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Author Topic: Was a Beatles-like career arc ever possible for the Beach Boys?  (Read 1426 times)
thr33
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« on: February 08, 2021, 07:34:15 PM »

If so, what has to happen differently?

Feel free to use your own criteria, but for me, this means:

(1) Break up within ten years of formation.
(2) Produce top ten albums until the end.
(3) Garner critical acclaim until the end.
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2021, 07:43:36 PM »

If so, what has to happen differently?

Feel free to use your own criteria, but for me, this means:

(1) Break up within ten years of formation.
(2) Pruduce top ten albums until the end.
(3) Garner critical acclaim at the time.

No.
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2021, 05:55:16 AM »

Nope.
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2021, 06:44:45 AM »

Anything is possible, so here goes:

1) better PR management that emphasized the guys as each having something to offer the culture of the time (instead of emphasizing the supposed represented culture (surfing, cars), make The Beach Boys themselves the epicenter of the band in terms of PR). When I was a kid, before I had even heard 3 Beatles songs I knew who John, Paul, George, and Ringo were due to their impact on pop culture as people. Whereas I actually listened to The Beach Boys a lot as a kid and only heard of Brian Wilson after researching the band in my late-teens. Their surfing/car image seemed to really hurt them post 1969 (until the Endless Summer began).

2) a willingness to not haphazardly put together albums (ie, no albums full of filler - especially in the early years. Though Surfer Girl and LDC are pretty much filler free in my opinion, Shut Down Vol II is a complete disaster compared to any Beatles album at that same time - even though SDV2 has some of the best beach boys songs on it).

3) a much better bond between each band member. I think had each and every band member been more respectful of the individual desires/needs of their fellow bandmates, the band would’ve flourished with creativity and harmony. This would’ve over-rid any need for a 10 year breakup: these guys seemed to be just getting started in terms of band-contributed creativity 10 years after they first got together. Had #1 on my list happened, then I feel like The Beach Boys wouldn’t have been pushed to the side in the 70s...giving their music on Sunflower and Surf’s Up a chance to thrive in the culture.

Had any of this^ happened, their entire discography would be completely different. And perhaps to a fault. The Beach Boys are exactly who they needed to be. I just find it incredible that the pieces of this universe fell into place for these guys to get together and create the music that they did...even with all the kinks. And I think over time The Beach Boys will continue to ascend in popularity as far as genius of the music goes....so them being as popular as the Beatles isn’t really a concern to me. But it is, no doubt, interesting to think about.
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2021, 06:46:37 AM »

I can't so much imagine a Beach Boys history following in the mold of The Beatles but it's kind of worth imagining what their equivalent to the Hamburg days could have been or might been seen as. Even if The Beatles didn't come up with that many originals or sell any records at that time, their baptism by fire in Hamburg shaped their momentum and collective personality in a way that I can't really see a parallel to in the Beach Boys story. Can you imagine Murray facing up to Hamburg Beatles style hijinks?
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2021, 07:04:01 AM »

The Beach Boys didn't have the same trajectory or comparable output/image, etc. during their respective first ten years, so no, a similar career arc was not possible.

Could the Beach Boys at various points gone away a little bit more to build up demand/cache and avoid watering down their brand? Sure, absolutely. There were times where staying active was the only thing keep them together. But certainly in later years, certainly by the 80s and 90s, they could have given it a rest on the road to build up demand, and they would have been playing arenas and stadiums later into their career instead of watering it down so severely that it ended up being a lot of festivals, cook-offs, wineries, etc.
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2021, 07:27:43 AM »

Hamburg was definitely what I'd call the single most important set of events that shaped The Beatles' career arc. It was the band learning how to play and entertain, their apprenticeship and their baptism by fire. When you play grueling sets 7 days a week, sometimes 12+ hours a day, even if you're a marginal musician you get tight musically as a *band*. You learn each others' moves and learn how to make things work. They also had the huge benefit of hooking up with Tony Sheridan, one of the more under-heralded figures in the Beatles' saga, because Tony was a terrific guitarist, strong entertainer, and a great musician playing rock and roll who helped teach the Beatles various lessons about playing rock and roll music on a level beyond bashing out songs.

