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671832 Posts in 27041 Topics by 3971 Members - Latest Member: kindofgreen September 20, 2021, 08:18:35 AM
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Author Topic: Its OK  (Read 8544 times)
phirnis
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« Reply #25 on: November 30, 2020, 11:15:37 PM »


IMO the "Rock and Roll Music" single for it's rawness fits very well into that time when people were turning to such a sound. Wasn't this the time when Punk music began it's way? I remember reading reviews that criticized the single for being so unpolished, analogies like forgetting what they achieved with "Pet Sounds" for going back to "Surfin' Safari" come to mind. But I disagree with that. The early surf-rock records are just as much a part of the Boys greatness as Pet Sounds.


Almost nobody in the U.S.A. was aware of punk music yet in the first half of 1976, aside from some very hip people in N.Y.C., L.A., and maybe Detroit. The vast, vast majority of the AM radio-listening and record-buying American public were either into the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, ELO, and the Doobies, or into sounds even more polished and softer-sounding still. So if the BBs wanted big radio hits, those are the sounds they were competing with.   


Ah, thank you!
But I guess one could say that an audience for that sound was there even if it wasn't mainstream yet. Anyway, I personally like this bare-to-the-bones BBs sound

Many critics tend to see the band's early work as a four-year build-up to Pet Sounds because that's the album that is singled out as the masterpiece. Anything stripped-down or fun isn't what the critics are into.
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« Reply #26 on: December 01, 2020, 01:26:27 AM »

"It's OK" is a dumbed-down rewrite of "Mess of Help." They've added a half-line in the verse of "It's OK" in place of the backing track vamp in "Mess," which seems to trick many folks into not discerning just how similar the two tracks really are. The extra couplet that operates as the chorus for "Mess" ("belief I cried/ain't no shuck'n'jive/I need a mess of help to stand alone") is removed, and instead of a middle-8 that gets repeated/augmented as the tag ("She don't know a thing" etc.) you just get a closing tag that gets embellished as it repeats ("Find a ride"/"in the sum-sum-summertime" etc.).

Brian is well-known for reworking tracks, and I'm figuring he figured that all that funky over-production on "Mess" was simply obscuring an up-tempo hit. A snip here, a chord substitution or two there, Mike with a clothespin on his nose doing the lead instead of the larynx-destroying growl of Carl, textbook 60s harmonies to further disguise the fact there's no chorus, and--voila! Semi-crypto-ersatz BB "Do It Again" again (with that endearingly cheezy electric piano riff).

It had a good lead-in with "R&R Music," but they waited 2-3 weeks too long to release it; the momentum on album sales for 15BO went cold very quickly once word of mouth about the LP got around, and the single stalled.

I continue to hear "Keepin' the Summer Alive" as a valiant but ultimately lame attempt to mash up "Marcella" with "Takin' Care of Business," to the detriment of both. Transporting that back to '75 or '76 is impossible, of course--and even if you could, there's the fact that Bachman-Turner Overdrive was already fading out at that point (their peak was with "You Ain't See Nothin' Yet" in mid-'74), so one has to question if that really would've put the band on top in that time frame. I'd still contend that the best shot at a hit single in '75 for the band would've been a version of "River Song," but the ship had sailed on that already. A somewhat altered arrangement of Dennis' version from POB with Carl on lead, and some added contrapuntality on the tag might have been the ticket to getting the band its first hit from a member of the band other than Brian. But the specter of ENDLESS SUMMER was creating a lot of uncertainty in '74-'75, which translated into a lingering creative paralysis.
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« Reply #27 on: December 01, 2020, 08:30:50 AM »

"It's OK" is a dumbed-down rewrite of "Mess of Help." They've added a half-line in the verse of "It's OK" in place of the backing track vamp in "Mess," which seems to trick many folks into not discerning just how similar the two tracks really are. The extra couplet that operates as the chorus for "Mess" ("belief I cried/ain't no shuck'n'jive/I need a mess of help to stand alone") is removed, and instead of a middle-8 that gets repeated/augmented as the tag ("She don't know a thing" etc.) you just get a closing tag that gets embellished as it repeats ("Find a ride"/"in the sum-sum-summertime" etc.).

Brian is well-known for reworking tracks, and I'm figuring he figured that all that funky over-production on "Mess" was simply obscuring an up-tempo hit. A snip here, a chord substitution or two there, Mike with a clothespin on his nose doing the lead instead of the larynx-destroying growl of Carl, textbook 60s harmonies to further disguise the fact there's no chorus, and--voila! Semi-crypto-ersatz BB "Do It Again" again (with that endearingly cheezy electric piano riff).

