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Author Topic: The Wilson/Paley Sessions  (Read 12003 times)
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« Reply #175 on: September 12, 2022, 06:23:35 PM »

There are some standouts from the Wilson/Paley sessions, but I do think it's a bit romanticized among the fanbase. Even if the BB recorded those songs for an album in 1995, I really don't believe it would have fundamentally altered their career trajectory. Maybe some buzz in indie circles, maybe fleeting top 40; but I really don't see any of that material as chart topping material, even though there are some great songs present.

A few things to consider:

1) How much of these songs are Brian and how much are Andy with Brian being there?  I think Brian was more involved with this material than some of his later solo releases, but perhaps a lot of these songs were more written by Andy than Brian.

2) Carl had the right to be skeptical of Brian's ability to do an album. I'm sure many here have seen this Brian interview from 1995: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUHUGXDIhz0  This is the worst I've ever seen Brian. Overweight, chain-smoking, grimacing frequently, struggling to be coherent. I think this interview is one of the few times fans can see what Brian's mental illness is like behind scenes. Carl had already seen Brian get used and abused several times prior and probably felt that Brian couldn't produce an album again.

3) Melinda did not like the Paley material. She said it was good therapy but not something to be released. I disagree with that statement, but it's important to discuss in why this material was never completed back in the day. I'd much rather prefer this as an official release than Stars and Stripes or Imagination. They did re-record some of these songs, but done in the style of Joe Thomas.
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« Reply #176 on: September 12, 2022, 07:01:57 PM »

Right it is a complex issue….Brian was/is a quirky guy. I love Love You but it was not a commercial album. It’s a fascinating window into where Brian was at in 1976-77 and the guys were so scattered at the time that they basically let him make a solo album with little interference but they were not going to let him do Love You Part 2 in 1995. A quirky album was going to be made. The BBs in 1995 would micro manage Brian and I don’t think he works well in that setting.  Also I don’t think Melinda wanted a Love You part 2 and maybe Brian agreed…in 1998 they were looking to make a nice commercial record that sounded polished and professional, thus enter Joe Thomas. But I do recall Dianne Rovell’s comments on the A&E biography (I think it was her or Ginger BLake) that the Brian you heard was not the real Brian but a tamed Brian, something along those  lines.
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« Reply #177 on: September 12, 2022, 07:03:43 PM »

There are some standouts from the Wilson/Paley sessions, but I do think it's a bit romanticized among the fanbase. Even if the BB recorded those songs for an album in 1995, I really don't believe it would have fundamentally altered their career trajectory. Maybe some buzz in indie circles, maybe fleeting top 40; but I really don't see any of that material as chart topping material, even though there are some great songs present.

A few things to consider:

1) How much of these songs are Brian and how much are Andy with Brian being there?  I think Brian was more involved with this material than some of his later solo releases, but perhaps a lot of these songs were more written by Andy than Brian.

2) Carl had the right to be skeptical of Brian's ability to do an album. I'm sure many here have seen this Brian interview from 1995: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUHUGXDIhz0  This is the worst I've ever seen Brian. Overweight, chain-smoking, grimacing frequently, struggling to be coherent. I think this interview is one of the few times fans can see what Brian's mental illness is like behind scenes. Carl had already seen Brian get used and abused several times prior and probably felt that Brian couldn't produce an album again.

I think the weight went back on as soon as Landy was gone. The surf nazi's weren't around anymore to force Brian to exercise. And he started smoking again. It's pretty much what I expected after Gene was removed from Brian's life. Despite that, I think that interview is fascinating. I think this is the real Brian here - i don't see him struggling to be coherent. He seems very coherent here. He's giving much more than one or two word answers. The downside of being heavily medicated for depression, etc, is that you may be feeling LESS - instead of the intense emotional pain, you're just kind of (I can't believe I'm quoting this band) comfortably numb. I struggle with similar issues myself, and I don't know which is worse. I do think some incredible creativity can come out of intense emotions; but those feelings can also lead down a hole where the creativity dies because the person just feels too awful to do ANYTHING.
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« Reply #178 on: September 12, 2022, 07:07:29 PM »

