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Author Topic: Kokomo Is 30 article in Stereogum  (Read 2976 times)
♩♬🐸 Billy C ♯♫♩🐇
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« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2018, 12:28:19 PM »


Lonely Summer, you are off base. The cheese factor is what turned me off to The Beach Boys growing up. With Kokomo and the Full House guest stint, I was so turned off that I didn’t give them a chance for years. Obviously that changed but it took until 1995 for that to happen. Funny part is, i actually like Kokomo these days apart from that cringe inducing sax solo . I’m with Jay and Chocolate Shake in this. Has nothing to do with being a Brianista .
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« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2018, 12:32:29 PM »


Lonely Summer, you are off base. The cheese factor is what turned me off to The Beach Boys growing up. With Kokomo and the Full House guest stint, I was so turned off that I didn’t give them a chance for years. Obviously that changed but it took until 1995 for that to happen. Funny part is, i actually like Kokomo these days apart from that cringe inducing sax solo . I’m with Jay and Chocolate Shake in this. Has nothing to do with being a Brianista .

Oh, Billy, that's just Lonely Summer being Lonely Summer.  Wink
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« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2018, 12:43:49 PM »

Mike’s history rewrite has entered a new phase.... Cool Guy
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« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2018, 04:03:08 PM »

For all the flack that song gets, it was crazy popular back when it came out.  I was just a kid, and this was long before I gave a crap about the Beach Boys, and loved that song at the time.  I remember some teenage pop group performed at my elementary school, and when they played that song, everyone erupted into song and sang along.  And to this day, people I've met that know next to nothing about the Beach Boys are at least familiar with that song.  It may be lightweight in its execution but I give it a pass due to fond memories.
It's hip to diss it because it's Mike's Beach Boys, and Brian isn't on it. i'm sure all the Brianistas would celebrate the idea of the group having a late career hit if Brian had sung on it - and produced and co-written it.
So how do 4 Seasons fans feel about December 1963 (Oh What a Night)? Who Loves You?

Nah, the reason most of the fans who grumble or groan about "Kokomo" do so is not because Brian isn't on it. There are other BB tracks that Brian had little or nothing to do with that are great. No, the problem with "Kokomo" (beyond being oversaturated back in 1988/89 and to a lesser degree subsequently) is that Mike Love overemphasizes the track's quality, importance, and popularity.

If Mike wasn't insistent on putting it in the same league/category (if not *above*) better tracks like "Good Vibrations", then it would be easier for fans to just view the song for what it is, which is a catchy song that was a good shot in the arm for the band, as I've said before.

A comparison I've often made: You don't see Paul McCartney regularly stating in interviews that "Pipes of Peace" (#1 in the UK) is as good or better than anything else in the Beatles or his solo catalog. I'm sure he's happy/proud it hit #1. But he has perspective as well. For that matter, his "Mull of Kintyre" *literally* outsold any Beatles single, yet you didn't see him pointing this out in every interview, and he actually relatively rarely even performs the song live.

In comparison, I don't believe a single full-length Beach Boys concert has left out "Kokomo" since it became a hit in 1988.

A "Four Seasons" comparison with their mid-70s hits is difficult to make; they essentially completely revamped the band by 1975, keeping on only Valli (and Gaudio as writer), with an eye towards actually spinning off the new "Four Seasons" guys into their own band. Those hits like "Who Loves You" and "December 1963" were essentially a case of the "New Four Seasons" cutting records with Frankie Valli guest starring.

As it is, I don't think Four Seasons fans have epic vitriol for those songs. They're very much like "Kokomo" in my mind; catchy songs that gave the band a shot in the arm. Frankie Valli kept performing those songs (though not always; "December 1963" left the setlist for a while until he found guys to start handing that lead off to), but I don't think he nor Gaudio for the subsequent decades kept saying those two songs were the best they ever did. Indeed, much like "Kokomo", the "Four Seasons" pretty much went limp after that quick shot of hit singles.
In Mike's mind, Kokomo is right up there with Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, I Get Around and the other biggies because it was worldwide hit. Mike's always been interested in being commercially successful.
A better example with McCartney might be Ebony and Ivory. It was #1 here in the US, yet everybody hated it, despite the presence of Stevie Wonder. And I guess that's why Macca rarely played it live -what's the point in doing it if Stevie is not onstage to sing his part?
Pipes of Peace was relegated to b-side status in the US. But I don't see Paul bragging much about his solo career; his obsessions since Lennon died has been to point out "I did this and I did that" on the Beatles records, because, somehow he got the impression that everyone thought John was the genius in the Beatles, and all Paul did was book the studio.
Sadly, the 2 best known Seasons songs these days are those 2 70's hits. They're not bad records, but I really don't ever need to hear them again.
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« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2018, 04:04:49 PM »

For all the flack that song gets, it was crazy popular back when it came out.  I was just a kid, and this was long before I gave a crap about the Beach Boys, and loved that song at the time.  I remember some teenage pop group performed at my elementary school, and when they played that song, everyone erupted into song and sang along.  And to this day, people I've met that know next to nothing about the Beach Boys are at least familiar with that song.  It may be lightweight in its execution but I give it a pass due to fond memories.

There's the rub. When Mike talks about the song, he doesn't say anything along the lines of "it may be lightweight, but it was a cool catchy song", or whatever. He talks about the song as if it's "Sgt. Pepper" or "Good Vibrations."

Weirdly, he talks about "Kokomo" the way some one-hit wonder singer would talk about their one 1988 hit. The same way he namedrops as if he's not in one of the greatest groups of all time.

It's like, dude, you sang on "Pet Sounds" and all those 60s hits, you were the lead singer in the Beach Boys. You don't need to overhype one additional hit single you had in 1988, and you don't need to namedrop that you know John Stamos. You're truly *better* than that.

