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Author Topic: Unpopular Beach Boys opinions  (Read 180221 times)
Lonely Summer
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« Reply #1350 on: March 07, 2018, 11:42:24 PM »

I’ve really enjoyed reading through this thread, it turns out that most views that go against the party-line of either the hardcore or casual fan base are in fact shared by quite a few.

Pretty much all my “unpopular opinions” have been covered already but for what it’s worth:

1- POB is massively overrated by critics and hardcore fans alike. It starts so promisingly with River Song and then immediately plummets in quality.

2- DW’s ballads and lead vocals, while at times beautiful, are often over-emotional and have an air of self-indulgence.

3- Brian Wilson is the only GREAT composer in The Beach Boys. The other members each have a handful of good ones (except perhaps Mike, who is by far the best lyricist in the band, but who composed very few songs), and only two that come close to BW levels of greatness- Forever and Disney Girls.

4- The music recorded for Smile is BETTER than the hype surrounding it would suggest. It is transcendent, and the lyrics magical.

5- Rio Grande sucks!
I agree with 1 and 2. POB is a good album; maybe it gets overrated because of the BB albums released around the same time (LY/MIU). And I can think of several Dennis songs that start off nicely enough (For example, Be With Me), but to my ears, don't really go anywhere.


I actually prefer MIU and most of LA (sans that disco mess) over POB personally.  I think POB has some good songs, and ultiimately, there are no real stinkers on it, but I think much of it is middle of the road. 

I rate LA higher than MIU or LY.
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« Reply #1351 on: March 08, 2018, 12:59:20 AM »

I actually quite like MIU a lot. LA is towards the bottom of my list, just slightly above KTSA.

As much as I love Pet Sounds, Wild Honey was Brian’s best work apart from SMiLE.  Can’t believe I finally admitted that. Sunshine Tomorrow confirmed it for me.

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« Reply #1352 on: March 08, 2018, 05:49:51 AM »

I’ve really enjoyed reading through this thread, it turns out that most views that go against the party-line of either the hardcore or casual fan base are in fact shared by quite a few.

Pretty much all my “unpopular opinions” have been covered already but for what it’s worth:

1- POB is massively overrated by critics and hardcore fans alike. It starts so promisingly with River Song and then immediately plummets in quality.

2- DW’s ballads and lead vocals, while at times beautiful, are often over-emotional and have an air of self-indulgence.

3- Brian Wilson is the only GREAT composer in The Beach Boys. The other members each have a handful of good ones (except perhaps Mike, who is by far the best lyricist in the band, but who composed very few songs), and only two that come close to BW levels of greatness- Forever and Disney Girls.

4- The music recorded for Smile is BETTER than the hype surrounding it would suggest. It is transcendent, and the lyrics magical.

5- Rio Grande sucks!
I agree with 1 and 2. POB is a good album; maybe it gets overrated because of the BB albums released around the same time (LY/MIU). And I can think of several Dennis songs that start off nicely enough (For example, Be With Me), but to my ears, don't really go anywhere.


I actually prefer MIU and most of LA (sans that disco mess) over POB personally.  I think POB has some good songs, and ultiimately, there are no real stinkers on it, but I think much of it is middle of the road. 

I rate LA higher than MIU or LY.

If not for that disco abomination, I'd have LA much higher on my list.   Other than that, it's a strong album.    But, I do like MIU better, and I like both MIU and LA far better than Love You. 
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« Reply #1353 on: March 08, 2018, 06:15:01 AM »

1- POB is massively overrated by critics and hardcore fans alike. It starts so promisingly with River Song and then immediately plummets in quality.

Compared to what the band was doing at the time POB is a masterpiece.  Massively over-rated?  Not a chance.  Over-rated by some?  maybe so.

2- DW’s ballads and lead vocals, while at times beautiful, are often over-emotional and have an air of self-indulgence.

And who in the group nailed every song they ever sang?  Ok...  Carl was pretty consistent...and Al still has 'it'.

3- Brian Wilson is the only GREAT composer in The Beach Boys. The other members each have a handful of good ones (except perhaps Mike, who is by far the best lyricist in the band, but who composed very few songs), and only two that come close to BW levels of greatness- Forever and Disney Girls.