It had a good lead-in with "R&R Music," but they waited 2-3 weeks too long to release it; the momentum on album sales for 15BO went cold very quickly once word of mouth about the LP got around, and the single stalled.

I continue to hear "Keepin' the Summer Alive" as a valiant but ultimately lame attempt to mash up "Marcella" with "Takin' Care of Business," to the detriment of both. Transporting that back to '75 or '76 is impossible, of course--and even if you could, there's the fact that Bachman-Turner Overdrive was already fading out at that point (their peak was with "You Ain't See Nothin' Yet" in mid-'74), so one has to question if that really would've put the band on top in that time frame. I'd still contend that the best shot at a hit single in '75 for the band would've been a version of "River Song," but the ship had sailed on that already. A somewhat altered arrangement of Dennis' version from POB with Carl on lead, and some added contrapuntality on the tag might have been the ticket to getting the band its first hit from a member of the band other than Brian. But the specter of ENDLESS SUMMER was creating a lot of uncertainty in '74-'75, which translated into a lingering creative paralysis.

Agreed and well put.
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The 4th Wilson Bro.
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« Reply #28 on: December 01, 2020, 05:12:36 PM »

They should have completed this song and put it out as a single on the heels of Endless Summer in 1974 or '75. Could have been a bigger hit this way I guess but it's always hard to say with these guys.

Another missed opportunity not unlike the Christmas single Child Of Winter released too late in December 1974 to really make an impact.

Theres been several times they didnt strike while the iron was hot. Theres numerous Beach Boys songs from the late Sixties through the Eighties that with the right timing and marketing couldve been hits or even bigger hits. Heroes and Villains, Darlin, Wild Honey, Do It Again, I Can Hear Music, Slip On Through, This Whole World, California, Sail On Sailor, Good Timin, Keepin The Summer Alive, Goin On and Getcha Back are all good examples.

At least The Medley, Wipeout and Kokomo charted well.

You just listed some of my all-time favorite Beach Boys songs.
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« Reply #29 on: December 01, 2020, 10:18:33 PM »

I don't think the timing for "It's OK" was that big of a deal; the Beach Boys were still enormously popular in 1976, and if they had come out with a classic record - California Girls/Good Vibrations/I Get Around quality, it would have been huge. Endless Summer and Spirit of America were successful albums because Capitol promoted them like crazy, and people loved the music. My guess is that 15BO sold well initially because it was promoted as the second coming of Summer Days and Summer Nights. When word got around that it wasn't Son of Beach Boys Today, sales dropped quickly. The public wanted more sounds like they heard on Endless Summer, and the group did not deliver.
I suspect, though, if the group had stayed on the course started with CATP and Holland, that would not have sold in huge numbers, either. Us cultists love the "artistic" side of the group, but the casual fans never wanted to beyond Pet Sounds very much.
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« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2020, 06:58:52 AM »

Here's one for perspective... I saw IT'S OK performed live in the summer of 1976 (Oak Glen Park, Peoria, IL).  For the tag, over Dennis' "Find A Ride," someone on stage - either Al or Billy Hinsche - sang a beautiful falsetto tag.  For years, I had a recording of the show (no longer have it) and always thought it would have been a bigger hit with the falsetto tag.  in those days, us younger fans (I was 17) really dug the falsetto tag on Fun Fun Fun.  It was "the" signature Beach Boys sound.  If you want to hear what it sounded like, Celebration does the exact same falsetto tag on the end of their IT's OK cover on the ALMOST SUMMER soundtrack album.
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« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2020, 08:48:18 AM »

I don't think the timing for "It's OK" was that big of a deal; the Beach Boys were still enormously popular in 1976, and if they had come out with a classic record - California Girls/Good Vibrations/I Get Around quality, it would have been huge. Endless Summer and Spirit of America were successful albums because Capitol promoted them like crazy, and people loved the music. My guess is that 15BO sold well initially because it was promoted as the second coming of Summer Days and Summer Nights. When word got around that it wasn't Son of Beach Boys Today, sales dropped quickly. The public wanted more sounds like they heard on Endless Summer, and the group did not deliver.
I suspect, though, if the group had stayed on the course started with CATP and Holland, that would not have sold in huge numbers, either. Us cultists love the "artistic" side of the group, but the casual fans never wanted to beyond Pet Sounds very much.