Perhaps you're taking it a little too personally?  "Kokomo" was Mike Love's sole #1 hit without Brian; of course he's proud of it.  Why would he suggest it be lightweight?  The song may lack the integrity of their past hits, but it certainly put them back on the charts and gave them a mega-hit out of nowhere.  Mike is allowed at least some bragging rights for it.
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« Reply #30 on: July 30, 2018, 07:09:46 PM »

For all the flack that song gets, it was crazy popular back when it came out.  I was just a kid, and this was long before I gave a crap about the Beach Boys, and loved that song at the time.  I remember some teenage pop group performed at my elementary school, and when they played that song, everyone erupted into song and sang along.  And to this day, people I've met that know next to nothing about the Beach Boys are at least familiar with that song.  It may be lightweight in its execution but I give it a pass due to fond memories.

There's the rub. When Mike talks about the song, he doesn't say anything along the lines of "it may be lightweight, but it was a cool catchy song", or whatever. He talks about the song as if it's "Sgt. Pepper" or "Good Vibrations."

Weirdly, he talks about "Kokomo" the way some one-hit wonder singer would talk about their one 1988 hit. The same way he namedrops as if he's not in one of the greatest groups of all time.

It's like, dude, you sang on "Pet Sounds" and all those 60s hits, you were the lead singer in the Beach Boys. You don't need to overhype one additional hit single you had in 1988, and you don't need to namedrop that you know John Stamos. You're truly *better* than that.

Perhaps you're taking it a little too personally?  "Kokomo" was Mike Love's sole #1 hit without Brian; of course he's proud of it.  Why would he suggest it be lightweight?  The song may lack the integrity of their past hits, but it certainly put them back on the charts and gave them a mega-hit out of nowhere.  Mike is allowed at least some bragging rights for it.
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« Reply #31 on: July 31, 2018, 08:00:43 AM »

For all the flack that song gets, it was crazy popular back when it came out.  I was just a kid, and this was long before I gave a crap about the Beach Boys, and loved that song at the time.  I remember some teenage pop group performed at my elementary school, and when they played that song, everyone erupted into song and sang along.  And to this day, people I've met that know next to nothing about the Beach Boys are at least familiar with that song.  It may be lightweight in its execution but I give it a pass due to fond memories.

There's the rub. When Mike talks about the song, he doesn't say anything along the lines of "it may be lightweight, but it was a cool catchy song", or whatever. He talks about the song as if it's "Sgt. Pepper" or "Good Vibrations."

Weirdly, he talks about "Kokomo" the way some one-hit wonder singer would talk about their one 1988 hit. The same way he namedrops as if he's not in one of the greatest groups of all time.

It's like, dude, you sang on "Pet Sounds" and all those 60s hits, you were the lead singer in the Beach Boys. You don't need to overhype one additional hit single you had in 1988, and you don't need to namedrop that you know John Stamos. You're truly *better* than that.

Perhaps you're taking it a little too personally?  "Kokomo" was Mike Love's sole #1 hit without Brian; of course he's proud of it.  Why would he suggest it be lightweight?  The song may lack the integrity of their past hits, but it certainly put them back on the charts and gave them a mega-hit out of nowhere.  Mike is allowed at least some bragging rights for it.

There's nothing personal about it. And I specifically said a more balanced approach to characterizing the song would be to point out that it was a good shot in the arm for the band and got them back on the charts. That's *not* how Mike characterizes the song.

I'm not big on "bragging" at all, but even the slightly measured characterization of "well, he's allowed *some* bragging rights" is far more measured than the tact that Mike actually takes in discussing the song.

I'm not even sure I'd characterize it as a "mega hit." Wasn't it #1 for *one* week? It's certainly a hit single, the band's biggest in eons. But Mike overplays even the song's commercial/cultural impact, and *certainly* overplays the status/quality of the song compared to the band's actual critically acclaimed work.

You think the song "lacks the integrity of their past hits", but seem incredulous about calling the song "lightweight?"

Mike said Brian's '88 album sounded like "sh*t", so it's not like he's above "tellin' it like it is."

But again, I'm saying that's it's fine to point out the song was catchy (I don't even think the pejorative "lightweight" needs to be used) and was a nice bump for the band, and I mean that genuinely in a 100% effusive, positive way. You seem to feel similarly. But this is NOT how Mike characterizes the song.

Al has never given interviews holding "Lady Lynda" up there with the band's top tier of work. Nobody "brags" about the "Beach Boys Medley", or "Come Go With Me", or even really "Rock and Roll Music." They don't say bad stuff about the songs either (usually anyway). They point out some positive things maybe, and that the songs were hits (to varying degrees).

Mike thinks "Kokomo" is *right up there* alongside "Good Vibrations."

Do most Yes fans think "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was the pinnacle of their acheivements? Do Billy Joel fans (or Joel himself) think "We Didn't Start the Fire" is as good or better than "The Stranger" or "52nd Street" or "Glass Houses?" Do George Harrison fans (or Harrison himself) think "Got My Mind Set On You" was as good quality-wise as anything he ever did? No. These were all cases of older artists getting a nice shot in the arm from a catchy, commercial late-era single. I think they were all happy to see those singles become hits. But Harrison never said "Got My Mind Set On You" was as good as "Something" or "Here Comes the Sun", or even "All Things Must Pass" or "Give Me Love." Billy Joel actively seems to dislike "We Didn't Start the Fire" at this stage, going so far as to specifically point out why the song musically is simplistic bordering on boring, but still sometimes does it because he knows some fans want to hear it.
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« Reply #32 on: July 31, 2018, 08:19:00 AM »

For all the flack that song gets, it was crazy popular back when it came out.  I was just a kid, and this was long before I gave a crap about the Beach Boys, and loved that song at the time.  I remember some teenage pop group performed at my elementary school, and when they played that song, everyone erupted into song and sang along.  And to this day, people I've met that know next to nothing about the Beach Boys are at least familiar with that song.  It may be lightweight in its execution but I give it a pass due to fond memories.
It's hip to diss it because it's Mike's Beach Boys, and Brian isn't on it. i'm sure all the Brianistas would celebrate the idea of the group having a late career hit if Brian had sung on it - and produced and co-written it.
So how do 4 Seasons fans feel about December 1963 (Oh What a Night)? Who Loves You?

