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672387 Posts in 27078 Topics by 3979 Members - Latest Member: sloopfan3 October 17, 2021, 06:44:49 PM
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1  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road (2019 Brent Wilson Documentary) on: October 15, 2021, 07:36:09 AM
I'm probably the only person in the world who thinks this, but in my opinion Love & Mercy should have received awards for costumes and set design. I'm well aware that those sorts of awards typically go to big-budget sci-fi/fantasy/comic-book extravaganzas or period war movies or period dramas based on Victoria-era literature. But darn it, Hollywood is usually really bad at getting "recent period" (30, 40, 50 years ago) right. It's really hard to do, and I'm a stickler for details (e.g., "I remember 1978, and no one had door knobs like that!").  But I'm not sure I've ever seen a film like Love & Mercy where they went to such lengths to recreate the studio scenes and costumes based an obsessive-compulsive level of attention to detail.  Brian himself noted the realism of the studio scenes and how the film had so amazingly got it right.  And let's face it, to an extent, they were even more accurate than the memories of a few of the principals.  For example, I remember when Carol Kaye, God bless her, was griping that she never wore outfits like the actress who portrayed her, there was photographic evidence that those costumes were dead-on reproductions of her actual in-studio outfits circa 1966.


I love, love, love Love & Mercy. I think it's a triumph. Even if I weren't a Beach Boys fan I would cherish it.

However, you have to remember what things like the Oscars exist for. It is to promote the work that is done by the Hollywood studio system. While the "Academy" has increasingly been honoring "independent" films in recent years, the truth is that things like Nomadland, Green Book, and Spotlight only look like independent films -- they were made with studio backing. There is a reason why the director of Nomadland was almost immediately hired to make a Marvel movie. Studios like Searchlight are not "the indie arm" of a major studio, as is sometimes imagined. They are more like the minor league/farm system for the studios.

Love & Mercy was made largely outside that system and even with the director's considerable Hollywood connections and the presence of stars, it took forever for a distributor (Lionsgate, an indie albeit the biggest of the indies) to pick it up, and it was barely released in a time when theatrical release was still king.

There was zero chance of it receiving any significant awards recognition. The only way that would have happened is if either it had been made by a studio, OR if it had been sold before TIFF and released that autumn (2014). TIFF is the beginning of the North American awards season, which runs roughly until Christmas.  The rule of thumb is that anything that plays at TIFF but doesn't receive a general release until the following year is not to be considered successful (although there are exceptions).
2  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road (2019 Brent Wilson Documentary) on: October 13, 2021, 07:22:02 PM
Also, putting the new song from the film on your album first literally killed Brianís shot at an Oscar nom.

While NPP was released before the full release of Love and Mercy, one could argue that ĎOne Kind Of Loveí was recorded for Love and Mercy as the movie was debuted in 2014 at TIFF. That being said I donít know the details of the rules so you may be correct.

I thought it was due to how low the song was in the mix of the film, and how short of a time it was played on screen (Oscar rules state that at least 60% of the song must be present in the film)...I havenít seen the film in a while so Iím not sure exactly how long itís present on screen - but I think itís a lot less than 60% of the songís length. And you have to strain to even hear the song. The way they edited the song in it seems like the filmmaker didnít even want the song in the film - which is a shame because itís one of Brianís most beautiful solo songs.

Just to clarify -- "One Kind of Love" was NOT in the version of Love & Mercy that played at TIFF in 2014. Trust me, I was there. The TIFF version had "Good Vibrations" session tapes playing over the end credits. The version that played at TIFF was a slightly rougher edit overall.

The song might have been written for the movie but it was definitely released on NPP first, in advance of the June 2015 general release of the movie.
3  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The 2020 mix of \ on: October 05, 2021, 02:10:36 PM
One of my favorite BB songs in the entire catalog. I don't get the hate-attention it receives. I love the imagery of two elderly ladies talking about a "great love" that had died along with 3 little girls skipping past and giggling about boys. It's beautiful "circle of life" stuff.

Indeed -- the bridge about how "this must have been goin' on pre-history" is corn, but that last verse is almost profound. The fact that the image just sits there without any kind of hackneyed editorial comment pretty much raises it to the level of poetry, and this is a hill I'll die on.
4  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Won't you tell me why Won't You Tell Me was left unreleased? on: October 05, 2021, 10:14:44 AM
On the demo it really sounds like Brian is humoring Murry by working on the track with him. I don't think there was ever much chance of it coming out as a Beach Boys track during that period.
5  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The 2020 mix of \ on: October 05, 2021, 08:47:04 AM
If you don't care much about lyrics, it's an utterly unique arrangement worth listening to.

Funnily enough, the Feel Flows set is the first time I've encountered this song and I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the arrangement. I listened to the box in order and thus I heard the instrumental first.

As for the lyrics, they're corny but not terribly so. I'm actually genuinely surprised that people don't enjoy this track, it seems so quintessentially "Brian" to me, absolutely of a piece with "I Went to Sleep" and "I'd Love Just Once to See You" and such. Even in the lyrics department, it's no worse than "Little Children" or something like that (and I'm not aware of anyone who disdains "Little Children").
6  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Dennis - Thoughts Of You - Reverse Vocal Production on: October 04, 2021, 09:28:30 AM
Hi gang, was wondering if any one knew exactly how Dennis produced the reverse sounding vocal effect on the second half of Thoughts of You from POB. It sounds like he's running the tape in reverse on a track on the left side (ala Twin Peaks), except for the fact that you can hear he's singing the actual lyrics 'all things that live one day must die" so it must not really be in reverse? I can't figure it out and I work in production. Would like to try this for a title sequence I'm doing. Thanks for any input!

