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Author Topic: Kiss Me, Baby ~ Production analysis and walk-through  (Read 612 times)
aeijtzsche
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« on: June 25, 2020, 03:43:34 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krCgenp0dfo

A lot of people love Kiss Me, Baby.  It might be down to the lyrics and vocals, but here I re-create and breakdown the instrumental production so you can learn what went into accompanying those magical vox.
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Mitchell
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2020, 08:54:58 PM »

Wonderful, as usual.

This is certainly one of my favourite Beach Boys songs. The melody, lyrics and vocals are beautiful, of course. We've been spoiled over the years getting the different stereo mixes and vocals-only mix. I'm waiting for the official track-only version, which oddly hasn't come out yet(?). It's another one with so many layers, which you've ably demonstrated. So many great sounds, blends, textures, etc. The other percussion (temple blocks, chimes, vibraphone) is another element on which you could do a follow-up.

I remember I once played the stereo mix for my mom, who knew the song as the b-side to the Rhonda 45. She loved hearing the French horn, which of course she'd never noticed before. Kind of like the end of God Only Knows, it's there but not obvious, just augmenting the overall sound of everything.
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2020, 09:10:36 PM »

Wonderful, as usual.

This is certainly one of my favourite Beach Boys songs. The melody, lyrics and vocals are beautiful, of course. We've been spoiled over the years getting the different stereo mixes and vocals-only mix. I'm waiting for the official track-only version, which oddly hasn't come out yet(?). It's another one with so many layers, which you've ably demonstrated. So many great sounds, blends, textures, etc. The other percussion (temple blocks, chimes, vibraphone) is another element on which you could do a follow-up.

I remember I once played the stereo mix for my mom, who knew the song as the b-side to the Rhonda 45. She loved hearing the French horn, which of course she'd never noticed before. Kind of like the end of God Only Knows, it's there but not obvious, just augmenting the overall sound of everything.

I'm really, really torn about doing much in the way of percussion without having access to acoustic instruments.  I'm just in agony deciding whether to do it.  I really hate the way a lot of the VST percussion sounds.  Drums can be passable, but I've yet to find a lot of good VSTs for the aux percussion that Brian used.  Also, sampled/modelled Vibraphone seems universally dreadful from all the people who offer VST vibes.  So I don't know what to do.

Thanks for the comments though!!
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Mitchell
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2020, 09:54:07 PM »

Something for the future, anyway! Thanks for making the videos!
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2020, 10:25:44 PM »

Yeah, there's still hope that I can get home to access a lot of acoustic instruments I don't have here!
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Don Malcolm
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2020, 03:56:45 PM »

JH, wonderful presentation on a track that sounds to my ears as Brian's first real leap into distributing the arrangement across a series of unusual (unlikely?) sound textures. Simply getting them all pulled back out so we can appreciate them both in isolation and in interaction is mind-blowing stuff. Wondering where you think this backing track lands as an arrangement--while there are a number of relative "simple" parts, there's something about how they've been connected that seems like it's one of the key moves toward the far more complex and involved interactions that we'll hear on LHRW, TLGIOK, and on into Pet Sounds. Does that sound accurate or can you maybe give us a sense of that? My Phil Lambert book is stuck down at the office and IIRC way up on a high shelf (15' ceilings in there!) so it may be awhile until I can access it, and you are likely to be more succinct anyway!

BTW, how much of Summer Days are you planning on doing? How many beyond the big three (CG, LHRW, HMR/2)?

Thanks again!
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2020, 07:16:08 AM »

I'm probably just going to do every song on SDSN, at this point.  Why not!?

I agree that this track is a major one on the road to maturity for Brian, and I think you're right in saying that it's all about the interactions and one might even say restraint.  At this point Brian knew what he was doing for the most part, but he was still dialing in his taste, and this track has a lot of taste.
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SaltyMarshmallow
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2020, 08:16:18 AM »

The point about taste and restraint is an interesting one, I think that's often a big part of what set Brian apart from his contemporaries. He knew when to keep it simple and when to go all in if the moment called for it. For me that's an area where Please Let Me Wonder and Kiss Me Baby excel but In the Back of My Mind falls slightly short, it's a bit syrupy and loses the direct emotion. He was still learning.
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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2020, 10:45:32 AM »

I LOVE this! What a great lesson in the French horn - had no idea there was so much freedom in playing it without even pressing a button.

