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678391 Posts in 27405 Topics by 4045 Members - Latest Member: reecemorgan February 04, 2023, 03:55:45 AM
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1  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Does Brian Wilson still give concerts? on: February 01, 2023, 01:18:26 PM
I think it's probably better all around to *not* make a big announcement of some sort of retirement. It doesn't really help much of anything, and it's not like there are still ticket holders waiting to find out if their show is canceled. It would just invite another negative spin news cycle.

I would imagine one likely scenario is that they realize Brian's not going to be doing like "on the road" touring, but they don't want to close the door on anything and everything, so why announce anything?

I don't think fans need more closure than what we have. I mean, I think we'd all like to see some video or something that hopefully shows Brian in good spirits and generally good overall health all things considered.

As has been discussed on many threads, both the BBs as a group and Brian solo have HUNDREDS of studio and live tracks in the vaults that could still be released to continue "the story" so to speak. And I don't know that the door is 100% closed on Brian cutting stuff in the studio.
2  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: New Tidbit on the Televised Beach Boys Tribute Concert on: February 01, 2023, 01:12:58 PM
I bow to nobody in my love for Paul McCartney and his music. He's like THE guy, of all time. I've studied every nook and cranny of his career, of his life.  Defended him *here* many times to the most die-hard BB/Brian fans who from time to time have some weird hang-up about the Beatles.

But his voice has been in very rough shape for a number of years now, certainly the last decade give or take. It's indeed a totally different deal from Brian's issues over the years; it's difficult to compare too much.

But listen to Howie's Fabcast Beatles podcast; they talk about McCartney's voice in a very honest, direct way, but as die hard fans and scholars of the man. It's kind of like criticizing your kid; you're allowed to do it, but it's not so great coming from others, especially non-fans. I feel I can be pretty blunt about Paul's voice because I've listened to it and studied it and admired it since I could listen to music. And I've stuck with him and his voice though many, many, many ups and downs.

I'm pretty much in the same boat as the Fabcast guys. It's *heartbreaking* what has happened to Paul's voice. Yes, yes, of course he still can command an arena, a stadium, all of that. That's how amazing his music is, and how energetic he still is. And his voice even now can be fit into certain material better than others. As fans have pointed out, it's actually the throat-shredders like "Helter Skelter" and "I've Got a Feeling" that, these days, are more palatable in concert compared to him trying to sing like "Maybe I'm Amazed."

But I remember listening to that "In the Blink of an Eye" track Paul released several years back, and I was depressed for the rest of the day. It had reached a stage where Paul couldn't even rescue the voice in the studio.

Again, I bow to nobody in my love for the man and the musician/singer/writer. And some things still sound better than others. And, I don't even really think too much about trying to figure out exactly *why* his voice has deteriorated so much beyond the normal aging process, or how much we're like supposed to "blame" him for it. Smoking a million pounds of weed for decade after decade didn't help. But I also think some medical or medical-adjacent issues have come into play as well. And I do think "McCartney III" shows him finally starting to figure out how to work with his voice a bit better.

I was kind of just riffing previously about Paul being at this BB tribute show. I do think he could be paired with a good song. Not "God Only Knows." But something.
3  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: New Tidbit on the Televised Beach Boys Tribute Concert on: February 01, 2023, 10:00:46 AM
Yeah, I'm sure if McCartney did show up, the point would be to do a Beach Boys song.

I'm not even sure I'd want to see McCartney on a show like this. He didn't sound so great singing "God Only Knows" at that benefit show with Brian back in 2000-whatever. I do think his current voice (read: not in good shape at all) could still be matched to a good song though.

But not landing a McCartney-type for this show is I suppose more just a bit emblematic of either not seeking out "legacy artists" or other contemporaries of the BBs, and/or not having the clout/pull to get such acts.

Knowing what I know, I think they probably had to bust their asses to get what they *did* get for this show. Like, that was probably achieved by a lot of last-minute cajoling and horse trading.
4  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: New Tidbit on the Televised Beach Boys Tribute Concert on: January 31, 2023, 06:53:03 AM
Iím actually most impressed with the team behind this, and looking at a few of the previous tributes, the high standard of production. Artists aside, this should be a class act.

