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672450 Posts in 27078 Topics by 3981 Members - Latest Member: Toxic34 October 24, 2021, 11:48:12 PM
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Author Topic: Brianís involvement in solo albums  (Read 5621 times)
maggie
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« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2021, 05:48:35 AM »

TWGMTR (the song) is a situation where I suspect Brian contributed the title and not much else. And yet, that title is the song. He clearly deserves a credit, given that the entire piece is built around it.

Yet, to take alternate examples from the same dang records, the song "Shelter" on TWGMTR (the album) seems to be almost all written by Brian. The chorus could be Joe, but the rest of its weird little sections sound very much like something BW would cook up.

I believe it has been acknowledged that Brian's credit on "That's Why God..." is a courtesy credit for coming up with the title, and for the verses being derived from "Keep an Eye on Summer."


More like "Your Summer Dream", actually.


You're absolutely right, the verse starts the same as "Your Summer Dream". It's the chorus that's similar to "Keep an Eye on Summer."
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« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2021, 06:40:20 AM »

Weíre all ignoring the ďYou Only Live TwiceĒ inspiration for the TWGMTR hook.  Grin
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« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2021, 07:08:26 AM »

Even without having intricate records of every single songwriting session, I think it's safe to say that in a world where Mike Love gets credit for "goodnight baby, sleep tight baby", and Matthew Fisher gets a songwriting credit on "A Whiter Shade of Pale", there are a bunch of folks over the years who maybe should have received some credit on songs, or certainly feel that way.

I've always used as a rare example of the BBs *not* being litigious that Al Jardine surely could contend he should have seen a co-arranger credit along with Brian on the BB version of "Sloop John B." Al has also mentioned, in turn, that Dennis helped with the arrangement on "Lady Lynda."

It has often been noted that Brian and Carl rarely wrote songs together for whatever strange reason. Yet, I think they probably worked in close concert sometimes in the studio, and some of those things could have yielded co-writing credits under different circumstances.

I still suspect that any song that has Mike's name as the sole songwriter probably had a notable helping hand from either one or more BBs, or some other musician or collaborator or producer.

There are many cases in the Beatles' catalog where it's tough to not say, based on some standards, that George Martin or George Harrison should have gotten a co-credit on a Lennon/McCartney song here and there. And it goes both ways; an argument can be made that McCartney had a large hand once they got in the studio on two of George's big standards, "While My Guitar...." and "Something."

We know of cases like Ringo's "It Don't Come Easy" where George Harrison probably wrote most of the song himself, yet didn't care that he wasn't credited (Ringo even says George co-wrote it). We have George on film in "Let It Be" clearly molding the chord changes to Ringo's "Octopus's Garden." Why didn't George care? Lots of possible reasons, but one is that, sometimes, when *everybody* is getting insanely rich off the whole thing, then those credits don't matter to them.

It's also interesting when the opposite happens; when someone's name is put on a song that all agree they had *very little* of a hand in. And it can be beneficial to do that. Do you want 100% royalties on a song nobody cares about, or 50% royalties of a song with, say, Brian Wilson's name on it, where some fans will seek it out?
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« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2021, 07:34:04 AM »


I've always used as a rare example of the BBs *not* being litigious that Al Jardine surely could contend he should have seen a co-arranger credit along with Brian on the BB version of "Sloop John B."

Not that this has anything to do with the rest of the thread... but the most Al could claim as a contribution for the "Sloop" arrangement is playing it uptempo on a piano in eighths. The change to the chords that Al often talks about isn't something that he actually came up with himself or that Brian even used.

RE Midnight, the music was a collaborative effort between Brian and Scott Bennett taking off from the original Beatle/Message Man foundation, not Bennett alone - although he probably did more of the steering from that point on. At the least, we know that's Brian's chord change under "no shades of grey". There's usually a freely-given answer as to what Brian contributed to any given song if you dig for it... stopping at NPP.
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« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2021, 08:47:22 AM »


Not that this has anything to do with the rest of the thread... but the most Al could claim as a contribution for the "Sloop" arrangement is playing it uptempo on a piano in eighths. The change to the chords that Al often talks about isn't something that he actually came up with himself or that Brian even used.


I was only saying that, given what others have contributed to songs and received credit for, Al could have easily been done a solid and given co-arranger credit.

I'm not sure if Brian contributed nothing but the title to the track TWGMTR, but if that's the case, then in my mind based on that arbitrary criterion, Al should have a co-arranger credit on "Sloop John B." And Brian should have a credit on "Goin' to the Beach", and heck, maybe even Bruce should have a co-writing credit on "Goin' On."

What Brian did vis-a-vis songwriting credits back a million years ago, and the tact with which individual members and the collective group (and corporation) approached songwriting and songwriting credits, helps inform what they would continue to do decades and decades later.

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« Reply #30 on: July 30, 2021, 09:53:45 AM »

Absolutely nothing from Brian's arrangement of Sloop John B came from Al. All that Al did was suggest the song for Brian to record.
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« Reply #31 on: September 20, 2021, 08:48:09 AM »

Asked if he liked BW 88,       Brian said ĎYesí
Why?  Answer. ĎCuz I wrote most of the songs....í.      Nuff said.

And FWIW, on the "rough mixes" version of "Rio Grande", you can hear Brian running the recording session.
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« Reply #32 on: September 20, 2021, 10:27:34 AM »

IMO, it's never been about Brian's capability- it's his desire and drive to complete a project.

The most relevant question that has not been asked in this thread is: WHY has Brian "needed" collaborators to finish projects since after Friends?

The answer as far as I can tell is either Brian does not have an interest in completing projects, or the projects as he would wish to complete are thwarted by outside forces who deem his version of completed as somehow unacceptable. Adult Child, "Everything I Need", the Paley tracks. Tons of examples over the years of things that are "too weird" or too demo-like, or with "bad singing" etc. ... yet by all accounts, those are things that Brian was doing his own way.