Reverse echo, I think. Same effect used on Spiritualized's "Shine a Light." Essentially you take the vocal in isolation, reverse it, add echo/delay, and then reverse it again and put it back in the mix.
7  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Stars & Stripes reappraisal? on: August 25, 2021, 08:16:07 AM

You canít compare record sales from 1996 to sales from 2011.  For one thing, people in 1996 were still buying music.

I agree, I just thought it was funny that Stars & Stripes sold as many (80,000) as it did given its reputation as a disaster. Another funny apples-to-oranges comparison is the 80,000 for Stars & Stripes vs. 50,000 for the 1999/2000 mono/stereo releases of Pet Sounds (the version that has been in print continuously since).

Apples-to-apples comparisons would be the 25,000 copies sold of Summer In Paradise and the 1 million 50 thousand (!!!) sold by Still Cruisin'.

I wonder if Stars & Stripes was ever given away as a bonus on QVC or by the Nashville Network or some other such arrangement to beef up these numbers.

The numbers come from AGD.
8  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Stars & Stripes reappraisal? on: August 24, 2021, 02:52:01 PM
I'd wager that much of the thought behind "Stars and Stripes" being a "Beach Boys" album was that they were essentially running it as an "authorized tribute album." Instead of some other company doing it, they'd do it themselves and, if the thing was a hit, they'd get a bigger return. Adding the backing vocals obviously lent even more authenticity/credibility to the project for both artists and (theoretically) fans.

Perhaps learning from the mistake of funding "Summer In Paradise" themselves, they seem to have hooked Thomas's label (and possibly other) to help fund the "Stars and Stripes" project.

What ended up happening is that country music fans didn't care about Beach Boys music or the Beach Boys, Beach Boys fans didn't care about country music or the artists lined up on the album, and it sold *very* poorly.

Believe it or not, it apparently sold 80,000 copies -- a similar number to the Smile Sessions (!!). It's also apparently fairly close to the number of copies of Pet Sounds sold since 2000 and more than either of the 2012 hits compilations.

Clearly it was a commercial disappointment (and no wonder, for the reasons you cite), but not necessarily a disaster on the scale of Summer In Paradise, which it outsold 3-to-1.
9  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Stars & Stripes reappraisal? on: August 24, 2021, 09:55:16 AM
Yes, the "Common Thread" album seemed to be the catalyst for a lot of similar country or bluegrass "tributes" that followed, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that the Eagles tribute project sold tons of albums and helped put the Eagles back into a country bag as well, whereas they had pretty much owned the classic rock genre and format in the previous few decades. The fact they did have strong country roots especially with their first lineup where the amazing Bernie Leadon was a member (and Bernie left the group when he wanted to go even more country and the band didn't) seemed to remind listeners of just how "country" they really were, and how modern country at that time sounded a lot like the old Eagles records. Then there were all kinds of bluegrass tribute projects too, I remember seeing a bunch of them in the stores in the early and mid 90's, with titles like "Pickin On The Beatles", "Pickin On The Movies", etc...basically top-flight Nashville players doing bluegrass versions of classic tunes. Those sold too, some much more than others, but the seeds were planted for such crossovers to have a market and listeners.

And here's a deeper background history of Stars & Stripes I wrote 6 years ago:


For those with doubts or questions about Stars & Stripes, this is the background, of course corrections and comments welcome...but this is pretty much the deal.

Those names in the album credits, "Eddie Haddad" and "Dan Wojcik", Haddad is a promoter and Wojcik was a booking agent (he since passed away).

Eddie Haddad's company is EJH Entertainment, and they organize, manage, and promote concerts and events among other things. Mike Love was one of Haddad's clients, and EJH not only was a consultant to Mike but also was involved in the NASCAR salute release that was given out at "76" gas stations in the 90's. Hank Williams Jr was a client too.

Dan Wojcik as a booking agent had a lot of Nashville and country music clients with his agency "Entertainment Artists", and booked shows, did promotions, etc working also with Joe Thomas' company River North Records which was in Chicago and Nashville in the 90's. River North was the label for Stars & Stripes. Dan also worked with Hank Jr.

So Haddad who had promoted shows for Hank Jr and the Beach Boys said to Joe Thomas how it would be a good idea if Hank Jr recorded a cover of "Help Me Rhonda". Joe agreed. That explains that credit on the album liners.

Joe Thomas got in touch with Mike Love, according to the liners it involved Dan Wojcik in the process. There is that explanation of that credit in the liners. Wojcik seems to have been the go-between or the facilitator to get Joe in touch with Mike. I'm sure it wasn't that simple, but still...there were the connections that explain the album credits with these names.

Joe mentioned the idea to Mike, and Mike and Joe started planning things out and running ideas for it to happen. So there is Mike's role from the start - he was the point of contact at this time, it's who Joe went to in order to discuss the project and make plans.

In planning the project, again it was originally the thought to have Hank Jr cut a version of Help Me Rhonda, Willie Nelson's name came up. Mike's offer was if they get Willie Nelson, they'll get Brian Wilson too, in return. So Mike got Joe in contact with Brian, and Brian says I'll do it if you get Willie to sing "Warmth Of The Sun".

The band traveled to Texas and cut Warmth Of The Sun at Willie's studio, with Brian's participation and obvious support (it was his 'demand' if you will to have Willie cut that song out of all the choices), and thus began the project. Willie was the first to record with them, and having him involved gave the project some clout in Nashville - If Willie did it, it's legit, all of that political Nashville music biz stuff that goes on. Willie was happy, the band was happy, it rolled on.