No...for the most part...although Brian outdoes the rest combined by about 9 or 10 times with the A-1 output.  There are more than just 2 other terrific BB's songs beyond those penned by Brian.  Mike WAS the best lyricist in the band...for about 4 years.  Since then?  Not a chance.  Not even close.  His post '66 stuff is pretty much just olde.

4- The music recorded for Smile is BETTER than the hype surrounding it would suggest. It is transcendent, and the lyrics magical.

YES.

5- Rio Grande sucks!

Hell's Bells NO!!!  It was a relief to hear...and light years beyond anything the 'group' was doing at the time.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2018, 06:17:59 AM by Lee Marshall » Logged

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« Reply #1354 on: March 08, 2018, 07:13:19 AM »

I prefer the versions of Surfin and Surfin Safari on Jan & Dean's "J&D Take Linda Surfin" album over than the ones The Beach Boys released.

I like having Dean's leads with Jan's bass voice and the BBs backing vocals/track
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« Reply #1355 on: March 09, 2018, 05:25:04 AM »

We get it. You're huge J&D fan.

Joining M.I.U. camp. Smile's hype/ lack thereof doesn't make difference - it's good. If Dennis didn't sing with too much expressiveness, instead sang casually, it'd be much better.
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« Reply #1356 on: March 11, 2018, 01:52:02 AM »

1- POB is massively overrated by critics and hardcore fans alike. It starts so promisingly with River Song and then immediately plummets in quality.

Compared to what the band was doing at the time POB is a masterpiece.  Massively over-rated?  Not a chance.  Over-rated by some?  maybe so.

2- DW’s ballads and lead vocals, while at times beautiful, are often over-emotional and have an air of self-indulgence.

And who in the group nailed every song they ever sang?  Ok...  Carl was pretty consistent...and Al still has 'it'.

3- Brian Wilson is the only GREAT composer in The Beach Boys. The other members each have a handful of good ones (except perhaps Mike, who is by far the best lyricist in the band, but who composed very few songs), and only two that come close to BW levels of greatness- Forever and Disney Girls.

No...for the most part...although Brian outdoes the rest combined by about 9 or 10 times with the A-1 output.  There are more than just 2 other terrific BB's songs beyond those penned by Brian.  Mike WAS the best lyricist in the band...for about 4 years.  Since then?  Not a chance.  Not even close.  His post '66 stuff is pretty much just olde.

4- The music recorded for Smile is BETTER than the hype surrounding it would suggest. It is transcendent, and the lyrics magical.

YES.

5- Rio Grande sucks!

Hell's Bells NO!!!  It was a relief to hear...and light years beyond anything the 'group' was doing at the time.

Good point on the time-frame re Mike’s lyrics. But I’d take Mike at his peak over the rest of the boys’ efforts combined! Even if he doesn’t quite understand what alliteration is...

Re Rio Grande, I feel that that it is heralded as a great piece simply because it is presented in a progressive suite form. Essentially style over substance. Kokomo, now that’s a great song.
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« Reply #1357 on: March 11, 2018, 06:30:14 AM »

Ya maybe...depending on how and when you were introduced to those 2 songs.  In real time, rather than in retrospect, Brian had been out of commission for a really long time...with a couple of kicks at the can tossed onto the fact pile...close to 14 years of not a whole lot except for the Brian's Back 'campaign' and  15 Bigguns and 'Love You' which is an odd little moment in time that some folks really dig and which some don't 'get' at all/at all.  So when that first solo album came along 11 1/4 years after 'Love You' was released there was a fair bit of relief...and JOY.  Things hadn't looked all that promising.  It was a far greater achievement for Brian [and anything Beach Boys related] than anything, really, since Til I Die, Marcella, and Sail on Sailor.  And Brian writing a bunch of NEW songs for any given album?  You had to go back to 1969-70 for the prep work he did before recording and releasing Sunflower.  18 years...'cept for 'Love You' ... which included 12 new songs.

