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Author Topic: Honkin' Down the Highway Single/LOVE YOU Marketing  (Read 5560 times)
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« Reply #25 on: June 17, 2019, 10:02:22 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.


I suppose that's true too.

Was that fact widely known or being pushed/marketed with a "15th anniversary tour" or anything like that? Otherwise it seems it'd just be an in-joke/reference that pretty much only they or their friends would get.
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« Reply #26 on: June 17, 2019, 06:06:42 PM »

"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.
We vary by mileages.  Wink I dislike entire American Spring album, including bland "Good Time" (lyrics mean zero to this listener).
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« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2019, 06:30:19 PM »

For many years, before I was a hardcore fan and knew better, I always assumed that 15 Big Ones was a greatest hits album, just with a weird "updated" photo of the group on the cover.
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« Reply #28 on: June 19, 2019, 09:13:31 AM »

Regarding timing and strategy of releases for “Love You” and its singles, it’s interesting that the band must have felt/known pretty strongly *back then* that Warner wasn’t putting much into their releases what with their weird “lame duck” status having signed with CBS with TWO albums left on the Warner contract.

I recall Al Jardine mentioning in several latter-day (e.g. post-90s) interviews that he remembered Warner cheaping out on “Love You”, citing the cheap quality of the album jacket compared to what the band apparently wanted at some point. Considering how much detail the band members *don’t* retain in modern interviews, the fact that Al remembers that specifically is pretty telling.

With “Honkin’….”, the timing for its release seems to line up pretty close to the typical timing of many “second single” releases from albums, meaning the second single to be pulled from albums. That often tended to happen roughly a month or two after the accompanying album release. I’m not saying they had some other single planned for “Love You” only to be pulled. It’s quite possible Warner just wasn’t putting much into the album or its singles.

Indeed, while I dig “Love You”, I’m not certain *anything* on that album would have been a significantly better chart performer as a single.

I think “Rock and Roll Music” and the 15BO album were a bit of a fluke.

I’ve seen a theory in the past that the best post-“Rock and Roll Music” single choice to be a potential hit would have been either to bump *up* the release of “It’s OK” to earlier, or, post-15BO, to get “Peggy Sue” or “Come Go With Me” out (the latter of which, I believe, if not both, had been tracked by the time “Love You” was out) as a single on the heels of a previous cover being a hit. It would have been a bit of a gimmick/novelty, but it probably would have given them a bit better chart action.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of what-ifs involving Beach Boys singles, involving simply pulling a different song or timing single releases differently. And I think there’s not much evidence that gives me a strong sense that such slight variations would have made a big difference. I think “It’s OK” could have been pushed earlier in 1976 and it may have done better on the singles charts. I think minor tweaks may have occasionally resulted in minor improvements. I guess if they had churned out some obvious super-clone of “Kokomo” to come out later in 1988, they may have manufactured another slighter hit (but something that would have done better than the ’89 singles).

But I don’t think “Honkin’ Down the Highway” was ever going to be a hit single, just like nothing from KTSA in 1980 was ever going to burn up the charts, etc.
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« Reply #29 on: June 19, 2019, 09:24:18 AM »


Regarding stores mistakenly ordering 15BO thinking it was a hits comp, it's strange that after their mistaken strategy in ordering 15BO still ended up being a case where the album went Top 10 and the single went Top 5, that *still* wouldn't indicate that they would want to order that band's next album?

Stores like K-Mart and similar ilk (White Front, etc.) were typically less stocked than full-on record stores, so I would imagine they had to make more judgment calls on what to order or not order, whereas a full-on record store in the late 70s was still typically ordering in at least a few copes of the new BB album.

I suppose I could understand a casual consumer, upon *first glance* at "15 Big Ones", perhaps thinking at first it was a hits compilation. But a buyer for a music dept. of a dept. store would have to be going out of their way to not pay attention to mistakenly order an album thinking, based solely on its title, that it was a hits compilation. They'd have to assume that even with TWO Top 10 "hits" compilations having come out the two previous years in 1974 and 75, including a #1 album, that the Beach Boys were releasing *another* hits compilation of the same hits again (since only those early hits would be the ones that would sell, right?), and would also have to be unfamiliar with the band's then-current label (Reprise) being different than the label that then had the distribution rights to those pre-1966 tracks. And that would also have to ignore any press/publicity from the label concerning BB product.
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« Reply #30 on: June 19, 2019, 10:45:10 AM »


Regarding stores mistakenly ordering 15BO thinking it was a hits comp, it's strange that after their mistaken strategy in ordering 15BO still ended up being a case where the album went Top 10 and the single went Top 5, that *still* wouldn't indicate that they would want to order that band's next album?

