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650706 Posts in 26004 Topics by 3711 Members - Latest Member: JPP4 September 21, 2019, 06:50:31 AM
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Author Topic: Most Self Contained Beach Boys' Albums  (Read 1619 times)
Steven
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« on: June 01, 2019, 06:24:17 AM »

  One of the more fascinating aspects of The Beach Boys' career is how different the recording process could be from record to record. During some periods the instrumentals  were the work of a  largely self-contained band (1962-64) while the PET SOUNDS/SMiLE era found most of the instrumental tracks recorded by the Wrecking Crew under the direction of Brian Wilson. Some albums (FRIENDS) were a blend of the group and studio pros.

 Beyond that, we have seen that even within the band, static instrumental lineups rarely applied. Consider that Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and Carl Wilson all played bass on various studio sessions. Carl played drums on "Moon Dawg" and Brian played drums on "Surfin'", "Funky Pretty" and  parts of THE BEACH BOYS LOVE YOU. It goes on.


 Historical and audio evidence indicates that SURFIN' SAFARI, SURFIN' USA, SURFER GIRL, WILD HONEY, CARL & THE PASSIONS, HOLLAND, and THE BEACH BOYS LOVE YOU are the most self contained albums in the group's catalog, particularly the first two LPs and LOVE YOU.


 Does it matter when The Beach Boys play or don't play? Has misreported "information" about near total session player dominance during the hit years undermined the band's reputation in certain circles?


 {Props to Jon Stebbins for clarifying this issue to a large extent. In the past, insiders such as David Leaf and general rock critics like Dave Marsh seemed to stress the studio musician theory for almost all of their hit singles in the 60s.}


  
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 06:52:01 AM by Steven » Logged
All Summer Long
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2019, 08:50:01 AM »

Historical and audio evidence indicates that SURFIN' SAFARI, SURFIN' USA, SURFER GIRL, WILD HONEY, CARL & THE PASSIONS, HOLLAND, and THE BEACH BOYS LOVE YOU are the most self contained albums in the group's catalog, particularly the first two LPs and LOVE YOU.


 Does it matter when The Beach Boys play or don't play? Has misreported "information" about near total session player dominance during the hit years undermined the band's reputation in certain circles?


 {Props to Jon Stebbins for clarifying this issue to a large extent. In the past, insiders such as David Leaf and general rock critics like Dave Marsh seemed to stress the studio musician theory for almost all of their hit singles in the 60s.}

I think we can probably add Little Deuce Coupe, Shut Down Volume 2, All Summer Long, and/or Beach Boysí Party to that list.

I think it matters when the band plays on their records and that their reputation has been undermined by this and Mikeís constant power struggle (see the recent 12 Sides of Summer discussion). I think that we cannot completely forget Today, SDSN, and parts of the 68-71 albums because because Brian and Carl (and to a lesser extent everyone except Mike) are all over them. I think 15 Big Ones is a strange case because Dennis and Brian are on most of the album, but not Carl. I think MIU is interesting because Mike doesnít play anything and Carl and Dennis canít be on that much of the album, meaning the album is Brian and Al plus the touring band. And I wonder how if KTSA was supposed to bring the band back together, but it has a long list of session musicians, and even Carl isnít playing on everything (i.e. at least Da Doo Ron Ron). Sorry for this rambling list   Wink
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Steven
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2019, 10:56:08 AM »

Historical and audio evidence indicates that SURFIN' SAFARI, SURFIN' USA, SURFER GIRL, WILD HONEY, CARL & THE PASSIONS, HOLLAND, and THE BEACH BOYS LOVE YOU are the most self contained albums in the group's catalog, particularly the first two LPs and LOVE YOU.


 Does it matter when The Beach Boys play or don't play? Has misreported "information" about near total session player dominance during the hit years undermined the band's reputation in certain circles?


 {Props to Jon Stebbins for clarifying this issue to a large extent. In the past, insiders such as David Leaf and general rock critics like Dave Marsh seemed to stress the studio musician theory for almost all of their hit singles in the 60s.}

I think we can probably add Little Deuce Coupe, Shut Down Volume 2, All Summer Long, and/or Beach Boysí Party to that list.

I think it matters when the band plays on their records and that their reputation has been undermined by this and Mikeís constant power struggle (see the recent 12 Sides of Summer discussion). I think that we cannot completely forget Today, SDSN, and parts of the 68-71 albums because because Brian and Carl (and to a lesser extent everyone except Mike) are all over them. I think 15 Big Ones is a strange case because Dennis and Brian are on most of the album, but not Carl. I think MIU is interesting because Mike doesnít play anything and Carl and Dennis canít be on that much of the album, meaning the album is Brian and Al plus the touring band. And I wonder how if KTSA was supposed to bring the band back together, but it has a long list of session musicians, and even Carl isnít playing on everything (i.e. at least Da Doo Ron Ron). Sorry for this rambling list   Wink

 Carl is listed as a musician for 10  songs on the credits of 15 BIG ONES, but that is less than either Brian or Dennis. His back problems may have been a factor. As for Dennis, it was the first LP since he resumed his stickwork in 1974 so it was probably of personal importance to play. Just speculating really. Why Al didn't contribute as a guitarist on 15 BIG ONES (save the previously recorded "Susie Cincinnati) is anyone's guess. Maybe Ed Carter was better.

