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Author Topic: Solo Brian Wilson: dipping into archives  (Read 10977 times)
the captain
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« on: January 08, 2006, 05:04:11 PM »

Brian (not to mention the Beach Boys and many other bands, for that matter) has been widely known to use his older, unreleased material on his "new" solo albums. I'm curious, has anyone ever counted through his solo albums and noted which songs were actually "new" (meaning not recorded before other than as recent, pre-album demos...not widely booted, not intended for previous albums, etc.).

On GIOMH, I know that almost all of the songs existed in previous incarnations, whether from the Paley sessions, Joe Thomas era, or even earlier. Are "You've Touched Me," A Friend Like You" and "The Waltz" the only new songs?

I'm curious to hear everyone's input on each of the three studio solo albums (not counting Smile, which is too obvious). What's new, what's old, what are the oldest recordings of each song?
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2006, 05:18:52 PM »

On GIOMH, I know that almost all of the songs existed in previous incarnations, whether from the Paley sessions, Joe Thomas era, or even earlier. Are "You've Touched Me," A Friend Like You" and "The Waltz" the only new songs?


I don't think "The Waltz" was a new song. Wasn't it a re-working of "Let's Stick Together" from the SWEET INSANITY sessions?
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2006, 05:30:49 PM »

You've Touched Me recycles part of the melody from a Wilson/Usher track from '86 entitled So Long (aka Turning Point). The Waltz has the same music as the Sweet Insanity track Let's Stick Together.
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the captain
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2006, 06:03:39 PM »

Keep it up, all. So is "A Friend Like You" the only really new track on GIOMH? What about the others?
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2006, 06:07:09 PM »

Ok, I have a minute to spare, and I'm going from memory:

*BW88
Walkin' The Line - first recorded during the Usher sessions
Little Children - written in 1976 as They're Marching Along
There's So Many - demoed in 1983 as Up In The Sky
Rio Grande - consist almost entirely of fragments written by Brian since the Seventies and onwards, with some new assistance from Paley


*Imagination
She Says That She Needs Me - the same as Sandy/Sherry/Terry She Needs Me
Sunshine - Sometimes you never what version of a fragment was written first with Brian but the tag shows up in Believe In Yourself.
Happy Days - recorded in 1970 and 1980 as My Solution
+ two old BB covers

Roxy:
The First Time - recorded in 1983 as In the Nighttime (and the demo is 1000000 times better than the live version)
This Isn't Love - recorded in 1982 as I Say A Prayer
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Toby
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2006, 06:08:26 PM »

Keep it up, all. So is "A Friend Like You" the only really new track on GIOMH? What about the others?

Basically, yes... the title track was originally done for Imagination.
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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2006, 06:40:05 PM »

BW 88-
melt away- i could sware that it was from early 86-87.
there's so many i thought was from 79.

Imagination-
Where has love been?- from the Paley era?
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2006, 08:57:08 PM »

Good melodies are timeless. Lyrical ideas may or may not be. There are a number of composers who write meoldies and them stash them away for another time.

The fact that Brian's melodies are recycled is not new. He did it with I Do and County Fair for example. Another example would be the conversion of Sharon Marie's tune Thinkin' 'Bout You Baby to Darlin' then back to its old lyrics on the Spring album. In essence, he's been doing it forever.
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2006, 08:58:52 PM »

This is a complex question. I think it's tough to say that Brian ever specifically writes for an album these days -- he goes through prolific periods, which produce songs for albums that span years.

For instance, he composed prolifically in the mid-80s -- that's where Love and Mercy came from, for instance. Also Don't Let Her Know She's an Angel and so on. I actually put together a Web site lisitng all of Brian's solo songs, released and un, so I'm reasonably informaed.

