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642982 Posts in 25678 Topics by 3650 Members - Latest Member: SmirkySmirk January 24, 2019, 05:03:59 AM
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Author Topic: THE WILSON PROJECT - THE ILLUMINATED EDITION  (Read 1263 times)
ChrisFarrell
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« on: January 11, 2019, 06:45:05 PM »

Got this notification from Stephen J McParland and thought is would be of interest to members here. It is an update of the Wilson Project he wrote many years ago about the time with Brian and Gary Usher.

THE WILSON PROJECT - THE ILLUMINATED EDITION
190 PAGES + 300 IMAGES
LOCKED PDF DOCUMENT

Twenty-seven years have passed since I first published this book.
It was out of print for some time before French based publisher Les Edition Berlot re-published THE WILSON PROJECT TAPES 1-10 as THE WILSON PROJECT -
2013 EDITION in March 2013.
This book is still currently available direct from Amazon.
Over the past few years I have received quite a number of enquiries regarding an E-book edition of THE WILSON PROJECT.
As an E-Book option was not part of my publishing contract with Les Editions Berlot, I have decided to produce an E-Book edition of THE WILSON PROJECT
myself.
This E-Book edition contains all the material featured within the Les Editions Berlot "book", plus whatever other information and materials I have
been able to unearth concerning "THE WILSON PROJECT" period, some of which was not included in any previous "book" editions.
This new E-book edition is more or less in two parts; the first section containing the "story" component of the book and the second section, titled
"COLLECTION OF MATERIAL", containing all the memorabilia divided into fourteen separate categories.
There are: Original Usher Polaroids; Relevant Record & CD Releases; Unofficial Releases; Odds 'N' Ends; Official Documents; Cassettes Received;
Lyrics; Some Usher Notes; Some Letters Received; Some Articles Received; Reviews; The Various Editions; Some Promotional Items and LOVE & MERCY
Versus Fantasy Or Reality.
I trust this E-Book edition - titled THE WILSON PROJECT - THE ILLUMINATED
EDITION - will find an equally receptive audience."

Try this address to purchase.

https://payhip.com/b/rBoq


Chris
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GoodVibrations33
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2019, 09:09:34 PM »

Thanks for posting this!
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SBN (South Bay Native)
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2019, 11:17:01 PM »

Yes, thanks ChrisFarrell. I read this book a couple of years ago when I was reading many BB's books; it's unique in its perspective on Brian.
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lance
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2019, 11:25:32 PM »

Thanks, Chris Farell. I was unaware of the exitence of this book.

I have a question before I order the Ebook? I started to, but then I see nothing. How is the book delivered? Is it automatic upon payment? I see that I can fill in an electronic form with an shipping address (as if I was publishing a physical product.) But it doesn't even ask me for an email address. Before I pay, how does it work? Will it automatically download after I pay?

Sorry for my ignorance, but I've never bought an ebook through this medium.
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lance
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2019, 11:33:58 PM »

Never mind. I took the leap and bought it; and was immediately directed to a page where I could download it. Thanks!
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2019, 09:15:31 AM »

In the movie Love and Mercy there was the scene where Brian goes with Melinda to a Moody Blues concert. This actually happened, although the details are different and as related in The Wilson Project, rather disturbing. If I was Melinda I would have run away from that craziness pronto.
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"(Brian) got into this really touching music with songs like 'In My Room', and 'Good Vibrations' was amazing. The melodies are so beautiful, almost perfect. I began to realize he was one of the most gifted writers of our generation." - Paul Simon
lance
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2019, 03:52:17 AM »

Holy Cow! What a great read! I have no idea how Usher managed to stay in that scene as long as he did. You can read between the lines that Brian wasn't crazy about Usher's "technological" approach and that's perhaps the main reason why the stuff didn't work out, but still. If I was Usher I would have run as fast as I could away from that craziness.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2019, 06:25:32 AM »

My ultimate general impression after reading the Usher/McParland book was that Usher was a nice, well-meaning guy, and Brian and especially his entourage with Landy was impossible to deal with, and it was not a good time for Brian. It was by that point a couple years into the era where Landy had overstayed and should have already left. The book is an important document of what Landy and his operation were subjecting Brian to.

