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Author Topic: Beach Boys bought  (Read 5035 times)
Don Malcolm
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« Reply #125 on: February 21, 2021, 11:51:13 AM »

All of this brings us full circle to the recent Beatles/Beach Boys thread. What follows is a bit weird and too telescoped in nature, but bear with me: aside from their unity, the Beatles had another advantage in conquering America and the world--they were not Americans. The mystique was part of the appeal, and it was deployed and developed perfectly (and put into overdrive with the success of A HARD DAY's NIGHT). From 64-66, they essentially recycled rock'n'roll and took it into several different directions, all while sounding reasonably homogeneous. They blended their work in an eclectic way.

Brian and the Beach Boys were schizoid virtually from the start--the yang and the yin pulled Brian in several directions at once, and he grew through absorbing, emulating and transcending others--first Spector, then the Beatles (in their RUBBER SOUL incarnation). PET SOUNDS bridged the "schizoid" element in their work, but only music insiders understood what was underneath the hits and how it had led to such a synthesis. The performance of singles off the LP signalled a holding pattern; the band was split in its response to such a direction; the record label added to the "schizoid" issue by releasing a greatest hits LP a few short weeks later. Synthesizing pretty much everything he'd developed since the beginning of the band's career, Brian conjured up--"Good Vibrations"--a song that had all the "yang" and "yin" of the group distilled in one stunning mosaic--which created a moment where they were ahead of everyone in where(ever) pop was rushing off to in 66-67.

Where it went off to--of course, and alas--did not include the Beach Boys, and ~90% of that audience would not really have included SMiLE as a trendsetter, even had it preceded SGT PEPPER to release.  No one except maybe Van Dyke Parks could follow SMiLE into the studio (well, the 19-year old Michael Lloyd took a stab at it on that Smoke LP of his, but his was mostly songwriting form, not production). The band hit a commercial dead end, but blossomed into a Beatles-like entity for those years--which also had strife and change as the rock world went through its most frenetic period--all of this happening while it mostly ignored what was happening with the BBs until Jack Rieley hit upon selling the SMiLE myth. This was a  masterstroke that backfired, because they never made good on the promise and the entire incident sent Brian over a cliff for 3-4 years (and led to the two Landy administrations). The schizoid nature was suspended in midair when ENDLESS SUMMER brought them back to major prominence, but it became more exacerbated by the 76-77 period, followed by Carl and Dennis running out of steam creatively, and Mike's takeover of the business side, which eventually pushed Brian back under the waves in 80-82 (leading to Landy II). The consultants who've spent the last 30 years propping up the group while it found itself incapable of making another LP for 20 years have done the best they could to exercise damage control over what Mike has done to the overall legacy of the group, but the other members allowed him to retain too much power and autonomy.

Getting back to Azoff: the big problem in the RS article is the use of the word "lifestyle." It leaves us hanging as to how they can reconcile the cheesy elaboration of that idea that has been Mike's trademark with the exploratory music of Brian, and the work that the band did in forging a parallel identity in 67-73. If this new approach does not honor/acknowledge the other Wilson brothers, then it will be just another hollow sham.

Several of us have talked about how all this can be gotten across to a wider audience via a documentary--or multiple documentaries. How can those build and go beyond what has already been done to build the legacy? Will Azoff etal throw a sufficient amount of $$ at such an effort and use the established brain trust (Mark, Alan, Howie) etc. to take this further? Will they be allowed and encouraged to synthesize from the earlier materials and incorporate them into something that goes that full distance? My guess is that Alan is the guy who could synthesize that, if they let him take a crack at it. Of course, we are still waiting to see what Brett Wilson has done with Brian--but the need for a birds-eye overview that captures the whole story of all the major players (and the key "fringe" folks, some of whom are often/occasionally seen in these parts) is greater than ever, and it needs to be put into the works now, since none of the principals are getting any younger.

If they want to have something even remotely worthwhile to build into a 60th anniversary, they've got 14-16 months to pull it all together. Let's hope that FEEL FLOWS is the first salvo in all that...and that there is a plan more coherent and fully actionable than any of the piecemeal, schizoid approaches that have followed in the wake of Jack Rieley's departure. Jack had a number of issues but he was the only person in that position with a big-picture approach that accommodated both art and commerce--and that's what is needed at this point to make this outpouring of cash be more than a corporate variant of the old "two-step side-step"...
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HeyJude
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« Reply #126 on: February 22, 2021, 08:30:11 AM »

I think you *gotta* give this whole Iconic situation a wait-and-see.

As I've been alluding to, folks I'm hearing from are saying good things. People who would not be shy about calling it like it is if this was an ominous sign or some sort of s**t-show are saying good things right now.

