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658494 Posts in 26362 Topics by 3742 Members - Latest Member: Soulful Old Man River May 29, 2020, 01:05:24 AM
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1  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 19, 2020, 08:15:30 PM
I think you’re onto something. The stories of Brian tossing tapes, Erasing tapes, the lack of completed Mixes in the tape libraries, etc. ... gets one to thinking.
2  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 19, 2020, 01:05:26 PM
I remember that Mike Love said that Brian went downhill after Heroes and Villains, his productions were never the same after that.  The drugs were taking him over and his ability to write and produce were compromised.

That's kind of what I'm challenging. Smiley Smile, Wild Honey, and Friends sort of prove that wrong IMO. I think he made a conscious, intentional artistic change for the '67-'68 era. After that, I think he lost interest in completing tracks.
3  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 19, 2020, 12:02:56 PM

Consider that the timeline of what was done in the studio as you mentioned "toward the end" falls into line directly with the same working method Brian had been using for the past year. The band had a big European tour in May 1967 which saw them gone for roughly a month. Just prior to them leaving on that tour, Brian had them in the studio doing vocals for Vegetables, April 1967. The band leaves on tour...no vocals can be cut while they're gone obviously. The next sessions Brian holds are with the Wrecking Crew, for Love To Say Dada, in line with how he had been recording the other Smile tracks. Listen to the session tapes from this time, there are no indications Brian was anything less than in control and doing what he does in the studio contrary to some opinions suggesting he had fallen apart or something.

So the band returns from Europe later in May '67. While on that tour almost every band member is quoted in the press saying a variation of the statement "we don't want to be rushed, we want to give the fans our best work, etc..." regarding questions about the delay in releasing their "new" single and the dust-up over EMI putting out "Then I Kissed Her" from the vaults as a placeholder. The running theme was they needed the time to put out the best product they could for the fans, in terms of both the single and the upcoming album.

Worth noting, that May '67 tour also saw them take quite a bashing in the European press over the sound of their concerts not measuring up to the sound of their records. This also happened to some extent during their Fall '66 European jaunt, but in May '67 it was heavier criticism and more consistent. As I've said before, that had to hurt. And their tangles with the union over adding the string players didn't help matters.

Oh, and meanwhile as the band was telling the press about their new album, Derek Taylor issues a press release saying the new album (Smile) had been "scrapped", a statement that was seemingly not backed up by the band as they were giving interviews during the tour, though unfortunately none ever directly commented on Taylor's statement but their own statements contradicted him.

The band returns from the European tour, late May. They almost immediately go into both Western for several sessions and also one at Sound Recorders, and work on With Me Tonight, Cool Cool Water, and resumed work on Vegetables which was suspended due to them leaving on the tour.

In short, nothing had changed in terms of how Brian was progressing on tracks associated with Smile. Brian cut those instrumental tracks using the same studios and same musicians he had been using all along, the same working method of him preparing the backing tracks to which the band would add any vocals after they returned from the tour. Vegetables was picked up again where they left off in April. With Me Tonight, Cool Cool Water...again, tracks that we could speculate were or were not part of Smile proper, but doesn't it add up anyway that they were in the usual pro studios doing what they left off doing back in April according to the usual schedule?

Then...something radically and drastically changed literally within a week, that week after those final group sessions at Western. When they regrouped, the entire game changed. They were in Brian's living room with cables running all over the floors going into a gates Dualux radio broadcast mixer instead of a pro studio. The entire workflow changed. Heroes changed. The production credit would see a shift to "produced By The Beach Boys" rather than "produced by Brian Wilson" even though Brian was still calling 99% of the musical shots as we can all hear on the tapes recorded at the house.

For me, and I'll go to the grave probably never knowing for sure, whatever happened that one week between the last pro studio session and the first session at the house is *key* to understanding what happened and why such drastic changes were made literally in a week's time. Whatever the answer may be, whoever or whatever can be pointed to, *something* happened to cause such a shift and it can be narrowed down to basically one week in time as outlined briefly above.

So what exactly happened? I'll repost the quote from a July '67 Derek Taylor piece where events of that week in June '67 are mentioned:

"In one inspired decision, (Nick) Grillo and the Beach Boys were able to a. Make use of Brian Wilson's new house, b. restructure the attitude and atmosphere at recording sessions and c. remove the problem of availability of commercial studios. They built their own 8-track studio in the Spanish house."

It's the part about restructuring the attitude and atmosphere at recording sessions that sticks out for me. Read into that how anyone pleases. But it can't be denied that *something big* went down during that week in June that changed the entire game, focus, outlook, structure, sound, etc...

And I'm still waiting to hear an authoritative answer as to what that something big actually was. I'm not holding my breath.

But back to the last comments in Donny's post, if Brian was working exactly as he had throughout Smile in May '67 and recording the full DaDa track, and if the band after returning home jumped right back in to adding vocals and picking up with Vegetables, doesn't it suggest the same plans were still in place despite what Taylor's piece suggested in early May, especially if the exact same "Pet Sounds-GV-Smile" working methods were followed as evidenced by the schedule of sessions? And, that the songs worked on were as far as anyone knew still part of Smile? Could it have been that those riffs and snippets were just part of what had to be added for various parts of the album, similar to any of the other riffs or chants that had already been recorded? And Vegetables/DaDa worked on in May '67 were not snippets or riffs, they were full tracks which had multiple parts being added to fill them out, again in line with the existing working methods.

It wasn't until that next week when the whole thing changed.

Just food for thought.

What I'm suggesting is not that Brian had personal problems that made it so he could not work on Smile ... as I've indicated previously in this thread, I think he was fully capable, willing, and interested in producing records through Friends. Clearly, he made a conscious effort to "quit the production race" however (removing his name from the Producer credits is the biggest indication here IMO).

What I am noting is that in my observation, there is a distinct transition into the Smiley Smile concept on the last few months of Smile sessions. We have these lighter/"sillier"/more humorous kinds of songs, along with the more chant-like snippets. Conceptually - similar to Smiley; sonically and performance-wise - different due to the transition to the home studio and more reliance on the band members themselves.

Brian losing the plot = artistically, the material that made up Smile became increasingly difficult to tie together, and his original vision for what the album was supposed to be was becoming increasingly less possible or feasible to realize ... and thus, he re-conceptualized it into Smiley Smile. As Brian explained upon the release of Smiley Smile: "We did it in three weeks. We had about six months before that we were doing different things that we junked … and ended up doing the whole thing here at the house, with sort of an entirely different mood and approach than we originally started out."
4  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 19, 2020, 09:07:20 AM
Just to clarify re: production -- I am referring to *completing* the production in particular. My impression is that Brian produced sessions and was very involved (particularly in lots of Sunflower stuff), but to me, it sounds like Friends was the last LP that has that final "BW touch". "Do It Again" and "Break Away" also have it, but I'm not sure I hear it after that. We have Carl's "Mixdown Producer" credit on Love You, and I think this is telling.
5  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 18, 2020, 10:23:48 PM
...
I think you made good points. I personally believe Brian fully produced Smiley Smile, Wild Honey, and Friends though. 20/20 is the first record that sounds like Brian did not bring any of the songs to completion (even "Time to Get Alone", "I Went to Sleep", and "Cabinessence"). I believe Carl took over that role beginning with 20/20 - bringing tracks to completion from a production standpoint. This is regardless of label credits.