*Ken Ehrlich Productions has been the leading production company in Los Angeles and produces Television, Specials, series and events for over 40 years. We have produced the Annual Grammy Awards, Emmy Awards and Concert specials. We have also produced events like the Obama Presidency fund raisers to the Women's Cancer Research Fund gala. Additionally, we have produced and directed Las Vegas residencies for Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and John Fogerty. Our clients include CBS, NBC, ABC along with artists from Celine Dion, The Rolling Stones, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez to name a few.*

I have no reason to doubt the production values will be just fine as far as these type of TV specials go. I mean, there's a point at which it's less a resume and more like evidence of a kind of cookie-cutter, assembly-line, sausage-making sort of thing with all of these shows.

But I've never assumed there would be any problems with the nuts-and-bolts in terms of production values. I'm sure the camera work and set design and all of that will be fine (probably, I mean I do think it was kind of weird on that Beatles Grammy tribute to have the "house band" on a second stage off to the side instead of behind the performers).

Their TV show production resume is fine. Their resume when it comes to the Beach Boys is close to zip. I don't complain too much about this, because it's not like there's a BRI in-house team that regularly produces Beach Boys tribute shows that they can go to. *But*, there are folks at BRI and others who could certainly help them make this thing a little more special. I sense this is going to be that 2012 round-robin Beach Boys "tribute" from the actual Grammy show, just minus the actual Beach Boys. In other words, and again I don't expect otherwise, but these shows are not for fans. They're for the same people who would watch the actual Grammy awards telecast, who might be hearing "You're So Good To Me" or whatever for the first time.

My only wish for these things is less about getting cover artists *I* want, and just about making the thing a little more "Concert for George" than the Beach Boys 25th Anniversary special in terms of gravitas and esteem and tone. I don't sense this upcoming show will be such an event. The fact that a Beach Boys "reunion" is likely past its expiration date makes me less interested of course. But of course I'll watch, and if any artists pick cool songs or do a good job, I'll be happy to say so.
5  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Carl Wilson Interview (May 27, 1983) on: January 30, 2023, 10:52:04 AM
The Beach Boys had gone arguably at least sporadically unscathed in the press, or unnoticed is perhaps a better way to put it. This obviously had pros and cons, but one of the only pros of the press not caring in, say, the early 80s, was that some of the dark/messy/uncomfortable stuff kind of went unnoticed (playing Sun City in 1981 being one of the most obvious).

*Then*, the Gaines book came. The Leaf book in '77 and '85 was not exactly appreciated by some if not most of the non-Brian Beach Boys either, but certainly the Gaines book got into much more messy, specific stuff, and perhaps most noteworthy the '78 Australia episode. However obvious or not it was to readers at the time, it's clear they were working from an *actual recording* of the episode (at least the confrontation/punch part of it), and I'm sure that not only were Carl and the other guys probably mortified by the Gaines book in general, but Carl got to be singled out with excruciating and specific detail concerning one of the rare, short-term instances he went off the rails.

That all being said, it's not like Carl was being hounded constantly about it as far as I know. I mean, I don't know what local journalists were asking him on each tour stop, etc. But in general, it's not like there are countless interviews where Carl is confronted about his short dance with drug use. He was asked in that translated '89 interview, and he seemed to still kind of bob and weave a bit around it. But it was certainly his right to answer or not answer whatever he wanted. I don't think anybody expects that Carl should have or would have said heroin was purchased and all of the stuff outlined in the Gaines book.

To the main point, I certainly would think that the Gaines book didn't *help* in terms of getting Carl to be more forthcoming and less private. And of course the Landy "autobiography" was another thing that clearly hurt and angered Carl (and, ironically, whether he knew it or not, a lot of that book appeared to be sourced from the Gaines book).

But I think the only way to know how forthcoming Carl was would be to find out how often he *turned down* interviews. I've never got the sense he was *asked* that often for detailed, sit-down interviews. He did various press junkets over the years with varying combinations of the other guys, but that was all fluff and quick.

