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Author Topic: BEACH BOYS PRODUCERS SHED LIGHT ON 1968 ARCHIVAL RELEASES  (Read 2278 times)
Howie Edelson
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« on: January 08, 2019, 07:02:05 AM »

This ran in my nationally syndicated feed this morning. . .

BEACH BOYS PRODUCERS SHED LIGHT ON 1968 ARCHIVAL RELEASES - (01/08/2019)
by Howie Edelson


Beach Boys fans are still counting their blessings for the massive amount of material the band released at the end of December with three digital-only collections featuring a treasure trove of unreleased music. The studio and live sets were issued to exert ownership over unreleased tracks, which due to copyright laws, would fall into public domain if not officially released by their 50-year mark. The two new studio sets -- 1968 - Wake The World: The 'Friends' Sessions and 1968 and I Can Hear Music: The '20/20' Sessions, collectively feature a whopping 72 tracks spread over two-and-a-half hours.

In addition to that, the band also dropped the colossal 114-track live collection, The Beach Boys On Tour: 1968 (Live). The set features mono soundboards from the band's summer '68 shows in Chicago, Illinois; Fargo, North Dakota; Waterloo, Iowa; Lincoln, Nebraska; Phoenix, Arizona; and three professionally recorded multi-track concerts from that December in London.

Grammy Award-winning producers Mark Linett and Alan Boyd once again compiled the sets and burrowed deep into the vaults to curate an alternate history spotlighting Brian Wilson's last moments as the Beach Boys' primary driving force and the ascension of Dennis Wilson as a groundbreaking and world class songwriter and producer.

Once the project was green-lit, Alan Boyd explained that due to the care and diligence shown to the band's archives over the years, they knew exactly where to look for the key material needed for the collection: "These projects were done under a fairly tight deadline and we had a lot of live material to pile through. It took us quite a while just to sort out all of the London, UK Live In London tapes. We'd researched this (studio) material long ago. We had done preservation transfers and rough reference mixes of everything. The choices were fairly easy on this one."

Mark Linett explained that following the early-'68 sessions for Friends, Brian Wilson's role in the Beach Boys changed significantly: "Everybody had to step up, because Brian -- either consciously or unconsciously -- was not going to assume the same role that he had all the way up through Friends. I think this set tends to dispel the myth that after Smile, y'know, Brian wasn't really producing and then the band stepped up. He's clearly working much more like he used to, but by the time of 20/20, both songwriting-wise and production-wise and out of necessity, y'know, everybody else had to get more involved. And Dennis -- more than anybody -- seemed ready as a writer and a performer to do that."

Alan Boyd shed light on where exactly the Beach Boys were in terms of getting product onto the market at the tail-end of the 1960's: "By that point in time, the Beach Boys were already way behind their contractual obligations with Capitol. Y'know, from because of the delay from Smile -- and it was a year-and-half between Pet Sounds and Smiley Smile. They had to have product in. They were under some serious deadlines, and you can feel that, particularly on something like 20/20 where there is this intense burst of activity in, like, the last couple of weeks where the Beach Boys are between tours, they've gotta turn this thing in before they hit the road. And I have the impression too, that with Friends, there were deadlines, the group had to go back out on tour. Brian continued working on that album and even basically finished it off while the other guys were out on the road."

Mark Linett admitted that he's still amazed at the amount of quality tracks the Beach Boys left in their wake with each and every studio album they recorded: "They selected what they thought was best and what they wanted to use and then just moved on. I think a lot of it just got forgotten. I've always said that the Beach Boys left more great material behind and on the cutting room floor, as it were, (laughs) than most bands, y'know, put on their records -- which is why we can do some of these things."
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Mr. Tiger
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2019, 07:49:24 AM »

Some nice quotes there. Thanks for sharing. I'd love to hear some more insights into some of the choices they made for the set and whether they were made out of necessity (i.e. material didn't exist) or for some other reason. Two that immediately come to mind are the vocals only track for "Be Here in the Morning" and the instrumental backing track for "Busy Doin' Nothin', but I'm sure others have their own choices. Let me stress that this isn't complaining, sets were amazing, but I'm just curious .
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2019, 08:08:12 AM »

Mark Linett admitted that he's still amazed at the amount of quality tracks the Beach Boys left in their wake with each and every studio album they recorded: "They selected what they thought was best and what they wanted to use and then just moved on. I think a lot of it just got forgotten. I've always said that the Beach Boys left more great material behind and on the cutting room floor, as it were, (laughs) than most bands, y'know, put on their records -- which is why we can do some of these things."

