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Smiley Smile Stuff => General On Topic Discussions => Topic started by: GoogaMooga on May 20, 2020, 08:07:11 PM



Title: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: GoogaMooga on May 20, 2020, 08:07:11 PM
Lyrics, production, anything. Who was best for Brian?

mike love
roger christian
tony asher
van dyke parks
gary usher
joe thomas
dr. eugene landy  ;)
stephen kalinich
joe thomas
don was
darian sahanaja
other


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: juggler on May 20, 2020, 08:53:09 PM
How about Jan Berry?  They wrote a #1 hit together.  Not too shabby.

Or how about Brian Wilson.... and Brian Wilson?  I would contend that pure Brian solo compositions like Our Prayer, This Whole World & Til I Die are as good as his work with collaborators.

The mere fact that the initial list here is so long... and includes good or great songs with most of them... and is not even exhaustive (you can add on collaborations with Carl, Al, Bruce, Jack Rieley, Diane Rovell, Rocky Pamplin, Tandyn Almer, Murry Wilson, Billy Hinsche and others) is de facto evidence that the main ingredient is Brian Wilson.  At his peak creativity (and probably at his non-peak, as well), Brian could have written (and to some extent did write) hit songs with any random person off the street capable of stringing a few words or syllables together.

With that said, if I had to pick "best" I guess I'd go with Tony Asher.  And then ML (1960s) and VDP.  But again, BW was so far ahead of all of them in terms of talent, that it's a mistake IMO to give any of them too much credit.  Sure, they all did great work and only VDP could write the sort of lyrics that he wrote, but let's face it... none of them were cranking out a ton of masterpieces with anyone other than Brian Wilson (though of course ML loves to talk about Kokomo, as he considers it evidence of his capability of writing a hit song without Brian's involvement}.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: phirnis on May 20, 2020, 10:39:51 PM
Mike Love, Roger Christian, Van Dyke Parks, Tony Asher - those are the obvious choices.

Always seemed to me like he was really into working with David Sandler for Spring. Personally I think Alan is a bit underrated as a Brian collaborator. They did some good stuff together in the late 60s and 70s - Wake the World, Good Time, Take a Load off Your Feet (co-writing credit sometimes includes Brian), At My Window, Brian's intro for California Saga...


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: Mark A. Moore on May 21, 2020, 01:06:48 AM
In my opinion, Brian Wilson’s best collaborators were Beach Boys related—Mike Love, Roger Christian, Tony Asher, and Van Dyke Parks.

The only outside chart success Brian Wilson ever achieved as a songwriter, in a collaborative relationship, was his work with Jan Berry for Jan & Dean.

Between 1962 and 1965 Brian wrote, arranged, and produced music for Bob & Sheri, the Honeys, Sharon Marie, the Survivors, the Castells, Paul Petersen, and Glen Campbell.  Most of this material was released on major labels—Capitol and Warner Bros.—when Brian was at the height of his powers. Yet not only were those releases not hits, they did not chart at all. Not one of them.

Brian wanted to surpass Phil Spector. But in my opinion, that was a false and misguided quest. Brian’s work with the Beach Boys alone—songwriting, arranging, producing, and recordings—far exceeded Spector’s output.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: GoogaMooga on May 21, 2020, 01:46:51 AM

Brian wanted to surpass Phil Spector. But in my opinion, that was a false and misguided quest. Brian’s work with the Beach Boys alone—songwriting, arranging, producing, and recordings—far exceeded Spector’s output.


Brian exceeded Spector's output, in sheer volume of work, but I don't feel he surpassed Spector. Brian himself would be the first to admit that, and that is not just professional modesty.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: Matt H on May 21, 2020, 05:19:05 AM
From a solo perspective of released stuff I would say Scott Bennett.  I think That Lucky Old Sun is a fantastic record and One Kind of Love is a great song as well.  I always liked the idea of Brian collaborating with Darian, but it never happened.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: NateRuvin on May 21, 2020, 07:31:21 AM

Mike Love and Jan Berry.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: rab2591 on May 21, 2020, 09:08:08 AM
Production:

The Wrecking Crew. While not your typical collaboration, they did share their ideas, and without them we would not have Pet Sounds for what it is today. Listening to those instrumentals for Pet Sounds tracks - outside of classical music I don't think there's anything else that comes close to that perfection and complexity of sound.