Why was the session in which Brian got together w/ Tony Asher, Hal Blaine, and his daughters ... and ran through a track that sounded just like classic Brian Wilson, not released? Why did we get a limp piece of crap instead?
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« Reply #33 on: September 22, 2021, 12:08:14 PM »

The most relevant question that has not been asked in this thread is: WHY has Brian "needed" collaborators to finish projects since after Friends?

Brian always used collaborators, his entire career. And it makes sense. Very, very few individuals in music history - at least before the rise of infinite-track digital recording technology - did what Brian did. He was the writer, producer, arranger, *and* performer of his best work. It's just a lot, and Brian always depended on having talented people around to finish up the lyrics, contribute to the instrumental arrangements, sing some of the songs, etc. And unfortunately, "how good were the collaborators" is simply a major determinant of how fully Brian has ever been able to express his talent. I mean, Van Dyke Parks and the Wrecking Crew! Or Carl and Dennis Wilson ca. 1969! These are the kinds of collaborators you dream about! Joe Thomas... talented man in many, many respects and I'm not knocking him, especially as a co-writer, but if Brian's contributions to Imagination had been matched with a more artistically and less commercially driven sensibility, it could have been an absolutely incredible record.

The thing that stands out to me about Brian's solo work, is that he is obviously still capable of writing, arranging, producing, and even singing at a level damn close to his 1960s peak. He just can't seem to pull it all out for the same song. The arrangements and performances on the Gershwin album are stunning. Some of the songs on That Lucky Old Sun are breathtaking. But in my opinion, only on a few tracks, Melt Away, the suite at the end of That's Why God Made the Radio, have we gotten world class Brian performances on top of world class Brian songs with world class Brian arrangements and production. And for the suite, having the other Beach Boys there to share the vocals was a not-inconsiderable part of that.

But honestly, I am just so happy and feel so lucky that we have any of it! Any new Brian songs, any new Brian arrangements, any new Brian productions! They don't need to be perfect, because the inspiration and unique sensibility Brian brings to music seems to always find a way to shine through, and no matter how good or bad or involved or uninvolved the collaborators are, that is the magic ingredient, and Brian still has it in spades.
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« Reply #34 on: September 26, 2021, 03:25:06 PM »

Even without having intricate records of every single songwriting session, I think it's safe to say that in a world where Mike Love gets credit for "goodnight baby, sleep tight baby", and Matthew Fisher gets a songwriting credit on "A Whiter Shade of Pale", there are a bunch of folks over the years who maybe should have received some credit on songs, or certainly feel that way.

I've always used as a rare example of the BBs *not* being litigious that Al Jardine surely could contend he should have seen a co-arranger credit along with Brian on the BB version of "Sloop John B." Al has also mentioned, in turn, that Dennis helped with the arrangement on "Lady Lynda."

It has often been noted that Brian and Carl rarely wrote songs together for whatever strange reason. Yet, I think they probably worked in close concert sometimes in the studio, and some of those things could have yielded co-writing credits under different circumstances.

I still suspect that any song that has Mike's name as the sole songwriter probably had a notable helping hand from either one or more BBs, or some other musician or collaborator or producer.

There are many cases in the Beatles' catalog where it's tough to not say, based on some standards, that George Martin or George Harrison should have gotten a co-credit on a Lennon/McCartney song here and there. And it goes both ways; an argument can be made that McCartney had a large hand once they got in the studio on two of George's big standards, "While My Guitar...." and "Something."

We know of cases like Ringo's "It Don't Come Easy" where George Harrison probably wrote most of the song himself, yet didn't care that he wasn't credited (Ringo even says George co-wrote it). We have George on film in "Let It Be" clearly molding the chord changes to Ringo's "Octopus's Garden." Why didn't George care? Lots of possible reasons, but one is that, sometimes, when *everybody* is getting insanely rich off the whole thing, then those credits don't matter to them.

It's also interesting when the opposite happens; when someone's name is put on a song that all agree they had *very little* of a hand in. And it can be beneficial to do that. Do you want 100% royalties on a song nobody cares about, or 50% royalties of a song with, say, Brian Wilson's name on it, where some fans will seek it out?

Speaking of not getting songwriting credits, would you say Dennis and ďYou Are So BeautifulĒ to be the most infamous example?
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« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2021, 04:36:24 PM »

Why has Brian needed help finishing things since the late 60s? That was when he became severely mental ill and was received the first in a series of treatments that damaged his brain. No more and no less.

The concept that some nefarious outside forces are hiding or obscuring Brianís great work is bullshit. I have been fortunate enough to know folks on his orbit ó as have many here ó and everyone would be thrilled if he created a bunch of masters on his own. He has the band, money, and record company interest to do so. The fact that he hasnít ó beyond the great work heís actually done with collaborators ó proves the point.
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« Reply #36 on: September 26, 2021, 07:19:53 PM »

Why has Brian needed help finishing things since the late 60s? That was when he became severely mental ill and was received the first in a series of treatments that damaged his brain. No more and no less.

The concept that some nefarious outside forces are hiding or obscuring Brianís great work is bullshit. I have been fortunate enough to know folks on his orbit ó as have many here ó and everyone would be thrilled if he created a bunch of masters on his own. He has the band, money, and record company interest to do so. The fact that he hasnít ó beyond the great work heís actually done with collaborators ó proves the point.

Well thereís lots more on that point, and Iím not certain the ďseverely mentally illĒ angle is a stand-alone element.

I put ďneededĒ in quotes because I donít believe he needed any outside ďhelpĒ to finish a project. I am not sure he was particularly interested in finishing projects after Friends, with some exceptions here and there, like ďBreak AwayĒ and 15 Big Ones. He liked starting them and participating in many Iím sure.

And I donít blame him. Carl finished Love You for whatever reason. Then Brian himself finished the next record, and it was rejected. So we got MIU instead of Adult Child? Yet you say blaming ďnefarious forcesĒ is bullshit. Thatís ignoring a big part of the story IMO.
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« Reply #37 on: September 26, 2021, 07:20:59 PM »

The most relevant question that has not been asked in this thread is: WHY has Brian "needed" collaborators to finish projects since after Friends?