This is *not* in any way a situation where they're going to delete everything but "Kokomo" and "Greatest Hits", and churn out "Still Cruisin'" mug cozies. This is a company with people who know how to do this thing, who are also reaching out to folks to help them who have the BB fans (including hardcore fans) in mind. They want to maximize their investment, which means *more* product of all kinds. And those fearing this is going to devolve into the simple Mike-style "surf/sand/cars" mentality/angle, I'm here to tell you that having a non-member in charge of making these decisions will ensure that we'll no longer have to deal with the mindset that thought the "Summer in Paradise" project was the *perfect* direction to take the Beach Boys.

This doesn't mean every product and project will be aimed at hardcore fans, or that we'll like every one of those projects or products. But with more *stuff * happening and coming out, I think ultimately things look good as far as us having more things coming out that we like, and seeing image/PR moves for the band/brand that are a step-up from things like the awful ending of C50 or Mike's controversial gigs last year.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2021, 08:31:08 AM by HeyJude » Logged

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MyDrKnowsItKeepsMeCalm
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« Reply #127 on: February 22, 2021, 10:32:45 AM »

This doesn't mean every product and project will be aimed at hardcore fans, or that we'll like every one of those projects or products. But with more *stuff * happening and coming out, I think ultimately things look good as far as us having more things coming out that we like, and seeing image/PR moves for the band/brand that are a step-up from things like the awful ending of C50 or Mike's controversial gigs last year.


All this makes sense to me. We've all seen the brand run into the ground and watched the same painful mistakes get made year after year. I think it's well worth the risk.

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relx
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« Reply #128 on: February 22, 2021, 12:43:13 PM »

One of the things that is different with The Beach Boys that almost all other major bands is that the most talented and creative member is not the most dominant personality. You go through all the other major bands of the 1960s--The Beatles (Lennon and McCartney), The Who (Townshend), Led Zeppelin (Plant and Page), etc--and, for the most part, the person(s) who creates the music is usually the strongest personality. You rarely see a band where the guy who writes the songs and sings at least half of them is probably the most passive members (for many reasons, obviously, in the Brian's case.) Think how odd it is that Brian has to tour under his own name, but Mike gets the tour as The Beach Boys. It would be like Roger Daltrey touring as The Who with Townshend relegated to being a solo artist, or Robert Plant touring as Led Zeppelin without Jimmy Paige and John Paul Jones. In your typical rock band set-up, Brian would have always been in control of the direction and branding of The Beach Boys, and Mike would have little to no say. However, with the BB's, it has been screwed up for a long time, with Mike often acting like he is the creative force behind the band, as well as periods when Carl was in charge. If you ask yourself, who is the central mover behind the group, you get different answers depending on what time period you are discussing. You had Brian up to 1966/67, kind of a shared dynamic after that, followed by Carl being in control, followed by various iterations of Carl and Mike running things. That is why you have never had a clear direction for the band, because there have been different people with different agendas and visions running the band at different times.
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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #129 on: February 22, 2021, 05:38:48 PM »

I think you *gotta* give this whole Iconic situation a wait-and-see.

As I've been alluding to, folks I'm hearing from are saying good things. People who would not be shy about calling it like it is if this was an ominous sign or some sort of s**t-show are saying good things right now.

This is *not* in any way a situation where they're going to delete everything but "Kokomo" and "Greatest Hits", and churn out "Still Cruisin'" mug cozies. This is a company with people who know how to do this thing, who are also reaching out to folks to help them who have the BB fans (including hardcore fans) in mind. They want to maximize their investment, which means *more* product of all kinds. And those fearing this is going to devolve into the simple Mike-style "surf/sand/cars" mentality/angle, I'm here to tell you that having a non-member in charge of making these decisions will ensure that we'll no longer have to deal with the mindset that thought the "Summer in Paradise" project was the *perfect* direction to take the Beach Boys.

This doesn't mean every product and project will be aimed at hardcore fans, or that we'll like every one of those projects or products. But with more *stuff * happening and coming out, I think ultimately things look good as far as us having more things coming out that we like, and seeing image/PR moves for the band/brand that are a step-up from things like the awful ending of C50 or Mike's controversial gigs last year.


The point in bold: I hope some more serious vetting takes place because there have been some issues in the past regarding the truthfulness and honesty (yeah, I just went there...) of some of those who have been consulted in the past for projects. And also some of the stuff that doesn't get made public that went on regarding some of the supposedly trusted few is in one simple word: shitty.

