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678323 Posts in 27401 Topics by 4045 Members - Latest Member: reecemorgan January 27, 2023, 12:47:07 PM
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Author Topic: Carl's singing  (Read 1158 times)
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« on: January 10, 2023, 10:42:40 AM »

Well, I thought it would be time to have a thread for just gushing over Carl's singing. I will start with a couple of sometimes overlooked gems, you're free to add your choices.


I Was Made To Love Her: The Beach Boys cover Stevie Wonder. Carl takes this song away from the soul singing more into a straight forward Rock'n'Roll style, obviously influenced by Little Richard although with more restraint. The same could be said of his "Wild Honey" performance. And the guy was just 21 years old!

Friends: Interesting dynamics here as Carl sings the challenging melody at times in a soft voice and then again with a hardening voice. To sing those lyrics so that you can actually understand them yet keeping it swinging is not easy, I imagine.

Only With You (Live At Carnegie Hall): I use this "new" live version instead of the studio recording. Obviously Carl sings very soft. Listen to how he fades his voice in instead of attacking the notes directly. That way there are no spikes that hamper the mood. A short highlight is the moment his voce and the music track melt together at 1:52 ("yeah-e-yah it's true") underscored by the adding of reverb. Reminds me personall of some George Jones tracks.

Let The Wind Blow: Again a live version. I guess enough can't be said about how drastically the song was revamped from it's studio version. Carl shines, emphasizing moments like "but don't let her go", making them sound like a plea (which goes well together with Mike's introduction of the song starting out as a praer on the new Sail On sailor set). The song's tension finally gets resolved with the "let the wind blow, let the grass grow, let the moon glow on the falling snow" reprise at 3:11 with Carl's voice letting go all the restraint of before and just unleash all the desparation.

Darlin': I take the Knebworth version of this song. On the studio recording Carl sounded like he was ear his limits. In 1980 his voice had matured and evolved so much that he was able to get more out of the song. On the Knebworth version he just nailed it. There are other recordings from this year (maybe even from the same tour) that had him struggling with a couple of moments. But not here. He uses his gruff voice to great effect. My favorite moment is the  "You pick me up when I'm feelin' sad" part. That moment feels like it is beaming at you.

Young Blood: Just listen to those pronunciations and phrasings and how easily he lets his voice slide from one point to the other. Incredible. Don't think he ever did anything similar as a Beach Boy.

Island Girl: A great example of Carl's feeling for syncopatiom. He sings more nasally than usual and follows the song's carribean and Reggae feel. His phrasings are incredile. Listen to that little sob during "When I'm there" in the last verse and how he leans into the "lazy".

Remember "Walking in the Sand": The latter Beach Boys years are overlooked and unfortunately in many cases with good reasons. But it's still the Beach Boys so you can find a lot of good things, too. Naturally Carl's singing is one of them. Though affected by his decades long smoking habit Carl's voice lacks none of it's impressiveness. In fact the rougher regions add a lot. This song from "Summer in Paradise" is a great example. Carl's singing gives the song a dramatic edge that makes you feel the despair the protagonist finds himself in. Al and Carl's interplay makes you wonder what else would've been possible for the Boys in the 90s. This recording is a absolute highlight for me.




Well, I'll stop for now. I look forward to your opinions.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2023, 10:47:03 AM by Rocker » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2023, 12:35:37 PM »

I love all the examples you cited -- I am so thoroughly in love with that man's voice.

I'm adding "You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone" to the list, especially the live version -- Carl's singing has lots of grit and loads of expression, he's experimenting vocally, and comes closer to pure rock than ever here. I've been a fan of this song for a long time.

Also the chorus of "Goin' On," again especially the live version from Fridays. Holy cow -- Carl nails it with passion there!
« Last Edit: January 10, 2023, 12:37:53 PM by Emdeeh » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2023, 07:25:17 PM »

Fantastic idea for a thread! I agree with most of the above likes (and need to check out the ones I don't know).

One Carl vocal I return to often (that I rarely hear mentioned as a favorite) is Goin' South off of LA/Light Album. Something about the ache in his voice and the soft, wistful feeling of the song really speaks to me... and the song's theme of a guy who knows he needs to make changes but is seemingly unable to act, seems to speak poignantly to where Carl (and for that matter Dennis) was at that time. At times I swear I hear some echoes of Rick Danko's 1970s singing in Carl's vocal phrasings (think It Makes No Difference, for one) and wonder if that was intentional or not. Such a lovely little mood piece, atypical of the Beach Boys.