Brian always used collaborators, his entire career. And it makes sense. Very, very few individuals in music history - at least before the rise of infinite-track digital recording technology - did what Brian did. He was the writer, producer, arranger, *and* performer of his best work. It's just a lot, and Brian always depended on having talented people around to finish up the lyrics, contribute to the instrumental arrangements, sing some of the songs, etc. And unfortunately, "how good were the collaborators" is simply a major determinant of how fully Brian has ever been able to express his talent. I mean, Van Dyke Parks and the Wrecking Crew! Or Carl and Dennis Wilson ca. 1969! These are the kinds of collaborators you dream about! Joe Thomas... talented man in many, many respects and I'm not knocking him, especially as a co-writer, but if Brian's contributions to Imagination had been matched with a more artistically and less commercially driven sensibility, it could have been an absolutely incredible record.

The thing that stands out to me about Brian's solo work, is that he is obviously still capable of writing, arranging, producing, and even singing at a level damn close to his 1960s peak. He just can't seem to pull it all out for the same song. The arrangements and performances on the Gershwin album are stunning. Some of the songs on That Lucky Old Sun are breathtaking. But in my opinion, only on a few tracks, Melt Away, the suite at the end of That's Why God Made the Radio, have we gotten world class Brian performances on top of world class Brian songs with world class Brian arrangements and production. And for the suite, having the other Beach Boys there to share the vocals was a not-inconsiderable part of that.

But honestly, I am just so happy and feel so lucky that we have any of it! Any new Brian songs, any new Brian arrangements, any new Brian productions! They don't need to be perfect, because the inspiration and unique sensibility Brian brings to music seems to always find a way to shine through, and no matter how good or bad or involved or uninvolved the collaborators are, that is the magic ingredient, and Brian still has it in spades.

Iím referring to completion of work, not creative collaborators.
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« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2021, 09:46:42 AM »

I think there are also a few different types of "completion." Needing help to complete compositions is different from needing help to fully realize and release a project.

Pretty much all of the Beach Boys, individually and collectively, have, since some time in the 80s at the very least, usually needed some outside influence/agent/manager/promoter/fixer to help push projects to completion *and release.*

Joe Thomas did this for a number of Brian projects, and did so for the 50th reunion tour and ancillary projects. Thomas also did so on the writing side as well. Brian has not often had that type of collaborator; there's a reason Joe Thomas got s**t out the door numerous times while Andy Paley knocked out dozens of songs with Brian only for them to be shelved (and then eventually trickle out over the years).

Brian and all of the other members collectively and individually have needed the organizational/A&R/business push to get things released. The closest they've come in the last several decades to pushing a project along mostly on their own would be things like Al Jardine putting out some early solo stuff via CDBaby and in some cases direct sales.

Back to the creative side of things, I think the issue isn't even so much *how much* help Brian needs, it's more how that help comes, and how much it colors the work. To use my go-to example, "Message Man" sounds much like "pure Brian" than "Midnight's Another Day."

I think Brian, certainly in the last decade or two, could have sat down at a piano and pounded out a bunch of solo takes of true "solo" compositions. But I don't think he would feel like those are "records", and it would be something fans might love, but not so much everybody else. We as fans (sometimes) enjoy the quirks of a "Male Ego" or "Message Man" or whatever. To get to fully-realized, fleshed-out songs that turn into recordings that turn into a *released album*, he has clearly sought out (and thus, I think, it's fair to say, has *needed*) some help.
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« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2021, 11:53:56 AM »

I think there are several precedents to consider going back to 1961 regarding Brian and collaborations. In terms of songwriting, he's always used collaborators going back to Mike and Gary Usher in the earliest days. When he has song ideas that he wants or needs input to flesh out, or lyric ideas and subject matter where he thinks someone else's unique perspective and skills can deliver a better song, he will go to a collaborator. And if he has something to say in a song and has the lyrics too, he'll do it himself. So in terms of writing, that hasn't changed at all since "Surfin".

With production and finishing the entire project, we have to look back over 50 years ago and see what happened. Brian specifically said he wanted to drop out of the production race, and hand the ball to the other guys in the band to run with it and add their work and input too. At that time the guy was burnt out, he was tired of being questioned and challenged (see Marilyn's comments in the Don Was film), and he gave more responsibility for completing the songs to others in the band.

It established a different workflow than what he had been doing up to 1968, and there seemed to be something like a process bubbling under making these records where Brian would be involved to a point, and others would then grab the production steering wheel and do the finishing touches. Of course that wasn't on every single project, but it was on a majority and this process continued well into the present day.

So I know it's stating the obvious but there is a precedent and Brian's working methods really haven't changed much since 1968. What he doesn't finish, others finish.

I agree with some of the comments above regarding the production process, but there is a difference between saying he "needs" outside collaborators and suggesting this working method is pretty much the same things he has been doing since at least 1968 in terms of making records. If the process has worked for over 50 years, and product gets released pretty consistently, maybe the mindset is why change something that's working and getting product out the door and into the stores?

I also think a lot had to do with those comments from Marilyn, where at one point he just got fed up with the hassles (and hassling from others) and said if you guys think you can do it, here it is, and he pulled back...and in the process established a working method that worked for him, and it included collaborators or others finishing up the project after Brian set it up. Kind of like a head chef and a sous chef in the kitchen, one has the concept for the food and gets the main ingredients working, and the other finishes it off to be sent to the customers.

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« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2021, 12:07:13 PM »

I think there are also a few different types of "completion." Needing help to complete compositions is different from needing help to fully realize and release a project.