Nah, the reason most of the fans who grumble or groan about "Kokomo" do so is not because Brian isn't on it. There are other BB tracks that Brian had little or nothing to do with that are great. No, the problem with "Kokomo" (beyond being oversaturated back in 1988/89 and to a lesser degree subsequently) is that Mike Love overemphasizes the track's quality, importance, and popularity.

If Mike wasn't insistent on putting it in the same league/category (if not *above*) better tracks like "Good Vibrations", then it would be easier for fans to just view the song for what it is, which is a catchy song that was a good shot in the arm for the band, as I've said before.

A comparison I've often made: You don't see Paul McCartney regularly stating in interviews that "Pipes of Peace" (#1 in the UK) is as good or better than anything else in the Beatles or his solo catalog. I'm sure he's happy/proud it hit #1. But he has perspective as well. For that matter, his "Mull of Kintyre" *literally* outsold any Beatles single, yet you didn't see him pointing this out in every interview, and he actually relatively rarely even performs the song live.

In comparison, I don't believe a single full-length Beach Boys concert has left out "Kokomo" since it became a hit in 1988.

A "Four Seasons" comparison with their mid-70s hits is difficult to make; they essentially completely revamped the band by 1975, keeping on only Valli (and Gaudio as writer), with an eye towards actually spinning off the new "Four Seasons" guys into their own band. Those hits like "Who Loves You" and "December 1963" were essentially a case of the "New Four Seasons" cutting records with Frankie Valli guest starring.

As it is, I don't think Four Seasons fans have epic vitriol for those songs. They're very much like "Kokomo" in my mind; catchy songs that gave the band a shot in the arm. Frankie Valli kept performing those songs (though not always; "December 1963" left the setlist for a while until he found guys to start handing that lead off to), but I don't think he nor Gaudio for the subsequent decades kept saying those two songs were the best they ever did. Indeed, much like "Kokomo", the "Four Seasons" pretty much went limp after that quick shot of hit singles.
In Mike's mind, Kokomo is right up there with Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, I Get Around and the other biggies because it was worldwide hit. Mike's always been interested in being commercially successful.
A better example with McCartney might be Ebony and Ivory. It was #1 here in the US, yet everybody hated it, despite the presence of Stevie Wonder. And I guess that's why Macca rarely played it live -what's the point in doing it if Stevie is not onstage to sing his part?
Pipes of Peace was relegated to b-side status in the US. But I don't see Paul bragging much about his solo career; his obsessions since Lennon died has been to point out "I did this and I did that" on the Beatles records, because, somehow he got the impression that everyone thought John was the genius in the Beatles, and all Paul did was book the studio.
Sadly, the 2 best known Seasons songs these days are those 2 70's hits. They're not bad records, but I really don't ever need to hear them again.

Regarding a McCartney comparison, there is no precise perfect comparison, as McCartney had way more #1 singles with the Beatles than the BBs ever had, and didn't have the drop-off in chart success/popularity than the BBs had at various points between the 60s and "Kokomo" in 1988.

But the basic point was/is, McCartney indeed *barely even discusses* his solo career, let alone trumpets it as up on the same level as classic Beatles tracks. He has numerous #1 hits and Top 10/20, etc. hits, and as I mentioned, even scored a Wings single in 1977 that *outsold any Beatles single*, yet I don't recall him ever even *slightly implying* "Mull of Kintyre" was as important or as good as key, classic #1 Beatles singles. He had ample opportunities to point out how successful he was *without* Lennon, yet rarely belabored that point and in fact probably more often than not pined to have Lennon back to work with again.

The only mitigating factor regarding "Kokomo" where I cut Mike (and Al and Carl, and I guess Bruce to some degree) some slack is that they were in a weird proxy fight with Landy via Brian (or Brian via Landy depending on how you want to look at it), and both during and before/after the Landy period, there were times where the other guys were tired of being relegated to "not Brian" status. But really, the songs to hold up as "great Beach Boys-related songs with little or no Brian input" would be things like "All This is That", or "Pacific Ocean Blue", etc. And even then, it would be more about building up the people who made those things than s**tting on Brian in order to pump themselves up.
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« Reply #33 on: July 31, 2018, 08:53:23 AM »

Perhaps it can be summed up by saying no one begrudges Mike or any of the Beach Boys (and those involved in writing and recording the song when they were still alive) for being proud of scoring a #1 record. And a little bragging can go along with that too, sure. It's an accomplishment in the music business no matter how the chart systems have changed.

But I think what rubs people the wrong way is how the level of Mike's bragging and constant citing of that song to the point where he is now launching an entire brand and product line hinging on people buying into his direct involvement in the song doesn't add up with how involved Mike really was.

I'd say if Mike's role in the process and the song were along the lines of Terry Melcher, who was the one who actually asked John Phillips for material when the film people came calling, then produced, arranged, recorded and performed on the demo, polished up the music itself, and basically served in a similar role as Brian had done for the band in the 60's and pulled it together, it would be more justified.

