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672387 Posts in 27078 Topics by 3979 Members - Latest Member: sloopfan3 October 17, 2021, 07:08:02 PM
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1  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Jan & Dean are terrible singers on: September 15, 2021, 11:59:37 AM

Why didn't Jan spend more time getting in-tune vocals that were delivered with confidence and that passion that marks a classic vocal recording? Who knows.

I'm stumped, too. Listening to their entire catalog, it's clear that they never made any serious effort to improve their singing.

Joshilyn, one reason I think they "get the job done" for me, too, is their amateur singing has the air of youth and carefree innocence-- like a couple of buddies singing about their life with little concern for what someone might think.
2  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Jan & Dean are terrible singers on: September 15, 2021, 07:28:25 AM
Sorry, it had to be said.

With all the focus on the Beach Boys' middle era lately (Feel Flows Box Set), I decided it's high time I start at the beginning and retrace everything from the early days up to Sunflower/Surf's Up. Naturally, I started with Jan & Dean.

I think everyone agrees that J&D were pivotal in the development and popularization of the surf rock sound, but they. simply. can't. sing.

That said... I absolutely love them. I've immersed myself in their music for the last few days, and I can't wipe the smile off my face.

Were J&D aware they can't sing? I can't help but wonder if this was more of a feature than a bug. Thoughts?
3  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Feel Flows box set on: August 27, 2021, 11:01:20 AM
I've never heard much of Dennis' stuff prior to today. That guy had music in his soul! Did the guys sing on his material, or am I hearing a wall of Dennis's?
4  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Production quality of the Sunflower/Surf's Up era on: August 19, 2021, 07:47:07 AM
Bonnevillemariner, if I came across as sanctimonious I genuinely apologise. I was trying to answer your question with what I saw, and still see, as a possible answer to your question. Let me reiterate that there is no 'wrong' way to be moved by art.


No, you didn't come across as sanctimonious at all. I really appreciated your explanations. For me it boils down to this: If the music doesn't sound good in a simple setup or a casual listening environment, there's a problem with the music-- not my method of consumption. Thus, purchasing a specific set of equipment and arranging my listening space just so isn't a real solution. The longer we discuss it, the more I realize there probably isn't a solution...

...aside from the re-record idea that I posited above.  Grin

I don't want to wade into the rest of the discussion, but in the case of This Whole World in particular, I think it's clear that at least some of the perceived tininess of the backing vocals is an intentional effect. The 2009 remaster of Sunflower is harsh and trebly accross the board. The 2014 AP remaster and 2015 HDtracks remaster (latter is my go-to) sound warmer and closer to Desper's needledrops of the original pressings, but still, it's there to an extent in This Whole World. The vocals apparently just have that unusual EQ right on the tape. In the om-dot-didits, Brian's got Al and Dennis down on the lower parts singing with this pinched, nasal tone that stand out among the harmonies - obviously a specific thing he was going for there for better or worse, accentuated with the recording technique. There are many places on the album with vocals that don't sound like that.

It may have something to do with favoured trends in the moment too. Feet, recorded during the Sunflower period, also has that vocal quality. None of the rest of Surf's Up really does.

I fear you may be right, and that is unfortunate. The Boys were known for their rich, lush sibling harmonies. Any Tom, Dick or Harry could have sung most of the harmonies on that track. "Hey, we're infamous for doing this thing. Let's purposely subvert that for this record." So, so stupid. The Beach Boys' later eras are filled with decisions that turned out to be unfortunate.

I find it interesting that Feet was recorded during the Sunflower period. I was not aware of that fact. The backing tracks on Sunflower sound pretty pristine to me, hence my comment earlier about it being the best sounding track, instrumentally, on Surf's Up.
5  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Production quality of the Sunflower/Surf's Up era on: August 19, 2021, 07:29:11 AM
Is there any way to listen to Stephen’s study videos? The only link I could find is dead.

Yeah, I think Stephen has his videos up on the Endless Harmony forum…you have to make an account there to see them. Needless to say, many people here won’t be hearing Stephen’s mixes.

