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Author Topic: The Stephen Desper Thread  (Read 495009 times)
Don Malcolm
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« Reply #1950 on: December 20, 2019, 05:04:58 PM »

Stephen, in light of the posts in the main portion of the board referencing a possible compilation release called FEEL FLOWS that would clearly showcase much of your production/engineering work, are you at liberty to tell us if you have been contacted regarding such a project? I think we'd all hope so, given the many groundbreaking aspects to the work done at that time. I was hoping that a number of the now familiar tracks across the time frame would be broken down for us to reveal the instrumental tracks and the engineering techniques applied to them. Given that we've seen that happen to some extent with the 2018 releases, I was also wondering if you'd been consulted on those projects.

I hope that you will eventually repost several of the more complex production efforts such as "Feel Flows" (which I think makes for a wonderful overall title for the rumored 1969-71 set) and that we might hear some of the underlying production/arrangement elements for it. Is this a possibility or is it simply a pipedream?

Hoping you are will and thanks as always for your immeasurable contributions to the most intriguing period of the band's career.
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« Reply #1951 on: December 25, 2019, 01:49:03 PM »

Stephen, in light of the posts in the main portion of the board referencing a possible compilation release called FEEL FLOWS that would clearly showcase much of your production/engineering work, are you at liberty to tell us if you have been contacted regarding such a project? I think we'd all hope so, given the many groundbreaking aspects to the work done at that time. I was hoping that a number of the now familiar tracks across the time frame would be broken down for us to reveal the instrumental tracks and the engineering techniques applied to them. Given that we've seen that happen to some extent with the 2018 releases, I was also wondering if you'd been consulted on those projects.

I hope that you will eventually repost several of the more complex production efforts such as "Feel Flows" (which I think makes for a wonderful overall title for the rumored 1969-71 set) and that we might hear some of the underlying production/arrangement elements for it. Is this a possibility or is it simply a pipedream?

Hoping you are will and thanks as always for your immeasurable contributions to the most intriguing period of the band's career.

Comment to Don Malcolm:

No one has contacted me from BRI.  I am on good terms with everyone in the band, engineers and management, but heard nothing. I'm certain they are aware of the study-videos I published some time ago. Those contained extensive writing and explanations of engineering and other memories concerning my time of engineering with The Beach Boys. The three books that were included in the offerings, if printed conventionally would have resulted in a 350 to 400 page bound book -- and it would have been rather costly. I elected to make the book and other Beach Boy related study-videos available for free to the fans of this website. This included the songs of both albums with the recording matrix applied, something not available in commercial releases. But because of one statement that no one could believe, I was called a lair, stupid, ill informed, and such nonsense. I could handle the vicious posts, but they began to trickle into other websites with the same results.

Eventually my business was threatened and my reputation was being questioned.  This, being in violation to the terms stated at the study-video website required me to take the website down.             And it's really a shame as I spent three years writing about the making of Sunflower and Surf's Up, including lots of engineering tricks and practices only obtained through decades of engineering work in all fields -- recording -- mastering and disc cutting-- studio design -- studio equipment design -- concert equipment system design, mixing techniques, and personal stories of those times.

It's funny how one little thing can be focused on and that one action casts a shadow over a lifetime of achievements.  Reminds me of all the progress and success one president can make only to be criticized over one phone call.  Not that I'm POTUS,  but he's taken a two-billion dollar loss to his enterprises -- I can't afford losses in my life, so the answers to many many questions are now locked away for release again to another generation of Beach Boy fans that may appreciate this gift of mine a little more.  

I know Alan Boyd (who wrote the Preface to my book, Recording The Beach Boys), and Mark Linnet  (who posts here) are aware of the study-videos and their content, but still silence from the west coast.

The recent release of several "box sets" is in response to a change in the EU (European Union) copyright laws. This change requires the re-release of older song publications if the writer and owner wishes to retain ownership of the songs. If they are not re-published or released this year (or close to it) the Beach Boys will loose the rights to their songs in Europe. Thus, BRI or EMI or Capitol could find many older BB albums on shelves to now become the subject of promotional sales from which these companies and songwriters would get no returns or income or any control over product. Thus, the big push to get them re-released. It's not so much that BRI wants to release outtakes or tidbits of interest, but rather to keep control and income for the product they now enjoy.