But as it stands, Mike was one part of a larger team, and when he singles out his role directly or by implication, it goes against what he has said about his days on the high school track team and how he learned teamwork, and building up his teammates, etc. It's a contradiction.

If Mike were really the catalyst behind the song, if his role was greater than the others involved, namely a guy like Melcher who actually was the one who got the song for the band to record and then produced it, or if Mike himself was the driving force and reason why it became a hit, maybe it would be less of a bee in the bonnet in terms of opinion. But it wasn't the case.

And ultimately, the opinions of music fans are what they are, good and bad - But I doubt everyone who has put the song in various "worst of all time" lists for years has done so because Brian Wilson was not on the track.

It was a fluke hit, a catchy #1 single that people love or hate. It wasn't a mandate, it wasn't a game-changer, and it falls in line with any number of big hits that come and go. It's a mark of pride to score a #1 hit, but some reality in telling the story of the song is what I think fans might appreciate more than the boasting and bragging.
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« Reply #34 on: July 31, 2018, 10:46:50 AM »

Here's a question for you GF (and anyone else who might want to weigh in from a purely speculative point of view)...

Do you think "Kokomo" would have gone #1 if some other band had done a reasonably close version of it with the same placement in the Cruise movie, etc.? Do you think it would have charted at all under such a scenario? What "sold" the song to listeners in '88? The chorus? The fact that the chorus actually gets to maybe the sixtieth percentile of the BBs' signature sound (thanks to Carl's falsetto)? Was it the cumulative effect of the Reagan years coming home to roost in a wash of perfectly-timed nostalgia? The same could be said for TWGMTR twenty-give years later: a song that somehow taps into a reservoir of the BBs sound (or remnant/facsimile thereof) can still command people's attention.

It's not surprising to any of us that Mike clings to the song--what else has he got to counter the fact that Brian was the prime mover of their commercial and aesthetic success? What really should be noted is that having a #1 hit in 1988 isn't even in the same hemisphere with having one in 1966. And that without that prior success, "Kokomo" would never have seen the light of day, as the original tune as written by John Phillips is nothing short of dire.
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« Reply #35 on: July 31, 2018, 10:55:27 AM »

Here's a question for you GF (and anyone else who might want to weigh in from a purely speculative point of view)...

Do you think "Kokomo" would have gone #1 if some other band had done a reasonably close version of it with the same placement in the Cruise movie, etc.? Do you think it would have charted at all under such a scenario? What "sold" the song to listeners in '88? The chorus? The fact that the chorus actually gets to maybe the sixtieth percentile of the BBs' signature sound (thanks to Carl's falsetto)? Was it the cumulative effect of the Reagan years coming home to roost in a wash of perfectly-timed nostalgia? The same could be said for TWGMTR twenty-give years later: a song that somehow taps into a reservoir of the BBs sound (or remnant/facsimile thereof) can still command people's attention.

It's not surprising to any of us that Mike clings to the song--what else has he got to counter the fact that Brian was the prime mover of their commercial and aesthetic success? What really should be noted is that having a #1 hit in 1988 isn't even in the same hemisphere with having one in 1966. And that without that prior success, "Kokomo" would never have seen the light of day, as the original tune as written by John Phillips is nothing short of dire.

The film studio got a recording from Terry that had the voices of Terry Melcher, Mike, Jeff Foskett, and Bruce singing the parts. They demanded that the Beach Boys' vocals be on it, thus it was rerecorded where Carl and Al were singing, and the parts by Terry and Jeff were discarded.

So the film folks knew they wanted "The Beach Boys" on the track, because that's the golden sound. Basically the notion you've described, Don. "The Beach Boys Sound" did help sell that record, it was a hook built in.

But the issue is how Mike has taken credit for the song when he was simply a member of the team, and others should get credit too. Now Mike co-opts the song as his own to brand a "lifestyle" product line?

If he had more to do with it, if Mike were the catalyst in the capacity of what Terry Melcher did for making the song happen, if he had written as much as John Phillips, Mike's level of credit-taking might be justifiable.

As the facts stand, it's not justifiable.

And if someone tries to argue about the lead vocal issue, Carl shared lead vocal duties with Mike, and Carl's high voice is (as you said Don) one of the key elements to give that recording that "Beach Boys Sound". As is the blend featuring Al in the middle register.
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"Every single person who criticized Brian for having She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Sebu and Nate Ruess guesting on his solo album can now officially go heartily f*** themselves." - Wirestone
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« Reply #36 on: July 31, 2018, 11:33:30 AM »


The film studio got a recording from Terry that had the voices of Terry Melcher, Mike, Jeff Foskett, and Bruce singing the parts. They demanded that the Beach Boys' vocals be on it, thus it was rerecorded where Carl and Al were singing, and the parts by Terry and Jeff were discarded.
 

Does this mean that if the studio had said "great", then it would have been released in that form, with Terry and Jeff singing on it?

And would it still have been released as a "BBs" song?
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« Reply #37 on: July 31, 2018, 01:50:34 PM »


The film studio got a recording from Terry that had the voices of Terry Melcher, Mike, Jeff Foskett, and Bruce singing the parts. They demanded that the Beach Boys' vocals be on it, thus it was rerecorded where Carl and Al were singing, and the parts by Terry and Jeff were discarded.
 

Does this mean that if the studio had said "great", then it would have been released in that form, with Terry and Jeff singing on it?

And would it still have been released as a "BBs" song?

I think Mike would have needed Carl and Al to sign off on it to release it as the Beach Boys. So I guess the question is, would Carl and Al have thought little of the song to the point where they would have said "sure, whatever" due to the lucrative nature of getting songs in movies (even when the movie and song aren't hits).

Had the BBs name being on the song *not* led to the song being a hit, it would have been more lucrative at the initial deal stage for Mike to release the song under his own name.

