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Author Topic: What exactly happened with Joe Thomas?  (Read 6768 times)
♩♬🐸 Billy C ♯♫♩🐇
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« on: January 13, 2006, 09:30:00 PM »

What was the real deal concerning Brian/Melinda's fallout with Joe Thomas? I mean, I think that was a *good* thing, as he seemed rather slimy to me, plus the fact that he was not the best producer for Brian (an understatement on par with saying the Titanic hitting the iceberg wasn't the best possible outcome for that particular voyage). That said, the end seemed to happen abruptly, and little has come out (and if it did, I completely missed it). I mean, it must have been bad in order for it to go to court.

So, what's the deal?
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2006, 09:36:15 PM »

He didn't want to travel overseas with the band -- he wouldn't fly -- and he didn't really see eye to eye with Darian, who was rapidly gaining the ear and trust of BW and his folks, I think.

To say Thomas was all bad does him a disservice, I think. Imagination features some expertly produced vocals (arguably the best of Brian's solo career) and the co-writes on Lay Down Burden and a couple of others turned out pretty well, I thitnk.
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2006, 09:44:49 PM »

I tell you one thing though...it also features the WORST mix of any Brian release. Everything sounds so anemic, especially the drums. Somebody called it an 80s style of production. Uh-uh. If it had been done in the 80s, the drums wouldn't have sounded so weak, and the guitars would have had some bite. As it is, it sounds like a Fisher-Price(tm) style of production.
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2006, 09:51:27 PM »


To say Thomas was all bad does him a disservice, I think. Imagination features some expertly produced vocals (arguably the best of Brian's solo career) and the co-writes on Lay Down Burden and a couple of others turned out pretty well, I thitnk.

I totally agree with you. And if the production of the instrumental tracks was so bad, why didn't Brian say or do something about it. He is credited (along with Joe Thomas) as the producer and the arranger of the album.
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2006, 09:54:00 PM »

Because Brian has terrible taste at times.
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2006, 10:00:31 PM »

Brian hinted in several interviews that he just produced the vocals, much like on Stars & Stripes.

Heck in one issue of Open Sky, there was an interview with Paul Zallo where Brian basically disses the album. I don't have it nearby, but he said something on the lines of "It's not my kind of music at all-well, vocally it is" and implies what I said above.
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2006, 10:13:28 PM »

Yeah, Fear 2 Stop, I remember reading an article where Brian disses his 1988 solo album. He said something about not really liking the songs - which he wrote! I wonder if that's a trend with Brian? When he releases an album, he talks about how hard he worked on it, how proud he was of it, and that it's some of the best work he's ever done. Then, as time goes by...
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2006, 02:20:18 AM »

I think that had a lot to do with the situation he was in at the time...probably brings back bad memories. With Imagination, it sounded like he was geniunely displeased with the songs. Maybe AGD or someone can shed light on just how much input Brian had with the writing. My guess is "not much".
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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2006, 07:28:53 AM »

And if the production of the instrumental tracks was so bad, why didn't Brian say or do something about it. He is credited (along with Joe Thomas) as the producer and the arranger of the album.

I think that the key to this thought is what Ian said, that sometimes Brian has terrible taste. It isn't that the production is BAD, exactly, but more that it's in bad taste. It's yet another attempt at modernizing the sound at Brian Wilson, but it comes up with a too-late take on styles of music and production that had already fallen out of favor with most people by the late 90s. It sounds like nauseating, easy-listening adult contemporary music. That isn't to say that Brian ought to have gone metal or something, but just that it's like the easy way out in many cases. I agree with some of you that his vocals are better on this album than on some of the others, but the instrumental tracks are just disgusting. The guitar sounds, the keyboard sounds...ugh. They aren't bad--expertly played, of course. But it's just bad taste to do things that way. Listen to Lay Down Burden live, then on this disc. It's a difference in taste, and I strongly believe this one shows bad taste. Maybe it was Thomas', maybe Brian's, maybe both's. But it's rancid at times, and unfortunate.
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« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2006, 07:59:57 AM »

Imagination is not a cd that I like that much. I wish he was allowed to do the new cd he is working on without the EXPERT help that always seems to seek a chunk of credibility by being associated with Brian Douglas Wilson. Brian as well seems not to care as much about the final mixes he does.  Darian is a great person creatively for BW to work with.  I do agree that Brian still does beautiful vocal arrangements, though constantly comparing everything he does to yesterdays music is unfair and unhealthy for him. 
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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2006, 08:45:08 AM »

I don't know the man, but I know his production style, and I never liked it.

Just listen and compare these, from Brian's Christmas cd:
"Joy To The World" - Vocals arranged and sung by Brian, instruments & production by Joe Thomas
&
"Let Every Heart, Prepare Him Room"  - All produced & arranged & sung by Brian Wilson
(The last one is used as a tag after "The Man With All The Toys")

Although I like the result of "Joy To The World" (it's a highlight on the cd, because of the vocals), what Joe Thomas is playing on these keyboards.... he doesn't understand nothing of Brian's music... his notes are going nowhere... he seems to be improvising at random...it's an artistic LIE.... as is his production of the whole Imagination cd, all in this 'Joe Thomas' style.

