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Author Topic: Terry Melcher  (Read 30669 times)
JakeH
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« Reply #75 on: July 26, 2019, 12:25:11 PM »

I'll repeat again since the point seems to be getting lost.

Only two producers have ever scored a number one hit for the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson and Terry Melcher.

If anyone can dispute the magnitude of that fact, please give it a try. Because I'd like to see how a guy who has three number one singles  has his career reduced to listing his failures versus saying hey, this guy did some great stuff, some timeless stuff...I dont get it.

What you've written above reads as if you are equating what Brian Wilson did in '66 (with Mike Love's critical additions, like it or not, in the end stages) with what Melcher and a bunch of other people pieced together for a Tom Cruise movie tie-in in '88.  It sounds as if the idea is to elevate Melcher by stating: only Melcher achieved what Brian Wilson achieved for the Beach Boys.  There is no comparison whatsoever, of course, other than the fact that both reached number one on the charts - a measure not of quality or worth but of transient popularity and money-earning potential. 

I'm not aware of any anti-Melcher sentiment either among the public at-large or within '60s pop-nerd fandom.  If it's true he doesn't get credit/respect for three number one hits, it's because of a number of things: First, it's 50+ years on from the 60s - nobody cares about what was number one, it's what's good that matters in the end.  Of course, those two Byrds hits are indeed good, and that's why they are remembered (not because they were Number One)  But they were performed (sung, at least) by the Byrds - a truly great group with at least four members with legitimate creative (instrumental, songwriting) ability.  This was not an early-60s type youth group/pop group/girl group kind of deal where the producer (like Spector, I guess) can control and shape the music and take the credit.   Now, we know that at least on "Tambourine Man" the Byrds (except McGuinn) didn't play. But this is precisely the issue which undid Melcher - the Byrds themselves didn't want to be that kind of early '60s "puppet" group and they pushed back (against whom? Melcher himself? The label?) and it's because of that, and their subsequent work, that results in the public seeing the Byrds themselves - the musicians - as being responsible for the quality of the output.  So Melcher's involvement is obscured by that fact: the bands, or the performers taking more control in these days, which is one of the things happening in the second-half of the '60s.   I suspect that some of the “blame” for Melcher being marginalized can be laid at the feet of the Byrds themselves. 

The music: Even if not performed by the Byrds in the studio on “Tambourine Man,” it's performed by the Wrecking Crew. And lately they've been getting their credit - "we did this, we did that."  So Melcher, posthumously, has to get in line not only behind McGuinn, Crosby et al. but the Crew also.  There's only so much credit that can be shared (let's not forget Dylan for writing one of the tracks and Seeger/The Holy Bible for the other) If Melcher had done other notable production work subsequent to the early Byrds, maybe he would be more recognized as a producer, but I'm not sure there's much there.  (I can’t comment on Paul Revere & The Raiders, not having heard that much aside from “nuggets” type comps and I think a cover by the Flamin’ Groovies).  In the end, Melcher appears to be someone who was a player in the early '60s mode, and who sort of got left behind when the second-half of the decade came around, during which the balance of power between artists/performers and label/management shifted somewhat (including whatever is defined as "canyon" music).  In the end, you can maybe say that by producing and working with the Byrds to create their early hits, Melcher, ironically, helped to create the very thing that would push him to the margins.

Then there's "Kokomo." Melcher hasn’t been getting credit for this great accomplishment first of all because the record is not respected.  Liked, by some, yes.  Slick and professionally well-crafted; indeed if the thing called "Beach Boys" was going to have a hit in 1988, it would have to sound like “Kokomo.”  The reward for doing this kind of work is financial, not reputational - hopefully Melcher got a nice payday.  But in terms of reputation, in the eyes of the public, the listeners, he gets no recognition.  Mike Love is the individual who gets the credit - because Mike indeed made major contributions that that record, because he outlived everyone else, and because it’s unlikely that people are lining up to be credited for their involvement in that recording.  That is, Mike is the only one who wants the credit. (had Carl lived, it’s hard to imagine him trumpeting his involvement on “Kokomo.” And imagine Ry Cooder: "Hey everybody, did you know I played on 'Kokomo.'") Generalizations here, but the kind of fans/listeners who pay attention to producers, engineers, and session musicians are not the kind of people "Kokomo" was made for.  The majority of the people who like "Kokomo" (and I knew quite a few of them back then), and therefore might be expected to appreciate Terry Melcher, are those who are not interested in who produced the track.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #76 on: July 26, 2019, 12:25:46 PM »

It seems pretty clear in that 1989 Carl interview that he had already somewhat abdicated a role as a leader of the band and was letting Mike run the thing. Carl apparently still worked on keeping the touring band together rehearsal-wise. But he clearly seems to be in a sort of "Well, Mike seems excited by the success of Kokomo and I'll just let him do this thing" frame of mind even by 1989.

There are no indications to suggest otherwise, with the only possible exception being the '93 "box set" mini-tour where they pulled out some really deep cuts...and I'm guessing Mike wasn't the one to helm that situation, considering his troupe of dancing girls would be hard pressed to choreograph steps for "Wonderful".

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but the rehearsal tapes for the '93 boxed set tour (at Al's studio if I recall correctly) indicate that Mike was not even present.

On the several recordings from that tour I've heard, Mike certainly isn't vociferously advocating for appreciation for the deep cuts. On the Paramount '93 recording, he offers after "Heroes and Villains" something along the lines of "we're still trying to figure out what that one's about", as if it's funny to be obtuse (or pretend to be) about the song nearly 30 years later.

I also recall that on the Paramount '93 recording, he undercuts any potential for a pleasant surprise for the audience by hitting a point early in the "rarities" set where he starts literally naming off the songs they're going to do.

