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677668 Posts in 27356 Topics by 4046 Members - Latest Member: reecemorgan November 28, 2022, 09:11:37 PM
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Author Topic: The Wilson/Paley Sessions  (Read 14383 times)
Zenobi
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« on: July 28, 2022, 07:19:44 PM »

Somebody has called them "the greatest album that never was". The definition once reserved to SMiLE.
In any case, I think they deserve a treatment like the 2011 SMiLE Sessions, completed with a "reconstructed" album.
What do you think?
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2022, 10:39:55 AM »

The material should of course be released. No, it's not as great as "Smile." I don't know who called the Paley stuff "the greatest album that never was", but while a lot of the stuff is good, I wouldn't use such hyperbole.

It was never a fully sequenced album as far as I know, just an extended series of sessions that yielded far more than an album's worth of material.

I'd love to see all the tracks released. But really, a good hunk of the best stuff has been released, and much of the rest circulated in pretty solid sound quality. There are some tracks that only exist in pretty crummy-sounding versions, and I can only imagine there's stuff we haven't heard at all.

But between the tracks on Brian's current website, the "Playback" comp, and the "Long Promised Road" soundtrack, you've got a good hunk of the tracks right there in more or less "original" condition. Some other stuff has been futzed with to some degree, such as a bit of stuff on the "Gettin' in Over My Head" album and "You're Still a Mystery" from the "Made in California" set.

Now that they've dumped a good hunk of the sessions out there already, I can't see why they shouldn't release everything they've got. I don't think it needs to be presented as an "album", just put it all on a couple discs' worth. There would be some questions as to what can or should be used. They probably can't use BB vocals on a Brian release (though clearances could be pursued), and I'm not sure if they'd want to include the Paley guide vocals.
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2022, 11:55:51 AM »

Of course they are not so good as SMiLE (nothing is). Still, imho it's pretty impressive stuff for a musician who, according to some, did nothing good after 1967, or even 1966....
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2022, 12:13:21 PM »

I think the best tracks from the sessions could have been molded into a very good 1995 Beach Boys album.

Brian has done well by having partners that can help facilitate him creating, and also help get projects out the door. Many such as Gary Usher, Don Was, and Andy Paley were able to the former, but not the latter. That's why, despite some drawbacks, Joe Thomas has been an important figure at a few points in Brian's career, because he was able to do both, and do it both with Brian solo and with the Beach Boys.
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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2022, 01:18:04 PM »

Sire Records, where Andy is well-connected, offered to fund the completion of the Wilson/Paley album. Joe, who had somehow weaseled himself into being Brian's intermediary, refused their offer. How the hell does this guy have a reputation for "getting projects out the door"?

Better question: why would anybody even want completed Brian Wilson projects if it's just going to be tainted by a corporate dinosaur from Hollywood with the worst taste in music that you can possibly imagine? I'd rather Brian stayed at home and be comfortable banging out Phil Spector riffs on the piano. Why should he be coaxed into writing anodyne soft-rock? Hasn't this man suffered enough?

I wouldn't be surprised if Brian's estate/handlers are hoarding a huge trove of unreleased Wilson/Paley recordings spanning the 1990s-2000s. Like, several albums of non-bootlegged material, none of which will ever see official release, even after Brian passes. Well, we might get 1 or 2 songs thrown on the next greatest hits package, due for 2032. But don't expect the tracks to sound like how they were intended to be heard.
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Zenobi
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2022, 04:21:24 PM »

This shows that even blatant trolls, absurdly, can get something partly right once in a while.
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2022, 04:58:53 PM »

What’s that saying about a broken clock being right twice a day?
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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2022, 11:13:11 AM »

The point was not that Thomas is a great producer, nor a cultivator of all of the best work of Brian's. The point was that Joe Thomas got s**t done. I'm not a fan of his production style (though it eased off on the later 2010s stuff compared to the late 90s). But like him or not, he's one of the main starters behind making the 50th anniversary happen in 2012.

But the point was not that Andy Paley didn't have connections in the industry. The point was that Andy was not able to navigate both the Brian and Beach Boys political machine to get his project done. Neither was Don Was. Despite both of them working on some very good material.

Joe Thomas was able to navigate the Brian world, and then eventually also the even more nefarious BB world. Was it by ingratiating himself in ways that led to not the best musical outcomes? Probably. Certainly initially by molding "Imagination" into something that, while it has some good songs and good Brian vocals, is not the musical direction most folks wanted.  

Also, Joe Thomas had $$$$, and access to $$$$. I think by leaps and bounds Thomas's best achievement in the BB world was making the reunion project happen. As someone said back then, the Beach Boys finally had a guy with the organizational skills and the *MONEY* to secure guarantees, and he was the guy clapping his hands and saying "ok, now here's what we're going to do." That worked. For about a year. But that's more than most anybody else could have mustered. He secured a reunion album deal based on the songs he had written with Brian, secured a tour with the money and organizational skills to put together that "50 Big Ones" production company with Brian and Mike, and he also got a live album and two live DVDs/Blu-rays out. All in a year (obviously some of the ancillary stuff didn't make it out until 2013).