The band also took on an incredible repertoire of cover songs, learning them and then incorporating those chords and styles into their own originals to come. The sheer volume of songs these guys could pull out of a hat at will was amazing, dozens and dozens of songs (if not hundreds) so they could keep crowds entertained all night and into the morning all week long. That is paying your dues musically.

The Beach Boys didn't have quite the same apprenticeship. Not taking anything away from them, but playing 30 minute sets at the Legion hall wasn't the same as literally practicing on stage for months at a time, 8-12 hours a night.

The way all of this developed is fascinating, and can be discussed in much more detail, but apart from the early development of these two bands *as bands*, I'd say the main difference was The Beatles had George Martin along with Norman Smith and later Geoff Emerick to help translate their concepts and ideas into record sounds and full productions, while The Beach Boys had Brian Wilson, who had his own mentors in the earlier days like Chuck Britz and even Spector, but essentially the BB's had one man doing the heavy lifting while The Beatles had more of a team in place with outsiders to lend their talents to the process. Brian was mostly on his own, and trying to sustain that kind of workload and demand for new material eventually leads to breakdowns and exhaustion and fatigue - which happened in both cases - and that leads to various changes and switching-up roles within the band which will affect the music too. The Beatles decided to pack it in when all of this got too heavy within the band, and The Beach Boys did what they did. There's the dividing line which hit both groups during roughly the same time period.
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2021, 07:42:42 AM »


The Beatles decided to pack it in when all of this got too heavy within the band, and The Beach Boys did what they did. There's the dividing line which hit both groups during roughly the same time period.

As the old saying goes "The Beatles are like muffin tops: they end before the inferior part begins." As a whole catalog BB fan I'd say I have to agree (with myself). Still, doesn't come out of my mouth much these days cause I can't assume everyone feels the same way about baked goods or Let It Be.
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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2021, 07:45:59 AM »

Just adding one point because today is the exact anniversary of the appearance: Nothing can or perhaps ever will in terms of a pop/rock band creating a collective shared experience top the impact of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, February 9th 1964. For everything in history to line up as it did (including the weather for the northern East Coast of the US that Sunday night) so a large majority of TV viewers were watching the broadcast is just one part of the timing factor which seemed to be on the side of the Beatles more than any other band or pop act in music history. It's still an electric video to watch, and keep in mind that a caption showing each band member's name was added along with a close-up camera shot, which further personalized each member and introduced them as *individuals* to the audience - The Beach Boys and other acts as far as I know never had that kind of personalization, especially on their introductory tours.
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« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2021, 07:59:38 AM »


The Beatles decided to pack it in when all of this got too heavy within the band, and The Beach Boys did what they did. There's the dividing line which hit both groups during roughly the same time period.

As the old saying goes "The Beatles are like muffin tops: they end before the inferior part begins." As a whole catalog BB fan I'd say I have to agree (with myself). Still, doesn't come out of my mouth much these days cause I can't assume everyone feels the same way about baked goods or Let It Be.

I do think "Let It Be", the song especially, put a period at the end of the sentence and closed the chapter for a lot of fans. The title itself, let it be, seemed to be the right send-off and swansong for the whole saga. We're done, just let it be (what it was) and move on. The producers and editors of the old documentary "The Compleat Beatles" tapped into that sentiment with how they used the song Let It Be for the finale of the film, knowing of course the song itself was not designed that way, nor did the timeline match with when these songs were recorded, but it did fit within the history of the band to say "this is it" looking back on the era.

I used to be a baseball nut, reading all kinds of books and histories of the game and the old-school players. I don't recall which book, or who exactly it was written about, but one passage always struck me. There was a pitcher, a now-legendary Hall Of Famer, who was brilliant in his prime but who also stayed on the roster a little longer than his skills should have allowed. The points were that fans would come out to watch him pitch, past his prime, but he wasn't that good and would usually get knocked all around the field by opposing hitters. So the open question was how much of a benefit it was for fans to say they saw so-and-so pitch when late in his career he simply didn't look good out there and didn't add much to his team, versus that same pitcher going out on a high note and retiring when he could have as one of the premiere players in the game.