But album for album:

Brian Wilson 88

Love And Mercy (had been written in mid-80s)
Walkin the Line (had already been written and recorded with Gary Usher in the mid-80s)
Little Children (dates from the 70s)
Rio Grande (Night Bloomin Jasmine dates from the early 80s, also uses River Song exerpts)


Imagination

Your Imagination (In its bridge, uses a riff from Wilson/Paley Mary Anne)
She Says that She Needs Me (60s vintage song. This was also cut for the 88 album)
Where Has Love Been (mid-90s Wilson/Paley collab)
Cry (written at least two years before the CD came out; I read about it in Breakaway newslaeter in 95 or 96)
Keep an Eye on Summer
Let Him Run Wild (both BB remakes)
Happy Days (uses "My Solution" from 70-ish)

GIOMH

Sould Searchin (90s Paley)
You've Touched Me (based on 80s Usher collab, but with new bridge sections)
Gettin in Over My Head (90s Paley)
City Blues (early 80s)
Desert Drive (90s Paley)
Make a Wish (Sweet Insanity, early 90s)
Rainbow Eyes (ditto)
Saturday Morning in the City (Smile era tune, demoed up in the 80s, elaborated in mid 90s with Paley)
Fairy Tale (late 80s tune rewritten for SI as "Save the Day)
DLHKSAA (mid 80s)
The Waltz (late 80s collab with Parks, rewritten for SI as "The Waltz")

"How Could We Still Be Dancin" was written post-Imagination and intended for its follow-up, so in a way it was written for GIOMH.
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2006, 09:03:23 PM »

"Saturday Morning in the City (Smile era tune, demoed up in the 80s, elaborated in mid 90s with Paley)"

I wouldn't call SMITC a "Smile era tune" - it's just a small fragment of the melody which comes from the Smile "All Day" section.
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2006, 10:30:31 PM »

I meant tune literally, as in a bit of melody. Not in any kind of developed sense.

That's why a song like "This Isn't Love" is a strange case. The verse melody definitely turns up in the cocaine sessions, but it's obvious that all Brian has ia a bit of a tune and some words. The song itself was fully worked out in the mid-90s with Tony Asher -- and that includes the chorus/bridge section.

I think it's fair to say that Brian never exactly stops working on his songs until they come out. And even then, he sometimes keeps going. I mean, look at "The Man With All the Toys" on the recent XMas CD. It has new instrumental sections and a coda.
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2006, 12:43:55 AM »

amazingly, B Wilson has so much unreleased material left to play with, he could practically record 2 or 3 more albums of 'new' songs without so much as lifting a pen...













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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2006, 02:27:58 AM »

amazingly, B Wilson has so much unreleased material left to play with, he could practically record 2 or 3 more albums of 'new' songs without so much as lifting a pen...

And some of us would love it [depending on how well it was done, of course, and how well the new versions stood up against what we already know], and some would despise it as another example of laziness on Brian's part.  I"m in the first camp, myself...
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2006, 02:36:56 AM »

Put me in the second camp. Brian proved with "WIRWFC" and "Christmasey" that he can still write amazing songs. And thatīs what I expect from the new rockīnīroll-album: 12 amazing new songs.
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2006, 02:58:28 AM »

I think Brian had a pretty good album there in the Wilson/Paley sessions.  It's a shame that the integrity of those recordings has been ruined by their non release and then the retrospective plundering on to different albums, not just GIOMH, as I feel will surely be the case.  I also think that later versions tend to be inferior. 
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« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2006, 04:14:19 AM »

I noticed one the other day- Brian ripping off himself... again!
For Love & Mercy he stole an instrumental section of Goin' On. Poor fans of Love & Mercy who don't like Goin' On will hear this every time from this moment forward. At 1:30 into L&M - Brian lifts the repeated bridge chords in Goin' On where the lyrics appear "I love you/forever/love won't be the same again ever - without you/I'm longing/you gave me a sense of belonging."
Sing these lyrics to that section of L&M.

KTSA rides again!  Grin
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« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2006, 04:16:02 AM »

Put me in the second camp. Brian proved with "WIRWFC" and "Christmasey" that he can still write amazing songs. And thatīs what I expect from the new rockīnīroll-album: 12 amazing new songs.

Really ? Betcha...

1. The album never gets recorded;

2. If it does, it will be about as R&R as GIOMH;

3. At least 25% of the tracks will have some history;

4. There will be at least one solid gold clunker;

5. The "Shortenin' Bread" riff will be in there somewhere.

I agree with David Leaf, than Brian never forgets a good riff. I just wish he'd forget more of his bad ones.

I concede that the majority of us here have knowledge of stuff we shouldn't, which made for a definite sense of deja vu on GIOMH, but even so, it was a disappointment in other areas. The theory that the tracks were chosen to stymie the boots flying around has its adherents. I'm definitely of the opinion that whoever chose them should never, ever be allowed to do it again.