Stores like K-Mart and similar ilk (White Front, etc.) were typically less stocked than full-on record stores, so I would imagine they had to make more judgment calls on what to order or not order, whereas a full-on record store in the late 70s was still typically ordering in at least a few copes of the new BB album.

I suppose I could understand a casual consumer, upon *first glance* at "15 Big Ones", perhaps thinking at first it was a hits compilation. But a buyer for a music dept. of a dept. store would have to be going out of their way to not pay attention to mistakenly order an album thinking, based solely on its title, that it was a hits compilation. They'd have to assume that even with TWO Top 10 "hits" compilations having come out the two previous years in 1974 and 75, including a #1 album, that the Beach Boys were releasing *another* hits compilation of the same hits again (since only those early hits would be the ones that would sell, right?), and would also have to be unfamiliar with the band's then-current label (Reprise) being different than the label that then had the distribution rights to those pre-1966 tracks. And that would also have to ignore any press/publicity from the label concerning BB product.

15BO was released in the dark ages of pre-internet, but even back then I'm guessing that word spread around pretty fast that the album was a bit of an underwhelming stinker and a disappointment, right?

I guess it's like when a series of movie sequels comes out, and one of the sequels is great and makes a lot of money (Endless Summer), but when the next one does pretty well but is widely regarded as pretty meh (15BO), the sequel after (Love You) that suffers greatly at the box office, and nobody cares anymore, even if it's objectively better or more interesting than the preceding one. There's probably a Police Academy/BBs analogy in there somewhere.  Grin

Feels like Love You suffered a similar fate, sadly.

For the record, while it's certainly flawed, I kinda like 15BO anyway, even though it's not a popular opinion.
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« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2019, 12:59:06 PM »

R&R Music was a good single. Brian's instincts were spot-on there. Good song choice, good hook, nice nasally Mike lead. Not much else about 15BO made sense. It's perhaps the single most curious creation in the band's history, which is saying something.
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« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2019, 06:45:17 PM »

R&R Music was a good single. Brian's instincts were spot-on there. Good song choice, good hook, nice nasally Mike lead. Not much else about 15BO made sense. It's perhaps the single most curious creation in the band's history, which is saying something.

Curious creation? Nah, Smiley Smile holds that title. Not saying you're off base, but R&RM was certainly a fluke and I wouldn't be surprised if the band's reaction was WTF?? I mean there was some very good music being put down in that time period by other groups, however, the album didn't expand their fanbase but rather drove it down a few notches if anything. The next album would kind of seal their fate as it was for diehards only.
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« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2019, 07:21:26 PM »


Regarding stores mistakenly ordering 15BO thinking it was a hits comp, it's strange that after their mistaken strategy in ordering 15BO still ended up being a case where the album went Top 10 and the single went Top 5, that *still* wouldn't indicate that they would want to order that band's next album?

Stores like K-Mart and similar ilk (White Front, etc.) were typically less stocked than full-on record stores, so I would imagine they had to make more judgment calls on what to order or not order, whereas a full-on record store in the late 70s was still typically ordering in at least a few copes of the new BB album.

I suppose I could understand a casual consumer, upon *first glance* at "15 Big Ones", perhaps thinking at first it was a hits compilation. But a buyer for a music dept. of a dept. store would have to be going out of their way to not pay attention to mistakenly order an album thinking, based solely on its title, that it was a hits compilation. They'd have to assume that even with TWO Top 10 "hits" compilations having come out the two previous years in 1974 and 75, including a #1 album, that the Beach Boys were releasing *another* hits compilation of the same hits again (since only those early hits would be the ones that would sell, right?), and would also have to be unfamiliar with the band's then-current label (Reprise) being different than the label that then had the distribution rights to those pre-1966 tracks. And that would also have to ignore any press/publicity from the label concerning BB product.

