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Author Topic: Very Early Brian Solo Show - 1985  (Read 1060 times)
patsy6
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« on: January 23, 2023, 08:04:43 PM »

This just appeared on YouTube. It's just 15 minutes long, but fascinating, at least to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L1Eyy6NHGA
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juggler
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2023, 09:41:16 PM »

Good find.  It's interesting how good Brian's voice (both speaking and singing) sounds here.   The slurring that later coincided with Landy's meds hadn't kicked in yet.  The harshness that coincided with Brian's stint as a smoker in the late '70s and early '80s had almost completely disappeared by '85.  It's a shame that he seems to have gone back on the cigs for period in the '90s after being sprung from Landy's control.  Oddly, that 2nd stint as a smoker seems like it had bigger effect on his voice than the earlier one. I remember some fans being quite taken aback when the IJWMFTT soundtrack and Orange Crate Art dropped in '95.
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MyDrKnowsItKeepsMeCalm
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2023, 08:12:28 AM »

Very cool. His voice does sound great, wow. Thanks for the link!

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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2023, 09:47:32 AM »

Footage of this performance does also exist:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KkETZEUD_Q
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2023, 10:27:39 AM »

Ah, the Malibu Emergency Room show! That was one of the original solo Brian audio texts back in the early online days -- the mid- to late 1990s. At that point he hadn't toured as a solo artist, so there was only that audio and a handful of other TV appearances to listen to.

Of note about how he sounded here and into the early 1990s. I'm pretty sure Landy would pump him full of uppers before public appearances, so you would get this tweaking vibe, for want of a better word. You could even see it up to the IJWMFTT film. But it's not the same as saying Brian was healthy or cared for -- it simply means that a celebrity doctor knew how to make his patient look hyper-alert and aware. Most of BW's meds as of the mid-2000s had been switched to mood stabilizers, which likely improved his quality of life but made him quieter.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2023, 12:07:04 PM »

He certainly fares better on those early 85-86 solo bits than he did on that 1991 private show video that circulated, from near the end of the Landy era. That's the one where Don Was is in the backing band, and Brian plays "Surfin' USA" in a different key than the rest of the band for like the entire song.

But I can't say much of any of his pre-1999 "solo" appearances were particularly good. I think of course in the early days of Landy Part 2, folks were happy to see Brian in much better physical shape. But his appearances (including some of his appearances with the BBs) tended to be awkward, or wonky, or, yes, featuring Brian seemingly on some form of stimulant beyond the cups of coffee he would beg off Landy or Usher in the mid-80s.

I don't often take out his '76 SNL appearance, or his '88 talk show appearances, or his '98 Farm Aid appearance, etc.

On a lot of those gigs, if one thing seemed good, then something else would be off. He did "I Sleep Alone" at that VH1 show around '91, and it was interesting to see him do a new song like that, but his demeanor overall was even stranger near the end of the Landy era, for some obvious reasons I suppose.

And then there's the leather pants and "Night Time" with Dick Clark.....

Fans were understandably nervous when he started actually touring in 1999 for real. And I think a lot of fans got tickets because they thought the little strings of shows in 1999 would probably be the only chance to ever see him barring perhaps some sort of Beach Boys reunion.

It's crazy how different things shook out.
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Wirestone
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2023, 02:07:41 PM »

His affect deteriorated notably through the Landy years, to be sure. That entire situation became so fraught, and we really know so little about the 1989-1992 period. That’s when BW was almost entirely in the thrall of the surf nazi crew, and when I suspect lasting damage was done.

It’s remarkable how the solo tour came together, and really says something about the guys in the band, Joe Thomas, Melinda and Jeff Foskett as a support unit. They created an environment in which something magical could happen.
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BJL
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2023, 06:49:54 PM »

Very cool. His voice does sound great, wow. Thanks for the link!

Honestly, what strikes me is not how good his voice is, but how bad it is. I mean, I see what you all are saying, and we all know what was to come... but already in this performance, you are dealing with a performer who doesn't sound like he knows how to sing. His annunciation, phrasing, the slurring, the shouting. It's not nearly as bad as it would get, but it's just such a striking transformation from a) a person who was an incredibly gifted professional singer recording literally some of the greatest vocal performances of the pop era less 20 years before, and b) from the mid 70s, when his voice was damaged but he obviously could still sing normally, for lack of a better word. The comparison to Dennis is also interesting, because Dennis did even more damage to his range and vocal chords, but he never had even a hint of this kind of ... lack of control over the effect he was creating.

Also Youtube recommended this one, as well, which I don't think I'd seen before (though it was posted in 2013, so presumably old hat!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG9luwmrOAk
« Last Edit: January 25, 2023, 06:50:21 PM by BJL » Logged
HeyJude
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2023, 06:27:05 AM »

I think the main deal with that '85 show that you're hearing is Brian's normal "stage fright" (or "stage fright adjacent") issues, and as Wirestone mentioned, some form of uppers to jack him up to have plenty of energy and push through the stage fright. In a lot of Brian's solo appearances in the 80s, for whatever reason, Landy had Brian standing and *not* playing an instrument, which I would think would typically only amp up stage fright issues.