But it's strange, because they had put *numerous* songs into films at that stage, and Howie Edelson even mentioned that one of the main reasons they kept working with Terry Melcher, who was not otherwise exactly an A-list producer, was because Melcher was able to score deals to get their songs into films. They had put (pre-Melcher) "It's a Beautiful Day" into a film in 1979 and "Chasin' the Sky" in 1984, and then Melcher was involved with getting "Happy Endings" into a movie in 1986 (I think?) and "Make It Big" into "Troop Beverly Hills" in 1987. All of those tracks were "Beach Boys" tracks, with usually at least Carl and Al joining Mike and Bruce (Brian's on "Make It Big" at least).

But it would be interesting if Mike initially considered putting "Kokomo" out solo. I'm also curious how much the label wanted the Beach Boys "voices" versus simply wanting the BB *name* on the track. But I can't imagine the Beach Boys in 1988 putting out a track with Foskett singing part of the lead and without Carl and Al involved *at all*.
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« Reply #38 on: July 31, 2018, 06:22:51 PM »


The film studio got a recording from Terry that had the voices of Terry Melcher, Mike, Jeff Foskett, and Bruce singing the parts. They demanded that the Beach Boys' vocals be on it, thus it was rerecorded where Carl and Al were singing, and the parts by Terry and Jeff were discarded.
 

Does this mean that if the studio had said "great", then it would have been released in that form, with Terry and Jeff singing on it?

And would it still have been released as a "BBs" song?

I think Mike would have needed Carl and Al to sign off on it to release it as the Beach Boys. So I guess the question is, would Carl and Al have thought little of the song to the point where they would have said "sure, whatever" due to the lucrative nature of getting songs in movies (even when the movie and song aren't hits).

Had the BBs name being on the song *not* led to the song being a hit, it would have been more lucrative at the initial deal stage for Mike to release the song under his own name.

But it's strange, because they had put *numerous* songs into films at that stage, and Howie Edelson even mentioned that one of the main reasons they kept working with Terry Melcher, who was not otherwise exactly an A-list producer, was because Melcher was able to score deals to get their songs into films. They had put (pre-Melcher) "It's a Beautiful Day" into a film in 1979 and "Chasin' the Sky" in 1984, and then Melcher was involved with getting "Happy Endings" into a movie in 1986 (I think?) and "Make It Big" into "Troop Beverly Hills" in 1987. All of those tracks were "Beach Boys" tracks, with usually at least Carl and Al joining Mike and Bruce (Brian's on "Make It Big" at least).

But it would be interesting if Mike initially considered putting "Kokomo" out solo. I'm also curious how much the label wanted the Beach Boys "voices" versus simply wanting the BB *name* on the track. But I can't imagine the Beach Boys in 1988 putting out a track with Foskett singing part of the lead and without Carl and Al involved *at all*.

One of the main reasons why they were working with Terry Melcher is also the fact that he not only scored them a hit (bigger on the AC charts) with their California Dreamin cover, but Terry had connections that he would bring into the Beach Boys' activities with people like John Phillips appearing in the California Dreamin video, and Roger McGuinn playing guitar on the sessions.

But more importantly, Terry could get a call from a film team for a song, and then call his pal John Phillips to see if he had any songs that would fit. And that pal John Phillips sent "Kokomo" and "Somewhere Near Japan", both of which would fill the need for new songs that the Beach Boys could record.

Biggest point? I don't think it was Terry Melcher placing songs on soundtracks. I think it was the fact that he actually found songs for them to record and people to bring in to make those recordings even better. Best shown by Kokomo.

They needed songs to put in films before they could put songs in films. Like Kokomo.

The band members themselves were woefully short of good original songs, and they didn't seem to be able to sustain or follow up any success they did have with a solid original release. But they had a guy who could call Phillips, McGuinn, Jim Keltner, etc and at least get some original songs and some tracks cut.
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« Reply #39 on: July 31, 2018, 06:53:22 PM »

Here's a question for you GF (and anyone else who might want to weigh in from a purely speculative point of view)...

Do you think "Kokomo" would have gone #1 if some other band had done a reasonably close version of it with the same placement in the Cruise movie, etc.? Do you think it would have charted at all under such a scenario? What "sold" the song to listeners in '88? The chorus? The fact that the chorus actually gets to maybe the sixtieth percentile of the BBs' signature sound (thanks to Carl's falsetto)? Was it the cumulative effect of the Reagan years coming home to roost in a wash of perfectly-timed nostalgia? The same could be said for TWGMTR twenty-give years later: a song that somehow taps into a reservoir of the BBs sound (or remnant/facsimile thereof) can still command people's attention.

It's not surprising to any of us that Mike clings to the song--what else has he got to counter the fact that Brian was the prime mover of their commercial and aesthetic success? What really should be noted is that having a #1 hit in 1988 isn't even in the same hemisphere with having one in 1966. And that without that prior success, "Kokomo" would never have seen the light of day, as the original tune as written by John Phillips is nothing short of dire.
I agree that the Beach Boys having a #1 hit in 1966 is not the same as them having one in 1988. Who on earth would have expected the BB's to hit #1 in 1988? In 1966, it was expected. "Okay, guys, you hit the top spot with Help Me, Rhonda and I Get Around. Let's see you do it again!"
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« Reply #40 on: July 31, 2018, 09:34:46 PM »

For all the flack that song gets, it was crazy popular back when it came out.  I was just a kid, and this was long before I gave a crap about the Beach Boys, and loved that song at the time.  I remember some teenage pop group performed at my elementary school, and when they played that song, everyone erupted into song and sang along.  And to this day, people I've met that know next to nothing about the Beach Boys are at least familiar with that song.  It may be lightweight in its execution but I give it a pass due to fond memories.