I think in 1993, Mike (and perhaps all of the guys) were still trigger shy about doing a lot of deep cuts/obscure cuts in concert. They're still a bit in "pre-apologize" mode as they were on and off over the years.

Carl letting Mike kind of take over was unfortunate, not even so much due to Mike, but simply due to not having multiple ideas/points of view to guide the band. What's additionally odd and unfortunate is that Carl didn't take much opportunity in all those years to do stuff on his own. He was working on the "Beckley-Lamm-Wilson" stuff for years on and off, but that amounted in the end to 1/3 of an album, and it didn't get released until over a year after his death. Why Carl didn't do much outside of touring in the last 15 years of his life is an interesting and pertinent question.
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« Reply #77 on: July 26, 2019, 12:54:31 PM »

Replying to JakeH:

The music business is ultimately a business, and the gold ring everyone chases is scoring a #1 single or #1 album. Debate all day about art versus commerce, or the worthiness of a song, but if you're in the music business making records the ultimate goal was to score a #1 record. As such, the only two producers to reach that goal with The Beach Boys were Brian and Terry. That's as objective of a fact as can be presented because simply no one else did it, and that's what gets recorded in the history books.

Regarding Terry's other productions, I'd suggest listening to Paul Revere's hits which he produced before commenting too much on the success or validity of what Terry did with them or other artists. He scored two top-5 hits for the Raiders, and those were the most successful records that band had until the 1970's when "Indian Reservation" became a hit and it wasn't even a band effort to be blunt about it. They're excellent records, as I described here earlier.

I could go more in depth about The Byrds and all that backstory when Terry produced "Mr Tambourine Man" and "Turn Turn Turn" for them, and when both hit #1, but it's too much for this thread. I'd suggest reading some histories about The Byrds centered on that exact time in their career, histories not written by rabid Byrds fans, and get a sense of how the band was considered as a live act...they were not very good playing live at that time by quite a few firsthand accounts I've read, and of course that later changed. But what Terry did was polish them up in the studio, and get hit records on the charts under their name, which established them as a major act...using two cover songs no less, not originals from the band. That's the *business* side of the music business on full display. It worked: Those records are classics, and established the band moving forward. Terry succeeded in the job he was given to do at Columbia: Make hit records and make money for those involved.


As far as Terry's subsequent efforts, again (and I'm not saying this to be snarky at all) take a look at the history of how things played out. After his death in 1968, Terry and his mother found out that Doris' husband and Terry's stepfather Marty Melcher and his business manager had taken and lost something like 20 million dollars from Doris on money she had earned, and left her in debt. He also made a deal for Doris to star in a TV show...without telling her. So Marty dies, and leaves all this on Terry's and Doris' plate. Not to mention the mess with Manson, happening at roughly the same time.

So Terry did all but leave the regular business of making records and devoted his efforts to his mother, producing her TV show, doing music for her TV show and albums, and eventually running her charities which eventually would be worth millions.

That's why Terry wasn't cutting rock and pop records after a certain point: He worked on his mother's career on many fronts, and got her back after the financial debacle, some tabloid scandals regarding her relationships, and a career that many thought was over.

Not bad, right? I think it's pretty admirable. But that's why there was a gap in his production and music credits - He was working with mom Doris Day and getting things done in the TV and film business, then into the charitable foundation business again for his mom. Then he comes back with the Beach Boys and gets them back on the charts too. Not a bad haul.
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« Reply #78 on: July 26, 2019, 01:41:18 PM »



As far as Terry's subsequent efforts, again (and I'm not saying this to be snarky at all) take a look at the history of how things played out. After his death in 1968, Terry and his mother found out that Doris' husband and Terry's stepfather Marty Melcher and his business manager had taken and lost something like 20 million dollars from Doris on money she had earned, and left her in debt. He also made a deal for Doris to star in a TV show...without telling her. So Marty dies, and leaves all this on Terry's and Doris' plate. Not to mention the mess with Manson, happening at roughly the same time.

So Terry did all but leave the regular business of making records and devoted his efforts to his mother, producing her TV show, doing music for her TV show and albums, and eventually running her charities which eventually would be worth millions.

That's why Terry wasn't cutting rock and pop records after a certain point: He worked on his mother's career on many fronts, and got her back after the financial debacle, some tabloid scandals regarding her relationships, and a career that many thought was over.

Not bad, right? I think it's pretty admirable. But that's why there was a gap in his production and music credits - He was working with mom Doris Day and getting things done in the TV and film business, then into the charitable foundation business again for his mom. Then he comes back with the Beach Boys and gets them back on the charts too. Not a bad haul.

I did know about Doris' scumbag husband doing that to her, but I hadn't considered how tough that must've been on Terry as an only child trying to help his mom out, and how that surely impacted his own music producing career. Totally astute assessment. Terry really needs a well-written bio to be undertaken.

One interesting thing that just popped into my head is that Terry produced Getcha Back (which almost seems like a test run for the work he did for the band not all that much later).

However, the BB85 album was somewhat (?) loudly touted as being produced by Steve Levine, which I think they tried to use as a selling point, to a degree. Not like a Produced by Brian Wilson album, but still I can't think of another album in The BBs' career that the band themselves even really mentioned who produced it all that much (Bruce was pretty modest about his productions and played down LA Light and KTSA as I recall).

So with the BB85 album being produced by the then-hot and successful Culture Club producer Steve Levine, the very first sequential song on the album (and the album's first single) is not a Steve Levine-produced song... but a song by a different producer. As though the band knew (correctly, I might add) that regardless of this whole new attempt at a cohesive album by a hot producer, that the best and most commercial track to lead with was a one-off track by a different producer. I wonder if that led to any politics or resentment, or if it was just not biggie for Steve (I don't know anything about the guy).

