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672450 Posts in 27078 Topics by 3981 Members - Latest Member: Toxic34 October 25, 2021, 01:24:00 AM
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Author Topic: Brian’s involvement in solo albums  (Read 5623 times)
Lonely Summer
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« Reply #50 on: September 30, 2021, 07:33:30 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.

Brilliant summation.
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« Reply #51 on: September 30, 2021, 10:16:42 PM »

What’s interesting to me is the tracks that Brian recorded that are most like Pet Sounds after say, 1970- were “Still I Dream of It” and “It’s Over Now”.

So you have everyone kind of clamoring for Brian to do something more like Pet Sounds- but we get MIU and LA Light Album instead of the Adult Child record.
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« Reply #52 on: October 01, 2021, 07:55:22 AM »

What’s interesting to me is the tracks that Brian recorded that are most like Pet Sounds after say, 1970- were “Still I Dream of It” and “It’s Over Now”.

So you have everyone kind of clamoring for Brian to do something more like Pet Sounds- but we get MIU and LA Light Album instead of the Adult Child record.

I think a huge part of this must have been Brian's unwillingness to let his best songs be released, or at times even recorded, by the Beach Boys, after he felt they had rejected them in some way, or just because the idea of releasing work that he'd put actual effort into scared him. One clear example is California Feeling. It almost *titled* MIU, before Brian himself insisted that it be pulled altogether. Then it was rerecorded for the LA Light Album in Miami, producing the stunning version on the Made in California boxset, before being left off that album too (an album that would have seriously benefitted from its inclusion). I love Adult Child, it's a late 70s outsider-art cult classic, for sure, but it's not exactly hard to see why the record company rejected it. What's sadder, although also not exactly difficult to understand, is why the Beach Boys in the late 70s couldn't have reproduced a semblance of the collaborative spirit of the early 70s, with Carl helping get Brian's songs over the finish line, and Brian contributing some of his quirky arrangement ideas to the other guys' songs. But communication and collaboration in the band was obviously fundamentally broken by that point, which meant that although the Beach Boys had more than enough incredible material and raw talent between them to record albums capable of standing with their best work... they just didn't, or couldn't, or wouldn't.
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« Reply #53 on: October 01, 2021, 12:18:45 PM »

What’s interesting to me is the tracks that Brian recorded that are most like Pet Sounds after say, 1970- were “Still I Dream of It” and “It’s Over Now”.

So you have everyone kind of clamoring for Brian to do something more like Pet Sounds- but we get MIU and LA Light Album instead of the Adult Child record.

I think a huge part of this must have been Brian's unwillingness to let his best songs be released, or at times even recorded, by the Beach Boys, after he felt they had rejected them in some way, or just because the idea of releasing work that he'd put actual effort into scared him. One clear example is California Feeling. It almost *titled* MIU, before Brian himself insisted that it be pulled altogether. Then it was rerecorded for the LA Light Album in Miami, producing the stunning version on the Made in California boxset, before being left off that album too (an album that would have seriously benefitted from its inclusion). I love Adult Child, it's a late 70s outsider-art cult classic, for sure, but it's not exactly hard to see why the record company rejected it. What's sadder, although also not exactly difficult to understand, is why the Beach Boys in the late 70s couldn't have reproduced a semblance of the collaborative spirit of the early 70s, with Carl helping get Brian's songs over the finish line, and Brian contributing some of his quirky arrangement ideas to the other guys' songs. But communication and collaboration in the band was obviously fundamentally broken by that point, which meant that although the Beach Boys had more than enough incredible material and raw talent between them to record albums capable of standing with their best work... they just didn't, or couldn't, or wouldn't.

Good points, and I know this is not a straightforward topic, nor do we have anything resembling all of the information ...