Lyrics:

Tony Asher. It is astounding to me that an ad guy takes a month off of work to go write lyrics with Brian Wilson. And by doing so he co-creates one of the greatest collections of music in history.

Roger Christian. This is just personal preference, but 'Don't Worry Baby' is probably the most perfect song I have ever heard. The lyrics are so tender, yet they are about car racing. The same goes for all other Roger Christian collabs - those two created heaven with words about metal transportation machines.

Mike Love. 'Good Vibrations' is a masterpiece, and it goes to show that Mike could have a perfect touch with certain songs.

Joe Thomas. Say what you want about his horrid Adult Contemporary production, but I really think the Life Suite on TWGMTR is a masterpiece, and credit is due where credit is due. It is a crime that an entire album length Life Suite was not created (as, iirc, there was talk about the Life Suite being a lot longer than what we got). I'm not a fan of a lot of JT collaborations with Brian, but they have created some incredible stuff together too.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: parlay on May 21, 2020, 09:16:55 AM
Scott Bennett could be added as a result of the contributions to the  "Lucky Old Sun" Album.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: rab2591 on May 21, 2020, 10:59:58 AM
Scott Bennett could be added as a result of the contributions to the  "Lucky Old Sun" Album.

I'd also add that 'One Kind of Love' is probably the best original song Brian has released since TLOS (edit, since he hasn't really released much solo material since TLOS, I'll just say it's one of the better songs of his solo career).


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: HeyJude on May 21, 2020, 03:02:55 PM
From a solo perspective of released stuff I would say Scott Bennett.  I think That Lucky Old Sun is a fantastic record and One Kind of Love is a great song as well.  I always liked the idea of Brian collaborating with Darian, but it never happened.

Some of the TLOS stuff sounds way too "Bennett-y" for me. I was saying this years before the later debacle with Bennett.

Yes, some might say the same of the Paley material, but I think Paley tapped into Brian's sensibilities better. There's stuff that Brian did with Bennett where, even when it sounds very Brian, it has this layer of Bennett stuff on it (some of the non-Brianesque backing vocals) that isn't bad per se, but just doesn't do it for me.

It's the difference between the "nah nah" backing vocals on "Midnight's Another Day" and something like "Message Man." I always have figured there's room for both types of stuff on Brian's records, but I can't deny an album of "Message Man" type stuff, pure unadulterated Brian, would be nice and refreshing.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: HeyJude on May 21, 2020, 03:08:38 PM
If we're looking at songwriting, and more specifically actual output, then it's mainly Mike and then Parks and Asher. Brian wrote great stuff with a bunch of people, but those are the main partnerships that were an ongoing thing for periods of time.

In two spurts, Joe Thomas has made some good and some sub-par stuff with Brian, but has succeeded where others (Usher, Paley) couldn't by getting his work with Brian *actually released.*

If we're just talking any partnership that produced something good that I would have liked to see a lot more, that one's easy: Jeff Lynne. I think "Let It Shine" is great (and both the song and production are indeed much more Jeff Lynne than Brian), and a full album from those two could have been great. Probably would have done better for Brian's career too if it had happened in the late 80s or early 90s.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: GoogaMooga on May 21, 2020, 04:50:07 PM
Andy Paley - wasn't it just the stuff on Pulp Surfing? Can't have been that many songs.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: adamghost on May 22, 2020, 11:37:17 AM
I actually vote for Roger Christian. The lyrics on "Shut Down" alone are among the best I've ever heard. Van Dyke, Asher, great, but...Take a stock race and turn it into pure poetry? To me, it's fabulous.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: Bicyclerider on May 24, 2020, 03:09:40 AM
Best for Brian in a personal sense - Andy Paley.  Andy really understood Brian and how his musical mind worked and was able to turn on Brian’s creativity and inspire him, besides being a good friend to him during the Landy dark days.  The music they produced was not on a par with Brian’s best, but that had to do with the Landy situation and then Brian’s mental state.