What's amazing is that, though Friends is my second favorite Beach Boys album, the material just gets better with albums like Sunflower. I can't imagine what gems lie in the vaults for that period of time.

Quote
spotlighting Brian Wilson's last moments as the Beach Boys' primary driving force

It really was, wasn't it? I mean, he was at the helm for most of Love You but it really just feels like a Brian Wilson solo venture with some Beach Boys on it rather than a Beach Boys album. And Brian of '76 seems like a totally different animal than the Brian of '68.

Thanks for writing/sharing this Howie.
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The Beach Boys legacy is still being mortared to this day...it has a solid and unbreakable foundation of incredible songs that tower above most bands, yet some bricks are more brittle and ugly than others (even some bricks put down more recently)...thus is the nature of any entity that continues to exist. You are not defined solely by your good achievements in life, you're also defined by those unpleasant moments too. This law of life, thankfully, helps keep us all in check.
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2019, 11:15:43 AM »


Mark Linett explained that following the early-'68 sessions for Friends, Brian Wilson's role in the Beach Boys changed significantly: "Everybody had to step up, because Brian -- either consciously or unconsciously -- was not going to assume the same role that he had all the way up through Friends. I think this set tends to dispel the myth that after Smile, y'know, Brian wasn't really producing and then the band stepped up. He's clearly working much more like he used to, but by the time of 20/20, both songwriting-wise and production-wise and out of necessity, y'know, everybody else had to get more involved. And Dennis -- more than anybody -- seemed ready as a writer and a performer to do that."


This quote stands out, and asks the questions how and why were the myths and outright falsehoods allowed to be written and stand for so long regarding Brian "dropping out" entirely after Smile to the point where it was suggested he basically did nothing but lay in bed after Smile was scrapped, or had such major addiction issues he was incapable of cutting a record after Smile. It sounds absurd, but those were the suggestions being offered for many years.

It's validation on several fronts to actually have the tapes to reference and for all to hear what actually went down, and to not only debunk the myths but effectively slam dunk them into the garbage bin of bad research and bad info for good. The same thing happened with the Sunshine Tomorrow set, once people could hear the audio, all the nonsense went down the drain.

Although I would add when the transition happened from the Friends album to what became 20/20, an element became more strong within the band's personal dynamics to where Brian's ideas were dismissed if not outright shot down, where that had existed in some forms previously but was not quite as prominent as it became over things like "Old Man River" and the like.
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2019, 12:14:30 PM »


Mark Linett explained that following the early-'68 sessions for Friends, Brian Wilson's role in the Beach Boys changed significantly: "Everybody had to step up, because Brian -- either consciously or unconsciously -- was not going to assume the same role that he had all the way up through Friends. I think this set tends to dispel the myth that after Smile, y'know, Brian wasn't really producing and then the band stepped up. He's clearly working much more like he used to, but by the time of 20/20, both songwriting-wise and production-wise and out of necessity, y'know, everybody else had to get more involved. And Dennis -- more than anybody -- seemed ready as a writer and a performer to do that."


This quote stands out, and asks the questions how and why were the myths and outright falsehoods allowed to be written and stand for so long regarding Brian "dropping out" entirely after Smile to the point where it was suggested he basically did nothing but lay in bed after Smile was scrapped, or had such major addiction issues he was incapable of cutting a record after Smile. It sounds absurd, but those were the suggestions being offered for many years.

It's validation on several fronts to actually have the tapes to reference and for all to hear what actually went down, and to not only debunk the myths but effectively slam dunk them into the garbage bin of bad research and bad info for good. The same thing happened with the Sunshine Tomorrow set, once people could hear the audio, all the nonsense went down the drain.

Although I would add when the transition happened from the Friends album to what became 20/20, an element became more strong within the band's personal dynamics to where Brian's ideas were dismissed if not outright shot down, where that had existed in some forms previously but was not quite as prominent as it became over things like "Old Man River" and the like.

Initially was it because the story was more interesting that way? The media has a tendency to either distort or sensationalize reality for the benefit of getting more readers/viewers to buy their paper or watch their TV program. Brian laying in bed for years right after he abandoned his masterpiece makes for a juicy read or documentary.