To hear Brian attempting to do something as complex as Rio Grande was very, VERY good news.  It was a lightning bolt from the past...emerging above murky waters and from totally darkend skies.  Kokomo was a pleasant surprise...also seemingly out of nowhere and Carl's performance truly MAKES the song.  And let's give further credit where it's due here.  John Phillips did most of the heavy lifting and then Terry Melcher put it all together in the studio.  Mike added a little bit of his golden oldie era magic dust, and it was included in a hip movie which exposed the song to a horde of new and old fans alike.  And presto!!!  A star was born.  Still...If I could only ever hear one of those 2 songs ever again?  It'd be Rio Grande easily by 20 lengths.  [plus a heart, a head and a nose]  To me it's a highlight from the album.  A gem.  A gift from the 'gods'.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Of course there would be further regression.  I don't know how Brian survived a second round with 'Doctor' Sicko.  It would take a few 'baby steps' and close to a decade before Brian would begin to really face the music on anything but 'special projects' again.  It took love, time and kid gloves to ease him toward today...and these past 20 years have been an awesome bonus many of us never, truly, expected to even begin to experience.  And it kick started...briefly...with that first solo album in 1988.  Style over substance?  Bite your tongue.
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« Reply #1358 on: March 11, 2018, 02:19:28 PM »

Good point well made sir - it must have been exciting to see this kind of work from BW in ‘88, showing promise of an interesting solo career.

Re Kokomo, obviously John P was massively to thank, Mike could never compose such great pop! Hooks and feel-good lyrics, those are his things.
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« Reply #1359 on: March 11, 2018, 02:22:40 PM »

1- POB is massively overrated by critics and hardcore fans alike. It starts so promisingly with River Song and then immediately plummets in quality.

Compared to what the band was doing at the time POB is a masterpiece.  Massively over-rated?  Not a chance.  Over-rated by some?  maybe so.

2- DW’s ballads and lead vocals, while at times beautiful, are often over-emotional and have an air of self-indulgence.

And who in the group nailed every song they ever sang?  Ok...  Carl was pretty consistent...and Al still has 'it'.

3- Brian Wilson is the only GREAT composer in The Beach Boys. The other members each have a handful of good ones (except perhaps Mike, who is by far the best lyricist in the band, but who composed very few songs), and only two that come close to BW levels of greatness- Forever and Disney Girls.

No...for the most part...although Brian outdoes the rest combined by about 9 or 10 times with the A-1 output.  There are more than just 2 other terrific BB's songs beyond those penned by Brian.  Mike WAS the best lyricist in the band...for about 4 years.  Since then?  Not a chance.  Not even close.  His post '66 stuff is pretty much just olde.

4- The music recorded for Smile is BETTER than the hype surrounding it would suggest. It is transcendent, and the lyrics magical.

YES.

5- Rio Grande sucks!

Hell's Bells NO!!!  It was a relief to hear...and light years beyond anything the 'group' was doing at the time.

Good point on the time-frame re Mike’s lyrics. But I’d take Mike at his peak over the rest of the boys’ efforts combined! Even if he doesn’t quite understand what alliteration is...

Re Rio Grande, I feel that that it is heralded as a great piece simply because it is presented in a progressive suite form. Essentially style over substance. Kokomo, now that’s a great song.

I agree about Rio Grande.  I can see it being revered more for what it strives to be than for what it actually is. 

And, I'm also a huge fan of Kokomo.  I can kinda see why it's not much loved by Beach Boys fans, as "trop rock" doesn't seem to be very popular among the fanbase. 
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« Reply #1360 on: March 11, 2018, 04:58:18 PM »

I agree entirely about Rio Grande. Well, not entirely: it doesn't suck. But it's not especially good, much less great. And it's absolutely given more credit (I think) because it was stitched together, making people fawn over the "suite" idea that always seems to excite BW fans, allowing them to ascribe some grander scale than "just" pop music would.

