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677680 Posts in 27358 Topics by 4046 Members - Latest Member: reecemorgan November 30, 2022, 04:46:08 PM
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Author Topic: Brian Wilson - What I Really Want For Christmas  (Read 5088 times)
guitarfool2002
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« on: December 07, 2017, 07:35:07 PM »

Since it's that time of the year, how about a revisiting and re-evaluation of what I think is a terrific Christmas album, and one of the best BW solo albums. The harmonies are beautiful throughout, great background tracks with plenty of familiar Brian touches, Brian is in great voice throughout, great retro cover design which immediately reminded me of those old Firestone Christmas collection album covers that were around my house as a kid, a good mix of standards and originals, and it's just a nice album to put on in December. I didn't think it got the reception it deserved when it was released, and I wish some of the all-Christmas FM stations would pick up at least one of the tracks in their rotation.

It also boasts collaborations with both Jimmy Webb and Bernie Taupin. "Christmasey" is a personal favorite.

Check it out - I made it easy for everyone to listen...  Smiley

Great stuff, heartwarming music.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6aIIr6Bu2ZNrE9Jxd8mfoUJE_JQ2vWNg
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2017, 07:50:14 PM »

Over the last few years, I listen to this almost as much as the classic BB Christmas agree.

Its actually probably my second favorite BW solo album, as it has a certain loose, fun, festive sound. 

My go to songs are the title track, On Christmas Day, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2017, 08:05:04 PM »

Brian's lead vocals are terrific on this one. He's in full voice, and singing with a lot of heart - I love the sound of his voice on this album. Listen to how he phrases some of the traditional carols, he's really going all-out.

Another highlight is Nicky Wonder's guitar work - fantastic rhythm and lead playing, and great tone. Great player.

What I like too is that the album could have gone as maybe some expected, where the "surf" elements get played up in the arrangements. There is some of that, but it wasn't done so it sounds gimmicky or anything. It's a nice blend.

And another BW trademark is that you have to listen to the whole song, or else you'll miss one of those trademark BW musical curveballs. It could be a vocal reharmonization, a twist in the chord progression, a key change, an unexpected instrument popping up in the mix, an unusual coda...it's all there. It's not like you can get what the track is about, like "Oh, this is The First Noel, right...", from hearing the first 15 seconds. You have to stay tuned for the whole thing.
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2017, 08:47:00 PM »

I think the arrangement here is as great as that of That Lucky Old Sun. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is a good example. Pure classic.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2017, 08:48:01 PM by Watamushi(Polly Poller) » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2017, 09:14:16 PM »

Haven't listened to it in awhile, but I sure played it a lot for a couple years. What I Really Want for Christmas is one of Brian's best songs, ever. I was sad, though, when I saw a bunch of copies of the cd in a discount bin at Sam Goody when they closed their mall store. Does anyone know how well it sold?
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2017, 11:32:02 PM »

If we believe the interviews from when this was released, and I have no reason not too, then this album was all Brian's idea.

He wanted to cut a christmas album, he went into the studio and did just that. This is a fully motivated Wilson. Arrangement-wise, it is the closest we're going to get to the classic BW sound.

It is the closest we're going to get to Brian just doing what he does, the old way,  with no interference. And it shows.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2017, 11:56:34 PM by Hickory Violet Part IV » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2017, 11:41:21 PM »

If we believe the interviews from when this was released, and I have no reason not too, then this album was all Brian's idea.

He wanted to cut a christmas album, he went into the studio and did just that. Arrangement-wise, it is the closest we're going to get to the classic BW sound.

It is the closest we're going to get to Brian just doing what he does, the old way,  with no interference. And it shows.
I agree. This album really should be a Christmas standard.
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2017, 04:53:04 AM »

https://charlierose.com/videos/10231
Brian says Clive Davis called him up w/ the idea of doing an x-mas album.

Brianism "christmas. it makes me think of Jesus Christ. it should be pronounced Christ-mas" and then that funny cough a few secs later ughUH
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2017, 06:19:21 AM »

It's a very good Christmas album. I think that even the BBs remakes - including Auld Lang Syne -  are good (in case of The Man With... beating the original production wise) but when listening to the album now I think they are out of place and kinda useless. The title track is a Christmas-Love&Mercy. Touching.
I could live without that uptempo part of "We wish you a merry Christmas".
And I'm very happy about the bonus tracks, especially Brian's beautiful "Joy to the world"
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2017, 08:15:41 AM »

And another BW trademark is that you have to listen to the whole song, or else you'll miss one of those trademark BW musical curveballs. It could be a vocal reharmonization, a twist in the chord progression, a key change, an unexpected instrument popping up in the mix, an unusual coda...it's all there. It's not like you can get what the track is about, like "Oh, this is The First Noel, right...", from hearing the first 15 seconds. You have to stay tuned for the whole thing.

From first listen I loved the 'Joy To The World' tag on The Man With All The Toys. Very unexpected and it certainly felt like a personal BW touch.

What I Really Want for Christmas is one of Brian's best songs, ever.