Pretty much all of the Beach Boys, individually and collectively, have, since some time in the 80s at the very least, usually needed some outside influence/agent/manager/promoter/fixer to help push projects to completion *and release.*

Joe Thomas did this for a number of Brian projects, and did so for the 50th reunion tour and ancillary projects. Thomas also did so on the writing side as well. Brian has not often had that type of collaborator; there's a reason Joe Thomas got s**t out the door numerous times while Andy Paley knocked out dozens of songs with Brian only for them to be shelved (and then eventually trickle out over the years).

Brian and all of the other members collectively and individually have needed the organizational/A&R/business push to get things released. The closest they've come in the last several decades to pushing a project along mostly on their own would be things like Al Jardine putting out some early solo stuff via CDBaby and in some cases direct sales.

Back to the creative side of things, I think the issue isn't even so much *how much* help Brian needs, it's more how that help comes, and how much it colors the work. To use my go-to example, "Message Man" sounds much like "pure Brian" than "Midnight's Another Day."

I think Brian, certainly in the last decade or two, could have sat down at a piano and pounded out a bunch of solo takes of true "solo" compositions. But I don't think he would feel like those are "records", and it would be something fans might love, but not so much everybody else. We as fans (sometimes) enjoy the quirks of a "Male Ego" or "Message Man" or whatever. To get to fully-realized, fleshed-out songs that turn into recordings that turn into a *released album*, he has clearly sought out (and thus, I think, it's fair to say, has *needed*) some help.

I know you've said before, and I agree, that without Joe Thomas there would probably not have been a C50. He came to the table with a business plan that hit on all the necessary elements to stage the tour and get the releases in the stores, and it was like a ready-made situation where the band had to sign the papers and the machine started running. That's pretty impressive, and of course we can agree or disagree about the results (Mike sure disagreed after the fact...), but you're right: Joe came in and the job got done.

I think there are issues among some pockets of the fan base - if they're really fans - who have taken on this kind of behavior where it's almost a knee-jerk reaction whenever a new Brian project is announced to critique the concept well before the execution and delivery, and make a lot of hay over what they think Brian should be doing and releasing versus what the man actually does. It's been a consistent pattern for several decades now, and I hope Brian himself tunes it out at this point and chalks it up to those people being who they are and that's what they do, and NOT indicative of the majority of the fan base. But it does get ridiculous to have it appear like clockwork every time the man announces something new, and the same peanut gallery seems to come out with the comments why it's not going to be good. We saw it just this past month with the piano album, and it's happened on everything he's released going back to at least the Christmas album.

So I think Brian does what Brian does - If an idea is mentioned or pitched to him and he likes the idea, at this point he'll do it. And I think there is also an element of just not giving a s**t what people think after all the times he's done something and had it rejected as inappropriate, not good enough, not commercial enough, etc. He was approached to do a Gershwin project, he did it. Simple as that.
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« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2021, 05:38:40 PM »

Just referring to his solo work; I think, usually, Brian has been more of a participant than collaborator; but there are times when he does contribute.

For 1988 and Sweet Insanity, I think this is pretty Brian, despite the constant presence of Landy. It sounds Brian; just how Love You and Adult/Child sound like Brian. Landy's presence is felt, but musically, it sounds like the guy who made Love You in the 70s'; all made up for the 80s. It may be easy to say, well, these two albums were really made by Landy, but Landy couldn't emulate anything like Brian musically speaking. I'm sure it was hell working with Landy, but the overall sound of these two are Brian.

Now there were a lot of other collaborators; chief among them Andy Paley. My view about Paley is that he was almost like a life coach for Brian. He could get Brian amped up and rolling; the ideas would start bouncing back between them. Brian doesn't get that comfortable with many people; so these type of collaborations I'm totally fine with. Brian is still contributing to the sound of the album, in addition to co-writing and co-producing. I think that's why some of the Paley material had a lot of promise as well. I don't need Brian to be a one man wrecking crew like it's 1966. IF he needs a collaborator, that's fine; as long as he is enjoying it. From what I've read Brian really did like the material they came up with. However, the Beach Boys did not and I recall Melinda calling the material great for therapy, but not for release.

And, in my view, that's the last time we got anything original from Brian. The Don Was soundtrack and Orange Crate Art are clearly more guest than anything else, though he did arrange the vocals for OCA, it was still mostly a VDP project. The Joe Thomas material has always seemed really artificially Brian. Wasn't the process record Brian for a few hours and try to generate a new song from it? Everything about Imagination is over the top in its appeal to 1990s Adult Contemporary. Same with GIOTH; it sounded dated when it was released. Has Brian ever sounded pumped up when talking about either one of these albums? I've not seen it. From what I read, Brian was more or less forced to work with Joe Thomas. The late 90s period is weird; Brian stops working with Paley, makes AC with Thomas, while relocating to St. Charles, Illinois, to create the album. (I think they built a studio there, too) Then by 1999, weren't he and Thomas in the middle of suing each other? It's like Brian never lived in St. Charles at all. It gives me vibes of Brian being forced to go to Iowa in winter 1977 to make music. Come on Brian, get up, make some music for your cousins, friends, and brothers. And none of that Adult/Child crap! Come on Brian, get up, make some music with Joe Thomas. And none of that Chain Reaction of Love crap!

BWPS was mostly based off the live show but it did lead to Brian working on TLOS with Scott; Brian was coming up with some original material. The Disney and Gershwin albums were nothing original, but Brian was into singing the material. Even though TWGMTR is a BB album, I'll include it here due to the heavy presence of Joe Thomas. (First, why is he back after the lawsuits and the fighting?) There are some really good songs on that album, but I really don't know what exactly Brian did in making the album. It's a collection of old material from the 90s, with a few newer songs and Mike's Daybreak. I want to believe Brian had a hand in From There to Back Again, but I easily accept the entire production and composing could be Joe Thomas. I can't tell exactly where Brian is; I can tell places where Brian is being emulated. The album seemed like it was put together without the Beach Boys until it was time for vocals. I can understand why Mike had his issues with how the album was made because it doesn't seem like a real Beach Boys album. Was there any chance of anyone writing together? Al? Bruce? David? It seemed tailor made to promote the 50th reunion tour; that's it. No Pier Pressure seems even less like Brian, even though there are a few good tracks. Take into consideration interviews of people saying Brian just sits there, says and does nothing in the studio. Someone is making the music, but I don't believe it's always Brian these days. That's fine. Brian doesn't owe me anything. I just hope Brian likes making these albums and doing these tours. Maybe he does and he just goes with the flow, but there's also the other side of Brian we hardly see. He did have to postpone several shows for mental health reasons. I imagine even with the best treatment, he probably still suffers a lot from mental illness. Those reasons alone I don't expect him to create anymore. He should play music whenever he wants to and it doesn't have to be recorded. Just let loose.
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« Reply #42 on: September 28, 2021, 05:52:31 AM »

