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Brian Wilson: In The Key Of Disney

To some, the idea of Brian Wilson recording an album of songs from Disney movies—on Disney’s own label, no less—might be too corny to contemplate. Making a children’s record is a clichéd aging-pop-star move, not the kind of thing a bona fide musical genius would do. Except that Wilson has a longstanding infatuation with Walt Disney, whom he’s fêted in song before. And Wilson’s In The Key Of Disney isn’t a completely faithful set of covers. Wilson retains the lyrics and the melodies, but plays around with the arrangements: He turns “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” into a laid-back mid-tempo ballad in the mode of the early-’70s Beach Boys, pumps a Bo Diddley beat into “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King,” gives “Kiss The Girl” and “We Belong Together” the full Phil Spector treatment, loads up his medley of “Heigh-Ho,” “Whistle While You Work,” and “A Pirate’s Life For Me” with offbeat percussion, and so on. At heart, In The Key Of Disney is a full-on loopy and loveable Brian Wilson album. But as with a lot of Wilson’s recent work, there’s a flatness and flabbiness to the album’s overall sound that keeps it from being as embraceable as it should be. From the muted funkiness of “Colors Of The Wind” to the sapped-up “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” Wilson too often goes the safe, adult-contemporary route, making versions of well-known songs that could play pleasantly in a dentist’s office. In Mickey Mouse terms, this album is more the blandly suburban color Mickey than the anarchic black-and-white Mickey. The shape is the same; the spirit isn’t.


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