I don't think the full story of Adult Child has been told. I know there are quotes from Brian that he was doing "swing" music in the '70s and Mike Love didn't like it and said it wasn't of the times ... this suggests that Brian did like the record and wanted it out at one point. And we know Warner Bros. rejected it (rightly or wrongly, from a commercial standpoint- if these people wanted Brian Wilson, then maybe they could have understood with more nuance the fragility of working with Brian Wilson?).

Who decided to get Dick Reynolds and make swing music in 1977? No one but Brian Wilson. Why did he do this? Simply put, likely because that's what he wanted to do at that time. Surely, no one else was pushing for something so peculiar. Not Mike Love or the Beach Boys. Not Warners.  To be frank, to me- it's easy to see when Brian was calling the shots because he's truly an original an innovative creator. This appears as "nutty" or "quirky" or downright weird and uncommercial to some people IMO.

There are also stories that BW didn't think "Still I Dream of It" was any good and didn't want it out at some later point ... but to your point: was this a defense mechanism? Was it retaliation? Brian is a complex character.

To me it's not a stretch to go with Marylin's angle- she was his wife after all. Like, Okay here's a record I made. Eh ... we don't want that, Brian. Okay f*** you, the music is shitty and I don't want it released. Fine.

My whole point in this thread is that there are lots of records that seem as though Brian is a reluctant participant. Then there are records (many unreleased) where he seemed to have been genuinely enthused while making them. It just so happens that the ones he seemed genuinely enthused about are also the ones where they sound the most like a Brian Wilson production.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2021, 12:23:42 PM by DonnyL » Logged

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« Reply #54 on: October 01, 2021, 01:51:13 PM »

I don't think the full story of Adult Child has been told. I know there are quotes from Brian that he was doing "swing" music in the '70s and Mike Love didn't like it and said it wasn't of the times ... this suggests that Brian did like the record and wanted it out at one point. And we know Warner Bros. rejected it (rightly or wrongly, from a commercial standpoint- if these people wanted Brian Wilson, then maybe they could have understood with more nuance the fragility of working with Brian Wilson?).

Who decided to get Dick Reynolds and make swing music in 1977? No one but Brian Wilson. Why did he do this? Simply put, likely because that's what he wanted to do at that time. Surely, no one else was pushing for something so peculiar. Not Mike Love or the Beach Boys. Not Warners.  To be frank, to me- it's easy to see when Brian was calling the shots because he's truly an original an innovative creator. This appears as "nutty" or "quirky" or downright weird and uncommercial to some people IMO.

There are also stories that BW didn't think "Still I Dream of It" was any good and didn't want it out at some later point ... but to your point: was this a defense mechanism? Was it retaliation? Brian is a complex character.

To me it's not a stretch to go with Marylin's angle- she was his wife after all. Like, Okay here's a record I made. Eh ... we don't want that, Brian. Okay f*** you, the music is shitty and I don't want it released. Fine.

My whole point in this thread is that there are lots of records that seem as though Brian is a reluctant participant. Then there are records (many unreleased) where he seemed to have been genuinely enthused while making them. It just so happens that the ones he seemed genuinely enthused about are also the ones where they sound the most like a Brian Wilson production.

I completely agree. I guess a thing that I still think is kind of strange (building on what you're saying, not disagreeing), is how it became so one-or-the-other. It's the kind of thing that makes sense in the Beach Boys story because it just happened so often, but that in the context of any other band would seem incredibly bizarre and dysfunctional. With the exception, maybe, of Carl bringing out Love You and perhaps the 88 album, there was never a situation where the more commercial record built on the more creative work. And I do think a big part of the problem, here, was that a number of key people (Mike Love, but not just him, I think) just didn't like the creative stuff and couldn't muster the enthusiasm for it. I mean, Adult Child has a couple spectacular 40s-style swing songs, some clearly half-ass efforts in that direction, two sticking-out-like-sore-thumbs early 70s novelty songs (both of which I love, but that is neither here nor there), Dennis singing a catchy but inane song about Baseball.... If this had been any other band, they would have been like, wow, there are some incredible songs here, Brian, we love this swing direction. Why don't we get three or four tracks that are really perfect with the jazz stuff, and release them alongside some more Beach Boys style songs and some Dennis and Carl tunes. Then you could have had something like the best of Adult Child meets the best of the LA Light album, and honestly, that would probably have been pretty fucking great. But there's not even an attempt in that direction, it's just one or the other, and the song that does get thrown on LA in the end is Shortening Bread, which is just like, what?
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« Reply #55 on: October 01, 2021, 03:51:35 PM »

