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Author Topic: Top five bad career moves  (Read 5677 times)
GoogaMooga
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« on: December 19, 2020, 06:46:26 PM »

The Beach Boys are easily America's most successful band and the only band to offer the Beatles any real competition in the 1960s. They are indeed, "America's Band", and to me, the greatest band of all time. However, their nearly 60 year long career has been a series of bad career moves. You might say, they achieved their success and scaled those heights IN SPITE OF those bad decisions. It's easy to be clever in hindsight, but I sometimes wonder what could have been... only to end up being grateful for what we've got. Now that they are approaching retirement, or should I say, ripe for retirement, perhaps we could take stock of what went down, which decisions affected them in an adverse way.

My top five bad career moves:

1. Shelving SMiLE all those years.
2. Not appearing at Monterey Pop
3. Releasing "Summer in Paradise"
4. Recording the 7 minute disco version of "Here Comes the Night"
5. Not continuing C-50 after Royal Albert Hall

I keep forgetting what the "C" stands for in C-50 - is it Celebration?

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Pretty Funky
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2020, 08:47:07 PM »

Murray selling the rights for $750K.
Licensing ‘The Beach Boys’ touring rights to Mike in 1998, seemingly forever and for whatever gig he chooses.

...to name a few.
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RubberSoul13
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2020, 09:24:06 PM »

1. Abandoning Smile
2. Rapidly Replacing Brian Wilson with Glen Campbell, Bruce Johnston etc.
3. Rapidly returning to NEVER-ENDING touring after Dennis Wilson's death.
4. Rapidly returning to NEVER-ENDING touring in the current arrangement after Carl Wilson's death.
5. Kokomo

Each of these things continue to cheapen their existence (well, except number one.)

I would argue that not appearing at Monterey was actually a smart move. What were they going to do? Pop on stage in their stripes and rip through Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow for the likes of Hendrix?
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GoogaMooga
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2020, 09:43:05 PM »

1. Abandoning Smile
2. Rapidly Replacing Brian Wilson with Glen Campbell, Bruce Johnston etc.
3. Rapidly returning to NEVER-ENDING touring after Dennis Wilson's death.
4. Rapidly returning to NEVER-ENDING touring in the current arrangement after Carl Wilson's death.
5. Kokomo

Each of these things continue to cheapen their existence (well, except number one.)

I would argue that not appearing at Monterey was actually a smart move. What were they going to do? Pop on stage in their stripes and rip through Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow for the likes of Hendrix?

1. Agree
2. They didn't have a choice. Brian had a nervous breakdown on the plane in 1964. It freed up Brian to be more creative in the studio.
3. Dennis was the soul of the band, but they did well even after his death. I think they did right to continue, but the never-ending jukebox tour was perhaps not the best way to look after their legacy.
4. Agree
5. Kokomo is fine. It clicks with the audience and is the most popular number in Mike's show.
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GoogaMooga
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2020, 09:45:20 PM »

As for not appearing at Monterey, well, that can be argued. Bruce concluded that it turned them into surfing Doris Days in the minds of the public. They had already long since put the candy-stripes behind them and had enough mature material to take on the best.
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2020, 11:46:14 PM »

Kokomo was probably their best career move of the 1980s. Does it deserve to be their biggest hit ever? Absolutely not. But it's a nice song with very good production.
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Jay
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2020, 12:41:49 AM »

Brian giving his vote to mike in 1977.
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2020, 01:14:53 AM »

I’d say that was by far one of the worst decisions that he ever made band-wise; it ranks with scrapping SMiLE
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RubberSoul13
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2020, 03:09:36 AM »

As for not appearing at Monterey, well, that can be argued. Bruce concluded that it turned them into surfing Doris Days in the minds of the public. They had already long since put the candy-stripes behind them and had enough mature material to take on the best.

