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637908 Posts in 25499 Topics by 3626 Members - Latest Member: smiley wayback September 23, 2018, 11:09:06 PM
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Author Topic: Missing Surf's Up Tracks  (Read 1717 times)
Sport Brotha
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« on: August 24, 2018, 01:27:21 PM »

Surf's Up has always been one of my favourite Beach Boys albums, probably in my top 3.  But I've heard there was some controversy within the band with regards to what tracks appeared on the final product.

In particular the excellent Dennis Wilson tracks, Fourth of July and Wouldn't it Be Nice (to Live Again) are missing.  I personally would have also liked to have heard the 4/4 version of Big Sur on there while getting rid of Student Demonstration Time.

Why were Dennis' songs left off the album?  Did it have to do with how many of his songs were on the previous 3 records?
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2018, 03:46:14 PM »

Reportedly, there was a dispute between Carl and Dennis as to the album's running order - Dennis insisted that "(Wouldn't It Be Nice) To Live Again" close Side Two, while Carl (perhaps at the record company's behest, or perhaps just because he believed it was best) insisted that "Surf's Up" be the final song. I've also heard that Carl and the others wanted to shorten the title of the first-named song to simply "Live Again", perhaps to avoid confusion with their previous classic hit "Wouldn't It Be Nice", but again Dennis insisted that the full name of the song included that phrase. Unwilling to give in, Dennis reportedly withdrew his tracks (including the not-yet-finished "Fourth Of July") from the lineup, and the album was released without them.
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Needleinthehay
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2018, 03:59:48 PM »

Reportedly, there was a dispute between Carl and Dennis as to the album's running order - Dennis insisted that "(Wouldn't It Be Nice) To Live Again" close Side Two, while Carl (perhaps at the record company's behest, or perhaps just because he believed it was best) insisted that "Surf's Up" be the final song. I've also heard that Carl and the others wanted to shorten the title of the first-named song to simply "Live Again", perhaps to avoid confusion with their previous classic hit "Wouldn't It Be Nice", but again Dennis insisted that the full name of the song included that phrase. Unwilling to give in, Dennis reportedly withdrew his tracks (including the not-yet-finished "Fourth Of July") from the lineup, and the album was released without them.

That was the accepted history and in books but Stephen Desper posted here recently and disputed it and said it was not the case...on mobile or id find the thread.
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2018, 04:20:45 PM »

The version of events I heard - unless I'm confusing songs - is that Dennis didn't think the songs were up to par and made the choice to pull them.
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2018, 10:27:16 AM »

I also recall reading that Dennis didn't feel like the album was a true "Beach Boys" effort due to Brian's relative lack of involvement, and therefore pulled his songs for that reason. IIRC, this was from a conversation someone had had with Desper in the mid-'80s, and was printed in one of the fanzines (either Stomp! or Beach Boys Australia) at that time.
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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2018, 01:39:47 PM »

I remember reading that too.  Dennis was upset that efforts were made to make it appear Brian was more involved with the album than he actually was.  Dennis also may have been put off by Carl pulling rank on him when Dennis felt, and partly rightly, that he had “saved” the Sunflower album with the additional tracks he recorded after the rejection by Warner Reprise.

I also remember reading that after the disagreement with Carl Dennis pulled his tracks to use on a solo project that was talked about 1971-73 with Daryl Dragon.
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Joel Goldenberg
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2018, 11:48:43 AM »

I remember reading that too.  Dennis was upset that efforts were made to make it appear Brian was more involved with the album than he actually was. 
I thought that was Bruce, who called Surf's Up "a great big hype!"
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2018, 04:19:27 PM »

I remember reading that too.  Dennis was upset that efforts were made to make it appear Brian was more involved with the album than he actually was. 
I thought that was Bruce, who called Surf's Up "a great big hype!"

Bruce has pretty much said the same thing, but fortunately he didn't pull "Disney Girls" off the record. Bruce said they did the album in such a way as to fool their listeners into thinking Brian was more involved than he really was. Bruce arranged and sang a lot of parts on the record that normally would've been handled by Brian - they just didn't mention it at the time.
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2018, 11:16:50 PM »

I remember reading that too.  Dennis was upset that efforts were made to make it appear Brian was more involved with the album than he actually was. 
I thought that was Bruce, who called Surf's Up "a great big hype!"

