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Author Topic: California Calling  (Read 4538 times)
feelintheflows
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« on: February 24, 2019, 04:18:16 PM »

Anyone know why this wasn’t released as a single...?
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SydBarrett
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2019, 06:43:30 PM »

Anyone know why this wasn’t released as a single...?

It's a pretty bad retread of Surfin USA
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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2019, 04:16:44 AM »

Anyone know why this wasn’t released as a single...?

It's a pretty bad retread of Surfin USA



That's not a reason in Beach Boys land not to release it. I also wondered why it wasn't a single as it definitely is catchy and sounds like a potential hit.
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2019, 08:23:41 AM »

It was apparently released as a single (commercial and promo?) in Australia:



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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2019, 10:19:46 AM »

Anyone know why this wasn’t released as a single...?
Because it sucks?  Grin Seriously, it's one of my least favorite Beach Boys songs.
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2019, 10:47:35 AM »

Anyone know why this wasn’t released as a single...?
Because it sucks?  Grin Seriously, it's one of my least favorite Beach Boys songs.
Yeah, pretty much in the bottom tier of their catalog. Definitely not "hit" material.
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2019, 12:16:19 PM »

I'm not a fan of how Mike Love sang on it, somewhat similar to what he did on It's A Beautiful Day.
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2019, 12:20:05 PM »

I think I am in the minority then, I like how they sang on it. It's a nice harken to their younger days. Mike sounded so off in the 70's and sounds better here. I just hate the Culture Club-esque production. Blegh.
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2019, 07:49:28 PM »

It was apparently a single in Japan, instead of "It's Gettin' Late" (coupled with It's OK):


Also, count me in for those who care for this song - although it's not the best thing on the BB85 album, I think it is a hit material, in the same vein as "It's OK", that should have been a single.
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2019, 05:51:37 AM »

Anyone know why this wasn’t released as a single...?
Because it sucks?  Grin Seriously, it's one of my least favorite Beach Boys songs.
Yeah, pretty much in the bottom tier of their catalog. Definitely not "hit" material.

I agree. As someone who actually likes "It's A Beautiful Day," I honestly think this song is awful. The lyrics try too hard to sound hip and retro at the same time and fail miserably.

I might even put this below Summer In Paradise, which, while not a great album by any means, at least tried new things (i.e. rap, production techniques, etc...)
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Peadar 'Big Dinner' O'Driscoll
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2019, 07:09:33 AM »

Possibly the worst BB's song....if summer of love didn't exist.
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2019, 08:35:28 AM »



I agree. As someone who actually likes "It's A Beautiful Day," I honestly think this song is awful. The lyrics try too hard to sound hip and retro at the same time and fail miserably.


I agree, especially with the verse lyrics. Although the chorus is acceptable IMO.

When Al sings the lyric "totally rad", I'm still trying to process whether there was any sort of ironic intent, or if he said it with complete sincerity, thinking that people would take him seriously as a 1980s rocker, especially as he grew his mullet out around the same time to be fully current with the times.

Because honestly it strikes me as probably the most laughable and lame attempt to be hip in the entire history of the band...  I suppose the entirety of "summer of love" is far worse, but this lyric is just sooo funny (not on purpose) coming from a guy born in 1942.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2019, 08:36:01 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2019, 09:10:03 AM »

Is it possible that it was in the queue to be the next single? I base this on the end of the Video for It's Getting Late, where Brian picks up the shell and hears the song. Maybe the momentum had died too early for CC.
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2019, 09:36:03 AM »

Maybe something geared toward a discussion of the BB '85 album, but honestly the album itself, the majority of it, does not sound at all out of place with what was on top-40 radio at that time. I know, I was listening to top-40 radio constantly at that time. Hot Hits 98 in Philly, with DJ's like Terry "Motormouth" Young and Barsky...and it may very well have been the last gasp of what we know as Top 40 radio and related culture. Like DJ's coming to local high schools and spinning new records for the kids, etc...

Anyway, the album itself is not out of place, in terms of production and sonics, with whatever else was hitting top 40 and MTV at the time. Getcha Back *works*, it's a good single, but above all it sounded exactly like other big hits of the day (The Spector retro throwback touches, the overall 80's update of the girl group, 4 Seasons, Spector sonic elements...castanets wailing, etc.) . It could sit next to "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" by Billy Joel, "Uptown Girl" again by Billy, "Take Me Home Tonight" by Eddie Money feat. Ronnie Spector, "They Don't Know" by Tracey Ullman written by the brilliant Kirsty MacColl, and a host of other tunes that updated the classic AM 60's pop vibes.

