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Author Topic: Tempo of live BB song performances throughout the years  (Read 8880 times)
CenturyDeprived
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« on: April 13, 2016, 02:42:58 PM »

How has the tempo (BPM) of live BB song performances throughout the years varied? Many bands often will speed up songs the more the songs are played (and the more comfortable the performers get with the material), and I know the 1964 Concert album has many (if not all?) songs played at a faster tempo compared to the studio versions of the same songs.

I'm sure with the variations of different drummers throughout the years, songs have probably sped up, slowed down, and sped up again at various eras. Does anyone have any further insight or observations?
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HeyJude
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2016, 03:01:51 PM »

How has the tempo (BPM) of live BB song performances throughout the years varied? Many bands often will speed up songs the more the songs are played (and the more comfortable the performers get with the material), and I know the 1964 Concert album has many (if not all?) songs played at a faster tempo compared to the studio versions of the same songs.

I'm sure with the variations of different drummers throughout the years, songs have probably sped up, slowed down, and sped up again at various eras. Does anyone have any further insight or observations?

Some of the songs seemed to slow down noticeably in the 90s. I remember seeing some shows in the 90s where stuff like "Catch a Wave" seemed to really plod and drag.

Brian's band seems to stick pretty closely to the original recording tempos, but for some reason "Dance Dance Dance" often seems to lag. Not sure if it just makes it easier to sing all the lead vocal lines or what.
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2016, 04:16:15 PM »

When Carl called the shots...he handled the tempo.  W/O him it was a problem.  Scott has likely fixed that with Mike's group.  John knows what he's doing back there too.  Brian has Darian and Paul to keep his performance honest.  I think both units handle it well in this era.

It ain't always the drummer by the way.  Sometimes drummers just can't hold the beat back from racing ahead.  Carl used to count them in.  THAT was how it was supposed to roll.  As a former bass drummer with a pipe band I can tell you...the pipers were hard to keep on tempo...especially when we weren't marching/just standing and practicing.  Musicians have this tendency to 'pick it up' WAY too often.
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2016, 04:56:15 PM »

When Carl called the shots...he handled the tempo.  W/O him it was a problem.  Scott has likely fixed that with Mike's group.  John knows what he's doing back there too.  Brian has Darian and Paul to keep his performance honest.  I think both units handle it well in this era.

It ain't always the drummer by the way.  Sometimes drummers just can't hold the beat back from racing ahead.  Carl used to count them in.  THAT was how it was supposed to roll.  As a former bass drummer with a pipe band I can tell you...the pipers were hard to keep on tempo...especially when we weren't marching/just standing and practicing.  Musicians have this tendency to 'pick it up' WAY too often.

As previously mentioned though the Carl-led band played things at a noticeably slower pace in the 90s.  There was discussion about this on another thread several months ago.
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2016, 05:14:26 PM »

The songs all sound faster to me on the 1968 London live recordings. The tempos sound more like the recorded versions on the 1973 live album.
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2016, 05:58:36 PM »

Circa 1994. Stamos is on drums, which may affect things a little more, but this "Catch a Wave" is pretty slow:

https://youtu.be/RQHFYuNNisM
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2016, 06:31:19 PM »

In present day, well 2015, Mike and Bruce had solid tempos...Brian's band drags the early stuff big time...probably so he can get the words out, it would seem.
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2016, 06:45:35 PM »

Circa 1994. Stamos is on drums, which may affect things a little more, but this "Catch a Wave" is pretty slow:

https://youtu.be/RQHFYuNNisM

I love how the cameraman zooms in on Bruce's hands during the organ solo without realizing that he isn't the one actually playing it!

(Can we really blame him though, there were four people playing keyboards on this for some reason...)
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2016, 06:50:52 PM »

The tempos slowed down after Dennis died.   He could really push those songs sometimes.

M and B still drag Catch A Wave, California Girls, LDC, and Dance Dance Dance.  Brian's band does too to some extend.

Al's live Cd actually has some of the best tempos.
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2016, 07:30:04 PM »

Yeah, I feel like Denny really drove Surfin' USA and Shut Down live.

