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3.7 out of 5 stars
California
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
In an age of Lipsynching Pop Princesses and foul-mouthed rappers masquerading as musicians, WILSON PHILLIPS' "California" is a breathless, effortless gem, as cool as an ocean breeze off the Santa Monica Pier.
First and foremost, Wendy Wilson, Carnie Wilson and Chynna Phillips can SING. How strange and sad a notion that one has to emphasize what should be a requirement: Singers that actually sing. (One only wishes the folks at American Idol would follow that lead.) For it is a real shame that artists such as
WILSON PHILLIPS get washed aside in the wake of overhyped, overproduced and underwhelming acts polluting the airwaves.
"California" reunites 3 talented women and showcases their incredible talent for harmony and phrasing that we have come to love (and miss) since their big splash 12 years ago with "Hold On" and "Release Me." The wait has been well worth it, as there is a richness and maturity to their tight sound that serves this cover album quite well. Stand-out takes on "Doctor My Eyes," "In My Room" (a nod to the Wilson music legacy) and "Go Your Own Way" bridge generation gaps and meld musical memories to maximum effect.
This is a CD worth your time and your heart, for it conjours up the warmest thoughts of the best of the past and the sweetest hope for the future. Share the love with family and friends, and remind yourself and them just what real singing is.
A grand return for a great group: Welcome home WILSON PHILLIPS!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I was a huge Wilson Phillips fan in the late 80s / early 90s. I was horribly disappointed when they disbanded. They have beautiful voices and the harmonies are incredible. Unfortunately for them in the 90s, musical tastes gravitated towards boy bands and rap. Now that the boy band era is over, maybe there is room again for these wonderful and talented ladies.
For those who criticize them for releasing a cover album, I respectfully disagree. I think it was a masterful move for them to release a cover album filled with fun and familiar tunes. Now that they have shown that they still have a fan base, perhaps we will be seeing a CD of original work.
Although I like "Monday, Monday", for the Mamas and the Papas homage I would have preferred to have heard "California Dreamin'". It would have been amazing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD
...and what's wrong with that? Over-analyzing pop music is a worthless exercise. You either like an artist's sound or you don't. In the case of "California", the harmonies and the music resonated with my concept of what vocal-driven pop music should be: happy, crisp, good foreground or background music. The trio sounded like they were having a swell time; the disc was infectious to listen to the first time, and fun to sing along with later. Some tracks had a pared down, more acoustic sound; others were bubble-gum silly. A great way to introduce old favorites to a younger audience, too: for all you Moms out there looking for something "decent" your preteens can listen to, this got a thumbs up from my eleven year old. "Turn, turn, turn" has never sounded better.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2004
Format: Audio CD
For some reason, people like to criticize Wilson Phillips more than they deserve to be criticized. Is it because they think that their musical pedigree (Brian Wilson, Marilyn Rovell, and the Mamas and the Papas) somehow made it easy for them to get a recording contract? Well, maybe it did, but once they got that contract they knew what to do with it. Besides writing exceptional pop songs, their singing and arrangements and overall musical taste infuse every second of their recordings.

Take this album for what it is: Wilson Phillips doing their own takes on some of their favorite songs. Compare it to all those awful "tribute" albums out there -- there's no comparison. Every performance is nearly perfect, and their tangents and interpretations -- when they're not being fairly faithful to the originals -- are almost always enjoyable. Stop being married to the original versions by your favorite artists. Listen to the songs as if you'd never heard them before, and then see if you might be being just a little too hypercritical.

Maybe people don't like the fact that this album sounds like it could have been recorded in the seventies, with a few songs that are a little on the electronic side ("You're No Good"). "California" is mostly acoustic when it comes to drums, it has wonderful sixties/seventies pop touches like the Mellotron, sleigh bells, maracas, etc.

This release doesn't sound like a '90s or '00s album, and thank God for that! It has some seasoned veterans playing the instruments, not the latest hotshots who will be all-but-forgotten in a few years, and you can tell the love the three women put into each performance. And, for the person who said that Brian Wilson sang off-key, no, he didn't. He sang his part for "In My Room" beautifully.

My favorite tracks are pretty much all of them, and even the "futuristic" version of "Turn! Turn! Turn!" is fascinating and fun to listen to. And I'm a huge fan of Pete Seeger and the Byrds. My top pick is Brian Wilson's "Dance Dance Dance," which is a terrific take on a classic Beach Boys' song, and it's a shame people don't dance to tunes like this any more.

