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Author Topic: Honkin' Down the Highway Single/LOVE YOU Marketing  (Read 2637 times)
Steven
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« on: June 14, 2019, 06:23:11 PM »

  THE BEACH BOYS LOVE YOU was released April 11 1977. It makes no marketing sense at all that "Honkin' Down the Highway" b/w "Solar System" was not released as a single until May 30 1977. Quite a stupid move to wait 6 weeks to release any single from a new album. Who is to blame? Likely Warner/Reprise. Despite the commercial success of 15 BIG ONES and its accompanying singles, Reprise showed little interest in promoting an unconventional LP from a group that would shortly be leaving.

 Moreover, cutting off Dennis's cool drum intro deprived the song of its opening punch - something that would have grabbed one's attention over the radio. I wish The Beach Boys had made a promo video that began with Dennis beating the drums,  then maybe something like Al driving a vintage car. In an alternate universe, "Honkin' Down the Highway" made a slow climb into the Billboard Top 20 in the summer of  1977, bringing LOVE YOU back up the LP chart with it.

 With  better promotion and wiser marketing,  both "Honkin' Down the Highway" and LOVE YOU could have had a bit more commercial success. Yes, it was a strange album, but remember, The Beach Boys were fresh off one of the biggest years of their career and continued to command an audience. Someone dropped the ball.

 
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2019, 06:36:39 PM »

 They continued to attract a large audience because of their live shows, not because of albums like Love You and 15 Big Ones. Love you was akin to Smiley Smile in that it did not represent what the BB's were capable of doing. The label knew that and couldn't blame them for not backing it with a big money promo. Honkin' and Solar System were not marketable in the least. The ball was dropped by no one but themselves.
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2019, 07:05:30 PM »

They continued to attract a large audience because of their live shows, not because of albums like Love You and 15 Big Ones. Love you was akin to Smiley Smile in that it did not represent what the BB's were capable of doing. The label knew that and couldn't blame them for not backing it with a big money promo. Honkin' and Solar System were not marketable in the least. The ball was dropped by no one but themselves.
 


  15 BIG ONES made the Top 10. LOVE YOU was released less than a year later. Let's say "Honkin' Down the Highway" was released a week or two in front of LOVE YOU...no way it doesn't chart. Call me crazy, but that record could have been a minor hit, at least.

 
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2019, 11:10:24 PM »

It's true that 15 BO had a respectable chart run. I would guess, though, that a lot of the people who bought the album, once they took it home and put it on the turntable, didn't like it very much. If they had come up with a strong album (think Summer Days and Summer Nights Volume 2), there's no way that puppy doesn't spin off at least a couple major hits. Instead, we got a return to the top 10 with Rock and Roll Music, and then It's OK barely dented the top 40. Then the group comes out with the very weird Beach Boys Love You album - how do you promote a weird album like that to the masses? It was an album only the cultists were going to get. IMO, if the guys had come out with an album like LA (Light Album) (minus the disco abomination) in 76/77, they would have had a better chance of making it big commercially.
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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2019, 01:30:14 PM »

I think the fact that the Group had signed a new contract with CBS in March, a month prior to the release of Love You didn’t help either. Warner was not amused to say the least.
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« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2019, 02:03:13 PM »

Hard to imagine anything succeeding commercially after 15 Big Ones came out.
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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2019, 03:05:40 PM »

They continued to attract a large audience because of their live shows, not because of albums like Love You and 15 Big Ones. Love you was akin to Smiley Smile in that it did not represent what the BB's were capable of doing. The label knew that and couldn't blame them for not backing it with a big money promo. Honkin' and Solar System were not marketable in the least. The ball was dropped by no one but themselves.
 


  15 BIG ONES made the Top 10. LOVE YOU was released less than a year later. Let's say "Honkin' Down the Highway" was released a week or two in front of LOVE YOU...no way it doesn't chart. Call me crazy, but that record could have been a minor hit, at least.

