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Author Topic: SAIL ON SAILOR  (Read 5028 times)
Pinder's Gone To Kokomo And Back Again
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« on: April 11, 2012, 04:26:29 PM »

Does anyone know exactly who's playing/singing on the released track?
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Awesoman
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2012, 05:29:21 PM »

The Beach Boys.  Smiley
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I'm the man on the mountain, come on up.
I'm the plowman in the valley with a face full of mud.
Yes, I'm fumbling and I know my car don't start.
Yes, I'm stumbling and I know I play a bad guitar.

Give me little drink from your loving cup.
Just one drink and I'll fall down drunk.
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2012, 05:43:09 PM »

Pretty sure Carl plays the morse code-like electric guitar, Blondie plays bass, and Ricky plays drums.  Blondie said as much in an interview with Alice Lilly for BBFUN in 1979.  Since Desper says the finished record is based on the Bellagio track he engineered, perhaps the main grand piano part was reused for the new version, in which case it was probably played by Brian (Desper said the bass was definitely different & the piano the same, so there you go...he said the drums were also the same, but sounded different b/c he had used a delayed echo flap on his mix...but Blondie says otherwise).  Carl probably added the Fender Rhodes that's on the released version (especially since he played that instrument when they did it live - until 1996 anyway, when he switched to guitar).  Tony Martin definitely plays the electric steel guitar.  The organ & Moog could be Daryl Dragon, although he apparently doesn't remember playing on it.  There's a percussionist named Kevin Michaels, who from what he writes about himself is apparently Steve Moffitt's son (would've probably been a teenager at the time), and he played the tambourine.  

The first layer of background vocals is supposed to be Carl, Blondie, Ricky, Tony Martin, Billy Hinsche, and Gerry Beckley, done at the end of the tracking session.  I think I can definitely hear Billy on the a capella mix from "Hawthorne".  Maybe there are other vocal layers added later with Dennis, Mike and Al.
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Pinder's Gone To Kokomo And Back Again
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2012, 05:53:47 PM »

Big thanks C-Man. I ask because I always assumed there were no other Beach Boys aside from Carl and Blondie singing but on the Hawthorne CA backing track (where the vocals come in at the end as the backing track fades out) I swear I can hear Mike in there. But I could be wrong.
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2012, 07:43:52 PM »

Pretty sure Carl plays the morse code-like electric guitar, Blondie plays bass, and Ricky plays drums.  Blondie said as much in an interview with Alice Lilly for BBFUN in 1979.  Since Desper says the finished record is based on the Bellagio track he engineered, perhaps the main grand piano part was reused for the new version, in which case it was probably played by Brian (Desper said the bass was definitely different & the piano the same, so there you go...he said the drums were also the same, but sounded different b/c he had used a delayed echo flap on his mix...but Blondie says otherwise).  Carl probably added the Fender Rhodes that's on the released version (especially since he played that instrument when they did it live - until 1996 anyway, when he switched to guitar).  Tony Martin definitely plays the electric steel guitar.  The organ & Moog could be Daryl Dragon, although he apparently doesn't remember playing on it.  There's a percussionist named Kevin Michaels, who from what he writes about himself is apparently Steve Moffitt's son (would've probably been a teenager at the time), and he played the tambourine.  

The first layer of background vocals is supposed to be Carl, Blondie, Ricky, Tony Martin, Billy Hinsche, and Gerry Beckley, done at the end of the tracking session.  I think I can definitely hear Billy on the a capella mix from "Hawthorne".  Maybe there are other vocal layers added later with Dennis, Mike and Al.

Gerry Beckley sang on the track?!

There is a neat little acapella bit at the end of Hawthorne, CA version of this song and it does sound like Mike Love is in the mix. 
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I'm the man on the mountain, come on up.
I'm the plowman in the valley with a face full of mud.
Yes, I'm fumbling and I know my car don't start.
Yes, I'm stumbling and I know I play a bad guitar.