Right it is a complex issue….Brian was/is a quirky guy. I love Love You but it was not a commercial album. It’s a fascinating window into where Brian was at in 1976-77 and the guys were so scattered at the time that they basically let him make a solo album with little interference but they were not going to let him do Love You Part 2 in 1995. A quirky album was going to be made. The BBs in 1995 would micro manage Brian and I don’t think he works well in that setting.  Also I don’t think Melinda wanted a Love You part 2 and maybe Brian agreed…in 1998 they were looking to make a nice commercial record that sounded polished and professional, thus enter Joe Thomas. But I do recall Dianne Rovell’s comments on the A&E biography (I think it was her or Ginger BLake) that the Brian you heard was not the real Brian but a tamed Brian, something along those  lines.
I can't really disagree with that statement. If a record company is going to invest a lot of money in recording Brian, they want something they believe they will get some return on, not Love You Volume 2 - I mean, Volume 1 didn't sell back in 1977, so why would they think a sequel would do any better in 1998? When you get into commercial record making, there's always going to be outside voices trying to steer you in the direction they want you to go. If you're not willing to play that game, just put your own weird stuff out on your own label and be willing to eat the cost of making it.
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« Reply #179 on: September 17, 2022, 06:12:36 PM »

Right-that is it exactly-Frank Zappa is that exactly-a quirky guy who just put out what he wanted to put out and sold just enough records to keep being allowed to make more but hardly ever bothered the record charts. Brian, however, was the leader of a very commercial/mainstream group and therefore he could only get away with a truly quirky statement like Love You once. No one around him would allow anything so raw out ever again. So Sweet Insanity was shelved and he was pushed in a more mainstream direction.  The question is whether Brian was sad about that and I guess that may never truly be known.  Whether 1998 Brian really loved the sound of Imagination or was just going through the motions and dreamed of doing wilder stuff like Sweet Insanity -I just cannot answer that.
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« Reply #180 on: September 17, 2022, 08:08:37 PM »

Brian had answered this question himself many a year ago: "It kills my soul."
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« Reply #181 on: September 17, 2022, 11:25:11 PM »

Right-that is it exactly-Frank Zappa is that exactly-a quirky guy who just put out what he wanted to put out and sold just enough records to keep being allowed to make more but hardly ever bothered the record charts. Brian, however, was the leader of a very commercial/mainstream group and therefore he could only get away with a truly quirky statement like Love You once. No one around him would allow anything so raw out ever again. So Sweet Insanity was shelved and he was pushed in a more mainstream direction.  The question is whether Brian was sad about that and I guess that may never truly be known.  Whether 1998 Brian really loved the sound of Imagination or was just going through the motions and dreamed of doing wilder stuff like Sweet Insanity -I just cannot answer that.
Well, I've only heard one version of Sweet Insanity - it's called the Millennium Edition - and other than Smart Girls, I don't think it's a totally left field album like Love You. Pretty commercial sounding, very polished and shiny. I think it's non-release probably had more to do with the label's dislike of Landy, and some of his lyrics.
I doubt it will ever get released - not as long as Melinda is around, anyway.
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« Reply #182 on: September 18, 2022, 01:01:02 PM »

Right-that is it exactly-Frank Zappa is that exactly-a quirky guy who just put out what he wanted to put out and sold just enough records to keep being allowed to make more but hardly ever bothered the record charts. Brian, however, was the leader of a very commercial/mainstream group and therefore he could only get away with a truly quirky statement like Love You once. No one around him would allow anything so raw out ever again. So Sweet Insanity was shelved and he was pushed in a more mainstream direction.  The question is whether Brian was sad about that and I guess that may never truly be known.  Whether 1998 Brian really loved the sound of Imagination or was just going through the motions and dreamed of doing wilder stuff like Sweet Insanity -I just cannot answer that.

 Considering what he said about the sessions in his book, along with contemporary interviews he made, Brian’s thoughts on Imagination are pretty much known at this point. I think that lawsuit to end the business relationship with Brian and Thomas probably stemmed a lot from his feelings on the album and (probably even more so) the type of promotion done for it. Once Thomas was gone, you never saw Brian on CMT again, or anything to do with the country scene again. The difference between in demeanor for the earlier shows (and the first incarnation of the band ) and a year later is night and day, and not just because Brian got more comfortable on stage.