I think it's pretty obvious that Brian was still in charge for Wild Honey and Friends, with assistence by Carl and probably some production ideas thrown in here and there by some of the other guys, like Alan (can't picture Mike being too involved in any of this however, other than suggesting some finger popping or whatever). On 20/20, Do It Again, Cotton Fields and I Went to Sleep sound like real Brian (co-) productions. Sunflower already sounds very "un-Brian" in terms of production to my ears.

I forgot about “Do It Again”, you’re right that definitely sounds like Brian completed it. Though I was referring to the tracks sounding like a “complete” BW production. A good half of 20/20 has definite Brian produced sounds, but none of them sound like his style of mixing/completing a track to me, except “Do It Again”.

I would include “Break Away” ... and
Actually “Celebrate the News” sounds kinda like Brian too, so wonder if I’m nuts. None of Dennis’ 20/20 tracks sound Brian produced though (IMO).
6  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 18, 2020, 09:00:48 PM
Donny, I know where you're coming from - I'll gladly agree to disagree because points are valid on both sides. I agree with a lot of your examples and reasoning, but I do think it's too drastic to dismiss the notion of the technology playing a part entirely. I also agree that sometimes limitations lead to innovations...as we saw with Brian Wilson especially in the year 1966, and the fact that the man is deaf in one ear yet could still make absolutely amazing soundscapes in the studio!

But at the same time, you can plug in any number of sayings to make the same point about technology or art in general...if a painter only has two colors on the palette yet uses that limitation to innovate somehow, then yes: The limitation led to something unique as a result. However, flipping that a bit, what would that same painter have done if you provided a third color, or even 15 more colors? There is no answer, the art flows from the artist no matter what is working against them or working in their favor.

Do I think recording as a whole was more innovative and creative especially in the mid to late 60's? Absolutely, 110%! Do I think the limitations of what they had to work with inspired some of that creativity? To some degree...but at the same time the "what if?" exists in asking of someone like Geoff Emerick what if Abbey Road had sprung for an 8-track and allowed its use prior to Sgt. Pepper. Again, we can do what-if's all day but for a lot of the people who had to work with the limited technologies, almost to a man they will say how much longer and more difficult their jobs were - and in some cases how unsuccessful they were when the attempts failed because the gear they had couldn't do what they needed - because of technology that was not up to par where they would have liked it to be.

Technology is one thing, getting into individual tracks is another in terms of the big picture. So much is made of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow due to the aura it gained after a few articles describing what happened, like Seigel. The most basic fact is Brian recorded something and scrapped it - as simple as that! All bands and artists do that, but in this case some will try to tie it into the legend of Brian's paranoia, and drug use, and all that stuff...when perhaps it's as simple as he recorded this Fire piece, didn't think it would work *at that time* with what he was doing, and put it on the shelf. Ironically when it did finally come out under his own name, he won a Grammy for it! So maybe he was right in shelving it at that time, for a Beach Boys project. Who knows. Or maybe the conflict at that time was how to weave it into what he had planned for the other "elements", and maybe, yes, it was "too scary" for a Beach Boys record. "Fire" is seeing a tree instead of the forest, I think: The forest was how to organize all of his trees both on tape and waiting to be taped and those still being conceived in his mind into some kind of cohesive whole. And that's where I differ from your opinions and suggest if he had something similar to what Darian had decades later that could allow him almost instant editing and sequencing, *maybe* his ideas could have been fleshed out in a way more suited to the way his mind worked at that time.

A lot of my opinions come from the various descriptions, most published and perhaps some not as widely spread, of when Darian had all those Smile segments loaded up into his DAW and sat down with Brian to audition various sequences, trying to figure out what went where and what goes where to make that elusive, cohesive whole. I know most of the sentiments at the time were "imagine if we had this back then...", coming from Brian too, and it of course suggests pure fantasy but to me it also suggests a piece of what was lacking in the overall process and what could have hindered the process beyond everything else to where it got too overwhelming.

And the technology I'm referring to was not crossfading or hard edits...it was the way in which Good Vibrations was created overall, along with what Mark said in that interview. I still ask who else in the pop field who was actually selling records was using the studio and tape the same way Brian did in 1966, and I can't think of a single one. Look at all the accolades and awards Bones Howe got for "Age Of Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" in '69 and that was only 3 different sessions edited together. It was terrific, yes, but compared to the miles of tape Brian had for Good Vibrations? Same with Bohemian Rhapsody...after trying for years, along with many others, I still have no idea how they mixed that thing without automation and how they kept track of all the drop-ins and how many hands manned those faders, etc. But in 1966, to do it as Brian did, is still amazing to consider how he did it so well.

Yep I think we’re dealing with opinions and theories, not facts mainly. We each have our own viewpoints and conclusions. In my case, no doubt influenced by own experience in the analog realm and opinions on the results of the digital music age.

Fair segue while we’re on the topic - is there any documentation that Brian at any point was going to structure the entire album as flowing through as 2 side-long “tracks”? To me, this is the only way the argument could potentially make sense. But something tells me it would have been 11-13 tracks at 30-35 minutes anyway.

The only documentation I think any of us have seen, up to and including Mark and Alan who sifted through as much as was available to make the box set, was that lone tracklist memo written in Carl's handwriting, made public I think in LLVS for the first time. I know this is all old info that has been repeated many times, but even the back cover didn't have an accurate tracklisting and had an addendum to see inside for the order! So Capitol didn't know when they made the slicks.

Do I think the scenario you mentioned could have been on the table in 66-67? Absolutely. But it's pure guessing, I seriously don't think anyone knows and if something did exist it would have been part of the box set. Now the other question to ask even in spite of all that has already been said is how closely did the 2004 presentation mirror what may have been on the table back in 66-67, even if conceptually and in that regard, partially? Topic for more discussion.  Grin

I do focus on something Mark said in that same interview, with the heads-up that there are quite a few interviews from these projects that may go even deeper but this one just happened to be convenient today:

Will there be one complete version of the album in the way it was presented 2004 and will that album serve as the guide line for the "Smile" Sessions track listing?

We have gaps, we have missing vocals. We aren't missing any music which is heartening. All the songs were recorded. Most of it is there. I can't be sure that we won't still come up with something because we do know that there were other things recorded, but the tapes are no longer in the group's possession. And unfortunately they may have been destroyed years ago.

We have some rough mixes from 1966, which will probably become part of the quote album. There seems to be less of that than you might expect. That also leads to believe, it really wasn't close to being finished when it was put aside to go to the next project.

If you take Brian's 2004 version as a blueprint, [it will have] all of that music, all of the significant parts and even the little segue ways. For the most part, that project was heavily researched by myself and others to make sure Brian had available all the parts that had been recorded back in 1966 and 1967. Some lyric additions were made in 2004 that hadn't been completed before the project was abandoned. That's some of the questions that we have to do deal with. How will we are going to present those few pieces. But there really aren't too many. The biggest one is the song that became Blue Hawaii, which started out as a thing called "Loved to Say Dada," which is sort of the water section of the piece. That had background but no lead vocal.



