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Author Topic: Why did Steve Desper stop engineering for the Boys after Surf's Up?  (Read 4187 times)
busy doin nothin
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« on: June 29, 2006, 01:16:54 PM »

I apologize if this is an easy question.  It just seems after his incredible work on Sunflower, Surf's Up, and the Flame and Spring albums, the Boys would have kept him on if he had wanted to stay.  Did he go on to work with other artists?  If so, who?
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2006, 01:22:12 PM »

When I interviewed him in 1985, he told me that he was getting tired of not being paid for his work, so he just... left.
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2006, 01:42:06 PM »

When I interviewed him in 1985, he told me that he was getting tired of not being paid for his work, so he just... left.

Do you mean he was literally working as a volunteer?  Or just getting paid poorly?  Did the Beach Boys offer to raise his salary?  And did he go work somewhere else?  He seems to have been one of the best engineers around -- I am far from an expert, but Sunflower seems to be about the best-engineered album I've ever heard.

And, AGD, now that you're back on the board, is it really true -- as you say in your book -- that Brian played the harmonica on "Santa Ana Winds"?  The idea of that just kills me.
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2006, 02:34:04 PM »

According to Steve, when he raised the topic of, um, actually being paid for the engineering he was doing, the reply was along the lines of "we'll pay you when we get a hit". of course, although he left the employ of the BB, he pretty much walked straight into the Spring project.

As for "SAW", that's what I've been told by more than one person, and thus far no-one's contradicted them.
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2006, 02:37:37 PM »

According to Steve, when he raised the topic of, um, actually being paid for the engineering he was doing, the reply was along the lines of "we'll pay you when we get a hit".

Good Lord....did he ever try to fight that? For God's sake, he did the work, and technically they did get hits -- Surf's Up didn't do too badly, and Sunflower was a big hit in England, wasn't it??? Either way....if he did the work, he should have been paid.

But then again....we all know it's the engineer's fault if the record isn't a hit, right?
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2006, 04:55:37 PM »

He told me it was because he wasn't into TM and Steve Moffit was.
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2006, 05:08:13 PM »

According to Steve, when he raised the topic of, um, actually being paid for the engineering he was doing, the reply was along the lines of "we'll pay you when we get a hit". of course, although he left the employ of the BB, he pretty much walked straight into the Spring project.

As for "SAW", that's what I've been told by more than one person, and thus far no-one's contradicted them.

Thanks for the replies, Andrew.  I find it unutterably cool to imagine Brian wailing on the harmonica for "SAW".

As for Mr. Desper, I had no idea the incredible engineering work he did for the BBs was free!  That is mind-boggling.  Was he able to generate a successful career in the recording industry after leaving Brother Records?  I would think Sunflower, hit or not, would be an impeccable calling card for an engineer.
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2006, 05:37:30 PM »

When I interviewed him in 1985, he told me that he was getting tired of not being paid for his work, so he just... left.

Weird, I spoke to him a few months ago and he told me a different story...
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2006, 06:14:50 PM »

Steve Desper got better sounds on tape 30 years ago than people get now on all of the more modernized recording gear. Listening to Sunflower is like hearing an album from a different universe; one inhabited by beings with superior audio recording knowledge than us mere mortals on earth.

The fact that he wasn't paid for his beautiful work is a shame. I hope he at least enjoyed the music while working on it.
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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2006, 06:24:02 PM »

He was making enough to drive a pretty sweet Corvette.   Smiley

Whatever his reasons for leaving, isn't it interesting to imagine what CATP:ST or Holland might have sounded with Steve on board?

And how confusing to go from one engineer Steve to another...
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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2006, 06:30:27 PM »

Quote
Whatever his reasons for leaving, isn't it interesting to imagine what CATP:ST or Holland might have sounded with Steve on board?

They still sound great to me, regardless.
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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2006, 06:58:46 PM »

Whatever his reasons for leaving, isn't it interesting to imagine what CATP:ST or Holland might have sounded with Steve on board?

Funny, I brought that up during my conversations with Steve as well...

Quote
He told me it was because he wasn't into TM and Steve Moffit was.

That's exactly what he told me as well. Mike wanted everyone to get into TM and Stephen wasn't into that...apparently Moffit got into it.

I agree with Billy tho, even without Stephen the later albums still sounded great!!!

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« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2006, 10:58:30 PM »

Yeah I do like So Tough and Holland a lot but perhaps Desper was better at getting Brian involved?
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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2006, 11:04:58 PM »

I'll dig out the interview I did with him - it's in an early copy of Stomp. Think i recall him saying that he had to recourse to a lawsuit to get his due reimbursement, and that he was still working for them while the suit was proceding.
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2006, 12:12:57 AM »

I'll dig out the interview I did with him - it's in an early copy of Stomp. Think i recall him saying that he had to recourse to a lawsuit to get his due reimbursement, and that he was still working for them while the suit was proceding.

I'll enjoy any interview with Desper...I hope its ok to publish on here! 3D Either way, I'm sure he can clear everything up at some point. Viva el Desper!
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« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2006, 05:19:55 AM »

Anybody know how Steve is doing? I know he was quite ill the last couple of month's.
But do any of you have an update as to his recovery?
His insights on this board are Invaluable!
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« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2006, 05:46:20 AM »

And how confusing to go from one engineer Steve to another...

Kinda like getting a new wife with the same name as the first one...
makes life simpler.
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« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2006, 06:41:22 AM »

I'll dig out the interview I did with him - it's in an early copy of Stomp. Think i recall him saying that he had to recourse to a lawsuit to get his due reimbursement, and that he was still working for them while the suit was proceding.

I'll enjoy any interview with Desper...I hope its ok to publish on here! 3D Either way, I'm sure he can clear everything up at some point. Viva el Desper!

I second this emotion.  It would be great to read any Desper interviews.
Yeah I do like So Tough and Holland a lot but perhaps Desper was better at getting Brian involved?

Good point about So Tough and Holland, which are awesome records in their own right.  However, Sunflower stands out as an extraordinary production achievement, I think -- perhaps because of the combined involvement of Brian and Desper?
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« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2006, 09:49:58 AM »

Anybody know how Steve is doing? I know he was quite ill the last couple of month's.
But do any of you have an update as to his recovery?
His insights on this board are Invaluable!
Big Bri

I e-mailed him a week or so ago and he said he's still under the weather.
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« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2006, 03:58:18 PM »

Think it should be OK to post extracts from my Desper interview - it's copyrighted to me, so i guess I could give myself permission to reprint it.

Just this once, you understand.  Cool
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