What were the circumstances of Terry producing Getcha Back anyway? Was it just a one-off test type of thing, or was it always intended to be on the BBs 85 album, but they just wanted to do 1 track with a different producer?
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« Reply #79 on: July 26, 2019, 01:50:14 PM »

Side note: I wonder what a mid-late 1980s Byrds album produced by Terry (with all of the 1965 Byrds lineup) might have sounded like... would The Byrds have sounded a bit like Kokomo/SIP?  Part of me thinks so.
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JakeH
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« Reply #80 on: July 26, 2019, 02:06:44 PM »

Points generally well-taken...


The music business is ultimately a business, and the gold ring everyone chases is scoring a #1 single or #1 album. Debate all day about art versus commerce, or the worthiness of a song, but if you're in the music business making records the ultimate goal was to score a #1 record. As such, the only two producers to reach that goal with The Beach Boys were Brian and Terry. That's as objective of a fact as can be presented because simply no one else did it, and that's what gets recorded in the history books.


Not so much art versus commerce, but art and commerce, attempting to coexist (which they can)  Everyone wants a hit.  Is there anything else anyone wants to do? In certain cases, yes.  As just one example relevant to the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, Pet Sounds would not exist if only thing that mattered was getting to number one.  Brian might have hoped he could get to number one with that stuff, but that's not why he did it.  Was he wrong to do it?  Did he not understand the business?  Perhaps this points to the fact that Melcher should be rated by producer's standards/goals versus those of the artist, where the artist creates and the producer tries to shape that creation into something that sells.

Overall, verifiable facts and presumed objectivity can only get you so far when assessing art and creativity - which are the things which I believe attract people to the music in the first place, and certainly those which keep them listening to it decades later.


As far as Terry's subsequent efforts, again (and I'm not saying this to be snarky at all) take a look at the history of how things played out. After his death in 1968, Terry and his mother found out that Doris' husband and Terry's stepfather Marty Melcher and his business manager had taken and lost something like 20 million dollars from Doris on money she had earned, and left her in debt. He also made a deal for Doris to star in a TV show...without telling her. So Marty dies, and leaves all this on Terry's and Doris' plate. Not to mention the mess with Manson, happening at roughly the same time.

So Terry did all but leave the regular business of making records and devoted his efforts to his mother, producing her TV show, doing music for her TV show and albums, and eventually running her charities which eventually would be worth millions.

That's why Terry wasn't cutting rock and pop records after a certain point: He worked on his mother's career on many fronts, and got her back after the financial debacle, some tabloid scandals regarding her relationships, and a career that many thought was over.

Not bad, right? I think it's pretty admirable. But that's why there was a gap in his production and music credits - He was working with mom Doris Day and getting things done in the TV and film business, then into the charitable foundation business again for his mom. Then he comes back with the Beach Boys and gets them back on the charts too. Not a bad haul.

I'm well aware of Melcher's backstory - as much as an outsider can reasonaly be - and it's not pretty.  Your take on it as expressed above is more sentimental, frankly, than the way I would characterize it.  I agree, certainly, that he had talent, and could sing.  As a writer, I'm not sure where he stands... While on the subject, I'll add that Melcher might be seen as a rich, privileged, Beverly Hills kid who was lucky enough to get into the business early due to his family connections.  This is inaccurate.  Overall, there are certain similarities between Melcher's situation and, say, that of Brian Wilson.   


I did know about Doris' scumbag husband doing that to her, but I hadn't considered how tough that must've been on Terry as an only child trying to help his mom out, and how that surely impacted his own music producing career. Totally astute assessment. Terry really needs a well-written bio to be undertaken.


Maybe, maybe not. I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for a biography.  Among other things, you can read A.E. Hotchner's Doris Day "authorized" biography that came out in the 1970s. Terry Melcher is given some degree of freedom in those pages to offer what was, at that time, his take on various things about his life.
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« Reply #81 on: July 26, 2019, 02:30:20 PM »

I'll repeat again since the point seems to be getting lost.

Only two producers have ever scored a number one hit for the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson and Terry Melcher.

If anyone can dispute the magnitude of that fact, please give it a try. Because I'd like to see how a guy who has three number one singles  has his career reduced to listing his failures versus saying hey, this guy did some great stuff, some timeless stuff...I dont get it.

What you've written above reads as if you are equating what Brian Wilson did in '66 (with Mike Love's critical additions, like it or not, in the end stages) with what Melcher and a bunch of other people pieced together for a Tom Cruise movie tie-in in '88.  It sounds as if the idea is to elevate Melcher by stating: only Melcher achieved what Brian Wilson achieved for the Beach Boys.  There is no comparison whatsoever, of course, other than the fact that both reached number one on the charts - a measure not of quality or worth but of transient popularity and money-earning potential. 

I'm not aware of any anti-Melcher sentiment either among the public at-large or within '60s pop-nerd fandom.  If it's true he doesn't get credit/respect for three number one hits, it's because of a number of things: First, it's 50+ years on from the 60s - nobody cares about what was number one, it's what's good that matters in the end.  Of course, those two Byrds hits are indeed good, and that's why they are remembered (not because they were Number One)  But they were performed (sung, at least) by the Byrds - a truly great group with at least four members with legitimate creative (instrumental, songwriting) ability.  This was not an early-60s type youth group/pop group/girl group kind of deal where the producer (like Spector, I guess) can control and shape the music and take the credit.   Now, we know that at least on "Tambourine Man" the Byrds (except McGuinn) didn't play. But this is precisely the issue which undid Melcher - the Byrds themselves didn't want to be that kind of early '60s "puppet" group and they pushed back (against whom? Melcher himself? The label?) and it's because of that, and their subsequent work, that results in the public seeing the Byrds themselves - the musicians - as being responsible for the quality of the output.  So Melcher's involvement is obscured by that fact: the bands, or the performers taking more control in these days, which is one of the things happening in the second-half of the '60s.   I suspect that some of the “blame” for Melcher being marginalized can be laid at the feet of the Byrds themselves. 