Pulling it out of the answer: We have some rough mixes from 1966, which will probably become part of the quote album. There seems to be less of that than you might expect. That also leads to believe, it really wasn't close to being finished when it was put aside to go to the next project.

This statement suggests while the majority of music was recorded and in the can, as in not much was "missing" as also shown in 2004, and a lot of vocals existed but not as many as instrumental tracks existed waiting for vocals...doesn't this suggest the burden if not the hindrance was in the mixing and sequencing process? When Mark says there were less *rough* mixes than expected, which meant obviously no final mixes, yet most of the tracks could be considered finished and a relatively small number of vocals overall would need to be added beyond what was on tape already...doesn't it suggest the sticking point was whatever was planned for the final mixing and sequencing, as in the process of putting it all together? The exact words from Mark lean toward the post-production being the bugger of the whole process.


Could be, but ... considering how they worked in ‘66-‘67 (including Smiley and WH), I would say that everything was kind of done as they went along - seems to me that the most obvious answer is Brian lost the plot. To me, you can kind of hear the thing start to unravel and the sessions almost lead in to what became Smiley Smile. Even the Smile tracks cut toward the end seem to be more based around snippets, riffs, and chants more than songs. Then we see much of this come into focus on Smiley Smile.
7  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 18, 2020, 07:02:25 PM
Donny, I know where you're coming from - I'll gladly agree to disagree because points are valid on both sides. I agree with a lot of your examples and reasoning, but I do think it's too drastic to dismiss the notion of the technology playing a part entirely. I also agree that sometimes limitations lead to innovations...as we saw with Brian Wilson especially in the year 1966, and the fact that the man is deaf in one ear yet could still make absolutely amazing soundscapes in the studio!

But at the same time, you can plug in any number of sayings to make the same point about technology or art in general...if a painter only has two colors on the palette yet uses that limitation to innovate somehow, then yes: The limitation led to something unique as a result. However, flipping that a bit, what would that same painter have done if you provided a third color, or even 15 more colors? There is no answer, the art flows from the artist no matter what is working against them or working in their favor.

Do I think recording as a whole was more innovative and creative especially in the mid to late 60's? Absolutely, 110%! Do I think the limitations of what they had to work with inspired some of that creativity? To some degree...but at the same time the "what if?" exists in asking of someone like Geoff Emerick what if Abbey Road had sprung for an 8-track and allowed its use prior to Sgt. Pepper. Again, we can do what-if's all day but for a lot of the people who had to work with the limited technologies, almost to a man they will say how much longer and more difficult their jobs were - and in some cases how unsuccessful they were when the attempts failed because the gear they had couldn't do what they needed - because of technology that was not up to par where they would have liked it to be.

Technology is one thing, getting into individual tracks is another in terms of the big picture. So much is made of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow due to the aura it gained after a few articles describing what happened, like Seigel. The most basic fact is Brian recorded something and scrapped it - as simple as that! All bands and artists do that, but in this case some will try to tie it into the legend of Brian's paranoia, and drug use, and all that stuff...when perhaps it's as simple as he recorded this Fire piece, didn't think it would work *at that time* with what he was doing, and put it on the shelf. Ironically when it did finally come out under his own name, he won a Grammy for it! So maybe he was right in shelving it at that time, for a Beach Boys project. Who knows. Or maybe the conflict at that time was how to weave it into what he had planned for the other "elements", and maybe, yes, it was "too scary" for a Beach Boys record. "Fire" is seeing a tree instead of the forest, I think: The forest was how to organize all of his trees both on tape and waiting to be taped and those still being conceived in his mind into some kind of cohesive whole. And that's where I differ from your opinions and suggest if he had something similar to what Darian had decades later that could allow him almost instant editing and sequencing, *maybe* his ideas could have been fleshed out in a way more suited to the way his mind worked at that time.

A lot of my opinions come from the various descriptions, most published and perhaps some not as widely spread, of when Darian had all those Smile segments loaded up into his DAW and sat down with Brian to audition various sequences, trying to figure out what went where and what goes where to make that elusive, cohesive whole. I know most of the sentiments at the time were "imagine if we had this back then...", coming from Brian too, and it of course suggests pure fantasy but to me it also suggests a piece of what was lacking in the overall process and what could have hindered the process beyond everything else to where it got too overwhelming.

And the technology I'm referring to was not crossfading or hard edits...it was the way in which Good Vibrations was created overall, along with what Mark said in that interview. I still ask who else in the pop field who was actually selling records was using the studio and tape the same way Brian did in 1966, and I can't think of a single one. Look at all the accolades and awards Bones Howe got for "Age Of Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" in '69 and that was only 3 different sessions edited together. It was terrific, yes, but compared to the miles of tape Brian had for Good Vibrations? Same with Bohemian Rhapsody...after trying for years, along with many others, I still have no idea how they mixed that thing without automation and how they kept track of all the drop-ins and how many hands manned those faders, etc. But in 1966, to do it as Brian did, is still amazing to consider how he did it so well.

Yep I think we’re dealing with opinions and theories, not facts mainly. We each have our own viewpoints and conclusions. In my case, no doubt influenced by own experience in the analog realm and opinions on the results of the digital music age.

Fair segue while we’re on the topic - is there any documentation that Brian at any point was going to structure the entire album as flowing through as 2 side-long “tracks”? To me, this is the only way the argument could potentially make sense. But something tells me it would have been 11-13 tracks at 30-35 minutes anyway.
8  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 18, 2020, 06:08:30 PM

This is my opinion also, though perhaps for different reasons. If you keep in mind the context of what had recently happened. You have Beach Boys Party at the end of 1965, after which point Brian basically takes the ball and runs with it - it's his music now, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  Smile crashes, because Brian crashes.  This was not their failure, it was his failure, because it was his music, not theirs. He coudn't finish Smile, but the collective Beach Boys could, and they did: Smiley Smile.  They are reverting to the group we had last heard from on the Party album.  Smiley Smile is basically the Smile concept and sound and feel, but awkwardly married to the Beach Boys Party concept. That is, Smiley Smile is a strange mash-up of Smile's advanced conceptual and musical sophistication (and stoner vibes) with the half-assed, minimalist buffoonery of Beach Boys Party.  This is the true group version of Smile.  The Beach Boys finished Smile . Only the solo artist Brian Wilson failed to finish. 


I think you made good points. I personally believe Brian fully produced Smiley Smile, Wild Honey, and Friends though. 20/20 is the first record that sounds like Brian did not bring any of the songs to completion (even "Time to Get Alone", "I Went to Sleep", and "Cabinessence"). I believe Carl took over that role beginning with 20/20 - bringing tracks to completion from a production standpoint. This is regardless of label credits.
9  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 18, 2020, 06:02:15 PM

This line from Mark: "Brian was doing this with very primitive technology that we now do on a daily basis with digital recordings, reusing sections and moving them around. Its interesting to surmise if he had the current technology what might have happened. It would have been so much easier to do these experiments."

