Timelessness is the essence of great art. For the compositions of George Gershwin (1898-1937), many co-written with his brother Ira Gershwin (1896-1983), to still be so vital is testament to not only their melodic durability but their underlying universal truths. For another melodic genius of a different era to “reimagine” these longstanding gems and imbue them with Beach Boy flourishes seems so natural it’s a wonder Brian Wilson hasn’t done this years ago.
It starts and ends with instrumental “Rhapsody In Blue” snippets. He turns “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” into a street corner ‘50s doo-wop, complete with “boogity boogity boogity shooo!” Sure, purists will retch but, unlike Rod Stewart and his insufferable four volumes of standards, these are indeed, imaginative reworkings that stand up to Wilson’s own timeless standards like “God Only Knows” and “In My Room.”
The Gershwin estate even let Wilson have his way with two unfinished songs which means yeah, Wilson and Gershwin collaborated.
Admittedly, this is music your mom will probably like more than you. Those already emotionally invested in Wilson’s circuitous route back to sanity, though, will smile, sigh and shake their gray hairs to Wilson crooning “Someone To Watch Over Me,” then proving that there’s not much difference, when you get right down to it, between “I Got Rhythm” and “I Get Around.”
In A Word: Retro