Bruce has pretty much said the same thing, but fortunately he didn't pull "Disney Girls" off the record. Bruce said they did the album in such a way as to fool their listeners into thinking Brian was more involved than he really was. Bruce arranged and sang a lot of parts on the record that normally would've been handled by Brian - they just didn't mention it at the time.
Now that's very interesting. With Surf's Up I actually thought it was the opposite, That Brian was actually on more of the album than has been generally known.
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2018, 04:45:00 AM »

I remember reading that too.  Dennis was upset that efforts were made to make it appear Brian was more involved with the album than he actually was. 
I thought that was Bruce, who called Surf's Up "a great big hype!"

Bruce has pretty much said the same thing, but fortunately he didn't pull "Disney Girls" off the record. Bruce said they did the album in such a way as to fool their listeners into thinking Brian was more involved than he really was. Bruce arranged and sang a lot of parts on the record that normally would've been handled by Brian - they just didn't mention it at the time.
Now that's very interesting. With Surf's Up I actually thought it was the opposite, That Brian was actually on more of the album than has been generally known.

I think that's true, to the extent that he's on more tracks than we were led to believe after reading Leaf's book seven years later - in fact, he's on "Don't Go Near The Water" (maybe just the coda), "Long Promised Road" (probably just the middle "Ba-ba, ba-ba"s), "Take A Load Off Your Feet" (but that was recorded in the Sunflower days - still, notice how he didn't get a co-songwriting credit until the CD came out...although he did receive one on the published sheet music book), "Disney Girls" (just the bridge, I think), "Feel Flows" (the "white clouds glistening" parts, with Bruce), and the three he wrote...although "'Til I Die" was recorded right after Sunflower, and he initially refused to participate in the reconstruction of the title track, only relenting in the end.

Notice a theme here? By my estimation, Brian is on every track except "Student Demonstration Time" and "Lookin' At Tomorrow" (as far as I can tell), however with the exception of the ones he wrote or co-wrote, he's only doing little parts here and there...so even though he's on more of the album's songs than he is on 20/20's songs, his involvement is pretty limited, and he wasn't arranging vocals for the other guys' tunes, like he did on Friends and Sunflower. So, while he's vocally audible on all but two songs, the extent of his involvement is in line with what Bruce has been saying...


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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2018, 06:29:28 AM »

I guess I would buy that the band would understandably want Warner/Reprise to think/assume Brian was as heavily involved as possible, but was the album really presented to the public in a way that oversold Brian's involvement?

The front and back cover don't feature pics of the band at all. Unless there was some "Brian Wilson Helms This Masterpiece Album" sticker on the front that I don't know about, I'm not sure how much the album itself was really super overselling Brian involvement.

It's like, once you arrive at the decision to include those specific tracks, what else can you do? Put a sticker on the front saying "Brian WASN'T heavily involved in this album?" They presumably didn't lie about any songwriting or musician/singing credits (and indeed Brian may have been undersold in terms of not being on the label as a writer on "Feet" originally). It wouldn't take a genius to look at the album and see how many songs *didn't* list Brian as a writer or co-writer.

And I think any time you release the track "Surf's Up" and title an album after the song, that immediately makes Brian a pretty big factor in the album. Same with "'Til I Die."

I suppose one could argue the assertion from Bruce and possibly others that Brian's involvement was exaggerated on the album might have more to do with a more subtle assumption that Brian would still be helming albums. But they had put out "Sunflower" the year before which was on many fronts an obviously more collaborative effort, from songwriting credits to lead vocals being spread around, to the actual producer credit itself.

I think an argument can be made that they were sometimes, post-Smile,*under-selling* Brian's involvement. We now know that Brian was pretty well in charge of something like the "Wild Honey" sessions, yet didn't get the main producer credit.

Keep in mind this is the same Bruce that produced "Keepin' the Summer Alive" 9-10 years later where they put Dennis on the front cover even though he's nearly *completely* absent from the album.
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2018, 02:38:18 PM »

I would say that a lot of the hype about Brian being involved in recording back in those days was a strategy of Jack Rieley's.  I remember, during the weeks leading up to the release of the Holland album, Rieley was making reference in the rock press about Brian being incredibly active in the recording studio and that he was "all over" this new LP.  I saw the Beach Boys in concert in Buffalo, prior to Holland being released, and they performed Only With You, without saying who wrote it, and I thought, "that sounds like a Dennis song, where's Brian's new stuff?"
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« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2018, 07:17:56 AM »

I would say that a lot of the hype about Brian being involved in recording back in those days was a strategy of Jack Rieley's.  I remember, during the weeks leading up to the release of the Holland album, Rieley was making reference in the rock press about Brian being incredibly active in the recording studio and that he was "all over" this new LP.  I saw the Beach Boys in concert in Buffalo, prior to Holland being released, and they performed Only With You, without saying who wrote it, and I thought, "that sounds like a Dennis song, where's Brian's new stuff?"
I believe this is all of the Brian involvement on Holland:
Sail On, Sailor - Songwriter
California Saga: California - Vocals
Funky Pretty - Songwriter; Drums; Synthesizer
Mt. Vernon and Fairway - Songwriter; Vocals; Piano; Synthesizer; Partial Narration

Did I miss anything?
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« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2018, 10:06:42 AM »

I think if there is anyone (aside from Stephen Desper) who could shed light on the circumstances behind the withdrawal of "Wouldn't It Be Nice to Live Again" from SURF'S UP, it would be Ed Roach.