...is a line I've seen repeated in various forms from others including from those actual participants in the project. It isn't so much saying technology was the main factor, but it was a factor enough for those who worked with the same material in the modern digital era to cite, and also marvel sometimes at how Brian worked using a modern digital recording and sequencing mindset and workflow in an era of razor blade and tape. And not only worked with that mindset, but also created something like Good Vibrations. I heartily believe the notion of stretching that across a full album without the technology we take for granted today was a factor in the project becoming too overwhelming to see through to completion as Brian envisioned it during the process.

I think this type of thinking is what I am referring to - it's completely logical, and gets one to thinking "what if ..."

I would just say that if we look at Smiley Smile and Wild Honey, the modular techniques continue. And they have their origins in Pet Sounds (inserting older mixes for certain sections, etc.), and came to full fruition on "Good Vibrations" ... which was fully completed. This is where my previous points come in. While it might have been a factor in *slowing things down* ... I don't think it would have prevented Smile from being finished, and I don't believe that if Brian had full access to Pro Tools, that Smile would have been finished in 1966-'67. I don't think Brian was interested in putting "Surf's Up" into the world in 1967. Nor "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow", etc. ... He said, "I don’t have to do a big scary fire like that ... I can do a candle and it’s still fire. That would have been a really bad vibration to let out on the world, that Chicago fire. The next one is going to be a candle.” The candle was presumably "Fall Breaks". I just don't see this having anything to do with technical limitations.

Definiteness of artistic purpose. It was there for Pet Sounds, "Good Vibrations", ... Smiley Smile. It was notably lacking, or became increasingly foggy, in Smile. To me, this is just in line with basic principles of what you might call Universal Law.

Just a quick reply before the other more general comments, to the comment in bold:

Brian did put Surf's Up into the world in April 1967 when CBS showed him playing it during the Inside Pop broadcast. It blew minds in '67, and it still blows minds for people watching it on YouTube. If anything Brian putting it out there stoked the fire for people wanting to hear more of this new music - It was simply unlike any other popular music surrounding it at that time, and that includes the big names of Brian's peers. It's a tour de force both in song construction and the solo performance of it as broadcast. Brian was close with Surf's Up, but he couldn't get it in time as planned. Worth noting Mark's comments about when the Beach Boys revisited the song for the Surf's Up LP, how they tried to fly in the vocal from Brian but technology prevented them from doing what is now a relatively standard  digital edit and time stretch. So even several years later the lack of technology, according to Mark, was a factor in that case of the vocal.

While I did use "Surf's Up" as an example, the basic point is that there were particular tracks that Brian was uncomfortable releasing ... "Surf's Up" in particular is documented as being one (the 1971 Rolling Stone article details this to some degree), however "Mrs. O'Learly's Cow" would be a better example. I would put things like "Cabinessence" in there with these as well. Main point is that these songs were not really based on crazy modular arrangements like "Good Vibrations" - they seemed to have been more or less arranged, it was just a matter of conceptualizing the finished track and wrapping things up. In these cases, I don't believe technology was a limiting factor at all in these examples. Additionally, I would not consider the TV appearance to be on par with releasing the song on record.

I understand the comments and reactions about technology - However one of the main points to consider is that Brian was literally breaking new ground in the areas of recording and producing hit pop records when Good Vibrations got made and released. You can't compare Good Vibrations to anything because no one producing pop music was making records like that.

For proof of this, try to name one pop artist or producer actively working and charting hits in 1966 who did anything like Brian did in constructing Good Vibrations using that many studios and that many different reels of tape. I say specifically pop artists or producers because comparing Brian's methods which actually sold records and got on the radio to some experimental tape artist working in an audio lab in Sweden in 1960 is bogus. I mean Brian's peers in pop, rock, country, easy listening, whatever genre who were actually selling records.

And the answer is no one was doing what Brian did to make Good Vibrations. So if you take that concept, that working method as a template, then consider where Brian wanted to take that method in order to create a much larger scale work on that same level as he did with a 3:35 pop single, it may suggest that what he envisioned with the editing and sequencing techniques simply did not exist in a practical enough form in 1966 and 1967 to accomplish what he really had in mind.

And of course it is but one factor in a literal shitstorm that enveloped the project, from lawsuits to getting sh*t from band members to his own hang-ups to anything else that we can rattle off the list...but limited technology was possibly a factor. And ultimately it's hard to dispute that the way Brian did Good Vibrations (and Smiley, and parts of WH) in segments was like the ProTools workflow and application decades before ProTools and digital sequencing and editing of live (not computer or MIDI based) audio was even a thing.

When you jump from Pet Sounds which was still mostly a live band recorded playing through a full take as the foundation into using multiple studios and interchangeable sections and precision editing within months...that's moving beyond where most if not all of the industry was in 1966 and beyond where the right tools to do that kind of job efficiently existed.

Brian was a trailblazer and innovator (as much as some may want to downplay that for whatever reason), and the great "what if?" is indeed what if he had the tools that are on a basic laptop today to create his music back then when his innovation was running at light speed.

Not to get too granular, but the technology did exist at the time. And I don't think it's too terribly inconvenient, just takes a bit more care on the part of an engineer and a bit more time. Cross-fading tracks into other tracks could easily be accomplished on 8-track, 4-track, or even 2-track since Brian was working in mono ... when you hear records from the '60s or '70s that have crossfades, they just made a standard stereo mix then dubbed it onto a 4-track, cross-fading the finished 2-track masters back and forth between the tracks. They would then mix the crossfade intros/outros to a separate 2-track tape, and splice that in with the original mixes. Obviously, we are familiar with tape splices so that wasn't a big deal in the many other examples in which the group utilized modular recording. In any case, "playing around with it" and testing things out quickly would indeed have been the limiting factor, and I think we're all in agreement that this might have been a factor. But my argument is I believe it would be a minor one if a true reason at all.

What I challenge I guess is that the Smile Sessions Smile record is what Smile would have ended up like had it been released (1/3 of it would have been cut, for example), and if it were, it is not particularly challenging in terms of doing that all-analog if it were needed ... the only part I can think of that would have been a problem in analog is that section from the *Smiley* version of Wind Chimes, which was speed corrected digitally. So I guess I kind of think of this idea as a bit of revisionism -- the idea that the technology of the time made it so Brian just couldn't get it together, and it would have been a different story if Pro Tools had been around. But you know my biases -- I don't like digital recording at all, and don't think it lends toward greater creativity personally.

IMO this is like making the argument - if only Brian had unlimited time, and had a studio in his home, he would have been able to finish Smile … :D
10  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 18, 2020, 03:48:57 PM
My humble opinion is that at the time, technology was not seen as a limit. At the time, it’s just there was so much recorded, and so much material that Brian basically shut down whenever he thought about having to piece it all together into a 12 track 30 minute LP.
Also, as mentioned by several other people, there was tracks that he just did not want the world to hear at that time.
Not only that, but it was also the time limit that was bothering him a lot. Obviously, as several people have pointed out, they had to put out 2 to 3 albums every single year.
PS was released in May 66... and a year later they still had no new album to release.
At that time, there was ways that it could technically get finished, it’s just that none of those ways were any good.
Looking back, it’s obvious that with the technology we have today, making this album would have been way easier, and much more manageable. but you can say that with literally any album from back then, it would’ve been much easier to make today. I mean, that’s just an obvious statement. Technology has advanced so much in 50 years.


