’68 reasons: Brian Wilson and The Zombies look back on a seminal year in music

Wilson and the Zombies team up at the Joint on August 31.
Annie Zaleski

Music from 1969 has been all the rage this summer, the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, The Beatles’ Abbey Road and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” to name a few. Former Beach Boys songwriter Brian Wilson and early English psychedelic-pop band The Zombies are turning the clock back a hair more, however, with their Something Great From ’68 co-headlining tour. The concept makes perfect sense, since 1968 marked a watershed of creativity for both artists.

Wilson and his band have mostly been focused on holiday-themed concerts and full-album performances of the Beach Boys’ 1966 opus, Pet Sounds, in recent years. But for this tour, which also features longtime Beach Boy Al Jardine and auxiliary player Blondie Chaplin, Wilson will reportedly spotlight songs from 1968’s Friends and 1971’s Surf’s Up (some of which was recorded in ’68), in addition to hits. The pairing of those two records makes sonic sense beyond the year: Both signalled a progression from The Beach Boys’ early, sun-kissed hits and Pet Sounds’ orchestral-pop—and both foreshadowed decades of popular music. Friends is low-key, with moments of chill spirituality and whimsical musicality that bring to mind modern twee indie rock and French pop. The melancholy Surf’s Up, meanwhile, hews toward zoned-out psychedelic rock, exposing a darker songwriting side that can be achingly beautiful.

The Zombies, newly minted Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, will perform selections from their landmark 1968 release Odessey & Oracle, plus other numbers, at the show. That LP contains the band’s biggest chart success, No. 1 hit “Time of the Season,” along with the first-wedding-dance classic “This Will Be Our Year.” More importantly, Odessey & Oracle became a blueprint for the ways psychedelic pop evolved after Pet Sounds, combining an adventurous spirit with meticulous instrumentation based on rich harmonies and lush arrangements. Zombies founders Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone will be onstage when the tour kicks off in Las Vegas.

BRIAN WILSON & THE ZOMBIES August 31, 8 p.m., $35-$145. The Joint, 702-693-5000.

Tags: Music, The Joint
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