Since 1998, Brian's released precisely three*  wholly original songs (and that includes "Path Of Life" - can you say "He Come Down" ?), which makes me think his writers block might not be the standard interview avoidance technique I thought it was.

[* maybe two - bits of one of the new Xmas songs sound naggingly familiar]
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« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2006, 04:27:06 AM »

"1. The album never gets recorded;"

Of course I HOPE you are wrong. The rockīnīroll-album became some sort of running-gag, but the fact that Brian stopped the touring to write songs makes me hopeful.


"2. If it does, it will be about as R&R as GIOMH;"

Hey, I donīt expect heavy-metal from Brian, but some part of the christmas-album showed how "rocky" he can get. For example the coda of WWYAMC.


"3. At least 25% of the tracks will have some history;"

Why do you know that? I guess you are guessing.


"4. There will be at least one solid gold clunker;"

Again, there wasnīt one on the christmas-album. Imo of course. And I have to say that I can live with a clunker or two, as long as it contains some masterpieces like "WIRWFC" or "Christmasey".


"5. The "Shortenin' Bread" riff will be in there somewhere."

Was the riff used on his last couple of albums?


Yes, GIOMH wasnīt a great record, but that doesnīt mean that all of his future albums will suck. It just seems unfair to critize a record that isnīt even written yet.



P.S. I donīt want to attack you, Andrew. Iīm just killing some time on this board.
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the captain
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« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2006, 04:56:45 AM »

Good melodies are timeless. Lyrical ideas may or may not be. There are a number of composers who write meoldies and them stash them away for another time.

The fact that Brian's melodies are recycled is not new. He did it with I Do and County Fair for example. Another example would be the conversion of Sharon Marie's tune Thinkin' 'Bout You Baby to Darlin' then back to its old lyrics on the Spring album. In essence, he's been doing it forever.

I don't disagree with you, Mr. Reum. And I don't mean the post as a criticism (I believe my original post even said that it's not an uncommon practice.). It's just an exercise for curiosity's sake. Sort of, 'What's the average pre-release shelf life?'
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« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2006, 05:12:48 AM »

I donīt want to attack you, Andrew. Iīm just killing some time on this board.

Thought never entered my head. I hope I'm wrong too, on all counts. But going on past history... (the "SB" bit was a joke. Kinda.)
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« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2006, 05:31:58 AM »

Quote
(and that includes "Path Of Life" - can you say "He Come Down" ?)

Now, now -- they both dip into the Gospel realm but the similarities are pretty thin otherwise!
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« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2006, 08:18:21 AM »

ONE thing that I really want from Brianīs next record is: SHORT TITLES!!!

Walking Down The Path Of Life
Gettin In Over My Head
What I Really Want For Christmas
Donīt Let Her Know Sheīs An Angel
How Could We Still Be Dancinī
Saturday Morning In The City


Thatīs also another reason why I love "SMiLE". Itīs SHORT!!!
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« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2006, 10:31:10 AM »

I feel, as far as songwriting goes, it's satisfying to hear an artist write about where he's at TODAY, not 10-20 years ago. As a bit of a songwriter myself, everytime I have delved into my personal archive , I do a little less of a job with the recording, because it's where I was as a writer and musician then, not what I am writing or what is happening to me now. If you asked Brian, he might tell you the same thing, if he is honest. It almost feels like you are doing a cover version of your own song. When I wrote some songs, I was married to a different woman, lived in a different place, I was younger, so I had all of that messing with the words and music as well. If you seriously internalize your own writing, which I am sure Brian does, then the conclusion has to be made that one serious option may be that he feels the creative juices were flowing better for him then than now. The 'lazy' part, and when it comes to Brian Wilson's writing, I have to really watch that word, because nothing about his arrangements sound like a lazy songwriter, is probably his refusal to let us hear more of his musical 'soul' today, and how he is doing today. Write about the kids, or getting older, or your wife or whatever. A songwriters music is his diary. Why go back and copy pages from past diaries when you can write new entries. If not, get somebody to help. Sounds like a possible thread there. Who would you think would be the best songwriter for Brian to get with for some work.?? Past affiliation not included. My pick is Jimmy Webb. Jimmy totally understands where Brian is, and I think he would make a fine collaborator for future projects..
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« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2006, 01:32:04 PM »

Luther, I wish you hadn't brought up this topic. I've been trying to avoid discussing this subject, but now I have to get it off my chest. When I'm done, don't send Stan Love and Rocky Pamplin after me. It's only one person's opinion.