The Beatles, again with timing intact, seemed to leave at just the right time, which some fans still say they quit when the 60's ended. There were no "comebacks" or oldies tours as The Beatles, and for f**k's sake no licenses and naming-rights battles and subsequent lawsuits where one original member gets to use the name to book shows while others can't. 
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« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2021, 08:03:40 AM »

Hamburg was definitely what I'd call the single most important set of events that shaped The Beatles' career arc. It was the band learning how to play and entertain, their apprenticeship and their baptism by fire. When you play grueling sets 7 days a week, sometimes 12+ hours a day, even if you're a marginal musician you get tight musically as a *band*. You learn each others' moves and learn how to make things work. They also had the huge benefit of hooking up with Tony Sheridan, one of the more under-heralded figures in the Beatles' saga, because Tony was a terrific guitarist, strong entertainer, and a great musician playing rock and roll who helped teach the Beatles various lessons about playing rock and roll music on a level beyond bashing out songs.

The band also took on an incredible repertoire of cover songs, learning them and then incorporating those chords and styles into their own originals to come. The sheer volume of songs these guys could pull out of a hat at will was amazing, dozens and dozens of songs (if not hundreds) so they could keep crowds entertained all night and into the morning all week long. That is paying your dues musically.

The Beach Boys didn't have quite the same apprenticeship. Not taking anything away from them, but playing 30 minute sets at the Legion hall wasn't the same as literally practicing on stage for months at a time, 8-12 hours a night.

The way all of this developed is fascinating, and can be discussed in much more detail, but apart from the early development of these two bands *as bands*, I'd say the main difference was The Beatles had George Martin along with Norman Smith and later Geoff Emerick to help translate their concepts and ideas into record sounds and full productions, while The Beach Boys had Brian Wilson, who had his own mentors in the earlier days like Chuck Britz and even Spector, but essentially the BB's had one man doing the heavy lifting while The Beatles had more of a team in place with outsiders to lend their talents to the process. Brian was mostly on his own, and trying to sustain that kind of workload and demand for new material eventually leads to breakdowns and exhaustion and fatigue - which happened in both cases - and that leads to various changes and switching-up roles within the band which will affect the music too. The Beatles decided to pack it in when all of this got too heavy within the band, and The Beach Boys did what they did. There's the dividing line which hit both groups during roughly the same time period.

Just random whatevers:

I think sometimes the disparity between the "help" Brian had versus the "help" the Beatles had is overstated. Not here so much, but in some articles/books I come across. Brian *did* always have an engineer (several in fact), and Brian had outside musicians in that mid-period who certainly were helping Brian's process beyond simply playing what they were told. The Beatles played their own instruments (largely, of course) and laid down their own tracks, so they were taking on something Brian wasn't, and I think it sometimes provided a more direct connection to their music and their process that the BBs didn't have; I think some of that BB material, while *amazing*, has that one limitation in that it is then-middle-aged musicians playing that stuff.

Also, and certainly as we get further into the 60s, George Martin's role (and Emerick's) can sometimes be overstated. Certainly the Beatles in later years had some issues with the amount of credit Martin and Emerick were given (or were taking). Make no mistake, they were important. But as times goes by, they become more facilitators, because there is a point at which Paul McCartney is doing so much work that he essentially becomes the band's producer, or co-producer.

Remember when we did a deep dive into those 1967 sessions, and we discovered that Brian did not all of a sudden just take a nap in the control room, but was in fact *leading* those post-Smile sessions pretty similarly to how he had done in the past? I think checking the record on some Beatles sessions, and certainly a more broad look at the creative process of writing a lot of those mid-later era Beatles songs, finds that George Martin was increasingly working at the direction of Paul McCartney rather than the other way around. Which is ironic, because (and I'm getting more into Beatles lore here of course), for all the talk of McCartney's ego, he should have had the biggest beef with Martin or Emerick taking "too much credit", yet it was Lennon and Harrison that seemed far more irked with Martin and Emerick in later years, and it was McCartney who later had an intermittent working relationship with Martin and Emerick in the solo years, while Lennon and Harrison stayed away. Geoff Emerick was never anywhere near a post-Beatles Harrison session save the couple of instances where Harrison (sometimes begrudgingly) ended up in the same room with McCartney working together again.

But back to the question of BB career trajectory, it was just never in the realm of the Beatles to begin with. They never hit the pop culture arena like the Beatles did. The Beatles got three straight weeks on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, performing up to 5-6 songs per show. The Beach Boys got one night, doing two songs. The Beach Boys had that stretch where they were sometimes going to toe to toe on the charts. By 1966/67, the BBs were just not occupying minds the way the Beatles were.