I'm not trying to split hairs, but they most certainly were still wearing stripes in '67.
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Rob Dean
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2020, 04:28:39 AM »

The Beach Boys are easily America's most successful band and the only band to offer the Beatles any real competition in the 1960s. They are indeed, "America's Band", and to me, the greatest band of all time. However, their nearly 60 year long career has been a series of bad career moves. You might say, they achieved their success and scaled those heights IN SPITE OF those bad decisions. It's easy to be clever in hindsight, but I sometimes wonder what could have been... only to end up being grateful for what we've got. Now that they are approaching retirement, or should I say, ripe for retirement, perhaps we could take stock of what went down, which decisions affected them in an adverse way.

My top five bad career moves:

1. Shelving SMiLE all those years.
2. Not appearing at Monterey Pop
3. Releasing "Summer in Paradise"
4. Recording the 7 minute disco version of "Here Comes the Night"
5. Not continuing C-50 after Royal Albert Hall

I keep forgetting what the "C" stands for in C-50 - is it Celebration?




Reference

4) You obviously gave up after 7 minutes, there are another 3 minutes worth  LOL
5) Wembley Arena (the following night) was indeed the last gig
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2020, 12:26:05 PM »

Call me crazy but I love and have always loved the disco version of Here Comes the Night.

Other bad decisions :

-parting ways with Blondie and Ricky in the seventies. I love what those guys brought to the band ;
-letting Bruce wear short shorts all the time ;
-Full House ;
-Baywatch ;
-Crocodile Rock.
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patsy6
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« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2020, 07:47:21 PM »

This Monday morning quarterbacking is interesting. Here are my two cents. Not sure if they are necessarily both bad career moves. Maybe just bad moves in general.

  • Firing Jack Riely when they shouldn't have
  • Not forcing Steve Love to fire Rocky Pamplyn when they should have
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« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2020, 08:30:31 PM »


Not finding a reason to ditch Mike Love before he grabbed more power than he ever should have. There were far better replacements available to the group that would have been a better fit and would have been 10,000 times less trouble than that douchebag.  Evil
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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2020, 12:09:56 AM »

Kokomo is an anomaly in the history of the group.  It was a hit in a period when they weren't particularly relevant.  It was a hit despite no Brian involvement.  It was a John Phillips-penned hit when John Phillps was long past penning hits.   And, yes, despite all that, damned if Mike Love & Terry Melcher didn't turn it into something.  On the one hand, it's a harmless ditty that, yes, a lot of fans really like.  During the last BW show I attended around August 2019, an attendee in front of me (early 20-something girl attending with her Boomer mom) yelled out, "Play Kokomo!"  {CRINGE}    On the other hand, I understand and to some extent agree with the argument that the net long-term effect of Kokomo is negative as ML took and ran with its success as a kind of "proof of concept" for cheesiness as the recipe for success.
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« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2020, 12:19:32 AM »

If we're talking in purely commercial terms, I wouldn't say shelving Smile made that huge a difference. The damage had been done - they failed to follow up on the success of Good Vibrations in a timely manner - the several months before Heroes and Villains was their largest ever gap between releases at that stage. Popular culture was changing very quickly at the time.

I would argue that releasing Add Some Music as the first single from Sunflower is up there. Under-utilising/failing to properly finish and release Dennis compositions in the early 70's is another.
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« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2020, 12:27:09 AM »

I would argue that not appearing at Monterey was actually a smart move. What were they going to do? Pop on stage in their stripes and rip through Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow for the likes of Hendrix?

I agree with this - I think it's a pretty revisionist attitude which leads people to believe that the Beach Boys touring act in 1967 would have completely overhauled their setlist and stage presentation if they had played the festival. It's unlikely to me. I think people envision the hipper early 70's version of the band when they picture this scenario, but the reality is that hipper iteration didn't exist yet.
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twentytwenty
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« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2020, 05:59:21 AM »

The Beach Boys are easily America's most successful band and the only band to offer the Beatles any real competition in the 1960s. They are indeed, "America's Band", and to me, the greatest band of all time. However, their nearly 60 year long career has been a series of bad career moves. You might say, they achieved their success and scaled those heights IN SPITE OF those bad decisions. It's easy to be clever in hindsight, but I sometimes wonder what could have been... only to end up being grateful for what we've got. Now that they are approaching retirement, or should I say, ripe for retirement, perhaps we could take stock of what went down, which decisions affected them in an adverse way.