I also think those greatest hits compilations sold well because there was a huge wave of 50's-60's-Golden Oldies nostalgia in the mid-70's which I don't believe has been matched by any generation's or decade's nostalgia kick ever since. The discussion trying to pinpoint exactly how and why is a fascinating one, but not for a few minutes or posts. I have to pinpoint George Lucas and American Graffitti for one catalyst, and that had several Beach Boys classics featured prominently, including one of the best uses of music in a film when Lucas played All Summer Long under the credits. Then jumping on that trend, there was "Happy Days", which was American Graffitti watered down for TV but it was also one of the biggest pop culture icons of the 70's.

But I don't think original songs that were new from these old artists had as much staying power or appeal to the audiences as reliving those oldies but goodies. Look at Frankie Valli - His sound was a major part of that nostalgia trip of the 70's, only he went disco and had a run of a few "comeback" hits that sounded nothing like the 50's or 60's.

I think the audiences wanted their nostalgia authentic, and there just were not too many acts pumping out authentic new "nostalgia" style songs, with of course some exceptions. But seriously, look at Sha Na Na, the Beach Boys...people wanted to hear the oldies and covers if they were on the nostalgia trip. And if someone like Frankie Valli had a hit, it was contemporary or disco, far removed from their oldies sound.  Look at Elton John, he went total 50's rock parody and nostalgia on "Crocodile Rock", yet managed to stay contemporary and score a hit record still played on classic rock stations and oldies stations. If the Beach Boys could have managed a song that was as catchy as that, or as contemporary and catchy as the Valli disco revival tunes, they would have fit in perfectly and sold more records.

In that mindset, the choices on "15 Big Ones" do make sense, do up some oldies and covers and work in some new material too. But it just wasn't there overall, or at least wasn't where it could have been. I do think "Rock And Roll Music" is a damn fine cover with a solid lead from Mike and a pulsating backing groove, but I also think the hokey backing vocals "rock, rock, rockin and a rollin" or whatever they sang weighed it down too much. The song didn't need those vocals.

But I think they knew what audiences wanted from the nostalgia wave, and tried to deliver for those specific reasons.
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« Reply #32 on: December 02, 2020, 12:28:57 PM »

It's OK would have benefited from a sit up and take notice intro, something like the intro to Surfin USA.  I've heard the intro on the version on MIC, which sounds like something you'd expect to hear on a video game, which was a dud of an intro.  The background vocals could have had a fuller sound, but it was a great summer pop song in 1976. 
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« Reply #33 on: December 02, 2020, 06:22:03 PM »

I have a lot to say about this era but as to "It's O.K."; I think it's an a terrific single and should have been the 1st single released. Ride the momentum of Endless Summer by leading with the best ORIGINAL song. (I will contend "Had to Phone Ya" can be considered a better song, but in terms of A-side, "It's O.K." would win out.) I don't care that it's a lazy write for Brian; it showcases that the Beach Boys could still kick ass in terms of making summer pop music. The first single from them during their comeback should have been an original song. Also, the original "Rock and Roll Music" is not good; the mix on MIC is far superior, which makes it actually kick ass.

This moment itself is a critical juncture for The Beach Boys and I think, it is the ultimate decline for the group as a whole. The return of stardom (and money) is really the true selling out of The Beach Boys. It's a far sad chapter in that it's all based on Brian having to come out into the world and be expected to make records that sounded like 1964. I'm not certain on the details, but if I recall, Brian starts seeing Landy after Marilyn's starts having Landy counsel her at their home. That's October of 1975. I can imagine this point probably the absolute lowest of Brian's mental health. The idea that this magic huckster will cure Brian instantly of all his ailments was ridiculous and a sad part in that no one in the BB circle said, "Hey, wait a minute, this guy seems fishy" You figured after dealing with so many people in the business that they would have had a guard out. Brian's not even a willing patient, openly telling journalists he's only seeing Landy because he didn't want to be sent to a psychiatric hospital. In addition, Brian sometimes appears to be on cocaine during interviews or asking the writer for cocaine. So it's pretty clear that Brian had a ways to go to deal with his mental health issues. Instead, Steve Love wants to cash in and comes up with the Brian's Back campaign. Brian was not clearly back as pretty everyone will admit.