I remember going on a wild goose chase to gain access to one of them through this board. It was many years ago and it involved following clues to passwords that would unlock the video or something. I didn't bother trying to find the rest.
6  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Production quality of the Sunflower/Surf's Up era on: August 18, 2021, 10:40:45 AM
As I've pored through these responses, I've re-listened to these two albums several times, and I'll refine my critique a bit. The backing tracks on most of them are great. I can tell they were recorded differently, and I like it. A notable exception is Long Promised Road. Interestingly, the best sounding track-- instrumentally-- to me is Take A Load Off Your Feet. So the instrumental aspect of these tracks is mostly great.

It's the vocals. Not necessarily the leads, per se. It's the backing harmonies. Yes there's the distinct hiss that someone mentioned earlier, but that's not necessarily what I'm talking about. Words that come to mind are: thin, anemic, compressed, cartoony, shallow and distant.

In keeping with the track that I used as an example above, which best personifies what I'm talking about, listen to This Whole World, particularly at the 1:22 mark. Listen to Brian's falsetto there. If that nails-on-a-chalkboard sibilance was done deliberately, he's much less of a genius than I thought he was. It sounds like he drove straight under a low-clearance bridge. The rest of the harmonies on the track-- and pretty much everywhere else in material from that era-- dance right around that low clearance.

You don't have to be a heavy metal or even hard rock fan to occasionally wish a BB track here and there had punched up the guitars, or had heavier, more prevalent drums instead of, say, just a snare with nothing else. Having that occasional thought is different than fundamentally just having an issue across the board with how the stuff sounds...


Yep. I would give anything if somebody would rework This Whole World using a combination of existing recordings and newer harmonies. For fun, I'd add a "Star light, star bright" section featuring a newly recorded Al. I'd take a cleaned-up Carl lead on Long Promised Road with an entirely new backing track. Ideas aplenty that are only pipe dreams

But at the end of the day, like 99.9% of people listening to the stuff back then *AND* to this day are going to do so with some sort of standard set up to listen to stereo mixes. No, this stuff shouldn't be listened to (or at least analyzed) via smartphone speakers or something. But it also shouldn't require anything more than me putting a CD in and plugging some headphones in or listening on normal speakers. If something more than that is required, then that is, arguably, a flaw or at least "issue" with the original recording/mixing methods that is worth pointing out. I absolutely should *not* need a "study video" to hear this stuff as intended. I'm not saying such videos aren't highly interesting and welcomed.


Preach it, brother!
7  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Production quality of the Sunflower/Surf's Up era on: August 17, 2021, 10:17:24 AM
I appreciate the response, Greg. I don't totally get what you're saying about the change in production technique, but it makes sense that a change in recording/production technique correlates with reduced quality listening experience.

FWIW, I own these albums on CD and mp3, but my primary way of consuming music is Spotify. I understand mp3/streaming is lossy, but my ears can't distinguish between them and CD.  Whether I'm in my living room listening on my decent system, in my car listening on my good stereo, or in my classroom listening on my state of the art sound system-- it's all the same. I once heard the Surf's Up LP playing in a record store and paid close attention. It's all still tinny, thin, cartoony, cold. How do other people not hear this? I'm quite certain the poor quality of these albums has little, if anything, to do with listening format or equipment.
8  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Production quality of the Sunflower/Surf's Up era on: August 17, 2021, 08:01:42 AM
I'm going to preface this post, in part to innoculate myself from the scathing responses that will undoubtedly ensue. I am not a musician, engineer, or any other recording industry professional. I teach high school IT classes. So I don't know all the music lingo and am incredibly naive about things like arrangement, instruments, mastering, etc. I understand that production quality and sound can be subjective. Some things sound awesome to some people and awful to others.

Ok, then.

I've been revisiting the Sunflower/Surf's Up era lately and trying to appreciate the music more. And I'm sorry, but to my ears, the various released versions of these albums sound like they were recorded on subpar equipment by amateurs. They're muddy, thin, and lo-fi (not in a good way). This is maddening since so much of the earlier material sounds so much better.

And I need to know why, because a lot of this stuff is so good.

Let's look at This Whole World, one of the most beautiful tracks of this era. The versions of this track, prior to the recently released vocals-only and alternative ending tracks, are a mixed bag. To me, the backing track sounds crisp, clear and rich. The vocals are exactly the opposite.  Carl's lead is so-so, lower fidelity than it seems like it should be. The harmonies are incredibly thin and even very tinny in some spots-- particularly Brian's soaring falsetto on the second bridge(?). That could have been divine. The harmonies in this track sound like cartoons.