And over the years this viewpoint became adopted by at least one member of the band (I guess to help the odds of financial gain in a lawsuit)...which is utterly absurd given that anyone with a decent knowledge of Beach Boys history can see right through this myth.

I think it just makes for a really interesting myth to tell people, and people with a vendetta against Brian seemed to run with it and also people who want to juice up their story/book (Rocky's recent book claims this myth too) aren't afraid to put this myth in.
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The Beach Boys legacy is still being mortared to this day...it has a solid and unbreakable foundation of incredible songs that tower above most bands, yet some bricks are more brittle and ugly than others (even some bricks put down more recently)...thus is the nature of any entity that continues to exist. You are not defined solely by your good achievements in life, you're also defined by those unpleasant moments too. This law of life, thankfully, helps keep us all in check.
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2019, 12:44:30 PM »

The '76 Pete Fornatale interview with Dennis illuminates the origins of that myth:  as Fornatale describes, the Beach Boys had pretty much served as the vehicle for Brian's musical vision, until the Smiley Smile album, when that seemed to stop with a thud...as Pete alludes to later in the interview, a lot of that public perception originated from the change in the production credit (from "Produced by Brian Wilson" to "Produced by The Beach Boys"). But yet, as Dennis points out, Brian continued to write, produce, and sing - just when he felt like it, and not when he didn't.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVItbEJBkJM

I think another big contributor to that myth is a misunderstanding of all of the quotes from band members and close BW associates that, after SMiLE, Brian "withdrew from the production race." What they obviously meant by that was, Brian no longer sought to compete with The Beatles and others in terms of grandiose productions, but rather adopted a much simpler approach to music production. But these quotes were taken by the general public to mean that he was no longer actively working in the studio AT ALL after SMiLE.

The third thing that perpetuated this myth, I think, is simple convenience:  it's convenient for the general public to conclude that the end of SMiLE resulted in the end of Brian's interest and involvement with The Beach Boys, or even music in general, or even LIFE in general. It's a simplistic, nice-and-tidy Hollywood-like way of viewing things, when in reality what happened was that Brian lost interest in the production RACE, not the art of songwriting and record production itself, and certainly not in The Beach Boys (until 20/20, that is - and Dennis talks here about Brian's lack of involvement in that album). He then briefly became re-interested in the band's career when they signed with Warner Bros., but when Sunflower bombed, he pretty much gave up on the band, and his personal health got progressively worse.

Finally, still somewhat on-topic, specifically to the point that the band had so much great material left over from these albums, and why did they not finish and include more of these songs, especially with the albums themselves being so short - I submit this 1968 quote from Bruce to Keith Altham, explaining why one side of Friends lasts exactly two minutes more than "MacArthur Park":  "You have to realize that we do not stipulate when the album is an album. The record company decided there was enough tracks for an LP and released it."  


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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2019, 01:11:15 PM »

Guitarfool mentioned the Sunshine Tomorrow set above, and as I recall there were people (deep in the fandom) a while before ST came out claiming that Carl Wilson was the one who produced the Wild Honey sessions. I don't know what basis they made these claims, but it was a complete falsehood that was based around this idea that Brian Wilson hung it up right after Smile. I'm glad people in-the-know are being open about how these tracks are breaking down these myths.
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The Beach Boys legacy is still being mortared to this day...it has a solid and unbreakable foundation of incredible songs that tower above most bands, yet some bricks are more brittle and ugly than others (even some bricks put down more recently)...thus is the nature of any entity that continues to exist. You are not defined solely by your good achievements in life, you're also defined by those unpleasant moments too. This law of life, thankfully, helps keep us all in check.
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2019, 01:24:10 PM »

Guitarfool mentioned the Sunshine Tomorrow set above, and as I recall there were people (deep in the fandom) a while before ST came out claiming that Carl Wilson was the one who produced the Wild Honey sessions. I don't know what basis they made these claims, but it was a complete falsehood that was based around this idea that Brian Wilson hung it up right after Smile. I'm glad people in-the-know are being open about how these tracks are breaking down these myths.