Was playing everything slow in the 90's intentional?
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2016, 07:55:17 PM »

Forgetting live performances for the moment, isn't Surfin Safary and 409 sped up a bit?
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2016, 12:56:29 AM »

The 90s tempos were definitely much slower. I've read some accounts that Carl wanted it this way, and that this was the groove or feel that he thought was best. This continued in the late 90s after Carl passed.

Tempos began to speed up again in the early 2000s. And the Newcastle 2004 show was probably the fastest I've heard them play. Everything was sped up, from ballads to car songs. I remember Little Honda being particularly fast. I think this added energy to the show.

Upon taking over musical director duties later in the decade, Scott worked very hard to get songs back to their original tempos, which showed musical integrity without sacrificing energy.

Some songs benefit from being sped up. "It's ok" is a prime example. As a part of the opening set in the mid to late 2000s, and also in the 70s, it sounded great! Performed in its original tempo during the C50 shows, it fell pretty flat.
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2016, 01:19:12 AM »

a side note to tempo but can we discuss arrangement as well?  I have always been curious and wondered why over the years
with 'help me rhonda', those signature guitar fills never really were used or stood out like the record. (both the melodic bass and lead guitar intro parts).
after seeing Brian recently, I noticed the lead guitar clearly 'back in'.  
It's something that's always missing during many of the live shows, yet such a signature intro of the song.
also on topic, little deuce coupe I don't think I've heard liv3e using that 'shuffle' beat on the record or at its original tempo. 
It is a VERY short song tho.
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Jukka
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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2016, 01:56:52 AM »

Circa 1994. Stamos is on drums, which may affect things a little more, but this "Catch a Wave" is pretty slow:

https://youtu.be/RQHFYuNNisM

Hah, that was great! Look at Mike's face, he looks like he's about to snap, that "I can barely control my rage" -expression.
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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2016, 04:34:57 AM »

Circa 1994. Stamos is on drums, which may affect things a little more, but this "Catch a Wave" is pretty slow:

https://youtu.be/RQHFYuNNisM

Hah, that was great! Look at Mike's face, he looks like he's about to snap, that "I can barely control my rage" -expression.

Carl dressed like a true gentleman, in contrast with his mates, wearing possibly their most cringeworthy threads ever (and that's saying something) is truly bizarre.
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« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2016, 05:05:10 AM »

Yeah... But still, I really enjoyed this performance, sluggish tempo and all. Hey, it's the Beach Boys, classic frontline rocking like only they can!
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« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2016, 07:39:02 AM »

a side note to tempo but can we discuss arrangement as well?  I have always been curious and wondered why over the years
with 'help me rhonda', those signature guitar fills never really were used or stood out like the record. (both the melodic bass and lead guitar intro parts).
after seeing Brian recently, I noticed the lead guitar clearly 'back in'.  
It's something that's always missing during many of the live shows, yet such a signature intro of the song.
also on topic, little deuce coupe I don't think I've heard liv3e using that 'shuffle' beat on the record or at its original tempo.  
It is a VERY short song tho.


I think some of the weird touring BB arrangements evolved from doing *very different* arrangements back in the 70s, and then when they brought the songs back around closer to the original arrangement and/or key, they still never attempted to literally replicate the studio recording front-to-back.

And there are some vintage "touring band" arrangements I really dig most. I love their circa 1980 take on "Darlin'"; it almost comes across as a different song. Call it blasphemy, but while I don't like it *more* than the studio arrangement, I actually kind of liked how the touring BBs replaced the staccato lead-in to the bridge on "God Only Knows" (almost surely because they didn't want to bother playing that intricate bit back in 1966) with basically an extended, ascending version of the part as heard in the first portion of the song. They did a really good job there crafting an obviously simpler part, but one that still fit perfectly moving into a different key. In the early/mid-90s, the touring BBs *finally* went back and did it like the original recording, and I kind of missed the old version.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2016, 07:43:09 AM by HeyJude » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2016, 07:43:57 AM »

a side note to tempo but can we discuss arrangement as well?  I have always been curious and wondered why over the years
with 'help me rhonda', those signature guitar fills never really were used or stood out like the record. (both the melodic bass and lead guitar intro parts).
after seeing Brian recently, I noticed the lead guitar clearly 'back in'.  
It's something that's always missing during many of the live shows, yet such a signature intro of the song.
also on topic, little deuce coupe I don't think I've heard liv3e using that 'shuffle' beat on the record or at its original tempo.  
It is a VERY short song tho.


