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Author Topic: Spirit of Rock N Roll - Hallmark (Songs from Here and Back) version  (Read 1529 times)
Acechaser
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« on: February 08, 2021, 06:29:01 AM »

To my ears, the intro to the Spirit of Rock N Roll on the Hallmark album sounds "off key".  It's surprises me that this recording was accepted for the album.

The remainder of the song sounds good, but the intro makes it a difficult listen.   

What do others hear/think?     
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HeyJude
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2021, 06:47:19 AM »

The key was definitely dropped for this version compared the 80s/90s version.

The whole thing does sounds rather low-energy and kind of limp compared to the effervescent older versions. The sort of syncopated drum pattern added to the verses doesn't help either. The whole thing is given that sort of cavernous wall-of-sound-lite sort of sound that some Brian solo stuff has.

It's not "off key" as in someone singing or playing off key compared to the key of the recording. But yes, it sounds jarringly different from the older versions.
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2021, 09:04:08 AM »

To me, the singing/harmonizing ("wall of Brians") in the intro is "off key" or "off pitch".  It just doesn't sound good.  How did it slip through QA/QC steps for the album?   
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2021, 09:54:21 AM »

To me, the singing/harmonizing ("wall of Brians") in the intro is "off key" or "off pitch".  It just doesn't sound good.  How did it slip through QA/QC steps for the album?   

It's a little wonky I suppose, like a lot of the "Gettin' In Over My Head" album vocal stacks. Clearly they were throwing Hallmark sloppy second tier tracks for that Hallmark CD; Mike's "Cool Head" is stunningly the best of the three solo tracks.

Though, I recall hearing back in 2006 that Al presented Hallmark with multiple tracks, and Hallmark chose the already-released "PT Cruiser." Which of course begs the question of why Al submitted it when it had already been released, in FIVE DIFFERENT MIXES no less.
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2021, 06:37:51 AM »

Unlistenable to my ears.  Besides, the original version (which wasn't good either) at least had Bob Dylan singing vocals on it.  How do you top that?
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thetojo
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2021, 12:56:43 PM »

Unlistenable to my ears.  Besides, the original version (which wasn't good either) at least had Bob Dylan singing vocals on it.  How do you top that?

Or the proto-original version 5 years before that, with just Brian, which was better again.
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2021, 08:25:12 PM »

The original version that was broadcast on the 25th Anniversary special was terrific. Released at the time, it might have been a perfect '80s-style single for the band (in the way that TWGMTR kind of was, years after the fact).

Each successive version lost something, in my view.
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2021, 12:34:53 AM »

This should have been a Beach Boys single for their 25th. I love Brian's original 80s recording. Not a big fan of the re-recording; sounds a bit lazy to me.
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2021, 03:17:00 AM »

I agree I thought the original version on the 25th year anniversary special was the best one. Brian's solo version lost a lot in the translation I thought
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2021, 03:35:32 AM »

I haven't watched the 25th special in a long while. Wasn't that the same version that Dylan overdubbed his vocals on at another point?



Released at the time, it might have been a perfect '80s-style single for the band



I think that's true. Interestingly it seems that even in his most isolated years Brian always could knock out a song that sounded more commercial and of the time than anything of the "commercial" things the Beach Boys released at the same time. Or put in another way: Brian always had a feeling for what was going on at the time.
I'm really struggling to explain what I mean. I hope you understand.
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2021, 07:37:02 AM »

There is Brian's '86 version with Gary Usher, which "circulates." This is a "solo" version, presumably with the backing vocals of a couple of Chicago guys (Bill Champlin and Jason Scheff) that Usher brought in.

Then, during some awkward, tense pre-show recording sessions for the "25th Anniversary" TV special in Hawaii at the end of 1986, which were mostly helmed by Terry Melcher, Gary Usher stepped in to produce so the Beach Boys could overdub vocals onto Brian's "The Spirit of Rock and Roll." Landy apparently demanded the song be included. Carl and Al sort of boycotted work on that song and left the session, protesting some element of Landy's weird involvement. This left Brian, Mike, Bruce, and Glen Campbell to overdub backing vocals (on top of what was already recorded by Brian and Champlin/Scheff).

So somewhere in the vaults there is a pseudo-Beach Boys version of the '86 version of the song.

Which we partially got to hear on the actual TV broadcast, albeit with audience noise, and either extra audience noise or a sponsorship voiceover (depending on the version) during the sort of bridge of the song. I'm not sure how much of the mics on stage were hot during this song. I think Brian is singing live over his lead vocal, but I don't know if anybody (including Carl and Al on stage) are particularly mic'ed.