Yes, like I've said before on other threads - I've been lucky enough to hear the full session tapes for much of the WH and Friends albums, and with a few exceptions, its definitely Brian who is in charge. Maybe not quite as enthusiastically as in the days of '66, but he's definitely "the producer". Exceptions would be "I Was Made To Love Her" and "With A Little Help From My Friends" (Carl and Bruce co-producing), "Mama Says" (Bruce producing from the control booth while the others sing), "Little Bird" (Brian and Denny co-producing), and "Meant For You", "Anna Lee The Healer", "Transcendental Mediation" and possibly one or two others from Friends (Murry producing, or co-producing with Brian - but not in a combative sort of way, rather just helping out).
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2019, 02:38:45 PM »

It obviously depends on which "myth" we're talking about, but I don't tend to blame fans/scholars for at least *some* of the long-perpetuated myths over the years that have since been debunked. In the pre-SOT CD sets era, when many fans had little more than the LP in their hands (and maybe a few books like the Byron Preiss book), they could be forgiven for thinking the switch-over in production credits, coinciding with fewer Brian leads (and to some degree a bit less in the way of Brian songwriting credits by Friends/20/20) might have signified Brian stepping away from being "in charge."

I'm glad folks have access to the full session tapes to correct the story, and that fans have access to large hunks of those tapes. But I don't find any sort of contempt for fans who have innocently made guesses/assumptions about who was in charge for those late 60s albums.

Obviously, there is a *very tiny* sliver of "fans" who have weirdly tried to continually make the case that Brian just went to bed and dropped out completely post-PS/Smile; a tiny group of fans who weirdly have contempt for Brian due to whatever hangups.

It hasn't helped to see phrases like this in the 2005 failed lawsuit:

Between 1967 and 2002, Brian was essentially too ill to do anything but collect his royalties

But I think fans decades ago thinking Brian may have played a backseat role on some albums when he was actually more involved is totally understandable based on the extant information at the time. That phrase above is from a 2005 lawsuit and is heinously inappropriate and inaccurate of course.
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2019, 02:40:13 PM »


Mark Linett explained that following the early-'68 sessions for Friends, Brian Wilson's role in the Beach Boys changed significantly: "Everybody had to step up, because Brian -- either consciously or unconsciously -- was not going to assume the same role that he had all the way up through Friends. I think this set tends to dispel the myth that after Smile, y'know, Brian wasn't really producing and then the band stepped up. He's clearly working much more like he used to, but by the time of 20/20, both songwriting-wise and production-wise and out of necessity, y'know, everybody else had to get more involved. And Dennis -- more than anybody -- seemed ready as a writer and a performer to do that."


This quote stands out, and asks the questions how and why were the myths and outright falsehoods allowed to be written and stand for so long regarding Brian "dropping out" entirely after Smile to the point where it was suggested he basically did nothing but lay in bed after Smile was scrapped, or had such major addiction issues he was incapable of cutting a record after Smile. It sounds absurd, but those were the suggestions being offered for many years.

It's validation on several fronts to actually have the tapes to reference and for all to hear what actually went down, and to not only debunk the myths but effectively slam dunk them into the garbage bin of bad research and bad info for good. The same thing happened with the Sunshine Tomorrow set, once people could hear the audio, all the nonsense went down the drain.

Although I would add when the transition happened from the Friends album to what became 20/20, an element became more strong within the band's personal dynamics to where Brian's ideas were dismissed if not outright shot down, where that had existed in some forms previously but was not quite as prominent as it became over things like "Old Man River" and the like.

Initially was it because the story was more interesting that way? The media has a tendency to either distort or sensationalize reality for the benefit of getting more readers/viewers to buy their paper or watch their TV program. Brian laying in bed for years right after he abandoned his masterpiece makes for a juicy read or documentary.

And over the years this viewpoint became adopted by at least one member of the band (I guess to help the odds of financial gain in a lawsuit)...which is utterly absurd given that anyone with a decent knowledge of Beach Boys history can see right through this myth.

I think it just makes for a really interesting myth to tell people, and people with a vendetta against Brian seemed to run with it and also people who want to juice up their story/book (Rocky's recent book claims this myth too) aren't afraid to put this myth in.