And, just to touch on an earlier comment, this "California Calling" track does not sound like Culture Club. Culture Club had better *songs*, that were catchy as hell, and had a terrific white soul singer in Boy George. Those reggae grooves, those gospel grooves, with George singing lead - They were good records of good songs. This California mess...not even close. It doesn't sound like Culture Club to me at all, it falls way short of CC's hit records from the few years before this one, and is a middle aged band singing material that should have been left in the dirty sand under the pier alongside the empty bottles of Genny Cream Ale and Doritos bags.

What California Calling sounds like to me is closer to one of Mike's numerous cassette-only releases from either Radio Shack/Hitbound, the gas stations, or whatever other outlets he was targeting.

It's trying to update something that doesn't need to be updated. Yet, for the 30 or so years...Hell, actually up to the present...Mike can't get beyond trying to do covers and remakes and update things that should have been left as what made them classic in the first place. Yes, this is a Wilson/Jardine composition, I know, but it sounds like it falls into that same pit of misplaced nostalgia and guys in their late 40's with comb-overs, beer guts, and bad golf shirts trying to hit on girls at a college town's local bar. It's done.


Comparing this to Summer In Paradise, specifically "Summer Of Love"? Nothing goes lower than that. Nothing. The Beach Boys featuring Mike trying to rap, and having a Baywatch video...Not much if anything can or will go lower than that sh*t.

But this track, it's kind of sad because the album itself actually wasn't that bad, and as heard in Getcha Back, they were still capable of current music and respectable songwriting efforts that sounded like it fit on Top 40 radio while not resorting to cliches and surfer bullshit that too often plagued their solo and group releases from 1979 up to 2018. They didn't have to sound like Mike's cassette-only debacles, yet here they unfortunately did...in lyrics, sound, and the whole ball o' wax.





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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2019, 09:52:15 AM »

It's also super bizarre that this song, of all songs, has drums by Ringo Starr. Of all songs for him to do a guest appearance on, it's baffling that this track happened to be what was picked... I'm guessing that was just simply a matter of timing and what was available. Does anyone know the story of how that came to be?
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2019, 10:21:09 AM »

Yeah, Ringo on this of all tracks he *could* have guested on...I don't get it. As far as how he got on the track, they probably just called him.  Grin

What's even more under-heralded if not ignored by most people these days is that Stevie Wonder...Stevie F***ing Wonder...contributed "I Do Love You" to the album! Stevie in 1984-85 was as hot of a commercial artist as he had been, and here he shows up basically creating a full track of his original song for Carl Wilson to sing on. And Carl *nailed* it, which is no surprise given his love for Stevie's music dating back to the 60's. The track itself is a little too sophisticated and jazzy to have gotten Top-40 charting success, but it could have fit on any Adult Contemporary/Urban Contemporary playlist that year.

And it sounds like any Stevie Wonder track that was burning up the charts and airwaves in the early to mid 80's, so again it's another case of the Beach Boys putting a solid effort on a track for this album, and having it all but ignored moving forward to the present. It's a solid track, and in terms of what Stevie Wonder brought to the table, it's all there.

Just think...Imagine Mike getting his wish to have his cover of "At The Hop" placed on the album. That's the mentality which brought California Calling to the table, I believe. Yet the tracks surrounding it are pretty distinctively *not* 100% in that phony surfer nostalgia vein.
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« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2019, 10:23:04 AM »

I liked California Calling one day when I was listening, not paying close attention, and thinking it was something vintage. For a few seconds.
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« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2019, 11:33:21 AM »

I suppose that with better production(actual insteuments, and with a mix that doesn't sound so sterile) and better lyrics it could be better. That "totally rad" line just hurts to my soul though. This is the same group that recorded "All I Wanna Do", "Long Promised Road", and "Surf's Up"?  Huh
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« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2019, 02:01:10 PM »

Mike should update the song for his 2019 set, and to make it extra contemporary and fitting for the song itself, just change the title/yric to California LOL-ing  LOL
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« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2019, 07:22:27 PM »

I suppose that with better production(actual insteuments, and with a mix that doesn't sound so sterile) and better lyrics it could be better. That "totally rad" line just hurts to my soul though. This is the same group that recorded "All I Wanna Do", "Long Promised Road", and "Surf's Up"?  Huh

Line in bold: Imagine that same scenario when you'd see a "new" Beach Boys album appear, called "Summer In Paradise", and listening for the first time to THAT.

That reaction you posted is exactly what my own reaction was, to SIP and numerous other missteps and flops. I call it Jekyll And Hyde. You'd be in a record store, in the Beach Boys section, and see Summer In Paradise in the same bins as the two-fers and various reissues, and think "Is this the same group?"
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« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2019, 12:09:28 AM »

Anyone know why this wasn’t released as a single...?