This begs the question: why?

Why does, say, Pet Sounds sound so much better? The recently released vocals-only and the Bruce alt ending of TWW sound so much better to me. If it's just a matter of how it was put together back in the day, and Boyd and Linett have good quality original source recordings, why hasn't anybody considered putting together a clean version of this track? How did someone along the production path not listen to this stuff earlier in the process and say, "Guys, we gotta do something about this. It sucks"?

This same sound permeates these two albums. I love Long Promised Road, but it's painful to listen to because I imagine how good it could sound.

Help me out here, guys.
9  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: California Music Presents Add Some Music on: March 02, 2021, 07:28:05 AM

RubberSoul13,

as for Brian's absence, I assume he probably just passed on the seemingly (mostly) re-records/re-releases album, and wanted to focus his attention elsewhere.

Where? I wish it were other projects, but I haven't heard anything to indicate he's working at all. The only way I'll buy an album of re-records is with Brian's involvement.
10  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Al Jardine 2021 Clubhouse interview on: February 25, 2021, 11:13:32 AM
Did we really need a new take on "Waves of Love"? This latest version adds some "dits" and inexplicably buries Carl in the stack. It's been a while since I had listened to the track that came on my "Postcard from California" (I understand there were several versions on different prints), so when I heard this new thin, flat, dit-dit version I thought I should revisit Postcard. My Postcard version is about as brilliant as it could get, given the circumstances of recording and flying in Carl. Hate to say it, but the new 2.0 take sounds like something Mike would release...
11  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Discovered: Lost footage of Beach Boys at the San Diego Zoo in 1966 on: February 10, 2021, 07:41:52 AM
I just saw that there was another thread about this that I hadn't seen before posting. Plus, looks like some kind of glitch resulted in my post being duplicated several times. Mods, feel free to delete any or all of these.
12  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Is there a reason why 'Still Cruisin' is not on Spotify ....or anywhere on: February 10, 2021, 07:33:55 AM

This might be one of the main reasons it hasn't been part of even a low effort digital rerelease. I mean, the repeated tracks on Little Deuce Coupe kind of contradict this line of thinking, but maybe they're between a rock and a hard place with presenting an album that is authentic vs. complete and cohesive. Those last three tracks could be swapped for Rock and Roll to the Rescue, California Dreamin, and Problem Child or others, but rights issues aside it just wouldn't really be the Still Cruisin' album anymore.

I have maybe 2 people in my life who care about an album being cohesive. I haven't thought that way at all since the early 2000's. If that's the reason, it's lame.
13  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Is there a reason why 'Still Cruisin' is not on Spotify ....or anywhere on: February 10, 2021, 07:07:20 AM
I'm guessing it's more complex a situation with rights, due to different movie soundtracks being involved? Plus probably a general lack of interest for it being out there. Parts of the album are definitely a guilty pleasure for me.

If general lack of interest were a good enough reason not to take 30 seconds to upload the tracks to Spotify's servers, there'd be only a handful of albums there.
14  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Is there a reason why 'Still Cruisin' is not on Spotify ....or anywhere on: February 10, 2021, 07:06:20 AM
I'm guessing it's more complex a situation with rights, due to different movie soundtracks being involved? Plus probably a general lack of interest for it being out there. Parts of the album are definitely a guilty pleasure for me.

If general lack of interest were a good enough reason not to take 30 seconds to upload the tracks to Spotify's servers, there'd be only a handful of albums there.
15  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Is there a reason why 'Still Cruisin' is not on Spotify ....or anywhere on: February 10, 2021, 07:05:17 AM
I'm guessing it's more complex a situation with rights, due to different movie soundtracks being involved? Plus probably a general lack of interest for it being out there. Parts of the album are definitely a guilty pleasure for me.