Brian and Van Dyke both said the latter did all the vocal arrangements for OCA.
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« Reply #43 on: September 28, 2021, 08:12:31 AM »

Just referring to his solo work; I think, usually, Brian has been more of a participant than collaborator; but there are times when he does contribute.

For 1988 and Sweet Insanity, I think this is pretty Brian, despite the constant presence of Landy. It sounds Brian; just how Love You and Adult/Child sound like Brian. Landy's presence is felt, but musically, it sounds like the guy who made Love You in the 70s'; all made up for the 80s. It may be easy to say, well, these two albums were really made by Landy, but Landy couldn't emulate anything like Brian musically speaking. I'm sure it was hell working with Landy, but the overall sound of these two are Brian.

Now there were a lot of other collaborators; chief among them Andy Paley. My view about Paley is that he was almost like a life coach for Brian. He could get Brian amped up and rolling; the ideas would start bouncing back between them. Brian doesn't get that comfortable with many people; so these type of collaborations I'm totally fine with. Brian is still contributing to the sound of the album, in addition to co-writing and co-producing. I think that's why some of the Paley material had a lot of promise as well. I don't need Brian to be a one man wrecking crew like it's 1966. IF he needs a collaborator, that's fine; as long as he is enjoying it. From what I've read Brian really did like the material they came up with. However, the Beach Boys did not and I recall Melinda calling the material great for therapy, but not for release.

And, in my view, that's the last time we got anything original from Brian. The Don Was soundtrack and Orange Crate Art are clearly more guest than anything else, though he did arrange the vocals for OCA, it was still mostly a VDP project. The Joe Thomas material has always seemed really artificially Brian. Wasn't the process record Brian for a few hours and try to generate a new song from it? Everything about Imagination is over the top in its appeal to 1990s Adult Contemporary. Same with GIOTH; it sounded dated when it was released. Has Brian ever sounded pumped up when talking about either one of these albums? I've not seen it. From what I read, Brian was more or less forced to work with Joe Thomas. The late 90s period is weird; Brian stops working with Paley, makes AC with Thomas, while relocating to St. Charles, Illinois, to create the album. (I think they built a studio there, too) Then by 1999, weren't he and Thomas in the middle of suing each other? It's like Brian never lived in St. Charles at all. It gives me vibes of Brian being forced to go to Iowa in winter 1977 to make music. Come on Brian, get up, make some music for your cousins, friends, and brothers. And none of that Adult/Child crap! Come on Brian, get up, make some music with Joe Thomas. And none of that Chain Reaction of Love crap!

BWPS was mostly based off the live show but it did lead to Brian working on TLOS with Scott; Brian was coming up with some original material. The Disney and Gershwin albums were nothing original, but Brian was into singing the material. Even though TWGMTR is a BB album, I'll include it here due to the heavy presence of Joe Thomas. (First, why is he back after the lawsuits and the fighting?) There are some really good songs on that album, but I really don't know what exactly Brian did in making the album. It's a collection of old material from the 90s, with a few newer songs and Mike's Daybreak. I want to believe Brian had a hand in From There to Back Again, but I easily accept the entire production and composing could be Joe Thomas. I can't tell exactly where Brian is; I can tell places where Brian is being emulated. The album seemed like it was put together without the Beach Boys until it was time for vocals. I can understand why Mike had his issues with how the album was made because it doesn't seem like a real Beach Boys album. Was there any chance of anyone writing together? Al? Bruce? David? It seemed tailor made to promote the 50th reunion tour; that's it. No Pier Pressure seems even less like Brian, even though there are a few good tracks. Take into consideration interviews of people saying Brian just sits there, says and does nothing in the studio. Someone is making the music, but I don't believe it's always Brian these days. That's fine. Brian doesn't owe me anything. I just hope Brian likes making these albums and doing these tours. Maybe he does and he just goes with the flow, but there's also the other side of Brian we hardly see. He did have to postpone several shows for mental health reasons. I imagine even with the best treatment, he probably still suffers a lot from mental illness. Those reasons alone I don't expect him to create anymore. He should play music whenever he wants to and it doesn't have to be recorded. Just let loose.


There are a few points here that are either painted with too broad of a brush, or not complete or accurate, and that's not a critique but just an observation!  Smiley

I think as a few of us wrote in this discussion, Joe came to the table with a business plan for the 50th that encapsulated all aspects of the year 2012 including recording new material, the tour itself, and subsequent multimedia releases and promotions. That's huge for a band who had a hard time getting in the same room together let alone getting their sh*t together enough to stage something like the C50 project. And again I'll say, like it or not, it happened and they pulled it off.

I think what's missing is that Joe brings to the table the multimedia and marketing aspect of it, where if the artist wants not only a new album but also a TV/video special, a tour, and other promotional projects besides simply a new album, Joe has a plan in place bundling all that stuff together. He did the same for Brian with Imagination, he did the same for the group earlier with "Stars & Stripes", and again with Brian for the NPP album that included the Las Vegas TV special. He basically brought the same plan to the table for C50, and the group signed on.