Ironically, I think the BBs probably would have been worse off had they tried to gracefully temporarily retire in like 1969. Obviously, we then wouldn't have gotten albums we love from the early 70s. But also, the trajectory may not had led them to the various "renaissances" they experienced in 74/76, etc.
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2021, 08:32:55 AM »

Of course there is and can be no "one-size-fits-all" summary of how all these guys worked throughout the 60's. But at the same time there are some generalizations which do allow both career arcs to share similarities and parallel each other, as well as some points where we can clearly see the divide between the two. It's hard to put into a few brief paragraphs!

I think the aspect of McCartney taking more control in '67 and especially '68 where he actually unloaded on George Martin while doing a lead vocal is a parallel to Brian which happened years after Brian's assumption of more control was actually realized.

The important point to consider regarding George Martin is that George had a formally-trained musical background and a more trained ear than any of The Beatles. Just focusing on Lennon and McCartney as writers, they would bring song ideas to George, with great hooks and potential, and George Martin was there to help shape and construct the songs into tight pop records that were more accessible than in their rough forms. I was reminded of this while listening to one of the early home-recorded rehearsals of "I Saw Her Standing There". The beginnings of something are there on the tape, but overall it sounds like a disjointed attempt at a blues, and the transitions just don't seem to gel. Now how much exactly George Martin did to reshape it into what ended up on the Please Please Me album is up for debate, but whether he actually said to change the feel and smooth out the transitions or whether he just encouraged such changes, the song transformed into an electric rock and roll song by the time it got recorded for the album. Same with the original versions of "Please Please Me" versus what became the single. Something or someone did some fine-tuning to make a good song into a great song, and that's generally what a producer does. Such a producer is also an outsider's voice and opinion that writers often need to make a good idea into a full production.

So when Lennon and McCartney, untrained musicians, were cranking out all of these great song ideas that needed polishing, they had a George Martin working with them to do just that, and in terms of looking for certain sounds they wanted or didn't yet know they needed to compliment a song, they had the likes of Smith and Emerick to push the boundaries as needed.

Brian didn't have that in terms of his songs and having another producer there to bounce and refine ideas. In the earlier days, perhaps up to 1968 to be bluntly honest, none of his bandmates had the musical ears for studio work or songwriting as Brian did (or needed), and Chuck Britz could mentor and help Brian with studio techniques but Chuck was not a songwriter or arranger. Yes, Brian had collaborators like Usher, Asher, Parks, etc who had different musical backgrounds to bounce ideas off of, but in the same way those guys were also working with a guy whose skills they themselves were often trying to figure out.

So I do think just as McCartney spent 5 years or more watching and learning more of the process from George Martin then taking on some of those production roles himself, Brian had also spent his early years watching Spector and others cut records in the studio and was soaking it all in so he could take on more of that role even though he was basically leading the earliest sessions. I see them both as serving apprenticeships and then taking more control, only Brian's period of apprenticeship and watching was much more compact and shorter than McCartney's.

I also see a parallel between the two where both Brian and Paul must have had a feeling where they needed to step up again (especially around 1967 and '68) even though they may not have wanted to because their bandmates simply did not want to, or didn't have the skill set to do it. At one point in '68 George Martin bailed on them for a long vacation, and in later '67 into '68 Brian wanted to work with other artists, yet *someone* had to pull together the troops and the music for a new Beatles and Beach Boys album. Who else was there to do it?
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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2021, 08:57:12 AM »


But back to the question of BB career trajectory, it was just never in the realm of the Beatles to begin with. They never hit the pop culture arena like the Beatles did. The Beatles got three straight weeks on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, performing up to 5-6 songs per show. The Beach Boys got one night, doing two songs. The Beach Boys had that stretch where they were sometimes going to toe to toe on the charts. By 1966/67, the BBs were just not occupying minds the way the Beatles were.

Ironically, I think the BBs probably would have been worse off had they tried to gracefully temporarily retire in like 1969. Obviously, we then wouldn't have gotten albums we love from the early 70s. But also, the trajectory may not had led them to the various "renaissances" they experienced in 74/76, etc.