It's a pretty bad retread of Surfin USA



That's not a reason in Beach Boys land not to release it. I also wondered why it wasn't a single as it definitely is catchy and sounds like a potential hit.

In Beach Boys land post 1975, sounding like a potential hit is all the reason you need NOT to release it as a single. 

Also, recording amazing groundbreaking music is all the reason you need to leave it in the vault for the next 40 years. 
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« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2019, 07:48:25 AM »

I also recall that while they were mixing "California Dreamin'" in late 1982 at Rumbo, they also recorded an early version of "California Calling." It would be at the very least interesting to hear that early version.

I don't believe any of the 84/85 Levine recordings used old BB tracks as a basis, so whatever exists of that '82 version of "California Calling" hasn't been heard. I'm not sure how far along that '82 version got (e.g. are there vocals?).

The song's lyrics are pretty bad. BB '85 isn't exactly Exhibit A for the band's lyrical prowess. But some of the lyrics are extra cheesy. The best stuff on the '85 album is the Carl stuff, and probably then a few of the tracks from outside writers.

"California Calling" is cut from the same cloth as other 80s "retro" tracks the band did, and I don't think a ton of those were going to get them high on the charts (or good critical notices). I think "Getcha Back" was about as far as they could go as far as doing something in that 80s mode of 50s/60s "retro" that could also have some amount of success on the charts.

A few years later and *maybe* it would have been easier to market the Carl tracks to "Adult Contemporary" radio. But it's all big "ifs" and I don't think they were ever destined to have "hit singles" again; "Kokomo" was a happy fluke.
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« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2019, 01:24:06 PM »

I also recall that while they were mixing "California Dreamin'" in late 1982 at Rumbo, they also recorded an early version of "California Calling." It would be at the very least interesting to hear that early version.

I don't believe any of the 84/85 Levine recordings used old BB tracks as a basis, so whatever exists of that '82 version of "California Calling" hasn't been heard. I'm not sure how far along that '82 version got (e.g. are there vocals?).
 

Is it safe to assume that Denny had nothing to do with the recording of this 82 version?

I wonder if he even heard a single note of any of the "gems" that the band was cooking up in the last few years of his life, regardless if he contributed to their recording or not. Does anyone know?
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« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2019, 01:39:17 PM »

I also recall that while they were mixing "California Dreamin'" in late 1982 at Rumbo, they also recorded an early version of "California Calling." It would be at the very least interesting to hear that early version.

I don't believe any of the 84/85 Levine recordings used old BB tracks as a basis, so whatever exists of that '82 version of "California Calling" hasn't been heard. I'm not sure how far along that '82 version got (e.g. are there vocals?).
 

Is it safe to assume that Denny had nothing to do with the recording of this 82 version?

I wonder if he even heard a single note of any of the "gems" that the band was cooking up in the last few years of his life, regardless if he contributed to their recording or not. Does anyone know?

Considering "California Dreamin'" was cut with session musicians in 1982, and that Dennis was only sporadically appearing in the studio in the early 80s and was rarely if ever doing layered group backing vocals by that point, I'd guess he's not on it.

C-man posted this several years back in a thread focusing on whether Brian was on the track:

Interestingly, the original report on the May 1982 "California Dreamin'" vocal session at Rumbo (printed in the Summer '82 issue of "Add Some Music") was that it "featured the entire Beach Boy vocal ensemble - including Carl and Brian".  Reason Carl would be specifically mentioned is that he had just then returned to the band.  But since both Jeff and Adrian were in the band at the time (and both are credited with "backup" on the Radio Shack "Rock and Roll City" cassette released a year later - which included, of course, the original '82 version of this track) my guess is they are BOTH on it.  They were certainly part of the "Beach Boy vocal ensemble" at the time.

I remember a super old thread, maybe even on an old board, trying to figure out who is doing the falsetto/high parts on "CD." All theories are on the table, including Brian, Bruce, Foskett, or Adrian Baker.
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« Reply #24 on: February 27, 2019, 04:32:41 PM »

I was 15 when this came out and I played for a friend and I remember we were both laughing out loud at these terrible lyrics:

And I'll take ya' boogie boardin' with me
'Cause when we're surfin' it's so great to be free
And when you're on a California beach
You might even find 'em windsurfin' too

In the fifties it was "Hey Daddy O"
Then came the surfers and the Hodads ya' know
We had our woodies and our custom cars
And when we drove around we knew we were bad

My baby listens to my car radio
And when we're cruisin' lets the whole world know
And when our favorite surfin' song comes on
We always let 'em know it's "Totally Rad!"
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