I think some of the weird touring BB arrangements evolved from doing *very different* arrangements back in the 70s, and then when they brought the songs back around closer to the original arrangement and/or key, they still never attempted to literally replicate the studio recording front-to-back.

And there are some vintage "touring band" arrangements I really dig most. I love their circa 1980 take on "Darlin'"; it almost comes across as a different song. Call it blasphemy, but while I don't like it *more* than the studio arrangement, I actually kind of liked how the touring BBs replaced the staccato lead-in to the bridge on "God Only Knows" (almost surely because they didn't want to bother playing that intricate bit back in 1966) with basically an extended, ascending version of the part as heard in the first portion of the song. They did a really good job there crafting an obviously simpler part, but one that still fit perfectly moving into a different key. In the early/mid-90s, the touring BBs *finally* went back and did it like the original recording, and I kind of missed the old version.


Carl's vocal delivery on the 1980 Darlin' also totally blows the original out of the water, by miles.
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« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2016, 08:22:32 AM »

I was at Brian's show in December (on Dennis's birthday, in fact).  I didn't notice anything sounding slower, at least not enough to suck the energy out of the performance.

I'd never seen Blondie perform live before, and his version of "Wild Honey" is, well, wild.  *Very* energetic!  He took two guitar solos, walking all over the stage during each, with a tenor sax solo between Blondie's solos.
 
At the same concert, when Brian sang "Girl Don't Tell Me," Nicky Wonder (as he was introduced) played the opening lick from "Ticket to Ride" behind Darian's vibes.  He played it subtly and it fit beautifully.

"Dance, Dance, Dance" has some fast-moving lead vocal parts which dictate how fast it can be played live.
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« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2016, 10:13:18 AM »

I saw Mike and Bruce in the early/mid 2000s and the first half of the show had a punk-like intensity. Same when I saw them again, this time with David too, in 2008. And Mike's vocals were a lot better than I'd heard on boots from the 80s and 90s. It was only late in the second ha;f when he reverted to being horribly nasal.
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« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2016, 10:36:05 AM »

The 90s tempos were definitely much slower. I've read some accounts that Carl wanted it this way, and that this was the groove or feel that he thought was best. This continued in the late 90s after Carl passed.




I really hate what they did to California Girls at that time. The intro seems at least twice as fast as the original and the rest of the song sounds like a totally differen tune because it's so slow.
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« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2016, 11:08:23 AM »

The 90s tempos were definitely much slower. I've read some accounts that Carl wanted it this way, and that this was the groove or feel that he thought was best. This continued in the late 90s after Carl passed.




I really hate what they did to California Girls at that time. The intro seems at least twice as fast as the original and the rest of the song sounds like a totally differen tune because it's so slow.

The intro to CG is funny, because there were times when they played it *slower* than the original (circa 1980 I believe), and then later on it ended up way too *fast.*
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« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2016, 06:21:30 PM »

Circa 1994. Stamos is on drums, which may affect things a little more, but this "Catch a Wave" is pretty slow:

https://youtu.be/RQHFYuNNisM

That's a lot of keyboard playing for Bruce, I'm impressed.
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« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2016, 09:23:49 PM »

Circa 1994. Stamos is on drums, which may affect things a little more, but this "Catch a Wave" is pretty slow:

https://youtu.be/RQHFYuNNisM

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« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2016, 10:30:59 PM »

Wow. That "Catch a Wave" was horrendously slow. It almost seemed so slow that maybe it was the tape and not necessarily the arrangement.

But regardless of how heinous that was, I'm pretty sure the group's outfits are about 30 times more embarrassing. I know it's stupid, but the reputation of The Beach Boys was done no favors by what major douches they looked like. Carl and Brian usually managed to not look that bad (with some exceptions) but Mike and Bruce, wow. And Al with that ponytail, awww man.
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