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Author Topic: Brian’s vocal change Redux  (Read 4995 times)
♩♬🐸 Billy C ♯♫♩🐇
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« on: July 20, 2022, 04:02:02 PM »

So one of the most talked about discussions in Beach Boys history stems from Brian’s “sudden” change in voice and when it actually happened. Well, it’s about to get weirder….

According to Bellagio, “Back Home” was recorded in Sept 1975, which would mean that’s the debut of his “new” voice, minus some 1972 vocals. There’s one small problem… you know the “In the Back of my Mind” demo that had the latest bit of “classic” Brian , only for his voice to change halfway through (and strangely sound like Carl on one line )?
It’s December 1975, meaning it was AFTER his lead on Back Home…

That’s a headfucker
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2022, 04:18:09 PM »

Didn’t BW’s book say he had laryngitis during that era?
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2022, 04:19:26 PM »

What's the source on Back of My Mind being December? Bellagio? That's actually cordoned off below December with tracks that were recorded in the year 1975 but haven't been narrowed down to a month (source: several of those dates were supplied by me).

The Back Home track was recorded around fall '75, but the vocals probably weren't added until spring '76 during the 15 Big Ones sessions. In February, Brian sang a line to Timothy White and was still thinking of it in terms of the "neighborhood kids" lyrics/melody.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2022, 04:23:03 PM by WillJC » Logged
♩♬🐸 Billy C ♯♫♩🐇
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2022, 04:40:01 PM »

Gotcha…yeah the layout made it look like it was part of the December sessions that didn’t have a date!

For what it’s worth,  I’d been told years ago it was likely March 1975.

Back Home had an “8” by it ; appendix said it was the version that appeared on the album. That said…Brian’s vocal line from the “live” version that was actually a studio recording…could that be from Sept 1975?
« Last Edit: July 20, 2022, 06:06:43 PM by ♩♬🐸 Billy C ♯♫♩🐇 » Logged

“My cape is at the dry cleaners,” he explained.

I’m writing a book of online BB fandom. It’s called “Never Trust Anyone Who Spends More Time Reading Signatures Than Bathing”.  It’s sure to sell a million copies in January!

How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2022, 04:48:34 PM »

Didn’t BW’s book say he had laryngitis during that era?

Yes… and continuing his vices while that’s going on certainly led to permanent damage , in addition to intentionally trying to sound different while that’s going on.
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“My cape is at the dry cleaners,” he explained.

I’m writing a book of online BB fandom. It’s called “Never Trust Anyone Who Spends More Time Reading Signatures Than Bathing”.  It’s sure to sell a million copies in January!

How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2022, 07:57:09 PM »

I think it's a combination of session dates not being accurate/Brian having good days and bad days/Brian not giving a sh*t and/or being passive aggressive. I really like Love You and Adult/Child, but I wonder if the songs and the rough vocals were a passive aggressive put on by Brian since he was forced to be back when he wasn't ready to be.
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2022, 02:25:03 AM »

Gotcha…yeah the layout made it look like it was part of the December sessions that didn’t have a date!

For what it’s worth,  I’d been told years ago it was likely March 1975.

Back Home had an “8” by it ; appendix said it was the version that appeared on the album. That said…Brian’s vocal line from the “live” version that was actually a studio recording…could that be from Sept 1975?


The vocal flown into the live performance on Feel Flows is an alternate take from the 15 Big Ones version's multitrack, but I think it's unlikely that there was any significant lapse in time between them. Brian sounds about the same, more exuberant in one, singing it straight in the other. There's a contemporary article on the March sessions that implies Chapel of Love was Brian's first recorded lead vocal since his return. I tend to think Back Home was revived later, around April to May, when the project took a left turn into including original songs.

I've heard a couple of instances of Brian's voice in March '75, and he was quite a way off where he's at on In the Back of My Mind. Not dissimilar to his vocals in November '74 really. My guess is it was sometime between then and Landy's hire in September/October, because Tandyn Almer's playing the piano and Brian probably wouldn't have been allowed near him and other friends in that circle once all that started.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2022, 02:25:56 AM by WillJC » Logged
♩♬🐸 Billy C ♯♫♩🐇
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2022, 01:05:39 PM »

Any idea of when in 75 his back up vocals on Boat to Sail or Johnny Rivers’ cover of Help Me Rhonda were recorded?
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“My cape is at the dry cleaners,” he explained.

I’m writing a book of online BB fandom. It’s called “Never Trust Anyone Who Spends More Time Reading Signatures Than Bathing”.  It’s sure to sell a million copies in January!

How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2022, 01:43:37 PM »

Any idea of when in 75 his back up vocals on Boat to Sail or Johnny Rivers’ cover of Help Me Rhonda were recorded?