In retrospect that was a very strange period.
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« Reply #183 on: September 18, 2022, 01:15:34 PM »

Right-that is it exactly-Frank Zappa is that exactly-a quirky guy who just put out what he wanted to put out and sold just enough records to keep being allowed to make more but hardly ever bothered the record charts. Brian, however, was the leader of a very commercial/mainstream group and therefore he could only get away with a truly quirky statement like Love You once. No one around him would allow anything so raw out ever again. So Sweet Insanity was shelved and he was pushed in a more mainstream direction.  The question is whether Brian was sad about that and I guess that may never truly be known.  Whether 1998 Brian really loved the sound of Imagination or was just going through the motions and dreamed of doing wilder stuff like Sweet Insanity -I just cannot answer that.

 Considering what he said about the sessions in his book, along with contemporary interviews he made, Brian’s thoughts on Imagination are pretty much known at this point. I think that lawsuit to end the business relationship with Brian and Thomas probably stemmed a lot from his feelings on the album and (probably even more so) the type of promotion done for it. Once Thomas was gone, you never saw Brian on CMT again, or anything to do with the country scene again. The difference between in demeanor for the earlier shows (and the first incarnation of the band ) and a year later is night and day, and not just because Brian got more comfortable on stage.

In retrospect that was a very strange period.
What did he say about the sessions in his book?
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« Reply #184 on: September 19, 2022, 07:25:04 AM »

According to one session musician on Imagination, he never saw Brian at any of the sessions he played on. Apparently Brian was  ‘ unwell ‘. 
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« Reply #185 on: September 19, 2022, 12:07:19 PM »

Think being thrown right from Landy to Imagination. For a creative artist like Brian. Terrible.
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« Reply #186 on: September 19, 2022, 12:14:21 PM »

Right-that is it exactly-Frank Zappa is that exactly-a quirky guy who just put out what he wanted to put out and sold just enough records to keep being allowed to make more but hardly ever bothered the record charts. Brian, however, was the leader of a very commercial/mainstream group and therefore he could only get away with a truly quirky statement like Love You once. No one around him would allow anything so raw out ever again. So Sweet Insanity was shelved and he was pushed in a more mainstream direction.  The question is whether Brian was sad about that and I guess that may never truly be known.  Whether 1998 Brian really loved the sound of Imagination or was just going through the motions and dreamed of doing wilder stuff like Sweet Insanity -I just cannot answer that.

 Considering what he said about the sessions in his book, along with contemporary interviews he made, Brian’s thoughts on Imagination are pretty much known at this point. I think that lawsuit to end the business relationship with Brian and Thomas probably stemmed a lot from his feelings on the album and (probably even more so) the type of promotion done for it. Once Thomas was gone, you never saw Brian on CMT again, or anything to do with the country scene again. The difference between in demeanor for the earlier shows (and the first incarnation of the band ) and a year later is night and day, and not just because Brian got more comfortable on stage.

In retrospect that was a very strange period.
What did he say about the sessions in his book?

Basically said he “wasn’t sure” about the production choices Thomas did, and how he heard more of him (Thomas) than himself and how he felt control was taken away from him.
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« Reply #187 on: September 19, 2022, 12:20:32 PM »

And some of you (not you Billy), always guessing that Andy Paley, Scott Bennett, even Joe Thomas (!!!) actually composed many of his songs.
Ableism to 10000000000000000000000000000000%.
Brian is the greatest songwriter in the world, but he has mental problems and answers yes and no in interviews. So he can't be the real composer, right? It must have been that famous songwriter, Joe Thomas. Or whoever.
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« Reply #188 on: September 20, 2022, 12:32:23 PM »

Think being thrown right from Landy to Imagination. For a creative artist like Brian. Terrible.
But he wasn't thrown right from Landy to Joe Thomas. In between, there was Don Was, Van Dyke Parks, Andy Paley...lots of stuff going on in those years between Sweet Insanity to Imagination.
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« Reply #189 on: September 20, 2022, 01:05:16 PM »

And some of you (not you Billy), always guessing that Andy Paley, Scott Bennett, even Joe Thomas (!!!) actually composed many of his songs.
Ableism to 10000000000000000000000000000000%.
Brian is the greatest songwriter in the world, but he has mental problems and answers yes and no in interviews. So he can't be the real composer, right? It must have been that famous songwriter, Joe Thomas. Or whoever.