The first point I agree with 100% and it's hard to argue overall because it's true. I can think of no other acts who transcended the music they released as much as The Beatles. Their influence on popular culture is something I've only seen come close to being similar once - not being alive in the 60's - and that was Michael Jackson after Thriller was released. I can think of no single event that gets name-checked as much as that first Sullivan appearance by people who later went on to become famous musicians and artists in their own right. Regular non-musicians who watched them on Sullivan remember how boys and men started to grow their hair longer after that appearance where before the "normal" haircut for fine upstanding young men was a variation of the military buzz-cut. It wasn't so much that the Beatles invented this stuff, but they kicked down the doors for mainstream culture to say "this is okay". And if you look at acceptable haircuts for professional men from 1963 compared to 1970, you'll see what a cultural earthquake this really was. And a lot of people who lived it give at least partial credit to The Beatles for spurring on these changes.

The Beach Boys never did have that cross-cultural impact that affected popular society and culture. HOWEVER - and a big however - Brian's music did in fact create an entire mythology around the California beach lifestyle, to where his music and the sound of it alone suggested an entire mythology and paradise to be found along the California coast.

I would submit that nothing in terms of music that The Beatles ever did - save, perhaps, the timing of All You Need Is Love - created as perfect of a soundtrack for a fantasy image millions of landlocked people listening to Brian's songs had for a certain region of the US. When people hear the best of the Beach Boys music, like the intros of California Girls and Wouldn't It Be Nice or those high falsetto leads over the harmonies of Surfer Girl, I Get Around, or Don't Worry Baby, people get an image and fantasy of living that lifestyle with that soundtrack that did in fact transcend the music itself and go straight into the popular culture and mindset.

I also think that timing came into play, and The Beatles were done as in capital D O N E and never tried to recapture what was truthfully a fleeting moment in time when all that magic could be created and released as pop music. The Beach Boys, more some members than others, have spent the better part of 50 years trying in vain to recapture or repeat something that could only have come out of the era in which it was created.

I cannot fathom or imagine The Beatles trying to do what The Beach Boys were trying to do on projects like Keepin The Summer Alive. It may have been great, but I can't help thinking it would have been laughable. Sometimes you have to know when it's time to draw the curtains and exit the stage.
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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2021, 12:53:47 PM »

Certainly, the sort of image of the Beatles' career has been helped by going out "on top" (relatively speaking). But I think that was just how the momentum went for them. They didn't strategize to end things exactly like that (other than to hold off for some amount of time announcing a break up so that Allen Klein could finagle some good group deals).

The Beach Boys simply never had the luxury of hanging it up, so long as they wanted to continue to have a career in the industry and/or avoid having to work a "regular" job, etc.

There was some value in just keeping the machine going, and that's where I think some of the guys in the band probably did hold some amount of a grudge against Brian because they kept the name and the whole operation alive during the worst of times (and also obviously brought in revenue). I don't know how much room they had to pat themselves on the back as if they had some hugely noble goal in mind. I think they needed to keep money coming in, and touring was kind of all they knew. It was easier than a "regular" job. They got groupies and all that stuff too.

But there was some amount of credit due at certain times for "keeping the name alive." I think the amount of credit due waned in later years when members (e.g. Al in 1998) were edged out who didn't want out (or didn't want out under those circumstances certainly).
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2021, 01:13:26 PM »

"Going out on top" is a romantic notion that I think is way, way, way overrated. I'm still disappointed with the Beatles and REM for quitting when they did.
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« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2021, 01:18:27 PM »

"Going out on top" is a romantic notion that I think is way, way, way overrated. I'm still disappointed with the Beatles and REM for quitting when they did.

I'm disappointed in myself for not buying tickets to REM's 2008 Philly date.
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2021, 03:12:15 PM »

The Beatles & The Beach Boys were such different groups that, no, I can't imagine the BBs having a career arc comparable to the Beatles.   Can I imagine the BBs' post-Good Vibrations recording career going better than it did?  Yes, I absolutely can.   Let's say that you take out Brian's issues with drugs & mental illness 1967-1970... let's say you have a group that's less into touring and more into putting the effort into the records... let's say you have less interpersonal conflict in the group.  Yes, there could have been a finished Smile.  There could have been a better Wild Honey that made the Top 10.    There could have been a better Friends that spawned a couple hit singles.