It's both poignant and extremely frustrating that Carl's friends and family were and are very aware he was private, as that guy that did the Carl biography several years back got *very little* out of anybody of note. I think he got some interesting stuff from Carl's solo tour guitarist, but that was all like nuts and bolts stuff about touring with Carl. We still never got to know about the man. I'd like to think there would be a way to delve into that more without getting all tabloid status. Billy Hinsche's film on Carl was nice, but pretty surface-level, even just in terms of non-scandalous/personal stuff. A few cool details here and there of course.
6  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Carl Wilson Interview (May 27, 1983) on: January 30, 2023, 08:56:03 AM
I've long asked the question of why so little in the way of in-depth interviews with Carl exist. I'm sure the obvious multi-prong answer is most likely, that he was both a private person and presumably wasn't getting asked that often to do such interviews. It's no coincidence that a few of the best ones come from the times he was out promoting his solo albums. Too bad he didn't do more solo albums; perhaps we would have had more long form interviews too.

But there are a few from the 80s, both in print and on video. There was some raw footage from the mid-80s from an interview Carl did (perhaps with MTV or VH1 or something along those lines) that had some good stuff, although as I recall he was being interviewed by someone who clearly *wasn't* a skilled interviewer nor a big BB fan.
7  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Does Brian Wilson still give concerts? on: January 30, 2023, 08:52:44 AM
Am I the only one who thinks Brian should retire from touring?  He's earned it.

No, this has been a pretty regular sentiment from most fans here for quite some time. Perhaps a bit more "he should retire if he wants" than explicitly calling to bar him from the stage. But if you read the 2022 tour thread, I think most fans, even the most overly-forgiving fans, have come to the realization that we should probably expect few performances if any in the future.
8  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: New Tidbit on the Televised Beach Boys Tribute Concert on: January 30, 2023, 08:49:27 AM
We've already had at least two very similar events (the 2001 TNT show and the Musicares show from 2005 or whenever that was), and both were mixed bags.

I don't think it's really possible to make these things *great*; I think some greatness could be stumbled upon with the right performers and song picks. But it's very hard to do, even with an A-list group, which this show certainly isn't. I'm not totally ignorant as to who might be a young A-lister with a young fanbase, I think this show isn't even getting like A-list talent even if it's all artists with little or no connection to the BBs or their fanbase.

Assuming the show goes well enough to air later in the year in primetime on a network, it will get some eyes and ears on BB music. That's good.

As I mentioned, it's pretty interesting to see this thing unfold having just read David Leaf's excruciatingly detailed account of putting together than TNT tribute. Leaf essentially called in favors, and/or called in favors to call in favors, etc., and that was all to achieve what was really a mixed bag of a tribute show.

Why this Grammy show can't get top-tier talent from all genres and eras is a question I can't fully answer. Is a "Brian Wilson" tribute show more enticing than a "Beach Boys" tribute show? Has Mike's occasional well-known gaffes (Rock Hall speech, political stuff of recent years) soured a few folks on doing something that isn't more Brian-centric?

I've always hoped for something that isn't like Morgan Freeman at a podium narrating while the same dozen early-era Capitol publicity photos swoosh by. Or that same stupid early 60s stock beach footage.

And you know, especially as the artist list gets less interesting, the show's producers are going to push for the most recognizable songs.
9  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: New Tidbit on the Televised Beach Boys Tribute Concert on: January 27, 2023, 06:33:48 AM
Curious if the producers of the show (or Michael McDonald) have seen the "Long Promised Road", where Jason Fine tells a story about Brian and "What A Fool Believes." Maybe it's a good thing if Brian isn't there.

This lineup is firmly in the realm of "eye of the beholder" as far as personal preference versus what would constitute current day "A list", etc. As I mentioned awhile back, the Beatles tribute show the same people put on 8 or 9 years ago (or however long ago that was) worked a little better because they at least mixed the latter-day artists with a few sort-of "contemporaries" of the Beatles. At least some folks like Jeff Lynne, Joe Walsh, Frampton (in the backing band anyway), and so on. They also obviously had the benefit of getting both Paul and Ringo as well.

I'm sure the artists on this BB show have a wide ranging level of familiarity and fandom for the Beach Boys, but I sense a lot of these artists will either be picking very well-known hits, or will be learning songs they've never heard before.