There's the rub. When Mike talks about the song, he doesn't say anything along the lines of "it may be lightweight, but it was a cool catchy song", or whatever. He talks about the song as if it's "Sgt. Pepper" or "Good Vibrations."

Weirdly, he talks about "Kokomo" the way some one-hit wonder singer would talk about their one 1988 hit. The same way he namedrops as if he's not in one of the greatest groups of all time.

It's like, dude, you sang on "Pet Sounds" and all those 60s hits, you were the lead singer in the Beach Boys. You don't need to overhype one additional hit single you had in 1988, and you don't need to namedrop that you know John Stamos. You're truly *better* than that.

Perhaps you're taking it a little too personally?  "Kokomo" was Mike Love's sole #1 hit without Brian; of course he's proud of it.  Why would he suggest it be lightweight?  The song may lack the integrity of their past hits, but it certainly put them back on the charts and gave them a mega-hit out of nowhere.  Mike is allowed at least some bragging rights for it.

There's nothing personal about it. And I specifically said a more balanced approach to characterizing the song would be to point out that it was a good shot in the arm for the band and got them back on the charts. That's *not* how Mike characterizes the song.

I'm not big on "bragging" at all, but even the slightly measured characterization of "well, he's allowed *some* bragging rights" is far more measured than the tact that Mike actually takes in discussing the song.

I'm not even sure I'd characterize it as a "mega hit." Wasn't it #1 for *one* week? It's certainly a hit single, the band's biggest in eons. But Mike overplays even the song's commercial/cultural impact, and *certainly* overplays the status/quality of the song compared to the band's actual critically acclaimed work.

You think the song "lacks the integrity of their past hits", but seem incredulous about calling the song "lightweight?"

Mike said Brian's '88 album sounded like "sh*t", so it's not like he's above "tellin' it like it is."

But again, I'm saying that's it's fine to point out the song was catchy (I don't even think the pejorative "lightweight" needs to be used) and was a nice bump for the band, and I mean that genuinely in a 100% effusive, positive way. You seem to feel similarly. But this is NOT how Mike characterizes the song.

Al has never given interviews holding "Lady Lynda" up there with the band's top tier of work. Nobody "brags" about the "Beach Boys Medley", or "Come Go With Me", or even really "Rock and Roll Music." They don't say bad stuff about the songs either (usually anyway). They point out some positive things maybe, and that the songs were hits (to varying degrees).

Mike thinks "Kokomo" is *right up there* alongside "Good Vibrations."

Do most Yes fans think "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was the pinnacle of their acheivements? Do Billy Joel fans (or Joel himself) think "We Didn't Start the Fire" is as good or better than "The Stranger" or "52nd Street" or "Glass Houses?" Do George Harrison fans (or Harrison himself) think "Got My Mind Set On You" was as good quality-wise as anything he ever did? No. These were all cases of older artists getting a nice shot in the arm from a catchy, commercial late-era single. I think they were all happy to see those singles become hits. But Harrison never said "Got My Mind Set On You" was as good as "Something" or "Here Comes the Sun", or even "All Things Must Pass" or "Give Me Love." Billy Joel actively seems to dislike "We Didn't Start the Fire" at this stage, going so far as to specifically point out why the song musically is simplistic bordering on boring, but still sometimes does it because he knows some fans want to hear it.

Thank you for proving your butthurtedness.   Grin  Just kidding.

Seriously though, consider this: "Kokomo" is the only song by a Beach Boy that went to #1 in the last 50 years.  During the 70's and most of the 80's, the band could not produce any real hit material, even with numerous much-maligned attempts to get Brian involved.  So out of nowhere comes "Kokomo" which not only went to number 1, but was crazy-popular especially with folks that couldn't even name a Wilson brother if you held them at gunpoint.  Irregardless to our personal views of the song itself, this is a good thing.  It brought much-needed attention to the band and kept them a successful touring franchise.  Quite a remarkable feat.  

Is "Kokomo" a masterpiece?  No.  Is Mike Love a little overzealous about its success?  Of course.  Does it even matter though?  No.  Mike Love having a hit of his own and thinking highly of it does not somehow invalidate the band's previous hit material and artistic integrity.  It's a totally cheeseball song, but so are so many other songs from this era that we all love as guilty pleasures.  


You think the song "lacks the integrity of their past hits", but seem incredulous about calling the song "lightweight?"


No, I'm incredulous to Mike Love himself calling the song lightweight.  Why would the man, whom we know has an enlarged ego, downplay the success of his lone #1 hit he co-wrote without the help of Brian, and the sole #1 hit the band enjoyed since the 1960's? 
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« Reply #41 on: August 01, 2018, 06:30:31 AM »

No, I'm incredulous to Mike Love himself calling the song lightweight.  Why would the man, whom we know has an enlarged ego, downplay the success of his lone #1 hit he co-wrote without the help of Brian, and the sole #1 hit the band enjoyed since the 1960's?  


The main crux of everything I wrote on this topic is specifically that Mike overplays the quality and success of the song, *not* that the song is insignificant vis-à-vis the history of the band. Everything I've written indicates I'm well aware that Mike won't downplay the song, and never has. That's the whole point. You seem to agree with all of this. So what are you arguing?

The only thing we disagree on, I guess, is whether Mike overblowing the song is a problem. My position isn't even that it's a HUGE problem. But when the topic, which seems to come up NUMEROUS times, comes up regarding "perception" of the song from fans, casual fans, and the band itself, *that's* when I think it's more than appropriate to point out how Mike overblowing the song is emblematic of some overriding issues with the band over the years. Indeed, the fact that Brian never does the song, and probably even more so Al specifically during his solo touring years seeming to avoid doing the song unless absolutely necessary, speaks to a divide *within the band* as to the merits of the song.