Not a clue! I'd love to find out.
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2022, 03:06:31 PM »

On the studio talk intro to In the Back Of My Mind, Brian's speaking voice sounds like that of Burton Cummings of The Guess Who. The phrasing is also different from what we're used to.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUOHPLPX_Go
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2022, 09:26:40 AM »

I Am Brian Wilson p. 76: "I had laryngitis. I wasn't using my normal voice. It was an assumed voice. I had to make it up to get through all the singing. For me, it's basically a laryngitis album."
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2022, 11:23:14 AM »

I Am Brian Wilson p. 76: "I had laryngitis. I wasn't using my normal voice. It was an assumed voice. I had to make it up to get through all the singing. For me, it's basically a laryngitis album."
Honestly, that doesn't make much sense. If he had a mild case of it, then possibly, but if it were full blown he wouldn't have nearly as much of the "full"  voice heard on 15 Big Ones and Love You.
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♩♬🐸 Billy C ♯♫♩🐇
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2022, 12:44:32 PM »

It could’ve been a case where it was mild enough for him to still record. If that was indeed the case , continuing to smoke like a chimney along with intentionally trying to sound a certain way would make it last a lot longer before recovery than if he had taken care of himself at least to the extent of an average person. In 78 he had it again (very noticeable in one interview up on YouTube) . After that period there was no going back.

Still, it trips me out how his voice changes halfway through ITBOMM…like it went from California Feeling 74 Brian to California Feeling 1978 Brian and completely skipped the 76 and 77 years
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“My cape is at the dry cleaners,” he explained.

I’m writing a book of online BB fandom. It’s called “Never Trust Anyone Who Spends More Time Reading Signatures Than Bathing”.  It’s sure to sell a million copies in January!

How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2022, 03:42:08 PM »

The more I think about it, the more confused I am over why 15 Big Ones and Love You are the only two albums where Brian's voice is so overly hoarse. On the Adult Child tracks Brian's voice is a lot smoother for the most part, other than Lazy Lizzie. He sounds really good on MIU, and even on KTSA.
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« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2022, 04:01:28 PM »

Cause that was his “real” voice without putting on for whatever reason, nor laryngitis,

I do wonder, and I hope this doesn’t come off wrong… I wonder if whatever Landy had him on during the first go-round was affecting him vocally , much like he was singing differently in the second period too
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“My cape is at the dry cleaners,” he explained.

I’m writing a book of online BB fandom. It’s called “Never Trust Anyone Who Spends More Time Reading Signatures Than Bathing”.  It’s sure to sell a million copies in January!

How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2022, 04:18:31 PM »

Cause that was his “real” voice without putting on for whatever reason, nor laryngitis,

I do wonder, and I hope this doesn’t come off wrong… I wonder if whatever Landy had him on during the first go-round was affecting him vocally , much like he was singing differently in the second period too
There is/was a distinct change again somewhere between 1983-85. Listen to Brian sing "I'm Lost Without You" pre "BB 85", and then compare the album version.
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« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2022, 04:22:00 PM »

Cause that was his “real” voice without putting on for whatever reason, nor laryngitis,

I do wonder, and I hope this doesn’t come off wrong… I wonder if whatever Landy had him on during the first go-round was affecting him vocally , much like he was singing differently in the second period too
Speaking of which, Is it just me, or was Brian not talking out of the side of his mouth nearly as much or as bad prior to 1976-ish?
« Last Edit: July 23, 2022, 04:22:43 PM by Jay » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2022, 04:33:04 PM »

Cause that was his “real” voice without putting on for whatever reason, nor laryngitis,

I do wonder, and I hope this doesn’t come off wrong… I wonder if whatever Landy had him on during the first go-round was affecting him vocally , much like he was singing differently in the second period too
There is/was a distinct change again somewhere between 1983-85. Listen to Brian sing "I'm Lost Without You" pre "BB 85", and then compare the album version.

Do you mean “It’s Just a Matter of Time”?
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“My cape is at the dry cleaners,” he explained.

I’m writing a book of online BB fandom. It’s called “Never Trust Anyone Who Spends More Time Reading Signatures Than Bathing”.  It’s sure to sell a million copies in January!

How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2022, 04:35:52 PM »

Cause that was his “real” voice without putting on for whatever reason, nor laryngitis,

I do wonder, and I hope this doesn’t come off wrong… I wonder if whatever Landy had him on during the first go-round was affecting him vocally , much like he was singing differently in the second period too
Speaking of which, Is it just me, or was Brian not talking out of the side of his mouth nearly as much or as bad prior to 1976-ish?

There’s a 1964 interview in the LPR doc where he actually talks more like Imagination era Brian. Same with 1968. In 76 there was a lisp that wasn’t there previously.
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“My cape is at the dry cleaners,” he explained.

I’m writing a book of online BB fandom. It’s called “Never Trust Anyone Who Spends More Time Reading Signatures Than Bathing”.  It’s sure to sell a million copies in January!

How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2022, 04:37:12 PM »

Cause that was his “real” voice without putting on for whatever reason, nor laryngitis,

I do wonder, and I hope this doesn’t come off wrong… I wonder if whatever Landy had him on during the first go-round was affecting him vocally , much like he was singing differently in the second period too
There is/was a distinct change again somewhere between 1983-85. Listen to Brian sing "I'm Lost Without You" pre "BB 85", and then compare the album version.