Clearly there were problems in the band, given the splintering directions that all of the recently-creative-in-the-wake-of-Brian's-withdrawal folks were demonstrating: Bruce with schmaltz pop (sometimes very good, but much softer and "gooier" than anyone else; Al with his folky approach; Dennis with his sprawling, all-over-the-map songwriting that ranged from rock to symphonic pop; and Carl, writing material that channeled Brian (even editing and completing SMiLE-era tracks), producing The Flame (and eventually recruiting Blondie and Ricky when events dictated a change in personnel). The fallout was that Bruce left and the band pushed more toward the "counterculture rock mainstream" (can there be three words in an oxymoron?) with five-eighths of SO TOUGH (an LP created in a backdrop of varied contentiousness--factionalized songwriting, Steve Desper replaced as engineer, Bruce's antipathy to the harder-edged songs and his imminent departure).

The critical and commercial success of SURF's UP gave Carl and Jack more clout, but Dennis's songs were handled oddly--and I think only Ed could shed light on how some of that went down, and why Dennis did what he did at the time. What is really baffling in retrospect is why the song was never, ever reconsidered for inclusion on an LP--it would have made a lot more sense for it to appear on SO TOUGH than either "Make It Good" or "Cuddle Up."
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« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2018, 12:48:04 PM »

The 'Surf's Up' lp was the first one to have "Brian's Back" PR. Big stories about his return to form in Newsweek and Time.

Carole King had just come out with 'Tapestry', and the counter culture was now embracing music and artists regarded as uncool just a year previously. Plus, the SMiLE myth was really getting a lot of hype  at this time.

All in all, thanks in large part to Rieley's publicity push, the boys were hip again. Some exaggeration about the level of Brian's involvement was a small price to pay, I would think.
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« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2018, 01:13:40 PM »

The “BW” suite at album’s end was worth the price of admission and more....
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« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2018, 01:26:25 PM »

The “BW” suite at album’s end was worth the price of admission and more....

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« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2018, 01:45:17 PM »

I would say that a lot of the hype about Brian being involved in recording back in those days was a strategy of Jack Rieley's.  I remember, during the weeks leading up to the release of the Holland album, Rieley was making reference in the rock press about Brian being incredibly active in the recording studio and that he was "all over" this new LP.  I saw the Beach Boys in concert in Buffalo, prior to Holland being released, and they performed Only With You, without saying who wrote it, and I thought, "that sounds like a Dennis song, where's Brian's new stuff?"
I believe this is all of the Brian involvement on Holland:
Sail On, Sailor - Songwriter
California Saga: California - Vocals
Funky Pretty - Songwriter; Drums; Synthesizer
Mt. Vernon and Fairway - Songwriter; Vocals; Piano; Synthesizer; Partial Narration

Did I miss anything?

Brian had a brief vocal part on Funky Pretty towards the end. So did Billy Hinsche, and I used to get those two parts confused
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« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2018, 03:25:50 PM »

I would say that a lot of the hype about Brian being involved in recording back in those days was a strategy of Jack Rieley's.  I remember, during the weeks leading up to the release of the Holland album, Rieley was making reference in the rock press about Brian being incredibly active in the recording studio and that he was "all over" this new LP.  I saw the Beach Boys in concert in Buffalo, prior to Holland being released, and they performed Only With You, without saying who wrote it, and I thought, "that sounds like a Dennis song, where's Brian's new stuff?"
I believe this is all of the Brian involvement on Holland:
Sail On, Sailor - Songwriter
California Saga: California - Vocals
Funky Pretty - Songwriter; Drums; Synthesizer
Mt. Vernon and Fairway - Songwriter; Vocals; Piano; Synthesizer; Partial Narration

Did I miss anything?


According to Brad Elliott,  Brian also plays the harmonica on the "California Saga" suite, but I don't know if that's ever been confirmed. I think it could just as easily be Dennis. Maybe we'll never know...
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