Wilson Phillips first emerged in 1990, flaunting a harmony-rich sound that helped send three singles -- "Hold On," "Release Me," and "You're in Love" -- to the top of the Billboard charts. Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson, and Chynna Phillips comprised the female vocal trio, whose sudden success was matched by an equally impressive pedigree. The two Wilson sisters had grown up in California with their father, Beach Boy bandleader Brian Wilson, and often made appearances on his albums throughout their youth. Chynna's parents, meanwhile, were John and Michelle Phillips (of seminal folk-rock band the Mamas & the Papas). Despite growing up alongside such icons, the girls initially pursued careers in acting and modeling, only turning to music when Chynna (having been influenced by Band Aid and Farm Aid) suggested they make a charity record with other children of famous musicians. The project fell through, but Wilson Phillips nevertheless took shape as the girls explored their musical connection.
From the outset, Wilson Phillips aligned themselves with influential figures in the music business, including producer Richard Perry (who guided the singers through their earliest years) and songwriter Glen Ballard. Given their talent and networking skills, the girls signed a contract with SBK Records in 1989 and released their self-titled debut album one year later. Wilson Phillips' mix of adult contemporary balladry and midtempo pop/rock drew some criticism for its supposedly syrupy content, but the album nevertheless became a Grammy-nominated smash. Three tracks were number one singles; two others, "Impulsive" and "The Dream Is Still Alive," peaked at numbers four and 12, respectively.
Unfortunately, Wilson Phillips' time in the spotlight proved to be short-lived. The sophomore album Shadows & Light showed promise upon its release in June 1992, even selling over a million copies, but it lacked the staying power of its predecessor. Perhaps sensing an inevitable decline, Chynna Phillips announced plans for a solo career, and Wilson Phillips broke up the following year. The members pursued various interests throughout the following decade; Phillips issued her solo debut, Naked and Sacred, in 1995, the Wilson sisters partnered with their father on several projects, and Carnie even helmed her own talk show. 2003 saw the musicians reunited for California, a new studio albums whose songs were inspired by Wilson Phillips home state. The record was released in May 2004 to a modest American reception, yet it fared surprisingly well in New Zealand, where the trio's cover of "Go Your Own Way" topped the adult contemporary charts. ~ Andrew Leahey, All Music Guide
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