness grow as his sons (Brian, Carl and Dennis) and nephew (Mike Love) made their famous band with the kid down the road (Al Jardine).
He turned up at some Beach Boys sessions (most infamously Help Me Rhonda) and recorded with the band in the mid/late 60s…but really his musical career (and contributions) are but a footnote. His rival for bad-dad/manager is Joseph Jackson. They could have been the original Celebrity Death Match.
Murry did release this album – The Many Moods of Murry Wilson – in 1967. And I hunted it out after hearing about it, and then hearing it…and guess what…I really like it!
Some backstory for me first: I am a fan of the “easy listening”. I love me some sixties schmaltz. From the sophisticated end (Bacharach) to the hacky/shlocky cash-ins (light classical guitar tributes to The Beatles) I’m usually interested; I don’t love it all but I’m open to hearing it. And people like Herb Alpert, Henry Mancini and Ray Conniff are goddamn heroes in my world.
So, viewed – or listened to – with that in mind it’s not really a stretch that I’m a fan of The Many Moods of Murry Wilson. Also, I’m a massive Beach Boys fan…
My favourite incongruity about this record was the fact that I found it while killing time ahead of The Prince concert. So. Yes. There I was – all excited to see one of the greatest musicians ever and in the build-up I went crate-digging and found this soft-af easy-listening curio. Perfect! Just perfect in my world.
Look, there’s some obvious cheese on this record but there is some lovely stuff. Murry’s originals are okay here – particularly Leaves. There’s a pre-Beach Boys Jardine composition (Italia) and I legitimately think his version of The Warmth of The Sun is a mini masterpiece. But how could you fuck that melody up I guess?
So, even if you’re only interested in this – and if it only works – due to the warmth of his sons, I still reckon The Many Moods of Murry Wilson is one of easy-listening music’s great curios. A fun listen for the most part.
But that’s me.
I love a bit of cheese.
And I fucking love The Beach Boys!