As always, hoping for the best.   
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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
DonnyL
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« Reply #130 on: February 22, 2021, 06:25:04 PM »

Maybe we’ll finally get Record Store Day vinyl releases of Lei’d in Hawaii and Adult Child.
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RubberSoul13
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« Reply #131 on: February 22, 2021, 07:56:49 PM »

Maybe we’ll finally get Record Store Day vinyl releases of Lei’d in Hawaii and Adult Child.

Bring. It!!!  LOL
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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #132 on: February 26, 2021, 08:10:43 AM »

We're on the same page, but I do disagree with some of those points

That's fine, and normally I would welcome any debate, especially with a seasoned text smith such as yourself!

However in this case I must concede that it was a lack of clarity in my argument which was to blame.

You are absolutely right that the early to mid period Beatles presented a united front, and was a supportive unit which relied on a healthy competitive dynamic to push them to ever greater heights.. You are also right that when this was no longer the case, they dissolved. This decision not only ties their story into a neat bundle, but also spares us any possible (probable?) decline in the quality and relevance of their work.

From there, your argument that any defence in favour of the Beach Boys work involve us not only having to reconcile 'Catch a Wave' with  'Surf's Up', but to reconcile  'Summer in Paradise' with 'All Summer Long'. I hadn't considered this in my post and you are right that it makes unifying this catalogue nearly impossible without careful curation or, failing that, a large dose of cognitive dissonance. However, my initial point that the early Beach Boys' work is not as highly valued as the early Beatles work is, I feel not only true, but also unfair, (though I am aware some may disagree with this).

Moving back to the support structure of the respective bands, I at no point meant to imply that the internal dynamic of The Beach Boys was, as you say peace, love, and big hugs. Anyone arguing this would be disregarding years of testimony and evidence to the contrary. I think what I take umbrage to is this narrative, which incidentally stems directly from Mike in the Endless Harmony doc, that Love supplied the positive (read extrovert) aspect and Brian the melancholic (read introvert). Such a simple, black and white narrative is similar to the one that states that Lennon wrote the rockers, and McCartney the ballads. Both positions are not only demonstrably untrue, but are also damaging and pernicious when it comes to discussing legacy. Consider that Mike often strawmans us by conflating positivity with  commercial success, and melancholy with commercial failure. Anyone who accuses pre-Smile Brian of not understanding what makes a commercial hit is simply wrong, but this fallacy allows Mike to become the architect of their success.

I much prefer the nuanced position that the introverted and the extroverted side of the Beach Boys, this fascinating yin yan which pervades all of their best work' stems predominantly from Brian's character. Brian. as the ultimate arbiter of what went on the classic period LPs, expresses this inner argument time and time again. That this inner battle resulted from his damaged upbringing and his complicated relationship with his bandmates is of course pertinent, but it only takes us so far in explaining the music.

And it is music, rather than lyrics which best demonstrates this 'light and dark' aspect to his work. Pet Sounds, a work which Mike, regardless of his many arguments in favour of, would probably describe as introspective. Lyrically his argument would hold water. However, the almost painful emotion expressed in the backing track of 'Don't Talk'  is counterbalanced by the absolute joy of life that in the track for 'Wouldn't it be Nice?' That this interaction between mood often happens within a single song, take the track for 'I'm Waiting for the Day', or 'Good Vibrations', is one of the things that gives this music its power. It is not just a case of major key vs minor key, or up-tempo vs slow. This light and dark is built into the composition and arrangements in a masterful way. I'm sure someone like Joshilyn Hoisington could explain how Brian does this far better than me!

Apologies for the waffle, which is probably no clearer than my preceding post. My main point is that this yin yan nature of the Beach Boys is far more pronounced than in other bands. Partly it is their strong, early branding in conflict with their later attempts to distance themselves from it (before returning to it). Partly it is conflict within and around the band. Mostly however, I feel it comes from Brian himself, who expertly built his inner conflicts into the fabric of his work, at the compositional level. In this regard I don't think it's any mistake that he's sometimes referred to as 'the Mozart of pop'

Greg, you make some great points here, very much worth noting! You call it the yin and the yang, I call it the Jekyll and Hyde - but it's basically the same concept and one which runs through the band's career. Sometimes it creates poignant musical moments, which you describe, and sadly more often it has created a head-scratching "WTF?" moment among fans who follow the band on a deeper level than buying greatest hits collections.

Your examples are very well chosen - It isn't just the composition of those songs. After all, who ever declared however many years ago that a minor chord sounded "sad"? It's all perception, and some of those perceptions from a musicology angle are ones I would really like to trace the origins of. Some of it is simply how a listener feels when hearing a certain group of notes, and how a composer plays on those expected perceptions to create a mood in the composition. But no doubt, Brian knew how to write these feelings into his songs.

