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Author Topic: 15 Big Ones or LA (Light Album) - Which do you prefer of the two?  (Read 1198 times)
thr33
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« on: June 07, 2021, 01:08:41 PM »

Which do you personally think is better? Which do you listen to more often?
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Lonely Summer
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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2021, 01:20:25 PM »

Which do you personally think is better? Which do you listen to more often?
I put on 15BO recently, and it was better than I remembered.
Still, no contest. LA all the way!
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Cabinessenceking
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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2021, 04:26:11 PM »

15BO is downright awful, LA is a solid album.
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B.E.
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2021, 05:06:30 PM »

It's a toss-up. Both are flawed but enjoyable albums. They're also quite different, so it's hard to compare. LA might, might be "better" but I'm more likely to listen to 15BO. Particularly, if we're actually talking about listening to the entire album.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2021, 05:08:19 PM by B.E. » Logged

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phirnis
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2021, 02:34:38 AM »

15 Big Ones by far! I actually like this one a lot - it's a fun album with lots of quirky Brian moments and interesting arrangements. It's OK and Had to Phone Ya are both classics and I have a soft spot for That Same Song. Light Album is a nice listen every now and then but Good Timin' is the only song that blows me away really. The singing on this album is very solid but I find its production a bit dull and unimaginative compared to what the Beach Boys were capable of even in the 70s.
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Steve Latshaw
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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2021, 06:42:26 AM »

I was 16 when 15 BIG ONES came out and had just become a major fan the year before.  At the time I owned SPIRIT OF AMERICA and GOOD VIBRATIONS-BEST OF THE BEACH BOYS.  While I was thrilled they had a new album out and a hit single, the album sounded sloppy and rough to me.  When compared to everything else I'd been listening to, it just didn't sound right.  A fun singalong album.  Rock & Roll Music, It's OK, Palisades Park, Susie Cincinnati, In the Still of the Night and Back Home were classics to me and I loved that snippet of Tallahassee  Lassie but the rest were "meh."  I bought into the whole "Brian's Back" thing so eagerly awaited the next one.  LA Light, to me, was a very good album.  In those days, I rooted for their chart success like I was following a baseball team and for the first time they'd made a record that sounded contemporary, competitive, could hold its own on the top 40 charts, against The Eagles, the Doobie Brothers, Wings, McGuinn, Clark & Hillman and whoever else they might be competing against.  Sonically, it sounded great.  Still does.  It's clear Bruce was following the Sunflower template (albeit with much less involvement from Brian) and trying to create a true group effort that fit right into 1979.  I think the faults of the album lie in what was left off, as opposed to what made the cut.  A shorter mix of Here Comes the Night would have left room for some of the other out-takes that have trickled out in the last few years.  Judging from is Pet Sounds interview from the Fall of 1978, Bruce may have simply felt he needed to include the longer mix of HCTN simply as a way to fill out the album.  In that interview he seemed adamant about not including Brian's Back, California Feelin,' Calendar Girl or Santa Ana Winds in the final cut and Jim Guercio's idea to bookend the album with Do You Dig Worms and Can't Wait Too Long never saw fruition.  The irony is that both Good Timin' and Angel Come Home were in play in 1976.  It would have been interesting to hear those on a 1976 group effort.  I recall one interview with Carl during the making of 15 Big Ones.  He seemed very disappointed that Good Timin' would not make the cut.
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feelintheflows
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« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2021, 12:01:50 PM »

The songs on 15BO I like are Itís OK, Had To Phone Ya, Susie Cincinnati and Just Once In my Life.

On LA Light Album are Good Timin, Love Surrounds Me, Baby Blue and Shortenin Bread.


So same amount of songs but if I had to choose which I like better is definitely LA. No doubt.


Love Surrounds Me and Baby Blue are some of the best and last great moments for The Beach Boys for me personally.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2021, 12:03:46 PM by feelintheflows » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2021, 04:57:31 PM »

15 Big One is a fine album to have on in the background, but it's a weak album overall, in my opinion. I prefer the MIC version of Rock N Roll Music; a version like that in 1976 would have given the album a more powerful kick. I really like It's OK; it's fast, catchy, and it showed off the group could still make good pop music. Having that not be the first single released was a big mistake. You have a good pop original song by Brian Wilson, why are we releasing a Chuck Berry cover in Year 0 of Brian's Back? It's Do It Again for 1976.

Had To Phone Ya is a great track and made for a good B-side. Both this and It's OK do a good job showing off the different voices of the band and also the different styles of a Brian production. One of the problems with 15 Big Ones is that no one had veto power over Brian's vocals. The group should have worked to hide rough Brian; using his voice more in the harmony and background. Blend it in with the band. You only get a small portion of a Brian lead during the first 3 tracks, at the end of Had to Phone Ya. Then we get another Brian lead and this time it's a cover of Chapel of Love and this is where the album gets uninteresting. I can appreciate Chapel of Love and Brian's voice during this time period, but it's not something that should have been issued out as part of a Brian's Back campaign. (That goes for really all of the covers; except Just Once In My Life.) Then we get Everyone's In Love With You, which is easily one of the worst Beach Boys songs released from the 1962-1977 period. (I've at least listened to it more than Bull Session With Big Daddy and Denny's Drums.) I like Mike's stuff usually, I even like Sumahama (which I will get to later).