My only real quibble with The Cigarette Light Joke's five statements is number four: I don't think Smile is better than the hype. I also don't think it's worse than the hype, really. I think it's about right for the hype (although whose hype would have to weigh into the equation). But it's a really, really great set of music, which is what it was hyped up to be. At the higher end of that hype, it was something that would have changed the world, totally altered the course of pop, which I doubt. It's just great stuff.
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« Reply #1361 on: March 11, 2018, 05:17:11 PM »

Well its great for this reason, its a flicker of creativity considering BW surviving under a doctor trying to drug him to death. A prologue to BW's wonderous solo career.....
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« Reply #1362 on: March 11, 2018, 05:23:14 PM »

Kokomo.  I can kinda see why it's not much loved by Beach Boys fans, as "trop rock" doesn't seem to be very popular among the fanbase. 
Ha! Where do you hear "rock" there?
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« Reply #1363 on: March 11, 2018, 05:26:07 PM »

I don't think any of us who were fans in 1988 ever dreamed Brian could come up with something like Rio Grande (or Melt Away) at the time. He was able to do those things in spite of Landy, in spite of the heavy drug cocktail.  I was expecting an album of I'm So Lonely's. You have to take all of those elements into consideration when looking at those songs.
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« Reply #1364 on: March 11, 2018, 05:28:12 PM »

I don't think any of us who were fans in 1988 ever dreamed Brian could come up with something like Rio Grande (or Melt Away) at the time. He was able to do those things in spite of Landy, in spite of the heavy drug cocktail and fairly quick response to his then recent work such as I'm So Lonely. You have to take all of those elements into consideration when looking at those songs.
Agreed, its BW's soul in Landy's darkness.....
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« Reply #1365 on: March 11, 2018, 05:48:20 PM »

I don't think any of us who were fans in 1988 ever dreamed Brian could come up with something like Rio Grande (or Melt Away) at the time. He was able to do those things in spite of Landy, in spite of the heavy drug cocktail.  I was expecting an album of I'm So Lonely's. You have to take all of those elements into consideration when looking at those songs.

No, you absolutely don't have to take all--or even any--of those elements into consideration when looking at those songs.

A song is as good as it is, whether it was written and recorded by a prince in the lap of luxury or a homeless veteran who scrounged up a few nickels. That Rio Grande was more than many fans expected at the time is irrelevant to how good it is. That Rio Grande was done by someone under the control of an abusive doctor is irrelevant to how good it is. The personal story surrounding the music is separate and apart from the quality of the music. The quality of music is based on the sounds that one hears when listening to it.

The shitty finger painting on your refrigerator isn't good because your 3-year-old niece painted it for you. It's still sh*t. It's just sh*t that means something more to you, regardless of its actual quality.
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« Reply #1366 on: March 11, 2018, 05:50:27 PM »

I love the Cap! Cool Guy
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« Reply #1367 on: March 11, 2018, 06:48:39 PM »

Kokomo.  I can kinda see why it's not much loved by Beach Boys fans, as "trop rock" doesn't seem to be very popular among the fanbase. 
Ha! Where do you hear "rock" there?

Trop rock is a laid back genre whose most famous artist is Jimmy Buffett.  Its probably more pop than rock, but thats the label its been given. 
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« Reply #1368 on: March 11, 2018, 06:52:03 PM »

Trop rock is a laid back genre whose most famous artist is Jimmy Buffett.  Its probably more pop than rock, but thats the label its been given. 
It is. The label-givers must be real dorks.
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« Reply #1369 on: March 11, 2018, 06:54:28 PM »

I don't think any of us who were fans in 1988 ever dreamed Brian could come up with something like Rio Grande (or Melt Away) at the time. He was able to do those things in spite of Landy, in spite of the heavy drug cocktail.  I was expecting an album of I'm So Lonely's. You have to take all of those elements into consideration when looking at those songs.

No, you absolutely don't have to take all--or even any--of those elements into consideration when looking at those songs.

A song is as good as it is, whether it was written and recorded by a prince in the lap of luxury or a homeless veteran who scrounged up a few nickels. That Rio Grande was more than many fans expected at the time is irrelevant to how good it is. That Rio Grande was done by someone under the control of an abusive doctor is irrelevant to how good it is. The personal story surrounding the music is separate and apart from the quality of the music. The quality of music is based on the sounds that one hears when listening to it.

The shitty finger painting on your refrigerator isn't good because your 3-year-old niece painted it for you. It's still sh*t. It's just sh*t that means something more to you, regardless of its actual quality.

I couldn't have said it better myself.  

I've always heard that argumemt when I've voiced my unpopular dislike of Love You that I should consider what Brian was going through at the time.   It sucks, but it doesn't make the music any better.  
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« Reply #1370 on: March 11, 2018, 06:56:04 PM »

Trop rock is a laid back genre whose most famous artist is Jimmy Buffett.  Its probably more pop than rock, but thats the label its been given. 
It is. The label-givers must be real dorks.