 


Despite your invitation to call you crazy, HDTH was not ever going to be a anything close to a hit. There was nothing on that album that was going to be considered "single" material. The mere fact that the record got little or no airplay is proof of that. The only song worth having from LY is TNWSY and man, that's about it. As was said above, it was a cult release for diehards only. I'm a die hard and I disliked it immensley.
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« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2019, 06:22:10 PM »

They continued to attract a large audience because of their live shows, not because of albums like Love You and 15 Big Ones. Love you was akin to Smiley Smile in that it did not represent what the BB's were capable of doing. The label knew that and couldn't blame them for not backing it with a big money promo. Honkin' and Solar System were not marketable in the least. The ball was dropped by no one but themselves.
 


  15 BIG ONES made the Top 10. LOVE YOU was released less than a year later. Let's say "Honkin' Down the Highway" was released a week or two in front of LOVE YOU...no way it doesn't chart. Call me crazy, but that record could have been a minor hit, at least.

 


Despite your invitation to call you crazy, HDTH was not ever going to be a anything close to a hit. There was nothing on that album that was going to be considered "single" material. The mere fact that the record got little or no airplay is proof of that. The only song worth having from LY is TNWSY and man, that's about it. As was said above, it was a cult release for diehards only. I'm a die hard and I disliked it immensley.


... and then there's me who loved LY it so much I played it at least once a day for two years. I still to this day consider it to be Brian Wilson's first solo album. The Moog sound blew me away but I loved the songs too.

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« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2019, 08:24:20 PM »

They continued to attract a large audience because of their live shows, not because of albums like Love You and 15 Big Ones. Love you was akin to Smiley Smile in that it did not represent what the BB's were capable of doing. The label knew that and couldn't blame them for not backing it with a big money promo. Honkin' and Solar System were not marketable in the least. The ball was dropped by no one but themselves.
 


  15 BIG ONES made the Top 10. LOVE YOU was released less than a year later. Let's say "Honkin' Down the Highway" was released a week or two in front of LOVE YOU...no way it doesn't chart. Call me crazy, but that record could have been a minor hit, at least.

 


Despite your invitation to call you crazy, HDTH was not ever going to be a anything close to a hit. There was nothing on that album that was going to be considered "single" material. The mere fact that the record got little or no airplay is proof of that. The only song worth having from LY is TNWSY and man, that's about it. As was said above, it was a cult release for diehards only. I'm a die hard and I disliked it immensley.


... and then there's me who loved LY it so much I played it at least once a day for two years. I still to this day consider it to be Brian Wilson's first solo album. The Moog sound blew me away but I loved the songs too.



I also love Love You...I think it’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard, but a few songs are genius. I think HDTH and Roller Skating Child were the only commercial or quasi-commercial songs. I think HTDH’s lyrics, not the synths, would have turned listeners off. The question is would Roller Skating Child need remixing, re-recording along the lines of the live versions, or just a release of the live version to be a minor hit single?
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« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2019, 04:39:05 AM »

Of all the Beach Boys albums Love You is unique in that it has no middle ground. You either love it or hate it.
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« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2019, 04:44:32 AM »

   "Honkin' Down the Highway" is a catchy, driving, rock & roll song about a guy making his way through traffic...so he can get laid. (More or less.) Outside the context of the parent LP, it isn't especially weird or strange. Many songs of similar subject matter have become hits. ("No Particular Place to Go" by Chuck Berry springs to mind.)

 By the time the edited single was released at the very end of May, LOVE YOU was already floundering on the charts. Had "Highway" been released in early April it likely would have made the Top 50 and LOVE YOU would have placed in the Top 40 Billboard albums chart.


 A nice promo video and a couple of television appearances (American Bandstand, SNL) would have strengthened the cause.
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« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2019, 08:43:49 AM »

Roller Skating Child could have and should have been a hit. I am convinced.

That song has just grown on me so much over the years, I always liked it but now I absolutely friggin love it.  Maybe it's just me having fanboy goggles, but I really think it's catchy and accessible.  Mike and Al's vocals are perfect. Even though some people brush it off as "creepy", I think in the era it came out in, it would not have really been considered such if it was released as a single.  

Also, it recently hit me that the "even do more when Momma's not around" line might perhaps be a drug reference.  I think it's meant to refer to dirty, naughty mischief, and that's about the only illicit thing "more" naughty than sex.

