Saturday, August 27, 2011

Girl Groups, Part 5: Wilson Phillips



When this Girl Group's first single hit the radio waves in the last few months of my Senior year in high school, I was hooked. I loved their sound and the message of their first single ("Hold On", an anti-suicide song). They were considered "rock royalty" because Chynna Phillips is the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of the 60s band The Mamas and the Papas. However, while Chynna was tearing up the airwaves with this song, her mother was the sleazy villain on the CBS drama, Knots Landing. The other two thirds of the trio are Wendy and Carnie Wilson, the daughters of Beach Boy Brian Wilson.

Other hit singles followed: "Release Me", "You're In Love" and "Impulsive." Their sound was clear by that point. Just a hint of the 60s in them, which is befitting the offspring of famous 60s band members. In the summer of 1990, I got to see Richard Marx in concert at Six Flags Over Georgia. Wilson Phillips was the opening act. They weren't too great, though. I remember them singing "Eyes Like Twins". When I was in my last few weeks of Navy Basic Training in May 1991, I got to hear their final single from their debut album. The song was the appropriate "The Dream Is Still Alive", which in my mind is associated with my Basic Training experience and company-mates. Some of the lyrics are appropriate for what I experienced during those great 9 weeks of my life, though the song is a tribute to the 60s generation and ideals.

When I was in YN "A" School in Meridian, Mississippi in the summer of 1991, I decided to buy the Wilson Phillips cassette tape, which I listened to a lot that summer...to the point where I now associate that album with my "A" School experience. In the summer of 1992, they released their sophomore album, Shadows and Light, a much deeper album and intensely personal. Unfortunately, they forgot to pay attention to the melodies. It was a major disappointment and did not sell very well. There was only one song of noteworthy importance: "Flesh and Blood", which is amazingly profound with a great melancholy melody and I consider it their best single. That's what I'm featuring as the video selection for today. The song is obviously about Wendy and Carnie's father, Brian Wilson. I wonder what he thought of the song. When I first heard it in the summer or fall of 1992, the lyrics made me think of my own relationship with my brother.

After that album fizzled, the group went their own ways. Chynna married a Baldwin brother (William). Carnie became known for having her stomach stapled to lose her weight (I always thought it was interesting how she was able to "hide" her obesity in the videos. Out of the three ladies, I thought Carnie was the best looking, with Chynna a close second). I think they did release a Christmas album last year or maybe it was the previous year. However, in 1992, their star was fading and a new Girl Group emerged on the scene. This new group would come to "threaten" the status that Bananarama holds with me as my favourite Girl Group of all time. Stay tuned!

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