That being said, my impression once I went back and listened to the "Usher Sessions" material again was that the material was pretty bad. The one area where Usher is less relatable in the book is his clear confidence in his ability as a *writer*, as an A&R guy who can make a hit. Usher is absolutely correct in this book that, in 1986, Brian had no clear idea of how to make a "hit" in 1986. But Usher's stuff would never have been a hit either. I guess it was moderately more "1986-sounding" than some of the stuff Brian was writing without Usher. But the material overall, both compositionally and production-wise, was pretty bland at best, and sometimes just bad. Like, "Let's Go to Heaven in My Car" and "Walkin' the Line" and "The Spirit of Rock and Roll" was actually truly as *good* as it got. To Usher's credit, he points out that this is all "demos" and not building up finished masters (one of the more awkward subjects in the book is how Usher realizes that Brian thinks they're recording/building up to finished masters while Usher clearly views all of this as pre-production demo work), so I'm willing to cut the tracks more slack on the production/mix side of things. But the songs, the compositions, are clearly sub-par to what came out on BW '88 (the one other moment where Usher doesn't come off as sympathetic is that he eventually doesn't seem to have glowing things to say about the eventual BW '88 album; he understandably is bummed he didn't get the gig).

Having said all of *that* though, a thorough and complete combing and releasing of the material would be welcome. There could be some things cut during those sessions that haven't leaked out over the years.

But as a story, that whole saga is undeniably fascinating. The Usher/McParland book is essentially a really focused, detailed biography on Brian in 1986-87-ish. The several times where Brian and Usher cross paths with the other Beach Boys are quite fascinating as well.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 06:27:44 AM by HeyJude » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2019, 09:28:48 AM »



That being said, my impression once I went back and listened to the "Usher Sessions" material again was that the material was pretty bad. The one area where Usher is less relatable in the book is his clear confidence in his ability as a *writer*, as an A&R guy who can make a hit. Usher is absolutely correct in this book that, in 1986, Brian had no clear idea of how to make a "hit" in 1986. But Usher's stuff would never have been a hit either. I guess it was moderately more "1986-sounding" than some of the stuff Brian was writing without Usher. But the material overall, both compositionally and production-wise, was pretty bland at best, and sometimes just bad. Like, "Let's Go to Heaven in My Car" and "Walkin' the Line" and "The Spirit of Rock and Roll" was actually truly as *good* as it got. To Usher's credit, he points out that this is all "demos" and not building up finished masters (one of the more awkward subjects in the book is how Usher realizes that Brian thinks they're recording/building up to finished masters while Usher clearly views all of this as pre-production demo work), so I'm willing to cut the tracks more slack on the production/mix side of things. But the songs, the compositions, are clearly sub-par to what came out on BW '88 (the one other moment where Usher doesn't come off as sympathetic is that he eventually doesn't seem to have glowing things to say about the eventual BW '88 album; he understandably is bummed he didn't get the gig).
 

I'd vote for "Heavenly Bodies" to be considered among the better Brian songs from this time. I actually quite dig "Heavenly Bodies", even though it's got a rough-ish demo lead vocal. It does sound very much of its time (maybe that would have helped it find an audience in 1986?), and the very last notes of the song remind me of the very last notes of the Growing Pains theme song, a very popular show at the time.

"Heavenly Bodies" (end):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9G8CC5tGlA&t=3m09s

Growing Pains theme song (end):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te2iIdrm_tk&t=0m55s

I wonder if that was intentional or not. Either way, I just got a flash of Brian Wilson in place of Alan Thicke, playing Jason Seaver.

Right around this same time, the ALF theme song sounded unbelievably similar to The Pet Shop Boys' "Suburbia" (too close to be just an accident, IMO), so who knows.



« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 09:31:08 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
lance
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« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2019, 08:27:02 PM »

I think the Usher songs are a lot better than the BB85 songs. They are just dated , that's all. 80s production used to bother me, but now it doesn't; it's just a particular flavor. And definitely the Usher songs are better than "Too Much Sugar", which is from the same time period and which he did not work on and even tried to convince them not to put out. I mean, I like "Too Much Sugar"for its quirks but if Brian wants to be a major label artist....that's actually I think the problem with Brian Wilson's solo work. I think he is basically a free-spirited indie artist who is trying to fit major label expectations.

What gets me is the excitement everybody showed for "Let's Go To Heaven In my Car." I ike the verses but I think the chorus is annoying and the production of course is dated, but wasn't dated in 1986-86. But it's just not that good a song, in my opinion. But everyone, from Wilson, to Usher to the Beach Boys to Lenny Waronker were convinced it was a winner. Brian played it at a songwriting conference like it was the second coming of "God Only Knows" and got a standing o. Like...what?. It is a bit absurd. Same with "The Spirit of Rock and Roll." There were like, wars fought over that song. In the end, while it is well-crafted, it is also just mediocre compared to Brian's best.