As far as Mike's issues with the TWGMTR album, he is credited as "Executive Producer" and was one-third of the LLC corporation called "50 Big Ones" formed for the 50th tour along with Joe and Brian. So Mike had more say than others involved over what was planned out, and what the album would be...He signed off on it, didn't he? If he didn't like it, he was exec producer of the album and part of the "board" for the LLC overseeing everything and had a voice while it was going on.

Again I think some of the statements above about the solo works are a little too broad - If we wanted to be historically accurate to an obsessive degree, we could go song-by-song on each solo project and people could clarify exactly what was done for each song. Especially TLOS and NPP, to suggest Brian was more of an observer or would just sit there while others did the work just isn't accurate across the board. But those clarifications would have to be made by those who were there to witness the sessions. Just consider how many hours are spent on a song, and before a studio is even booked to record the tracks for the album...sessions and recordings happen that are NOT logged or on a budget sheet somewhere. Like the sessions Brian was doing with Danny Hutton and when Tommy Morgan was called in to play harmonica...Brian was fully involved in those and others. And consider if someone walks into Ocean Way (or whatever other studio) for a few hours and catches them doing a vocal overdub, yes there is a great possibility Brian and other musicians would be doing a lot of sitting around.

As someone who was in the studio business for a bit of time, I can vouch for the fact that a lot of studio time is spent sitting and not actually playing as other things are happening. In fact I'd go out on a limb and say more time is spent sitting and waiting than actually playing or singing. So take some of those reports with the appropriate grain of salt. And yes indeed, there may have been some cases where whoever was in the studio saw Brian sitting and waiting as others worked - But that is part of the process for everyone involved.  Smiley

As far as the Paley sessions, don't forget the involvement of Don Was. Ultimately Don had been working up and recording the Wilson/Paley material with the band rather than just as solo Brian material, he said both Brian and Andy were fully involved in recording those tracks, and then next thing anyone knew Carl vetoed "Soul Searchin" and Mike brought in Joe Thomas and all activity shifted to Stars & Stripes, and Don had nothing to do with them anymore.



I also have to remember a time when people who were following all this stuff back to the early 90's had a notion of Brian doing a new project more in line with Smile/Smiley Smile that might end up sounding in their minds like an Animal Collective or Elephant 6 label project or something, and perhaps that kind of hope or expectation is what drove (or continues to drive) the letdowns and disappointments when a Brian project comes out and it's not all weird and goofy like "Smiley Smile 2" or something.

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« Reply #44 on: September 28, 2021, 10:12:54 AM »

I also have to remember a time when people who were following all this stuff back to the early 90's had a notion of Brian doing a new project more in line with Smile/Smiley Smile that might end up sounding in their minds like an Animal Collective or Elephant 6 label project or something, and perhaps that kind of hope or expectation is what drove (or continues to drive) the letdowns and disappointments when a Brian project comes out and it's not all weird and goofy like "Smiley Smile 2" or something.

Big facts. And this phenomenon doesn't seem to plague too many of his contemporaries in the same way. I don't think there have been too many people complaining about McCartney's solo albums not being something along the lines of 'Sgt. Pepper 2' (didn't he actually do something like that in the 80s and NOT release it?) Most people seemed to like the relatively recent album by The Who, even though it's certainly not 'Tommy 2' or 'Quadrophenia 2'.

Funny you'd bring up Animal Collective and Elephant 6 though, obviously for musical/aesthetic comparison, but it gets me thinking about how a lot of Animal Collective fans have spent 10+ years complaining about not getting 'Merriweather Post Pavilion 2' and a lot of Neutral Milk Hotel fans have been dreaming about 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea 2' for almost 25 years! People like us just want it all, sometimes  LOL
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« Reply #45 on: September 28, 2021, 04:17:44 PM »

I feel deeply compelled to come to the defense of Imagination and its ilk. Maybe I just have an unhealthy regard for the thing, as horrible as those nylon guitars may be. But thereís this idea that there is an ďauthentic Brian,Ē and that thatís quirky and low-fi and represented by albums like Love You and the quirkier parts of the Paley sessions, and that Brianís contributions to albums like Imagination and MIU are somehow inauthentic, or Brian couldnít have really been involved in a real way. But I donít think that idea holds up to scrutiny. Brian has always been interested in making commercially successful records, and he got his start as a record producer for the teen and novelty market, writing songs about surfing and cars to sell records. I mean, even at his height, weíre talking about the artist who combined one of the (in my opinion) grandest and most magnificent pieces of music of the 20th century with inane lyrics about how cute the girls were in different regions of the country.

I wasnít there, and I donít know what the break down of labor was on Imagination. Iím certainly not disputing that Brian was checked out for a lot of it. But honestly, the idea that ďImaginationĒ just *couldnít* have been Brianís *real* work is pretty insulting. Brian Wilson was in his mid 50s in the 1990s, with a lifetime of music business experience. I donít see how itís so implausible that he couldnít have agreed with Melinda and Joe Thomas that an Adult Contemporary song would be successful and knocked out a song like Imagination with a couple collaborators. It might not be to your taste, but that doesnít mean it wasnít Brianís work. (And sadly, one need only compare the demo and the final product of Everything I Need to see that Joe Thomas could turn a perfectly decent production from Brian into dreck just by overdubbing 30 or 40 tracks of reverb-soaked percussionÖ.)

I also think that Melinda and the Beach Boys both deserve a little more sympathy than they sometimes get, in terms of "forcing" Brian to work. (Landy, who was supposed to be a doctor, deserves no sympathy whatsoever, just to be clear). It can be very hard to tell, when youíre living with a mentally ill person, what is really going to be best for them, or even what they want. What *almost* never helps, though, is them not working at all, and just lying around the house. That usually leads to only dark places. So as easy as it is to think that The Beach Boys were *forcing* Brian to make MIU or Almost Summer or whatever, because of their selfish desire for hits, I think it is crucial to remember that Brian was probably, at moments, extremely enthusiastic about these projects, and that trying to keep him working could really have felt like the best among bad options. In the case of Melinda, this goes times a thousand.

