Brian Wilson is finally set to release his 1970s era country album featuring the vocals of former Beach Boys manager Fred Vail. Titled Cows in the Pasture, the long-lost album is slated to see the light of day sometime in 2025, according to a new feature in Rolling Stone.
As the story goes, Wilson presented Vail with the concept for the project in 1970 despite the manager not having formal training. “I said to him, ‘Have you written any country songs?’” Vail told Rolling Stone. “And he said, ‘Well, no.’ I said, ‘Do you have any idea who you’d like to use as musicians?’ He said, ‘Well, no. I’ve only worked with the Wrecking Crew for the most part. You find the songs. You select the musicians. We’ll go into Wally Heider’s Studio. We’ll start working on the album.’”
From there, Wilson and Vail started putting the album together in parallel to the Beach Boys’ Sunflower and even recorded 14 song skeletons alongside studio musicians like guitarist James Burton, pianist Glen D. Hardin, and steel guitarist Red Rhodes. However, Wilson abandoned the project before Vail got the chance to lay down proper vocals.
“We never did any keeper vocals,” Vail remembered. “They were mostly just scratch vocals that we never completed. There were no background vocals and no harmonies. It was a lot instrumentation. And when Brian lost interest, I just moved on.”
For context, Vail explained Wilson was “dealing with a lot of [personal] issues” at the time, so the recordings ended up going into the vault at the Beach Boy office.
More than five decades later, Vail has resurrected Cows in the Pasture with the help of Nashville-based producer Sam Parker and an all-star lineup of guests led by “country music legends,” as well as “rock & roll legends, contemporary country, and pop stars.” For now, Vail is keeping the features under wraps, but he did tease T Bone Burnett’s involvement.
For his part, Wilson has signed on as an executive producer and will contribute vocals to one of the songs. “Fred always loved country music and he was a big rodeo guy,” Wilson told Rolling Stone. “He’s a hell of a guy, one hell of a promoter, and I’m glad his album is coming out.”
Vail aims to put out Cows in the Pasture alongside a four-part docuseries going behind the scenes of the album’s making.
Read the full article at Rolling Stone.
Meanwhile, Wilson has also contributed vocals to an upcoming Glen Campbell duets album also featuring Carole King, Dolly Parton, and Elton John. In late January, he suffered the tragic loss of his second wife and longtime manager, Melinda Ledbetter.