If The Beach Boys wanted to have a comeback album, I think the album should have been called "It's O.K." Kinda tongue-in-check for a comeback album, but the single itself is very radio friendly and the closest the band was going to come to emulate their old hitmaking selves. The entire campaign should have been "It's O.K." and it should have downplayed Brian's Back. The tracks we get on 15 Big Ones are infuriating because, for me at least, I skip over a vast majority of them. The album has its' moments, even the lesser tracks because Brian is experimenting more with Moog Bass and the sounds that would show up on Love You (which I love).
 
But the band was not going to get much out of Brian during this time period. That's why the originals are not really that original and fairly old. If Brian had to do studio time under therapy for Landy, he was just going to play his favorite songs on synthesizer. He was going to amuse himself. Brian has always loved the oldies sound and Mike always longed for the old days, so naturally he probably was on board with the songs on 15 Big Ones. Carl and Dennis obviously wanted a more original album, but they submitted nothing of their own. This lack of original songs from the Wilson brothers leaves room for covers that amused Brian and terrible songs, like "Everyone's In Love With You." (I like most of Mike's Beach Boys songs, too, but this one where I depart)

The Beach Boys could have had a comeback album without the Brian's Back campaign. Brian could have been involved minimally, but more than previous years. The idea of him touring was another horrible decision in the Beach Boys history. Brian didn't want to be there and again, it seems like he is forced to do tour just how he was forced into the studio. It's all "therapy" even though the pressures on Brian were immense and Brian just didn't want to deal with the spotlight again. He just burned himself out and I think the industry itself really took a toll on him. Brian snapping around 1978 was unfortunately going to happen because his mental health issues had not yet been solved. Add in the pressure of a huge new contract with CBS and touring and writing and therapy and drugs and divorce and the band almost breaking up and alcohol - I can sadly see why Brian relapsed. Then in 1982, the Beach Boys inner circle again forces Brian into seeing Landy. I do feel like Brian had a lot of resentment towards the Beach Boys during all of this. I think that's one reason why the music he wrote during this time is so unrefined. Brian didn't care what the product was; he was just amusing himself regardless of its' hit potential. No wonder why Mike told Brian to stop fucking around after hearing Adult/Child on the heels of Love You. M.I.U. is another attempt to try to help Brian. Let's take Brian away from the temptations of LA to the middle-of-nowhere Iowa and then Cousin Brian can start making the hits again! (In fairness, I really like about half of M.I.U.) Brian could still make great melodies regardless the production. I do wonder how much of his weird songs are out of spite to the guys. An attitude of, "Yeah, you want me to write again so you can avoid bankruptcy? Fine, here's Hey Little Tomboy and you're taking the lead, Mike!" Or maybe the guys and Brian didn't care either. Maybe it was just, let's get more BB on the market while we make money touring. But I do wonder how passive aggressive Brian was during these years. I've read about Brian being a very manipulative person in his own way and I am sure he was trying to manipulate the situation of Brian's Back in some capacity. I think Landy exploited Brian's resentment and then tried to turn it into pure hatred toward his family in the late 1980s so he could fully own Brian.

Anyway, I like It's O.K. and it should have been in the Top 10.
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« Reply #34 on: December 03, 2020, 08:10:19 AM »

"It's OK" is fascinating because of how it dropped off the face of the Earth as either a "minor hit" or even well-known catalog track for the band.

The song was dropped from the setlist within a year or two. It briefly resurfaced as a show-opener in 1982 and I don't think it went over particularly well. After that, it was only decades later when Mike dug the song out for his shows. On both his shows and the C50 reunion tour where it was performed, it has never seemed to garner much attention from the audience. I just don't think it stuck with the band's audience or general audience.

I also think, whether because of the music itself or other stuff attached to that song/era, some band members aren't big fans of the song. I recall the band members doing interviews track-by-track for the "Warmth of the Sun" compilation back in 2007, and when Al was asked about "It's OK", I recall he literally had a "no comment" response. At the very least, he had nothing to say about the song. I doubt Al or Brian (who has never done the song at his shows) were instigators in doing the song on C50.