Important to note with the last few posts about the swing/big band material Brian was writing circa 76/77: Brian seemed to be completely sold on it, and actually pitched his music to Frank Sinatra. Or at least he said he was going to have a pitch meeting with Sinatra in a 1977 interview just before it was supposed to happen.

Details and a link to that interview from 77 can be found here: http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,27617.0.html

So I get the feeling Brian believed in that music and even wanted other artists like Sinatra to record it, and I think some of that batch of songs were pretty damn good. Was it a stylistic complete left turn? Yes - But that's nothing new.

One of the great "what if's" of that era.

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« Reply #56 on: October 01, 2021, 04:19:12 PM »

I don't think the full story of Adult Child has been told. I know there are quotes from Brian that he was doing "swing" music in the '70s and Mike Love didn't like it and said it wasn't of the times ... this suggests that Brian did like the record and wanted it out at one point. And we know Warner Bros. rejected it (rightly or wrongly, from a commercial standpoint- if these people wanted Brian Wilson, then maybe they could have understood with more nuance the fragility of working with Brian Wilson?).

Who decided to get Dick Reynolds and make swing music in 1977? No one but Brian Wilson. Why did he do this? Simply put, likely because that's what he wanted to do at that time. Surely, no one else was pushing for something so peculiar. Not Mike Love or the Beach Boys. Not Warners.  To be frank, to me- it's easy to see when Brian was calling the shots because he's truly an original an innovative creator. This appears as "nutty" or "quirky" or downright weird and uncommercial to some people IMO.

There are also stories that BW didn't think "Still I Dream of It" was any good and didn't want it out at some later point ... but to your point: was this a defense mechanism? Was it retaliation? Brian is a complex character.

To me it's not a stretch to go with Marylin's angle- she was his wife after all. Like, Okay here's a record I made. Eh ... we don't want that, Brian. Okay f*** you, the music is shitty and I don't want it released. Fine.

My whole point in this thread is that there are lots of records that seem as though Brian is a reluctant participant. Then there are records (many unreleased) where he seemed to have been genuinely enthused while making them. It just so happens that the ones he seemed genuinely enthused about are also the ones where they sound the most like a Brian Wilson production.

I completely agree. I guess a thing that I still think is kind of strange (building on what you're saying, not disagreeing), is how it became so one-or-the-other. It's the kind of thing that makes sense in the Beach Boys story because it just happened so often, but that in the context of any other band would seem incredibly bizarre and dysfunctional. With the exception, maybe, of Carl bringing out Love You and perhaps the 88 album, there was never a situation where the more commercial record built on the more creative work. And I do think a big part of the problem, here, was that a number of key people (Mike Love, but not just him, I think) just didn't like the creative stuff and couldn't muster the enthusiasm for it. I mean, Adult Child has a couple spectacular 40s-style swing songs, some clearly half-ass efforts in that direction, two sticking-out-like-sore-thumbs early 70s novelty songs (both of which I love, but that is neither here nor there), Dennis singing a catchy but inane song about Baseball.... If this had been any other band, they would have been like, wow, there are some incredible songs here, Brian, we love this swing direction. Why don't we get three or four tracks that are really perfect with the jazz stuff, and release them alongside some more Beach Boys style songs and some Dennis and Carl tunes. Then you could have had something like the best of Adult Child meets the best of the LA Light album, and honestly, that would probably have been pretty fucking great. But there's not even an attempt in that direction, it's just one or the other, and the song that does get thrown on LA in the end is Shortening Bread, which is just like, what?