My top five bad career moves:

1. Shelving SMiLE all those years.
2. Not appearing at Monterey Pop
3. Releasing "Summer in Paradise"
4. Recording the 7 minute disco version of "Here Comes the Night"
5. Not continuing C-50 after Royal Albert Hall

I keep forgetting what the "C" stands for in C-50 - is it Celebration?


It seems that I am alone with this opinion, but I am glad that they didn't continue as it would have tarnished the wonderful reunion that it was.
They were all still at the top of their game, even Brian was great. After the reunion the detonation started for both Brian and Mike. The best thing with the reunion is that it actually sounds good.
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thr33
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« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2020, 06:53:01 AM »

(1) Not releasing Smile in 1967 (I would add not releasing Smile in 72, but would be redundant and not all that much was done)
(2) Ending the Paley sessions (could have been an amazing comeback for them critically and commercially)
(3) Not releasing from the Caribou sessions after Endless Summer (i.e. a double A-Side of It's OK and Good Timin')
(4) Firing Jack Rieley in 1973 (I love the Brian's Back era but one more FM-style album could have helped their image)
(5) Not completing a Brian-led follow-up to Friends (Brian's mental state dictated this, but what could have been)
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« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2020, 08:27:28 AM »

(5) Not completing a Brian-led follow-up to Friends (Brian's mental state dictated this, but what could have been)

I know what you mean by follow-up (a literal follow-up directly after Friends), but here is my take on that:

I see Love You being the follow-up to Friends in a series about Brian's life that is made up of the albums Pet Sounds, Friends, Love You, and No Pier Pressure.

Pet Sounds being the start of a young man's (Brian's) life, falling in love, and starting to become an adult. Friends is the adult (Brian) finding a wife, raising a kid, and starting to become more existential as life goes on. And Love You is the parent (Brian) trying hard to be a good father, at the same time being nostalgic of his past and regressing a bit. Then NPP is that adult/child (Brian) as an old man, trying to stay relevant, but also realizing he just likes sitting in his recliner, writing his Last Song.

Those four albums sum up Brian's life and career flawlessly in my opinion. A lot of people don't like some of those albums, whether because of production, songwriting, etc. But I find they are all full of Brian's musical genius, quirks, and internal ideas that make Brian Wilson who he is.

It's fun to listen to those albums in chronological order and see the intellectual evolution of Brian - from young man to old man, you can see how he has changed, and the soundtrack/music to that change is ever-evolving and mind-blowing in many places.
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« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2020, 08:38:22 AM »

(5) Not completing a Brian-led follow-up to Friends (Brian's mental state dictated this, but what could have been)

I know what you mean by follow-up (a literal follow-up directly after Friends), but here is my take on that:

I see Love You being the follow-up to Friends in a series about Brian's life that is made up of the albums Pet Sounds, Friends, Love You, and No Pier Pressure.

Pet Sounds being the start of a young man's (Brian's) life, falling in love, and starting to become an adult. Friends is the adult (Brian) finding a wife, raising a kid, and starting to become more existential as life goes on. And Love You is the parent (Brian) trying hard to be a good father, at the same time being nostalgic of his past and regressing a bit. Then NPP is that adult/child (Brian) as an old man, trying to stay relevant, but also realizing he just likes sitting in his recliner, writing his Last Song.

Those four albums sum up Brian's life and career flawlessly in my opinion. A lot of people don't like some of those albums, whether because of production, songwriting, etc. But I find they are all full of Brian's musical genius, quirks, and internal ideas that make Brian Wilson who he is.

It's fun to listen to those albums in chronological order and see the intellectual evolution of Brian - from young man to old man, you can see how he has changed, and the soundtrack/music to that change is ever-evolving and mind-blowing in many places.

Excellent post and points! I also see NPP as having themes of looking back and in some of the more poignant moments, putting the narrator back in a mindset he had as a young man and saying 50+ years later "how nice would it be to do *this*..." as in Sail Away, first lyric "So many years ago but I remember...". Then he says "I guess you had to be there", that same guy looking back and saying "man, it was great, but if you weren't there you'll never fully understand, however I can tell you about it now".