Brian's always wanted a collaborator, and he's always brought out the absolute best that his collaborators had to offer. It seems like one of the most important things for Brian was to work with someone who didn't have a strong ego about it, and that this is partially, perhaps, what led him to collaborate with so many unknowns in the 60s, and someone like Joe Thomas in the 90s (and what made working with Mike so hard). But as a creative mind Brian is just such a dominant force that it is blindingly obvious that his collaborations are all Brian Wilson songs, and that when they fail it's up to what Brian brought to the table, not the collaborator. Imagination is a deeply flawed record but so many of those songs are catchy as hell. If Joe Thomas could write hooks like that without Brian Wilson sitting next to him, he'd have done it. And if Brian had cared about how the backing tracks sounded, he'd probably have shown up to the sessions. Basically, I agree with you completely. Brian has had a lot of problems over the years and a lot of struggles, but in the big picture, it's pretty clear that, with the exception of Landy, who really exercised extreme psychological control methods, the buck has stopped with Brian. He's responsible for the sound of his music, both when you like it and when you don't, and Love You or Paley are not *more* Brian or *more* authentic, they're just a direction Brian pursued at one moment, and at other moments he pursued other directions, and sometimes he was hands on and sometimes he was hands off, by choice.
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« Reply #190 on: September 20, 2022, 02:54:38 PM »

Remember that comment made by Brian about Mike during the 1996 sessions? Something like "Do we need to get you a damn Maharishi robe to get this damn vocal?"? Maybe that gives a clue about how much Brian may have been in control and calling the shots back then. Just a thought.
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« Reply #191 on: September 21, 2022, 06:02:29 AM »

Think being thrown right from Landy to Imagination. For a creative artist like Brian. Terrible.
But he wasn't thrown right from Landy to Joe Thomas. In between, there was Don Was, Van Dyke Parks, Andy Paley...lots of stuff going on in those years between Sweet Insanity to Imagination.

Right, but it all ended in Imagination. Sad
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« Reply #192 on: September 21, 2022, 06:35:11 AM »

I have a lot more to say about this and Brian's agency as a songwriter and record maker in the "solo" era. There are no clear-cut, easy answers about characterizing who was more or less involved.

But it's clear Brian has not always been the prominent voice in his songwriting and record production. Sometimes by choice, sometimes by necessity, sometimes by the simple organic evolution of a given collaboration.

But read McParland's "The Wilson Tapes" about Brian's work with Gary Usher in 86/87. Yes, that is during the Landy era and yes, Landy's abusive role in Brian's life and career at that point did color *everything* about the work Brian did with Usher. But, you can also clearly see that Brian, all on his own, *needed* help both on the writing and arrangement/production fronts. Usher paints a very blunt, yet also very sympathetic picture of this in the book. I think Usher knew Brian needed help, but he was not of the mind that Brian was now incapable of all of the things he had done in the past. He was simply rusty, and even at that point already addled as well by Landy's medication. The only area where Usher feels Brian lacks an innate ability was Brian's lack of commercial instincts, and I think Usher was clearly correct as it pertains to the 1986 pop music landscape. And, I think while Usher was a great therapeutic force for Brian to dust off the cobwebs and get into writing and recording shape, and Usher seemed like a truly kindly, warm person, Usher also didn't have the songwriting chops nor commercial instincts either. Which is one of many reasons the Usher sessions went mostly unreleased.

I think Brian's solo career and process was refined by the time Landy was gone and he started doing stuff again in the mid 90s. I think Brian still had a lot of help (again, out of necessity and by choice, and by simple momentum of his collaborations), but he had more sympathetic and savvy collaborators that, for lack of a better way to put it, understood Brian's deal. They understood both the hands-on implications of working with Brian, and also understood the internal and external political climate surrounding Brian (and the BBs where applicable). I think it's fair to say that "Produced by Brian Wilson" meant something different in the 2000s than it did in 1964, or even 1977. And, I think a "Wilson/Paley" or "Wilson/Thomas" or "Wilson/Bennett" songwriting situation was not always the same set up as  "Wilson/Asher" or "Wilson/Love", etc.