Given that such "box set" releases are costly to make, and given that the number of product sold is not going to be huge, the profit from these releases may not support too elaborate a release.  I know if they contacted me, they would not be in touch with the same guy that engineered 50 years ago. Since then I've been President and CEO of a NASDAQ company, enjoyed success with several patented inventions ... making my time much more valuable (expensive) then back then. So as in many things in The Music Business, it's a matter of commerce and money, and nothing else. Therefore, if the real reason for all these releases is a legal one, you may not see that much effort put into making the "box sets" as complete as they could be. That could be the reason no one contacted me.

At any rate, almost everything concerning my role in the making of albums for The Beach Boys is not lost, just on hold.    
~swd
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 07:29:14 AM by Stephen W. Desper » Logged
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« Reply #1952 on: December 26, 2019, 11:24:32 AM »

Trailblazers will always have others unfairly trying to bring them down. This has gone on for over 2000 years.  Serious students regularly pay hundreds of dollars for scholarly textbooks.  Valuable informed historical research and one of a kind first hand accounts by highly skilled individuals who have successfully applied their knowledge rightfully command big bucks and are worthy of great respect.   And unquestionably require protection from annoying dogs frantically nipping at their ankles.  
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« Reply #1953 on: December 26, 2019, 10:55:13 PM »


But because of one statement that no one could believe, I was called a lair, stupid, ill informed, and such nonsense. I could handle the vicious posts, but they began to trickle into other websites with the same results.

Eventually my business was threatened and my reputation was being questioned. Even the folks that publish this very website managed to place a few judgmental posts, and that was the last nail in the coffin. This, being in violation to the terms stated at the study-video website required me to take the website down.             And it's really a shame as I spent three years writing about the making of Sunflower and Surf's Up, including lots of engineering tricks and practices only obtained through decades of engineering work in all fields -- recording -- mastering and disc cutting-- studio design -- studio equipment design -- concert equipment system design, mixing techniques, and personal stories of those times.



Stephen, with all due respect, the charges you're making against those of us who run this site in the above post are false, and simply did not happen. There are only three people involved in the administration of this site: Myself (Craig C), and Billy are the moderators, and Charles is the administrator and founder of the board. This same structure has been in place for around 5 years.

At no time did Billy or I "place" or write judgemental posts against you or aimed at you regarding the situation you're referencing. Charles has not posted publicly on the forum for several years and did not post in those discussions. If you read through the posts made on that thread you will see nothing judgemental was placed by any of us at any time, in fact quite the opposite actually occurred the few times we did post in those discussions.

It is one thing for us to be accused of saying or writing things which none of us involved in the daily operation of this site actually said or wrote, but to then also be blamed for your website being taken down is a charge which is totally unwarranted, unfair, and simply not true.

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« Reply #1954 on: December 27, 2019, 09:44:30 AM »


But because of one statement that no one could believe, I was called a lair, stupid, ill informed, and such nonsense. I could handle the vicious posts, but they began to trickle into other websites with the same results.

Eventually my business was threatened and my reputation was being questioned. Even the folks that publish this very website managed to place a few judgmental posts, and that was the last nail in the coffin. This, being in violation to the terms stated at the study-video website required me to take the website down.             And it's really a shame as I spent three years writing about the making of Sunflower and Surf's Up, including lots of engineering tricks and practices only obtained through decades of engineering work in all fields -- recording -- mastering and disc cutting-- studio design -- studio equipment design -- concert equipment system design, mixing techniques, and personal stories of those times.



Stephen, with all due respect, the charges you're making against those of us who run this site in the above post are false, and simply did not happen. There are only three people involved in the administration of this site: Myself (Craig C), and Billy are the moderators, and Charles is the administrator and founder of the board. This same structure has been in place for around 5 years.

At no time did Billy or I "place" or write judgemental posts against you or aimed at you regarding the situation you're referencing. Charles has not posted publicly on the forum for several years and did not post in those discussions. If you read through the posts made on that thread you will see nothing judgemental was placed by any of us at any time, in fact quite the opposite actually occurred the few times we did post in those discussions.