It reminds me of the longtime myths surrounding the early years with band member changes of Al Jardine and David Marks. Too complex a situation (not that it's really *that* complex of course) for simpleton magazines/news media to spell out even a brief summary of, and instead a rewriting of history takes place.
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2019, 02:47:21 PM »

Thank you Howie for this cool interview. I hope everyone buys this digital set to support further releases!
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2019, 03:09:24 PM »

It obviously depends on which "myth" we're talking about, but I don't tend to blame fans/scholars for at least *some* of the long-perpetuated myths over the years that have since been debunked. In the pre-SOT CD sets era, when many fans had little more than the LP in their hands (and maybe a few books like the Byron Preiss book), they could be forgiven for thinking the switch-over in production credits, coinciding with fewer Brian leads (and to some degree a bit less in the way of Brian songwriting credits by Friends/20/20) might have signified Brian stepping away from being "in charge."

I'm glad folks have access to the full session tapes to correct the story, and that fans have access to large hunks of those tapes. But I don't find any sort of contempt for fans who have innocently made guesses/assumptions about who was in charge for those late 60s albums.

Agree with this; if the idea is/was in fact out there that Brian quit after Smile, it shouldn't be that surprising, because for casual, non-mega-fan listeners of later years (or generations), the post-Smile music was, for whatever reason, effectively buried.  Nobody really knew about it unless they were a very dedicated fan of the group (meaning that they were a loyal fan from the old days, or a very in-the-know Beach Boys/Brian Wilson nerd). I'm generalizing here, and of course basing this off my own personal experience, but for later generations, the Beach Boys music was (at least in the U.S.) represented by certain compilations - Endless Summer, Spirit of America and Made in U.S.A. are three that come to mind.  If some kid, say, in the 1980s or even later had a Beach Boys album in his collection, it was likely to be one of those compilations. (the Beach Boys never successfully gained a profile as an "album band")  Those songs were what "Beach Boys" represented to the average listener/member of the public, and the music on those comps is heavily weighted towards pre-Pet Sounds music.  Basically no Wild Honey or Friends.  Therefore the general idea that Brian Wilson did "nothing" or "quit" after Pet Sounds and the Smile attempt is not utterly irrational, even if it's wrong.  It's not surprising that such a misconception would take root.  To counter that misconception the music from this era and these releases would have to be promoted in some way so that people would know about it.  But who would do that? And why promote music from the past that failed commercially?

And - we've been though this issue before here - even though Brian is certainly working on music with the Beach Boys on Smiley SmileWild Honey and Friends, something is indeed happening in this time period.  If you step back and look at what is going on with the group/organization in 1967, it is apparent that a significant shift and re-orientation is taking place on several fronts, and in several different ways.  While it certainly is, in the literal sense, false to say that Brian quit/went to bed/retired after Smile, there is in my opinion some figurative or symbolic truth to it. 
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2019, 07:22:03 PM »

Guitarfool mentioned the Sunshine Tomorrow set above, and as I recall there were people (deep in the fandom) a while before ST came out claiming that Carl Wilson was the one who produced the Wild Honey sessions. I don't know what basis they made these claims, but it was a complete falsehood that was based around this idea that Brian Wilson hung it up right after Smile. I'm glad people in-the-know are being open about how these tracks are breaking down these myths.

This is exactly what I was referring to, and it went beyond the "Wild Honey" sessions. And it was not casual fans I was referring to, either, who would believe or perpetuate this kind of utter crap. It included people who should know better.

Anyway, as I said, it's great that fans both diehards and casual can hear the truth with their own ears. But I still wonder how those falsehoods were not only offered, but also argued for and defended if they were challenged. Now there's proof. And that's a great thing.

Of course there was a shift in 1967, and Brian had been prepping his brothers since late 66 into 67 for taking over more of the production duties (and songwriting too) from him so he could branch out in other areas he wanted to do, such as pick up again with writing and producing for other artists, which the new Brother company was going to allow him and the others to do.

But in a scene reminiscent of Pacino in Godfather 3..."they keep pulling me back in"...which in itself is ironic considering how much they both wanted and needed Brian back to cut Beach Boys records, yet some later suggested how incapable or disabled he was after 1967 to where he couldn't make records. Again, the proof is on the tapes.
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« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2019, 08:49:35 PM »

Yes but the BBs perpetuated the idea too. Go back and look at the American band documentary in 1985 and youll see that is the basic narrative of the film. All very Brian centered till the plug is pulled on smile and then he disappears from the film till he reappears for 15 big ones. This is the first film I saw of the BBs and that is what I took from it at the time. Carl of course did an interview where he said smiley Smile was a bunt rather then a grand slam and then said Brian was spaced out and wild honey was music for him to cool out by
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« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2019, 11:48:47 PM »