Long live melody, harmony, and Wilson Phillips!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I like this CD a lot. It's been awhile and I very much welcome their return. I listened to the whole album with a stereo system and a personal CD player. The validation is that the album's strength are the ladies ability to sing and those heavy harmonies. Let's not forget that this is not only a cover, but also a concept album. It seems that some dislike their selection of songs, but I'm indifferent because it's not original material. What I love is their tremendous talent for those signature harmonies. That's simply amazing.
About the album's content--the first single "Go Your Own Way"--when I first heard this I was comparing it to Lindsey Buckingham's. It was lacking the bitterness and candor. I gave it another listen and I understood that they made this version their own. I respected that. I mean previous remakes of this song is similar to the original. Wilson Phillips stepped out of the box per say and gave it their own vibe. The hook is the intro and choir. Besides, Lindsey's version was personal and understandably his voice and lyrics reflected that. The ladies are paying homage (as with every song in this CD)... With the rest... "Monday, Monday" and "Dance, Dance, Dance" have those 60's funk and with the latter combines a groovy Go-go's style-esque and intricate harmony arrangement while the former rocks with Chynna as lead. "Already Gone" personally, I feel is an upgrade of the Eagles classic, and Carnie's verse (voice) is uncanny to Ann Wilson of Heart. "In My Room" has that heavy and dark sound. And Brian praising the ladies will be a classic. That was just the sweetest thing. The harmonic arrangement is to be praised for "Turn, Turn, Turn" and Wendy's great in "California". She's grown so much vocally. And gotta love the chorus in "Old Man". Hey, Linda Rondstadt said that "She loved WP's version of "You're No Good" and it was the best version yet". If it was good for her, then it's good for me. Much respect to Peter Asher, but I personally think that the album did not need the highly polished and modernization of the tracks. The Wilson Phillips signature harmonies and voices (organic) combined with simple acoustics; as heard on the hidden track of "Already Gone" proves this. The album's purpose is to showcase the ladies talent which they very much proudly have, and that they're back!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
We can always ask for more, but this is a solid effort. The vocals are nice and crisp. The harmonies are excellent and we already know the lyrics to these standards. Peter Asher's arrangements are not quite up to par. Brian Wilson would have probably been a good choice to produce this one, but the vocals are what we came for and they are very good. This one is better than their last effort and not as strong as the first one. The one thing that is for sure, while we are fighting senseless wars and facing record gas prices, this is something very familiar that we can enjoy and the girls sound like they had a blast putting California together. Start the car, pop in the CD and go back in time. You'll be glad you did!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Many music lovers will see the new Wilson Phillips CD and wonder, "Is this a new group?" These are the people I feel sorry for, and at the same time, feel are very blessed. It's unfortunate that they weren't present or aware of the success of "Hold On", "Release Me", "You're in Love" & "Daniel" in the early 90's. But they will now be able to witness the return of pure and simle vocal harmony with the release of "California" by Wilson Phillips. And they can go back and see the growth these ladies have gone thru musically. Today's music is all flash, shock, dance routines or tired adult talk. With the acoustic and laid back orchestrations behind "Go Your Own Way", "Already Gone", "In My Room" and "You're No Good", I hope that many will give this CD a chance. Listen without prejudice and leave your heart in California, too. Thanx WP! (Now promote this CD with a smaller venue tour and we'll all be happy :)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
I have been a Wilson Phillips fan since I was a kid, so I have waited 12 years for this new album! I'm happy to say that it's everything I thought it would be and more! The girls sound better than I remember them, and the song choices are perfect. I still have to get used to hearing an updated version of "Monday Monday" because I'd never heard a cover of that song before, but their version is beautiful and of course who better to do a cover of that song than Wilson Phillips? John Phillips would be proud. And "Turn Turn Turn (To Everything There Is A Season)" has always been a favorite of mine, and the girls definitely do it justice. Overall I am proud of their effort and give this album an enthusiastic two thumbs up!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2004
Format: Audio CD
It's not amazing to see a group from either the 1980's or early 1990's making a musical comeback, reunion or new push.
What's amazing is how bad some of them sound.
Not Wilson Phillips. The group conquers the skeptics by delivering vocal masterpieces. On California the harmonies are as good if not better than most of the groups from the 1960's and 1970's who inspired the California sound.