 And then it never even really got officially released  other than that flabby, lazy 2005 version.

The bit with Al Jardine being all pissy is pretty funny too. It's also interesting how Mike Love seems the most sane of all the Beach Boys compared to Brian and Al. Bruce comes off as a bit nutty, too. Only Carl and Mike seem to treat Usher like a human, although in the background, Mike is secretly trying to rewrite Usher's lyrics so he can wrangle a songwriting credit.  And then, Bruce is all in Usher's face about it. What a weird bunch of people.

But I think that all that stuff (and the BB 85) represents Brian coming out of long inactivity, and naturally his first songs are not going to be as good as what came later. And I think that Paley was a better collaborator because he wasn't trying to force Brian into this commercial mold like Usher was.

I must say that the book definitely makes me wonder how many lyricists have been uncredited over the years.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2019, 01:23:40 AM by lance » Logged
William Bowe
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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2019, 10:36:31 PM »

The bit with Al Jardine being all pissy is pretty funny too.

Love this line on page 61:

Quote
While Usher and Jardine shared reminiscences, Melcher and the engineers were busy assembling the various songs.
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lance
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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2019, 02:39:36 AM »

I think the Usher songs are a lot better than the BB85 songs. They are just dated , that's all. 80s production used to bother me, but now it doesn't; it's just a particular flavor. And definitely the Usher songs are better than "Too Much Sugar", which is from the same time period and which he did not work on and even tried to convince them not to put out. I mean, I like "Too Much Sugar"for its quirks but if Brian wants to be a major label artist....that's actually I think the problem with Brian Wilson's solo work. I think he is basically a free-spirited indie artist who is trying to fit major label expectations.

What gets me is the excitement everybody showed for "Let's Go To Heaven In my Car." I ike the verses but I think the chorus is annoying and the production of course is dated, but wasn't dated in 1986-86. But it's just not that good a song, in my opinion. OH, it's better than anything I've ever written. But everyone, from Wilson, to Usher to the Beach Boys to Lenny Waronker were convinced it was a winner. Brian played it at a songwriting conference like it was the second coming of "God Only Knows" and got a standing O. Like...what?. It is a bit absurd. Same with "The Spirit of Rock and Roll." There were like, wars fought over that song. In the end, while it is well-crafted, it is also just mediocre compared to Brian's best.

 And then it never even really got officially released  other than that flabby, lazy 2005 version.

The bit with Al Jardine being all pissy is pretty funny too. It's also interesting how Mike Love seems the most sane of all the Beach Boys compared to Brian and Al. Bruce comes off as a bit nutty, too. Only Carl and Mike seem to treat Usher like a human, although in the background, Mike is secretly trying to rewrite Usher's lyrics so he can wrangle a songwriting credit.  And then, Bruce is all in Usher's face about it. What a weird bunch of people.

But I think that all that stuff (and the BB 85) represents Brian coming out of long inactivity, and naturally his first songs are not going to be as good as what came later. And I think that Paley was a better collaborator because he wasn't trying to force Brian into this commercial mold like Usher was.

I must say that the book definitely makes me wonder how many lyricists have been uncredited over the years.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2019, 06:32:58 AM »

While the material *Brian* contributed to BB '85 was very generally on par with the Usher sessions material (which wouldn't be surprising as the two groups of sessions occurred pretty close to each other), I'd say a good hunk of the other members' material, particularly Carl, on BB '85 was in both writing and production/execution much, much better than the Usher stuff. All of Carl's songs are much better compositionally, and better executed by the group as opposed to the admittedly demo-ish ad-hoc group working on those Usher-Brian songs. Bill Champlin and Jason Scheff are not Carl, Mike, Al, Brian, and Bruce.

The Usher sessions (and the book in question) are intensely interesting, but more on the story side than the music side. "Jusy Say No" isn't terribly interesting musically, but the whole deal of Usher getting Mike in there is very interesting.

The best thing that came out of those sessions is the slightly (or maybe very?) cheesy "The Spirit of Rock and Roll", and sadly neither the initial Brian version nor the eventual version with some overdubbed BBs (as heard on the '86 anniversary special) have been officially released. Instead, we got the rather limp version Brian put on the Hallmark CD about 20 years later.

One of the more interesting bits in the book is also Usher's attempt to re-write the lyrics to "Still I Dream Of It." I may not be the best analyst when it comes to lyrics, but Usher's re-written lyrics were pretty cringe-worthy as I recall.
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