Agreed! I think it's among the best of his work since '67. A true highlight. Which is why I think it was such a mistake not to include it on Playback.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 08:18:51 AM by B.E. » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2017, 11:19:06 AM »

I dig this album. His remake of "Little Saint Nick" is a little "shouty" as many have said in the past, but I can't not like it anyway.

The originals aren't the best stuff. I'd say "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is the strongest. I also dig the great high note/falsetto Brian does on "The First Noel." Also love the intro vocals on "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear."

Great vocal arrangements as always.
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2017, 11:20:44 AM »

Also worth mention is that they still have a page up on Brian's website that collects all the stray Xmas tracks including some not found on the XMas album (e.g. "The Christmas Song"):

http://www.brianwilson.com/christmas/
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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2017, 11:23:47 AM »

The album also resulted in one of the stranger TV appearances Brian has made:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPQAo9Kfqpk
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« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2017, 02:28:23 PM »

Confession...sometimes I actually prefer this to much of the 1964 Christmas album.  I know the 64 album is objectively better, but the original version of Many with all the Toys is so terrible IMHO it drags it down big time. Plus, and i know this is gonna be a WTF for many of you, but I actually don't like Brian's vocal on Blue Christmas at all.
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« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2017, 06:47:29 PM »

Confession...sometimes I actually prefer this to much of the 1964 Christmas album.  I know the 64 album is objectively better, but the original version of Many with all the Toys is so terrible IMHO it drags it down big time. Plus, and i know this is gonna be a WTF for many of you, but I actually don't like Brian's vocal on Blue Christmas at all.

While I prefer The Beach Boys album, it feels a little disjointed with the standards having a completely different feel while the whole BW album is a little more cohesive. 
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« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2017, 08:05:59 PM »

Confession...sometimes I actually prefer this to much of the 1964 Christmas album.  I know the 64 album is objectively better, but the original version of Man with all the Toys is so terrible IMHO it drags it down big time. Plus, and i know this is gonna be a WTF for many of you, but I actually don't like Brian's vocal on Blue Christmas at all.

So, the Man With All The Toys / Blue Christmas 45 isn't a favorite?  Grin Personally, my only problem with the original Man With All The Toys is the incredibly loudly mixed "oh"s. As in, the man "OH" with all "OH" the toys. It can be painful when listening with headphones. Brian's 2005 version was mixed much better.
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« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2017, 08:31:13 PM »

Confession...sometimes I actually prefer this to much of the 1964 Christmas album.  I know the 64 album is objectively better, but the original version of Man with all the Toys is so terrible IMHO it drags it down big time. Plus, and i know this is gonna be a WTF for many of you, but I actually don't like Brian's vocal on Blue Christmas at all.

So, the Man With All The Toys / Blue Christmas 45 isn't a favorite?  Grin Personally, my only problem with the original Man With All The Toys is the incredibly loudly mixed "oh"s. As in, the man "OH" with all "OH" the toys. It can be painful when listening with headphones. Brian's 2005 version was mixed much better.

Nope LOL  TMWATT to me just always sounded unfinished. And yeah the bvs are mixed too loud (and eerily reminiscent of the 1980 abomination known as School Days).

As for Blue Christmas, Brian's vocal is too sweet, for lack of a better word to use. It just doesn't sound right on this song IMHO. I think Dennis might have been a better fit.
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How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2017, 04:32:41 PM »

"The Man With All the Toys" sounds pretty limp in stereo with the instrumental track mixed pretty low. It sounds punchier on the original mono mix, which I believe was used in the original circa 1990 Capitol CD.
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« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2017, 06:55:51 PM »

Ehhhhh...it's okay at best.  The production is a bit too glossy and even if Brian's vocals have been sweetened a good bit, he still doesn't sound like a very good vocalist.  Some tracks are alright but overall this is standard fare. 
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« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2017, 07:12:50 PM »

Title cut is the closest to smile style instrumentation Brian has got without going overboard into "pretender" territory
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« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2017, 08:11:35 PM »

I’m also a big believer in this record. It was an odd post Smile move, but there’s a lot of inventiveness and creativity there, without too much paranoia about how it will be perceived. I do think it might be overlong by a couple of tracks, but otherwise it’s a winner. Love the revamped Man With All the Toys, title track and God Rest.
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« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2017, 08:20:35 PM »

Two other notes:

I always find it charming how BW does ALL THE VERSES of the traditional carols. It’s like he’s working from an old hymnal or something. (As opposed to the Joe Thomas produced Joy to the World, where they apparently never looked up the second verse, which bugs me more than you might think.)

Second, Inalways imagine that BW imagined God Rest as a duet with Mike. The way it features those super low bits would work so well with a second vocalist ...
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« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2017, 07:04:55 AM »

Title cut is the closest to smile style instrumentation Brian has got without going overboard into "pretender" territory

I always thought that song was more in line with Pet Sounds.  I hear some elements of IJWMFTT in it. 
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« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2017, 09:15:12 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuptvX3xYlg

The snippets from the making of "On Christmas Day" are a lot of fun to watch...
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