But can I imagine the BBs' recorded oeuvre having the same worldwide popularity and influence as the Beatles' catalog?  Frankly, I can't.

I want to second (and third) everything GF says above about George Martin.   George Martin's role in making the Beatles' records what they were was huge.  The man was the first to downplay his contributions, but he was a classically trained musician (oboe instruction from none other than Jane Asher's mom), a master of the recording process and a level-headed, sober, stable personality (when such people were a rare commodity in the late '60s music scene).

During his lifetime, Martin expressed astonishment that Brian was "going it alone" because he (Martin) knew darned well what he did for the Beatles and how different the result would have been (and in some cases was) when his involvement was reduced or diminished.   Martin said that he had imagined that there were a team of people behind Brian like the Beatles had behind them.

But aside from the Martin factor in record-making, the BBs' also had a personality deficit compared to the Beatles.

Lord knows BBs had (and have) personalities but they were not personalities like the Beatles' personalities.  The BBs were not showmen like the Beatles were showmen.  Can I imagine the BBs pulling off movies like A Hard Day's Night  and Help?  Frankly, no, I cannot.   I also agree 100% with GF regarding the importance of the Beatles' pre-fame history as a live act in Hamburg and Liverpool.   John and Paul were entertainers who honed their skills charming audiences.   The Beach Boys were a recording group that became a live act after their records took off, not the other way around.  Compare how awkward and nervous Brian seems in on-camera chit-chat circa 1963-64, to the jocular, self-confident Lennon and McCarthy.  Did Carl and Al have a ton to say during that period?  Mike Love has always had more aptitude as a front man compared to the rest of them, but his shtick isn't everyone's cup of tea, to put it mildly.

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« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2021, 08:31:51 PM »

As has been said you also need to take into account that the Beatles, especially Lennon, were more sophisticated. Even though they came from the British equivalent of Sheboygan Wisconsin-they had been exposed to more avant- grade art and the Paris scene and to the irreverent humor of the Goons. They’d been very independent and had very definite tastes and opinions. I love the BBs but in their early days they came across as unsophisticated and amateurish in comparison to the Beatles. While Lennon was publishing In His Own Write and the Beatles were making irreverent TV appearances- the BBs were recording really poor attempts at humor like Cassius Love and Sonny Wilson or bull session with the big daddy-which are like high school jock humor.  If you look at the Beatles in Washington in 1964, which was paired in theaters with the Lost Concert by the BBs-it Is like night and day-the Beatles really rock and no how to put on a show-while despite being a performing band for three years the BBs come across as nervous and somewhat amateurish in comparison-they show very little charisma-though the songs are great
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DonnyL
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« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2021, 10:13:45 PM »

I do think this is actually possible in a sort of alternate scenario, if a few key things played out:

1. Smile really would have had to have been finished and released before Sgt Pepper.
2. Best of Vol 2 would not be released.
3. A Jack Rieley-type character would have needed to come on the scene around the same time.
4. This Rieley type would have changed the direction of the band to go in the Surf’s Up vein as early as 1967-8, and ensure the group perfoms at Monterey.

Basically, all of the things that happened in 1970-71 would have needed to happen in 1967-8. Then the band calls it quits around 1971.

I personally don’t think this alternate scenario would have given us better records though. I like the ones we got.
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« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2021, 01:22:46 PM »

"Going out on top" is a romantic notion that I think is way, way, way overrated. I'm still disappointed with the Beatles and REM for quitting when they did.

The Beatles weren't trying to go out on top. That thing held together as long as it could.

And really, as Howie Edelson's Fabcast has been proving with numerous episodes, we didn't lose the Beatles in 1970. "Ram" is Beatles. "Imagine" is Beatles. It doesn't have that name on the label, and if they had all played on each other's albums those albums would have been *even better*. But it's still Beatles. "The Back Seat of My Car" is Beatles. "Crackerbox Palace" is Beatles.

The Beatles broke up and made more music than a band like the Beach Boys who kinda never really did "break up" as such.

I'm far more disappointed in the Beach Boys for largely giving up being an active regularly-recording act in like Year 19 of their existence, and going out on autopilot for decades after on tour playing the same stuff over and over.
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« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2021, 08:35:54 AM »

"Going out on top" is a romantic notion that I think is way, way, way overrated. I'm still disappointed with the Beatles and REM for quitting when they did.