And it does come full circle from the same narrator saying "wouldn't it be nice if we were older" to open Pet Sounds.

Awesome observation Rab, you made my day and I hope people reading will give those specific albums a listen with that frame of mind and see the connections as you did.
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« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2020, 08:39:18 AM »

(1) Not releasing Smile in 1967 (I would add not releasing Smile in 72, but would be redundant and not all that much was done)

A '72 Smile release is indeed a fascinating what-if.  The group was still in a position to add vocals to the tracks.  Memories were likely still fairly fresh not only with respect to Brian's original concepts but also things like now-missing lyrics.  The tape archive was perhaps more fully intact.     Carl & company did a hell of a job cobbling together Cabin Essence and Surf's Up. What if they *had* cobbled together a whole Smile LP back then?   It certainly may have changed not only the public perception but also the direction of the group.  And yet it very likely would have snuffed out the myth-building that was to come over the next few decades and obviated not only the bootlegs but also BWPS etc.
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« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2020, 09:15:44 AM »

On the original topic, there are quite a few, actually a laundry list of bad career moves that could fill a long list.

But for me, in my opinion, there is one that stands out above the rest.

When Carl died, the Beach Boys name should have been retired and not offered as a license to a sole original member. That decision alone has done more to divide the fans and followers than perhaps any other single decision in the band's history. If there cannot be a Wilson and a Love and a Jardine on stage performing and being billed as The Beach Boys, there should have been no Beach Boys. Is it any indication of the seriousness of the arrangement in general that the name can be used for live shows but NOT new recordings unless the aforementioned original members are involved? Why is that even a stipulation if it's all and only about generating revenue for the parent company BRI? When you ponder that question, the situation overall starts taking shape and realization sets in that there is more at stake with that name than a franchise to be licensed.

Some issues are about more than making money or appeasement. That's my take and it's been my take since 1998. No Wilsons, no Beach Boys. There were other ways to handle this after Carl's passing.
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« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2020, 01:38:29 PM »

On the original topic, there are quite a few, actually a laundry list of bad career moves that could fill a long list.

But for me, in my opinion, there is one that stands out above the rest.

When Carl died, the Beach Boys name should have been retired and not offered as a license to a sole original member. That decision alone has done more to divide the fans and followers than perhaps any other single decision in the band's history. If there cannot be a Wilson and a Love and a Jardine on stage performing and being billed as The Beach Boys, there should have been no Beach Boys. Is it any indication of the seriousness of the arrangement in general that the name can be used for live shows but NOT new recordings unless the aforementioned original members are involved? Why is that even a stipulation if it's all and only about generating revenue for the parent company BRI? When you ponder that question, the situation overall starts taking shape and realization sets in that there is more at stake with that name than a franchise to be licensed.

Some issues are about more than making money or appeasement. That's my take and it's been my take since 1998. No Wilsons, no Beach Boys. There were other ways to handle this after Carl's passing.
I was very late to finally accepting Mike's Beach Boys. Finally saw them September of 2019, and it was a great show; all the hits, a few "deep cuts", and a few new songs; but I agree, the name should have been retired when Carl died.
The Beach Boys sure had a strange touring operation for many years. The first was having their leader, Brian, not part of the touring band from 66 onwards. Can you imagine going to see the Kinks in 1966 and Ray Davies is not there? (note: this did happen on one European tour that year - I'm sure someone else remembers the name of his replacement) The Beatles without John Lennon? (and there was that one tour where Jimmy Nicol subbed for Ringo - a situation none of the guys were happy about)
If the bandleader needs some time off to focus on making records, then why can't the band take a break from live shows?
This created a situation where it was seemingly okay for various members to pull a disappearing act - even Mike has done it a couple times - 1970 when Brian filled in for him, and 1990, when Gerry Beckley toured with them. Did Al ever miss a show, or an entire tour? I saw the  Beach Boys at the Puyallup Fair in 1985, and Carl was absent - Brian took his spot, if you can call it that. I think everybody knew back in 1981 when Carl took an extended break from the band to do his solo stuff, but what happened in 1985? They had a new album out, and the highlights of it were mostly Carl's. I was disappointed I never got to hear "It's Gettin' Late" sung live.
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« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2020, 07:17:27 PM »

On the original topic, there are quite a few, actually a laundry list of bad career moves that could fill a long list.