Give me little drink from your loving cup.
Just one drink and I'll fall down drunk.
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2012, 04:27:00 AM »

The Beach Boys.  Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2012, 01:07:37 PM »

Pretty sure Carl plays the morse code-like electric guitar, Blondie plays bass, and Ricky plays drums.  Blondie said as much in an interview with Alice Lilly for BBFUN in 1979.  Since Desper says the finished record is based on the Bellagio track he engineered, perhaps the main grand piano part was reused for the new version, in which case it was probably played by Brian (Desper said the bass was definitely different & the piano the same, so there you go...he said the drums were also the same, but sounded different b/c he had used a delayed echo flap on his mix...but Blondie says otherwise).  Carl probably added the Fender Rhodes that's on the released version (especially since he played that instrument when they did it live - until 1996 anyway, when he switched to guitar).  Tony Martin definitely plays the electric steel guitar.  The organ & Moog could be Daryl Dragon, although he apparently doesn't remember playing on it.  There's a percussionist named Kevin Michaels, who from what he writes about himself is apparently Steve Moffitt's son (would've probably been a teenager at the time), and he played the tambourine.  

The first layer of background vocals is supposed to be Carl, Blondie, Ricky, Tony Martin, Billy Hinsche, and Gerry Beckley, done at the end of the tracking session.  I think I can definitely hear Billy on the a capella mix from "Hawthorne".  Maybe there are other vocal layers added later with Dennis, Mike and Al.

great info!  I think it's a Wurlitzer 200A, not a Rhodes though.  I'm pretty sure I hear Al in there (the "I work the seaway", etc. call & response parts).
« Last Edit: April 12, 2012, 01:10:59 PM by DonnyL » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2012, 01:28:31 PM »

Agree that it's a Wurli.  That's Carl on the response parts, not Al.

It's a phenomenal track, BTW. The groove with the layered keys against the drum track is as thick as a slab of chocolate cake.
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2012, 08:40:40 PM »

Agree that it's a Wurli.  That's Carl on the response parts, not Al.

It's a phenomenal track, BTW. The groove with the layered keys against the drum track is as thick as a slab of chocolate cake.

No doubt it's a Wurly onstage, even though they did use a Rhodes live a few times (I'm thinking of Crystal Palace Bowl '72 with Elton and Radio City Music Hall '79).  But the tracksheet for SOS indicates "Rhodes".  Doesn't mean it definitely was, but that's how it's labeled. 
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« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2012, 07:50:35 PM »

Carol Kaye played everything.
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« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2012, 07:56:49 PM »

r ye sure?
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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2012, 11:19:48 AM »

A topic I've always been interested in.  SWD had some great info on this track a few months ago.

"Brian has been playing SOS far longer than you realize. It’s been in his head for decades. Parks helped to solidify Brian’s ideas. I do remember the day Brian announced that he wanted to “put something down on tape for Sail-On, Sailor,” which started a series of versions of SOS to be recorded. Looking back, it went on for months.

SOS was recorded at first as a series of sections. Kind of, a working it out or rehearsing on tape and then listening. Recording. Listening. Making changes. Re-recording the changes by erasing what was before by recording over with the newest version. This may all unfold over a day’s time or take a week, or longer.

After a few basic tracks were laid, Brian was anxious to record a working vocal track. He was good at singing SOS, but wanted someone else to sing lead. He was insistent. Dennis went first, but only a few lines, giving up soon. If I recall, Bruce gave it a try, but when everyone heard Carl, the contest was over. He laid down several leads over several months. These were done at Carl’s request. Replacing one attempt after another as Carl worked out the pacing. Carl was never completely happy with his vocal, always trying it a new way. The song was developed to the point that ruff mixes were being done. The Background Vocals were being developed and adding up to moving melodies. All through the time of recording Surf’s Up this song was being recorded as part of the Warner offering. Eventually the song was mixed down, but release was delayed by Warner A&R so now Carl could really work on his vocal to his delight. I don’t know were the master mix tape is now or that it even exists. I have a copy somewhere in storage.