I don't know if there's a scenario where "It's OK" would have been a "hit" as such. I think the theory put across some time back in one of these threads that, had they had "Peggy Sue" ready and releasable as a second single in 1976, that *probably* would have been the best bet for better singles chart action, whether we all like that song or not.
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« Reply #35 on: December 03, 2020, 08:34:09 PM »

Actually, it was in the setlist for four years initially: they played it when I saw them for the first time in '79.
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« Reply #36 on: December 03, 2020, 09:06:38 PM »

I wonder how it wouldve done had it been completed the year it was started (74)
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« Reply #37 on: December 05, 2020, 11:22:03 AM »

Billy , I think it would've done very well coming on the heels of Endless Summer. You had other songs around this time like "Beach Baby", Crockodile Rock, that BJ Thomas tune, rock n roll something or other.
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« Reply #38 on: December 09, 2020, 06:24:41 AM »

Probably Brian's last real attempt at producing a hit single for the band? Love the vocal arrangements and that bass riff is pretty spectacular too. Definitely one of my favorite BB songs from the 70s; the single version sounds like the synth bass was mixed a little more up front, which is great. They should have completed this song and put it out as a single on the heels of Endless Summer in 1974 or '75. Could have been a bigger hit this way I guess but it's always hard to say with these guys.

Could the seemingly louder synth bass in the single version be the result not of a remix, but the fact that the track was sped up by 2%?

I agree that "It's OK" should have been a much bigger hit, at least Top 10. And I often think that "Keepin' The Summer Alive" could have been a hit single, had it been recorded and released five years earlier than when it was...another "summertime smash"-sounding tune, but with a more contemporary feel - exactly what their audience would've hoped for in the summer of '75.

Both "It's OK" and "KTMA" are both solid, highly underrated "fun" songs from the group.  They even snagged Joe Walsh to do the slide guitar on the latter song which is a pleasant surprise. 

I quite like the "Gotta go through it" hook for the record. 
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« Reply #39 on: December 09, 2020, 06:53:40 AM »

"KTMA"

keeping the mantra alive

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« Reply #40 on: December 09, 2020, 07:52:14 AM »

"Keepin' the Summer Alive" (the song) would never have been a hit so long as Bruce Johnston was producing it. The released track is limp, muted, and totally lacking in any sort of rock dynamic.

Bruce was a guy to get to produce "Full Sail", not a rock song, and certainly not a potential *hit* on rock radio.

A more dynamic producer for the song could have helped (perhaps a Roy Thomas Baker sort of situation, think the 1979-ish era of The Cars), but even then the song was always going to sound like a re-write of "Takin' Care of Business."

I think the KTSA track sounded much better in concert (the Washington DC 1980 version is by leaps and bounds the most listenable version of the song), but even then it's not a crowning achievement for the band. In the live context, it was a nice bit for the band to stretch a bit and for Carl to do a grittier lead.

I bow to nobody in my weird fascination and enjoyment of KTSA (and early 80s in general) BBs, but nothing on KTSA was a "hit" in relation to what was going on at the top of the singles charts or radio airplay.

The band literally accidentally stumbled into a minor hit with "Come Go With Me" in 1981, and say what you want about the rest of the production on MIU or Al's production work in general, but "Come Go With Me" at least sounds sharp and slick and as commercial as an early 80s (albeit with a track actually from the mid-late 70s) Beach Boys was going to sound.

You gotta wonder, was the poor choice of Bruce producing KTSA more about no better/bigger producers being interested? Or did the band not pursue those avenues? Was Bruce cheaper? What was on Guercio's mind by that time? Did he care?
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« Reply #41 on: December 09, 2020, 09:29:14 AM »

"Keepin' the Summer Alive" (the song) would never have been a hit so long as Bruce Johnston was producing it. The released track is limp, muted, and totally lacking in any sort of rock dynamic.

Bruce was a guy to get to produce "Full Sail", not a rock song, and certainly not a potential *hit* on rock radio.

A more dynamic producer for the song could have helped (perhaps a Roy Thomas Baker sort of situation, think the 1979-ish era of The Cars), but even then the song was always going to sound like a re-write of "Takin' Care of Business."

I think the KTSA track sounded much better in concert (the Washington DC 1980 version is by leaps and bounds the most listenable version of the song), but even then it's not a crowning achievement for the band. In the live context, it was a nice bit for the band to stretch a bit and for Carl to do a grittier lead.

I bow to nobody in my weird fascination and enjoyment of KTSA (and early 80s in general) BBs, but nothing on KTSA was a "hit" in relation to what was going on at the top of the singles charts or radio airplay.

The band literally accidentally stumbled into a minor hit with "Come Go With Me" in 1981, and say what you want about the rest of the production on MIU or Al's production work in general, but "Come Go With Me" at least sounds sharp and slick and as commercial as an early 80s (albeit with a track actually from the mid-late 70s) Beach Boys was going to sound.