Then the guests and song choices started coming in, to the point where eventually they had enough to have two Stars & Stripes albums.

James House was given the lead single, he was the singer i mentioned earlier was on Letterman with the surviving Beach Boys doing backup for him. "Little Deuce Coupe". There were plans to have House be the opening act for Beach Boys live shows as well. There was a TV special too (which I also recorded in the day), and I know Kathy Troccoli was on the Regis and Kathie Lee show with the Beach Boys (minus Brian) to perform and promote "I Can Hear Music".

So that's about it. An idea from a promoter to have Hank Jr cover a BB's song put Joe Thomas in touch with Mike Love, who together outlined plans for the project and got the ball rolling. Brian got involved after Willie Nelson agreed to do Warmth Of The Sun. Everything (and everyone) involved after that initial session at Willie's studio in Texas you'll have to fill in the rest.  Smiley




I was quite unaware of the existence of Common Thread, and indeed it does seem like a precursor to Stars & Stripes in some ways. However, there does seem to be a difference in that Stars & Stripes was not promoted as a tribute album -- it was promoted as a Beach Boys album, "featuring" the lead singers.

In that respect it seems quite different than the many country tributes to rock artists that proliferated starting in the 90s. How many bands had sung or played backup on their own tribute albums at that point? Of course, it became a much more common strategy later on (e.g. MC5) as '60s era musicians were dying off.
10  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: 'CHAOS' The new Manson book on: August 23, 2021, 03:38:13 PM
On your recommendation, I borrowed the eBook and skimmed the relevant chapters.  Yes, it's very dark stuff indeed, alleging that Dennis and particularly Terry were involved much longer and more deeply with "The Family" than had been previously acknowledged.  The author seems to believe that Vince Bugliosi covered for Terry and minimized his involvement.

Something new-ish with respect to BB history is the author's suggestion that Gregg Jakobson had very limited musical talent and that Denny gave Gregg songwriting credits as a "thank you" for testifying in the Manson trial so Denny didn't have to.  Not sure that I really buy that.  If we were talking just about a few Sunflower-era credits, it might be plausible, but if the Denny-Gregg collaboration was more pretense than reality, why would it have continued into Pacific Ocean Blue 6 or 7 years later?  The Manson thing had surely blown over by that point, so I'm very much inclined to believe that Gregg's songwriting credits were deserved.

To my knowledge neither Gregg nor anyone else has ever claimed that he made musical contributions to Denny's songs, just the lyrics?

So I don't see how musical talent or lack thereof would even enter into it. Denny just had trouble expressing himself in words.
11  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Stars & Stripes reappraisal? on: August 23, 2021, 02:16:26 PM
Regarding the "Stars and Stripes" project, I don't think a positive reappraisal from the masses is happening. It was a copycat idea (other bands had done the theme before), with a few folks who may have been A-listers in the country world in the 90s, and otherwise it was b-listers, and often bland at that. I can't think of something exceptionally more bland than those takes on "Sloop John B" or "I Get Around" from that album.

I'm curious about the context for Stars & Stripes -- it seemed to come out of nowhere (other than the unprecedentedly gigantic sales country-pop CDs were enjoying at that time). What were the comparable projects by other bands that you're referring to? These might help me understand what they were trying to achieve a little more clearly.
12  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Stars & Stripes reappraisal? on: August 21, 2021, 02:00:19 PM
When I was getting into the Beach Boys in a serious way 20 years ago, it seemed like there was an absolute consensus that Stars & Stripes was the pits -- the most egregious example of the band being out of touch, out of ideas, out of gas, cynically giving themselves over to their management's worst commercial instincts and not even succeeding at that.

It was easy to accept this point of view, since I didn't really know much about contemporary country music (growing up in a big city like Toronto) and what I did hear seemed awful. I have always enjoyed country music -- but to me, the likes of Shania Twain and Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus weren't country, they were something else, something awful.

So I duly steered clear of Stars & Stripes for many years. It was easy to do since I had never seen a physical copy of it anywhere. A while ago, though, I stumbled on some clips from the Nashville video on YouTube. I listened to them and was surprised by how much I enjoyed the music, especially the Kathy Troccoli version of "I Can Hear Music."

One thing I found striking, checking out the videos on YouTube, was how overwhelmingly positive the comments were. It seems like a lot of Beach Boys fans have started to stumble on the Stars and Stripes recordings over the last few years and, like me, are surprised by how much they enjoy what they are hearing.

I finally bought myself a copy this spring and I have to admit, I didn't have a clue who most of these singers were, except for Willie Nelson, Timothy Schmit, Junior Brown, and Toby Keith. (Apparently Sawyer Brown is a group, not a person??) Listening to it from start to finish, I understood some of the criticisms -- the choice of songs is uninspired, the Boys themselves sound quite anonymous, there's way too many "trucker bro" type vocalists. But I feel like Graham Brown's "Help Me Rhonda" is kind of a hidden gem of that sort of thing? And same with Junior Brown's "409"? And the two ladies (particularly Troccoli) both bring something genuinely interesting to the material? And "Caroline, No" is worthy in its own right, with a genuinely interesting new vocal arrangement? And the background playing is solid and energetic throughout? And I seem not to be alone in having arrived at these responses. Going by the YouTube comments (I know, I know, not a great sample to cite) it's like there is a generation of listeners out there who didn't get the memo that they are supposed to hate this stuff.

Maybe the hostile reception of the album had more to do with what it wasn't -- an album of new, valuable Beach Boys/Brian music, or a fitting send-off for Carl -- than what it was (an energetic if largely surprise-free Beach Boys tribute coming from a different place than usual).