It is one thing for us to be accused of saying or writing things which none of us involved in the daily operation of this site actually said or wrote, but to then also be blamed for your website being taken down is a charge which is totally unwarranted, unfair, and simply not true.

COMMENT:  Well then sir, evidently my sources are wrong and I stand corrected and have removed the accusation.

This is the problem when the majority of posters are represented unanimously or with a false identity. Unfortunately I can't take that stand. If I posted behind a pseudonym, my posts would be of little value or interest. And by reveling my true identity, I expose myself to both compliments and complaints.. In a way, I believe that in posting as myself this website has some responsibility to look out for situations that spiral out-of-control. Posting here was my decision, and I appreciate the form and the chance to bring my experiences to the fans, but not at the expense of my livelihood. I took the website down because false accusations kept building, but no action from this form was forthcoming to stop it. Soon, my name was in the mud at other similar websites and at engineering websites having little to do with The Beach Boys.  All I could do was take down my website, stop posting, and let the matter settle down. I know some posts were from a few individuals that seem to enjoy trashing people, and not the majority of fans, but I am not in control of Smilesmile, and the posts persisted. So I did all I could do to stop the attracts to my person, especially on other websites.

I agree with Rule #2 of "Rules and Guidelines for Posting,"  but when the personal attracts started, Rule #2 seemed to be ignored. I tried to enter into a discussion the objections some fans had with my position, but when it became a matter of trashing rather then discussion, where was Rule #2?  If I remember, I did communicate my objection with the moderator once, but nothing came of it.

Of course you are correct in saying I am in control of my website and it was me who took it down, however I must contend that inaction to protect those of us who post here as ourselves was a contributing factor to my decision. I don't envy you your job as moderator of a website such as this. It is really quite a balancing act to keep it all going and make all who post or read stuff here feel welcome and encouraged to post. But one aspect of feeling welcome is feeling safe. Unanimous posters feel safe in their words because their identity is unknown. Known posters have a higher bar when it comes to feeling safe in what they post. I believe this website should recognize the difference and extend a little more care to those of us involved in the history of this wonderful singing group who are willing contribute to the discussions here at Smilesmile.

   
~swd



 
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« Reply #1955 on: December 27, 2019, 11:14:56 AM »

This is the problem when the majority of posters are represented unanimously or with a false identity. Unfortunately I can't take that stand. If I posted behind a pseudonym, my posts would be of little value or interest. And by reveling my true identity, I expose myself to both compliments and complaints.. In a way, I believe that in posting as myself this website has some responsibility to look out for situations that spiral out-of-control.

A long time ago my real name was more easily identifiable here due to a link in my signature. However, events occurred since then that keep me from being obvious about my identity: According to his own PMs that were exposed years ago, Andrew G Doe was asked by an "interested party" (I'm assuming it was someone close to or in the band) to get the home address of a poster here. AGD then asked a moderator here (via PM) for the IP address of this poster because it would give a general location this person. Fortunately, I don't think the moderator gave Andrew any information...and thus, the "interested party" never got the information. And more importantly, thankfully the exact home address was likely not found due to the anonymity of the poster's monicker. Who knows what would've happened to this poster had their address been traceable. The following was written by AGD in a PM (it is regarding a completely separate incident):

"If that bloody woman suddenly vanishes, it may or may not be down to the fact that I know where she lives.  LOL"

Joking or not joking, this quote coupled with this person's willingness to find a specific address for another poster goes to show the importance of anonymity in the world we live in now. Some people get childishly angsty about other people's opinions on this forum...including people in or close to the band itself...these people wanted the friggin home address of someone here. Posters here posting via their real name would invite an intrusion of privacy, and it would in turn keep people from speaking their true thoughts about things - lest some disgruntled person try to seek revenge in real life (which clearly tried to happen before).

As for the Feel Flows boxset...Any time I have seen your posts I have come away more enlightened and informed about this band. Even the more technical stuff that mostly goes right over my head - I'm just in awe that a) the things you talk about actually happened, and b) that you are willing to write in such incredible detail about your experiences with the band and your role in making their sound in one of the band's most fruitful eras. So it's an incredible shame that no one contacted you regarding the upcoming boxset, but I hope you'll still be able to shed light on it here once it is out. Thanks for all the time you've put into your posts here. This place wouldn't be the same without you!