You gotta wonder, was the poor choice of Bruce producing KTSA more about no better/bigger producers being interested? Or did the band not pursue those avenues? Was Bruce cheaper? What was on Guercio's mind by that time? Did he care?

Several things come to mind with regards to why they might have chosen Bruce to produce:

-He had recently won the Grammy and the other members might have been a little bit in awe of him, thinking he at that point had the magic touch

-perhaps it was thought that he could play the role of mediator to some degree, because he was already familiar with the personalities and basically got along with everyone pretty decently

-and yes it may just have been a cost saving measure. Since he was back in the band and making money from being on the road and playing live shows, I'm wondering did he actually get a separate producer's fee? Or was it all just without a fee, Since he was able to get back into raking in road money when he was back in the band?

And it  also makes me wonder, did Al get producer fees from MIU?
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« Reply #42 on: December 09, 2020, 12:31:17 PM »

Great points about Bruce as producer - would love to know what you think about the band's move to Terry Melcher in the mid 80s?
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« Reply #43 on: December 09, 2020, 12:42:44 PM »

"Keepin' the Summer Alive" (the song) would never have been a hit so long as Bruce Johnston was producing it. The released track is limp, muted, and totally lacking in any sort of rock dynamic.

Bruce was a guy to get to produce "Full Sail", not a rock song, and certainly not a potential *hit* on rock radio.

A more dynamic producer for the song could have helped (perhaps a Roy Thomas Baker sort of situation, think the 1979-ish era of The Cars), but even then the song was always going to sound like a re-write of "Takin' Care of Business."

I think the KTSA track sounded much better in concert (the Washington DC 1980 version is by leaps and bounds the most listenable version of the song), but even then it's not a crowning achievement for the band. In the live context, it was a nice bit for the band to stretch a bit and for Carl to do a grittier lead.

I bow to nobody in my weird fascination and enjoyment of KTSA (and early 80s in general) BBs, but nothing on KTSA was a "hit" in relation to what was going on at the top of the singles charts or radio airplay.

The band literally accidentally stumbled into a minor hit with "Come Go With Me" in 1981, and say what you want about the rest of the production on MIU or Al's production work in general, but "Come Go With Me" at least sounds sharp and slick and as commercial as an early 80s (albeit with a track actually from the mid-late 70s) Beach Boys was going to sound.

You gotta wonder, was the poor choice of Bruce producing KTSA more about no better/bigger producers being interested? Or did the band not pursue those avenues? Was Bruce cheaper? What was on Guercio's mind by that time? Did he care?

Several things come to mind with regards to why they might have chosen Bruce to produce:

-He had recently won the Grammy and the other members might have been a little bit in awe of him, thinking he at that point had the magic touch

-perhaps it was thought that he could play the role of mediator to some degree, because he was already familiar with the personalities and basically got along with everyone pretty decently

-and yes it may just have been a cost saving measure. Since he was back in the band and making money from being on the road and playing live shows, I'm wondering did he actually get a separate producer's fee? Or was it all just without a fee, Since he was able to get back into raking in road money when he was back in the band?

And it  also makes me wonder, did Al get producer fees from MIU?

The typical deal is that producers get "points", meaning a percentage of some calculation of the revenue. I don't know how much Bruce might have been paid up front, but he'd probably get points on the stuff. Same with Al. That's the usual deal anyway.

Bruce was certainly a good mediator (at the time), that was his biggest plus for running the sessions; that he was both an insider and and an outsider/mediator.

But from a commercial point of view, doing the type of music that the band did on those albums, I can't imagine anybody who knew anything about what was popular or might be a hit was thinking "You know who we need? Bruce Johnston!"

We all know the famous story of Bruce coming in for the "LA" sessions in Florida, this was essentially a move to save the project. The Beach Boys seemed a bit aimless by the time of KTSA, so despite "LA" tanking on the charts, I guess it was easy for them to say "okay, we tried Brian *again* for some early KTSA sessions, that didn't work *again*, so yeah, fine, let Bruce sort it out."

Bruce Johnston at that time was a good pick to get product finished and out the door.

Bruce was not a good pick if the band wanted either a critical or commercial success.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2020, 12:57:17 PM by HeyJude » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: December 09, 2020, 12:56:24 PM »

Great points about Bruce as producer - would love to know what you think about the band's move to Terry Melcher in the mid 80s?

The band using Terry Melcher was more or less as lazy and uninspired as using Bruce.

The one partial exception is that, as Howie mentioned in a previous Melcher thread, the guys kept using Melcher because Melcher was scoring them deals for getting songs into movies. That's lucrative even when the song and/or film bomb.

