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Author Topic: BB's "White Album" & continuity in Brian's songwriting  (Read 435 times)
Don Malcolm
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« on: July 04, 2017, 04:31:50 PM »

I love what Ray Lawlor wrote in one of our many "Sunshine Tomorrow" threads--and please DON'T merge them, Billy, as they all have differing perspectives and IMO should be allowed to exist/evolve in their own ways--where he reminds us that Brian's songwriting in 1966-68 has more continuity than is often recognized. His idea of a Beach Boys' "White Album" is a brilliant one, and one could only have hoped that the BBs could have conjured up this idea as their way of "extricating" themselves from the hype and backlash that washed over them as a result of SMiLE's abandonment. (Of course, that type of thinking about "product" and "marketing" at the time was probably further "out of the box" than the material on SMiLE was to the then-contemporary music scene, but fifty years later we can conjure up just about anything...)

I'm linking Ray's commentary here as I think it opens up a number of ideas and approaches that might prove useful for future releases of BBs material that can be more thematic. With the team of people in place presently, all sorts of possibilities can be devised with a greater chance that some of the more creative/fanciful ones might be given some consideration. Here's that snippet:


I need to indulge myself a bit.  I got thinking ; what if all these tracks on SS/WH were mixed like this ? What if there weren't two completely disparate releases , but rather a double record that included all the SS/WH stuff , as well as some of the Lei'd in Hawaii stuff; in other words The Beach Boys version of the White Album , only a year earlier.

Something like this :

Side 1

Heroes and Villains
I'd Love Just Once to See You
Can't Wait Too Long
Game of Love
With Me Tonight
The Letter
Wonderful
Aren't You Glad

Side 2

Darlin'
Country Air
Wind Chimes
Let the Wind Blow
Gettin' Hungry
You're So Good to Me rehearsal
Vegetables
A Thing Or Two

Side 3

Wild Honey
All Day ( Whistle In...or as Brian calls it Remember the Day
How She Boogalooed It
I Was Made To Love Her
With a Little Help from My Friends
Help Me Rhonda rehearsal
Lonely Days
She's Goin' Bald
Here Comes the Night

Side 4

Good Vibrations rehearsal
Fall Breaks
Heroes and Villains rehearsal
Little Pad
Mama Says
Cool Cool Water
God Only Knows rehearsal
Surf's Up

Or some variation of that.  It would have been a monolith record , in this pristine sound , and I cannot help wonder how 1968 forward would have been.   I see and hear a very active Brian Wilson, fully engaged with the group , working on a ton of product. It's all here; great songs, great performances, spectacular vocals , new takes on older material.  If only. 

I will get my coat now...

What I think is interesting here is to consider how far back in time we can actually take the notion that there is continuity in Brian's songwriting as he grows from a highly talented hitmaker into a very special composer. Clearly Ray's song list confirms that we can do this for SMiLE period up through 20/20 (while Ray doesn't include "Time To Get Alone," I think it's certainly fair game to do so given what we know about its creation history).

Can we go actually go back further in time, back all the way to 1965 by following SUNSHINE TOMORROW's lead and using backing tracks to identify and highlight Brian's stylistic continuity? What from PET SOUNDS might contribute to this? What from SD/SN?

Clearly this idea could never have flown in 1968 (as STACK-O-TRACKS proved--great LP, but no commercial potential in that timeframe). So what we actually have here are two separate ideas--how to make a "White Album" along the lines of Ray's example, and how to create a retrospective product that demonstrates the musical unity that exists across Brian's creative efforts once he's off the road.

I'll leave the "White Album" for later. Here's my take on the unity/continuity idea:

OFF THE ROAD: Brian Wilson Composes, 1965-68

Side 1
LET HIM RUN WILD (backing track)
LET'S GO AWAY FOR AWHILE
HEROES AND VILLAINS (backing track--from ST)
FALL BREAKS & BACK TO WINTER (backing track)
WILD HONEY (backing track)
DARLIN' (backing track)
TIME TO GET ALONE (from Hawthorne compilation)*
CAN'T WAIT TOO LONG (version from ST)*
TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION (backing track)

Side 2
THE LITTLE GIRL I ONCE KNEW (backing track)
PET SOUNDS
ALL DAY ALL NIGHT (from ST)*
GOOD VIBRATIONS (karaoke version, select backing vocals only)*
WONDERFUL (backing track--SS version from ST)
COOL COOL WATER (from ST)*
LITTLE PAD (backing track)
DIAMOND HEAD
DO IT AGAIN (backing track)

*tracks with vocals

Now that's just one person's off-the-wall/off-the-top-of-his-head concoction of a way into this idea; I would hope that some of the rest of you might find this notion of sufficient interest to take it in other directions and generate track orders that explore this in the ways that each of you might hear it...

As for the "White Album concept, I love Ray's approach but I think to place that back in the time frame it would necessary to leave most of the rehearsal material that starts to accumulate on his Side 3/4 out of the tracklist. Other than that nitpick, I think Ray's track order is totally inspired, and shows how combining tracks from SS, WH (and, I think, Friends as well) would add weight to the material due to the refractive connections that emerge when the songs are commingled...which is what happens in an analogous way for the Beatles on the White Album.

Just food for thought...hopefully not indigestible!!  Smokin

« Last Edit: July 04, 2017, 04:34:54 PM by Don Malcolm » Logged
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