So far as I can tell, Brian is mostly just making music when he feels like it these days. And when fans are disappointed, I donít think itís because Brian isnít really involved. Itís just that many fans seem to associate ďrealĒ or ďauthenticĒ Brian music with the quirky Brian of Love You, as opposed to the more commercially-minded Brian of MIU; the quirky Brian of the Paley Sessions, as opposed to the commercially-minded Brian of Imagination; or, for that matter, the quirky Brian of Pet Sounds versus the commercially-minded Brian of Summer Days. But Brian has clearly always been perfectly comfortable knocking out a song about whatever theme he thinks might hit the charts, whether thatís surfing or cars or gentle boomer nostalgia with a twist of Jimmy Buffet.

Also, on a total side note, underneath the horrible production, Cry is an extraordinary song and vocal arrangement. That is one that never seems to come up in terms of solo-career highlights, but Iíd kill for a good remix or a Brian Wilson Band version.
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« Reply #46 on: September 28, 2021, 05:05:45 PM »

In a nutshell, it seems likely to me that - just like Marilyn said - it took a good deal of questioning and haranguing aimed at Brian's music, by the people around Brian, to cause something to irrevocably "flip" in his head.

From a certain point on, this caused Brian to not quite completely have full 100% confidence in his own mojo to pull off songs and have the entire process go relatively easy-peasy.

I mean, Brian had such an amazing track record in the early days, and yes I'm sure there was some push/pull with his collaborators here and there... but ultimately Brian being the boss and having final word was relatively UNQUESTIONED for a number of years. Then, at a certain point, the pressure of some people close to him not quite believing in him or his vision, and getting all of those wires crossed in his head with second-guessing the "appropriateness" of the music he was making, it all seemingly culminated in Brian permanently not really having the self-contained motivation to see songs through fully to completion, without someone else REALLY helping to push a project along to the final stages.

The bad vibes during the SMiLE period, and the fact that Mike basically passive aggressively helped (didn't solely cause, but helped) to sink a creative collaboration between Brian and Van, had long lasting ramifications. And yes the drugs didn't help either.

On top of this, the other factor is that Brian - in addition to nearly always getting his way creatively in the early years - also had a streak of amazing success, where the vast majority of what he released with The BBs was well-received by the public/critics, and it SOLD and did well on the charts. As the band's reputation took a nosedive, and Brian was dealing with his own second-guessing of his own work, he sadly ALSO at this time - when he was beginning to be artistically crippled by this internalized second-guessing - sadly secondarily had to deal with wondering if the songs that he'd release would even sell worth a damn, and if anyone in the public would really care. It was a double whammy for his self-confidence, and I think after trying really hard to make super A-level contributions for Sunflower - and having it tank so profoundly commercially - this was something he never fully recovered from.

Many artists will tell you that the hardest thing it might be to do is to put one's heart and soul into a project and have it fall flat (in terms of how it is received by those around the artist, or the public)... and this sad cycle of losing full confidence in his work - IMHO -  led Brian's ambition, and thus his creativity, to slowly fade over the years. Luckily he still has the urge and inclination to write music sometimes, and if the right collaborator comes along, it can cause some magic to happen for sure - but overall the early massive success set in motion expectations that couldn't be sustainable over the years.

And as VDP put it in the Beautiful Dreamer doc, if ANYONE as an artist deserved to not have their artistic vision questioned, it was Brian Douglas Wilson. That wholly accurate statement, and the way that concept was not adhered to by those in Brian's circle (sometimes for some perfectly understandable, human reasons, and sometimes for other much more nefarious reasons) is IMHO the chief reason why Brian's ambition to finish projects and see stuff though to completion became spotty. He needed a safety net, and his safety net failed him too many times.

Brian eventually basically said "f*ck it" out of self-preservation, and whatever amount of himself he began giving to projects (which gradually became less than the 100% he gave in the early days) ensured that disappointments wouldn't hurt quite as bad anymore when they inevitably happened again and again.

IMHO, the way that Brian was for years sadly mind-f*cked by those around him, and the way those around him have reacted in an attempt to get Brian back to a more productive state - even with the very, very best of intentions - has had mixed results over the years, for sure. I, just like so many others, just want Brian to be happy first and foremost. Anything else that we are gifted with musically from Brian at this point is a true gift and blessing. I'm sure many agree that that Brian's current band and emotional safety net would have done wonders for his self-confidence and ability to finish projects had they been at his disposal decades earlier.
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« Reply #47 on: September 29, 2021, 09:33:45 AM »

I also have to remember a time when people who were following all this stuff back to the early 90's had a notion of Brian doing a new project more in line with Smile/Smiley Smile that might end up sounding in their minds like an Animal Collective or Elephant 6 label project or something, and perhaps that kind of hope or expectation is what drove (or continues to drive) the letdowns and disappointments when a Brian project comes out and it's not all weird and goofy like "Smiley Smile 2" or something.

Big facts. And this phenomenon doesn't seem to plague too many of his contemporaries in the same way. I don't think there have been too many people complaining about McCartney's solo albums not being something along the lines of 'Sgt. Pepper 2' (didn't he actually do something like that in the 80s and NOT release it?) Most people seemed to like the relatively recent album by The Who, even though it's certainly not 'Tommy 2' or 'Quadrophenia 2'.

Funny you'd bring up Animal Collective and Elephant 6 though, obviously for musical/aesthetic comparison, but it gets me thinking about how a lot of Animal Collective fans have spent 10+ years complaining about not getting 'Merriweather Post Pavilion 2' and a lot of Neutral Milk Hotel fans have been dreaming about 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea 2' for almost 25 years! People like us just want it all, sometimes  LOL

It really doesn't seem to fall on Brian's contemporaries, does it? I can understand why to a degree, and I think there is actually more of an emotional investment in Brian and his music than there is maybe for The Who or The Stones, or whoever else, but it's also frustrating to see it play out again and again.