15BO was released in the dark ages of pre-internet, but even back then I'm guessing that word spread around pretty fast that the album was a bit of an underwhelming stinker and a disappointment, right?

I guess it's like when a series of movie sequels comes out, and one of the sequels is great and makes a lot of money (Endless Summer), but when the next one does pretty well but is widely regarded as pretty meh (15BO), the sequel after (Love You) that suffers greatly at the box office, and nobody cares anymore, even if it's objectively better or more interesting than the preceding one. There's probably a Police Academy/BBs analogy in there somewhere.  Grin

Feels like Love You suffered a similar fate, sadly.

For the record, while it's certainly flawed, I kinda like 15BO anyway, even though it's not a popular opinion.
Actually, Spirit of America was the sequel to Endless Summer, and it did very well. Went gold and made the top 10.
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« Reply #34 on: June 20, 2019, 07:12:47 AM »

R&R Music was a good single. Brian's instincts were spot-on there. Good song choice, good hook, nice nasally Mike lead. Not much else about 15BO made sense. It's perhaps the single most curious creation in the band's history, which is saying something.

I think "15 Big Ones" came across as a case of moments of inspiration and creativity, and then at a certain point it was just a matter of getting a product out there for the summer.

It's fascinating how at certain moments various band members just left things in Brian's lap and stayed passive, and then at other random moments spearheaded projects.

Look at how the hot potato was passed around in the second half of the 70s, either passively or actively. Brian fronts 15BO, then takes even firmer charge of both "Adult Child" material and "Love You", then all of a sudden Al Jardine is left to scrape together a Christmas album (only to see it rejected), and then the "MIU Album", cobbling together new recordings and weird Brian leftovers ("Hey Little Tomboy"?). Then Bruce is back, and first cobbles together disparate solo-ish material into an album ("LA"), and then works a bit more from scratch on a further album (KTSA).

For all the cool tracks on those albums that went largely unappreciated by the masses, it's also at the same time kind of surprising such a schizophrenic/frankensteined series of albums/projects got the band *any* traction with charts or critics. The stuff was only sporadically, sometimes seemingly *accidentally* in step *at all* with what was on the charts at any given moment.
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« Reply #35 on: June 20, 2019, 07:21:52 AM »

I'd also say, regarding "Rock and Roll Music", that it was a good single and a fun/catchy recording, but its secondary lasting legacy for me and many BB fans is the eventually *tedious* inclusion of the song in nearly every setlist from that point on. The song had some pep when it was first added to the setlist, especially when the band had a horn section. But eventually it became pretty tedious.

By the 90s, what with the band's weird penchant during that era of slowing down a bunch of the songs in the setlist, "Rock and Roll Music" was one of the low points of the show.

On the C50 tour, they reinvigorated the song with some pep by doing it at a decent tempo and, despite the huge band, actually making the song sound pretty sparse and hard-edged relying mainly on drums and guitars. But it still was one of the weaker moments.

It's interesting that, while Brian's tours have usually focused on Brian-penned (or co-penned) songs, he has dipped into old BB covers (e.g. "Do You Wanna Dance"), yet never saw fit to add "Rock and Roll Music" to *his* setlist. I don't think Al often or ever did it at his solo shows. Same thing with "It's OK." For whatever reason, it has been mainly Mike that has revisted those songs and seems to have more fondness. Both Brian and Al, individually and collectively, have instead dipped more into "Love You", while Mike has ignored that one (despite having some good moments singing songs like "Airplane").
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« Reply #36 on: June 20, 2019, 08:40:05 PM »

I'd also say, regarding "Rock and Roll Music", that it was a good single and a fun/catchy recording, but its secondary lasting legacy for me and many BB fans is the eventually *tedious* inclusion of the song in nearly every setlist from that point on. The song had some pep when it was first added to the setlist, especially when the band had a horn section. But eventually it became pretty tedious.

By the 90s, what with the band's weird penchant during that era of slowing down a bunch of the songs in the setlist, "Rock and Roll Music" was one of the low points of the show.