But it would be interesting to here a pristine mix of the "Beach Boys" version, even if it's just Brian/Mike/Bruce/Glen.

Then there are, I think, multiple circulating mixes of the "Sweet Insanity" version from circa 1990/91, which is an entirely new recording, and which, at some point, had a Bob Dylan lead vocal cameo. At some point various others added backing vocals, including Jeff Lynne as I recall.

There's no particular perfect version of the song available. The '86 version is probably best; it's punchy and has good vocals. But it also still sort of sounds like an elaborate demo as most of that Usher stuff does, and it also has the silly 80s guitar solo.

The "Sweet Insanity" version, like much of that album, sounds kind of overly-cluttered and clunky and awkward.

And of course, Brian's 2006 Hallmark version sounds pretty limp and low energy, which is not helped by lowering the key.
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2021, 09:32:55 AM »

There is Brian's '86 version with Gary Usher, which "circulates." This is a "solo" version, presumably with the backing vocals of a couple of Chicago guys (Bill Champlin and Jason Scheff) that Usher brought in.

Then, during some awkward, tense pre-show recording sessions for the "25th Anniversary" TV special in Hawaii at the end of 1986, which were mostly helmed by Terry Melcher, Gary Usher stepped in to produce so the Beach Boys could overdub vocals onto Brian's "The Spirit of Rock and Roll." Landy apparently demanded the song be included. Carl and Al sort of boycotted work on that song and left the session, protesting some element of Landy's weird involvement. This left Brian, Mike, Bruce, and Glen Campbell to overdub backing vocals (on top of what was already recorded by Brian and Champlin/Scheff).

So somewhere in the vaults there is a pseudo-Beach Boys version of the '86 version of the song.

Which we partially got to hear on the actual TV broadcast, albeit with audience noise, and either extra audience noise or a sponsorship voiceover (depending on the version) during the sort of bridge of the song. I'm not sure how much of the mics on stage were hot during this song. I think Brian is singing live over his lead vocal, but I don't know if anybody (including Carl and Al on stage) are particularly mic'ed.

But it would be interesting to here a pristine mix of the "Beach Boys" version, even if it's just Brian/Mike/Bruce/Glen.

Then there are, I think, multiple circulating mixes of the "Sweet Insanity" version from circa 1990/91, which is an entirely new recording, and which, at some point, had a Bob Dylan lead vocal cameo. At some point various others added backing vocals, including Jeff Lynne as I recall.

There's no particular perfect version of the song available. The '86 version is probably best; it's punchy and has good vocals. But it also still sort of sounds like an elaborate demo as most of that Usher stuff does, and it also has the silly 80s guitar solo.

The "Sweet Insanity" version, like much of that album, sounds kind of overly-cluttered and clunky and awkward.

And of course, Brian's 2006 Hallmark version sounds pretty limp and low energy, which is not helped by lowering the key.



Interesting!
I'm just listening to different versions on youtube. I'm not very familiar with the Gary Usher material from the 80s. I only knew the Dylan version and Brian's Hallmark re-recording (and of course the 25th anniversary show).
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2021, 12:38:16 PM »

The original version that was broadcast on the 25th Anniversary special was terrific. Released at the time, it might have been a perfect '80s-style single for the band (in the way that TWGMTR kind of was, years after the fact).

Each successive version lost something, in my view.

Absolutely agree with this.

I remember hearing at one stage that only lead vocals were mic'd - no idea of course, but it would be great to have this version from the multitracks with backing vocals that were used in the show paired with Brian's studio lead from that time. This is the version with best (imo) backing vocal arrangement.

A shame that Carl isn't on it - chalk up one more strike against E E Landy!
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2021, 05:07:45 PM »

While he might've gone along and done it, I can only imagine that Brian must have been bored to redo the same song again and again. Especially since it was a song that had its origins in a difficult time., Memories of Landy, plus memories of his brother and Al boycotting a session... I tend to doubt that Brian had a burning desire to re-re-record the song in the 2000s, of course I could be wrong but I do wonder whose idea it was. There were probably some folks tasked with going through the archives for song ideas to resurrect.

