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Author Topic: Last Great/Decent Brian Vocal  (Read 6123 times)
bluesno1fann
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« on: February 02, 2016, 07:08:31 PM »

This has been something I've been thinking about a bit lately. It's well established that Brian's voice changed in the time period between "Holland" and "15 Big Ones" to the point where it's almost unrecognisable. It's a lot more gruff and lost a lot of his old range. But at least for the rest of the 70's, he was still able to give some decent vocal performances. Of course, since the 80's Brian's voice has progressively gotten worse - at first shouty and arguably a bit shrill (as heard on the self-titled album and his debut solo album), and now sounds somewhat slurred and is a lot harder to listen to. This can be disputed though, but personally I find his vocals from recent decades to be borderline unlistenable. But this is not the thread to discuss that.

What would you guys consider to be Brian's last great and/or decent vocals? My pick would have to be "Match Point Of Our Love" from 1978. His singing on that is one of the only redeemable qualities for that song, and sounds delightfully pleasant and sweet.
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seltaeb1012002
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2016, 07:20:29 PM »

The "Awake" demo.
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Tord
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2016, 07:28:42 PM »

Whatever Happened.
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2016, 07:50:30 PM »

Going by your definition I would agree with Match Point of Our Love.  Great classic Brian vocal that we would never see again. 

But I think he has a number of good/really good vocals on NPP.
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Cyncie
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2016, 08:39:59 PM »

I know this wasn't the intent of your thread, since you said you don't want to debate the merit of Brian's current work, but your premise is that the current work isn't "decent" and I don't agree. I don't think a less "youthful" vocal is necessarily a "worse" vocal. Brian's current voice might not be clear and soaring like it was in the 60's, but it is Brian's voice. It's not a young man's voice. It's a voice that reflects the wear and tear and history of a man who has been to hell and back and, against all odds,  lived to sing again. And, instead of finding that unlistenable, I find it compelling.

Listen to "Midnight's Another Day" and you won't hear the young genius of Pet Sounds. But, you will hear that same person's shattered heart being put back together. Listen to "Summer's Gone" and you won't hear a Beach Boy's fun in the sun surf anthem. But, you will hear that former young man reflecting on the approaching latter days of his life. It's in the music. It's in the lyrics. And, it's in the voice.

Brian had a wonderful voice when he was young. It was clear, and soaring and it perfectly expressed his youthful enthusiasm, his fears,  and his doubts. Elder Brian has a world worn voice, damaged by time, excess and criminal overmedication, that perfectly expresses his musings, his fears, and his doubts at this point of his life. If the speech is slurred and the voice a little weak, it's because there's now history behind that voice, instead of just promise.

So, you see,  I can't accept your premise, because to me  that's beautiful too.

« Last Edit: February 02, 2016, 08:46:40 PM by Cyncie » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2016, 08:48:36 PM »

Beautiful analysis, Cyncie.

I love Brian's 15BO/Love You voice. The gruffer the better.
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bluesno1fann
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2016, 10:37:43 PM »

I know this wasn't the intent of your thread, since you said you don't want to debate the merit of Brian's current work, but your premise is that the current work isn't "decent" and I don't agree. I don't think a less "youthful" vocal is necessarily a "worse" vocal. Brian's current voice might not be clear and soaring like it was in the 60's, but it is Brian's voice. It's not a young man's voice. It's a voice that reflects the wear and tear and history of a man who has been to hell and back and, against all odds,  lived to sing again. And, instead of finding that unlistenable, I find it compelling.

Listen to "Midnight's Another Day" and you won't hear the young genius of Pet Sounds. But, you will hear that same person's shattered heart being put back together. Listen to "Summer's Gone" and you won't hear a Beach Boy's fun in the sun surf anthem. But, you will hear that former young man reflecting on the approaching latter days of his life. It's in the music. It's in the lyrics. And, it's in the voice.

Brian had a wonderful voice when he was young. It was clear, and soaring and it perfectly expressed his youthful enthusiasm, his fears,  and his doubts. Elder Brian has a world worn voice, damaged by time, excess and criminal overmedication, that perfectly expresses his musings, his fears, and his doubts at this point of his life. If the speech is slurred and the voice a little weak, it's because there's now history behind that voice, instead of just promise.