After that delay the multi-track was moved to Holland where Moffet and the Boys again took to making some changes to the recording, including substituting Blondie for Carl at Carl’s insistence. It was finally released on Holland, but it was mostly Made in The USA.

Both vocalists are excellent in their own rights as I’ve worked with both men recording in many vocal settings. I’m too close to the many vocals I recorded of Carl singing SOS to be objective. Also mixing dozens of concert performances featuring Carl’s vocal of this song fixes it in your mind. For me, it will always be Carl’s song."
« Last Edit: December 11, 2012, 11:21:31 AM by Banana » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2012, 11:24:16 AM »

More GREAT stuff from the Great Mister Desper:

"Sunflower and Surf's Up were two albums recorded over many years. Both have parts recorded by Brian in the late sixties with some songs (like SOS) released on albums after the Home Studio era.  During this long period of several years, the creating process moved and flowed, as a river; continuous, but with turns; never stopping, but with moments of brilliance and wanting. Don't fall into the trap of thinking, as do so many fans, that each day has an event scheduled to unfold. Fans look at a series of historical events they know and try to string them together in an effort to form a complete picture that fits into someone else's idea of how things happened. That will only give a false impression. Brian does not wake up to an alarm clock, look at the calendar, call his office, report to a studio, make a record, accept an award and then retire for the night. Yes, the history books may say this-and-that happened and when, but its mostly a haphazard turn of events, greatly influenced by emotion and feeling. These are artists, tempered by their internal sensitivities and sensibilities of the moment.

So when you say, “I remember hearing that Brian had nothing to do with the actual recording of the song” are you saying that for three or four years Brian did no recording? Or did some visitor venture into the studio one day and find everyone but Brian recording and then broadcasting that Brian wasn’t involved in the creative process?  How long is “the actual recording of the song?” Is it scheduled to happen on Monday – like we start at 10 AM  have the  verses done by lunch time and work on the chorus until supper?  ‘Cause it just doesn’t work that way.

Let’s be clear about Brian’s activity during the later part of 20/20 on to the beginning of Holland . . . a period that more or less spans the time he was depressed, ill, and falling victim to experimental drugs. He may have been all that, but he was still Brian Wilson, a creative song writer, producer, arranger and singer; who has his glorious moments of genius and inspiration. With a recording facility in his house, a studio under his bedroom, the support of family and friends, and the ability to call any musician he wanted at any time or date . . . of course he was involved in the recording process. He just was not in charge of it. That responsibility was turned over to brother Carl.

During this period of time, I might have as many as 35 songs on the tape shelf in one stage of production or another. Sail-On, Sailor was one of those songs in the slow process of becoming available to the public as a Beach Boy creation. Some songs were collected to become 20/20, others Sunflower, etc. Some never made it and remain unfinished. SOS never quite seemed to get the final nod for release until very late.

Like all the songs of this era, Brian had his moments of involvement.  Just who do you think is playing the piano part in SOS?  That piano part is what holds the entire song together. It is the hook upon which all other parts hang. Brian’s piano is what leads the song from the first downbeat. Add drums and bass and that is pretty much it. With an organ harmonic pad and guitar riffs, you’ve got the track. So yes, he was very involved in the tracking of SOS. Then we have the real stuff of the song, the vocals. Do you not hear Brian in the OOOs and Ahhh’s? Isn’t the signature Brian harmonic arrangement the very fabric of the oral overlays? Does all this vocal collaboration really sound like it was manufactured over the telephone?

How many songs that have ever been written express some form of psychic pain, either from love gone wrong, the loss of love, or a soul seeking love?  This is the stuff of songwriting. Masterfully crafted and expressed ever so pointedly by Parks in SOS. His lyrics border on onomatopoeia poetry and sound words.