The music: Even if not performed by the Byrds in the studio on “Tambourine Man,” it's performed by the Wrecking Crew. And lately they've been getting their credit - "we did this, we did that."  So Melcher, posthumously, has to get in line not only behind McGuinn, Crosby et al. but the Crew also.  There's only so much credit that can be shared (let's not forget Dylan for writing one of the tracks and Seeger/The Holy Bible for the other) If Melcher had done other notable production work subsequent to the early Byrds, maybe he would be more recognized as a producer, but I'm not sure there's much there.  (I can’t comment on Paul Revere & The Raiders, not having heard that much aside from “nuggets” type comps and I think a cover by the Flamin’ Groovies).  In the end, Melcher appears to be someone who was a player in the early '60s mode, and who sort of got left behind when the second-half of the decade came around, during which the balance of power between artists/performers and label/management shifted somewhat (including whatever is defined as "canyon" music).  In the end, you can maybe say that by producing and working with the Byrds to create their early hits, Melcher, ironically, helped to create the very thing that would push him to the margins.

Then there's "Kokomo." Melcher hasn’t been getting credit for this great accomplishment first of all because the record is not respected.  Liked, by some, yes.  Slick and professionally well-crafted; indeed if the thing called "Beach Boys" was going to have a hit in 1988, it would have to sound like “Kokomo.”  The reward for doing this kind of work is financial, not reputational - hopefully Melcher got a nice payday.  But in terms of reputation, in the eyes of the public, the listeners, he gets no recognition.  Mike Love is the individual who gets the credit - because Mike indeed made major contributions that that record, because he outlived everyone else, and because it’s unlikely that people are lining up to be credited for their involvement in that recording.  That is, Mike is the only one who wants the credit. (had Carl lived, it’s hard to imagine him trumpeting his involvement on “Kokomo.” And imagine Ry Cooder: "Hey everybody, did you know I played on 'Kokomo.'") Generalizations here, but the kind of fans/listeners who pay attention to producers, engineers, and session musicians are not the kind of people "Kokomo" was made for.  The majority of the people who like "Kokomo" (and I knew quite a few of them back then), and therefore might be expected to appreciate Terry Melcher, are those who are not interested in who produced the track.


Terry returned to producing the Byrds from 1969’s BALLAD OF EASY RIDER to 1971’s BYRDMANIAX which, other than the original quintet, May have been the greatest Byrds lineup.
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« Reply #82 on: July 26, 2019, 08:26:18 PM »

What does Terry Melcher is the only " other person who produced a number one hit for the beach boys " have to do with comparing to Brian Wilson?

The Monkees had three number ones hits! Produced by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart! Jeff Barry! and Chip Douglas!

That means they are all the same! All geniuses!

Huh
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« Reply #83 on: July 26, 2019, 09:06:20 PM »

Boy forgot about that interview . There’s Carl basically saying it’s Mikes group as far back as 89. The Mike /Al problems started right here too , I’m sure that was a big reason . Good interview pushing Carl on the Setlist too. Al was the one who pushed hard for that 93 tour . This puts it in perspective . The shows really became Mike centric not long after . 88 had some great Setlists early.
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« Reply #84 on: July 27, 2019, 08:18:29 AM »

Melcher had a great quote about David Crosby when somebody asked him who was the worst person he ever worked with in the music business: he immediately answered "David Crosby, and I knew Charles Manson"
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« Reply #85 on: July 27, 2019, 08:42:52 AM »

Reading back my last comment, I want to clarify a couple of things

Points generally well-taken...


The music business is ultimately a business, and the gold ring everyone chases is scoring a #1 single or #1 album. Debate all day about art versus commerce, or the worthiness of a song, but if you're in the music business making records the ultimate goal was to score a #1 record. As such, the only two producers to reach that goal with The Beach Boys were Brian and Terry. That's as objective of a fact as can be presented because simply no one else did it, and that's what gets recorded in the history books.


Not so much art versus commerce, but art and commerce, attempting to coexist (which they can)  Everyone wants a hit.  Is there anything else anyone wants to do? In certain cases, yes.  As just one example relevant to the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, Pet Sounds would not exist if only thing that mattered was getting to number one.  Brian might have hoped he could get to number one with that stuff, but that's not why he did it.  Was he wrong to do it?  Did he not understand the business?  Perhaps this points to the fact that Melcher should be rated by producer's standards/goals versus those of the artist, where the artist creates and the producer tries to shape that creation into something that sells.


This seems to be the issue - GF evaluating Melcher in a producer/business-oriented context while my reply is in a different context - applying artist's standards to Melcher.  I think the confusion comes up because once Brian Wilson's name is invoked, you're talking about someone who was both, at the same time. It points, once again to the unique and difficult situation Brian found himself in during the mid-sixties.  In 1965, Brian is a producer/hit-maker: The producer part of Brian says to the creator part of Brian, "let's make a hit." (Brian said in his book of 2016 that this is what he was doing at this point - the feeling was that the previous singles weren't good enough and everyone wanted a hit). So there's the Summer Days concept and "California Girls" and "Rhonda."  With Pet Sounds, "Producer Brian" and "Creator Brian" are having a very different conversation.  It's sort of like how George Martin's relationship with the Beatles is generally summarized: "Well boys, tell me what you're thinking, and I'll try to make it work," and the outcome can be something like "Strawberry Fields," where G. Martin his helping Lennon express what he wants to express, in a certain way.  Except with Brian and the Beach Boys, the producer and the artist are the same person. So the producer-artist dialogue is entirely internal - only Brian knows what's going on: Producer Brian decides to subordinate himself to Creator Brian, and help the creative part of Brian express himself. This is a big reason Brian got into trouble at this point; it was no longer obvious to everyone that the goal was a hit.  Bruce, for one, has said that he didn't know if "Good Vibrations" was going to be a smash or a flop.