So, is there any sense around here of this album being reappraised? Or does the fandom still think it's the absolute nadir of the band's recorded legacy?
13  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: A newbie to the Beach Boys----advice needed on: August 21, 2021, 01:39:30 PM
As an older teenager (18) I've very recently become interested in the Beach Boys.  Both their music, and their story.  The only thing I've really known about them, is that they were famous for those "surfer songs" in the 1960's.  Also my older uncle has often talked about them.

 I've done some general Internet searches, and there seems to be TON of stuff out there about them.  Knowing how information you find on the Internet about something, can vary enormously in quality and reliability, I found this discussion group.  And was hoping for some advice from "experts" on the BB.

Can anyone advise on a sort of "Beach Boys 101" syllabus.  Something essential for anyone new to get introduced to their music?

They seem to have a huge volume of musical work out there.  Both as a band, and as individuals.  Can someone recommend a list of their "must listen to" songs and albums?

There are also numerous books on Amazon about the group and its members.  Which of them would be on a list for "essential reading"?

I've noticed there have been several TV movies made about them.  Knowing how TV movies can vary in quality and historical accuracy, are there any recommended ones to view?

Youtube has many videos about them.  Are there any especially good ones that a Beach Boys novice should view?  Links would be appreciated!

I know that I'm probably a generation or two younger than many of their fans on this board.  So I hope I'm not asking a ridiculous or obvious question(s) here.  I've tied to find this information doing searches, but without success.

Thanks for any advice!









Welcome! I think the advice given by Joshilyn in this thread is excellent. In fact, I would say there are few people in the Beach Boys fandom who even approach the level of knowledge of the music that Joshilyn has.

Anyway, just speaking for myself, I got seriously into the Beach Boys about 20 years ago, when I was around 17. My story was as follows:

1> At the time I was getting into them, the band was best known for two things: Brian Wilson's compositional/arranging/production "genius", best exemplified by albums like Pet Sounds, and their early "sun and surf" hits. I was less interested in the latter at first, but over the years I have ended up in a place where I probably love the early "sun and surf" stuff more than almost anything else (although I love it all).

2> Brian's "genius" is indeed best displayed on certain Beach Boys albums, especially those of the mid '60s, including but not limited to Pet Sounds (1966) and The Beach Boys Today (1965). Many people would also class 1970's Sunflower with these, although it is much more collaborative among the band members and less strictly Brian's than the pre-1968 music. There are also the Smile Sessions to wade into, the body of music that produced "Good Vibrations" and a lot of other fascinating stuff along the same lines. This was the stuff of legend 20 years ago (at the time, most of it had not been officially released), but I am a bit cool on it.

3> At first I was probably most interested in the band's quirkiest and most whimsical music, a series of albums with very low-key and idiosyncratic production and varying degrees of "homemade" feel. They were made after the collapse of the Smile sessions and sort of represent Brian's regrouping after that. These albums include Smiley Smile, Wild Honey (both 1967) and the more elegantly produced Friends. The synthesizer-driven Love You from 1977 is of a piece with this music in some respects, although its sometimes harsh and unsettling sound is more characteristic of where Brian was in the late '70s than in the "homemade" period. This material vies with the "sun and surf" stuff for my favorite Beach Boys, but it's quite a different experience overall.

4> Many people will point to the singles as capturing the "sun and surf" era better than the albums, but I think the Surfer Girl (1963) and All Summer Long (1964) albums are excellent in themselves (albeit with some charming filler that's typical of the era).

5> Many fans give up on the band after the Love You album (or even before!). I wouldn't go that far, but it's probably fair to say that 90%+ of the band's musical legacy is captured on the albums and singles they released between 1962 and 1977. Everything after that is basically of scholarly interest (I happen to think the 2012 "reunion" album, That's Why God Made the Radio, is really good -- and, of course, there's the famous 1988 single "Kokomo").

6> There are a lot of solo albums by all of the band members, but (with one exception) I wouldn't sweat them just yet. Drummer Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue (1977) is the one Beach Boys solo project that is generally regarded as a masterwork in itself and that has a certain following of its own outside the Beach Boys fandom. It is probably closest in tone and sound to Love You of the Beach Boys' work, and it was made around the same time. And indeed, those two albums may be the most divisive in the whole Beach Boys discography. Many (most?) fans appreciate their starkly emotional qualities and the rough-hewn voices that deliver them, but many fans have no patience for either. All of the other solo albums (including Brian's) have stuff that's worth hearing, and I like many of them, but they're marginal to the story.

7> The Peter Ames Carlin book, Catch a Wave, gives a good (if not flawless) overview of the story. It's short and very readable, and most of its oversights are of basically academic interest. The 2014 biopic Love and Mercy is, in its way, a good introduction to Brian's world. There is a lot more to the Beach Boys than Brian Wilson, but I think Love and Mercy tells a moving story with a lot of good music, and without egregiously bending the truth.
14  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Would-Be Hits on: August 15, 2021, 05:19:45 AM
409

Capitol did promote "409" over "Surfin' Safari" in the heartland of the US. It charted at #76, so it did similar business nationally to "Surfin'".
15  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Were the Beach Boys a Progressive Band? on: August 13, 2021, 10:05:58 AM
This seeming *partial* ignorance/incredulous aspect might indicate that Mike's stated chosen presidential candidate of recent years is something that he doesn't think or know is *quite* as polarizing as it actually is. I don't cut him *a lot* of slack in this regard. But it's a possibly partial explanation.