Also rock doesnt always have to rock hard.   
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« Reply #1371 on: March 11, 2018, 07:02:26 PM »

Also rock doesnt always have to rock hard.   
Who said it does though? But I wouldn't label both Buffett & "Kokomo" as "rock". So it goes back to "label-givers must be real dorks". Smiley
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« Reply #1372 on: March 12, 2018, 05:32:21 AM »

Also rock doesnt always have to rock hard.   
Who said it does though? But I wouldn't label both Buffett & "Kokomo" as "rock". So it goes back to "label-givers must be real dorks". Smiley

Kokomo is definitely more of  a pop song. 

I'd call some of what Buffett does rock and roll.  His early stuff definitely leans a little towards country, with a dash of rock. 
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« Reply #1373 on: March 12, 2018, 06:28:37 AM »

I don't think any of us who were fans in 1988 ever dreamed Brian could come up with something like Rio Grande (or Melt Away) at the time. He was able to do those things in spite of Landy, in spite of the heavy drug cocktail.  I was expecting an album of I'm So Lonely's. You have to take all of those elements into consideration when looking at those songs.

No, you absolutely don't have to take all--or even any--of those elements into consideration when looking at those songs.

A song is as good as it is, whether it was written and recorded by a prince in the lap of luxury or a homeless veteran who scrounged up a few nickels. That Rio Grande was more than many fans expected at the time is irrelevant to how good it is. That Rio Grande was done by someone under the control of an abusive doctor is irrelevant to how good it is. The personal story surrounding the music is separate and apart from the quality of the music. The quality of music is based on the sounds that one hears when listening to it.

The shitty finger painting on your refrigerator isn't good because your 3-year-old niece painted it for you. It's still sh*t. It's just sh*t that means something more to you, regardless of its actual quality.

Depends on what "looking at those songs" means to you. If you don't care about context, about being a student of the history of the band, or of examining what songs or recordings might mean contextually, and are 100% about the pure pleasure (or lack thereof) that you derive from hearing a given song, then you can choose to look at it that way.

Obviously, I think the deal is that most fans are going to take a mixture of a number of factors to build the context around which they digest the music. Otherwise, is there much of a reason to be a "fan" of a particular band? Typically, a "fan" listens to the next new Brian or BB release because they're already a "fan." So it already has something of a context. You're presumably predisposed to digesting that next release because there is already a context: You're a fan, and you like previous output from that artist (and if you *don't* like any recent previous output and you're still listening to the stuff, then that's a whole other set of issues to examine).

I don't think it should ever be the case that we literally lower the standards of what constitutes good music because Brian (or anyone) is somehow compromised. But if Brian was going through mental anguish, or under abusive care, etc., then that does provide some appropriate context and may help one appreciate the music more.

I would argue that buried under weird synth arrangements on "Love You" are some truly excellent compositions; some amazing chord changes that some may be missing because they can't get over the weird arrangement and presentation. But separate from that, the content, especially lyrically, is informed quite a bit by and gives great insight into Brian's frame of mind at the time. It's almost frighteningly innocent and without pretense. I can't imagine a student of the band's music *and* history not finding some keenly interesting things going on with the album.

"Rio Grande" on BW '88 is a similar case. It's Brian, while being abused by Landy, having an executive egg him on to basically ape the "Smile" format to try to wring something similar out of him. It's a mixed success at best. It does feel forced/contrived, whatever. But he did write all of those sections, and it does show that the talent/ability was still buried under there somewhere.

But again, context matters if you're at all interesting in actually *studying* or *discussing* this stuff. If you're about nothing but what music gets you off, what music instantly pleases you, then nothing else matters and then, is there really much to discuss beyond saying "I like that", "I don't like that", "that's okay", etc.?

