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648601 Posts in 25944 Topics by 3701 Members - Latest Member: Little E. Honda July 18, 2019, 08:47:03 PM
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Author Topic: California Calling  (Read 4362 times)
HeyJude
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« Reply #50 on: March 06, 2019, 06:15:04 AM »

Carl's solo albums definitely have enjoyable moments compositionally and performance-wise.

But the production on both albums is very sterile and lacking in energy/dynamics. I think things perked up production-wise a little bit on the second album; "What You Do To Me" has a peppy arrangement and production if nothing else (though I'd say that song sounds *too* light and bubblegummy, even for a BB-related record).

I've always contended that, for the first album for instance, the live 1981 shows breathed *way* more life into those songs.

As a whole, Carl's solo albums are inoffensive at worst, and at times are quite enjoyable. They feature neither the highs nor lows of contemporaneous BB albums.

I think a lot of fans agree that when Brian Wilson was able to just do whatever struck him, that tended to be the more pure and often most enjoyable. As was said all the way back to something like "Friends", when you hear that Brian is doing his own thing and *isn't* pulling in a bunch of contemporary musical influences (and when they are influences they tend to be relatively far off from pop, like Bacharach), that often *feels* right. This is true all the way up to the present. "That Lucky Old Sun" is enjoyable, but there's a good amount of Bennett in those songs. But then, you hear "Message Man" and it sounds like Brian's deal and nobody else's. I digress on this to point out that Carl never got quite to that place. He just didn't write/record/release enough material (solo, or on BB albums for that matter, certainly by the 80s) to evolve (or maybe even "de-evolve" as it were) to just purely and solely follow his own muse.

I'm not saying his solo (or BB) material is hugely compromised or anything. But the two 80s albums sound like he's either trying hard to make it mostly *not* sound like the BBs, and/or he's doing the kind of music *he likes* more than the type of music that might most purely and easily come out of him. I think, in terms of *composition*, he may have reached a slightly more pure place with his BB '85 tracks and the "Beckley Lamm Wilson" stuff recorded in the 90s. But in the case of "Beckley Lamm Wilson", some quite good compositions are again hampered by pretty stale production and arrangement. I'd still love to take some of those songs like "They're Only Words" and strip a lot of the backing track away and see it partly re-recorded and remixed.
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Jim V.
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« Reply #51 on: March 06, 2019, 09:30:58 PM »

Carl's solo albums definitely have enjoyable moments compositionally and performance-wise.

But the production on both albums is very sterile and lacking in energy/dynamics. I think things perked up production-wise a little bit on the second album; "What You Do To Me" has a peppy arrangement and production if nothing else (though I'd say that song sounds *too* light and bubblegummy, even for a BB-related record).

I've always contended that, for the first album for instance, the live 1981 shows breathed *way* more life into those songs.

As a whole, Carl's solo albums are inoffensive at worst, and at times are quite enjoyable. They feature neither the highs nor lows of contemporaneous BB albums.

I think a lot of fans agree that when Brian Wilson was able to just do whatever struck him, that tended to be the more pure and often most enjoyable. As was said all the way back to something like "Friends", when you hear that Brian is doing his own thing and *isn't* pulling in a bunch of contemporary musical influences (and when they are influences they tend to be relatively far off from pop, like Bacharach), that often *feels* right. This is true all the way up to the present. "That Lucky Old Sun" is enjoyable, but there's a good amount of Bennett in those songs. But then, you hear "Message Man" and it sounds like Brian's deal and nobody else's. I digress on this to point out that Carl never got quite to that place. He just didn't write/record/release enough material (solo, or on BB albums for that matter, certainly by the 80s) to evolve (or maybe even "de-evolve" as it were) to just purely and solely follow his own muse.

I'm not saying his solo (or BB) material is hugely compromised or anything. But the two 80s albums sound like he's either trying hard to make it mostly *not* sound like the BBs, and/or he's doing the kind of music *he likes* more than the type of music that might most purely and easily come out of him. I think, in terms of *composition*, he may have reached a slightly more pure place with his BB '85 tracks and the "Beckley Lamm Wilson" stuff recorded in the 90s. But in the case of "Beckley Lamm Wilson", some quite good compositions are again hampered by pretty stale production and arrangement. I'd still love to take some of those songs like "They're Only Words" and strip a lot of the backing track away and see it partly re-recorded and remixed.

Absolutely wonderful post Mr. Jude. Especially about Brian's work.

However, I will offer a bit of a different view on Carl's music post Youngblood. I think Carl's stuff from The Beach Boys '85 album and on was him in his element. His sweet spot. You know, like the "Message Man" type Brian you're talking about. This isn't a diss to him at all by the way. I just think that adult contemporary rock was where Carl felt comfortable. So while the production choices on things like "Like A Brother" or some of the others aren't what I may have done, I think I understand where Carl was at with this stuff. And it kinda makes me wonder where Carl woulda stood had he made it long enough to see Brian finish Imagination with Joe Thomas. I think that possibly unlike Brian's Paley material, Imagination was right in the '80s and '90s version of Carl Wilson's wheelhouse. I've thought about a thread expanding on what woulda happened with The Beach Boys had Carl beat his cancer and perhaps I will, but one has to wonder if Carl woulda worked with Brian and if Brian woulda kept a foot in The Beach Boys camp as an active member. And so on. But wow I went off the original topic.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #52 on: March 07, 2019, 06:23:13 AM »

I do think Carl was tapping into his sensibilities on stuff like the "Beckely Lamm Wilson" material.

I certainly don't think what Carl was looking to do (or could have done) in the 90s (or any other time) was to do like retro-ish-sounding Andy Paley type material vaguely nodding to the mid-60s BB material.

I think an ideal situation for Carl in the 80s and 90s would have been to continue to use his voice on other well written material (which did obviously still occur to some degree), and then give material written (or co-written) by Carl to a producer who could take Carl *compositions* but get them away from that "Beckley Lamm Wilson" adult contemporary, sort of bland, sterile production sound.

Imagine something like "They're Only Words", but with BB backing vocals mixed in, and with a backing track produced by, say, Jeff Lynne or something. That song is a good song with great Carl vocals (and some good lyrics too), but the arrangement and production outside of the vocals sounds like a mid 90s demo.
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