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Feel Flows is coming out and I couldn稚 be more happy! Thanks to everyone who made this happen!
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« Reply #1956 on: December 27, 2019, 03:12:41 PM »

Quote
A long time ago my real name was more easily identifiable here due to a link in my signature. However, events occurred since then that keep me from being obvious about my identity: According to his own PMs that were exposed years ago, Andrew G Doe was asked by an "interested party" (I'm assuming it was someone close to or in the band) to get the home address of a poster here. AGD then asked a moderator here (via PM) for the IP address of this poster because it would give a general location this person. Fortunately, I don't think the moderator gave Andrew any information...and thus, the "interested party" never got the information. And more importantly, thankfully the exact home address was likely not found due to the anonymity of the poster's monicker. Who knows what would've happened to this poster had their address been traceable. The following was written by AGD in a PM (it is regarding a completely separate incident):

"If that bloody woman suddenly vanishes, it may or may not be down to the fact that I know where she lives.  LOL

I can personally confirm this and provide proof if needed.
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RIP Daniel Dale Johnston ( 1961-2019)
_______________________________________________________
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"I've never heard such ear-pleasing screams before!"
________________________________________________
Free Feel Flows!!!!

Just to let you know, no announcements re: FEEL FLOWS will be coming via a fanzine.
If and when the project picks up steam -- I promise you guys will be first to know.





覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧-

http://fear2stop.bandcamp.com/track/tricky-treats
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« Reply #1957 on: December 28, 2019, 05:07:42 AM »

An autobiography might be the way to go.  Organized by chapters named after the song titles contained within Sunflower and Surf痴 Up.  Meshing autobiographical details and personal reflections with discussion of the making of each song.  To accomplish what you accomplished at such a young age is extraordinary.  What got you to that point is a story worth telling. 
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« Reply #1958 on: December 28, 2019, 04:43:57 PM »

Mr. Desper痴 groundbreaking Spatializer is featured in this article:
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=A-QDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA64&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
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« Reply #1959 on: December 29, 2019, 11:14:27 PM »

I am disappointed to hear that the surviving BBs seem disinclined to endorse and assist in disseminating the historical/analytical materials you've created over the years, Stephen. I'm wondering whether this situation might be different if Carl Wilson were still with us--it can't be accidental that his growth as a producer seems related to the presence of a highly innovative engineer and cutting-edge inventor.

I don't think a compilation called FEEL FLOWS can possibly be complete without some version of what you've written--either in book form or in the study videos. I would hope that Mark and Alan, who surely must understand that such is the case, would consider making such a suggestion to the other parties involved in the project in hopes of providing some context for what makes the songs of this time frame so unique.

Even an abridged version of your recollections would be highly valuable, and their presence in such a set would make it clear to other parties that a formally published version of this material, accompanied by an advance against royalties, would be worth whatever financial gamble might be taken by a publisher. Allow me to write a quick blurb for how such material could be put across:

"After their years of unprecedented success culminating in the legendary #1 hit 'Good Vibrations,' the Beach Boys spent the next five years making even better music than what had made them world famous. Long obscured by a downturn in their commercial fortunes, the band's output in the 1967-72 time frame is increasingly seen as the most wide-ranging material, marked by a new level of musical expression.

Supporting this collective creativity was the work of groundbreaking sound technician and engineer Stephen Desper, who was the first of his kind to be given space in the liner notes of a popular music LP. Those brief comments have now been expanded and augmented to provide the reader with a remarkable look at how the Beach Boys' collective involvement with a cutting-edge collaborator resulted in a new level of creativity. Desper takes you inside the Beach Boys' home studio, constructed at Brian Wilson's Bellagio Road home, to relate how this resource was the key catalyst to the band's brilliant (but still under-appreciated) rebirth.

With a wealth of detail and a demonstration of technical know-how that is unprecedented in scope, Desper provides what is undoubtedly the clearest chronicle of the most remarkable time in the history of a band whose career is simultaneously the greatest and most enigmatic in all of popular music. You'll never think of the Beach Boys in the same way once you've read this singular look into their creative world."

