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637907 Posts in 25499 Topics by 3626 Members - Latest Member: smiley wayback September 23, 2018, 10:48:17 PM
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Author Topic: Bruce on Friends  (Read 1872 times)
feelintheflows
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« on: August 27, 2018, 12:53:31 PM »

On the Brian Wilson songwriter dvd Bruce was talking about friends and how the album reaching the position of 1,026 would be more like what it should have reached.  Any reason why he has that view towards one of there best albums?
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BeachBoysCovers
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2018, 01:54:37 PM »

From https://www.rockcellarmagazine.com/2013/09/04/bruce-johnston-interview-beach-boys/

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Bruce Johnston: During that Friends era, we were wearing the white suits and I remember doing some of the songs from Friends, which to me was a very weak album although the track Friends is fabulous. Listen to the bass on it, itís 6/8 jazz acoustic bass. I did not like the Friends album because I thought it was wimpy. I donít think we were doing anything where Brian was at full strength. We had to do some of the Friends stuff on the road and it just used to make me wince because it was wimpy. But we were promoting that album and played some of that stuff but people really wanted to hear the hits.

You have to be very careful when you play unknown music to people, you have to wrap it around the hits to keep them distracted.

Some of the Friends stuff is so subtle that it was hard to make it come to life in a live setting.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2018, 07:08:15 AM »

The guy that *very soon* after the "Friends" album added "The Nearest Faraway Place" (*ALSO* performed live on occasion back when it came out) to their next album is calling stuff like "Wake the World" and "Little Bird" wimpy?

What a weird dude.

The biggest benefit of the doubt I can try to offer the guy is that when he talks about the band or Brian sometimes, maybe he thinks he's like an objective observer. But he wasn't and isn't. He was there on those sessions. He was in the band, often adding his own material.

And it obviously goes without saying that one would be hard-pressed to find better examples of "wimpy", "guys in their late 20s sounding like they're 60" types of BB music than the stuff Bruce added to the proceedings over the years. And I like most of it. But "rock and roll" it ain't.

But I dunno, maybe Zeppelin covered "Deirdre" and I just missed it.

Maybe Bruce has bad memories of "Friends" material not going over well with live audiences. But what about, say, the audience audibly growing restless at the Fillmore East in 1971 as Bruce takes on "Your Song?" When does he bring *that* up?
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clack
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2018, 08:06:06 AM »

I didn't like the 'Friends' lp at first. I wouldn't have used the word 'wimpy' to describe it, but maybe wispy? Lightweight? Thin?

Of course, I've long since come to appreciate the subtleties and delicate melodies, but a lot of listeners still don't like the album much. I get that. And I get Bruce not liking it. Did he even contribute to it?
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MyDrKnowsItKeepsMeCalm
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2018, 08:22:52 AM »

It seems like Bruce has made grumbly, passive-aggressive comments about a good number of their albums, doesn't it? As HeyJude points out, he has had every opportunity to steer their music wherever it is he thinks it should have gone.

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The LEGENDARY OSD
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2018, 09:18:54 AM »



Best to take what Bruce says with a grain of salt. He's done nothing for years but go along for the ride and "shine myKe's shoes". With the exception of Disney Girls and perhaps Deirdre, there's not a lot to say about his importance to the band in general.
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Joel Goldenberg
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2018, 10:45:30 AM »

It seems like Bruce has made grumbly, passive-aggressive comments about a good number of their albums, doesn't it? As HeyJude points out, he has had every opportunity to steer their music wherever it is he thinks it should have gone.


Doesn't he love Smiley Smile? Or is it Wild Honey I'm thinking of?
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Tony S
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2018, 10:56:53 AM »

As Hey Jude says, Bruce is a weird dude. He has coasted for years, kissing Mike's butt every chance he gets, just to keep his paycheck. Easiest job alive for someone who has to the laziest person in a major band EVER. Great hand clapper and microphone adjuster though, so he did learn something  after all these years. Could be the one Beach Boy I actually dislike MORE than Dr. Love.....probably because he's such a brownie and butt kisser.
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Jim V.
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2018, 11:02:35 AM »

You know, even though I love Friends I can understand what Bruce was saying here. In 1968, this was apparently not what the public was looking for from The Beach Boys, though one could make the argument that the public really didn't want anything from them by this point, besides a retro surf song ("Do It Again"). But then, maybe it truly was the promotion of the band? Who knows? Why for instance was the great work of bands like The Beach Boys and The Kinks being ignored around this era (maybe because of changing from what the public knew them as), even though both were putting out awesome material at the time, while peers like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and whoever also changed quite a bit, yet did incredibly better commercially? It's weird. I guess sometimes maybe it's just your time and sometimes it isn't.