I don't cut Mike any slack concerning his recent preferred presidential candidate. Mike is not ignorant. He knows how polarizing his candidate of choice is. And as for being old as an excuse, Brian and Al are almost as old as Mike is, and they wisely disavowed themselves from Mike's venue choices as quickly as they could. Or at least they wisely listened to their PR people.

I probably have less insight into what makes Mike Love tick than anyone here. I think HeyJude's read of the situation perhaps spins out of what Mike wrote (or dictated, or approved being said on his behalf) in his own book. The part of his book where he discusses politics is fascinating. It is deliberately quite vague about Mike's own actual convictions on economic and social issues and even as regards particular political contests. It claims that Mike's associations with the Reagans and the Bushes reflected entirely personal, rather than political, loyalties. Maybe I misread the book, or maybe the effect was deliberate, but I came away with the impression that Mike was at least trying to give the impression to his readers that he was basically liberal in outlook, without actually coming out and saying so.

Of course, his activities on behalf of Trump, especially in 2020, completely belie this. After all, if he was truly personally loyal to the Bushes, he would have never done anything to benefit Trump. The Bushes and the Trumps despise one another.

So even on the off chance that one doesn't have a moral problem with Mike campaigning for Trump (at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, no less), it's impossible to credit the naively unideological framing that Mike gives to his political activities.
16  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Feel Flows box set on: August 13, 2021, 07:44:45 AM
As an avowed never-use-Amazon-er, I've always found SpeedyHen to be super-reliable, and almost as cheap. Looks as if they pay their tax bill too! They have the set available for pre-order at under £85 right now, with free UK shipping. Though I'm making no promises.

Ironically, the vast majority of Speedy Hen's business is actually conducted through Amazon, where they are one of the larger-volume third-party media sellers -- alongside behemoths like Chalky's, Rarewaves, MovieMars, ImportCDs, and Dodax/Nagiry. (Dodax and Nagiry appear to be the same company as they always have the identical prices and inventory, and ship out of the same address in Bern, Switzerland.)
17  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Were the Beach Boys a Progressive Band? on: August 11, 2021, 09:06:03 AM
In my very humble opinion, it is foolhardy to conflate artistic innovation with progressive politics, or artistic conservatism with regressive politics for that matter.

For the first half of the century, you can point to a laundry list of extremely innovative artists (from Stravinsky to Ezra Pound to Wallace Stevens to Picasso) who were conservative to the point of fascism.

I'm not saying that the connection between artistic innovation and progressive social/political attitudes is completely imaginary: undoubtedly a lot of avant-garde jazz musicians of the '60s were (and remain) genuine social progressives, but there are plenty of artists who were staunchly conservative about their art while also being very progressive politically and socially -- and vice versa.

For rock and roll in particular, you'd be surprised how many '60s "radicals" became Regan-worshippers and such. In fact, the whole "neoconservative" contingent that came into the ascendancy during the Bush era largely started as Summer of Love types.

It goes without saying that the Beach Boys were musically innovative and I think it also goes without saying that they were (and are) mostly politically and socially conservative, regardless of how they vote. Certainly Bruce and Mike make no secret of where their allegiances lie. Brian and Al, I tend to think of as more "centrist" in politics while being generally conservative in the way they live their lives and their world view, and I have no idea about Carl and Dennis.
18  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brian and a move towards an authentic pop musical vocabulary on: August 08, 2021, 02:36:26 PM

Is anyone having "dress like the 2000's day"? Hell no, because it looks the same more or less now as it did then.

You can watch any of the endless "Law And Order" repeats from American TV from 15 years ago and it looks pretty much like it does now in 2021, minus the changes in computers and cel phones. The fashion is the same, the language is the same, the music hasn't changed much. Even the hair styles haven't changed!

Yet, if in 2000 you were to watch a TV program from 1985, the differences in all those areas would be immediate from the first 30 seconds of the show.

That tells me there is little to no true innovation in those areas and the notion of creative arts as a cross-cultural influence is and has been lessened to the point of being insignificant.

What would a stereotypical snapshot of 2007 look like? A younger person playing a video game or tapping on a smartphone? Wearing what clothes? With what kind of hair style? Listening to what? Doing what else besides clutching a smartphone constantly?

I don't know. But it doesn't seem that much different of a generalization 15 years ago from today as it looks in the present moment. And that is sad. I think too much has stagnated, despite being given more technology to connect with others and innovate as anyone ever had previous to the current day.

I'm sorry to keep picking on you, but *man*, you could *not* be more wrong. Fashion is drastically different now than it was in 2005. Even just in business wear, the lapels, ties, jacket and skirt cuts, and waist positions are all hugely different. Have you looked at some photos of what girls and women were wearing in 2004? It's practically a different planet compared to today, at least where I live. High waists, "athleisure", different cuts of dresses, rompers...it's literally as different as the '60s were from the '80s. My students in 2021 dress drastically different from the students I had in 2015, let alone 2005 (when I was a student myself)!

And the absolute same thing is true of pop music. Hip-hop in 2005 didn't sound anything like hip-hop in 2017. The entire rhythmic and sonic signature changed.

And yes, there absolutely are teenage girls doing 2000s nostalgia stuff today (low waists, fake lower back tats, navel chains, big earrings, chunky highlights) for fun.

You're doing that thing again, just like you were doing upthread about the current state of jazz, where you're generalizing based on what I would charitably call limited knowledge of the present. I don't particularly like the dominant popular culture of 2021 but its insane to claim it's remotely similar to 2005.
19  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Is 'Sounds of Summer' out of print on: August 07, 2021, 11:53:17 AM
Seems to be available now:

https://www.amazon.com/Sounds-Summer-Very-Beach-Capitol/dp/B019GR4O0E/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=Sounds+Of+Summer&qid=1628253319&sr=8-3

It says 14 left in stock, which is not an untypical message to see, and surely they will replenish their supply. This is a fairly common occurrence...something sells out temporarily, then they get resupplied.