So yeah, the point was not to argue the musical merits of these respective collaborators. The point was that the guy LITERALLY got projects out the door, as in he got them released. That was Joe Thomas. I'm not saying there weren't many, many factors. I think in another time and place Don Was certainly could have made something happen.

But I think by 2011 Thomas was pretty aware of what it took to make a BB reunion happen. Specifically, it needed his bag of songs he had started with Brian in the late 90s (a number of which *are* on par with the best Paley material I believe), the ability to secure up front cash advances for the needed parties, and the organizational skill to balance all of the projects. He also clearly learned some lessons from his first run with Brian in the late 90s where he was always by Brian's side in interviews and on camera. How many photos of Joe Thomas from the C50 reunion period even exist? I think I may have seen one? And I think I've seen one 2013 photo of Thomas during the Brian/Al/David tour.
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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2022, 05:36:01 PM »

Just as a side note, Joe Thomas did a excellent job producing the latest Chicago CD... very worthwhile recording.
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« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2022, 07:52:24 AM »

I think the 90s Payley Sessions was the best music of Brian's solo career! While Lucky Old Sun and Gershwin are the best released albums. I am definitely for an official release of these songs! I feel that starting with Imaginations. Brian was reigned in a bit. But the Payley sessions have a bit of  the unleashed Friends/Love You Brian. Chain Reaction of Love is my favorite song from these sessions!

I know that Gettin In Over My Head has some remakes, but not as heart felt, with the exception of The Waltz. Speaking of which, why isn't Gettin In Over My Head available to play online anywhere? I own the cd, just curious. I tried searching on here because I am sure others have asked the same question. But this site keeps freezing up when I search.
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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2022, 08:30:25 AM »

You nail this. Unreined Brian, like in most of Love You. That is exactly the reason I love the WilsonPaley sessions.
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« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2022, 01:47:11 PM »

You nail this. Unreined Brian, like in most of Love You. That is exactly the reason I love the WilsonPaley sessions.
And that's probably why I'm not head over heels in love with them. There are some gems - Everything I Need, Still a Mystery, Soul Searching, Gettin' In Over My Head- and some songs I can't stand - Chain Reaction of Love comes to mind.
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« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2022, 04:08:52 PM »

You nail this. Unreined Brian, like in most of Love You. That is exactly the reason I love the WilsonPaley sessions.
And that's probably why I'm not head over heels in love with them. There are some gems - Everything I Need, Still a Mystery, Soul Searching, Gettin' In Over My Head- and some songs I can't stand - Chain Reaction of Love comes to mind.

I love Chain Reaction! But that's ok. We all have different tastes. I was so happy that My Solution was finally released even though many hate it.
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Mike Love autobiography (pg 242-243)
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« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2022, 12:35:05 AM »

To this day, I never understood what Carl's problem was...
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« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2022, 06:37:25 AM »

To this day, I never understood what Carl's problem was...

I don't think we have anywhere near a full picture of Carl's opinion of the material. I don't believe he necessarily had a strong dislike for all of the material. All we really have is a bit of sketchy info that he didn't like the Don Was-produced backing track for "Soul Searchin'" (which we've never heard).

I think this mid-90s period with the Beach Boys and Brian (both separately and together) is still somewhat sketchy. I think there were still lingering issues with Brian's Landy period (and the fallout from his "autobiography"), and I think interpersonal issues and band politics sort of indirectly and directly impacted working the Paley sessions more than it was like an outright rejection of the actual songs/material.

In 1995, Brian hadn't been front and center leading a BB project in years, and was just in the process of doing the "Orange Crate Art" album (which he didn't write or produce) and the IJWMFTT film and soundtrack (which Brian didn't really produce on his own and had no original songs), so in the eyes of the band it was unclear if he could lead a project, and also whether they *wanted* that, whether they wanted to do another deal where Brian and an outside co-writer bring in all or most of the songs, and the guys just add vocals.

Recall as well that this was around the time (within a year or so) when the idea was thrown around to do a "Pet Sounds" tour with Brian and the band, and Carl supposedly didn't think Brian would be able to do it. Whether he was right or wrong at the time, or whether he was justified to feel that way or not, that speaks to how he and the band to some degree felt about having Brian as a heavy participant if not a leader on a project. I think they just felt unsure from a logistical point of view, and also the usual band politics colored things.

Mike and Brian's interactions at the "Soul Searchin'"/"You're Still a Mystery" vocal sessions speak to a weird antagonism that was still present. The band certainly was not just tripping over themselves running to Brian to service an album's worth of Brian/Andy songs.