So, you see,  I can't accept your premise, because to me  that's beautiful too.



That's fair enough, and I can completely understand that. I'd agree that the older vocals work to its advantage on "Summer's Gone", which is a reason why I find it to be one of the best songs off TWGMTR. But a lot of the time, I admittedly find it hard to listen to older Brian's singing, his voice certainly hasn't held up anywhere near as good as Al or Bruce's, and I can imagine quite a number of people feeling that same way. I suppose ultimately this thread isn't really about whether or not he's really bad now or not, but more what you consider to be his last (or most recent if you'd like) great or decent vocal performance of his
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AndrewHickey
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2016, 11:01:02 PM »

I *love* his Love You era vocals. I think most of his post-1998 studio performances are at least OK, but I think his best solo-era vocal by miles is on She Says That She Needs Me. I also get chills down my spine listening to his Joy To The World, but that's more the arrangement than any particular vocal performance.
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2016, 11:04:28 PM »

I don't agree with the premise of the thread, but I find his most impressive latter day vocals to be on Orange Crate Art. Those melodies are quite complex, and he maneuvers them quite well; and the wall of Brian's behind the lead is wonderful. Some of the best moments on those songs are the beginnings, where it is just wordless "oohh's" (Summer in Monterey, My Hobo Heart, San Francisco). Of course Brian mastered the art of the beautiful "oohh's" decades before with the Beach Boys.
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2016, 04:40:37 AM »

Whatever Happened.

Yep^, or going back one album..."Pacific Coast Highway".
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KDS
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2016, 05:33:34 AM »

One Kind of Love is really good.

As if many of his vocals on NPP.

I think Brian's vocals have been getting progressively better since The Beach Boys 1985 album.  Personally, I'm not a big fan of his mid 70s gruff vocals, which is one of the reasons I didn't much care for the bonus version of ITMOFM that was included on my Target NPP.  But, starting with his vocals in Getcha Back, it was an uphill climb.  As Jon Stebbins points out, he'll never recapture his 60s voice, but who at Brian's age still sings like they did 50 years ago.................................

................Al Jardine.   
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2016, 05:38:27 AM »

falsetto on getcha back
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2016, 07:26:20 AM »

Personally, I think there's no such thing as Brian's "last" great/decent vocal. One thing that really stuck out for me was how great he sounded on the Disney album, for example...but of course that album was pretty much ignored due to very poor timing.
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2016, 07:28:43 AM »

If you're looking for the last youthful pristine Brian vocals, I would say that the Sunflower album would be it..  for example on Forever and Cool Cool Water he sounds as beautiful as ever.  After this his vocals pretty much disappeared til the mid 70s with a return to form on MIU.

Despite any issues or rough patches with his "regular" singing voice though, I still maintain that his high register/falsetto singing has always been great throughout his career.  Just listen to Getcha Back, Heaven, and The First Noel, for proof.
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the captain
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2016, 07:39:08 AM »

I find his vocals from recent decades to be borderline unlistenable. But this is not the thread to discuss that.


Seems to me this is exactly the thread to discuss that, if we're offering opinions on Brian's last great or decent vocals. My overall opinion is right there with Cyncie's: Brian's vocals aren't great in the same way they were in the '60s (obviously), but they sometimes reach greatness in other ways. It's a different instrument than it was 50 years ago. While I would not argue the new one is as good as (much less better than) the old one, it still is capable of great performances when the material and arrangements suit it.

The falsetto doesn't sound remotely as good, the slurring can be off-putting, especially on wordier lyrics. (The spoken bits on TLOS drive me crazy.) But "Midnight's Another Day" was lovely. Plenty of the Disney album was good. The Gershwin album had some really good vocals. Parts of NPP were good. So I don't think you have to go back very far at all, especially to find the "decent" half of "great/decent."
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2016, 08:03:34 AM »

The like in I love you.


I don't see what's great about the Matchpoint vocal.
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2016, 08:18:56 AM »

You know I used to be one of those people that totally thought anything that Brian did singing or writing-wise just couldn't stand up to what he did from 1962 to 1973. But definitely since the beginning of the reunion I've realized that the Brian of "Please Let Me Wonder" or "Caroline No" is still definitely there.