Do you mean “It’s Just a Matter of Time”?
Yeah, the early version he would play during 1983.
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« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2022, 03:45:04 AM »

The more I think about it, the more confused I am over why 15 Big Ones and Love You are the only two albums where Brian's voice is so overly hoarse. On the Adult Child tracks Brian's voice is a lot smoother for the most part, other than Lazy Lizzie. He sounds really good on MIU, and even on KTSA.

I've heard outtakes from the KTSA era and listening to them it's evident they didn't use Brian's lead vocals because his voice was *really* bad around then. It's not so much that it was hoarse as that he was no longer really doing passable lead vocals regardless of the approach. The vibe I got was they wanted him up front more but wound up using him just for cameos and increased presence in the background vocal stack. Ironically the stuff a little later sounded a bit better, maybe because he was forced to sing a lot while Carl was gone.
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« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2022, 07:01:05 AM »

Over the years, Brian has presented us with more voices and physical appearances than one would have thought possible!
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« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2022, 07:19:01 AM »

The more I think about it, the more confused I am over why 15 Big Ones and Love You are the only two albums where Brian's voice is so overly hoarse. On the Adult Child tracks Brian's voice is a lot smoother for the most part, other than Lazy Lizzie. He sounds really good on MIU, and even on KTSA.

I've heard outtakes from the KTSA era and listening to them it's evident they didn't use Brian's lead vocals because his voice was *really* bad around then. It's not so much that it was hoarse as that he was no longer really doing passable lead vocals regardless of the approach. The vibe I got was they wanted him up front more but wound up using him just for cameos and increased presence in the background vocal stack. Ironically the stuff a little later sounded a bit better, maybe because he was forced to sing a lot while Carl was gone.

It's a good point; Brian did sound a bit better a bit later. For all the justifiable criticism that 1981/82 Carl-less band gets (less because Carl wasn't there, but because they all seemed to sound worse, including a few of the backing band members), Brian's leads on that tour were *sometimes* pretty solid. Even on the most infamous case, the nationally-televised Queen Mary show, Brian sounds pretty solid on "God Only Knows" and "Sloop John B", and even on the non-high/falsetto parts of "Good Vibrations." They unfortunately inexplicably had Brian singing "Don't Worry Baby" on that tour as well. By that point, even Carl and Al would have had trouble singing that song in its original key (and sure enough, later on in the 80s Carl shared the lead with Foskett, and by the 90s they just had Matt Jardine sing the whole thing). Why they gave that song to Brian, I'd love to know.

Brian had good days and bad days during that 1981/82 run. But it was one of the last eras when he sometimes had some good power behind his voice, and if he found the right register, he sounded strangely and differently pretty good. Listen to him belt out "Oh Lord" on the "Hamburger/Cocaine Tape", which is probably from 1980 or maybe 81 or so. That's another tape where the title given to it by fans indicates the condition people assume he was in. Yet, he kind of sounds good on some of that stuff. He even sounds pretty good belting a few lines from "Heroes and Villains."
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« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2022, 08:13:59 AM »

Brian sounds pretty great on Stevie, for the era. Not so much on the handful of things he sang in '78 and '79. His voice wasn't as hoarse as it was in '76 but it's like he lost the ability to comfortably carry a tune. I definitely have a soft spot for his Oh Darlin' over Carl's, though.
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« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2022, 09:48:33 AM »

I forget which interview it was years ago where Al Jardine seemed to feel Brian had at some point sort of “sabotaged” his own voice. I know the “sabotaging his own voice” theory has been debated on and off over the years by fans. We’ll obviously never get much of a definitive answer. But it’s plausible to me that someone who is re-emerging and is a bit skittish or nervous and knows their voice isn’t in the same shape, could then exaggerate that to sound even worse to kind of cover it up, as bizarre as that might sound.

Brian’s voice was all over the place by the mid 70s. Listen to the 15BO and Love You stuff, most of which was tracked in 1976, and then listen to his vocals on “MIU”, mostly cut in 1977. Compare Brian’s vocals on the “Love You” stuff to like “Wontcha Come Out Tonight.”

It’s ironic that in the midst of internal group political turmoil and the creation of, well, not the most substantive material of their career, somebody (or just Brian himself) got some good, smooth lead vocal from Brian out there at the MIU in Iowa.

Look at some of the studio footage of Brian at MIU in 1977 in that “Our Team” documentary, and then look at his stage presence and photos/footage from 1978/79/80. I’m sure there were literal physical things happening to his voice/throat all through that, and also some emotional/personal/mood stuff too.

And yet it still waxed and waned. At a lot of 1980 gigs during his few short lead vocal bits, he started to have that sort of “whine” to his voice that we heard more in the later 80s with Landy. Yet, “Stevie” from around that same time has him sounding closer to his “MIU/Wontcha Come Out Tonight” voice.
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