But for students/scholars of the band, it most definitely is important in digesting the music to know that Brian was f-ed up under Landy while making BW '88, or that Brian was where he was at during "Love You." It doesn't mean something has to be labeled as great, as if  "man, it's amazing he was able to string together a sentence let alone record an album", but knowing Brian's frame of mind and what he was through most definitely does help with an *appreciation* of "Love You." And understanding the contexts of these projects more *can* help one enjoy them/like them more. It doesn't mean anything is going to make "Mona" or "Little Children" great songs to me. But it might make listening to those songs more intereresting.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 06:38:41 AM by HeyJude » Logged

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« Reply #1374 on: March 12, 2018, 06:42:47 AM »

I don't think any of us who were fans in 1988 ever dreamed Brian could come up with something like Rio Grande (or Melt Away) at the time. He was able to do those things in spite of Landy, in spite of the heavy drug cocktail.  I was expecting an album of I'm So Lonely's. You have to take all of those elements into consideration when looking at those songs.

No, you absolutely don't have to take all--or even any--of those elements into consideration when looking at those songs.

A song is as good as it is, whether it was written and recorded by a prince in the lap of luxury or a homeless veteran who scrounged up a few nickels. That Rio Grande was more than many fans expected at the time is irrelevant to how good it is. That Rio Grande was done by someone under the control of an abusive doctor is irrelevant to how good it is. The personal story surrounding the music is separate and apart from the quality of the music. The quality of music is based on the sounds that one hears when listening to it.

The shitty finger painting on your refrigerator isn't good because your 3-year-old niece painted it for you. It's still sh*t. It's just sh*t that means something more to you, regardless of its actual quality.

Depends on what "looking at those songs" means to you. If you don't care about context, about being a student of the history of the band, or of examining what songs or recordings might mean contextually, and are 100% about the pure pleasure (or lack thereof) that you derive from hearing a given song, then you can choose to look at it that way.

Obviously, I think the deal is that most fans are going to take a mixture of a number of factors to build the context around which they digest the music. Otherwise, is there much of a reason to be a "fan" of a particular band? Typically, a "fan" listens to the next new Brian or BB release because they're already a "fan." So it already has something of a context. You're presumably predisposed to digesting that next release because there is already a context: You're a fan, and you like previous output from that artist (and if you *don't* like any recent previous output and you're still listening to the stuff, then that's a whole other set of issues to examine).

I don't think it should ever be the case that we literally lower the standards of what constitutes good music because Brian (or anyone) is somehow compromised. But if Brian was going through mental anguish, or under abusive care, etc., then that does provide some appropriate context and may help one appreciate the music more.

I would argue that buried under weird synth arrangements on "Love You" are some truly excellent compositions; some amazing chord changes that some may be missing because they can't get over the weird arrangement and presentation. But separate from that, the content, especially lyrically, is informed quite a bit by and gives great insight into Brian's frame of mind at the time. It's almost frighteningly innocent and without pretense. I can't imagine a student of the band's music *and* history not finding some keenly interesting things going on with the album.

"Rio Grande" on BW '88 is a similar case. It's Brian, while being abused by Landy, having an executive egg him on to basically ape the "Smile" format to try to wring something similar out of him. It's a mixed success at best. It does feel forced/contrived, whatever. But he did write all of those sections, and it does show that the talent/ability was still buried under there somewhere.

But again, context matters if you're at all interesting in actually *studying* or *discussing* this stuff. If you're about nothing but what music gets you off, what music instantly pleases you, then nothing else matters and then, is there really much to discuss beyond saying "I like that", "I don't like that", "that's okay", etc.?

But for students/scholars of the band, it most definitely is important in digesting the music to know that Brian was f-ed up under Landy while making BW '88, or that Brian was where he was at during "Love You." It doesn't mean something has to be labeled as great, as if  "man, it's amazing he was able to string together a sentence let alone record an album", but knowing Brian's frame of mind and what he was through most definitely does help with an *appreciation* of "Love You." And understanding the contexts of these projects more *can* help one enjoy them/like them more. It doesn't mean anything is going to make "Mona" or "Little Children" great songs to me. But it might make listening to those songs more intereresting.


I get what you're saying about context, but at the end of the day, it's still about the quality of the music.   

Take Syd Barrett's solo albums.   On one hand, as a fan of early Pink Floyd, I find their mere existence to be a borderline miracle.   On the other hand, knowing Syd's story doesn't change my opinion that half the songs are pretty bad.   

Same goes for Love You and BW88.   
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