While on the subject, I'll add that Melcher might be seen as a rich, privileged, Beverly Hills kid who was lucky enough to get into the business early due to his family connections.  This is inaccurate.  Overall, there are certain similarities between Melcher's situation and, say, that of Brian Wilson.   


What I said here reads poorly - I want to clarify that the "rich kid" view of Melcher is one that I disagree with.  There's evidence, in print, that he disagreed with it too. It was true on the surface, but there might be other things besides how big your house is. Melcher didn't have things that many other people (including poor people) take for granted.  The unfavorable view of Melcher and his seeming easily-attained wealth is most typically found in Manson-related material, not rock 'n' roll stuff.
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« Reply #86 on: July 27, 2019, 03:50:48 PM »

I get knocking Melcher for his work with the BB, but the records he made with the Byrds were all seminal classics that defined folk rock and country rock as much as Brian’s work defined his genre.
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« Reply #87 on: July 27, 2019, 06:03:05 PM »

...I think the confusion comes up because once Brian Wilson's name is invoked, you're talking about someone who was both, at the same time. It points, once again to the unique and difficult situation Brian found himself in during the mid-sixties.  In 1965, Brian is a producer/hit-maker: The producer part of Brian says to the creator part of Brian, "let's make a hit." (Brian said in his book of 2016 that this is what he was doing at this point - the feeling was that the previous singles weren't good enough and everyone wanted a hit). So there's the Summer Days concept and "California Girls" and "Rhonda."  With Pet Sounds, "Producer Brian" and "Creator Brian" are having a very different conversation.  It's sort of like how George Martin's relationship with the Beatles is generally summarized: "Well boys, tell me what you're thinking, and I'll try to make it work," and the outcome can be something like "Strawberry Fields," where G. Martin his helping Lennon express what he wants to express, in a certain way.  Except with Brian and the Beach Boys, the producer and the artist are the same person. So the producer-artist dialogue is entirely internal - only Brian knows what's going on: Producer Brian decides to subordinate himself to Creator Brian, and help the creative part of Brian express himself. This is a big reason Brian got into trouble at this point; it was no longer obvious to everyone that the goal was a hit.  Bruce, for one, has said that he didn't know if "Good Vibrations" was going to be a smash or a flop.

Great post.  Smiley
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« Reply #88 on: July 27, 2019, 09:40:33 PM »

As a long time fan of Paul Revere and the Raiders, I can give you what the consensus is among fans of that group: their success on records was because of Terry Melcher producing them. Everyone says after Melcher stopped producing them, they went downhill. Some of the Raiders' hits were written by outsiders - Kicks and Hungry were both Mann/Weill songs; Just Like Me was written by some guy from a band in the NW; the other hits during 66-67 were songs lead singer Mark Lindsay wrote with Melcher. Melcher produced their biggest selling albums, Just Like Us, Midnight Ride, Spirit of '67, and Greatest Hits.
Personally, my take on Melcher's work with the band is a bit different. Yes, he did a great job on the records mentioned above, but when three of the Raiders - Michael "Smitty" Smith, Phil "Fang" Volk, and Drake Levin - left the band in 67, the recording side of things was left mostly to Melcher and Lindsay. What they came up, the album Revolution, was an okay pop record, but not nearly as gutsy as the previous albums. Then Melcher and Lindsay concocted the most bizarre album in the Raiders' history, the trippy, psycadelic, underdeveloped Christmas Present and Past. Think of it as the Raiders' Smiley Smile. Songs start, and just as you think they might be going somewhere, they end. Along the way, they try to make some anti-war statements, but it's all pretty clunky and dumb.
That was the last album Melcher produced for the band; Lindsay took over after that, and IMO, got them back on track with the psycadelic pop of Something Happening, Hard 'N' Heavy (with marshmallow), and the country rock of Alias Pink Puzz.
I'm very familiar with Melcher's voice - he sings harmony on a lot of those 66-67 Raider tracks - and I think it's a fine voice for harmony. As a soloist, well, no one's gonna confuse him with Lindsay.
Just my 2 cents worth.
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« Reply #89 on: July 28, 2019, 05:40:32 AM »

Adjacent, but not estranged: right now, I am in love with Lahaina Aloha sped up to 2x.   LOL

Carl still sounds great, the guitar solos rip, and many of the non-starter qualities of Mike's vocals magically disappear!
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« Reply #90 on: July 28, 2019, 10:11:15 AM »

This has been an intriguing thread as I am a big fan of Melcher’s surf/hot rod work (as well as that with The Byrds) and I have to take umbrage with some peoples’ views that he had a mediocre voice. Just listen to stellar Rip Chords and Bruce & Terry tracks like Don’t Be Scared (RC), My Big Gun Board (RC), Hey Little Cobra (RC), Three Window Coupe (RC), Halfway (BT), Summer Means Fun (BT), Girl It’s Alright Now (BT), Custom Machine (BT – a rare track that eclipses a Beach Boys original) and Four Strong Winds (BT) and there’s proof that here is a lead vocalist who not only can hold a tune, but belt out some stunning songs.

He helped turn The Rip Chords from a mediocre doo-wop group into a pop-busting chart-making group, not only due to his production abilities and contacts in the business, but because of his prowess as a gutsy singer, who could belt out some classic tunes.