It speaks to, well, something, that they couldn't get much of any of the "legacy" era artists to do this (McDonald presumably being of the most vintage), nor much of any artists that have any link or known strong affinity for the Beach Boys. I guess Hanson has worked with Mike. Pentatonix is an all-vocal group, so that's something I guess.

Not that it's surprising, but this cast seems to have been assembled much more as if it were a typical Grammy show lineup, with as much youth demographic appeal as possible, followed by an attempt to grab a bunch of different genres/demographics.

Is is kind of interesting to see this right after having just recently finally read the updated version of David Leaf's book, where he goes into (kind of comically excessive) detail about putting together that 2001 TNT Brian tribute show. He managed to call in enough favors to get the likes of Paul Simon, Elton, Billy Joel, etc.

Hopefully at least the production value on this will be up to snuff enough and good songs and artists matched enough to sell young folks and other prospective new fans on getting into the Beach Boys.

And yes, for many reasons, it's probably best to forego any attempt at a "reunited" band on stage for this.
10  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Very Early Brian Solo Show - 1985 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.
11  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Very Early Brian Solo Show - 1985 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.
12  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: A Viewing, Listening and Reading List for God Only Knows on: January 25, 2023, 06:22:38 AM
That's certainly at least preferable to the actual new version of the book where he just tells the reader to "Google" stuff every other page.
13  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: New Tidbit on the Televised Beach Boys Tribute Concert on: January 20, 2023, 01:31:49 PM
They're selling tickets for the tribute show. Still zero details on any guests. I'm starting to wonder if they should have just re-run the 25th Anniversary special.

$300 for the best tickets, and you could well end up with no Beach Boys on stage and/or in attendance, and Weezer may end up being the top-billed guest.

14  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brian's Bass Playing on: January 17, 2023, 06:51:57 AM
One of the problems with giving an intent listen to Brian's bass playing on those 1977/78 shows is that few great-sounding sources for those shows exist. A few radio broadcasts and pro-shot videos; that's about it. And I can't say the mix on any of those shows is particularly great.

The videos at least give you a look at what Brian is playing (however much it's mixed up in the live mix).

I've never felt Brian really needed to focus a ton on bass playing. He was/is so musical that he could do it.

I've long felt that learning the most rudimentary bass is probably easier than learning guitar (see: Stu Sutcliffe), but being a very good bass player might be harder than being a very good guitarist.
15  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: New Tidbit on the Televised Beach Boys Tribute Concert on: January 17, 2023, 06:44:10 AM
The set design is not what we should be worrying about when it comes to this show. I wouldn't be surprised if the set design ends up being the *best* aspect of this thing.

Also, while I would imagine Iconic/BRI are looped in on this, it appears they are not producing the show themselves.

The default position as many of us have stated is that expectations should be set very low on such things, and nothing I've heard in the last few days about this show has dissuaded me from that position.

The lack of almost *any* details in the announcement should tell you something, or in fact a number of things. (And I'm not talking about keeping things a surprise).

I think the best way to celebrate the band and whatever anniversary you might care to is to listen to the "Sail on Sailor" set, or pop in your favorite recording from the 2012 tour.
16  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Johnny Depp & Jeff Beck re-recorded Dennis Wilson on: January 16, 2023, 11:08:43 AM
Were the Beck sessions kind of intermingled within various NPP sessions? That seems to be my memory. I recall interviews with Al and/or Brian that mentioned both sessions with Beck and songs that ended up on NPP. I recall they also mentioned "Run James Run", which of course ended up on the "Playback" comp (I've long suspected Al cut the lead for potential inclusion on NPP).

One main question has always been whether they scrapped the Beck tracks for musical reasons, or because of the tensions before and after the 2013 tour.

Beck later gave an interview where he talked as if this was like a new, ongoing joint project, pointing out he felt they rushed to go out on tour and should have finished the studio tracks first. But I never got the impression any of the joint projects with Beck (recording or touring) were anything other than one-shot deals in the midst of *Brian Wilson* solo stuff (obviously, had it gone super well, they could have done more). I don't think it was going to be a "Wilson-Beck" album. It was going to be Beck as one of many guests on a Brian solo album. I remember being confused as to why Beck felt he would ever have any say about the timeline of Brian's releases. Obviously, Beck could choose to guest or not.