I don't know if it's literally true that you were the first engineer to supply text printed on a pop music LP, Stephen, but even if it isn't the case, it still demonstrates that the band (or, at least, key individuals in the band) recognized the significance of your contributions. I'd urge everyone to focus on this point as well as the aural evidence of the recordings, and find a way to make this material more readily available to the public. It is to everyone's benefit that such becomes the case.
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« Reply #1960 on: January 01, 2020, 08:36:52 AM »

If I had any influence on the release of Beach Boys music, I would re-release immediately, with a targeted marketing campaign, 20/20 in honor of the new year. And then follow up right away with Sunflower and Surf痴 Up and do a media blitz. The last Beach Boys revival was about Americana, the Fourth of July, and nostalgia for the surfer songs from the early and mid Sixties. Most moderate to serious music fans probably haven稚 even heard most of the music from 20/20. Or Sunflower and Surf痴 Up. 
https://youtu.be/Qqyx4TW4Ptw

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« Reply #1961 on: January 01, 2020, 09:42:34 AM »

That'd be a great idea DRM
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RIP Daniel Dale Johnston ( 1961-2019)
_______________________________________________________
Fear 2 Stop: eating all of Elon Musk's nightmares as he sleeps

"I've never heard such ear-pleasing screams before!"
________________________________________________
Free Feel Flows!!!!

Just to let you know, no announcements re: FEEL FLOWS will be coming via a fanzine.
If and when the project picks up steam -- I promise you guys will be first to know.





覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧-

http://fear2stop.bandcamp.com/track/tricky-treats
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« Reply #1962 on: January 01, 2020, 10:07:39 AM »

That'd be a great idea DRM
Thank you.
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« Reply #1963 on: January 21, 2020, 01:33:31 PM »

Mr. Desper, or indeed anyone else who can answer:

This is about The Flame's unreleased second album (I'm asking on behalf of a friend). I'm told you played the tapes at a Beach Boys convention years ago and it sounded better than their first. If it's that good, it's odd that it's still unreleased. Do you have any ideas why?
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« Reply #1964 on: January 22, 2020, 10:50:29 AM »

Mr. Desper, or indeed anyone else who can answer:

This is about The Flame's unreleased second album (I'm asking on behalf of a friend). I'm told you played the tapes at a Beach Boys convention years ago and it sounded better than their first. If it's that good, it's odd that it's still unreleased. Do you have any ideas why?

COMMENT to JK:  I would agree . . . that as the group and each member of the group continued to compose, play and record they most definitely developed their respective talents. This is most evident with any listen to the second album. The sophistication of arrangement, hooks, performance and recorded sounds, as captured in the second album, leave little doubt that the group matured in many ways.

The development and improvements and not limited to The Flame, but also to Carl Wilson as a producer and myself as engineer. The second album was written and recorded during the same time that Surf's Up was being recorded. This was a time when all the flowers of this musical ​bouquet reached there full bloom, exhibiting much color and creativity, over flowing all expectations the label had anticipated.

Why it was not released is one of the great tragedies of Beach Boy history. Carl as producer and Blondie, Rickie, Steve, Brother and myself were peaking in our respective abilities. But none of this was distend to reach the public due to legal confusion and, from what I understand, contractual ambiguity concerning the ownership of the product between BRI and StarDayKing, the original distributor of the first album. As far as I know, and from my own experience it has yet to be resolved. I became so frustrated that this wonderful second album was not being released took two deals to BRI lawyers for consideration -- one deal especially was promising and had a large sum of money earmarked for promotion -- something that was lacking for the first album and one major reason that it did not do well in sales. But the lawyers could not seem to get their respective acts together and each deal finally died over continuous haggling. Don't quote me, but as I have been told, members of the group (FLAME) themselves wanted a larger portion of the pot and killed future attempts to release the album on BRI.

And so there it all sits on a shelf somewhere. The album is complete. Carl, the group and I mixed down all the songs, and they are all recorded in virtual surround and sound fantastic. Whenever I play my copies for friends they can't believe this stuff was recorded so long ago and sound's like it was recorded today. Most people for whom I play the unreleased songs have never heard of The Flame and think it is some unknown recording by The Beatles.