I've personally always felt Wild Honey and Friends were Brian Wilson-lead records just by listening ... I even wrote this article on my old website back in 1999-2000:

"it is very clear that although the credit lists the Beach Boys as producers, this is in fact a Brian Wilson production (his last entire album until Love You in 1977)."

http://troun.tripod.com/friends.html

I don't remember what I was referencing regarding Brad Elliot's research, but it suggests that he held the position that BW was in charge of Friends, and he was probably the best source for knowledge at the time (however some may have come to feel about him personally later on).

... I don't think the myth was so great beyond basic, surface level articles where the story is easier to tell without nuance (even the "Love and Mercy" movie sort of suggests this). They just skip '67-'68 for convenience really. It's not like he was actually *in his bed* after that, he was just hanging out at home, partying with Nilsson etc. Even Brian himself said he was in his bed for 2-3 years in that '76 interview (in bed ha).

I think there's some truth to the myth too though. Something changed in a big way after Smile. I think Mike Love actually summed it up pretty well in the Endless Harmony doc when he said "Heroes & Villains" was the last of the "super-dynamism" from Brian. That was his last single done in the old ambitious style.
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« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2019, 05:20:53 AM »

Yeah I was thinking of that mike quote when I wrote the 1967 chapter in my concert book
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« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2019, 06:58:57 AM »

I don't remember what I was referencing regarding Brad Elliot's research, but it suggests that he held the position that BW was in charge of Friends, and he was probably the best source for knowledge at the time (however some may have come to feel about him personally later on).

I'll bet it was Brad's 1968 chronology in Volume 3 of Domenic Priore's Dumb Angel Gazette. He has several session entries that clearly indicate Brian was serving as producer.
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« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2019, 07:42:01 AM »

There is a quote from the Man Who Shot Liberty Valence : "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend".

The legend -- the myth, really, is a powerful one. It's Brian as Icarus, who flew too close to the sun (SMiLE), burned his wings off, and fell to earth. The reality is much less dramatic. That's why I think the popular myth will have more staying power than the messy truth.
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« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2019, 07:47:40 AM »

Along with the new "produced by the Beach Boys" credit, the lack of commercial success of the albums Smiley, Wild Honey and Friends also mistakenly led critics and the public to conclude that Brian was less involved with those albums than he was.  Somehow Brian's degree of involvement became linked to sales success, to the point that the Warner/Reprise contract supposedly specifically required Brian to be actively involved and an effort was made with Surf's Up to create the appearance that Brian was more engaged with the project than he was.
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« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2019, 08:26:04 AM »

Random points:

Let us also remember that, like other creative "lead" roles like a film director, while there usually has to be someone named as a producer (in music) or director (in film), there are varying degrees to which those lead roles are done with the help of others.

Some producers are in 100% control, some do it by committee but still credit one person, some producers are more "A&R" guys that tell the artist whether the actual material is good or not, other producers are something more like a "head engineer" that really only handles the sonic/logistical side of things.

For instance, one gets the impression Joe Thomas was *more* involved in TWGMTR than in NPP, yet on the former he got a strange "Recorded by" credit while he got a co-producer credit on NPP.

Typically, producers on albums get "points" (royalties) on album sales. I'm sure there are times when people negotiate points in exchange for a lesser or different credit. I'm gonna guess there's a good chance Joe Thomas got essentially "producer points" on TWGMTR even though he's not credited as a co-producer.

The BBs certainly *could have* given each track on those albums a producer credit. Indeed, on some archival releases and compilations, they've credited individuals with production rather than simply crediting the "album producer" found on the album the track is pulled from. So you see credit to Carl for producing "Holland" tracks even though the album credits "The Beach Boys."

In any event, it's clear Brian didn't cancel "Smile" and then go sleep in bed for 10 years. His abdication (or the others coming to the fore; whatever you want to call it) was gradual and seems to have been a mixture of the other guys writing more and being more hands-on, and Brian being less so.
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« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2019, 09:25:09 AM »

I think the CE releases give us a much more precise sense of how Brian finally hit the wall. He began replacing himself with Carl as the lead vocalist on SS and WH, and got Dennis underway on Friends. It's also not a coincidence that his last lengthy spurt of creativity in '68 stemmed (at least in part) from Mike's absence.