Worth pointing out that on average, albums have take progressively longer to complete as more and more options have become available. According to what is usually referred to as the Paradox of Choice, more choices do not necessarily mean more efficiency, less time, or better results. Often the opposite.
11  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 18, 2020, 03:11:46 PM

This line from Mark: "Brian was doing this with very primitive technology that we now do on a daily basis with digital recordings, reusing sections and moving them around. Its interesting to surmise if he had the current technology what might have happened. It would have been so much easier to do these experiments."

...is a line I've seen repeated in various forms from others including from those actual participants in the project. It isn't so much saying technology was the main factor, but it was a factor enough for those who worked with the same material in the modern digital era to cite, and also marvel sometimes at how Brian worked using a modern digital recording and sequencing mindset and workflow in an era of razor blade and tape. And not only worked with that mindset, but also created something like Good Vibrations. I heartily believe the notion of stretching that across a full album without the technology we take for granted today was a factor in the project becoming too overwhelming to see through to completion as Brian envisioned it during the process.

I think this type of thinking is what I am referring to - it's completely logical, and gets one to thinking "what if ..."

I would just say that if we look at Smiley Smile and Wild Honey, the modular techniques continue. And they have their origins in Pet Sounds (inserting older mixes for certain sections, etc.), and came to full fruition on "Good Vibrations" ... which was fully completed. This is where my previous points come in. While it might have been a factor in *slowing things down* ... I don't think it would have prevented Smile from being finished, and I don't believe that if Brian had full access to Pro Tools, that Smile would have been finished in 1966-'67. I don't think Brian was interested in putting "Surf's Up" into the world in 1967. Nor "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow", etc. ... He said, "I don’t have to do a big scary fire like that ... I can do a candle and it’s still fire. That would have been a really bad vibration to let out on the world, that Chicago fire. The next one is going to be a candle.” The candle was presumably "Fall Breaks". I just don't see this having anything to do with technical limitations.

Definiteness of artistic purpose. It was there for Pet Sounds, "Good Vibrations", ... Smiley Smile. It was notably lacking, or became increasingly foggy, in Smile. To me, this is just in line with basic principles of what you might call Universal Law.
12  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Why are BB albums so short? on: May 18, 2020, 02:21:43 PM
Count me as one who does not believe the "technology" of the era had anything to do with Smile not being finished.

Main reasons I feel this way:

1. In order to blame the limitations of multi-track recording of 1966-67, we have to accept that somehow the scope of Smile was that the entire album would flow together as one piece (is there any hard evidence to that affect? I honesty don't know), OR we have to accept that Brian was so indecisive and/or it would take so long to audition each piece within a song that he just couldn't do it. I think at best, it was potentially one factor, but not a primary factor. While we do have fragments that move around from song to song, the overall impression that I get as a listener is that the fragments are increasingly scattered, as in they do not add up to a whole or tell a story -- which to me, suggests more Brian losing the plot as opposed to having too many technical limitations to complete it. After all -- why would a section of "Do You Like Worms" be interchangeable with "Heroes and Villains"? To me, it seems that there is artistic confusion happening -- lack of clarity and purpose.

2. I hold the (unpopular) opinion that Smiley Smile *is* Smile. That is, this is the closest we have to a finished Smile-type album in 1966-67. The idea that technology was a hindrance in including relatively straightforward, nearly completed songs like "Surf's Up" and "Cabinessence" while something like "Vegetables" incorporated pieces of actual Smile tracks and was included, tells me that this has more to do with some kind of particular aversion to particular songs or recordings. I personally believe Brian became fearful of some of the Smile music. Some of the music does legit sound scary IMO, and if you believe in music containing metaphysical power (I do), then this is valid IMO.

3. I don't personally believe the BW Presents Smile or Smile Sessions sequence is as Smile would have been released if released in 1966-67. To me, is is mostly the same sequence that most fans would have expected, and seems like a revisionist kind of approach. Thus the idea that somehow, at last, Brian was able to fully realize the vision from 1966-67 is mostly PR IMO. I think the ghosts that guided Smile turned it into Smiley Smile. and 20/20, and Surf's Up, and Sunflower, etc. ... and the entire mythology.
13  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Danelectro 6 on BBs records - a video introduction on: May 15, 2020, 11:58:15 PM
Off topic, but Jan Berry used the Dano 6-string bass a lot for Jan & Dean sessions, usually played by Bill Pitman.

The Dano parts were written in the treble clef, as opposed to bass clef, and they usually doubled the main bass line, note for note.

Jan's original music scores and charts from the '60s still exist. All of the bass lines for his sessions were written out, exactly as you hear them on the records.

Ooh, hey Mark -- I have been hoping you'd visit because I actually have some questions for you along this line:

One, when Jan wrote for Dano was the part labelled "Danelectro 6-string Bass" or "6-string Bass" or "dano" or what?

And also - slightly more off topic but again, it's my topic:  When he wrote for 12-string electric guitar did he differentiate between Bellzouki and generic 12-string?  I know you told me once that AACSCBRTA specifically calls for Bellzouki; was that an isolated incident or did he ever write for generic electric 12-string?

Thanks!!!

aeijtzsche,

“Anaheim” example . . .

“ANAHEIM, AZUSA” (1964)

Three guitar parts:

Guitar I — Features chords with rhythm slashes when needed, when certain combinations of quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes were required. Certain lead licks are also written in pitch notation.

Guitar II — Dano Bellzouki 12-String. This is also a combination lead and rhythm part, but not the same as Guitar I. The lead licks are written in pitch notation, supplemented by rhythm slashes. Obviously, the chord progressions are the same on each guitar chart.

Guitar III — Labeled as “Bass Guitar.” Written in the treble clef, entirely in pitch notation. This was the Dano Six-String, which doubled the bass line.


Two Bass Parts:

Written in the bass clef, entirely in pitch notation. The parts were String Bass and Fender Bass. The two bass players read from the same chart. They played in unison except where the notes indicated an octave. When octaves were required, the Fender played the higher notes. Jan’s instructions on the score and charts were, “Fender Take Top Notes” and “Fender – Top Notes.”

The above example is easily at hand. Without going back and looking, I recall that Jan’s bass guitar charts are labeled in various ways. For example, “Dano,” “Bass Guitar,” and “6-String.” And sometimes just “Guitar III” or “Guitar 3.” The third guitar part is usually a dead giveaway, regardless of labeling, because it doubles the bass line in pitch notation.

“Guitar II” was not always Bellzouki, of course, which Jan used sparingly.

But he did like 12-String guitar in general, and he used it a lot in 1965. For example, the guitar opening to the hit single “I Found a Girl” is 12-String, played by P. F. Sloan.

The opening of Jan’s cover of “Norwegian Wood” (signature riff), which he began recording in late ’65, is also 12-String, played by Don Peake.