In any event, as I said back when Beck had some non-empathetic things to say about Brian (to put it politely), that even though it seemed they probably shouldn't be working together anymore (something other collaborators with Beck have seemed to find), I can't deny that it would be pretty interesting to hear what was laid down in the studio. It's gotta be better than "Our Special Love".
17  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Sail On Sailor box set on: January 15, 2023, 11:55:43 AM
Here's the video of the November Grammy Museum Sail on Sailor event with Howie and Mike:
18  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Mike Love at The Grammy Museum - L.A. - 11/16/22 on: January 15, 2023, 11:53:56 AM
Here's the video of the event:
19  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Carl's singing 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.
20  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Questions about the writing of Rio Grande on: January 13, 2023, 12:08:56 PM
It's true, the Usher era shouldn't be overstated. I'm sure it's just because it's documented in *so much* detail compared to most other points of his career.

I agree Brian's story isn't linear, and Usher clearly caught him during a downturn. But I do think his "condition" during the Usher sessions was part of a trajectory as well, a sort of mean line running through all of those unpredictable ups and downs. This was not simply the same on-and-off writing situation Brian had in later years. Landy's "treatment", the weird psychological stuff going on, the overmedication, and Brian still learning to wind his way out of the non-social/anti-social tendencies he had picked up in his darkest days of the late 70s and early 80s (even if we make plenty of room for simply "eccentric" behavior), while simultaneously having Landy imprint other bad social tendencies in their place, those all impacted that particular era as well. The era that led up to multiple folks going to the courts to turn Landy in definitely had Brian in shape that dictated that others (both well-intentioned and not) had to have a stronger hand in his musical work.

Regarding Brian's stuff in the vaults, there surely is a ton, definitely. I'm kind of surprised, considering how patchwork some of his albums (e.g. GIOMH) have been, that they haven't just pieced together a "new" album from previous solo sessions. Obviously, Brian (and the BBs before him) have often grabbed old stuff to work on a new album. But I mean something that would ostensibly not involve any new Brian involvement. This is obviously not ideal, but I suspect the "Long Promised Road" soundtrack kind of ended up being such an item to some degree because it took long enough to come out. There's pretty old stuff on there, and the "new" stuff was several years old by the time it came out. I'm not suggesting a bunch of weird smoke and mirrors, and I know we're all kind of in a holding pattern as far as what Brian is up to these days or able to do.

But it is weird they haven't mind solo outtakes even more, either presented as  "new album", or an "archival" package. I mean, while a few of the bits are pretty unfinished and rough, they easily could have taken the album's worth of tracks put up on Brian's website in the last year or two and made that some sort of "From the Vaults, Vol. 1" and presented it as an archival album.

But who knows, that may be something we'll see later.
21  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: New Tidbit on the Televised Beach Boys Tribute Concert on: January 13, 2023, 06:34:57 AM
The press release conspicuously does not mention any actual BB member participation, likely because either they don't want to reveal anything, and/or don't know who's confirmed yet.

As I've said many many times, these shows usually aren't great. The Paul/Ringo Beatles Grammy Salute they did several years back was about as good as it gets; they actually got some non-current-hit-maker contemporaries in the show (e.g. Jeff Lynne, Joe Walsh, etc.) rather than having only wall-to-wall current hitmakers. And even that show wasn't great.

That this is a Grammy Salute event done a few days after the actual award show portends well for getting some "big names", but I really have to assume the worst of such a show on all counts and then be possibly pleasantly surprised as far as the other artists showing up.

The question of a full band "reunion" is a whole other ball of wax, and I have to think best case scenario is either some-but-not-all members joining in some group thing at the end, or *maybe* if Brian is in shape to do it, a very short set by the reunited band. And I'm just going to say it: Even with this being a pre-taped thing where they have months to do editing, Brian can't be in the same shape he was at the end of his 2022 Chicago tour if they plan on having him at the show. Even if they just have others sing, it's just not going to work if he sits completely stone-faced not reacting to *anything* around him.