EDIT: granted, some copies available to buy are "used", but there are also "new" copies currently available. This situation probably wanes and waxes, but surely has to do with the current season (summer) and the fact that it's on the charts (meaning, it's selling). Demand is likely enhanced by the return of the 24x7 Sirius XM Beach Boys channel.

Those are third-party sellers. It does, in fact, appear that the Sounds of Summer compilation is currently not in print on CD in the US. I don't know if that means it's been permanently discontinued (I doubt it though). For a while Amazon.ca was listing Sounds of Summer as a "manufactured on demand" CD-R title, as opposed to a factory-pressed CD.

The LP version is still in the catalogue.

It is interesting that "Amazon's Choice" for the Beach Boys has shifted over to the 2012 "Greatest Hits" album with "That's Why God Made the Radio" as the leadoff track.

I tend to assume that its continued chart action has a lot to do with streaming services associating single-song streams with that specific compilation.
20  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brian and a move towards an authentic pop musical vocabulary on: July 30, 2021, 01:26:22 PM
I feel like this thread got way off on a tangent and it was partly/mainly my fault, getting into the weeds of the value of academic study of popular music, and we haven't really been discussing Joshilyn's premise.

I think the issue I have with the idea is twofold:

1> It was presented as a "return" to certain kinds of song form or orchestration but actually it's always seemed to me that those elements were vestigial survivals in Brian's art rather than something he "added in" as he matured: just listen to how the strings are arranged on "The Surfer Moon," it's pure Lawrence Welk, and that's where Brian's arranging started from (although I know he had help on those pieces). When Brian became more "authentic" about expressing his individuality in orchestrations, that lineage is much less apparent, except when he's doing style pastiche like the bossa arrangement of "Busy Doin' Nothin'". And indeed, although pieces like "Summer Means New Love" and "In the Back of My Mind" use more or less conventional section arrangements (albeit interesting ones), the strings after 1965 are used much more idiosyncratically, less as a "section." Even Pet Sounds reserves string section arrangements for isolated episodes that sound influenced by Max Steiner more than they do anything from jazz/pop per se, even though there are lots of string parts throughout. This increases with Smile and Brian doesn't really get back into using strings as a "section" until things like "Our Sweet Love."

Similar things could probably be said about the use of horns.

2> The vestigial survival of what we might call the "Welkian" arranging elements in Brian's early orchestrations are very specific and personal to his background, and I don't think Jan Berry's background or Spector's background or Jack Nitzsche's background were comparable. Spector and Berry were both mainly concerned with "functional" orchestration, i.e. with generating sonic effects on the radio. (There are exceptions to this rule, of course, like the Latin elements Spector liked to use.) Brian learned how to do that from both of them, but his use of orchestration for style purposes (rather than functional purposes) was based on his own personal context, i.e. his dad.

Thank you for this -- I'd much rather talk about the idea than the merits of academics.

I think you've hit upon a good point, that in and of itself might be worth exploring, and one could look narrowly at just Brian, or more broadly: A dynamic tension, perhaps, between the stock influences you mentioned, and the genuinely original-leaning impulses of the arranger/producer.  Indeed, the "less apparent lineage" is the one that is interesting to me, and sort of what I'm talking about when I'm talking about developing a vocabulary; you know, where did some of that stuff come from?  And what brought it out?  Clearly, as you say, Brian never really was without that Welkian/Murry Wilsonian impulse, and in some ways never did fully move past it.  But when he transcended that, where was that coming from?

Part of my working answer to that at the moment is that the studio musicians brought it out of him, and that is really a big part of the full premise behind the direction I would take something like a full study.  In fact, I see my project's protagonist as the studio musicians, and Brian as a sort of featured auxiliary character.  Come to think of it, your point about Nitzsche and Berry is useful because I think I need those people in the narrative to provide a certain amount of context.  Nitzsche took arranging classes, and Jan Berry came by his arranging skills in a fairly formal way, even if he was semi-self taught.  My inclusion of those two and their ilk in this conversation links them with Brian in a specific way, viz. I think that when they were arranging their music, they considered themselves to be doing a certain kind of music, writing a chart that was not Jazz, was not Classical, but distinctly "pop" whatever that meant to them at the time.  But Brian was effectively musically illiterate, so he didn't write charts (as such).  I wonder if some of his innovations were borne out of the translation effort from his singing parts at musicians to their perception of it and their attempts to get what he wanted.  So what started as a Welkian thing in Brian's mind ends up getting morphed into something a little more murky, lineage-wise, after essential playing musical telephone games.  But yeah, I do wonder where something so unique as, say, the duet between the pizzicato contrabass and the Fender bass on the verses of Here Today comes from.  Totally unique.

Ultimately, that was a bit of a ramble.  But again I appreciate your engagement, maggie.

Indeed, Joshilyn, I think "game of musical telephone" is a good way to characterize how Brian grouped the instruments available to him in search of certain feels. So he would take combinations and part-writing that Jan and Spector had used for functional purposes (e.g. the dual bass thing) and abstract them from their functional purpose, to see what sounds he could make.

My sense though is that his approach to orchestration was so influential, both because it was so artistically successful but mostly just by virtue of being the producer of the most successful and hit-producing rock & roll band in America, that it's hard to separate Brian as a reflection of his moment from Brian as essentially the creator of a new style. And, as I've suggested, the style came about in an ad-hoc fashion by abstracting pieces of the "Welkian" vocabulary and the functional vocabulary of Jan & Spector, among others.

