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Dedicated is for Wilson Phillips fans, but maybe not so much lovers of their papas and mamas.

Music Review: Wilson Phillips – Dedicated

As publicity for Dedicated suggests, this collection of classic ‘60s California songs was pretty much an inevitability. Wendy and Carnie Wilson and Chynna Phillips have recorded songs by their parents before, notably “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “In My Room,” and “Monday, Monday,” on their previous album of covers, California (2004). They’ve done many songs from the Mamas and Papas and the Beach Boys in their live shows. Now, they’re marking their 20th anniversary as a recording group. In addition, they’re plugging their new reality series, Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On which documents the ladies in and out of the recording studio. So why not issue a new release dedicated to their parents’ work to promote these occasions?

While the album was produced by Carnie’s husband Rob Bonfiglio, the trio opted not to make the event a family affair. The only notable guest appearance was that by Owen Elliot, daughter of the late Mama Cass Elliot, on “Dedicated to the One I Love.” That track, along with most of the offerings, demonstrate the primary strength of the group remains their polished harmonies cushioned in soft pop settings. Wilson Phillips is, perhaps ironically, more adult contemporary than anything close to rock, with more acoustic than electric guitar support.

Most of the songs are virtual note-for-note re-dos of the originals with adequate band performances behind the singing. But these players are clearly not the Wrecking Crew. Still, standouts like “I Can Hear Music” evoke the spirit of Uncle Carl, the lead singer of the 1969 Beach Boys cover of the Ronettes’ 1966 hit. Lead vocals, as with Chynna on “Don’t Worry Baby” and Wendy on “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” are surprisingly girlish, sweet, and innocent, even after all these years. In fact, “Don’t Worry Baby” is a lullaby and “God Only Knows” is as soft and fluffy as a child’s dream. Likewise, “Got A Feeling” reaches back to the spirit of the original with a gentle psychedelic pop ambiance.

Then, out of nowhere, the girls become a rock group for “Fun, Fun, Fun” which is pure A.M. summer bounce. On the other hand, “Monday Monday” verges on the cloying, as if the girls are gunning for airplay in the muzak market. The set closes with the most adventurous attempt at layered vocals in “Good Vibrations,” which is primarily an a cappella rendering of Brian Wilson’s mini-symphony. This one, without question, is something special.

If more tracks were akin to “Good Vibrations,” this collection might be something more than a pleasant gift to Wilson Phillips fans. WP just don’t do much beyond arranging the lyrics to suit their voices. I’m sure there are two proud mamas and one happy papa, and that their extended musical families are delighted with this tribute. However, listeners who grew up on the originals might find Dedicated an interesting novelty but not much more.

About Wesley Britton

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