The question from the fan perspective is; if Brian can't be there, do we want the rest of the reunited band? I honestly can't say I'm sure. There's obviously always morbid curiosity post-1997 to even see Al and Mike in the same room, let alone on stage together. But I guess if everybody *but* Brian showed up, I'd rather see individual members do some showcase numbers or work with other artists, rather than a "Partial Reunion Band" set.
22  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Questions about the writing of Rio Grande on: January 12, 2023, 01:38:08 PM
While I think unfiltered Brian is always fascinating on some level, and I would love more of it (vintage, recent, or current), as I alluded to in talking about "Let It Shine", I also feel that a good song is a good song, and having the best songs regardless of who writes it is also a valid way to work/program an album.

The Beach Boys for instance would have been way better off using outside writers in hunks of the 80s and 90s if they weren't able to or inclined to work with Brian. Imagine the great voice of "Summer in Paradise" era Al and Carl, but with better songs and solid production.
23  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Heroes and Villains in new Disney+ Mickey Mouse documentary on: January 12, 2023, 09:04:25 AM
Probably not going to watch this entire thing, as a Disney-produced documentary on this subject can't be particularly revealing ("Waking Sleeping Beauty" is about as gritty as a Disney-produced doc can get; and even that tended to tread pretty lightly and only safely sort of s**t on pre-"Renaissance" Disney movies that seemingly nobody likes) and the whole thing invariably seems rather self-congratulatory and self-celebratory, but as far as the Brian track usage, I would say it's pretty random but it just seems to be a vibe they're going for in that scene.

I don't think it necessarily has to be some former or current Brian associate whispering the song in the director's or music supervisor's ear or anything. One would hope the music supervisor on this thing has a decent breadth of knowledge when it comes to music, and may well have some just come up with the idea to use the track.
24  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Questions about the writing of Rio Grande on: January 12, 2023, 06:46:37 AM
Excellent points, Jude. But I'd suggest things are even more complex.

As you write, we can't ignore the primary change in Brian's work. As he grew older and more affected by his illness, he required collaborators to pitch in more musically than simply lyrically. But that process shifted over time. In the 1970s, he was often able to finish songs (or get them close to completion) and do vocal arrangements, but producing and mixing a final product posed the main challenge. In the 1980s, he still would finish songs on his own, but the idea of bringing in an Usher or Paley to "prime the pump" and generate new songs came up. What Andy found, in particular, was this sometimes really inspired Brian to write a middle eight, or jot down some lyrics.

This continued with Joe Thomas, who I believe was one of the first to actually play chords to Brian and have him sing over the top as a way of generating material. This is used by a lot of singers these days (Sia among them) but was new to BW. He could still do the vocal arranging, but the songs were now generated in four entirely separate ways. 1.) He wrote the whole thing himself. Say Cry, on the Imagination album. 2.) He wrote a tune and had someone else write lyrics. This happened with Right Where I Belong, where he handed a piano demo to Jim James. 2.) He added lyrics and vocal melodies to chord patterns by someone like Joe. I'd suggest something like "Whatever Happened" on NPP sounds like that. 3.) He would contribute a chunk to a song largely written by someone else. Let It Shine or some of the Paley material.

Those first two methods have happened throughout Brian's career. The latter two are newish. But even his most recent albums, as mentioned above, have examples of all of these methods. Then you have discoveries like "Rooftop Harry" on the Sail On Sailor set, which shows up in "From There to Back Again" and proves it wasn't simply a Joe Thomas creation.

(Oddly, as Brian managed to coalesce a consistent band around him, he moved back into production more consistently. Part of that was the band being able to simply conjure up head arrangements, of course, but it's pretty clear that between TLOS, the Christmas record, the Gershwin record and and the LPR soundtrack that he found a consistent and satisfying sonic vocabulary.)

All solid and succinct points. I like your breakdown of the different types of collaborative composing; that's a very helpful guide.