Obviously Bruce played a part as well, but as seems to be the case with him, he was relegated to a secondary role behind Terry himself and even behind the other Rip Chords, although his stunning falsetto was well used – just see how many lead vocals Bruce took during The Rip Chords and Bruce & Terry careers… just a handful. I always thought they should have been called Terry & Bruce, which would have been a fairer reflection on the that duo’s dynamics.

One final point, why did Bruce & Terry cover Here Comes Summer and sing it from a girl’s perspective (although I believe it was only a demo)? It’s a nice song, but sounds weird when Terry sings the lines “and then he’ll kiss me’, etc…
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« Reply #91 on: July 28, 2019, 12:33:37 PM »

This has been an intriguing thread as I am a big fan of Melcher’s surf/hot rod work (as well as that with The Byrds) and I have to take umbrage with some peoples’ views that he had a mediocre voice. Just listen to stellar Rip Chords and Bruce & Terry tracks like Don’t Be Scared (RC), My Big Gun Board (RC), Hey Little Cobra (RC), Three Window Coupe (RC), Halfway (BT), Summer Means Fun (BT), Girl It’s Alright Now (BT), Custom Machine (BT – a rare track that eclipses a Beach Boys original) and Four Strong Winds (BT) and there’s proof that here is a lead vocalist who not only can hold a tune, but belt out some stunning songs.

He helped turn The Rip Chords from a mediocre doo-wop group into a pop-busting chart-making group, not only due to his production abilities and contacts in the business, but because of his prowess as a gutsy singer, who could belt out some classic tunes.

Obviously Bruce played a part as well, but as seems to be the case with him, he was relegated to a secondary role behind Terry himself and even behind the other Rip Chords, although his stunning falsetto was well used – just see how many lead vocals Bruce took during The Rip Chords and Bruce & Terry careers… just a handful. I always thought they should have been called Terry & Bruce, which would have been a fairer reflection on the that duo’s dynamics.

One final point, why did Bruce & Terry cover Here Comes Summer and sing it from a girl’s perspective (although I believe it was only a demo)? It’s a nice song, but sounds weird when Terry sings the lines “and then he’ll kiss me’, etc…

I think there were instances where Bruce was definitely schooling Terry in the studio
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« Reply #92 on: July 29, 2019, 08:55:16 AM »

What does Terry Melcher is the only " other person who produced a number one hit for the beach boys " have to do with comparing to Brian Wilson?

The Monkees had three number ones hits! Produced by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart! Jeff Barry! and Chip Douglas!

That means they are all the same! All geniuses!

Huh

Hey, the Monkees made great records, and Chip Douglas, in particular, though no Brian Wilson or George Martin, was one of the better producers in the late 60's LA scene. I'd rank him with Curt Boettcher and Lou Adler.
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« Reply #93 on: July 29, 2019, 09:42:16 AM »

Agreed 100% on Chip Douglas - One of my favorites and a big musical influence on me as well. Another surprising omission from the "Echo In The Canyon" documentary since Chip played a role in some of the biggest hits coming out of LA from 66-68.

Let me correct the misunderstanding which I think happened. I was *not* trying to or even thinking about putting Terry Melcher on a pedestal next to Brian Wilson, I was merely pointing out how he accomplished what only Brian did in terms of charting a #1 BB's hit. Conversely, as RJM pointed out above, Terry Melcher's productions with The Byrds did in fact plant a seed for what would become the electrified folk-rock sound that dominated the mid-60's. Had those Byrds single not been #1 hits, would other labels and artists have followed suit? Would the term "jangle" have been associated with a Rickenbacker 12-string and would there have been the hits to come afterward? I doubt it. But look what did happen, and consider who had ever paired Dylan and Bible verse with *that* kind of rock sound prior. It was a new sound that sold millions of records.

And as RJM said, and thanks for the reminder, Terry also went on to produce additional records for The Byrds which are considered among the more influential ones in what became country rock. Not as influential as those #1 singles, more of a niche, but still...damn fine and influential albums just the same.

It's not equating Terry with other producers, it's just pointing out that the guy's accomplishments are pretty impressive and he should get credit where it's due for them. It's also trying to either remind or put on the table that Terry was not a fluke or a guy who scored one hit with Kokomo and then released a string of failures, because his resume was firmly in place prior to 1989.
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« Reply #94 on: July 29, 2019, 11:19:47 AM »

I think Terry Melcher's great talent is underappreciated in the BBs/LA music circle. Funnily enough, it's not Melcher's work with The Byrds, production on California Dreamin, Kokomo, etc... that make me feel so strongly this way. What blows me away so much, is the *sound* Bruce & Terry got, arranging and mixing wise, on the B&T and Rip Chords stuff. They came up with a really fat, compressed sound, similar to, and obviously influenced by Jan Berry, that makes the backing track BW was making seem rather limp. I'm not knocking the amazing songs, vocal performances, etc BW was doing 62-64, but when you listen to the backing tracks, stuff like Summer Means Fun (Bruce & Terry), Three Window Coupe (Rip Chords version), Custom Machine (Bruce & Terry version), and Ride The Wild Surf, and Little Old Lady (last two produced and arranged by Jan Berry-not Melcher, just a great example), have a lot 'heavier and more aggressive than the tracks on stuff like Surfin USA, Shut Down, Pom Pom Play Girl, Catch A Wave etc.

Bruce, Terry, and Jan's "fat" sound can be attributed to a Spector/BW like aesthetic, of having an insane amount of instrumentalists. (A typical Jan Berry session could feature Two drummers, Two Basses, Three Guitars, Keys, Horns, Strings, Percussion, etc..) but they (with great engineers like Bones Howe) also used a lot of compression (in an innovative way, in my opinion) to make those tracks 'pop'. I hear a lot more intense compression/limiting on those Rip Chords, Jan & Dean, Bruce & Terry records than, on Brian's at the time. And I'm not talking about the sh*tty compression from going from FLAC to MP3, I'm talking about the artistic use of the studio equipment to get that aggressive sound. Between compression and lots of tape saturation, the records come close to being straight up distorted, but live in a happy medium, where it has the right amount of 'crunch'.