The Beatles weren't trying to go out on top. That thing held together as long as it could.

And really, as Howie Edelson's Fabcast has been proving with numerous episodes, we didn't lose the Beatles in 1970. "Ram" is Beatles. "Imagine" is Beatles. It doesn't have that name on the label, and if they had all played on each other's albums those albums would have been *even better*. But it's still Beatles. "The Back Seat of My Car" is Beatles. "Crackerbox Palace" is Beatles.

The Beatles broke up and made more music than a band like the Beach Boys who kinda never really did "break up" as such.

I'm far more disappointed in the Beach Boys for largely giving up being an active regularly-recording act in like Year 19 of their existence, and going out on autopilot for decades after on tour playing the same stuff over and over.

Either I'm not reading it or understanding the points correctly, or I just simply disagree strongly, but I can't wrap my head around the opinion that "Ram" or "Imagine" or any other solo effort is The Beatles.

Just so it's not like my opinion is coming out of thin air, I've had copies of those solo albums, mostly from flea market and yard sale vinyl hauls (before reissues and before it became trendy lol), since the mid-80's when I truly did a deep dive into the Beatles music, yet before I had enough musical knowledge to break down what they were doing musically, with production and songwriting, etc.

But I never, even when listening and enjoying them on a purely visceral and less-educated level, considered any of them as "Beatles" albums or connected them in that way as an extension of The Beatles as a band dynamic. There was such a definite separation, such a dividing line between Abbey Road and Let It Be and the solo efforts that it didn't even seem fair to connect the two. The obvious reason was that the band members themselves, perhaps Harrison most strongly, considered The Beatles over and done and they were able to do whatever they wanted free of a group dynamic and free of expectations apart from being former members of the band.

I think what is missing most, and maybe what I as a listener missed most from those solo efforts was the "X Factor" of the group dynamic at work. The solo albums work as solo albums, but if we're going to draw a line between those and even the final 2 or 3 Beatles albums, what's missing is a chorus that has John and Paul harmonizing, the sound of a Ringo drum fill versus McCartney's on Maybe I'm Amazed, a Macca bass line on Jealous Guy, a quirky Lennon rhythm guitar part on Give Me Love, etc. Of course they played on a few of each others' tracks, but even in its more strained examples when the group dynamic was shaky at best, they were still The Beatles, a band which had been playing together for years.

If we connect this to The Beach Boys, is the dynamic different to suggest Pacific Ocean Blue, or Carl's solo record, or Looking Back With Love, or the first Brian solo album are "The Beach Boys" like "Crackerbox Palace" or "Crippled Inside" is "The Beatles"? Or taking it even further to another band, that Keith Richards and the Xpensive Winos or Jagger and Bowie were just more Stones albums coming at a time when The Stones were basically not a band?
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« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2021, 10:29:49 AM »

Listen to the "Help Me, Rhonda" session recording to understand why the Beach Boys never would, and never could, be like the Beatles.
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« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2021, 11:38:50 AM »

Listen to the "Help Me, Rhonda" session recording to understand why the Beach Boys never would, and never could, be like the Beatles.

Fair point there. I have a hard time picturing The Beatles being talked to like that while at work.
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« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2021, 04:24:17 PM »

I became aware of The Beatles' music about 40 years ago - they were, like, my father's generation. It was obvious to me right from the start that their early music, even not as advanced as the later works, had that electrifying quality. In fact, that word is astutely mentioned in the subtitle of some North American LP of theirs, The Second Album (I am used to the UK discography). As for The Beach Boys' music, much as I love them - my first experience of them was about 10 years later, Carl and the Passions / So Tough album, and my first thought was, "What is that sh*t?", but amazingly, I got sucked into that album, knowing already it was their weakest from the early era - it does not have that innate electrifying quality, even though, of course, it has many other most splendid qualities. For the early rock, The Beatles simply were IT.
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« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2021, 05:01:04 PM »

"Going out on top" is a romantic notion that I think is way, way, way overrated. I'm still disappointed with the Beatles and REM for quitting when they did.

No, it really isn’t.

And no one was caring about REM when they split.
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