Now, Bruce and Terry *knew* the guys and were able to work with them and get them to function. That's something.

But the question is, were the guys in the band sitting there saying "We know we're effed up and dysfunctional, so let's call mostly producers who know us and can work around our dysfunction."

The band never called up Steve Levine again. Did they try? BB '85 wasn't a huge hit, but it was more successful that the previous three or four albums.

The band never had (or never allowed) some relatively altruistic outside producer to come in who wasn't trying to make extra bucks by co-writing or facilitating soundtrack deals. They never got a Rick Rubin-Johnny Cash thing, or even a Jeff Lynne-Roy Orbison thing going on. A few times they *sort of* had that potential situation brewing with Andy Paley and Don Was, but they didn't take to that. The deal with Sean O'Hagan (who may have produced something interesting, or total garbage, I have no idea) never got past the stage of offending O'Hagan.

The next time anything remotely of this nature occured was Joe Thomas getting the C50 project, including the album, done and released. Thomas's production sensibilities are open for debate, but what he absolutely *did* accomplish was getting s**t done, and getting a very good tour and pretty good album done. A Joe Thomas-type over the years, or moving forward after 2012, would have been great, and they could have brought other co-writers and producers in so that Thomas's hand wasn't so heavy on the recordings.

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« Reply #45 on: December 09, 2020, 01:09:03 PM »

Great points about Bruce as producer - would love to know what you think about the band's move to Terry Melcher in the mid 80s?

The band using Terry Melcher was more or less as lazy and uninspired as using Bruce.

The one partial exception is that, as Howie mentioned in a previous Melcher thread, the guys kept using Melcher because Melcher was scoring them deals for getting songs into movies. That's lucrative even when the song and/or film bomb.

Now, Bruce and Terry *knew* the guys and were able to work with them and get them to function. That's something.

But the question is, were the guys in the band sitting there saying "We know we're effed up and dysfunctional, so let's call mostly producers who know us and can work around our dysfunction."

The band never called up Steve Levine again. Did they try? BB '85 wasn't a huge hit, but it was more successful that the previous three or four albums.

The band never had (or never allowed) some relatively altruistic outside producer to come in who wasn't trying to make extra bucks by co-writing or facilitating soundtrack deals. They never got a Rick Rubin-Johnny Cash thing, or even a Jeff Lynne-Roy Orbison thing going on. A few times they *sort of* had that potential situation brewing with Andy Paley and Don Was, but they didn't take to that. The deal with Sean O'Hagan (who may have produced something interesting, or total garbage, I have no idea) never got past the stage of offending O'Hagan.

The next time anything remotely of this nature occured was Joe Thomas getting the C50 project, including the album, done and released. Thomas's production sensibilities are open for debate, but what he absolutely *did* accomplish was getting s**t done, and getting a very good tour and pretty good album done. A Joe Thomas-type over the years, or moving forward after 2012, would have been great, and they could have brought other co-writers and producers in so that Thomas's hand wasn't so heavy on the recordings.


Maybe in 1979, somebody in the band during the tense times of trying to make a new record blurted out that a BJ could help matters, and like a game of operator, the original intent got misunderstood? LOL
« Last Edit: December 09, 2020, 01:11:38 PM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #46 on: December 10, 2020, 02:14:21 AM »

Great points about Bruce as producer - would love to know what you think about the band's move to Terry Melcher in the mid 80s?

The band using Terry Melcher was more or less as lazy and uninspired as using Bruce.

The one partial exception is that, as Howie mentioned in a previous Melcher thread, the guys kept using Melcher because Melcher was scoring them deals for getting songs into movies. That's lucrative even when the song and/or film bomb.

Now, Bruce and Terry *knew* the guys and were able to work with them and get them to function. That's something.

But the question is, were the guys in the band sitting there saying "We know we're effed up and dysfunctional, so let's call mostly producers who know us and can work around our dysfunction."

The band never called up Steve Levine again. Did they try? BB '85 wasn't a huge hit, but it was more successful that the previous three or four albums.

The band never had (or never allowed) some relatively altruistic outside producer to come in who wasn't trying to make extra bucks by co-writing or facilitating soundtrack deals. They never got a Rick Rubin-Johnny Cash thing, or even a Jeff Lynne-Roy Orbison thing going on. A few times they *sort of* had that potential situation brewing with Andy Paley and Don Was, but they didn't take to that. The deal with Sean O'Hagan (who may have produced something interesting, or total garbage, I have no idea) never got past the stage of offending O'Hagan.