But Friends had an Achilles heel. It totally bombed on the charts. While SS had teetered on the charts, it did much better than Friends, if only because GV and H&V were on it. WH actually sold pretty well, all things considered. With the renewed energy that those tracks displayed, it's little wonder that Bruce made the comments to the effect that the band was headed "in the right direction" again.

I don't think Brian intended Friends to be his "last stand" for awhile; I think he just took advantage of the opportunity afforded him by Mike's absence to make a record the way he wanted to do it. But the LP's dismal performance on the charts created a lot of shock waves. There was a lot of chaos, and out of that came concerted efforts to right the ship. One of them was "Do It Again," which got them back on the charts but was subjected to a good deal of critical backlash at the time.

The other was "Been Way Too Long," which might just be the Rubicon for Brian. This was Brian's last attempt at "super-dynamism"--taking it into an area that, in a different way from GV, merged R&B with BBs harmony. But try as he might, he just couldn't figure out how to make it into something transcendent. This was their best chance at a single that could get them "back on track" without kowtowing to their past.

Faced with the pressure created when Friends bombed, Brian suddenly found himself back in a cul-de-sac similar to the one that he'd encountered with Smile. In this time frame (late summer/early fall of '68), he didn't have enough in the tank to tackle a new direction, and he was (at least for awhile) written out. Add in the fact that he was undergoing a significant and unexpected shift in his personal life--Marilyn was taking care of baby Carnie and less attentive to him, and you've got a recipe for serious depression.

Anecdotal information suggests that this was about a six-month downturn for him, which probably involved a good bit of withdrawal. We have evidence from Steve Desper in his discussion of "Break Away" showing us that the group was exceptionally supportive of Brian when he brought the song out after having not written much of anything for some time. He'd gotten away from "waltz time" and come back to something close to an up-tempo arrangement. But when the song didn't hit, it led to Murry selling off Sea of Tunes. Remember Murry had co-written "Break Away" with Brian: talk about a warped, complicated relationship!

Once the deal with WB was in place, Brian did rally and contributed some songs: "This Whole World," "Add Some Music" were the new ones; we know now, thanks to the '68 CE disks, that "All I Wanna Do" and "Our Sweet Love" were tracks from the immediate post-Friends (pre-depression) era. There were some quirky songs with Al ("Feet," "H.E.L.P.", "At My Window," "Good Time"), and some nice tracks ("Where Is She") that represent Brian's latter-day attempt to channel his inner Beatles (think "Girl Don't Tell Me"). There were lugubrious things like "When Girls Get Together." And there was "Til I Die," which languished because it was dissed for being too downbeat.

Some very strong tracks there, but none of them were hits, and Brian's writing had become more variable in quality. All bets were off when "Add Some Music" bombed, followed by Sunflower circling the drain. Brian withdrew again, got more into drugs, hooked up with Tandyn Almer, received pep talks from Jack Rieley,  was wigged out by and cajoled/bullied into letting "Surf's Up" escape from the vaults, and slowly turned his sound funky again (after a one-off detour into churchiness with "Tree"). Getting into the "scene" up the road apiece from Bellagio (among other things: masseuses and dildos), he cranked out some rockers: "Sail On Sailor," "Mess of Help," "Marcella" (retooled, as most everyone knows, from "Just Got My Pay") and eventually "Funky Pretty", but he was increasingly reluctant to bring them to completion on his own, leaving it to Carl to bring them across the finish line. It was all great stuff, but it didn't get the group back on the charts--and then Murry died, which really seems to be the point where the bottom dropped out for Brian. This is the period when things actually were a lot like what people characterized as "ten years in his bedroom."

It's clear that Brian was seriously conflicted by the BBs trading on the Smile myth, and that must also have taken its toll on him. For worse or better, though, the BBs knew that the Smile material was their ace in the hole, but all bets were off again when Endless Summer hit. Brian's response to that phenomenon was to rework "Mess of Help" into a classic-era-type BB song ("It's OK"), which eventually became the next "original" track to be a not-quite hit. (And forget the arguments that they "released it too late"--the song has no chorus, just a riff...all the more evidence that it was chopped down and refashioned from a more complex song with many more moving parts..."Mess of Help.")