The first hint of this was when I first heard the 2012 version of "Do It Again." I really heard a prettiness that I hadn't heard since at least "She Said That She Needs Me," but a little sweeter. And then when "That's Why God Made The Radio" came out, I was floored by how nice and sweet Brian's vocal sounded. So much sweeter than anything since, shoot, maybe "Matchpoint of Our Love." But nothing prepared me for when That's Why God Made The Radio came out, and I heard "Summer's Gone." I was absolutely blown away. What it sounded like to me was a nearly 70 year old version of the guy that did "Caroline No." Just as good as anything Paul McCartney could do these days, or nearly any of Brian's other peers (including Al).

And then on No Pier Pressure, I really didn't think he could bring it the way he did on that latest Beach Boys album. But lo and behold, he did. The gorgeous vocals on "Whatever Happened", "I'm Feeling Sad", and "Somewhere Quiet" blew me away. And the way he traded vocals with Al on "The Right Time".....ah, perfection.

Now is he what he was when he was in his twenties? No, absolutely not. Nobody is. Not even Al, as his voice has coarsened a bit since the sixties despite what we all say. I also don't think a lot of harder rocking stuff fits Brian's voice these days. He's better on the mellow cuts. Although at the same time, I think Brian and his band taking on "You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone" with Brian and Blondie sharing the lead vocal would be quite interesting. That seems like it would be perfect for Brian's "Goin' Home" type growled vocal.

But anyways, does Brian sound really great on the songs I mentioned? You bet. And I'm super happy that he's performing at that level.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2016, 08:21:11 AM by sweetdudejim » Logged
the captain
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2016, 08:35:48 AM »

Now is he what he was when he was in his twenties? No, absolutely not. Nobody is. Not even Al, as his voice has coarsened a bit since the sixties despite what we all say.

Thanks for telling the truth. (Except for that "we all" part, as there are exceptions. Or at least exception. Yours truly. So this makes two of us.) Al's voice has held up beautifully, no doubt about it. He still sounds FANTASTIC. Far and away the best of the Beach Boys in that respect. But his voice isn't exactly what it was in earlier decades. He struggles on the higher notes, just as you'd expect. I'm amazed that some people seem to think hyperbole is required to give credit where it's due. It's not an insult to the guy to tell the truth: that while his voice is great for a man his age, and while it's better than most or all of his contemporaries' voices, it is still diminished somewhat.
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2016, 09:12:06 AM »

"Let It Shine" has a great vocal. I like the '95-era vocals too.
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2016, 10:36:45 AM »

I love pretty much everything he did up until and including the late 70s.

After that, personal faves include Surfer Girl at Knebworth (arguably THE highlight of the entire recorded show), Getcha Back, Male Ego, Love and Mercy/Melt Away/Let It Shine, some Sweet Insanity stuff (while on some of the other songs he sounds pretty rough), and some of the Paley sessions stuff (same here; love Proud Mary!).
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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2016, 11:40:51 AM »

"Let It Shine" has a great vocal. I like the '95-era vocals too.

Agreed. I think "Let It Shine" and "Meet Me in My Dreams Tonight" both have lovely vocals. Not quite as good as Brian at his best, but really, really good.

And even some of the stuff from some of the "rougher" years really isn't bad. For instance let's compare Carl's lead on "Oh Darlin'" to the version with a Brian lead. For some odd reason, even though Brian doesn't sound as "pretty" on it, his version is a lot better in my humble opinion.
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« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2016, 11:53:38 AM »

Your imagination, Colours of the Wind, The like in I love you, Pacific Coast Highway, This Beautiful Day, to mention only a few more recent efforts. Yup, he's still my favourite singer.
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« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2016, 06:33:58 PM »

Last great: Heroes And Villains
Last decent: Match Point Of Our Love
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« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2016, 06:46:57 PM »

I think the issue that people will have with Brian voice is that they have his sweet 1960's voice to compare with. Music fans can accept Tom Wait's voice on its own merits. They might not be able to do that if Tom Waits had a choir boy voice and that choir boy voice was The Voice you heard on his best-known recordings.
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« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2016, 08:48:18 PM »

 
"Let It Shine" has a great vocal. I like the '95-era vocals too.
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