The next time anything remotely of this nature occured was Joe Thomas getting the C50 project, including the album, done and released. Thomas's production sensibilities are open for debate, but what he absolutely *did* accomplish was getting s**t done, and getting a very good tour and pretty good album done. A Joe Thomas-type over the years, or moving forward after 2012, would have been great, and they could have brought other co-writers and producers in so that Thomas's hand wasn't so heavy on the recordings.





Yes, all interesting points. Thanks for that post!


First, I think Bruce was called back because he was always around, even during his solo career. I think he said that he was on every BBs album except for "In Concert" after his departure. Add to that that he was a member of the band for years before that and knew how the guys ticked, I think it makes him the logical first choice for an "outside"-producer. IIRC it was Brian who called hime when he (Brian) realized that he wasn't gonna work any more on L. A. (Light Album). Plus the record company probably was also ok with it since Bruce just wrote a monster hit and got a Grammy. The question obviously would be why they didn't produce it on their own or let Carl take over. But that probably has to do with the bad feeling inside the group.

I remember recently someone posted an interview with Steve Levine and he recalled a moment when Brian was late for a session, driving up in the parking spot while he - Levine - was sitting there completely frustrated at what hat happened. Steve was telling Brian about it who the said "Yeah, they did that to me all the time" (or something similar). At that point Levine realized how hard it must've been for Brian, because the Beach Boys were hard to work with for someone who didn't know them. I guess that could be a reason for their choices or non-choices regarding to producers. I guess you could sum it up this way: The outside world wanted Brian to produce the Beach Boys, the inside world wouldn't want to have to produce the Beach Boys. If that makes any sense.
Bruce and Terry had a long history with the guys and had their own reputation, so I guess they just were able to deal with the Boys to a certain degree, whicht other people couldn't. Did Levine ever say if he wanted to do another BBs album after BB85? In fact, was there any outside producer saying how great it was working with the Boys and that he couldn't wait to do it again?
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« Reply #47 on: December 10, 2020, 06:26:35 AM »

Another big point regarding Bruce was that he was already working for CBS as a staff producer, and now that the Boys were signed to a CBS-affiliated label, that might have been a suggestion made by the label. They invited him down to Florida simply to sing on the album, but once there, it might have been the idea of someone at CBS, or possibly Guercio, to let him co-produce. As mentioned above, he was a recent Grammy winner (albeit for songwriting, not producing), so he had some commercial clout at the time. But the biggest reason was that he was an insider AND outsider at the same time - someone who knew them intimately, personality-wise and ability-wise, AND could still be objective. Regarding producer points - well, Desper later said that he made more money from KTSA than Bruce, since he was paid a salary, while Bruce was paid on points...

I don't think Steve Levine would've wanted to work with them again, based on his later comments, even if they'd asked him. The next obvious choice was Melcher, as he had just co-written their biggest hit in some time (the moderately-successful "Getcha Back"), and had also already recently worked with the band as producer (on the "California Dreamin'" cover, recorded in '82). When the reworked "CD" became a moderate hit in '86 - and since Terry, like Bruce, knew the band intimately and was respected by all of them - it was natural for them to keep him on as their go-to producer.
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« Reply #48 on: December 10, 2020, 06:45:07 AM »

One more point - it was said at the time that Bruce had a two-album producer deal, so that's why he took the reigns for KTSA even though L.A. wasn't a hit. Again, it was probably the label who initiated that deal, with the band's support, of course. After KTSA bombed, the hope among the fanbase, of course, was that Brian would resume the producer role. But the band, especially Carl, were intent on having a "marketable" product - they had already let Brian run the show for a couple of albums, and the results were disastrous in their eyes, so that's why they decided to bring in an outside producer, with Levine eventually getting the nod due to Bruce's recommendation and his recent chart success with Culture Club.
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« Reply #49 on: December 10, 2020, 07:44:04 AM »

<<so that's why they decided to bring in an outside producer, with Levine eventually getting the nod due to Bruce's recommendation and his recent chart success with Culture Club.>>
It should be noted that in 1982-83, CBS was floating the idea of multiple guest producers each doing a track on the next Beach Boys album.  Various producers were approached.  I heard at the time that Lindsey Buckingham was one of those who agreed, but only if he got to produce the entire album.  I believe Levine was on the short list, and eventually ended up with the whole gig.
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