I think, certainly during these eras of his solo career, Brian *could have* done an "all Brian" album. Brian writing new stuff and playing it on a piano, The End. An album of "Message Mans." I would have loved this. So it's not a question of Brian's potential or ability.

But, also, to say that Brian could write a song by himself doesn't mean he then never *needed* help to write stuff as well. The issue of choice versus necessity is murky. I think he *chose* to collaborate when he didn't need to sometimes, and also *chose* to work with folks because that's what he needed.

I think there are songs in Brian's solo catalog that are more from the pen of his collaborators than Brian. To say this is not to impugn Brian's songwriting ability. Many collaborative situations are not two people writing stuff 50/50 from scratch. And, it's not blasphemous to say that *sometimes*, even when Brian did do a face-to-face collaboration, that the other person dominated for a variety of reasons. I know Jeff Lynne's work well,  and "Let It Shine" is not a 50/50 situation. That song is 80-90% Jeff Lynne. And when a song is good, it's good! Sometimes that's fine. Other times, we want pure Brian, and we got it sometimes as well.
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« Reply #193 on: September 21, 2022, 06:36:10 AM »

And some of you (not you Billy), always guessing that Andy Paley, Scott Bennett, even Joe Thomas (!!!) actually composed many of his songs.
Ableism to 10000000000000000000000000000000%.
Brian is the greatest songwriter in the world, but he has mental problems and answers yes and no in interviews. So he can't be the real composer, right? It must have been that famous songwriter, Joe Thomas. Or whoever.

Brian's always wanted a collaborator, and he's always brought out the absolute best that his collaborators had to offer. It seems like one of the most important things for Brian was to work with someone who didn't have a strong ego about it, and that this is partially, perhaps, what led him to collaborate with so many unknowns in the 60s, and someone like Joe Thomas in the 90s (and what made working with Mike so hard). But as a creative mind Brian is just such a dominant force that it is blindingly obvious that his collaborations are all Brian Wilson songs, and that when they fail it's up to what Brian brought to the table, not the collaborator. Imagination is a deeply flawed record but so many of those songs are catchy as hell. If Joe Thomas could write hooks like that without Brian Wilson sitting next to him, he'd have done it. And if Brian had cared about how the backing tracks sounded, he'd probably have shown up to the sessions. Basically, I agree with you completely. Brian has had a lot of problems over the years and a lot of struggles, but in the big picture, it's pretty clear that, with the exception of Landy, who really exercised extreme psychological control methods, the buck has stopped with Brian. He's responsible for the sound of his music, both when you like it and when you don't, and Love You or Paley are not *more* Brian or *more* authentic, they're just a direction Brian pursued at one moment, and at other moments he pursued other directions, and sometimes he was hands on and sometimes he was hands off, by choice.

BJL, I think you nailed this. And yes, I don't think that Smiley Smile, Love You or the WP sessions are the only "authentic" Brian. It's simply the Brian I prefer, the one I consider almost consistently great. The "mellower" Brian, after Pet Sounds, has been more hit and miss, imho.
That's the reason the Long Promised Road soundtrack has been such a nice surprise for me.
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« Reply #194 on: September 23, 2022, 09:28:44 PM »

Carl had the right to be skeptical of Brian's ability to do an album. I'm sure many here have seen this Brian interview from 1995: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUHUGXDIhz0  This is the worst I've ever seen Brian. Overweight, chain-smoking, grimacing frequently, struggling to be coherent. I think this interview is one of the few times fans can see what Brian's mental illness is like behind scenes. Carl had already seen Brian get used and abused several times prior and probably felt that Brian couldn't produce an album again.

Seeing this interview, I can absolutely see how Carl didn't want Brian to do a Pet Sounds tour. You see how Brian is completely twitching for about eight seconds as the interviewer is asking his question. Eight seconds might not seem like a long time, but that would be an eternity for someone in the middle of singing I Just Wasn't Made For These Times. Except for his worst substance abusing days in 1977-78, Carl was always protective of how everyone performed onstage, and definitely wouldn't have wanted Brian to embarrass himself.

As for what Brian was saying in the interview, he seemed to be pretty on-point, and was very complimentary toward Carl. It seems like with Carl's encouragement and support -- remember, he was the guy who basically produced Holland -- they could have gotten an album out, and maybe eased Brian back into the band onstage.