Yeh I was thinking something like that too, as in: what band let’s “It’s Over Now” and “Still I Dream of It” sit around while deciding to church up “Hey Little Tomboy”? Now I’m getting into pure speculation but- this is where I think Marilyn’s point makes sense: Hey guys- you didn’t want my record, you don’t get my best songs. Or Brian is more sensitive to releasing the more personal tracks but doesn’t care about “Hey Little Tomboy”. Or could it be the old jealousies? Let’s not let Brian look too good. Or … more simply: We wanna go in a Kona Coast direction, Hey Little Tomboy is nice and catchy and fits but Brian’s weirdo jazzy stuff? Nah. You don’t even really like that song, do you Brian? Nah it’s shitty.

I do want to reiterate: Brian singing on tracks like “I’m Broke” and “Proud Mary” sound like he’s filled with passion and emotion. I can’t point to any of his released solo songs post-‘90s with that kind of vocal.
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« Reply #57 on: October 02, 2021, 02:40:15 AM »

To answer the question posed by the OP: I think to get the clearest view of what it's like to work with Brian in the modern context, you should read Stephen McParland's book about the Gary Usher 1986 sessions. And do so without the prejudice that every negative aspect of Brian's personality or working method is Eugene Landy's fault. (A view that Gary Usher never endorses even as his personal opinion of Landy plummets.) Doing this cleared up a lot for me.

I think a lot of Brian's gifts are still with him in regards to vocal arrangement and charm, but he's needed -- not desired, needed -- collaborators to finish anything since his mid-twenties. Initially, I think this was psychologically aversive in nature. By the mid-70s I think it's brain damage due to compulsive drug abuse and past the early 80s it's compounded brain damage. This isn't to say that he's a zombie, he seems perfectly functional and sensible in non-musical aspects, but I do think he's 50 years past the point where he could "turn it on" if he really wanted to simply because what he did took an enormous capacity for concentration and organized creative thought. And that's fine, really, it's not like he wasted time during his fruitful years -- but I think there's a tendency for Beach Boys fans to continuously revisit post-73 material as if by repeating an unpleasant narrative in their head that it will turn out better this time. (Beatles fans do this with the break-up -- it is the subject of 50% of Beatles podcasts -- and I suspect it's not uncommon with other enthusiast communities.) This isn't to say that Brian wasn't responsible for enjoyable music post-73, but was it great, or even continuous with what he was capable of in the 60s? Is inability more of an influence than changing aesthetic inclinations? If Raffi had recorded the lead vocal for Solar System and released it under his name, would anyone care about the track?

(Addendum: I don't get the fetishization of the "Everything I Need" demo. It's not a revival of Pet Sounds aesthetic, it sounds like Andrew Gold.)
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« Reply #58 on: October 02, 2021, 08:14:33 PM »

I think a lot of Brian's gifts are still with him in regards to vocal arrangement and charm, but he's needed -- not desired, needed -- collaborators to finish anything since his mid-twenties. Initially, I think this was psychologically aversive in nature. By the mid-70s I think it's brain damage due to compulsive drug abuse and past the early 80s it's compounded brain damage. This isn't to say that he's a zombie, he seems perfectly functional and sensible in non-musical aspects, but I do think he's 50 years past the point where he could "turn it on" if he really wanted to simply because what he did took an enormous capacity for concentration and organized creative thought. And that's fine, really, it's not like he wasted time during his fruitful years -- but I think there's a tendency for Beach Boys fans to continuously revisit post-73 material as if by repeating an unpleasant narrative in their head that it will turn out better this time. (Beatles fans do this with the break-up -- it is the subject of 50% of Beatles podcasts -- and I suspect it's not uncommon with other enthusiast communities.) This isn't to say that Brian wasn't responsible for enjoyable music post-73, but was it great, or even continuous with what he was capable of in the 60s? Is inability more of an influence than changing aesthetic inclinations? If Raffi had recorded the lead vocal for Solar System and released it under his name, would anyone care about the track?