On the C50 tour, they reinvigorated the song with some pep by doing it at a decent tempo and, despite the huge band, actually making the song sound pretty sparse and hard-edged relying mainly on drums and guitars. But it still was one of the weaker moments.

It's interesting that, while Brian's tours have usually focused on Brian-penned (or co-penned) songs, he has dipped into old BB covers (e.g. "Do You Wanna Dance"), yet never saw fit to add "Rock and Roll Music" to *his* setlist. I don't think Al often or ever did it at his solo shows. Same thing with "It's OK." For whatever reason, it has been mainly Mike that has revisted those songs and seems to have more fondness. Both Brian and Al, individually and collectively, have instead dipped more into "Love You", while Mike has ignored that one (despite having some good moments singing songs like "Airplane").
Surprised Al hasn't resurrected Come Go With Me. He sure loved getting the crowd into that one circa 1983-84.
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« Reply #37 on: June 21, 2019, 01:05:03 PM »

Two words: Johnny Carson. 

Now there's a missed opportunity for a #1 single.   Razz
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« Reply #38 on: June 21, 2019, 01:39:37 PM »

I'd also say, regarding "Rock and Roll Music", that it was a good single and a fun/catchy recording, but its secondary lasting legacy for me and many BB fans is the eventually *tedious* inclusion of the song in nearly every setlist from that point on. The song had some pep when it was first added to the setlist, especially when the band had a horn section. But eventually it became pretty tedious.

By the 90s, what with the band's weird penchant during that era of slowing down a bunch of the songs in the setlist, "Rock and Roll Music" was one of the low points of the show.

On the C50 tour, they reinvigorated the song with some pep by doing it at a decent tempo and, despite the huge band, actually making the song sound pretty sparse and hard-edged relying mainly on drums and guitars. But it still was one of the weaker moments.

It's interesting that, while Brian's tours have usually focused on Brian-penned (or co-penned) songs, he has dipped into old BB covers (e.g. "Do You Wanna Dance"), yet never saw fit to add "Rock and Roll Music" to *his* setlist. I don't think Al often or ever did it at his solo shows. Same thing with "It's OK." For whatever reason, it has been mainly Mike that has revisted those songs and seems to have more fondness. Both Brian and Al, individually and collectively, have instead dipped more into "Love You", while Mike has ignored that one (despite having some good moments singing songs like "Airplane").
Surprised Al hasn't resurrected Come Go With Me. He sure loved getting the crowd into that one circa 1983-84.
I'm still waiting for The Brian Wilson Show to include Kokomo or Still Cruisin'.

In Brian's band, I don't think Al gets much say or input into the setlist.

Al did do "Come Go With Me" at least once with Brian's band, at the first gig he did with Brian back in November 2006 at UCLA. I think after that, even at the 2006/07 gigs they did together, that one was dropped.

Al of course also did it on C50.

I don't think we'll see Brian's band do non-Brian tracks like "Kokomo" or "Still Crusin'." He doesn't even do some of the BB hits he *did* have a hand in writing, like "It's OK", nor some of their cover hits that he (Brian) produced or had a hand in, like "Rock and Roll Music."

The prompt for Brian's solo tours has always been to do mostly songs he has written or co-written. Even some of the songs others like Al or Blondie sing are usually Brian co-writes. There are of course some exceptions, like cover versions ("This Could Be the Night", "Be My Baby", etc.), and on rare occasions Dennis songs. I think the only Al-penned song Al has done with Brian's band that Brian didn't co-write is "California Saga: California." Al supposedly rehearsed "Lookin' at Tomorrow" with Brian's band for the 2014 PBS Venetian gig, but they didn't perform it.
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« Reply #39 on: June 21, 2019, 01:40:44 PM »

Two words: Johnny Carson. 

Now there's a missed opportunity for a #1 single.   Razz

That one was (still is) an earworm for me and I really loved the tag.
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« Reply #40 on: June 21, 2019, 01:46:48 PM »

Considering how much Brian digs the "Love You" album, I'm surprised he hasn't done more tracks from it more often. They'd be easy for the band to pull off, and his 1976/77 lead vocals are less taxing to do in modern times than his '64 voice. "The Night Was So Young" has had a few airings, and "Honkin' Down the Highway" was in there for a little bit with Al singing.