I think one of the things that this general topic ends up hitting on, which is understandably a sensitive topic, is some of the stuff touched on in the Usher/McParland book. The picture painted by Usher goes beyond the sort of push and pull and malleable nature of collaborative songwriting. It veers into medical/personal territory; that Brian, either wholly or partially as a result of Landy's care, was medically/physically unable to do X, Y, or Z. Usher, who is really like *the most sympathetic, empathetic* character in Brian's life at that point on a day to day basis, paints a picture of Brian having "lost it" essentially, meaning the ability to really functionally create in a substantive fashion. Usher seems saddened by this. He clearly doesn't feel that all is lost, and he doesn't seem to be unwilling to believe Brian can "get it back" so to speak. I think others could have (and in some cases *did*) see Brian's condition at this point and assume Brian was toast, that it was all over and the whole thing was just sad. Usher does seem to find the situation sad, but he rolls up his sleeves and, even if at times it requires him to treat Brian like a student at school, is able to cajole Brian into working. Usher did a good job of literally getting Brian moving and feeling confidence to work (both in terms of writing and arranging/production).

I think the stuff on the BW '88 album is better by leaps and bounds than the Usher material (obviously a bit of Usher stuff overlapped), and I think the Usher sessions were an important bridge to getting Brian to be a lot more active and also to not just write *something*, but write some *good* stuff. Usher understandably felt used on multiple levels by the whole affair, and has never really gotten the credit he deserves for jumpstarting that process. Without Usher working with Brian for that year or so, I don't know we would have gotten BW '88, or Brian crossing paths with Paley, and so on.

I do think there are "fans" out there, or just spectators/naysayers, who are quick to paint Brian's situation for the last X number of years in terms of writing as another "Weekend at Bernies" sort of situation. And that is of course uninformed and incorrect. But on the other end of the spectrum, and I'm not trying to create a straw man here, but there are some fans who seem to want to paint a picture of Brian's latter-day work as being very similar to how he wrote/arranged/produced in the 60s. And I have no problem acknowledging that that is not the case. I also don't have a problem saying that, on occasion, it's not a plus to hear a new Brian album that has a LOT of Bennett or Thomas, etc. in the writing. So I can see where defensive fans might feel that "Bummer, that sounds more like a Scott Bennett song than a Brian Wilson" song is some sort of affront/accusation against Brian. I can only say that *I* don't mean it that way. But I'm also not going to pretend that some of the stuff isn't similar to, say, Jeff Lynne's hand in "Let It Shine", where it's mostly a Jeff Lynne song. "Let It Shine" is actually one of my favorite Brian solo tracks, because I'm such a big fan of both guys. Which all probably speaks in part to how what I'm probably lamenting (when I am lamenting anything) about some Brian solo stuff is not so much a lack of Brian's hand, but his choice of collaborator. I'm probably one of few who wouldn't have minded Brian singing an album of Jeff Lynne tunes in like 1990 or so.

I think "No Pier Pressure" is a great example of this push and pull, both in terms of Brian's songwriting, and my observation of both liking a lot of the material, but often feeling like it sounds like a lot of *other* people as much if not more than Brian. And such disappointment is not an accusation or affront to Brian. It's just a reaction to the end product. If anything, those that care enough to listen to a Brian album and are kind of saying "More Brian please!" seemingly are saying so because they believe Brian can still do it!

What I think would have been cool at some point in the last 20 years or so, would have been, while continuing to do the albums he did, to also do essentially a modern version of that '76 Love You/Adult Child tape, and polish that up and make it an album. An album of "Message Man" for lack of a better way to put it. Meaning, solo, uncut, unfiltered, maybe sometimes *unfinished* Brian compositions, untouched by others. Just as an alternate way to hear some Brian stuff.

"At My Piano" was not such an album, despite a few fans saying "there, now you have your 'Brian alone at the piano'" album. But I dug that album too.

Which all probably rolls back to the same conclusion I've come to regarding "Beach Boys" projects, which is that for both BB and Brian material, the archives is really where it's at. All that weird stuff that Brian has posted on his website, even the unfinished clunky 80s backing tracks and whatnot, I'd eat up a hundred discs of that stuff. And there's tons there.
25  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Sail On Sailor box set on: January 12, 2023, 06:20:31 AM
Nice Ken Sharp interview with Howie about the SOS set and era:
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