That's not to say the material itself was not also a potential concern for some of them. Remember they were still doing stuff like the "Summer in Paradise" album, and you can see the material Carl worked on outside of the band at this time (the "Beckley/Lamm/Wilson" stuff) was very different. So I don't think some of the guys saw the value in doing an album of those Paley tracks that would have appealed more to critics and the nerd/indie contingent of Brian/BB fans that was growing in numbers at the time. This was the era of rather stale live setlists and not much studio activity. I think they were a bit on autopilot.

What did they end up working on? "Stars and Stripes", a project where an outsider (Joe Thomas not coincidentally) kind of pushed the project forward as the main producer (and I'd guess Thomas had his label involved, so he was probably putting money up front for the project too?). This all circles back to previous conversations about what it takes to get Brian or BB projects out the door for better or worse. Joe Thomas put up money and was willing to run these projects, and they got done. I don't think Andy Paley (or apparently even Don Was, a somewhat more Thomas-like figure just from a logistical point of view) were able to just put up a full album concept and the money, while also seeming to appeal to all members and not seem like an interloper. Joe Thomas wasn't going to get any songwriting credits or royalties on "Stars and Stripes"; Andy Paley was going to theoretically be a co-writer on *all* of the "Paley Sessions" songs.
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« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2022, 08:16:52 AM »

To this day, I never understood what Carl's problem was...

I don't think we have anywhere near a full picture of Carl's opinion of the material. I don't believe he necessarily had a strong dislike for all of the material. All we really have is a bit of sketchy info that he didn't like the Don Was-produced backing track for "Soul Searchin'" (which we've never heard).

I think this mid-90s period with the Beach Boys and Brian (both separately and together) is still somewhat sketchy. I think there were still lingering issues with Brian's Landy period (and the fallout from his "autobiography"), and I think interpersonal issues and band politics sort of indirectly and directly impacted working the Paley sessions more than it was like an outright rejection of the actual songs/material.

In 1995, Brian hadn't been front and center leading a BB project in years, and was just in the process of doing the "Orange Crate Art" album (which he didn't write or produce) and the IJWMFTT film and soundtrack (which Brian didn't really produce on his own and had no original songs), so in the eyes of the band it was unclear if he could lead a project, and also whether they *wanted* that, whether they wanted to do another deal where Brian and an outside co-writer bring in all or most of the songs, and the guys just add vocals.

Recall as well that this was around the time (within a year or so) when the idea was thrown around to do a "Pet Sounds" tour with Brian and the band, and Carl supposedly didn't think Brian would be able to do it. Whether he was right or wrong at the time, or whether he was justified to feel that way or not, that speaks to how he and the band to some degree felt about having Brian as a heavy participant if not a leader on a project. I think they just felt unsure from a logistical point of view, and also the usual band politics colored things.

Mike and Brian's interactions at the "Soul Searchin'"/"You're Still a Mystery" vocal sessions speak to a weird antagonism that was still present. The band certainly was not just tripping over themselves running to Brian to service an album's worth of Brian/Andy songs.

That's not to say the material itself was not also a potential concern for some of them. Remember they were still doing stuff like the "Summer in Paradise" album, and you can see the material Carl worked on outside of the band at this time (the "Beckley/Lamm/Wilson" stuff) was very different. So I don't think some of the guys saw the value in doing an album of those Paley tracks that would have appealed more to critics and the nerd/indie contingent of Brian/BB fans that was growing in numbers at the time. This was the era of rather stale live setlists and not much studio activity. I think they were a bit on autopilot.

What did they end up working on? "Stars and Stripes", a project where an outsider (Joe Thomas not coincidentally) kind of pushed the project forward as the main producer (and I'd guess Thomas had his label involved, so he was probably putting money up front for the project too?). This all circles back to previous conversations about what it takes to get Brian or BB projects out the door for better or worse. Joe Thomas put up money and was willing to run these projects, and they got done. I don't think Andy Paley (or apparently even Don Was, a somewhat more Thomas-like figure just from a logistical point of view) were able to just put up a full album concept and the money, while also seeming to appeal to all members and not seem like an interloper. Joe Thomas wasn't going to get any songwriting credits or royalties on "Stars and Stripes"; Andy Paley was going to theoretically be a co-writer on *all* of the "Paley Sessions" songs.

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« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2022, 09:00:07 AM »

I think that what happened was relatively simple.
On one side, there were Brian Wilson, Andy Paley and maybe Don Was.
On the other side, the whole world, saying "Don't *mess* with the formula!"
Though, by then, nobody even knew or remembered what the heck the "formula" was.
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« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2022, 09:06:33 AM »

There was a lot more to this than what's on the surface, especially family issues that got hinted at in a published article from the time. But one incident stands out: Brian had invited the band to meet and listen to new songs he had been working on, and the band literally blew off the invitation and didn't show up. That, from a basic perspective of friends and family interacting with each other, was inexcusable. And I can totally see where Brian at some point - after other incidents too, some mentioned above - would just say "f**k these guys". And piecing together other info from various sources, the relationship between Brian and Carl at this exact time was strained to say the least. But like other episodes that get close to the core in the band's history, the depth of these matters will probably never be revealed, and we're left to piece together bits of info and reports that have come out.