But yeah, "Airplane" and "Johnny Carson" would have been a hoot to hear, and others as well.
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« Reply #41 on: June 21, 2019, 01:56:13 PM »

Considering how much Brian digs the "Love You" album, I'm surprised he hasn't done more tracks from it more often. They'd be easy for the band to pull off, and his 1976/77 lead vocals are less taxing to do in modern times than his '64 voice. "The Night Was So Young" has had a few airings, and "Honkin' Down the Highway" was in there for a little bit with Al singing.

But yeah, "Airplane" and "Johnny Carson" would have been a hoot to hear, and others as well.
I was surprised when he first started doing solo tours that there weren't more songs from the 1988 album in his setlist. Other than Love and Mercy, the only one I recall him doing (briefly) was Let it Shine. But maybe those songs just remind him of Landy and all the bad stuff going on at that time.
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« Reply #42 on: June 21, 2019, 05:39:45 PM »

Considering how much Brian digs the "Love You" album, I'm surprised he hasn't done more tracks from it more often. They'd be easy for the band to pull off, and his 1976/77 lead vocals are less taxing to do in modern times than his '64 voice. "The Night Was So Young" has had a few airings, and "Honkin' Down the Highway" was in there for a little bit with Al singing.

But yeah, "Airplane" and "Johnny Carson" would have been a hoot to hear, and others as well.
I was surprised when he first started doing solo tours that there weren't more songs from the 1988 album in his setlist. Other than Love and Mercy, the only one I recall him doing (briefly) was Let it Shine. But maybe those songs just remind him of Landy and all the bad stuff going on at that time.

He also did Melt Away at some early oughts shows.
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« Reply #43 on: June 28, 2019, 05:55:04 AM »

I remember hearing LOVE YOU as a suburban teenager for the first time in '81 (which IIRC was the year the Human League came out which is the first time I can think of a band having anything close to the "Love You" sound got played on the radio) and definitely having a WTF reaction to the productive style. I agree with those here who say that there was just no way anything on it would get on the radio in '77. It really was, in its own way, quite a subversive album. Almost an F-you to radio in a way, though I don't think that was the intention.

I can see how someone who wasn't listening to the radio in the '70s might visualize a hit from that album based on what has come since then but just...no way. I can imagine "Honkin'" with the drum intro back in having a "Goin' On"-like run for a few weeks but other than that...no. I'd have an easier time imagining it in the '80s...and it's interesting (though probably irrelevant) that MIU yielded a hit single in 1981. Even that much more radio-friendly production might have been a little too crisp for AM in '78.
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« Reply #44 on: June 28, 2019, 06:52:39 AM »

Exactly, I think "Love You" was a relatively subversive album (especially in light of the band's catalog up to that point), and it was indeed largely unintentional. Brian was really just following his muse both compositionally and in terms of production, and it just ended up being this weird item that some some slightly alternative-leaning artists and critics rightly singled out.

But what it *wasn't* was anything like what had scored the group chart action in the preceding number of years.

Rock and Roll Music, It's OK, Come Go With Me, even Peggy Sue were all things, for better or worse, were going to get the band more chart action. I'd still like someone to explain how "Almost Summer" wasn't co-opted for a Beach Boys single in 1978.

Why weren't the guys in the band doing a Redwood-esque scene cornering *Mike* in 1978 and "forcing" him to hand over the song for the Beach Boys?

The chart action, especially around that time, is rather moot anyway, as nothing post-15BO was anything approaching a "hit", so most of this talk ends up being about supposition regarding how they could have bumped some single or album from like #150 to #65 or something.

I think post-R&R Music, the best chance they could have had to score a Top 10 or 20 single would have been to rush out any of the following as a single as early in the summer of 1976 as possible: "It's OK", "Come Go With Me", "Peggy Sue", or "Almost Summer."