I think Brian and Carl would have gotten closer had Carl lived. Landy obviously poisoned Brian's mind about Carl, and Carl had to be hurt hearing the words come out of Brian's mouth, even if he knew intellectually it was really Landy talking.

By 1998, when actual good, caring doctors had begun to undo Landy's damage and more time had passed, I think the Wilson brothers would have grown closer again. Maybe there would have been a Pet Sounds tour with the Boys.
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« Reply #195 on: September 23, 2022, 09:41:19 PM »

And some of you (not you Billy), always guessing that Andy Paley, Scott Bennett, even Joe Thomas (!!!) actually composed many of his songs.
Ableism to 10000000000000000000000000000000%.
Brian is the greatest songwriter in the world, but he has mental problems and answers yes and no in interviews. So he can't be the real composer, right? It must have been that famous songwriter, Joe Thomas. Or whoever.

Brian's always wanted a collaborator, and he's always brought out the absolute best that his collaborators had to offer. It seems like one of the most important things for Brian was to work with someone who didn't have a strong ego about it, and that this is partially, perhaps, what led him to collaborate with so many unknowns in the 60s, and someone like Joe Thomas in the 90s (and what made working with Mike so hard). But as a creative mind Brian is just such a dominant force that it is blindingly obvious that his collaborations are all Brian Wilson songs, and that when they fail it's up to what Brian brought to the table, not the collaborator. Imagination is a deeply flawed record but so many of those songs are catchy as hell. If Joe Thomas could write hooks like that without Brian Wilson sitting next to him, he'd have done it. And if Brian had cared about how the backing tracks sounded, he'd probably have shown up to the sessions. Basically, I agree with you completely. Brian has had a lot of problems over the years and a lot of struggles, but in the big picture, it's pretty clear that, with the exception of Landy, who really exercised extreme psychological control methods, the buck has stopped with Brian. He's responsible for the sound of his music, both when you like it and when you don't, and Love You or Paley are not *more* Brian or *more* authentic, they're just a direction Brian pursued at one moment, and at other moments he pursued other directions, and sometimes he was hands on and sometimes he was hands off, by choice.

BJL, I think you nailed this. And yes, I don't think that Smiley Smile, Love You or the WP sessions are the only "authentic" Brian. It's simply the Brian I prefer, the one I consider almost consistently great. The "mellower" Brian, after Pet Sounds, has been more hit and miss, imho.
That's the reason the Long Promised Road soundtrack has been such a nice surprise for me.

I think this is absolutely spot on. We may disagree on what we like, but I think nearly everything released under Brian's name as a solo artist has _something_ distinctive from him in it. It's really just how he approached the collaboration and what folks' individual tastes are. I find a lot to enjoy in most projects, but I acknowledge that the easy-listening BW isn't to everyone's taste (although also something he's done for a long time, going back to his Four Freshmen fandom).
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« Reply #196 on: Yesterday at 12:09:07 PM »

And some of you (not you Billy), always guessing that Andy Paley, Scott Bennett, even Joe Thomas (!!!) actually composed many of his songs.
Ableism to 10000000000000000000000000000000%.
Brian is the greatest songwriter in the world, but he has mental problems and answers yes and no in interviews. So he can't be the real composer, right? It must have been that famous songwriter, Joe Thomas. Or whoever.

Brian's always wanted a collaborator, and he's always brought out the absolute best that his collaborators had to offer. It seems like one of the most important things for Brian was to work with someone who didn't have a strong ego about it, and that this is partially, perhaps, what led him to collaborate with so many unknowns in the 60s, and someone like Joe Thomas in the 90s (and what made working with Mike so hard). But as a creative mind Brian is just such a dominant force that it is blindingly obvious that his collaborations are all Brian Wilson songs, and that when they fail it's up to what Brian brought to the table, not the collaborator. Imagination is a deeply flawed record but so many of those songs are catchy as hell. If Joe Thomas could write hooks like that without Brian Wilson sitting next to him, he'd have done it. And if Brian had cared about how the backing tracks sounded, he'd probably have shown up to the sessions. Basically, I agree with you completely. Brian has had a lot of problems over the years and a lot of struggles, but in the big picture, it's pretty clear that, with the exception of Landy, who really exercised extreme psychological control methods, the buck has stopped with Brian. He's responsible for the sound of his music, both when you like it and when you don't, and Love You or Paley are not *more* Brian or *more* authentic, they're just a direction Brian pursued at one moment, and at other moments he pursued other directions, and sometimes he was hands on and sometimes he was hands off, by choice.