I think the real disaster is that Carl never lived to see his work get any public credit or praise. Now with both Brother and Steve gone, this catastrophe of non-events grows. Even the write-in efforts by concerned fans and continuous appeals from many in the BB organization doesn't seem to go anywhere.

Alan Boyd and myself got permission to play the tapes at a BB convention in Massachusetts some years ago, so that some fans did, in fact, get to hear (over headphones) this marvelous album, but that's about it -- and that's about all I can tell you in answer to your question.

Hang in there, maybe someday, perhaps when everyone connected with the project is dead, it will finally become available. Too much, too late.
 Sad   ~swd  
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« Reply #1965 on: January 23, 2020, 01:32:40 AM »

Mr. Desper, or indeed anyone else who can answer:

This is about The Flame's unreleased second album (I'm asking on behalf of a friend). I'm told you played the tapes at a Beach Boys convention years ago and it sounded better than their first. If it's that good, it's odd that it's still unreleased. Do you have any ideas why?

COMMENT to JK:  I would agree . . . that as the group and each member of the group continued to compose, play and record they most definitely developed their respective talents. This is most evident with any listen to the second album. The sophistication of arrangement, hooks, performance and recorded sounds, as captured in the second album, leave little doubt that the group matured in many ways.

The development and improvements and not limited to The Flame, but also to Carl Wilson as a producer and myself as engineer. The second album was written and recorded during the same time that Surf's Up was being recorded. This was a time when all the flowers of this musical ​bouquet reached there full bloom, exhibiting much color and creativity, over flowing all expectations the label had anticipated.

Why it was not released is one of the great tragedies of Beach Boy history. Carl as producer and Blondie, Rickie, Steve, Brother and myself were peaking in our respective abilities. But none of this was distend to reach the public due to legal confusion and, from what I understand, contractual ambiguity concerning the ownership of the product between BRI and StarDayKing, the original distributor of the first album. As far as I know, and from my own experience it has yet to be resolved. I became so frustrated that this wonderful second album was not being released took two deals to BRI lawyers for consideration -- one deal especially was promising and had a large sum of money earmarked for promotion -- something that was lacking for the first album and one major reason that it did not do well in sales. But the lawyers could not seem to get their respective acts together and each deal finally died over continuous haggling. Don't quote me, but as I have been told, members of the group (FLAME) themselves wanted a larger portion of the pot and killed future attempts to release the album on BRI.

And so there it all sits on a shelf somewhere. The album is complete. Carl, the group and I mixed down all the songs, and they are all recorded in virtual surround and sound fantastic. Whenever I play my copies for friends they can't believe this stuff was recorded so long ago and sound's like it was recorded today. Most people for whom I play the unreleased songs have never heard of The Flame and think it is some unknown recording by The Beatles.

I think the real disaster is that Carl never lived to see his work get any public credit or praise. Now with both Brother and Steve gone, this catastrophe of non-events grows. Even the write-in efforts by concerned fans and continuous appeals from many in the BB organization doesn't seem to go anywhere.

Alan Boyd and myself got permission to play the tapes at a BB convention in Massachusetts some years ago, so that some fans did, in fact, get to hear (over headphones) this marvelous album, but that's about it -- and that's about all I can tell you in answer to your question.

Hang in there, maybe someday, perhaps when everyone connected with the project is dead, it will finally become available. Too much, too late.
 Sad   ~swd  

Thank you, sir, very much, for explaining the sorry state of affairs and filling in so much of the background history.

It makes a wonderful read in itself, as always.
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« Reply #1966 on: July 30, 2020, 07:40:11 PM »

Based on a cursory read of this thread it seems like this question hasn't been asked of Mr. Desper yet, so I'll pose it -

Regarding the tag in "All I Wanna Do" - do you recall the lyric that Carl is singing in the left channel? There's been a lot of speculation as to what the full line is. The most audible portion is "If you get lonely in the night I'd wanna..." (set to the melody of the first bridge - "Sure as the sun'll come around again...") The official lyric sheet doesn't shed any light on this unfortunately (and even those can be incorrect sometimes).  
« Last Edit: July 30, 2020, 07:40:40 PM by Tom » Logged
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