But yeah, as others have stated, if I had to ever had to pick a guy who represented "wimpy" music, it would be one Bruce Johnston. Seriously, put on "Won't Somebody Dance with Me" and tell me if it's the Friends music or Bruce's that is wimpy?
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Jim V.
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2018, 11:15:11 AM »

It seems like Bruce has made grumbly, passive-aggressive comments about a good number of their albums, doesn't it? As HeyJude points out, he has had every opportunity to steer their music wherever it is he thinks it should have gone.


Doesn't he love Smiley Smile? Or is it Wild Honey I'm thinking of?

Pretty sure he's a big fan of both. And I think he's kinda said in a way that he prefers Smiley to Smile, though maybe he just means Smile as it is now and not what it could have been. He has also been a big booster of Sunflower throughout the years.
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feelintheflows
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2018, 11:41:56 AM »

We all know his favorite album is sunflower. For me Friends and Sunflower are very similar. The aesthetic of both albums. From the mellow, serene content of Friends to the bright optimism of Sunflower. I listen to both albums and takes me to blue skies and sunshine on top of a green hill. Just like on the album covers. So Iím a little surprised he feels that way about Friends. But hey to each their own.
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2018, 12:00:18 PM »

Bruce is essentially correct - Friends, especially when compared to the music of the time, is ďwimpy.Ē  But so is Sunflower, with the exception of three of Dennisís tracks.  And as noted  Bruceís songs he recorded for The Beach Boys are the epitome of wimpy.

I suspect two things are at play here.  One, there is no strong upbeat fast number on Friends with the possible exception of Transcendental Meditation, and coming after the upbeat Wild Honey and preceding 20/20ís Do It Again, Bluebirds Over the Mountain, All I Wanna Do, even I Can Hear Music, Friends does stand as relatively downbeat and slow.  Two - Bruce was the only member not to embrace or learn T.M. and that may be at the root of his not liking Friends - because I view that album as the TM album, celebrating simple moments of quiet and contemplation, friendships, family, and home life.  Itís what Brian and the other Beach Boys were into and the album musically is an almost perfect recreation or reflection of that.  And Bruce wasnít into it.
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Ian
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2018, 12:03:47 PM »

I think he was giving an honest opinion that your free to disagree with. People are contradictory. A guy who records yacht rock may still be a fan of heavy metal. It is possible
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the captain
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2018, 12:26:16 PM »

Bruceís comments certainly imply part of the problem was with live performances, which I think is fair. Those songs neither live up to most of the bandís classic hits, nor rock with the type of energy that helps get across live music from a rock band. Itís reasonable to feel a bit put off by what was no doubt tepid reaction from fans. Plus, isnít that album the one being toured in the aborted Maharishi tour? Again, not a good taste to have left in oneís mouth.

Iíd also add that Sunflower has four more muscular tunes: Dennisís plus This Whole World. Thatís a third of the album. So itís hardly fair to lump those two albums together in wimpiness.

(I love Friends and think Bruce is nuts. But itís not beyond comprehension how he got to his opinion.)
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2018, 03:33:35 PM »

I think the issue is that Bruce's issues would carry some weight if there was ANY evidence that he ever proffered or pushed for "heavier" material.

A guy IN the band is saying some material was "wimpy", but he's the same guy who, as one fan infamously put it, "doesn't have a rock and roll bone in his body."

I'd say the same thing if Mike claimed in the 90s that they were doing too much tropical/surfing material.
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2018, 04:07:21 PM »

Thatís fair, too. But whether his criticism is honest, itís valid.
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2018, 04:16:50 PM »

I love Friends - one of my favourite albums by anyone.