What a contrast!  The words of SOS; so insightful and contemplative. A microcosm of life. Yet the song itself is one of the greatest dance songs of the album. Huh?  A dance song?  Yes it is. Just get a little loose and move your body and feet to the rhythm. It’s a dance. I know – I’ve danced to it with Carl and Dennis in the studio. When they were laying vocals, no one could stand still. It’s a dance all right! The dance of life . . . Sail-On,  Sailor."

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« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2012, 08:28:26 PM »

Any more questions?
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« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2012, 09:19:38 PM »

Any more questions?

Yeah, but a rather unanswerable one: Why did Brian find himself unsuited for the lead vocal? Even this year, he did a GREAT lead on it!
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« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2012, 09:56:36 PM »

Any more questions?

Yeah, but a rather unanswerable one: Why did Brian find himself unsuited for the lead vocal? Even this year, he did a GREAT lead on it!

I disagree.  "Sail On, Sailor" requires someone with a soulful voice handling the lead vocal.  BW's voice is about as soulful as a dishwasher.  He plodded through it decently enough, but they should have let one of the other guys take this one. 
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I'm the man on the mountain, come on up.
I'm the plowman in the valley with a face full of mud.
Yes, I'm fumbling and I know my car don't start.
Yes, I'm stumbling and I know I play a bad guitar.

Give me little drink from your loving cup.
Just one drink and I'll fall down drunk.
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« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2012, 10:33:05 PM »

Carol Kaye played everything.

That's Mrs Kaye[/i] (ref. Facebook)[/i] and don't you forget!   :D
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2012, 10:34:14 AM »

Any more questions?

Yeah, but a rather unanswerable one: Why did Brian find himself unsuited for the lead vocal? Even this year, he did a GREAT lead on it!

I disagree.  "Sail On, Sailor" requires someone with a soulful voice handling the lead vocal.  BW's voice is about as soulful as a dishwasher.  He plodded through it decently enough, but they should have let one of the other guys take this one. 

How can anyone say this? Brian was by far the most soulful vocalist in the band.
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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2012, 12:01:44 PM »

I think he meant the kind of gritty, black soul music (James Brown, Otis Redding, Ray Charles...) thing Carl and Blondie could pull of quite convincingly on a good day.
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« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2012, 04:11:40 PM »

I think he meant the kind of gritty, black soul music (James Brown, Otis Redding, Ray Charles...) thing Carl and Blondie could pull of quite convincingly on a good day.

What he said.
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I'm the man on the mountain, come on up.
I'm the plowman in the valley with a face full of mud.
Yes, I'm fumbling and I know my car don't start.
Yes, I'm stumbling and I know I play a bad guitar.

Give me little drink from your loving cup.
Just one drink and I'll fall down drunk.
♩♬🐸 Billy C ♯♫♩🐇
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« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2012, 07:48:17 PM »

Hmm...I actually had no idea there were non-BBs singing on this song!
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« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2012, 08:48:29 PM »

I think he meant the kind of gritty, black soul music (James Brown, Otis Redding, Ray Charles...) thing Carl and Blondie could pull of quite convincingly on a good day.

What he said.

Sail On Sailor sung by James Brown, Otis Redding, Ray Charles??? Not for me, for me Brian's performance this year hit the spot.
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« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2012, 12:09:21 AM »

Godfather Brown could have done amazing and outrageous things with SOS. "Bridge, NOW!"
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« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2012, 12:57:08 AM »

Sail On Sailor sung by James Brown, Otis Redding, Ray Charles???

I think that Ray acquitted himself rather well on it, myself.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dWzSPf0Y30
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« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2012, 02:55:49 AM »

I think he meant the kind of gritty, black soul music (James Brown, Otis Redding, Ray Charles...) thing Carl and Blondie could pull of quite convincingly on a good day.

What he said.
Sail On Sailor sung by James Brown, Otis Redding, Ray Charles??? Not for me, for me Brian's performance this year hit the spot.

Like I understand we're all supermassive Beach Boys fans here, but you need to hear Otis singing SOS in my head. It's the best party ever.
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