BJL, I think you nailed this. And yes, I don't think that Smiley Smile, Love You or the WP sessions are the only "authentic" Brian. It's simply the Brian I prefer, the one I consider almost consistently great. The "mellower" Brian, after Pet Sounds, has been more hit and miss, imho.
That's the reason the Long Promised Road soundtrack has been such a nice surprise for me.

I think this is absolutely spot on. We may disagree on what we like, but I think nearly everything released under Brian's name as a solo artist has _something_ distinctive from him in it. It's really just how he approached the collaboration and what folks' individual tastes are. I find a lot to enjoy in most projects, but I acknowledge that the easy-listening BW isn't to everyone's taste (although also something he's done for a long time, going back to his Four Freshmen fandom).

I would also add that compared to his own work, Imagination can come off as bland. But compared to the music that the audience that he was trying to reach with that album? It’s extremely odd and quirky compared to what Adult Contemporary was playing in 1998. Celine Dion’s music didn’t sound as idiosyncratic as Imagination.  That’s probably a reason why it didn’t really click: too slick for the Brian fans who love Pet Sounds, SMiLE, and the Brother era. But also too damn weird for the Celine Dion crowd even after making concessions to that audience.
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« Reply #197 on: Yesterday at 11:37:53 PM »

Carl had the right to be skeptical of Brian's ability to do an album. I'm sure many here have seen this Brian interview from 1995: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUHUGXDIhz0  This is the worst I've ever seen Brian. Overweight, chain-smoking, grimacing frequently, struggling to be coherent. I think this interview is one of the few times fans can see what Brian's mental illness is like behind scenes. Carl had already seen Brian get used and abused several times prior and probably felt that Brian couldn't produce an album again.

Seeing this interview, I can absolutely see how Carl didn't want Brian to do a Pet Sounds tour. You see how Brian is completely twitching for about eight seconds as the interviewer is asking his question. Eight seconds might not seem like a long time, but that would be an eternity for someone in the middle of singing I Just Wasn't Made For These Times. Except for his worst substance abusing days in 1977-78, Carl was always protective of how everyone performed onstage, and definitely wouldn't have wanted Brian to embarrass himself.

As for what Brian was saying in the interview, he seemed to be pretty on-point, and was very complimentary toward Carl. It seems like with Carl's encouragement and support -- remember, he was the guy who basically produced Holland -- they could have gotten an album out, and maybe eased Brian back into the band onstage.

I think Brian and Carl would have gotten closer had Carl lived. Landy obviously poisoned Brian's mind about Carl, and Carl had to be hurt hearing the words come out of Brian's mouth, even if he knew intellectually it was really Landy talking.

By 1998, when actual good, caring doctors had begun to undo Landy's damage and more time had passed, I think the Wilson brothers would have grown closer again. Maybe there would have been a Pet Sounds tour with the Boys.
I think that's a great interview with Brian. He's talkative, he has things to say, he's real.
I think the way to do Pet Sounds in the 90's would have been for the guys to share the lead vocals - as they had been doing live for many years. Carl or Al singing Wouldn't it Be Nice - and on a good night, like Live Aid 1985, Brian. Al singing You Still Believe in Me. Carl singing Caroline, No. Don't put all the pressure on Brian, if that's what Carl was worried about.
Yeah, I'd like to think Brian and Carl would have grown closer if Carl had been around longer.
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« Reply #198 on: Today at 02:22:16 PM »

I think that the impossibility of replicating Pet Sounds, and the religious cult of it as an unreachable totem, damaged Brian more than not completing SMiLE. He managed to stop working on SMiLE, but could not undo Pet Sounds, and so has had to carry that weight since then.
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« Reply #199 on: Today at 03:21:32 PM »

That is a very good point. And remember, SMiLE was intended to “beat” Pet Sounds (and Good Vibrations), which was an incredibly high bar to clear. It created possibly unreasonable expectations for Brian to overcome
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