I think this is absolutely right.

But I also think the reason the topic never dies is not just the perverse obsessiveness of fans (however perverse and obsessive we all may be!), but also exactly what you're highlighting here. It's obvious, listening to Brian's solo career, that his *gift* is still there. It just rarely if ever reaches full expression, I think for exactly the reasons you give. Also, in my opinion, Beach Boys fans are particularly well-trained to look for the might-have-beens and could-bes, because of Smile. As you listen to the smile sessions and study what Brian was doing, I think something that becomes clearer and clearer is just how fucking good this record would have been if it had been finished; how close it was, and yet how far, too. A Surf's Up with the same attention lavished on the last two minutes as on the first two minutes, A Do You Like Worms with a full, proper lead vocal and even more layers of harmony. Fire with howling backing vocals, not flown in from Smiley Smile, but recorded by the Beach Boys, in their prime. You get these visions in your mind, and you realize that Brian was fully capable of doing all this, these things could have existed, some of these things may actually *have* existed, until Columbia threw out all the multitrack that had been left there whenever that happened. It all came so close to existing! And then, and then, and then... And we listen and read and fantasize and come up with theories, and that's the attraction, I think, for so many of us.

And then Brian's solo career offers a version of the same story, because there are so many moments of brilliance, often on otherwise unremarkable tracks - an unexpected chord change or a melody line that soars upwards in that inimitable Pet Sounds way, or a moment of harmony that sounds simple at first but seems to unfold differently every time you listen to the song. Or even just going to a Beach Boys concert in 2012, on a good night, and hearing Brian sing a song like I Just Wasn't Made for These Times and missing half the notes but then, for a moment, just sounding, so, so much like himself, like the person who wrote that song in 1966. And so even though we *know* we're not getting another Pet Sounds, it's hard not to fantasize, just like it's hard not to fantasize about a backing track to the second half of Surf's Up suddenly showing up on a reel in someone's basement, and being just as wonderful as we imagined, just as wonderful as we know it would have been, because we have the *first* half of Surf's Up, and it is sublime.

Also, in terms of Love You - yes, that record absolutely would be a cult classic no matter who had made it. If some unknown band had formed in 1977 and put out that one album and then broken up, it would be a cult classic. It is not a classic because Brian made it. The Beach Boys Love You is true outsider art, like a John Waters movie or a Henry Darger painting or The Shaggs, and it would have been discovered by that audience eventually, I feel completely confident about that.
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« Reply #59 on: October 03, 2021, 06:48:26 AM »

I think that because Brian did it all himself until the mid/late 1960s, we heap way too much expectation upon him going forward after that. We want Brian to fully complete an album from start to finish - from the first kernel of an idea to fully mixing and handing the album to the label. But I don’t think many other major artists do this.

I remember reading that Bob Dylan really dislikes the final mix on his Time Out Of Mind album…and I remember thinking “it’s his album, why did he approve the thing to be released if he didn’t like the sound of it?” (And granted I guess he has produced every album he’s done since because of this) but it’s still a reminder that even if you’re Bob Dylan you get other people to do work for you (the album even had an art director on it - yet no one complains that Bob wasn’t the solo visionary of the album).

There’s a reason most bands hire producers to help them unify their vision, to help them stay focused on the project. We’re not only wanting Brian to write genius songs, we’re also wanting him to do it without any collaborative help with chords, lyrics, or harmony ideas. We want him to be the sole creator of the vision and artistic direction of the project. We want him to stay 100% focused in the studio (even though most artists hire someone to help them stay focused and on task). We want him to mix every little note and instrument on the album. And we want him to hand the album to the head of Capitol Records himself. I am being slightly over dramatic here, but I’m also not far off the mark, either.

At a time Brian was doing most all of this himself, which is why we have such high standards for him. But that workload also drove him to a very dark place.