That said, I think Bruce's rejoinder could be that while he himself couldn't produce anything "rocky," Brian could and chose not to.

I also think a full reading of the quote could suggest that by wimpy he means in some ways that they wimped out in terms of the production of the material and structure of the songs. Again, for me, regardless of what they did I think it turned out pretty great.
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feelintheflows
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« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2018, 04:39:05 PM »

Off topic but here it goes. Dennis said Pacific Ocean Blue had ďno substance ď. Any idea what he meant?
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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2018, 05:34:32 PM »

Off topic but here it goes. Dennis said Pacific Ocean Blue had ďno substance ď. Any idea what he meant?

I think he said that in the context of new music he was then working on, i.e. Bambu stuff. While I don't agree with him on that statement, I think it has to be understood in that context. Various associates of Dennis' have said that as soon as POB was out the door, it was also out of his mind (except for the brief period where he rehearsed those tracks with a live band, and an eye toward touring the album), and he was on to the next thing.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2018, 06:20:48 AM »

Isn't there a supposed/alleged quote from Dennis about "Smile" that goes something like "In my opinion it makes Pet Sounds stinkóthat's how good it is!"

It may well be that Dennis had a habit of that type of hyperbole about a new project in general. Not so much s**ting on another project to make another one sound better, but just being so enthusiastic about a new project as to make all other projects before it pale in comparison.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2018, 06:41:30 AM »

Thatís fair, too. But whether his criticism is honest, itís valid.

I guess I'm willing to assume any criticism Bruce might offer is "honest" in the moment, even if it is, much like his personality in general, WILDLY inconsistent.

Valid? I'm not sure. I think the credibility/believability of the person is something worth thinking about, and a guy *in the band* can't really be an objective observer, and I also feel credibility can be measured by past comments, of which Bruce has made plenty of head-scratchers. His recent comment about Brian releasing "Smile" back in 1967 as a solo record is a good example. It's not a wholly insane idea, but it's so unrealistic in light of what was actually going on in 1966/67 that it comes across as a kind of meandering, pointless idea to make. Sort of like a few years before the reunion where Bruce said he would *sit out* a reunion concert and be in the audience instead. Huh?

I've heard multiple instances of Bruce specifically causing restlessness and/or indifference during live shows in the late 60s/early 70s. The guy that played a solo version of "Your Song" to a Grateful Dead audience at the Fillmore East in 1971 is really not the guy who should be measuring how "wimpy" (whether we're talking about style or arrangement or some other measure) "Friends" tracks came across at live shows in 1968.

Further, we have a TON of live show recordings, including many from 1967 and some from 68. The live takes in '68 of stuff like "Friends", "Little Bird", and "Wake the World" actually sounds pretty strong. I'd argue the '67 stuff like some of the "Wild Honey" tracks sounded more limp and tentative (I wouldn't use the word "wimpy" even there) when performed live *in* 1967.

By 1968, the band was finally starting to cook a little more and fill the sound out more.

And again, Bruce is also the guy who introduced "The Nearest Faraway Place" into the setlist in 1969/1970. Every version I've heard of that from live shows sounds, by any measure, "wimpier" than the "Friends" tracks performed in 1968.

So yeah, we can agree or disagree with calling live "Friends" tracks "wimpy" based on whatever criteria, but I'm going to put more stock in someone's opinion if they have some level of consistency in their arguments and have some level of at least attempted objectivity. Bruce has neither of those things going for him, past or present.

Bruce would be and is a great person to ask *about* all of the material/eras he worked on. This is a guy who was there during that epic Bellagio era, not to mention the early 70s in general and then some key projects when he returned in 1978. He has a ton of detail to add. But when it comes to rating and praising/dismissing the quality of any given material, he's not really the guy I would go to.

If I want to know *about* the "Friends" sessions or live '68 shows, asking Bruce is a great idea. But I wouldn't turn to him to rate the material or judge it particularly. I don't mind that he might also mention what he likes or doesn't like. That's useful information usually, even if is of varied credibility.
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« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2018, 06:53:07 AM »

Your response is almost backward from my point. I mean the critique that it probably didnít go over well live* because of the non-hit, non-rock nature of the songs was a valid critique whether he personally rocks or even personally dislikes it for that reason.

