Long-Lost Brian Wilson-Produced Country Album 'Cows in the Pasture' Set for 2025 Release

The shelved LP's lead vocalist is longtime Beach Boys manager Fred Vail

Photo: Chris Bubinas

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Feb 13, 2024

An unfinished 1970s country album produced by Brian Wilson will at last see release in 2025.

A new feature from Rolling Stone points to the deep cut of Beach Boys lore, titled Cows in the Pasture, arriving "at some point" next year, alongside an accompanying docuseries focused on the life and work of the LP's lead vocalist, longtime Beach Boys manager Fred Vail.

Per the feature, Wilson approached Vail with the idea of cutting a country record in the early '70s, despite the latter having no formal singing experience.

"I said to [Wilson], 'Have you written any country songs?'" Vail, now 79, 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.'"

Vail and Wilson reportedly began putting material together when not working with the Beach Boys on what would become their 1970 LP Sunflower. However, Cows in the Pasture was shelved after Wilson "lost interest" and before Vail could put more than scratch vocals to tape.

"He was dealing with a lot of issues," Vail recalled of Wilson. "He had gained a lot of weight and was sleeping late in his big bed. There was a lot of things going on with him personally, and he didn't have any interest in finishing it at that point, so the tapes went into the vault at the Beach Boy office."

Now, Vail will see Cows in the Pasture through with the assistance of Nashville-based producer Sam Parker. The 1970s instrumentals will be graced by a group of guest vocalists, which the producer says includes "country music legends," "rock & roll legends, contemporary country, and pop stars too." Parker also confirmed the involvement of T Bone Burnett.

Wilson will executive produce the album and contribute vocals to one of the songs. "Fred always loved country music and he was a big rodeo guy," he told Rolling Stone. "He's a hell of a guy, one hell of a promoter, and I'm glad his album is coming out."

Wilson's second wife and longtime manager, Melinda Ledbetter, passed away in late January.

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