Wilson Philips, by Wilson Philips
Wilson Philips, a group made of three young women who were second-generation pop stars–including two daughters of Beach Boy Brian Wilson and one daughter of half of the Mamas and the Papas, stormed to the top of the charts with three #1 hits and 5 top 40 hits from their self-titled debut album. Selling millions of copies and having half of their album become hits was stellar success, and if the band did not follow up this success with a long career, this album is a notable commercial peak for adult contemporary music. As a fan of the genre this is an album that has been on my own personal radar for a while. Does the album hold up artistically, though? Let us discover.
The album begins with “Hold On,” an encouragement and empowerment anthem that urges the listener to hold on and show tenacity in the face of life’s difficulties. “Release Me” follows with a call to a partner to release her from a relationship so they can find something better than their current dysfunctional relationship together. “Impulsive” follows with a song that features the timeless contrast between head and heart when it comes to seeking a relationship and intimacy, wanting to be reckless in love despite this not being one’s usual pattern of behavior. “Next To You (Someday I’ll Be)” is a gentle ballad that expresses confidence that one will be with the one loves so much in the future. “You’re In Love” is a mid-tempo song about being in love with a best friend who is in love with someone else, and wishing happiness for them even as one acknowledges one’s own feelings. “Over And Over” shows some frustration, albeit gently expressed, about loneliness and rejection and heartbreak that occurs over and over again. “Reason To Believe” is a heartfelt interpretation of the familiar song, best known from the Rod Stewart cover. “Ooh You’re Gold” is a somewhat humorous and very cute praise of a partner for his excellence. “Eyes Like Twins” is a somewhat dark and ominous-sounding song about someone one is falling in love with and that one feels like one is deeply close and connected to, with a shared history of suffering and empathy. The album closes with “The Dream Is Still Alive,” a testament to persistent hope in the face of the difficulties of love and love.
This album is sort of a test case of one’s feelings about production in Adult Contemporary albums. For the most part, these songs have a similar sonic palette courtesy of some great production by Glen Ballard. Yet although the songs sound similar enough, there are definitely differences here when it comes to theme and approach and perspective. Like most AC songs, this album’s material focuses on issues of love, but there are at least a few different scenarios being pictured here. Some songs focus on encouragement, some focus on one’s concerns and insecurities, and some focus on the need to break away from negative patterns of heartbreak that one is facing. Overall, I think this album is a great introduction to a worthwhile band that shined brightly even if not for long. Songs like “Eyes Like Twins,” “The Dream Is Still Alive,” and “Ooh You’re Gold” demonstrate that this album has some depth behind the massively popular hits. This is an album that is still gold even if very much of its time all these years later.