OP talks about “pure Brian input” - and I totally get what they’re saying, but also how many other artists are subjected to this much criticism or high of standards? When [insert your artist name here] puts out an album you usually don’t hear people complain about the amount of collaborators on the album. You don’t hear people complain that they had an outside producer that helped the artist with chords, arrangements, artistic vision, or anything.

I mean, I am not pointing fingers at fans. I myself want Brian at the helm, steering the course, commanding his troops in the studio. I want his ideas to be fully brought out on tape. I want him to mix everything. I want him to be totally in control. But this isn’t even realistic for too many other mainstream artists, let alone Brian Wilson who has some pretty messed up mental problems.

And I will grant you, I do wish that Brian had a collaborator that wasn’t so obsessed with Adult Contemporary sound. I think that TLOS is a masterpiece, and I really wish that Brian was able to create more projects like that. But what we have is what we have, and there are still some amazingly beautiful moments in Imagination. I really think that NPP is a masterpiece that Brian put a lot of time and effort into. Even if JT did help with chords at times, or the lyrics are sometimes rather vague - it is still an incredible Brian Wilson album that has a lot of amazing moments on it.

Edit; I do think it sucks that when other artists have people “finish a project” (ie mix, finishing touches, etc) it’s just “show business”. When this happens with Brian it’s because he’s supposedly incapable of doing those things. I don’t think he’s incapable of finishing a project, but I think that he is just like most other artists who choose not to burden themselves with every detail of a project.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2021, 07:09:48 AM by rab2591 » Logged

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« Reply #60 on: October 03, 2021, 04:42:58 PM »

Something being glossed over is the move from mono to stereo. By definition Brian would’ve begun needing additional assistance once that happened
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« Reply #61 on: October 04, 2021, 05:56:55 AM »

Quote
What is Brian’s actual degree of involvement in the songwriting and production of his solo albums?

I also want to answer OP's question with some quotes from Ray Lawlor - a best friend of Brian's who has 1000x more firsthand knowledge about Brian's life than any of us ever will:

Quote
Management team of Jean Sievers and Melinda Wilson involved in or responsible for:
“I Guess I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” film and soundtrack.
“Orange Crate Art” with Van Dyke Parks
“Imagination”
Brian Wilson starts solo tours.
“ Live at the Roxy”
“An All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson” live at Radio City Music Hall in NY; as well as DVD
“Brian Wilson On Tour “ DVD
“Pet Sounds “ Live ; tour and CD
“Getting’ In Over My Head”
“ SMiLE” live
“Brian Wilson Presents Smile”
“What I Really Want For Christmas”
“ Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin” CD and tour
“Songs in the Key of Disney”
“That Lucky Old Sun” tour and CD
The Beach Boy’s C50 tour
“That’s Why God Made the Radio”
“ The SMiLE Sessions” box set
Ivor Novello award in London
Inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in New York
Musicare’s Man of the Year Award
Queen Elizabeth’s 50th Jubilee ; Buckingham Palace, London
Kennedy Center Award , Washington DC
Two Grammy’s.
Paul McCartney’s Minefield Event

I may be forgetting something but you get the drift. Does anyone with the sense that God gave grapefruit thinks that all of that could be “coerced” out of Brian , or any other artist ? Yes; sometimes Brian has to be pushed , that is part of his illness and you know what he says each and every time ? “Thank you so much for pushing back on me with that ; it was great and you helped me make it happen.” Everything that has been done, with respect to the health and welfare of Brian Wilson , both professionally and personally, has not been done in a vacuum.  Unless you have walked in Melinda Wilson’s shoes , or in Jean Sievers shoes, then you are oblivious of what either one of them does or has accomplished.

At the end of the day , after all of the above, the ultimate accomplishments are Brian's.  He is the one who pulled it all off, from putting together what has been called the best band in the world ( and they are), writing , arranging and producing  alot of great music, them performing it live on the road and getting it out there.  Ultimately, its his show, with a little help from his friends and immediate family.