It's like Charlie Parker. Charlie Parker undoubtedly had a rich basket of influences. But a lot of what followed Charlie Parker involved taking what Parker did and abstracting it from that original context. I kind of think this is what we're dealing with in the "de-jazzing" of pop is other producers taking what Brian abstracted from his Murry context (and from Jan and Spector) and abstracting it even further.

Is it really true that Brian "didn't write charts (as such)", or am I misunderstanding what you mean? I gather that a lot of the parts did come out of improvisations, and that many were simply dictated ("head arrangements"), but I had been under the impression that he did hand out a fair amount of parts on staff paper in his own idiosyncratic hand.
21  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brian and a move towards an authentic pop musical vocabulary on: July 30, 2021, 07:48:04 AM
I feel like this thread got way off on a tangent and it was partly/mainly my fault, getting into the weeds of the value of academic study of popular music, and we haven't really been discussing Joshilyn's premise.

I think the issue I have with the idea is twofold:

1> It was presented as a "return" to certain kinds of song form or orchestration but actually it's always seemed to me that those elements were vestigial survivals in Brian's art rather than something he "added in" as he matured: just listen to how the strings are arranged on "The Surfer Moon," it's pure Lawrence Welk, and that's where Brian's arranging started from (although I know he had help on those pieces). When Brian became more "authentic" about expressing his individuality in orchestrations, that lineage is much less apparent, except when he's doing style pastiche like the bossa arrangement of "Busy Doin' Nothin'". And indeed, although pieces like "Summer Means New Love" and "In the Back of My Mind" use more or less conventional section arrangements (albeit interesting ones), the strings after 1965 are used much more idiosyncratically, less as a "section." Even Pet Sounds reserves string section arrangements for isolated episodes that sound influenced by Max Steiner more than they do anything from jazz/pop per se, even though there are lots of string parts throughout. This increases with Smile and Brian doesn't really get back into using strings as a "section" until things like "Our Sweet Love."

Similar things could probably be said about the use of horns.

2> The vestigial survival of what we might call the "Welkian" arranging elements in Brian's early orchestrations are very specific and personal to his background, and I don't think Jan Berry's background or Spector's background or Jack Nitzsche's background were comparable. Spector and Berry were both mainly concerned with "functional" orchestration, i.e. with generating sonic effects on the radio. (There are exceptions to this rule, of course, like the Latin elements Spector liked to use.) Brian learned how to do that from both of them, but his use of orchestration for style purposes (rather than functional purposes) was based on his own personal context, i.e. his dad.
22  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brianís involvement in solo albums on: July 30, 2021, 05:48:35 AM
TWGMTR (the song) is a situation where I suspect Brian contributed the title and not much else. And yet, that title is the song. He clearly deserves a credit, given that the entire piece is built around it.

Yet, to take alternate examples from the same dang records, the song "Shelter" on TWGMTR (the album) seems to be almost all written by Brian. The chorus could be Joe, but the rest of its weird little sections sound very much like something BW would cook up.

I believe it has been acknowledged that Brian's credit on "That's Why God..." is a courtesy credit for coming up with the title, and for the verses being derived from "Keep an Eye on Summer."


More like "Your Summer Dream", actually.


You're absolutely right, the verse starts the same as "Your Summer Dream". It's the chorus that's similar to "Keep an Eye on Summer."
23  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brianís involvement in solo albums on: July 29, 2021, 01:06:34 PM
TWGMTR (the song) is a situation where I suspect Brian contributed the title and not much else. And yet, that title is the song. He clearly deserves a credit, given that the entire piece is built around it.

Yet, to take alternate examples from the same dang records, the song "Shelter" on TWGMTR (the album) seems to be almost all written by Brian. The chorus could be Joe, but the rest of its weird little sections sound very much like something BW would cook up.

I believe it has been acknowledged that Brian's credit on "That's Why God..." is a courtesy credit for coming up with the title, and for the verses being derived from "Keep an Eye on Summer."

It's funny that you ascribe the chorus of "Shelter" to Joe Thomas, considering that it is clearly very closely based on "Thinkin' 'Bout You Baby"/"Darlin'". I believe "Shelter" is indeed one of the songs that Joe Thomas himself ascribed largely to Brian.

I gather that the opening verse lyrics and melody of "Summer's Gone" are 100% Brian and then Jon Bon Jovi came up with the rest of the song including all subsequent melodic variations.

Joe Thomas has a signature ascending/descending chord figure -- "Whatever Happened" comes to mind -- that I think typifies his "brainstorming" process and helps identify the songs he initiated.
24  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brian and a move towards an authentic pop musical vocabulary on: July 28, 2021, 06:50:52 PM

I'm just giving my opinions, coming from a background of being a jazz musician and currently teaching jazz music. I am talking about the state of things as I see them and as other jazz musicians I've discussed this with have seen it too. It doesn't mean that's the state of things overall spoken as a definitive fact, but it's a pretty common opinion that jazz overall has stagnated in terms of commercial viability, popularity, and even the general public having a basic knowledge of any jazz artists from the past 40 years except perhaps for the Marsalis brothers due to their visibility on TV. Unless you're really into the jazz scene, it's just not in the public eye, and has become - sadly - a niche genre where the older back-catalog classic albums outsell anything new on a regular basis. The most exposure a lot of listeners under the age of 25 have gotten with jazz, if they're not musicians, has come in lecture halls or music appreciation courses. They're not hearing jazz and connecting to it in too many cases.