The irony too is there is that film clip from '76 where Paul and Linda visited Brian for a birthday gathering, and Paul directly asks Brian "When are you going to give us another Pet Sounds?". Maybe the best reply could have been "When are you going to write another Hey Jude?". But there was the same sentiment and similar expectations on Brian ten years removed from Pet Sounds' release playing out on camera.

I think the conundrum with Brian is how he's openly said he wants a hit record, something that would be on the radio. So a list of producers and collaborators have tried to deliver that, and honestly I have to say some of the production sounds of those records and songs sink them for me. It's hard for me to get past the sometimes (or often) dated sounds and get into the actual songs sometimes, and that's a shame. But if someone in, say, 1987 were to say "I want a hit record", and people were contracted to deliver said hit record, it would most likely sound similar to what folks in the biz thought was a "hit record" at that time. And that's what can date the material.

I would LOVE to have a 100% Brian Wilson mix on anything he releases, if it's just one song where he's the guy pushing the faders doing the whole thing with no fixing or meddling after the fact. It has been done in the past 30 years, we just haven't heard it. Part of the problems I have with several of the solo projects going back to BW88 is that the production masks the personality of Brian's music rather than enhancing it and bringing it out. It either sounds too dated or not close enough to the heart of the song. I think a track like Love And Mercy works so well as a live track versus the BW88 version, and having seen that first tour when Imagination was released, I think several of those tracks also worked better live than they did with the production heard on the studio album.

It certainly is a conundrum.
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« Reply #48 on: September 29, 2021, 11:25:57 AM »

McCartney's career has had a *very* different trajectory than Brian's, so it's very difficult to compare. McCartney was as productive, and eventually more productive, than Brian or the BBs were, and McCartney didn't have band members to pick up the slack the way Brian did.

A "when are you going to give us another Pet Sounds?" question is not the most subtle, sympathetic question. But I'd argue it would be meant as a motivational, positive comment. Moreover, Brian would have had a hard time countering Paul with a similar question about Paul's career as of 1976, as McCartney was red hot in 1976 with a huge Wings tour and top-selling albums and singles. He was arguably the biggest rock star in the world at the moment he visited that Brian birthday party in June 1976.

McCartney put out much, much more product over the years and thus there was never any jarring, extreme left turn album that he released as a main-line "pop/rock" album (meaning, I'm discounting his weird side projects like the classical stuff or "Liverpool Sound Collage" or the "Fireman" stuff). McCartney did veer into some of the trappings of different eras. But, because he remained commercially successful into the early-mid 80s (and intermittently thereafter), there was no perception when, say, he did "Band on the Run" in 1973 or "Tug of War" in 1982 that his career had just completely fizzled and he needed to do a "Sgt. Pepper 2."

Every "legacy" artist has some amount of spectators and "fans" chasing after them asking for them to make stuff as "good" as their pinnacle/heyday.

It is ironic that part of the "when is Brian going to do another Pet Sounds?" stuff came from people who knew nothing of the quality post-Pet Sounds work that the band *and* Brian had done.
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« Reply #49 on: September 30, 2021, 10:17:56 AM »

McCartney's career has had a *very* different trajectory than Brian's, so it's very difficult to compare. McCartney was as productive, and eventually more productive, than Brian or the BBs were, and McCartney didn't have band members to pick up the slack the way Brian did.

A "when are you going to give us another Pet Sounds?" question is not the most subtle, sympathetic question. But I'd argue it would be meant as a motivational, positive comment. Moreover, Brian would have had a hard time countering Paul with a similar question about Paul's career as of 1976, as McCartney was red hot in 1976 with a huge Wings tour and top-selling albums and singles. He was arguably the biggest rock star in the world at the moment he visited that Brian birthday party in June 1976.

McCartney put out much, much more product over the years and thus there was never any jarring, extreme left turn album that he released as a main-line "pop/rock" album (meaning, I'm discounting his weird side projects like the classical stuff or "Liverpool Sound Collage" or the "Fireman" stuff). McCartney did veer into some of the trappings of different eras. But, because he remained commercially successful into the early-mid 80s (and intermittently thereafter), there was no perception when, say, he did "Band on the Run" in 1973 or "Tug of War" in 1982 that his career had just completely fizzled and he needed to do a "Sgt. Pepper 2."

Every "legacy" artist has some amount of spectators and "fans" chasing after them asking for them to make stuff as "good" as their pinnacle/heyday.

It is ironic that part of the "when is Brian going to do another Pet Sounds?" stuff came from people who knew nothing of the quality post-Pet Sounds work that the band *and* Brian had done.

And also - as we all know - the main difference is how The Beatles had a definite ending to the group. As of 1970 they became four individual artists known as ex-Beatles, and that for a solo career would be very liberating since there would be no band to return to, no matter how loud the calls were to do so.

I guess I'm trying to convey how different it would be if The Beatles had either regrouped or stayed together while pursuing more solo projects, and if there would have been as much for fans to critique as "The Beatles" who had done Sgt Pepper and "Hey Jude" versus whatever hypothetical they would have released in, say, 1976. With the Beach Boys there was always the Jekyll And Hyde element at play, where fans as early as 1976 when McCartney made the Pet Sounds comment on camera would be hearing tracks from "15 Big Ones" and asking when is this group - the same group - going to give us another Pet Sounds or even another California Girls or whatever. The band was still together, but the music kept getting farther and farther away from the fans' expectations, I think perhaps the nadir until Summer In Paradise was actually Keepin The Summer Alive. At least Macca could release his disco stuff and his other stylistic explorations and it wasn't "The Beatles" because the band was officially done in 1970. Same with the other members.

In that way I can understand Macca's Pet Sounds question/comment a little more. There was still a "Beach Boys", as in the same group that did release Pet Sounds ten years prior. And instead of that kind of music, the most current Beach Boys were going heavier on the 50's/60's oldies covers than they had in a long time.

And later on there were no lawsuits and licenses over the band name or "confusion in the marketplace" over who the Beach Boys that fans were paying to see or hear actually were.  Grin
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