Final backing track is superb. It's actually great to hear some of these without drums - both makes you realize how important those drums are to the mix, but also lets you focus on the other instruments without hearing the beat. Thanks JH!
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« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2020, 07:56:42 PM »

I'm probably just going to do every song on SDSN, at this point.  Why not!?

I agree that this track is a major one on the road to maturity for Brian, and I think you're right in saying that it's all about the interactions and one might even say restraint.  At this point Brian knew what he was doing for the most part, but he was still dialing in his taste, and this track has a lot of taste.

I feel the struggle re: percussion VST instruments... there are a lot of sample packs out there with that type of thing, but itís still very much a needle/haystack endeavor to get just the right thing youíre looking for. As for vibraphone, I have a set of samples for the logic EXS24 that sounds passable (depending on context) but Iíd have to go digging to figure out where I got it from.

Glad to hear you plan on doing all of Summer Days! Out of curiosity, what program are you using to edit your videos?
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2020, 09:58:52 PM »

I use iMovie, which appears in all respects to be terrible.  I actually don't enjoy that part of the video making process, it's a huge pain.
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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2020, 09:25:04 AM »

Very cool! A few comments on specific points in the video:

As I tend to say (or used to say) often, none of this happened in a vacuum, and I think with Brian it is possible to pinpoint some points of influence from previous recordings he probably heard or knew which could have inspired his own arranging or orchestration decisions.

The biggest one in this video came when you mentioned the "sweeping" French Horn part, which you mentioned he used elsewhere too. I have to think, especially since he did in fact use it again in basically the same sweeping glissando style, that one of his influences if not *the* influence was Jack Nitschke's massive instrumental hit from '63 "The Lonely Surfer". Besides being one of the more prominent uses of French Horns on a pop, non-classical hit that was all over the radio, the way Jack had them play some of those herald-call sweeps was one of the key sounds on that record. I know Pete Townshend has cited Jack's use of French Horn as an influence on his own use of French Horn for his Tommy arrangements. I have very, very little doubt that Brian heard Jack's record and those horns and took a similar influence. Especially considering it was not only an LA record with all the guys Brian would be using on his own records, but the fact the title tied it into a surf theme. I always point to "The Lonely Surfer" as one of the bigger influences on a lot of the music we discuss without getting as many accolades as some others.

The second one was the use of the 2 saxes with an English Horn lead on top. Substitute clarinet in the Cor Anglais role, and you have the "Glenn Miller Sound" right there in the reed section. How does that tie in with Brian? For one I'm sure he heard many of the classic Glenn Miller records...what kid growing up in the 40's and 50's didn't? They were ubiquitous, especially In The Mood and Moonlight Serenade, which are still in the public consciousness. So I'm sure he heard that clarinet lead over 4 saxes that was Miller's sound. But expanding that a bit, there was a film about Glenn called The Glenn Miller Story with Jimmy Stewart playing Miller, and Henry Mancini in one of his first big film gigs doing the music. That film was very popular and was rerun on TV for years. The first 30 minutes or so feature Stewart's Miller character trying and failing repeatedly to find "his sound", and having to break up numerous bands because of it. Then he hit on the idea to use a clarinet lead in the sax section...and it's spelled out very clearly in the movie so even non-musicians would know what they're talking about. I'm thinking less perhaps than hearing the original records, but that film where the story turns on the moment when Glenn put that clarinet in the sax section and found his sound could have stuck with Brian Wilson as well.

It was a Brian-ism perhaps that rather than clarinet, he used Cor Anglais instead for a more exotic tone that as we can still hear literally jumps out of the arrangement and mix even on tinny AM radio broadcasts. Smart guy, that Brian.  Smiley

One more minor point, that relatively sparse use of the saxes and how they drop out. I think this is explained by basic arranging and how the parts had to leave room for what was the main focus of this track, the vocals. If he had done a more active or full woodwind sectional, or even stacked them for more background pads, he may have envisioned these parts clashing with the vocal parts which he already knew were going to be very full at various times, or he felt a woodwind stack that was too full would distract or clash with the interplay between Mike's tenor and his own falsetto vocal lines, which were the fastball of the track's verses and prechoruses.

Just a few thoughts to add in terms of influence and addressing where some of these very Brian-centric orchestration and arrangement ideas could have been sourced from his own listening.
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
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