I never said nor suggested that my personal feelings or historical awareness were any greater or lesser than yours, so I'm not sure where that statement is coming from. I'm just calling it as I see it, and it's my opinion. However, it is true that legacy albums like Kind Of Blue or A Love Supreme continue to outsell and remain more visible than the bulk of modern jazz, and a majority of the charts played at the average jazz gig are songs written over 45 years ago or songs and standards from the Real Book, because that's what people know and that's what people want to hear. In my opinion I don't know of many modern jazz songs that have taken their place next to those standards, and I doubt a lot of them will because many of the compositions are too complex and lack a melodic component that listeners can attach themselves to and groove with. Too many composers seem to go for mathematical, polyrhythmic grooves and angular versus linear (and memorable) melodies, if it's not outright discordant harmony underneath everything.

I think as jazz became more intellectual, and things like dancing to jazz were frowned upon if not outright mocked (see the Ken Burns documentary for examples), the genre itself lost the general public. Then it turned into a situation where it felt like various academics and experts were trying to tell people why they should like jazz and why they're wrong not to versus celebrating the music and trying to reconnect the music to the popular culture, as if that would be a bad thing to return to the 30's and 40's when the kids would keep track of all the big bands and the musicians like kids today may follow the Kardashians or the latest K-Pop boy bands.

I think striving for sophistication and a higher intellectual plane in music is a great pursuit, but not if it basically takes the enjoyment of the music out of the sphere of the general public you're trying to connect with, and it requires a lecture from a professor to explain why someone should like the music they're just not feeling.



We're veering way off topic, but there has been a rush of new jazz musicians in just the last couple of years -- Kamasi Washington and Jon Batiste in the US, and Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia, and Moses Boyd in the UK -- who have been racking up major concert tours, big streaming numbers, awards, and a huge amount of press coverage, the kind not seen for jazz musicians since Wynton. AND, unlike Wynton, their audience is almost 100% young people. Bands like Sons of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming sure as hell aren't rehashing Kind of Blue or Bitches Brew.

Whether they are any good or not, and whether or not they deserve the attention (I am agnostic on these questions), they're a big deal, and they clearly attest to the music's continuing vitality. I teach 18-22s and many of them are excited about this music just as they are by Lil Uzi Vert or what have you.

I would think that someone who makes a living teaching jazz would be aware that jazz is kind of having a huge youth moment right now??? Clearly the academy hasn't been cramping the music's style because the Shabaka projects are about as un-academic as jazz gets these days.

I'm sorry that I reacted testily to your post, it was just the whole "I am a jazz musician, I teach jazz" preamble that made it sound like you were trying to pull rank on me and/or Joshilyn. Honestly, "all the jazz musicians I know agree with me" gives the same impression.
25  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brian and a move towards an authentic pop musical vocabulary on: July 28, 2021, 01:01:49 PM
All true, which is exactly why I'm trying to narrow the focus down to something worth commenting on.  Doing scholarship on popular music is hard, also, because there's so little of it to build on.

I can relate to what you're saying. I don't do academic scholarship anymore, but I was very much in that world for around 10 years, and I did actually plan to write something on Brian but I couldn't crack the nut. I ended up writing about jazz instead.

While there is a fair amount of scholarship on boomer pop/rock, IMO there is still no good academic treatment (musicological or otherwise) of Brian Wilson specifically and why he's interesting. It's just a lot of cliches and "received wisdom."

The problem, as ever, is the knowledge gap: there just aren't enough musicologists with the social history awareness, and not enough social historians with the musicological awareness.

Just to preface, this is coming from someone who studied jazz, wrote about jazz, played jazz, and teaches jazz: The death knell of jazz seems to have been when the music was overly intellectualized and it became more common to read about or be lectured about how great it is versus hearing actual examples of how great it is in the present day. I think, sadly, certain circles intellectualized the sheer visceral fun out of the genre. I'm hard pressed to find one example of truly new jazz music made in the past 40 years that has struck a deep chord with me. When that does happen, it's usually a performer playing either a version of an old standard from 80 years ago, or playing in the style of a previous innovator. Modern jazz composers have by and large forgotten the emotion of jazz, and how it connected with the general public at one time to become the pop music genre of its day.

That's why I'm kept calm in the long-term outlook of music appreciation whenever I see new, young performers singing God Only Knows, or younger listeners getting excited about Beatles music and wearing the associated T-shirts and other wear. They're actively living the music, and not going to a lecture hall to be told how great it is. And that's the line which I supposed has to be walked like walking on eggshells, so the music of Brian and his peers doesn't become so intellectualized that it gets out of reach to the general public as sadly happened with modern jazz.

With all due respect -- and to a degree I share some of your evident despair with where jazz has ended up -- you're talking about a personal feeling, not the actual state of things. Saying "there is a lot of academic study of jazz" and "I don't like contemporary jazz" (or even "contemporary jazz sucks") is not actually making any kind of causal connection between one and the other, even if you are right that jazz has lost its vitality. And as to that point: I happen to love a lot of contemporary jazz, I happen to perceive its originality, and I don't see why my personal feeling about it or my historical awareness of it are less legitimate than yours.

Pursuant to what Joshilyn said just before this post, I think there is actually a lot of very good scholarship of pop music that hasn't managed to destroy the vitality of the art. For example, I think there's a lot of more than decent scholarship of hip-hop, both from a musicological and from a social history point of view. And the kids still like it, so I don't think "intellectualization" has hurt (or has the potential to hurt) anything.

I absolutely support Joshilyn's project of trying to do an academic study of Brian's music, I just don't agree with the premise of this specific thread.
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