Also, I presume an unfavorable comparison between this '85 show and Brian's mid-late 70s voice is being made to his *studio* voice in the mid-late 70s. Because, if you listen to decent-sounding live recordings from 1976-1982 with the Beach Boys, Brian doesn't sound any more in control of his voice.

Which brings us to the crux of this, which is that Brian has always been able to, for lack of a better way to put it, get his sh*t together when doing studio vocals (or any non-live-on-stage situation), both by way of being more relaxed, and also through all the normal studio methods (comping, re-takes, by the 80s various forms of running vocals through synthesizers, etc.).

In the 1976 through early 90s time frame, when Brian *wasn't* on some kind of stimulant, you got the rather low-energy performances you see on many 1979/1980 performances. When you watch something like the '77 Maryland pro-shot show, Brian certainly appears to be coked out or on some kind of upper, and he doesn't sound super dissimilar there to how he sounds in this '85 live show. He's a little more loosey-goosey on that '77 show, less even-tempered and a little gruffer on the vocals. But you're hearing his singing through a bunch of filters. It's like smoker voice filtered through stage fright filtered through stimulants filtered through whatever was going on that day.

To be honest, I'm not really hearing so much a case of his sounding like he doesn't know how to sing on this '85 show. I think that's the meds and additional uppers, all pushing him past not only the stage fright, but past the ability to know or care how good he sounds. He's just doin' it and letting loose, and it sounds a little off the rails which he regularly did all through this era.

I think, even going back to the late 70s and early 80s (think something like the Carl-less '81/'82 shows in particular), Brian was conditioned to be there when he kinda didn't want to be, and had to kind of, at least on some level, not *care* how he sounded. It's the only explanation for something like him trying to sing "Don't Worry Baby" on that '81 tour. So maybe part of getting Brian through stage fright was via a shortcut of kind of forcing him to not care how good he sounded.
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BJL
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2023, 11:47:02 AM »

I think the main deal with that '85 show that you're hearing is Brian's normal "stage fright" (or "stage fright adjacent") issues, and as Wirestone mentioned, some form of uppers to jack him up to have plenty of energy and push through the stage fright. In a lot of Brian's solo appearances in the 80s, for whatever reason, Landy had Brian standing and *not* playing an instrument, which I would think would typically only amp up stage fright issues.

Also, I presume an unfavorable comparison between this '85 show and Brian's mid-late 70s voice is being made to his *studio* voice in the mid-late 70s. Because, if you listen to decent-sounding live recordings from 1976-1982 with the Beach Boys, Brian doesn't sound any more in control of his voice.

Which brings us to the crux of this, which is that Brian has always been able to, for lack of a better way to put it, get his sh*t together when doing studio vocals (or any non-live-on-stage situation), both by way of being more relaxed, and also through all the normal studio methods (comping, re-takes, by the 80s various forms of running vocals through synthesizers, etc.).

In the 1976 through early 90s time frame, when Brian *wasn't* on some kind of stimulant, you got the rather low-energy performances you see on many 1979/1980 performances. When you watch something like the '77 Maryland pro-shot show, Brian certainly appears to be coked out or on some kind of upper, and he doesn't sound super dissimilar there to how he sounds in this '85 live show. He's a little more loosey-goosey on that '77 show, less even-tempered and a little gruffer on the vocals. But you're hearing his singing through a bunch of filters. It's like smoker voice filtered through stage fright filtered through stimulants filtered through whatever was going on that day.

To be honest, I'm not really hearing so much a case of his sounding like he doesn't know how to sing on this '85 show. I think that's the meds and additional uppers, all pushing him past not only the stage fright, but past the ability to know or care how good he sounds. He's just doin' it and letting loose, and it sounds a little off the rails which he regularly did all through this era.

I think, even going back to the late 70s and early 80s (think something like the Carl-less '81/'82 shows in particular), Brian was conditioned to be there when he kinda didn't want to be, and had to kind of, at least on some level, not *care* how he sounded. It's the only explanation for something like him trying to sing "Don't Worry Baby" on that '81 tour. So maybe part of getting Brian through stage fright was via a shortcut of kind of forcing him to not care how good he sounded.

All of this is very insightful, thanks for taking the time to go through it.
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2023, 03:58:29 PM »

HeyJude and Wirestone, your posts never fail to be elucidative. Thank you sincerely for sharing your wealth of BB's insight.
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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2023, 02:08:29 AM »

Brian Wilson - Live in Los Angeles (January 28, 1991)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZsLSYUNvBs
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a diseased bunch of mo'fos if there ever was one… their beauty is so awesome that listening to them at their best is like being in some vast dream cathedral decorated with a thousand gleaming American pop culture icons.

- Lester Bangs on The Beach Boys


PRO SHOT BEACH BOYS CONCERTS - LIST


To sum it up, they blew it, they blew it consistently, they continue to blow it, it is tragic and this pathological problem caused The Beach Boys' greatest music to be so underrated by the general public.

- Jack Rieley
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