If general lack of interest were a good enough reason not to take 30 seconds to upload the tracks to Spotify's servers, there'd be only a handful of albums there.
16  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Discovered: Lost footage of Beach Boys at the San Diego Zoo in 1966 on: February 10, 2021, 07:00:54 AM
Brian's Twitter account tweeted this article a few minutes ago:

https://www.cbs8.com/article/news/local/zevely-zone/lost-footage-beach-boys-san-diego-zoo/509-2a90313f-8b22-425a-80f5-a12c381deceb

I keep holding out for long lost footage of their lesser-known Saltair excursion to be found...
17  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why does spotify keep screwing with the Beach Boys material? on: April 16, 2019, 09:01:57 AM
Although it's incredibly annoying, I get why they might add stuff and remove it later. What I don't get is how the track names get so screwed up after initially being accurate. It's got to be a glitch in the peer-to-peer sharing they utilize for bandwidth and speed. I've had to recreate entire playlists with the wrong track names for the right tracks.

Regarding discovery, it seems the way I tend to discover new music and the way Spotify thinks I should discover new music have diverged significantly over the last year or two. Between that and removing a lot of Beach Boys stuff lately, my use of the app has dropped precipitously. In fact I've listened less to music in general, and more to podcasts.
18  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Mike Love/touring group Christmas album on: November 12, 2018, 05:07:57 PM
The traditional songs sound great. Just about the rest of the tracks sound ok, minus Mike's vocals, which sound like they were recorded with the iPhone's Voice Recorder app during a bus drive and texted to the producer.
19  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Dennis’s Women on: August 31, 2018, 01:09:09 PM
Does Mike's daughter count?
20  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: New Recording of \ on: August 27, 2018, 11:20:17 AM
I actually rank this new recording of "It's Ok" higher than most of the tracks on Unleash. I really like the deep bass vocals and the intro. I wouldn't recognize Hanson from... anybody, really, but I dig the track.

Of course my son's first reaction upon hearing it the other day was, "Don't they know summer is about over?"

Nice timing, Mike!
21  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: New Recording of \ on: August 27, 2018, 11:16:49 AM
I particularly like the idea of different lyrics to California Girls.  I know it was a big hit as it was but I hate those atlas lyrics Mike does and it's so sexist - woman are only good for one thing right?  I know Brian will never do it but perhaps someone else could.

No thanks to any sanitized, PC version of any song.
22  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: David Marks Arrested on: July 30, 2018, 07:16:45 PM
Love is an intense thing.

I don't know, man. I like to think my wife and I love each other intensely, but it's never landed either of us in jail. I get it-- it's none of my business. Just more unfortunate and unnecessary drama in the Beach Boys legacy.
23  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Album Discussion Thread on: June 19, 2018, 03:49:01 PM
Now that I've had a while to process this album, I must say I really like it.

Was this album necessary? No, but if it doesn't replace any other planned or potential releases, I'll take it.

Is the tracklist stellar? No. I don't understand the inclusion of tracks like "Fun Fun Fun" and would loved to have seen other tracks better suited to symphonic treatment ("Surf's Up" anybody?), but there are a lot of really cool moments on other tracks. "Sloop" for example. I love the fresh arrangement with those deep (cello?) notes. I also like that they've flown in parts of different lines from different recordings and mixed the vocal stack up a bit. I love how clean everything sounds. Heck, my least favorite Beach Boys song ever, "Disney Girls", is almost kinda listenable here. (Still evokes thoughts of a funeral on a cold, rainy day, but at least it's a pretty funeral.)

Thoughts on how it's doing? I think America has been suffering from what I call "hit fatigue" with the Boys for some time now. On top of that, I think there is a perception that they've just added a violin here and there to original tracks. The release of "Fun Fun Fun" as the first single reinforces that for the casual fan who might have checked that out and rolled her eyes. (WHY WHY WHY was "Fun Fun Fun" included, let alone released first???)
24  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Album Discussion Thread on: June 13, 2018, 04:22:12 PM
Agree with the quality of Disney Girls. Now I want other BB tracks to be remixed to highlight lead vocals in the same was as was done with Bruce. He sounds exquisite!

Dis-a-ney Girls may be my least favorite Beach Boys song ever, but this RPO take is probably the most palatable version of it I've heard.
25  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: God Only Knows on American Idol on: May 15, 2018, 10:27:08 AM
I have a hard time listening to covers of GOK. Some are brilliant, but the only thing covers of this song evoke for me is a desire to forget the cover and go for the original. In fact, this might be the only song that covers of which kinda piss me off-- for no other reason than that they're not the original track.
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