This is fascinating - I had not known about any of this. I’m a mega fan of PF Sloan however and have read his book too ... while Jan & Dean’s version of “I Found A Girl” is one of their greatest cuts IMO, I do prefer the PF Sloan version! But that’s the case with most of his songs for me.

PF did claim that he sang some major parts on many Jan & Dean records. Is this validated?

P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri were Screen Gems songwriters hired by Lou Adler, Jan & Dean’s manager and head of the West Coast Office of Screen Gems. They later followed Adler to Dunhill Productions and Trousdale Music.

Jan Berry was signed to Screen Gems, with three separate contracts as an artist, songwriter, and record producer.

Sloan and Barri began singing harmonies for Jan & Dean in 1964 while still at Screen Gems, after the Matadors—who sang harmonies on the Surf City and Drag City LPs—went their separate way.

Jan Berry tapped Sloan to sing the falsetto lead on several well-known Jan & Dean tracks, including “The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena),” “Anaheim, Azusa,” “Sidewalk Surfin’,” “Hey Little Freshman,” and “Freeway Flyer.”


Sweet - thanks for that quick and informative response. Sounds like Sloan was well within his rights to note his contributions.

I corresponded a lot with Sloan over the years. He was always good to me. His contributions to Jan & Dean are indelible. But in terms of bragging, he went too far in his memoir. For example, he claimed that Dean never sang falsetto again after Sloan did, and that simply was not true.

I'm not sure why Sloan felt the need to inflate and embellish his accomplishments, but I strongly suspect it was rooted in his bitter conflict with Lou Adler.



That’s fair. I sensed a bit of that in some of the stories He’s told (the phone call from Brian Wilson to ask for advice on “Dont Worry Baby”, etc). He was a true original and I suspect maybe it was due to him getting slighted over the years. Also I think some of these guys believe their stories over time.
14  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Danelectro 6 on BBs records - a video introduction on: May 15, 2020, 10:49:25 PM
Off topic, but Jan Berry used the Dano 6-string bass a lot for Jan & Dean sessions, usually played by Bill Pitman.

The Dano parts were written in the treble clef, as opposed to bass clef, and they usually doubled the main bass line, note for note.

Jan's original music scores and charts from the '60s still exist. All of the bass lines for his sessions were written out, exactly as you hear them on the records.

Ooh, hey Mark -- I have been hoping you'd visit because I actually have some questions for you along this line:

One, when Jan wrote for Dano was the part labelled "Danelectro 6-string Bass" or "6-string Bass" or "dano" or what?

And also - slightly more off topic but again, it's my topic:  When he wrote for 12-string electric guitar did he differentiate between Bellzouki and generic 12-string?  I know you told me once that AACSCBRTA specifically calls for Bellzouki; was that an isolated incident or did he ever write for generic electric 12-string?

Thanks!!!

aeijtzsche,

“Anaheim” example . . .

“ANAHEIM, AZUSA” (1964)

Three guitar parts:

Guitar I — Features chords with rhythm slashes when needed, when certain combinations of quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes were required. Certain lead licks are also written in pitch notation.

Guitar II — Dano Bellzouki 12-String. This is also a combination lead and rhythm part, but not the same as Guitar I. The lead licks are written in pitch notation, supplemented by rhythm slashes. Obviously, the chord progressions are the same on each guitar chart.

Guitar III — Labeled as “Bass Guitar.” Written in the treble clef, entirely in pitch notation. This was the Dano Six-String, which doubled the bass line.


Two Bass Parts:

Written in the bass clef, entirely in pitch notation. The parts were String Bass and Fender Bass. The two bass players read from the same chart. They played in unison except where the notes indicated an octave. When octaves were required, the Fender played the higher notes. Jan’s instructions on the score and charts were, “Fender Take Top Notes” and “Fender – Top Notes.”

The above example is easily at hand. Without going back and looking, I recall that Jan’s bass guitar charts are labeled in various ways. For example, “Dano,” “Bass Guitar,” and “6-String.” And sometimes just “Guitar III” or “Guitar 3.” The third guitar part is usually a dead giveaway, regardless of labeling, because it doubles the bass line in pitch notation.

“Guitar II” was not always Bellzouki, of course, which Jan used sparingly.

But he did like 12-String guitar in general, and he used it a lot in 1965. For example, the guitar opening to the hit single “I Found a Girl” is 12-String, played by P. F. Sloan.

The opening of Jan’s cover of “Norwegian Wood” (signature riff), which he began recording in late ’65, is also 12-String, played by Don Peake.



This is fascinating - I had not known about any of this. I’m a mega fan of PF Sloan however and have read his book too ... while Jan & Dean’s version of “I Found A Girl” is one of their greatest cuts IMO, I do prefer the PF Sloan version! But that’s the case with most of his songs for me.

PF did claim that he sang some major parts on many Jan & Dean records. Is this validated?

P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri were Screen Gems songwriters hired by Lou Adler, Jan & Dean’s manager and head of the West Coast Office of Screen Gems. They later followed Adler to Dunhill Productions and Trousdale Music.

Jan Berry was signed to Screen Gems, with three separate contracts as an artist, songwriter, and record producer.

Sloan and Barri began singing harmonies for Jan & Dean in 1964 while still at Screen Gems, after the Matadors—who sang harmonies on the Surf City and Drag City LPs—went their separate way.

Jan Berry tapped Sloan to sing the falsetto lead on several well-known Jan & Dean tracks, including “The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena),” “Anaheim, Azusa,” “Sidewalk Surfin’,” “Hey Little Freshman,” and “Freeway Flyer.”


Sweet - thanks for that quick and informative response. Sounds like Sloan was well within his rights to note his contributions.
15  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Danelectro 6 on BBs records - a video introduction on: May 15, 2020, 10:15:56 PM
Off topic, but Jan Berry used the Dano 6-string bass a lot for Jan & Dean sessions, usually played by Bill Pitman.

The Dano parts were written in the treble clef, as opposed to bass clef, and they usually doubled the main bass line, note for note.

Jan's original music scores and charts from the '60s still exist. All of the bass lines for his sessions were written out, exactly as you hear them on the records.

Ooh, hey Mark -- I have been hoping you'd visit because I actually have some questions for you along this line:

One, when Jan wrote for Dano was the part labelled "Danelectro 6-string Bass" or "6-string Bass" or "dano" or what?

And also - slightly more off topic but again, it's my topic:  When he wrote for 12-string electric guitar did he differentiate between Bellzouki and generic 12-string?  I know you told me once that AACSCBRTA specifically calls for Bellzouki; was that an isolated incident or did he ever write for generic electric 12-string?

Thanks!!!

aeijtzsche,

“Anaheim” example . . .

“ANAHEIM, AZUSA” (1964)

Three guitar parts:

Guitar I — Features chords with rhythm slashes when needed, when certain combinations of quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes were required. Certain lead licks are also written in pitch notation.

Guitar II — Dano Bellzouki 12-String. This is also a combination lead and rhythm part, but not the same as Guitar I. The lead licks are written in pitch notation, supplemented by rhythm slashes. Obviously, the chord progressions are the same on each guitar chart.