Listen to a mono mix of Summer Means Fun by Bruce & Terry, it just explodes off the speakers, in a really heavy way. You can really feel the drums pounding, whereas in songs like Surfin Safari or Farmer's Daughter,  it sounds like the drummer was being forced to play lightly.

Again, huge BW fan (he's the alltime greatest producer in my eyes), but I think his peers, Johnston, Berry, and of course Terry Melcher who this thread's about, in those early days made records that really rocked more, and arguably paved the way for the heavier rock styles that were to come.
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« Reply #95 on: July 29, 2019, 05:25:56 PM »

I think Terry Melcher's great talent is underappreciated in the BBs/LA music circle. Funnily enough, it's not Melcher's work with The Byrds, production on California Dreamin, Kokomo, etc... that make me feel so strongly this way. What blows me away so much, is the *sound* Bruce & Terry got, arranging and mixing wise, on the B&T and Rip Chords stuff. They came up with a really fat, compressed sound, similar to, and obviously influenced by Jan Berry, that makes the backing track BW was making seem rather limp. I'm not knocking the amazing songs, vocal performances, etc BW was doing 62-64, but when you listen to the backing tracks, stuff like Summer Means Fun (Bruce & Terry), Three Window Coupe (Rip Chords version), Custom Machine (Bruce & Terry version), and Ride The Wild Surf, and Little Old Lady (last two produced and arranged by Jan Berry-not Melcher, just a great example), have a lot 'heavier and more aggressive than the tracks on stuff like Surfin USA, Shut Down, Pom Pom Play Girl, Catch A Wave etc.

Bruce, Terry, and Jan's "fat" sound can be attributed to a Spector/BW like aesthetic, of having an insane amount of instrumentalists. (A typical Jan Berry session could feature Two drummers, Two Basses, Three Guitars, Keys, Horns, Strings, Percussion, etc..) but they (with great engineers like Bones Howe) also used a lot of compression (in an innovative way, in my opinion) to make those tracks 'pop'. I hear a lot more intense compression/limiting on those Rip Chords, Jan & Dean, Bruce & Terry records than, on Brian's at the time. And I'm not talking about the sh*tty compression from going from FLAC to MP3, I'm talking about the artistic use of the studio equipment to get that aggressive sound. Between compression and lots of tape saturation, the records come close to being straight up distorted, but live in a happy medium, where it has the right amount of 'crunch'.

Listen to a mono mix of Summer Means Fun by Bruce & Terry, it just explodes off the speakers, in a really heavy way. You can really feel the drums pounding, whereas in songs like Surfin Safari or Farmer's Daughter,  it sounds like the drummer was being forced to play lightly.

Again, huge BW fan (he's the alltime greatest producer in my eyes), but I think his peers, Johnston, Berry, and of course Terry Melcher who this thread's about, in those early days made records that really rocked more, and arguably paved the way for the heavier rock styles that were to come.

Nate, I know you're a big fan of Jan Berry, but I have to agree to disagree on some of your points, with some historical points to consider. Keep in mind that up until the Surfer Girl album, Brian was the de facto producer but still working under Nik Venet's ultimate control over the proceedings. And that included setting up the band as a self-contained unit inside Capitol's own studios, versus the still new Western which Brian preferred to record at (with Chuck Britz at the board) and where he simply got better sounds. He could also experiment more with those sounds with Chuck at Western than at Capitol. Let's face it, for the kind of music he was recording, the tracks at Western did sound better. The studio had a tight, characteristic sound.

As far as the tracks being "limp" compared to Jan Berry, what up until "Surf City" did Jan And Dean release that was of any success or any influence after "Baby Talk"? None of their albums ever hit the top-10, or even top-20 (barely). After Baby Talk they had *one* hit single and after Brian and those folks he was writing with came on board, they jumped on the surf and car themes - set in motion and proven successful by Brian and The Boys - and fared better on the charts for about a year or so, then had nothing crack the charts of any significance.

After the surfing and car themes ran their course, they did "Folk And Roll"...jumping on what...wait for it...Terry Melcher had helped turn into a commercially viable sound and genre after those Byrds singles hit #1. How's the production on "Folk And Roll"? I mean, compared to what Melcher did with The Byrds?

Jan and Dean were not at the forefront of these new styles and sounds. After the Beach Boys made singing about surfing and cars a success, Jan and Dean did it, scoring with a Brian Wilson song and others with Brian's collaborators at the time. When "folk rock" became a success and commercially viable, Jan and Dean did it.

Part of being a good producer is also setting the trends...No, part of being a legendary producer is setting the trends rather than following them. BW's productions when they were still cutting with Nik at Capitol's tower may have been "limp", but they were setting trends, selling records, and creating a whole scene around them and what they were singing about. Jan never reached that level, and sonically his records prior to "Surf City" were just as often limp if not noticeably and almost embarrassingly out of tune vocally.

I just don't hear Jan's records paving the way for much of anything prior to "Surf City". The proof is in the grooves when you listen. And a great way to hear this...just listen to Jan's take on "Turn Turn Turn". It's basically a cheaper and sloppier carbon copy of Melcher's production on The Byrds' smash hit single, with instruments out of time and flat vocals. There is absolutely no punch at all to this track, no sonic glue to hold it together or no sonic imprint despite copying Melcher's sounds almost to a "T". A lot of the album is an attempt to have the duo sing over a McGuinn-like 12-string electric guitar...which had already been done by Melcher, McGuinn, and company and which had torn up the charts.