As I've said, I think Al Jardine has the spot-on correct attitude about the song. He doesn't go out of his way to trash the song. He *appropriately* characterizes the song. A nice shot in the arm for the band.

Separate but related is what guitarfool has spoken to, which is that Mike is probably taking *too much credit* for the song in reference to the *other* creative forces who helped to write/mold the song.

Also interesting is that Mike has said in interviews that he weighs heavily the chart success/sales of a song, in my opinion more so than critical acclaim. So it makes sense, beyond obvious ego reasons, why he would think so highly of "Kokomo." *However*, we also have very pointed evidence that his ego/pride overrides even that unfortunate commercial mindset. Namely, ""That's Why God Made the Radio" hitting #3 in 2012 (which I think is frankly *more* impressive than "Kokomo" hitting #1 given the commercial climate in 2012 and how stagnant the Beach Boys "brand" was prior to 2012), and how Mike *downplayed* that success, which I think was *clearly* because he had soured on the reunion and the Brian/Joe Thomas team, etc. He also, not surprisingly, avoids discussing how *every* attempt he made after "Kokomo" to repeat that success *EPICALLY FAILED*, providing *more* evidence that "Kokomo" was a fluke. He downplays a #3 chart placement for TWGMTR, but *ignores* "Summer in Paradise" failing to make the *TOP 200* album chart.
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« Reply #42 on: August 01, 2018, 06:45:18 AM »

Biggest point? I don't think it was Terry Melcher placing songs on soundtracks. I think it was the fact that he actually found songs for them to record and people to bring in to make those recordings even better. Best shown by Kokomo.

They needed songs to put in films before they could put songs in films. Like Kokomo.

The band members themselves were woefully short of good original songs, and they didn't seem to be able to sustain or follow up any success they did have with a solid original release. But they had a guy who could call Phillips, McGuinn, Jim Keltner, etc and at least get some original songs and some tracks cut.

They definitely needed both from Melcher, the songs themselves *and* getting them into films. But there were and are about a gazillion "outside" hired gun writers they could have gone to for songs if they had decided they were open to shopping around to outside writers (or collaborating with them).

They didn't have a lucrative record deal post-BB'85. You can see in the Gary Usher book that both Usher and Melcher were vying to produce "the next Beach Boys album", yet neither was really getting much traction due to band atrophy/disinterest and also the band having no record deal.

Mike was obviously writing with Melcher outside of Melcher helming projects (e.g. "Getcha Back"), so that may have continued regardless.

But I do think, and I strongly trust Howie on this who is probably the only guy in the BB orb who would do something like ask David Crosby why Mike Love and Terry Melcher were so tight working together, that the reason they followed through on continually having Melcher so closely involved not just in writing but also production was because Melcher had connections to score deals for getting songs into movies. Again, this was a best case scenario for the band during that era. It didn't require them to have an ironclad, long term lucrative album deal with a major label, and I can't over emphasize how *lucrative* it is to cut a deal to get a song in a movie even when the song and movie aren't hits. Middling-performing movies with *no* soundtrack release at all still can get a ton of money to someone who gets their song in the movie, both the song's copyright holder as well as the owner of the recording. If they actually get the song on a released soundtrack, even better. If the movie is a hit, even better. If the song itself becomes a hit (which really only happened once for the BBs), *even better yet.*
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« Reply #43 on: August 01, 2018, 09:35:44 AM »

No doubt Melcher's getting songs placed in films, or more accurately his connections which could make that happen, was a factor. But I don't see it as the main factor. There are people whose main job it is to scout, acquire, and place songs in film and TV, not to mention the various agents and attorneys. It's usually not the person who writes and produces the actual songs who then works for the film company to make that happen, especially on the Hollywood level beyond indie musicians. And consider another former BB associate at this same time was making a killing producing film soundtracks and pulling all that together for some major blockbusters: David Anderle.

I do think Melcher's main draw beyond the film placement opportunities was the fact he could fill the "Brian" role and wear several hats in terms of cutting the records: Producer, writer, arranger, and sometime performer if needed. And he was not only part of the BB's circle back in the 60's, but even without a record deal on the table for the band he could at least pull things together and get some actual recordings to shop, which is something no one else in the band could seem to do at this time.

The right guy at the right time for the band who needed a "Brian" type to get records made. Unfortunately after Kokomo, we know what happened inside the band and some egos ran amok to the point where chasing Kokomo as a mandate rather than a winning lottery ticket of a hit produced some forgettable music.
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« Reply #44 on: August 01, 2018, 10:58:05 AM »

Unfortunately after Kokomo, we know what happened inside the band and some egos ran amok to the point where chasing Kokomo as a mandate rather than a winning lottery ticket of a hit produced some forgettable music.

I feel like "Chasing Kokomo" needs to be a scripted movie title, the plot for which centers around the 1989-1992 era where the band tried to rewrite Kokomo over and over again (and I suppose this continued well into the 2000s also, with stuff like "Santa Goes to Kokomo").

Kokomo Better Blues indeed.

Side note: are the animal sounds at the beginning of Kokomo clone "Island Fever" (original version) simply canned sounds from a sound effects library? I wonder if these animal sounds can also be heard in various movies, etc, thus making them the Beach Boys equivalent of the Wilhelm Scream.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_k71UbSJwk
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« Reply #45 on: August 01, 2018, 12:52:22 PM »

Interestingly, it appears at least some form of "Island Fever" pre-dated the "Summer in Paradise" sessions, as Bruce talked about the song in a 1990 interview (I've included in the excerpt below some interesting comments from Bruce about "Problem Child" and "East Meets West" as well):

Q: When can we expect a new Beach Boys record?