Guitar III — Labeled as “Bass Guitar.” Written in the treble clef, entirely in pitch notation. This was the Dano Six-String, which doubled the bass line.


Two Bass Parts:

Written in the bass clef, entirely in pitch notation. The parts were String Bass and Fender Bass. The two bass players read from the same chart. They played in unison except where the notes indicated an octave. When octaves were required, the Fender played the higher notes. Jan’s instructions on the score and charts were, “Fender Take Top Notes” and “Fender – Top Notes.”

The above example is easily at hand. Without going back and looking, I recall that Jan’s bass guitar charts are labeled in various ways. For example, “Dano,” “Bass Guitar,” and “6-String.” And sometimes just “Guitar III” or “Guitar 3.” The third guitar part is usually a dead giveaway, regardless of labeling, because it doubles the bass line in pitch notation.

“Guitar II” was not always Bellzouki, of course, which Jan used sparingly.

But he did like 12-String guitar in general, and he used it a lot in 1965. For example, the guitar opening to the hit single “I Found a Girl” is 12-String, played by P. F. Sloan.

The opening of Jan’s cover of “Norwegian Wood” (signature riff), which he began recording in late ’65, is also 12-String, played by Don Peake.



This is fascinating - I had not known about any of this. I’m a mega fan of PF Sloan however and have read his book too ... while Jan & Dean’s version of “I Found A Girl” is one of their greatest cuts IMO, I do prefer the PF Sloan version! But that’s the case with most of his songs for me.

PF did claim that he sang some major parts on many Jan & Dean records. Is this validated?
16  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The first time The Beach Boys used the 8-track recorder on: May 15, 2020, 06:48:38 PM
But even from a technical standpoint - we’re talking about studios with mono, stereo, and a 3-track or 4-track. Varispeed were not standard on any of the decks of the era, and I’ve seen very few modded for it. Syncing two machines together was unheard of because it doesn’t make practical sense to go through the trouble for two 3 or 4 tracks when you have to use one of the tracks for the sync signal. You’d just plan to get an 8 track if there was a demand, or use the resources to put together an 8-track from existing machines like Columbia did (using an Ampex 300 deck and 4 pairs of PR10/354 stereo electronics).

I never believed for a second that, given a 8-track was available at Columbia, a final mix would have been done with a 4-track at Western. I just pointed out that a scenario of syncing a reduction of vocals from a 8-track studio (obviously to nothing higher than a 4-track) and a 4-track with the backing track was not impossible, but obviously the "master" 4-track would require a varispeed control, so that the engineer would be able to control the sync by comparing reference tones from some kind of a metronome produced by both machines. The original idea, mixing to a 4-track at Western from an 8-track machine, wasn't something I offered.

Understood
17  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The first time The Beach Boys used the 8-track recorder on: May 15, 2020, 06:44:36 PM
Here's some youtube vinyl:

"Here Today" (one of the more obvious examples):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8RcYKzRSXE

"I Know There's An Answer":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MI5fSRJbeM

... keeping in mind, I hear a little fader help in both. It *could* be "I Know There's An Answer" has a quick fader drop, then the leader tape splice was cut a little early ... but still sounds a bit like a step fade to me at the very tail (will need to turn up loud).

... contrast with the smoother fade of something like Sloop John B

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlt0ga9es8I

Also note the initial fade will be normal on the Columbia mixes, but you'll hear 1-3 "steps" at the very tail where dbs drop in larger increments before it fades to silence.

Opinions?

To further muddy the waters, unless this is bad info from years ago, didn't Brian oversee the final mix at Capitol's studio? There may be a difference in terminology used, but when Brian finally had the Pet Sounds album in the can, it was done at Capitol and the term used was "mastering", yet some descriptions also mentioned fades, and things associated with giving it a final mix.

Were some of these sounds perhaps coming from what Brian was doing that final night at Capitol when it was 100% finished?

Yeh I think those stories of Brian making the final mix were what got to me wonder initially. I kind of assume at this point that “final dubdown” was something like just final preparation and sequencing of the tape reels.
18  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The first time The Beach Boys used the 8-track recorder on: May 15, 2020, 03:25:12 PM
I think the point is not whether it was possible, but whether it was worth the time and effort given the desired end result.  I can't imagine Brian sitting around for hours and hours doing sync takes, can you?
Why would he? that would be a job for an engineer.

It's not that this scenario is in support of final mixing to 4-track at Western when an 8-track was available at Columbia.

We should consider  the mindset of engineers and studio personnel at the time: these are the same guys who wrapped adhesive tape around the deck’s capstan to modify the speed and said, “what are we gonna do with all these tracks?” When 8-track came in!

But even from a technical standpoint - we’re talking about studios with mono, stereo, and a 3-track or 4-track. Varispeed were not standard on any of the decks of the era, and I’ve seen very few modded for it. Syncing two machines together was unheard of because it doesn’t make practical sense to go through the trouble for two 3 or 4 tracks when you have to use one of the tracks for the sync signal. You’d just plan to get an 8 track if there was a demand, or use the resources to put together an 8-track from existing machines like Columbia did (using an Ampex 300 deck and 4 pairs of PR10/354 stereo electronics).
19  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The first time The Beach Boys used the 8-track recorder on: May 15, 2020, 12:10:51 PM
Here's some youtube vinyl:

"Here Today" (one of the more obvious examples):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8RcYKzRSXE

"I Know There's An Answer":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MI5fSRJbeM

... keeping in mind, I hear a little fader help in both. It *could* be "I Know There's An Answer" has a quick fader drop, then the leader tape splice was cut a little early ... but still sounds a bit like a step fade to me at the very tail (will need to turn up loud).

... contrast with the smoother fade of something like Sloop John B

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlt0ga9es8I

Also note the initial fade will be normal on the Columbia mixes, but you'll hear 1-3 "steps" at the very tail where dbs drop in larger increments before it fades to silence.

Opinions?
20  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Blondie answers why he left the band on: May 15, 2020, 11:59:58 AM
I think if Blondie and/or Ricky stayed, they would have ultimately been glorified sidemen. Can't see 15 Big Ones looking much different than it did. Don't think they would have been "fired" though - seems like Carl and Dennis were good friends with them. I think it's been floated that losing Blondie and ultimately Ricky kind of left Carl without any "allies" with regard to the direction he would have preferred the band go in. You can even notice the tension in '76-era interviews in which Carl and Dennis don't seem to be too thrilled with the 1950s oldies situation on 15 Big Ones. To me, Pacific Ocean Blue was kind of the follow up to Holland.
21  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The first time The Beach Boys used the 8-track recorder on: May 15, 2020, 11:44:52 AM

Yeh unfortunately no way to tell on the tracks that end vs fade!

I’m a bit iffy on some of the PS tracks, not sure I’m hearing the step fades on “I’m Waiting for the Day”, but I think so. I’ll listen to “I Know There’s An Answer” again, but it does sound like step fades. I try to keep an open mind - is it possible that the 4-track tape was taken to Columbia at some point and mixed there (possibly as part Of another season)? That kind of thing

Certainly possible as other 4-track songs in the Smile era were taken to Columbia, but in the case of I Know There's an Answer the final overdub session at Western was the very last session for anything on Pet Sounds.