*Not the same thing as being performed well. Received well.
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« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2018, 07:05:01 AM »

Bruce has a point, in that the Friends material wasn't exactly the kind of stuff that your typical concert crowd in 1968 was into - Beatles, Hendrix, Stones, Van Morrison, etc.  Friends doesn't "rock".  But, of all people to complain about music being "wimpy", BRUCE JOHNSTON???
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« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2018, 07:26:39 AM »

Bruce has a point, in that the Friends material wasn't exactly the kind of stuff that your typical concert crowd in 1968 was into - Beatles, Hendrix, Stones, Van Morrison, etc.  Friends doesn't "rock".

I feel like this is a bit of a myth about the late 1960s. If you look at the Billboard Hot 100, the year finished with songs like Paul Mauriat's Love is Blue, Bobby Goldsboro's Honey, The Rascals' People Got to Be Free, and Herb Alpert's This Guy's in Love with You in the top 10. There seemed to be just as big of an audience for pop music as there was in, say, 1965 or 1966.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2018, 07:58:06 AM »

Your response is almost backward from my point. I mean the critique that it probably didnít go over well live* because of the non-hit, non-rock nature of the songs was a valid critique whether he personally rocks or even personally dislikes it for that reason.

*Not the same thing as being performed well. Received well.

I'm getting what you're saying. I'm not sure if that's what Bruce meant by calling the material in concert "wimpy", but even if that was what he meant, it makes no sense in light of most everything the band did before, during, and after that '68 tour.

There is virtually nothing anomalous about the band performing a few "Friends" tracks live in 1968 that I can think of. They were doing "non-rock" and "non-hit" songs before and after that tour. You could apply Bruce's comments to a segment of the setlist in just about *any* year of their existence. If the idea is that this was all done contrary to Bruce's vision of what the live show should have been, then such an idea is contradicted by just about everything about and/or coming from Bruce before or after 1968. He wasn't doing harder-edged stuff prior to 1968, and he personally was adding syrupy, "non-hit", "non-rock" songs to the setlist in 1969, 1970, and 1971 (and probably 1972 before he left). Bruce sang/performed songs such as "The Nearest Faraway Place", "Tears in the Morning", "Your Song", and "Disney Girls" in concert in the immediate years following, all of which were far from "rock" in any way, and most of which were non-hits/not particularly recognizable outside of hardcore fandom ("Disney Girls" obviously was somewhat more well known, though it's debatable how hugely popular it was *in* 1971).  

Circling back to the beginning, concerning Bruce's "wimpy" comments, it's worth noting that in his quote, he says both the *album* and then subsequent live performances were "wimpy." I do not believe his "wimpy" assessment has much to do with material going over well or being recognizable in concert, because he seems to find the *source* material itself to be "wimpy." He thinks the actual music and/or arrangements are "wimpy." I believe, regardless of his objectivity or credibility on the issue, this is not a fair assessment. And certainly, his comment is called even more into question once you place it within the context of what else he *personally* was contributing to the band in the exact same era.

The guy who, in 2013, said the following about the 1968 "Friends" album:

I did not like the Friends album because I thought it was wimpy.

...Is the same guy who recorded "The Nearest Faraway Place" and placed it on a Beach Boys album in 1969. If anything, Bruce was part of the problem he seems to be taking issue with. Bruce certainly wasn't adding a harder edge to the studio or live setting by being in the band. If anything, he made things slightly more fluffy and light both sonically and in terms of material.

I think Bruce just happens to not like the songs on the "Friends" album apparently, and/or is displacing his hang-ups or bitterness over Brian taking a "step back" in that era.

This is all pretty par for the course. He supposedly has let it be known that he thought "MIU Album" was weak, but then came into the group and spearheaded a disco remake of "Here Comes the Night." He called "Surf's Up" a big hyped-up lie due to misrepresenting Brian's participation (which, as I've already delved into, is debatably not even the case), yet produced an album ("Keepin' the Summer Alive") that pictured a band member on he cover who essentially wasn't on the album.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2018, 08:00:16 AM by HeyJude » Logged

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