AL There's a single called "Problem Child" about to come out on RCA, which we did for a movie. It's very light.

Q: And I hear you've also recorded a song called "Island Fever"?

A: I don't know where that's gonna go - probably to another film. You'll like that. That's the poppy side of the Beach Boys. People forget when they listen to Pet Sounds and "Good Vibrations" that the Beach Boys started out as a little pop band.

Q: A record that I thought got that across really well was the collaboration you did with the Four Seasons - "East Meets West".

A: I hated that. Oh my God, I don't know why we ever did that. Those guys never understood harmony. It was like World Cup beer-drinking harmony compared to ours.
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« Reply #46 on: August 01, 2018, 01:11:11 PM »

Interestingly, it appears at least some form of "Island Fever" pre-dated the "Summer in Paradise" sessions, as Bruce talked about the song in a 1990 interview (I've included in the excerpt below some interesting comments from Bruce about "Problem Child" and "East Meets West" as well):

Q: When can we expect a new Beach Boys record?

AL There's a single called "Problem Child" about to come out on RCA, which we did for a movie. It's very light.

Q: And I hear you've also recorded a song called "Island Fever"?

A: I don't know where that's gonna go - probably to another film. You'll like that. That's the poppy side of the Beach Boys. People forget when they listen to Pet Sounds and "Good Vibrations" that the Beach Boys started out as a little pop band.

Q: A record that I thought got that across really well was the collaboration you did with the Four Seasons - "East Meets West".

A: I hated that. Oh my God, I don't know why we ever did that. Those guys never understood harmony. It was like World Cup beer-drinking harmony compared to ours.


Wow, that's interesting. They must've wrote Island Fever quickly in the wake of Kokomo's success. And Bruce hating EMW is pretty funny. I'm not crazy about it either.
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« Reply #47 on: August 01, 2018, 05:17:12 PM »

I trace the beginning of the "Kokomo sound" to their 1986 version of "California Dreamin'". That one had been around for awhile, appeared on a Radio Shack album in 1983, kind of a demo version. The drum sound on the "Made In USA" version, the sax, it's pointing towards "Kokomo". And it was a good sound for those 2 songs - I don't totally hate 80's pop sounds - but then they beat it into the ground with every Melcher/Love collaboration after that. Imagine if they "Getcha Back" had been a worldwide #1, the band continued to work with Steve Levine for the next 5 years, trying to recapture that sound.
Of course, Mike made no mention at all in his book of "Summer in Paradise".
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« Reply #48 on: August 02, 2018, 07:24:21 AM »

I suppose I hear a few germs of “Kokomo” production-wise in the ’86 version of “California Dreamin’”, but I’ve never strongly connected them. Most of the elements of “California Dreamin’” come from the 1982 sessions. The main overdubs were the jangly 12-string guitar, a bit of additional background vocals, and some drum/percussion overdubs. But the song still sounds more organic than “Kokomo” ended up. It sounds like the partially or fully re-recorded and/or remixed drums on the ’86 version might still be real drums, whereas apparently Keltner sequenced drums for “Kokomo”, and they certainly sound very fake/programmed.

I’d say the *other* ’86 single Melcher produced, “Rock and Roll to the Rescue”, is much more Kokomo-ish, which makes sense since Melcher wrote the track (by himself if I recall correctly), and while there has been some talk that Brian initially “produced” the session for that song, Melcher took the song over and also produced (similar to “California Dreamin’”).

What *does* sound a lot like “Kokomo” are indeed the subsequent Melcher productions. “Still Cruisin’” might be one of the thinnest-sounding records they ever cut. No bottom end on anything, certainly not the “drums”, and the whole thing is thin and shrill. The other Melcher stuff on the “Still Cruisin” album isn’t *as* bad in terms of sonics, but still not great. Sounds like real drums on “Somewhere Near Japan”, so that’s a little better. “Make It Big” actually pre-dates “Kokomo”, and it’s very 80s and programmed. *That* track might be better blueprint for what “Kokomo” ended up like.

The Melcher-helmed singles during all this time are largely similar sonically. “Problem Child” for sure.

And then with “Summer in Paradise” it’s sonically (and often thematically and sometimes even musically) a case of using “Kokomo” as the blueprint for everything. That album sounds like someone recorded one single snare sample and they used that for *everything*.

To be clear, it’s possible to still give a recording some warmth and bottom end even with fake drums and digital recording. Listen to BB ’85. That has a *ton* more warmth than the shrill, thin sound of almost everything Melcher did with the band from 1986 or so until 1992/93-ish.

And again, for those interested in the Melcher “era”, the Gary Usher book has some good insights into the circa 1986 dealings with the band. Usher was “producing” Brian via demos they were cutting together. Usher was trying to angle at producing a Beach Boys record. He even got Mike Love to come in and record on the Usher/Brian production of “Just Say No.” Then, when the late 1986 “25 Years Together” TV special was being put together, it was Terry Melcher helming the studio production side of things (most of the stuff on that special was prepped ahead of time in the studio). But the Landy camp wanted to push “The Spirit of Rock and Roll” on the TV producers, and thus Usher came along with Brian to Hawaii to basically switch roles with Terry Melcher in the studio for just that one song. Interesting stuff, especially considering the politics going on at that time (Al having his old hilarious grudge against Usher, Carl and Al refusing to sing on the Brian song out of protest against Landy) and the “meh” nature of the stuff the band was recording at that time.
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« Reply #49 on: August 02, 2018, 08:22:30 AM »

When I got the news that the BB's were recording "Hot Fun in the Summertime", I thought that was a good idea. Then I heard it on the radio, and yeah, no bottom end, almost no midrange, either. The perfect Sly song for them to cover, but naw, had to make it sound like "Kokomo".
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