G’Day.

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I was not in the studio for the sessions with JB and Brian , so I can only speak to sessions I have been in (SMiLE, Scott , TLOS, Gershwin, Getting in Over My Head, Everything I Need, What Love Can Do).  I have sat next to him at the board when he hasn't said a word or done anything for an hour , finally asking him ;" Brian , what the hell are you doing Huh"  Answer : " I am working"...he was working out arrangements in his head; then went out and taught them to the guys. I have also had him tell me to give directions to the guys as well , which I had the good sense not to do ; so I get that somebody in the booth could have been dictating to Jeff what to play......probably Jeff Foskett, maybe Joe Thomas; I don't know, but I can take an educated guess; I have experienced a very quiet BW in the booth.

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I can only talk to things that I was there for ; for example I can talk The Scott Bennrtt sessions, TLOS, BWRG and most of the Disney record; I can't talk to the TWGMTR stuff because I wasn't there , and I only heard two songs, "Shelter" and  "Bill and Sue" on the keyboard. The rest of it I have to rely on my own ears and judgement; the closing suite could only come from Brian Wilson; thats what my ears tell me; my guess is that you can as well, as do many others who share this passion. With Brian all you need to do is listen; the 88 record , for example, with all those screamed lead vocals tells me all I need to know .


A good example of what you are asking about is The Gershwin album.  Was it Brian's idea ? I don't know ; however what I do know is that he had been talking a lot about cutting Rhapsody in Blue , and the next thing I knew I was sitting in the deli with him and he is telling me he was signed to do a Gershwin album so i can connect those dots. i was at the majority of those sessions ; Mark Linett said it was the hardest he had ever seen Brian work, and he absolutely worked his ass off. I talked earlier about how Brian listens to nobody ; a small anecdotal example.  He was cutting the vocal on "Love is Here to Stay" and it was a beautiful take.  I was kind of telling him "Brian you need to double that lead and it will be incredible". He was adamant that no , "it's just right".  And of course he was right , it was.  And I , thankfully , shut the hell up. Another example is "Nothing But Love".  It was initially cut as a ballad ; something about Paris , and it was not up to par.  The next morning , Brian was the first one in the studio, teaching the band essentially an entire rewrite of the song; different tempo , different key. He had consulted with Paul Von Mertens about writing the charts on the overnight for the song , I remember Paul saying to me something to the effect of " you know maybe we're too close, but you forget what a brilliant musician Brian is ". I could say lots more but it's getting late and I type slowly!

On the Illinois house; he never actually moved ; he had a second home there with a studio and then cashiered the house. For the Imagination album I believe he also used the Wondermints , flew them in from LA to record ; ultimately three of the musicians Joe Thomas brought in , Paul , Taylor and Scott ended up in the BW band.

The Christmas record ; Clive Davis and Brian picked the songs.

I can tell you that for the new record , Brian is working really hard; it's what I want to see and hear. He has been at Ocean Way at least 10 times this month on his own , no Joe ; just Brian working with musicians and cutting vocals on his own. He is putting a lot of craft into the making of this record, taking his time, working around the schedules of the young singers he has brought in.  I believe yesterday he was in the studio from 12 noon to 9 pm , working on drums and vocals. There are moments where he and Al are singing together, and when they are swapping leads , that I never thought I would hear again.

So essentially we have a 72 year old Brian Wilson who is not the 24 year old kid who cut Pet Sounds, Good Vibrations and SMiLE.  Who is still there , still working , still trying to be unpredictable after all these years .

If you go to his profile and read his posts, he paints a much different picture of Brian than what many of us came to learn on forums and other internet outlets. Well worth the time to read - some of his posts about Brian in the studio are pure gold and will help you appreciate just how much work Brian puts into his albums.
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Bill Tobelman's SMiLE site

God must’ve smiled the day Brian Wilson was born!
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