But for me, in my opinion, there is one that stands out above the rest.

When Carl died, the Beach Boys name should have been retired and not offered as a license to a sole original member. That decision alone has done more to divide the fans and followers than perhaps any other single decision in the band's history. If there cannot be a Wilson and a Love and a Jardine on stage performing and being billed as The Beach Boys, there should have been no Beach Boys. Is it any indication of the seriousness of the arrangement in general that the name can be used for live shows but NOT new recordings unless the aforementioned original members are involved? Why is that even a stipulation if it's all and only about generating revenue for the parent company BRI? When you ponder that question, the situation overall starts taking shape and realization sets in that there is more at stake with that name than a franchise to be licensed.

Some issues are about more than making money or appeasement. That's my take and it's been my take since 1998. No Wilsons, no Beach Boys. There were other ways to handle this after Carl's passing.
I was very late to finally accepting Mike's Beach Boys. Finally saw them September of 2019, and it was a great show; all the hits, a few "deep cuts", and a few new songs; but I agree, the name should have been retired when Carl died.
The Beach Boys sure had a strange touring operation for many years. The first was having their leader, Brian, not part of the touring band from 66 onwards. Can you imagine going to see the Kinks in 1966 and Ray Davies is not there? (note: this did happen on one European tour that year - I'm sure someone else remembers the name of his replacement) The Beatles without John Lennon? (and there was that one tour where Jimmy Nicol subbed for Ringo - a situation none of the guys were happy about)
If the bandleader needs some time off to focus on making records, then why can't the band take a break from live shows?
This created a situation where it was seemingly okay for various members to pull a disappearing act - even Mike has done it a couple times - 1970 when Brian filled in for him, and 1990, when Gerry Beckley toured with them. Did Al ever miss a show, or an entire tour? I saw the  Beach Boys at the Puyallup Fair in 1985, and Carl was absent - Brian took his spot, if you can call it that. I think everybody knew back in 1981 when Carl took an extended break from the band to do his solo stuff, but what happened in 1985? They had a new album out, and the highlights of it were mostly Carl's. I was disappointed I never got to hear "It's Gettin' Late" sung live.

Amen. This is exactly why I placed the second on my list:

2. Rapidly Replacing Brian Wilson with Glen Campbell, Bruce Johnston etc.

It set a precedent that is STILL snowballing. It's been a couple years since I've seen Mike and Bruce now, but between 2010-2018 I saw them ten times. Every one of those concerts, I made a point to listen to the folks talking around me, and even talk with some of them about their knowledge of just exactly what and who they are saying. Usually, everyone knows Mike Love is there and Brian Wilson is not...but beyond that, it's hysterically sad. I've had folks after telling me how they grew up with the band, soundtrack to their life blah de blah de blah...ask if any of the Wilsons were on stage that night? Most of the time, no one in their crowd cares - and this is something that has been growing as a result of Brian's rapid replacement in 1965.

On the otherhand, I've seen Brian's band five times between 2013-2018, and everyone was always very in the know of who and what they were seeing. Totally different crowd. I'd bet Brian, Alan, David, and Blondie could all walk clear through the center of a Mike & Bruce concert and not get recognized by one person. Hell, I bet if Mike and Bruce took their ball caps off, they could walk through the crowd and not get recognized either.
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« Reply #24 on: December 22, 2020, 06:07:24 AM »

I'm gonna vote blowing the reunion album in '95.

All the stars were aligned: Brian was functional, willing, and had great material in the waiting from the Paley sessions: they had A-list record companies and producers with sympathetic aims ready to back the project; and the marketplace had come around to the point where a neo-retro Beach Boys album full of quirky BW originals would have had a warm reception.

This was just a head-slapping missed opportunity and I seem to recall Bruce being unusually blunt (even for him) and frustrated about it at the time.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2020, 06:08:08 AM by adamghost » Logged
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