Anyway, it's got a great energy and wonderful little, subtle musical touches, which remind me a bit of those subtle touches on a song like This Whole World.  I think this song would've just needed to have been marketed and pushed, and even though there are certainly questionable lyrics and subject matter in the song, I don't think that in the 1977 era this by definition would've been to the song's detriment in terms of being a hit.

 But yes, I agree wholeheartedly that the ball was completely dropped on marketing the album and the single. Ridiculously so. It feels a bit like when something comes out because of contractual obligation but a corporate entity feels zero confidence in the project and doesn't do anything to help it. Sort of how director Mike Judge was treated with his film Idiocracy.
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« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2019, 11:01:37 AM »

I was quietly obsessed with Ding Dang for a long time, I can remember back in the day filling up one side of a tape cassette with it and just letting it run ... Musical nirvana, lol ...

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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2019, 01:42:56 PM »

I actually think The Night Was So Young might have been a better single. What are the beach boys known for? Harmonies. Did Honkin down the highway have any? Barely. Did TNWSY? Yes, especially the chorus, one of their best on any album, imho. The only problem with the song is the guitar line after every vocal line. I saw Paul Mccartney doing an interview talking about how on Hey Jude George originally wanted to do the same thing, mirror the vocal line with guitar after every line and paul said "no, that wont sound good". Its almost exactly what Carl (? i assume its him) does on TNWSY, and its the one thing about the song that annoys me. However, the whole group harmony on the chorus i think would be the main star of the song....Honkin Down The Highway really doesnt even sound the the Beach Boys if you dont know its them. Where are the great harmonies? TNWSY has that and if someone was hearing it on the radio for the first time theyd immediately go "oh, thats the beach boys..."
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2019, 06:57:17 PM »

OK then, "Honkin' Down the Highway" or "Roller Skating Child" or "The Night Was So Young" as lead in single with a late March or early April release. Any of the three could have made the Top 50.
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« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2019, 08:45:59 PM »

Let Us Go On This Way would’ve been ace, personally. The aggressive sound mixed with Brian singing falsetto again might have gotten some attention as a single
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« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2019, 09:54:38 PM »

You who list "The Night..." & "Roller Skat..." - you kid, right? They don't shout "hit single". Either song will be epic fail. Rightly so. police
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« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2019, 10:38:34 PM »

you think the drum intros good my guy?  well listen to this: i got the bootleg lp, (billy hinche vocal) and you get the drum intro and presceding that you get dennis drumstick click 1-2-1-2-3-4 count off, its my favorite part
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« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2019, 06:16:43 AM »

I first heard the LY album when it was previewed in its entirety on the largest market Atlanta rock radio station right before its release, which was a big deal marketing-wise then. That was also the last time they played anything from LY. As much as fans may love or hate (not much middle ground imo) this album, it never had any widespread appeal when it was released.
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« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2019, 08:18:02 AM »

<<With  better promotion and wiser marketing,  both "Honkin' Down the Highway" and LOVE YOU could have had a bit more commercial success. Yes, it was a strange album, but remember, The Beach Boys were fresh off one of the biggest years of their career and continued to command an audience. Someone dropped the ball.>>

*There was no promotion of any significance for Love You or any of the singles, including the 4 song UK EP that included MONA, MARCELLA and two other tracks.  This was even referenced by Mike Love, on stage at the London CBS convention that summer.
*As much as I love LOVE YOU, there is very little on that album that is radio friendly in the context of what was hit record material in the Spring of 1977. It was about 4 years ahead of it's time, pre-dating the early 80s Brit Synth-Pop.  There was no way it could compete in that Eagles/Heart/Doobie Brothers/Fleetwood Mac era.
*Roller Skating Child might have had better chart success; it might have dented the top 40.
*Regarding sales... I remember my High School girlfriend at the time worked in the record/electronics section of our local Decatur, Illinois K-Mart.  At the time, they had a decent selection of music.  I was hoping to get an early release copy from them until I discovered from her that the K-Mart corporate buyers did not pre-order LOVE YOU.  The word she got: The only reason they'd ordered 15 Big Ones the previous Spring was because they thought it was a greatest hits collection.  I suspect a number of other stores believed the same thing.
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« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2019, 08:37:32 AM »

The word she got: The only reason they'd ordered 15 Big Ones the previous Spring was because they thought it was a greatest hits collection.  I suspect a number of other stores believed the same thing.