Shortly after Brian re-emerged with Dr. Landy in 1983, there were rumblings of a Brian Wilson solo career. Supposedly, Brian wanted to make music outside of the Beach Boys' "confines". Brian wanted to stretch out. Brian wanted to be free to make the music that was in his head. Brian wanted to be the producer. And Brian didn't want to work with Mike Love. OK.

Well, twenty-some years, six studio albums, two live albums, and a few B sides later, what do we have? To me, essentially, Brian has recorded twenty years' worth of Beach Boys' music - WITHOUT THE BEACH BOYS!. This thread has prompted me to look at Brian's solo recordings. I don't see one BW solo album (including BWPS) or even one BW solo track (except "Thank You") that would've been unacceptable for the Beach Boys to record. More importantly, I don't hear one BW solo song that wouldn't benefited from the Beach Boys' vocals. When I listen to "Melt Away", I hear Carl. When I hear "Rio Grande", I hear Al. When I hear "South American" or "Desert Drive", I hear Mike. And so on. And so on. You get the point.

Since 1987, Brian has worked with Russ Titelman, Jeff Lynne, Lindsey Buckingham, Don Was, Van Dyke Parks, Darian Sahanaja, and Jeff Foskett. Some might include Bob Dylan, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, and Jimmy Webb. Not too shabby. I had hoped that just by associating with these people, something would've rubbed off, some kind of spark, some kind of inspiration. I was hoping for new material, something brilliant and dynamic. Brian could've recorded anything he wanted, as daring and complex as possible. I guess I'm just disappointed at the path he chose.

Did Brian stretch out? I don't think so. This thread kind of proves that. Did Brian break new ground? No, he recycled old ideas. Peter Reum stated that "in essence, he's been doing it forever." While that statement is basically true, it is also misleading. In Brian's earlier days with the Beach Boys, he might've recycled one, maybe two songs per album. BUT HE WAS PRODUCING UP TO THREE NEW ALBUMS PER YEAR! In Brian's solo career, he went TEN YEARS from BW88 to Imagination, and then SIX YEARS from Imagination to GIOMH. That's a big difference. His recent solo albums are dominated by re-workings. Even more perplexing are the re-recordings of old Beach Boys' songs. For almost 28 years (1967-1995), Brian rejected his Beach Boys past. Now, in the past 10 years, he has re-recorded, in one form or another, dozens of songs from his past catalogue. In my opinion, very few of these re-recordings surpass the originals.

The history books will probably be kind in evaluating Brian's solo career. His emergence as a concert performer and the resurrection of SMiLE will be highlighted. But as someone who lived and died with every new release, I will view it differently. I will see it as a bunch of would've, should've, could'ves. I will see it as wasted opportunities for 3-4 strong Beach Boys albums that would've been superior to the Brian's solo recordings that eventually surfaced. OK, I'm done now.
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« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2006, 02:10:26 PM »

Sheriff John Stone... why don't you leave him alone!

I see your point in all aspects, but in essence (not completely) Brian was the Beach Boys. He was the sound & partial lyricist. He was mentor to the other BB's. He created that sound and they followed. That's what he did and did it well. How can you stretch out and expound upon an already great catalog? What he did was what he was good at. Familiar & comfortable with.

Every artist reaches into their back catalog to see what was there and what could be done with it. The Beatles did it. Del Shannon did it. Michael Nesmith did it. Everyone has done it. Ask any of the musicians on this board. Do you play? I've done it and will continue to do it (though I'm not comparing myself in any way to any of those mentioned above). If you're an artist and have been around for a while there's bound to be some tunes that you've never completed and would finally like to attempt or finish. Granted, not everything he has done has been good, then again there's only a very small handful of artists that you can say didn't do anything that was junk.

Brian has such a large catalog that you & I are so familiar with and have known for so long with that if something new comes along you can't help but say that sounds like him. No matter what he does- it's going to sound like him. It's his voice. His music. His lyrics. His idea. It's him and can't sound like anyone else. When some people step beyond their boundaries they record 'Smart Girls.'

I dunno. Those are my immediate thoughts. I do see your points though.
And, I'm glad no Clapton rubbed off on Brian! Can you imagine the mess that would have made?
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