This is legendary work? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYvSMD7Yoj4

Again, the differences between leaders and followers.
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« Reply #96 on: July 29, 2019, 06:01:15 PM »

What does Terry Melcher is the only " other person who produced a number one hit for the beach boys " have to do with comparing to Brian Wilson?

The Monkees had three number ones hits! Produced by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart! Jeff Barry! and Chip Douglas!

That means they are all the same! All geniuses!

Huh

Hey, the Monkees made great records, and Chip Douglas, in particular, though no Brian Wilson or George Martin, was one of the better producers in the late 60's LA scene. I'd rank him with Curt Boettcher and Lou Adler.

Hey, hey-- was not picking on the Monkees.

I was trying to point out the silliness (my opinion) of saying "only two people produced number one hits for the Beach Boys."

Apples to oranges.








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« Reply #97 on: July 29, 2019, 06:14:06 PM »

How is it silly to point out what is a stone cold fact as part of a discussion about the man who produced a #1 hit for the band? If it's directed at me, I never tried nor would try to elevate anyone to Brian's level of production and art working with the Beach Boys, yet someone replying to what I wrote made it seem like I did. And I did not, nor would I.

So there's that before calling things silly, sally.
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« Reply #98 on: July 29, 2019, 08:04:02 PM »

guitarfool2002,

You're definitely right that Brian recording at Capitol, under the direction of Venet, is largely to blame to for the 'limp' sound of The BBs early work. Again, not dismissing BW or The BBs in any way, by thinking Jan & Dean, Bruce & Terry, Rip Chords, as groups that actually made some great music, not just copy cat stuff. No one would deny that Bruce & Terry and The Rip Chords were set up and manufactured to replicate The BBs sound/lyrical theme, but I think dismissing those groups as *just* being knockoff groups, is like calling all of the British Invasion bands Beatles knockoffs. There's always going to be someone to start the sound, but then others can expand on it. For Hip Hop fans on here I'll compare it to this: Dr. Dre was an architect of the West Coast G-Funk Sound. He's the one who is always given credit for creating the sound and putting it on the map. Dj Quik was already incorporating elements of George Clinton's "P Funk" in his Hip Hop beats before Dre released The Chronic. And Daz Dillinger, Warren G, Chris Taylor produced, co-produced, or ghost produced depending on who you ask, many songs (with and without Dre) that were G-Funk classics. Sure, Warren G 'stole' Dre's sound for his hit "Regulate" in a similar way Bruce & Terry did with "Summer Mean Fun" and The BBs sound. But not many Hip Hop fans dismiss Warren G as just ripping off his step brother, Dr. Dre. It's impossible to quantify the amount of cross pollination of ideas that can take place in a musical scene. Especially when friendships/relationships like Dre and Warren G or BBs & J&D are involved.

Also, when I'm talking about Jan & Dean vs Beach Boys rock songs, I'm talking about the *sound* of the backing tracks. I don't really care that Brian wrote about surfing before Jan. When I talk about the power of Surf City or Little Old Lady, it's not the surf/hot rod jargon that made those records classics-  I'm talking about the fat double drums, multiple basses, and vocal layering Jan did to make those songs explode off the speakers. Similarly, I don't think people still listen to 409 and Surfin USA today because of their lyrical themes, it's the great feeling of 'love', as BW might put it, you get from the songs. The overall emotion. Lots of that comes from the instrumental backing tracks, which Berry, Melcher, and Johnston were really good at crafting. I think Bruce & Terry's version of Custom Machine and Jan & Dean's I Gotta Drive still sound "heavy" and rock in 2019.

As for J&D's R&B Dore/pre-Surf stuff, I can agree that it's pretty insignificant when taken out of history. Baby Talk and Jennie Lee don't exactly blow my mind, but they're starting points. Like Love Me Do compared to She Loves You. Surfin to Don't Worry Baby. When put in a historical context, what Jan was doing was pretty revolutionary. He was cutting hit records in his garage. Songs like Jennie Lee, Baby Talk, and White Tennis Sneakers were constructed by Jan (with Arnie, Dean, and whoever else from The Barons were present, as well as eventually Herb Alpert and Lou Adler) by using various tape machines to record a backing track that would consist of the Vocals, Piano (for accompaniment/driving the harmony) and something to keep time (sometimes a metronome, and sometimes someone banging on whatever could be found to make a percussive sound). Additional instruments (Guitars, Drums, Bass, Sax, etc) was overdubbed by The Wrecking Crew in the studio. This DIY method of recording would become cool and trendy eventually, but for Jan to be doing that in the late 50's is pretty insane. I highly recommend reading Mark A Moore's book The Jan & Dean Record if you want to see how dedicated and creative Jan was. It's interesting to note that Jan was using the group of musicians that would become known as The Wrecking Crew *before* SPECTOR and BW. Especially funny when it retrospect the WC are often called "Spector's musicians" or something like that. The specific dates of when Jan recorded with them first and Phil did are in Mark's book. Using those musicians first doesn't instantly make Jan the better, or best producer, but it's an interesting historical footnote.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2019, 08:09:50 PM by NateRuvin » Logged
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« Reply #99 on: July 30, 2019, 03:24:16 PM »

How is it silly to point out what is a stone cold fact as part of a discussion about the man who produced a #1 hit for the band? If it's directed at me, I never tried nor would try to elevate anyone to Brian's level of production and art working with the Beach Boys, yet someone replying to what I wrote made it seem like I did. And I did not, nor would I.

So there's that before calling things silly, sally.


Apologies if it came across that way. I 'm sorry. It wasn't directed at you. I may have misunderstood the discussion. I just consider the Beach Boys of the 60's a completely different band than the 80's. Just my take.

I have high respect for Terry Melcher's work in the 60's.

I never cared for Kokomo. But I thought Somewhere in Japan was nicely done!







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