Just listened again -- I'm definitely hearing the step fades on the tail of "I Know There's An Answer". The ones that I'm iffy about are "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" and "I'm Waiting for the Day" ... though I think they just got some extra help on the mastering fadeout for these pressings.

Keeping in mind the only BB tracks w/ step fades are those I listed above - I think this suggests the step fades were a Columbia board thing (doesn't mean it's an 8-track mix of course). So this is making me wonder is something was done at Columbia in master preparation for Pet Sounds? This is the kind of stuff I'm curious about. Obviously, I think we will only ever have clues and puzzle pieces and theories.

I'm recalling now that ancient thread in which the experts were insisting it was impossible for an 8-Track to be at Western in 1966 ... and yet I was noting the photo of the Scully 8-track behind Brian in a fire hat :D ... definitely not implying you're doing that ha ... just that, I have to throw out conventional wisdom in some cases and just listen, personally.
22  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The first time The Beach Boys used the 8-track recorder on: May 15, 2020, 11:23:11 AM
I don't think it was much of a problem to sync things back in 1965. All it takes is a varispeed control on one machine, and calibration tones on one track out of 4- and 8-tracked tapes. If the standard tape recorders had no varispeed control, any qualified recording engineer would be capable to install one.

And putting a reduction of vocals from 8-track into the overall mix on 4-track wouldn't have been much of a problem, if ever needed. Exact sync is a necessity when different instrumental tracks must be aligned.

It was not that easy lol. As the saying goes, if it were that easy, everyone would have been doing it. And for two of probably the most famous examples of tape machine sync issues on two of the most famous albums of the 60's and beyond worked on by two of the best recording engineers of all time, there were the issues Geoff Emerick trying to sync the machines to mix the orchestra back into "A Day In The Life" which they could not do 100%, and Roy Halee joining together two 8-track machines to record Simon & Garfunkel on songs like The Boxer.

It wasn't so much getting them in sync from the start - If you were lucky you could mark the tape and get them locked in manually by chance. But regarding mixing those tapes, where you had to stop and start, and going back again later where you had to sync them again...the machines were not consistent, the voltage may not be consistent from Monday to next Wednesday, and if you kept them running some of those motors would start to - as they called it - "drift" which meant slight variances in the speed would cause problems.

So I'd wager that as of 1965-66, considering what was available and how it could be done if it were done at all, syncing up 2 tape machines in any kind of reliable way was not easily done, and if it was there would be no way to keep them consistently "locked" during the process.

Yeh I think I missed this comment ... Additionally, no they could not bounce around the deck unless they bounced *everytning*. This is because frequency response  in 1960s multi-tracks was poor in sync. I mean, they could but no one would do that as a standard process.
23  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The first time The Beach Boys used the 8-track recorder on: May 15, 2020, 11:18:49 AM
So I listened to see which tracks have the "step fades" on the '60s vinyl. Unfortunately, my copy of Pet Sounds seems to have been "helped" in mastering (as was the Steve Hoffman Pet Sounds CD, which I also just listened to), so I'm not totally sure on what I'm hearing on the PS tracks. Summer Days is more obvious.

Here are the tracks (not inclusive) that I would say were mixed at Columbia:

Amusement Parks USA
Salt Lake City
California Girls
Let Him Run Wild
You’re So Good to Me

Wouldn’t It Be Nice
I’m Waiting for the Day
God Only Knows
I Know There’s An Answer
Here Today
I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times


Add Summer Means New Love and I'm Bugged at My Ol' Man to that, but I don't think I Know There's an Answer was a Columbia mix. That one session-wise never left 4-track at Western. You got all the other 8-track songs though, very well spotted!

Yeh unfortunately no way to tell on the tracks that end vs fade!

I’m a bit iffy on some of the PS tracks, not sure I’m hearing the step fades on “I’m Waiting for the Day”, but I think so. I’ll listen to “I Know There’s An Answer” again, but it does sound like step fades. I try to keep an open mind - is it possible that the 4-track tape was taken to Columbia at some point and mixed there (possibly as part Of another season)? That kind of thing
24  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The first time The Beach Boys used the 8-track recorder on: May 15, 2020, 10:26:49 AM
So I listened to see which tracks have the "step fades" on the '60s vinyl. Unfortunately, my copy of Pet Sounds seems to have been "helped" in mastering (as was the Steve Hoffman Pet Sounds CD, which I also just listened to), so I'm not totally sure on what I'm hearing on the PS tracks. Summer Days is more obvious.

Here are the tracks (not inclusive) that I would say were mixed at Columbia:

Amusement Parks USA
Salt Lake City
California Girls
Let Him Run Wild
You’re So Good to Me

Wouldn’t It Be Nice
I’m Waiting for the Day
God Only Knows
I Know There’s An Answer
Here Today
I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times

25  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: The first time The Beach Boys used the 8-track recorder on: May 15, 2020, 10:23:33 AM
Going by the tracksheets floating around for I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, Here Today and God Only Knows, the mono track seems to have consistently been allocated to track 4, same one used for the reference mixes on the original tapes. As someone who knows nothing about how tape transferring works... is that a coincidence or not?

Hmm interesting, doesn't mean much on the 8-track, but I suppose might be the crosstalk thing on the 4-track. Though I would personally think they would have put it on 2 or 3 since edge tracks tend to be more prone to drop-outs etc. TBH I think it was probably just a workflow/process thing, but not sure on that.

That said, it *MIGHT* support the idea that the "4th track" on the 4-track was actually transferred directly to 8-track master. A theory we should consider is the process was:

1. Record track at Western
2. Mix the mono dubdown to track 4 on the 4-track
3. Bring the 4-track to Columbia and transfer track 4. If they did not do it this way, they would have to had set up a mix/balance of the 3 tracks and make the final dub again (what Chuck and Brian already did at Western) *prior to recording any vocals* (notes below on why)
4. Add vocals to the 8-track

This would seem to be the most efficient way to work - though I would think they would have made a mono mix, then taken the 1/4" tape to Columbia. But why waste an extra reel I guess? The best sound quality would have been had by "mixing" the 3 tracks at Columbia directly to 1 track on the 8-track. This might have been done (that's kind of what I'm trying to figure out). This extra step would sacrifice the creative stuff/utilization of resources for some of the "track mix" at Western, and would also not be efficient use of part of the 3-hour vocal session.

One thing I can tell you they did *not* do -- is transfer all 4-tracks to the 8-track (as in 1-4, 4th track being the reference mix) and they decide later to mix the tracks together. This is because the track would be out of sync with either the vocals or the reference mix (the reference mix would already have been out of sync w/ the discrete tracks on the 4-track). This is due to the poor frequency response on the sync head of all 1960s multi-tracks (well until maybe 1968 or so).



I guess one way we could confirm this is to see if Linett has ever compared existing 4th track reference mixes from the Western-originating multis to the instrumental track on the CBS multis?

Yeh I think I've floated that idea before. I would think it would be pretty easy to tell (especially if you listen for beginning/end tape sounds/mix variances etc) ... I kind of assume no one really cares much about it ha
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