 
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« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2022, 01:54:52 PM »

Controversial opinion time… Despite being a Wilson, Carl post-1983 seems to have a lot more in common with Mike than either of his brothers. Maybe it was Dennis’s loss,  maybe it was him being able to relate to Mike better after joining that cult, I dunno. All I do know is that the *real* band could’ve had one final great album but instead he sided with Mike. Honestly, I think if he’d had lived, we might not have gotten C50 barring a major thawing of relations. We might have had a case where the touring entities with Brian/Al vs Mike/Carl/Bruce. Who would be the “real” Beach Boys in that scenario?
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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2022, 06:31:55 PM »

Controversial opinion time… Despite being a Wilson, Carl post-1983 seems to have a lot more in common with Mike than either of his brothers. Maybe it was Dennis’s loss,  maybe it was him being able to relate to Mike better after joining that cult, I dunno. All I do know is that the *real* band could’ve had one final great album but instead he sided with Mike. Honestly, I think if he’d had lived, we might not have gotten C50 barring a major thawing of relations. We might have had a case where the touring entities with Brian/Al vs Mike/Carl/Bruce. Who would be the “real” Beach Boys in that scenario?
Well, we won't ever know, but relations had already been thawing from where their lowest point was (He was Brian's best man at his wedding to Melinda), and I think once Brian really showed that he was alright to do live touring again, Carl would've wanted to work with Brian, especially when everybody else was also enthusiastic about doing it. I guess we won't ever really know how that would go.
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« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2022, 06:32:35 PM »

I wonder if there's a good demo, studio quality, of "Where Has Love Been" with involvement by Andy.
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« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2022, 07:35:09 PM »

Controversial opinion time… Despite being a Wilson, Carl post-1983 seems to have a lot more in common with Mike than either of his brothers. Maybe it was Dennis’s loss,  maybe it was him being able to relate to Mike better after joining that cult, I dunno. All I do know is that the *real* band could’ve had one final great album but instead he sided with Mike. Honestly, I think if he’d had lived, we might not have gotten C50 barring a major thawing of relations. We might have had a case where the touring entities with Brian/Al vs Mike/Carl/Bruce. Who would be the “real” Beach Boys in that scenario?
Well, we won't ever know, but relations had already been thawing from where their lowest point was (He was Brian's best man at his wedding to Melinda), and I think once Brian really showed that he was alright to do live touring again, Carl would've wanted to work with Brian, especially when everybody else was also enthusiastic about doing it. I guess we won't ever really know how that would go.

They got married at the beginning of the year. Didn’t the falling out happen in the fall, when Carl said he was done? I can’t remember off the top of my head when the Uncut interview happened.
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« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2022, 11:10:37 AM »

Remember too, that Joe willingly took his name off TWGMTR as a co-producer and claimed a "recorded by" credit. He was willing to put that aside for the interest of political harmony in the group.

As for Don Was, I believe he ended up having a lot to do with getting No Pier Pressure out the door. He played bass on it and handled A&R, so both he and Joe appear to have collaborated there.
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« Reply #23 on: August 18, 2022, 09:57:19 PM »

I think a lot of feelings were hurt by Brian's "autobiography". Even knowing Landy was the real culprit, it had to hurt Mike and Carl reading how they were portrayed in that book - Mike as just an @$$hole, and Carl as a drunk.
I also  think Carl was a bit suspicious of Brian's new collaborators. Who are all these guys working with Brian now? What is their motivation?
I think it would have been a mistake to do a Beach Boys album that was essentially a Brian Wilson solo album with their voices on it. Oh yes, some of US would have loved it - but in the interest of social harmony, a better proposition would have been 5 or 6 Brian/Paley songs, a couple of Carl songs, something from Al, and something from Mike - hopefully better than Summer of Love or Still Surfin'.
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« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2022, 05:56:35 AM »

Somebody has called them "the greatest album that never was". The definition once reserved to SMiLE.
In any case, I think they deserve a treatment like the 2011 SMiLE Sessions, completed with a "reconstructed" album.
What do you think?


Considering what we got on that Long Promised Road soundtrack from that era, then the claims of greatness over most of these tracks are definitively false.  Sure, they represent a revival of some sorts in terms of Brian's creativity and there are a few good songs to come of it, but most of that material is kind of bland and forgettable.  And none of it warrants going into any kind of deep inspection. 
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