I think even more of a key to how Brian delivered these "feels" in his music was the *sound* and *texture* he created in his productions and arrangements. The way he could use one specific instrument to literally jump out of the mix and grab the listeners was uncanny in some cases, whether it was a familiar instrument like a guitar, his ultimate fastball in the form of the BB's voices in harmony, or something exotic like Paul Tanner's theremin on "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" or cousin Maureen's harp on "Catch A Wave" or those accordions on "Wouldn't It Be Nice". They're so incongruous as sounds on a pop record that they literally demand attention and set a mood.

One of the ultimate yin/yang or Jekyll/Hyde moments I like to reference is the entirety of the song "Don't Worry Baby". So here is a song which wasn't originally a marquee release but one which appealed to those fans of the "introspective" side of things and one which became iconic and influential among a whole host of songwriters, indie/alternative musicians, and a concert staple up to the present day.

When you look at Don't Worry Baby at face value...it's about a drag race! Cars, racing, etc. Does anyone really hear it as a "car song"? It's packaged in such a sweet and melancholy *sound* as a production and record, it has lyrics which could be face-value about a car race or deeper introspection about a guy doubting himself but taking support and comfort in someone who loves him and is with him during his trials...Hot damn, you can paint it as a Brian Wilson personal self-reflection or apply any of your own feelings into the lyrics, and the fact it's about racing cars gets quickly forgotten. Having a falsetto lead - and not that Frankie Valli "swagger" falsetto lead but a true longing and reaching type of vocal quality - only enhances the conflict between the lyrical message on the surface and what listeners perceive when they hear the song in full form. If it were not a falsetto lead, and let's say Mike sang it or even Dennis sang it, I thing the dual perception yin/yang nature of it would be lost and it would be a song about a guy who's nervous before a drag race.

I think that's where the genius comes in - Playing on dual meanings and knowing what sounds to use to convey that. Although I will say, in terms of composition, the way Brian modulates just before the chorus, perhaps a nod to Be My Baby, combined with his use of the "Brian Wilson Chord" A/B as the V chord versus a regular B to create a more open sound gives the composition some different nuances than a normal I/IV/V chord structure.


So taking all of that as just one example, the early Beach Boys are, yes I agree, underrated and unheralded compared to later works. I'm seeing the same thing happen with early Beatles - I love that stuff from 63-64 to the core, to me it's some of the best pop songwriting of all time, yet the newer generations gravitate to the 67-70 material. I guess it's like politics in the USA, right? Going back to those Capitol compilations, there's the early "Red" Beatles and there's the later "Blue" Beatles lol. I did both...unfortunately that's not seeming to be the case as much these days. The Beatles are being defined by The White Album and Abbey Road and some true classics are being left behind or not highlighted as much.

And there's where a similar scene comes in with The Beach Boys. The music holds up - That is, the better examples of it. But when we need to somehow try to square up a track like "Summer Of Love" or that "Surfin" remake with even "Surfin USA" or "Lonely Sea" or "409", there is no *magic* in those later tracks. No rush of hearing Gary Usher's Chevy revving up, no rush of Carl's Dick Dale tremolo-picked guitar stylings on the fade-out, no Brian Wilson longing falsetto in those sustained notes...the later material sounds like a sheet of hard plastic where the classic material sounds like a warm blanket.

I honestly don't know how this disparity will be squared up, or if it's even worth trying. Jekyll and Hyde couldn't be more different with this band and its output.

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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
Don Malcolm
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« Reply #133 on: February 26, 2021, 12:43:31 PM »

I think you could say that "yin" and "yang" eventually morphed into "Jekyll" and "Hyde," and Brian did not consistently pursue more ambitious projects after SMiLE, preferring to find a "middle way" when he was not being medicated by Landy or occasionally pushed to go further by someone like Lenny Waronker. (To his immense credit, he faced down SMilLE, even if we didn't get something all that close to what it would've been in 1967.)

When he could use the voices of the band as both a musical instrument and a compositional benchmark, the sky was the limit. But such moments became more and more fleeting. As off-beat and wonderfully quirky as LOVE YOU is, there's really only a smidge of "yin" hanging on in it. Given all that went down, we are lucky to have the fifty-years-on follow up to "Lonely Sea" in the form of a "Summer's Gone." How much more of that is there that we haven't heard (the "iife suite," etc.), and can Azoff et al do justice to that while also selling a "California" theme to a nation where an increasing number of residents look cross-eyed at all the "wackos" on the West Coast?
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