Beyond that, it becomes a lot of twisting and turning and finagling to try to even *guess* about weird variations that might have gotten the band more chart action and sales. I guess if they had taken something like "My Diane", handed the lead over to Carl, and re-recorded it to sound production-wise more like "Baby What a Big Surprise" or "If You Leave Me Now" or some other early kind of pop/ballad/yacht rock sort of sound, maybe it would have done something? But that's a lot of "ifs", and I think the band could have come up with the biggest potential hit of 1977 or 1978 and it *still* probably would have sunk because Warner/Reprise weren't putting much into pushing BB stuff.
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« Reply #45 on: June 28, 2019, 08:19:00 AM »

Neil Young once said (in reference to his own output) that he thought some albums should be promoted, while others should simply be released.

Now, he also said that Geffen buried his 'Everybody's Rockin' album by giving it zero marketing support. But I can't see any amount of marketing making that a hit album. And I'm not comparing it to Love You by any stretch, but Love You was just never destined to have any commercial appeal. But what a great album. Hey didn't they say that  The Velvet Underground with Nico only sold like 15,000 copies when it came out?

On the flip side, I remember reading somewhere (Mansion on The Hill book perhaps) where Springsteen's label absolutely committed to making Born in the USA the album that took Bruce from star to superstar. They promoted the crap out of that album. Now that is a very commercial album to start with, but they pushed and pushed. Makes you think.
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« Reply #46 on: June 28, 2019, 10:08:49 AM »

As I've said in the past, one out look is that it's arguably surprising "Love You" even did as well as it did. The band has signed a deal with CBS, Al has said Warner Bros. skimped on the "Love You" package down to using cheaper cardboard for the jacket than they wanted, and the music wasn't either in step with modern pop/rock music particularly, nor did it even have the nostalgia bent of stuff like "Rock and Roll Music" or "It's OK."

"Love You" is in many places not even performed/recorded by a "traditional" rock band lineup. It has a bunch of moog and other synths instead of electric bass guitar. It has minimal guitar work (though there is some tasty stuff buried in there). It doesn't have 4/4 bass drum/snare drums in many places.

Even the generally great BB vocals can be criticized. Brian's leads are shaky. Even Carl has that sort of drunk-sounding thing going on a little bit.

To be clear, I love the album. But there are indeed plenty of reasons it didn't do better on the album or singles charts.
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« Reply #47 on: June 30, 2019, 11:40:24 PM »

The Beach Boys Love You killed their commercial momentum in a way similar to Smiley Smile. Just had SS on in the car today, and I can never get away from how freaking weird that album is! They gave us Pet Sounds, and then THIS? Don't get me wrong, I love Smiley, in fact I intend to play it for anyone who claims the BB's were a bunch squares. Sure, and they never smoked marijuana, never did any songs that weren't cars, surfing and girls.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #48 on: July 02, 2019, 09:55:45 PM »

One thing I've never understood about the argument that Warner didn't promote "Love You" is the TON of promotional material produced for the record:  all kinds of variations on posters, mobiles and other record store displays. Was that stuff already in the works before they signed with CBS?
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« Reply #49 on: July 03, 2019, 07:21:10 AM »

One thing I've never understood about the argument that Warner didn't promote "Love You" is the TON of promotional material produced for the record:  all kinds of variations on posters, mobiles and other record store displays. Was that stuff already in the works before they signed with CBS?

I would imagine on the record label side of things the limp support was probably a bit more subtle. Perhaps not putting as much effort into tightly coordinating release dates. Perhaps less work to push stuff to radio. Perhaps less total dollars spent on promotion. I'm sure Warner would still put the basic amount of promotion into the album; it's not as if they didn't still want some level of return on their contract/investment.

It may well have been that they simply didn't extend any extra amenities to the band by the time they knew the band was headed to CBS.

Here's a comment from Al from the 2000 Goldmine interview:

Q: From a purely personal standpoint, can you cite a Beach Boys album that deserves reappraisal?

A: Oh that Love You album has some gems on it. That's the one. It's a shame that the album cover is so crummy - everything about that thing is homemade. I think they thought it was our last album. I think it was issued as our last album for Warner Brothers. And when we went over to sign with CBS, they checked their agreements and we owed them another one. [laughs] They didn't spend a penny on the Love You album because they knew that we weren't coming back. They used real cheap cardboard for it. But the music, you wouldn't believe it. Ed Carter played on that. He's in our band now too. "The Night Was So Young" is a favorite.
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