Standouts on the disc include "You're No Good" where Chynna Phillips delivers a soulful performance second to none, the pop-rock treatment of "Monday, Monday" along with the title track "California" where Wendy Wilson actually outdoes Joni Mitchell, and "Already Gone," "Go Your Own Way," and "Dance Dance Dance" where the girls' three part harmonies shine.
Carnie Wilson shows great vocal improvement from the earlier days of Wilson Phillips... Old Man and Get Together feature a nice smooth and pretty vocal brush which is a good omen for her upcoming solo album.
Some songs take some getting used to. When I had first heard "Go Your Own Way" on radio I was disappointed... I wanted the Wilson Phillips sound of "Hold On," "Release Me" and "Impulsive" and I found the song too mellow.
With a few listens I was hooked. The mood change by Wilson Phillips was deliberate (taking out Lindsey Buckingham's screaming and reinterpreting the song). Similar tweaking occurs on some other tracks including "Monday, Monday" - where the vibe is different from the original.
The effect of such vocal arrangements is to enhance the quality of the album and its depth. Listening to this album allows you the listener a chance to re-explore these classics, just as these three beautiful singers did when they selected them.
A welcome return to the music scene by Wilson Phillips. Next time, girls, do us the favor and record your own stuff. It's the best follow up to this great cover album.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I have wondered over the years if Wilson Phillips would reunite and they did, but with a surprising collection of non-original material. However, listening to this CD is like a breath of fresh air. In the midst of the music industry today which features so many solo artists not as solo artists anymore, rather with as many "featuring" guest artists as possible to push singles, others competing in the "let's see if I can sing a song with the catchiest title", and in the money wrangling, nerve wracking competition of who can be on top, here comes a collection of feel good music from the 60's-70's. This CD just reminds me of a more free spirited, more enjoyable time without the rampaging obsessions of laptops, cell phones, beepers and modern conveniences. I remember the music on this CD from a time when people just wanted to relax and have FUN!
The CD's opener "You're No Good" has a fun hip hop, rock twist that found me waiting for that chorus to kick in. Funny how so many I know too can relate to that song when thinking of someone who did them wrong.
"Old Man" and "California" are nice, mellow songs, the kind to sit back and just soak in, listen to, Carnie's and Wendy's voices, respectively solo, are very warm and inviting.
"Already Gone" starts off the real "kicker" tunes which had me wanting to get in the car and roll the windows down and drive down the open highway, singing along. Harmonies on the up tempo to me are just as good if not better than the slower tunes here.
"Go Your Own Way" is a cover I'll give Wilson Phillips credit for doing if just for simply giving the listener a challenge to see this is a different version done their own way. As a Fleetwood Mac fan, it was hard adjusting to the slower tempo,
the more ballad type scenario, but still, definitely worth a listen.
"Turn, Turn, Turn" has another catchy hip hop type of beat while incorporating the women's great harmonies with the memorable lyrics.
Ah, my favorite tune here! "Monday, Monday" is a great rocking kicking version of the original that had the "Ba Da" background chorus ringing in my head for hours afterward. I love this tune
and for anyone who's had a bad Monday, put this in and turn it up! Think it's awesome Chynna here gets to sing a song made popular by the infamous group that featured her mother. Great
generational twist!
"Get Together" is a mellow, relaxing, but important anthem pertaining to as the cliche states "why can't we all just get along". Carnie does a great job conveying that message.
"Doctor My Eyes" and "Dance, Dance, Dance" are finger snappin, clap along anthems that made me wish especially with the latter, that I was in the studio with them dancing and clapping and singing along.
"In My Room" is a short, but very sweet version and Carnie/Wendy's dad, great Beach Boyster Brian Wilson saying at the end "I Love Your Sound!" was just too sweet.
Check out the accoustic version at the end of "Already Gone"!
Good stuff.
For those who gave negative reviews, I feel either they were looking for perhaps too much in a cover laden album, of course many are going to have their favorite tune they wish was sung on here or will wish a different style version was sung of a favorite song that does appear here, or will just be dissapointed that there was no new, original material. Some may just not get the feeling of the era when this music was out. I am hoping though new fans will embrace this music and enjoy it as well. Good Music isn't just about the costumes, dance moves, the popularity of the artist. It's about music. I'm a Wilson Phillips fan and a fan of the 60's-70's and I highly praise these three women for bringing back for me good memories and some great music to listen to. Way to go ladies!!!
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