 I guess this song might've had some potential in the 1980s, it really only feels appropriate to that decade and to no other decade, sort of like Rock N Roll to the Rescue. Taking this old song out of the decade and re-recording it years later seems a bit like the band singing about going to school and having a crush on schoolgirls on late '70s tunes.  Obviously not the same situation, but as a general thing the 2000s version is  just an odd mashup of eras/ideas that doesn't really work.
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2021, 05:39:33 PM »

While he might've gone along and done it, I can only imagine that Brian must have been bored to redo the same song again and again. Especially since it was a song that had its origins in a difficult time., Memories of Landy, plus memories of his brother and Al boycotting a session... I tend to doubt that Brian had a burning desire to re-re-record the song in the 2000s, of course I could be wrong but I do wonder whose idea it was. There were probably some folks tasked with going through the archives for song ideas to resurrect.

 I guess this song might've had some potential in the 1980s, it really only feels appropriate to that decade and to no other decade, sort of like Rock N Roll to the Rescue. Taking this old song out of the decade and re-recording it years later seems a bit like the band singing about going to school and having a crush on schoolgirls on late '70s tunes.  Obviously not the same situation, but as a general thing the 2000s version is  just an odd mashup of eras/ideas that doesn't really work.

I agree. It really was a perfect song (I'd even argue in favor of the goofy guitar solo in that context) for its time. I always remember the thrill of hearing it on the special, back in 1986 land, and the disappointment hearing the versions that made it out.
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« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2021, 02:31:24 AM »

I tend to doubt that Brian had a burning desire to re-re-record the song in the 2000s, of course I could be wrong but I do wonder whose idea it was. There were probably some folks tasked with going through the archives for song ideas to resurrect.

 I guess this song might've had some potential in the 1980s, it really only feels appropriate to that decade


Yes, I think that's right.
When it comes to the re-recording I guess they used that song for a couple of reasons. First, it always was a favorite among fans and Brian's people watch messageboards etc., so they were well aware of that. Secondly, it was finished, it's lyrics are appropriate and didn't need to be cleaned from Landy's psycho-blabla. And thirdly, using it meant that Brian could hold back some of the stronger tunes he had already written or was writing at the time for a regular studio album or something similar.  So, it definitely made sense to use this song. I also think the track and lead vocal sound pretty good, it's Brian's wall-of-vocals that doesn't do it for me.
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a diseased bunch of mo'fos if there ever was one… their beauty is so awesome that listening to them at their best is like being in some vast dream cathedral decorated with a thousand gleaming American pop culture icons.

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To sum it up, they blew it, they blew it consistently, they continue to blow it, it is tragic and this pathological problem caused The Beach Boys' greatest music to be so underrated by the general public.

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« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2021, 10:24:52 PM »

Was just re-watching the 1986 video on Youtube: https://youtu.be/JSV4xMTfngs

I know this was a very difficult time for Brian but he looks incredible here, like a different person compared to the Queen Mary footage from only five years earlier.
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« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2021, 11:04:58 PM »

To me, the singing/harmonizing ("wall of Brians") in the intro is "off key" or "off pitch".  It just doesn't sound good.  How did it slip through QA/QC steps for the album?   

I agree with you. Brian's lead vocal of the intro is off pitch. It doesn't match the pitch of the backing vocals.
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2021, 08:20:42 PM »

Was just re-watching the 1986 video on Youtube: https://youtu.be/JSV4xMTfngs

I know this was a very difficult time for Brian but he looks incredible here, like a different person compared to the Queen Mary footage from only five years earlier.

It's a great performance. I remember reading, I think in McParland's excellent book, about how they were holding up scripts for Brian to read from, and he didn't have his glasses, so struggled. I'd not noticed that before, but once you notice, you can't unnotice it! You don't see it in this clip, but it's very clear when he speaks during the rest of the show.
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« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2021, 05:34:59 AM »

Pretty sure a lot of the vocals (at least the backing vocals anyway) were canned on that Hawaiian special.  And man has that thing aged poorly.  The only legitimately awesome moment in that special was having Ray Charles come out to do "Sail On, Sailor".  That was a pretty unique and special moment in Beach Boys history.

"The Spirit of Rock & Roll" was never a particularly remarkable song in and of itself, but again the fact that he got Bob Dylan to sing on one version of it is pretty cool.  Track that version down and forget about the clunky Hallmark version.
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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2021, 10:21:12 PM »

Not remarkable, but I remember feeling pretty excited hearing it for the first time, being furious when the network (ABC?) cut into the song for credits and their own promotion, and then waiting impatiently for the release that never came. At least the complete song is easy to find online now, and I love the look on Brian's face throughout, like he's saying "I got this!". I agree with the earlier comment that each following version was less than its predecessor, and find Dylan's appearance no more than a curiosity. 
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