In terms of quality and quantity Mike Love would be the best lyrical collaborator, if we look only at quality Tony Asher.  Van Dyke and Brian did some brilliant work but in retrospect I don’t think the collaboration was good for Brian - the clashes in personality and the fallout from it all derailed Brian with long lasting consequences.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: The Nearest Faraway Place on May 24, 2020, 06:42:56 PM
Best for Brian in a personal sense - Andy Paley.  Andy really understood Brian and how his musical mind worked and was able to turn on Brian’s creativity and inspire him, besides being a good friend to him during the Landy dark days.  The music they produced was not on a par with Brian’s best, but that had to do with the Landy situation and then Brian’s mental state.

In terms of quality and quantity Mike Love would be the best lyrical collaborator, if we look only at quality Tony Asher.  Van Dyke and Brian did some brilliant work but in retrospect I don’t think the collaboration was good for Brian - the clashes in personality and the fallout from it all derailed Brian with long lasting consequences.
VDP was in no way responsible for Brian’s mental state


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: phirnis on May 25, 2020, 01:04:41 AM
Always found it a little, shall we say, remarkable that Brian hung out with VDP in the early 70s. They've had a very complex relationship it seems.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: Rocker on May 25, 2020, 01:46:44 AM
I actually vote for Roger Christian. The lyrics on "Shut Down" alone are among the best I've ever heard.


Yes, exactly. And the way Mike sings them is just awesome. His voice on that track almost sounds like an engine. One of my favorite Beach Boys tracks if I'd have to chose.
All in all, a lot of the car-songs (not only by the Beach Boys) feature great lyrics and R. Christan certainly deserves a lot of credit for his work.

As for the topic title, I don't think these things make a lt of sense. Not saying that you shouldn't discuss them but I don't think there is a best collaborator or a worst. They're all different and that's why Brian wanted to work with them. Mike couldn't give him what Van Dyke could, and Van Dyke couldn't give hime what Mike could. You can't compare these things imo.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: juggler on May 25, 2020, 12:01:25 PM
Always found it a little, shall we say, remarkable that Brian hung out with VDP in the early 70s. They've had a very complex relationship it seems.

I believe in the Malcolm Leo 'America Band' documentary, Brian makes a statement along the lines of (sorry, from memory, not an exact quote): "Sometimes I've written with Mike and sometimes I've written with Carl, but the guy I've written the most with is Van Dyke Parks."

When I heard that statement the first time, I was amazed that Brian had seemingly identified VDP as his #1 collaborator, as their output at the time was limited to maybe a  half-dozen released Smile songs plus Sail on Sailor.

 The Wilson/Parks oeuvre was minuscule compared to Wilson/Love, so why would he say that?  My guess is that he was talking about actually sitting down at a piano and writing songs together... and at that he may truly have spent more hours with VDP than ML.   As I understand it, the Wilson/Love method was generally not one of deep discussion or hours-long refinement.  It was more like Brian already had a song and a melody and a chorus... and Mike spent 10 or 20 minutes fleshing out the verses.  Mike often tells the story about dictating the  Good Vibrations lyrics to his then-wife on the drive to the studio.  That sort of thing may have been more the norm than the exception.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: Rocker on May 26, 2020, 02:43:32 AM
Sorry if this takes the thread in the wrong direction. If so, maybe a mod could shift my post.

Anyway, I was thinking about "Don't worry baby". Is it known what parts Brian wrote and what parts Christian? It's always said that the song is a love song about a car race (of course that is said with a wink in the eye). But I think this is not necessarily what Brian had in mind. It seems to me that he had probably the chorus and the first verse already finished more or less. The first verse has no connection whatsoever to anything related to a race. In fact it sounds like something Brian would write for "Today". Couldn't Brian finish the song and asked Christian to help him with it, who then came up with the race-theme?


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: Bicyclerider on May 26, 2020, 07:51:25 AM
VDP was in no way responsible for Brian’s mental state

The failure of Smile was both due to Brian’s mental state and a cause of Brian’s mental state.  The Smile project was inextricably tied up with Van Dyke, their collaboration, their friendship, and clashes of personality.


Title: Re: Best Brian Wilson collaborator
Post by: NateRuvin on May 26, 2020, 09:19:05 AM
Agreed that Roger Christian's lyrics are phenomenal. Combine them with a Mike Love lead and you've got magic!