--OK, so I rambled and went well past the time frame relevant to the thread...that's the way it goes sometimes. But Brian's depression was quite likely the pre-condition for more serious issues that raged on for ten years. It's important to note, however, that those ten years were actually 1973-1982, when Landy had to be brought back into the picture and then created a nightmare scenario that took another ten years to get resolved.
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« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2019, 10:36:46 AM »

I think the CE releases give us a much more precise sense of how Brian finally hit the wall. He began replacing himself with Carl as the lead vocalist on SS and WH, and got Dennis underway on Friends. It's also not a coincidence that his last lengthy spurt of creativity in '68 stemmed (at least in part) from Mike's absence.  

This is a topic I don't think gets talked about much (if ever). I find it interesting to think about the Mike-less era during the Friends sessions, as this was basically the only era in the history of the band (during the Brian-as-the-primary-songwriter years) where Mike was literally MIA. Much as Mike did contribute some great things to the band, no doubt (nobody frustrated with Mike on various topics should deny this is the case), I nevertheless don't miss Mike in the vocal blend, nor do I miss his songwriting contributions on this album.

I wonder if Mike was concerned of his power dynamic within the band being at stake when he went to India (although a chance to hang with The Beatles and a promise of spiritual enlightenment was clearly irresistible). I suppose that since Mike just recently reattained his throne as being Brian's main lyricist on Wild Honey, that perhaps he felt somewhat secure to leave the country, even if it would cost him potential songwriting contributions on one album.

And I really do wonder if absent Mike, Brian felt free to do what he wanted, and how that affected his outlook/songwriting (as the album certainly has a happy "I'll do what I want to do" vibe to it), because seemingly this was the 1st album in a long time (2+ years) that Mike wasn't trying to guilt...encourage Brian into making Mike the main lyricist.

I also find it weird that absent Mike, that Murry was brought in (might Murry not have made a return otherwise?) almost as thought there had to be a swap of a domineering family member lurking in the background, one way or another. I'm sure that was not the intent (wasn't the pretense that Murry was brought in to sub for Mike's bass vocals?), but I also think the irony wouldn't have been lost on every participant there.

One must wonder what the dynamic would have been had a big hit come out of a Friends song that Mike neither contributed lyrics nor vocals/any presence whatsoever. Of course in actuality, we know that once Do It Again became a hit, it re-cemented Mike's outlook and planted the seeds for the future direction of the band a half decade later.

And geez, what would the dynamic have been if Breakaway had been a hit? The way that Mike got comically egocentric after Kokomo was a huge hit... can anyone imagine how Murry would behaved? Frankly as bad as things were for Brian and his mental health around 1969, with Murry selling the catalog, etc... I can think of an equally - or even worse - scenario if Murry had been strutting around like a rooster, mindfucking Brian into thinking that Brian really needed Murry all along to make hits, and would need Murry to have future hits. The stuff of nightmares.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 02:59:33 PM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2019, 12:04:27 PM »

And geez, what would the dynamic have been if Breakaway had been a hit? The way that Mike got comically egocentric after Kokomo was a huge hit... can anyone imagine how Murry would behaved? Frankly as bad as things were for Brian and his mental health around 1969, with Murry selling the catalog, etc... I can think of an equally - or even worse - scenario if Murry had been strutting around like a rooster, mindfucking Brian into thinking that Brian really needed Murry all along to make hits, and would need Murry to have future hits. The stuff of nightmares.

I have always wished that Breakaway had been a successful hit for the Beach Boys, but I had never thought about this. I think you're absolutely right regarding Murry and it could've been a blessing that Breakaway wasn't successful.

Still, I wonder how things would have veered for Brian had Breakaway become a hit. Thanks for the food for thought, CD.
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« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2019, 02:49:24 PM »

Woah C.D! Undecided
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And production aside, Id so much rather hear a 14 year old David Marks shred some guitar on Chug-a-lug than hear a 51 year old Mike Love sing about bangin some chick in a swimming pool.-rab2591
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« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2019, 03:01:38 PM »

Does anyone know if Murry's vocals on the album (was it just 1 song?) were sang with Murry and the Boys all around 1 mic? Since Mike would sing his parts separately at his own mic, I wonder if Murry did the same, and if so the possibility exists for Murry-only vocal stems on whatever song(s) he contributed to. Weird question, but a serious one!
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