Ouch!

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« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2019, 08:46:31 AM »

The word she got: The only reason they'd ordered 15 Big Ones the previous Spring was because they thought it was a greatest hits collection. I suspect a number of other stores believed the same thing.

Ouch!



Wow. Now that I think about it, considering the time 15BO was released (1976, which was right when their old hits were big again), it almost feels like *maybe* that could have been a subtle intentional reason why the album got that title to begin with. Do we know who named 15BO? Mike repeatedly takes credit for naming Pet Sounds, but not sure anyone's taken credit for 15BO.

The album cover (with the awful pics of the band, including the baffling random sideways Al pic) of then-modern day bearded BBs members could almost be seen as an extension of or a sequel to the (also awful, IMO) Endless Summer artwork also featuring pics of then-modern day bearded BBs members. I'm not saying that necessarily the band or record label was trying to deceive fans into thinking it was a greatest hits collection, but perhaps they might have known that some (or more than some) people might make that same mistake, but shrugged it off since a purchase is a purchase and it'd have meant more sales anyway - once it's been purchased and played, it's not like people could come crawling for their money back asking for a refund for false advertising.

I know 15BO was at one point going to be a full album of oldie cover songs + a 2nd whole album of originals, right? I could understand an album of 15 famous oldie cover songs being called 15 Big Ones, or a BBs greatest hits album being called 15 Big Ones, but it truly, truly makes no sense to call what was released 15 Big Ones. That's saying something as undeniably slight as "TM Song" is a "Big One".

I think the marketing people *had* to know the title would give a certain impression that is different from what was on the actual album, but again it maybe seemed like the 15 Big Ones title would be more quickly purchased by fans if the LP seemed like it would contain 15 famous songs just from the title (even if the tracklisting which included some mediocre originals would obviously disprove that).
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« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2019, 08:58:34 AM »



*As much as I love LOVE YOU, there is very little on that album that is radio friendly in the context of what was hit record material in the Spring of 1977. It was about 4 years ahead of it's time, pre-dating the early 80s Brit Synth-Pop.  There was no way it could compete in that Eagles/Heart/Doobie Brothers/Fleetwood Mac era.
*Roller Skating Child might have had better chart success; it might have dented the top 40.
*Regarding sales... I remember my High School girlfriend at the time worked in the record/electronics section of our local Decatur, Illinois K-Mart.  At the time, they had a decent selection of music.  I was hoping to get an early release copy from them until I discovered from her that the K-Mart corporate buyers did not pre-order LOVE YOU.  The word she got: The only reason they'd ordered 15 Big Ones the previous Spring was because they thought it was a greatest hits collection.  I suspect a number of other stores believed the same thing.

Here's a weird thought: how would a single of "Good Time" have faired? Probably not too well, I'm guessing?  Perhaps if it had the cool vocal bridge from the American Spring version, it would have been more impactful as a song.

In any case, if Good Time had been any sort of minor success as a single, I cannot imagine how weird it would be for a listener to hear the rest of the album, considering GT is clearly the odd song out (and not even properly part of the album's era). Out of the several times that the band put an old song such as When Girls Get Together (not a previously-released old song that had been a hit single, like GV) on an album, unless I'm misremembering something, I'm guessing that none of those songs were ever released as singles? That said, Good Time is a pretty decent song and oddly enough perhaps still a better choice for a Love You single than a good amount of other songs on the album simply because it has less WTF moments relatively speaking (and I say that even though it has the "falsies" lyric!)
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« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2019, 09:29:39 AM »

I could understand an album of 15 famous oldie cover songs being called 15 Big Ones, or a BBs greatest hits album being called 15 Big Ones, but it truly, truly makes no sense to call what was released 15 Big Ones. That's saying something as undeniably slight as "TM Song" is a "Big One".

It was also their 15th year as a group.
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« Reply #24 on: June 17, 2019, 09:44:17 AM »

"Good Time" = great song and vocals, weak lyrics. The American Spring version has stronger lyrics, imo. I wish the BBs had redone their lead with better lyrics.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 09:46:03 AM by Emdeeh » Logged
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