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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2023, 04:33:57 AM »

Great thread. I'll add a couple of later day Tunes where Carl really shines. Where I belong from Beach Boys 85 possibly the most overlooked greatest Beach Boys song of the latter part of their careers. Carl's vocals are magnificent as are the counter vocals by al. And if we're going to talk Summer in Paradise I would say Carl really shines the most on Lahaina aloha. His vocals carry that tune. What a great singer Carl Wilson was
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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2023, 06:35:09 AM »

His rip-roarin' take on the fast-tempo reading of "Darlin'" at the 1980 Knebworth concert is a highlight.  And of course his lead vocal on the first half of "Surf's Up" is operatic.  I liked his performance on "I Was Made To Love Her" even if it sounds like he's struggling a bit.
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2023, 08:15:07 PM »

I'm loving all of these songs. Off the top of my head I would just add one more. Carl's voice absolutely SOARS on "Like a Brother," the tribute to Brian that he recorded on the album of the same name with Robert Lamm and Gerry Beckley. It has always struck me as rather sad that in interviews done the years right after Carl's death Brian speaks of his loss in terms of losing a bandmate, while shortly before his death Carl recorded this song containing the lyrics "I love you still, like a brother." Gets me every time I hear it, especially that "Oh my brother" before the last chorus.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2023, 08:20:51 PM by patsy6 » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2023, 06:57:46 AM »

The live version of "Long Promised Road" on the "Good Vibrations" box set was an amazing vocal.
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2023, 08:15:14 AM »

I am one who enjoys his latter day vocals even more than the early days. Where I Belong, Soul Searchin, the live SOS on MIC, live GOK from Philadelphia 7-4-95, Caroline, No from the 93 box set tour, all of SOP (despite the material he and Al were monsters on that album). 
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2023, 11:19:50 AM »

SouthBay.....SPOT ON! Agree 100%
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2023, 12:13:27 PM »

Carl sounded great right through to the end, and his voice definitely changed over the years. I'd say about 1971 or 72 through to about 75 was perhaps the sweet spot. His voice had matured, but still had full range and was still pretty youthful.

He still sounded good in the 90s, but he did get a bit more gruff and bit more stuffy/congested sounding. I can't really claim a 90s take on GOK is *better* than like a '74 take, but they're all good. I do like some of the gruff flares he gave to some of the "Beckley Lamm Wilson" vocals (on top of very NOT gruff backing tracks!), or that '95 live take of "Sail on Sailor" on the MIC set.

His *voice* sounds great on his solo albums; the problem there is the bland material. Which is why I always point people to the live '81 soundboard recordings, because those sound much better than the studio album, with a lot more life injected into the material.

But geez, it doesn't get better than his isolated vocals on "The Trader" and "Only With You." Other worldly.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2023, 12:14:35 PM by HeyJude » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2023, 07:07:56 PM »

I don't hear a lot of change in his vocals over the years, other than his voice maturing in the late 60's. Carl's voice lifted so much mediocre material in later years. He makes Summer in Paradise worth listening to.
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2023, 07:58:38 AM »

Carl sounded great right through to the end, and his voice definitely changed over the years. I'd say about 1971 or 72 through to about 75 was perhaps the sweet spot. His voice had matured, but still had full range and was still pretty youthful.

He still sounded good in the 90s, but he did get a bit more gruff and bit more stuffy/congested sounding. I can't really claim a 90s take on GOK is *better* than like a '74 take, but they're all good. I do like some of the gruff flares he gave to some of the "Beckley Lamm Wilson" vocals (on top of very NOT gruff backing tracks!), or that '95 live take of "Sail on Sailor" on the MIC set.

His *voice* sounds great on his solo albums; the problem there is the bland material. Which is why I always point people to the live '81 soundboard recordings, because those sound much better than the studio album, with a lot more life injected into the material.

But geez, it doesn't get better than his isolated vocals on "The Trader" and "Only With You." Other worldly.

Excellent observations, Jude. As great as Brian is, and as hard-working as Mike is (and a top-notch, still-underrated singer), I just don't know where the band would've been if there had been no Carl--both as musician/singer and human being. Of all his great, great performances, I think that I revere his work on "The Trader" most of all--because it's his most ambitious and unusual songwriting effort, something that required him to use both sides of his singing talents, which he does brilliantly (and touchingly) throughout.
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« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2023, 01:02:27 PM »

Carl sounded great right through to the end, and his voice definitely changed over the years. I'd say about 1971 or 72 through to about 75 was perhaps the sweet spot. His voice had matured, but still had full range and was still pretty youthful.

He still sounded good in the 90s, but he did get a bit more gruff and bit more stuffy/congested sounding. I can't really claim a 90s take on GOK is *better* than like a '74 take, but they're all good. I do like some of the gruff flares he gave to some of the "Beckley Lamm Wilson" vocals (on top of very NOT gruff backing tracks!), or that '95 live take of "Sail on Sailor" on the MIC set.

His *voice* sounds great on his solo albums; the problem there is the bland material. Which is why I always point people to the live '81 soundboard recordings, because those sound much better than the studio album, with a lot more life injected into the material.

But geez, it doesn't get better than his isolated vocals on "The Trader" and "Only With You." Other worldly.

Excellent observations, Jude. As great as Brian is, and as hard-working as Mike is (and a top-notch, still-underrated singer), I just don't know where the band would've been if there had been no Carl--both as musician/singer and human being. Of all his great, great performances, I think that I revere his work on "The Trader" most of all--because it's his most ambitious and unusual songwriting effort, something that required him to use both sides of his singing talents, which he does brilliantly (and touchingly) throughout.
Amen.
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« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 05:26:43 PM »

The live version of "Long Promised Road" on the "Good Vibrations" box set was an amazing vocal.

You mean on Endless Harmony? It wasn't the '93 box set.
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« Reply #14 on: Today at 11:29:58 AM »

You're right, Endless Harmony. Great performance, with a cool, tongue-in-cheek intro from Dennis.
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