Brian's "Let Every Heart, Prepare Him Room", allthough minimalistic and simple, is THE style.


 PS: did you know that Imagination is the least selling cd of Brian's solo cds? The public has ears too.
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2006, 08:51:04 AM »

Well, just like many producers and songwriters, there's many times they'll hear a final mix after the making of a record and be pleased with it at that time.  Then a few years later they're very disappointed in it.

Also keep in mind when you're playing the same songs everyday for months and you hear the mixes, your brain is tuned to hearing those songs and it's hard to decipher what a mix might sound good or not sound good in it's final product.   After your brain has rested from that assault of those same 12 songs rolling in your head everyday during it's making and production, the differences in what it could have been and what it really was become very simple to notice the difference.  You've had a break from it by then.

Probably why Brian's work during the 60's was so well done.  The technology was there for the sound he wanted, Spector was still around, he was young, prime age for being creative - it all worked in tandem.  Now with digital it's all instant, while the deadlien for completion isn't as sought after because BW's is no longer a Top 40 producer with his works laying on the line for Capitol.  Brian had to get cracking on the work back then.  He also wasn't medicated to the brim either, which I feel, does sometimes give his work, as Ian perfectly stated it, a "Fisher-Price Production".

Remember your ambitions are much greater at 24.  Hell, I'm 30 now and my ambitions for creativity are in much lesser amounts, unfortunately.  Not to compare my common-man self with the great Brian Wilson either.
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« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2006, 12:13:21 PM »

I believe Thomas was selected because "management" (Melinda most likely) thought the Adult Contemporary market might be a good option for Brian. Brian went along with it to an extent (he's seen calling some of the musical shots in the making- of-"Imagination" video), but started losing interest in the results. In one interview he gave right after the album's release, he hoped the public would like it as much as "Pet Sounds", but he himself thought it might have been improved with the inclusion of a couple of rockers (this was the start of Brian's "I'm gonna make a rock-and-roll album" statements). I don't think Brian was all that happy with the sound of the final product, but went along with it because it was going to be "good for his career". When the album didn't sell well (but his live "rocking" concerts were starting to take off), Brian wanted out of his contract with Thomas (who was signed for an additional album). This resulted in the lawsuit. There were some other sordid rumors regarding an affair and what-have-you that I won't bother to repeat.
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« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2006, 12:17:03 PM »

Actually, i came up witht he Fisher Price line Wink.

I never thought about the meds affecting his work before. Huh. Come to think of it, I just got through reading a book about Roxy Music, and it mentioned Bryan Ferry's severe insomnia, and how he started taking Halycon(sp?). Around that time, his music started becoming more "languid" (in the author's opinion).

Ferry is *another* notoriously difficult interviewee.
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« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2006, 01:00:34 PM »

I believe that GIOMH sold worse than Imagination. I think GIOMH is better, too, but it did not go as high on the charts.
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« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2006, 01:07:46 PM »

I think IJWMFTT sold worse than both of them.
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« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2006, 02:01:15 PM »

Brian went along with it to an extent (he's seen calling some of the musical shots in the making- of-"Imagination" video)

You really believe what's in that video ?
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♩♬🐸 Billy C ♯♫♩🐇
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« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2006, 02:23:44 PM »

That looked staged to me.

BTW...how "real" was the footage in the SMiLE doc?
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« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2006, 02:55:01 PM »


BTW...how "real" was the footage in the SMiLE doc?

Most of the footage looks pretty fake to me. The little pep talk Jeff gives the band "We're not trying to recreate Smile here...we're making the songs so they work in a live format..." -- that bit. PLEASE. As if the people in the band are the ones who needed any pep-talks...or as if they'd all have to crowd around Jeff for inspiration.
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« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2006, 10:57:28 PM »

Well, with Imagination there really wasn't a lot of syncopation. Also, Brian needed to work more on his Oooooohs and Ahhhhsssss. What do you expect, he had a couple of hits and it went right to his head.

 Wink
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« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2006, 07:59:53 AM »

Brian went along with it to an extent (he's seen calling some of the musical shots in the making- of-"Imagination" video)

You really believe what's in that video ?

Well, let's say I was trying to be generous. The fact that Brian flew to Chicago (after he had moved back to L.A.) to oversee the 5.1 surround mix of "Imagination" demonstrates that someone (perhaps even Brian himself) thought it was a good idea to keep Brian involved in the project. I have no doubt that Brian would defer to Thomas at all times during their years together; "Imagination" wouldn't sound like that if too many of Brian's ideas got through. In fact, I was disappointed that some of the excitement of the rough mixes heard on Steve Dahl's radio show was obliterated in the sound of the released version.
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« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2006, 01:51:36 PM »

Are the rough mixes anywhere to be heard? How do they sound? Any big differences to the released ones?
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« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2006, 03:57:18 PM »

Are the rough mixes anywhere to be heard? How do they sound? Any big differences to the released ones?

Back in '98 you could stream segments of Steve Dahl's radio show that featured the preview and interview with Brian; somebody might have those around. Specifically, I remember hearing the backing track to "South American" with the rocking piano way up in the mix; it sounded exciting even through the low quality streaming audio. I was disappointed when the album came out and the mix seemed so lifeless (that piano is barely audible now).
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