 Yeah, add LITTLE DEUCE COUPE and SHUT DOWN VOL 2 to the "mostly self contained" category. "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" is Brian starting to utilize The Wrecking Crew.

 Other than "Good Vibrations" the band probably played most of the music on SMILEY SMILE as well.

 The Beach Boys took a distinct turn toward studio players on KTSA and never really looked back.
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Fall Breaks
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2019, 01:52:27 AM »

Related to that, when was the last time Carl's guitar was heard on a BB studio recording?
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JK
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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2019, 02:03:22 AM »

I'd say Love You is by far the most self contained.

In my view it's the only BB album that can be considered Outsider Music, where all the rules have been thrown out of the window.
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B.E.
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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2019, 06:51:46 AM »

I'd say Love You is by far the most self contained.

I agree. Another factor to consider is songwriting. Every other album mentioned in this thread includes covers and/or significant contributions from outside songwriters.
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NateRuvin
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2019, 01:31:51 PM »

FallBreaks,

I can't say for sure, but we know Carl played on KTSA, so at least as "recent" as the the 80's. Carl's credited as playing Electric Guitar on BB85, but there aren't many moments of guitar playing that scream Carl to me. Maybe he played on California Callin.

But what really got me thinking was that interview of Brian & Mike from circa 1995 during the Paley sessions. When asked about a studio session, Brian says that Carl had recently laid down guitar parts, and then went on to discuss how much he loved Carl's playing.

Maybe someone with more expertise than me could determine what song(s) Carl would've played guitar on during those sessions?
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c-man
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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2019, 06:36:01 PM »

One key point is that, after the first couple of albums, the Beach Boys became increasingly known (and self-identified) as a VOCAL band - that's where their chops lay, and they maximized their emphasis on that aspect of their sound, with Brian's vocal arrangements becoming increasingly complex as time went by. THAT alone should ensure no loss of respect in critics circles.

On KTSA, Carl played guitar on the title track (piano, too), "Oh Darling", "Livin' With A Heatache" (electric piano, too), and the outtake "Goin' To The Beach" (bass, too). He also played keboards on "Sunshine". Not yet sure if he's playing lead guitar on "School Days" or if that's a studio guy.

On BB85, we have track-by-track credits, and Carl is credited with guitar on "It's Gettin' Late" (synth, too). He's also credited with synth on "Where I Belong". Al is credited with guitars on "California Callin'".

The track that Brian was referring to in '95 where he talked about Carl adding some guitar is the unreleased (and unfinished) "Dancin' The Night Away" for the "Baywatch Nights" TV series. Carl plays some rockin' guitar on that!  Too bad it wasn't finished and released.
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c-man
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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2019, 07:25:25 PM »

Oh, and Carl overdubbed guitar on a few of the MIU tracks when he finally arrived at the studio. But it seems that the only drumming Denny does on that album are on the tracks that were recorded the year before at Brother.
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2019, 10:33:22 PM »

BTW, I think it woulda been cool as hell if The Beach Boys had done a fully self-contained and self-produced latter-day album like The Monkees did with Justus while they were all still alive!
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HeyJude
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2019, 07:37:32 AM »

I think it is very important to point out that the band were about vocals (and songs) more than musicianship. A good song is a good song, a good recording is a good recording. It has never bothered me that the band didn't play instruments on some stuff. I've even said, while discussing the various "what ifs" of the later era, I wouldn't have even minded the band just buying in songs from outside writers if the songs were good and they did good vocals on them.

But the fact that, especially in the later era, they often came into recording sessions with little or no connection to the song or recording up that point, is something that *is* worth looking at and mentioning. It does mean sometimes they had less connection to their songs, and *one* of the reasons I think some bands have resonated with listeners is when it's the band's (or individual artist's) vision throughout the process. And/or, at the very least, they are to some degree involved in the process along the way.

So it's not coincidental that some of the latter-day BB projects seem to lack some weight and gravitas and substance when some or all members were just coming in at the eleventh hour and singing on stuff they not only didn't have a hand in writing or recording (backing track-wise), but may have had little or no familiarity with in any way.

At the same time, the end product if it's good can supersede any of that. There are later era tracks I like even though few if any BBs had anything to do with the backing track. There are even some cases where few BBs are even involved in the vocals and a good song still takes the day.

The BBs often not being integral players (or players at all) on the instrumental side of things is just the reality of how it was, and it largely worked for them. But it is an aspect that, in some cases, led to less substance to their output.
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2019, 11:57:33 PM »

BTW, I think it woulda been cool as hell if The Beach Boys had done a fully self-contained and self-produced latter-day album like The Monkees did with Justus while they were all still alive!
I agree! Love Justus, sadly, most Monkees fans don't.
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