For the rest of the originals: That Same Song is alright. I don't know if Brian should have sang the lead on it; I am sure Carl would have done a fine job with it. Brian's hoarsely shouting more than singing. I actually like TM Song; they should have just cut out the comedy bit. Nice little song that would be an added bonus on a stronger album, like Holland. It's reminiscent of Brian's quirkiness from the late 1960s and it's a good vocal by Al. Susie Cincinnati is there; it's fine, but again, not a great original. Back Home is terrible, replace it with Sherry She Needs Me and the album gets a lot better.  

For the covers, Just Once In My Life is a killer production and vocal. This is another example of Brian being a good augment to the lead rather than the full lead vocal. It's a great closing track and even though it's a cover, it foreshadows Brian's work on Love You and Adult/Child. I kind of like Blueberry Hill, mainly for the walking bass intro. The others are meh; though Brian said that when he first heard Carl's vocal for Palisades Park that he cried immediately. I think the fans sometimes forget that Brian loves oldies almost as much as Mike, so I feel like this album was where Brian's head was at. Now he had to be forced to do all of this stuff, so sometimes I wonder how passive aggressive Brian was during all of this. "I have to record? Fine, I'll play it all on Moogs, it'll mostly be covers and I'll sing poorly, too." Bu again, Brian likes playing music, especially songs he loves, so maybe he really put it all into 15 Big Ones. The problem was no one stepped in to try to make it tighter. We all know that they collectively had enough music to make for a really good 15 tracks album. This whole period is just desperation for money on the part of the band and their management, though, so no one really cared about the product. They just wanted something out ASAP. Brian was not back in 1976. In hindsight, it's very naive to think Brian could be "fixed" within months and then say, "Okay, buddy, time for Good Vibrations Part Two. Oh, and you're going to be doing interviews and touring all over the country" Just a side effect of the issues people have dealing with mental illness.  

LA is a decent album. It starts off sounding very fresh but appropriate; what you except a good sounding Beach Boys in 1979. I feel like you can almost pick out Brian in Good Timin' and Lady Lynda even though he's not vocally present for them. Bruce or someone did a good job of getting the group sound and even mimic Brian circa MIU. There first two tracks are not masterpieces, but, in terms of general public's expectations, it sounds like The Beach Boys. Lady Lynda doesn't need the Bach intro; but after that, Al kills it and the vocals at the end (starting with Mike's "Come along with me") are fantastic. I don't think much of 15 Big Ones sounded like The Beach Boys or the public's perception of what they should sound like.

For Carl's songs, Full Sail and Goin South are okay, Angel Come Home is the best; that's a good song to utilize Dennis' voice. On the surface, LA seems more like a group project than 15 Big Ones. It's just a patchwork of stuff but it sounds like a group album. You get leads and originals from all 4 with Bruce's production all over this album. In some ways, it kind of mirrors 20/20. Brian's out of it and the group resurrects older Brian songs to complete the album. So for LA, we get disco Here Comes the Night and Shortenin' Bread; not quite the same as Our Prayer and Cabinessence. HCTN was a huge mistake, even though it's fun to listen to it every now and again. I wonder how Brian felt that another one of his songs was being used as a single; sure he had no say in that, which is upsetting, because the original is a great song. Shortenin Bread is fun and I like it, but it's a weird closer; especially for your first album on a new label that's already pissed at you.

Love Surrounds Me sounds like it belongs on Pacific Ocean Blue (that's a positive to me) while Baby Blue sounds more like a Dennis Beach Boys song a la Cuddle Up. Sumahama is a nice song and I think it's one of the last times Mike wrote an original with some earnest. What Mike songs post-Sumahama are not written in search of a #1 or recreation of/connection to the past?

I would say overall LA is a better album than 15 Big Ones, but I probably play the few great songs on 15 Big Ones more than anything on LA. I think I'm going to listen to some of each now!
 
« Last Edit: June 08, 2021, 04:59:04 PM by Join The Human Race » Logged
adamghost
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2021, 11:00:45 PM »

LA. Though I sometimes listen to 15BO with pleasure because it's probably the late period album I'm least familiar with, but also was exposed to nearly the earliest, so it always takes me a little by surprise hearing it after so many years away. It occupies a very peculiar place in the band's history; I tend to overlook it.
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Tony S
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« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2021, 05:59:13 AM »

I think artistically, LA, commercially, maybe 15 Big Ones. Some of the oldies on the latter are kind of nice, and played out well when they toured it in 76, like Palisades Park. But the Dennis and Carl songs especially on LA were artistically above 15 Big Ones.
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Steve Latshaw
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« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2021, 07:31:04 AM »

<< I prefer the MIC version of Rock N Roll Music; a version like that in 1976 would have given the album a more powerful kick>>
This 2012 "Faders Up" mix was a revelation; it stands up with their other rock & roll hit single covers from the 60s.  It's historical fact that the rest of the band tampered with the mixes before releasing 15 Big Ones.  It really makes me wonder if we got a "Faders Up" mix of the entire album we might have a very different 15 BIG ONES .
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Steve Latshaw
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« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2021, 07:36:33 AM »

<<I think artistically, LA, commercially, maybe 15 Big Ones. Some of the oldies on the latter are kind of nice, and played out well when they toured it in 76, like Palisades Park>>

The first Beach Boys show I saw was in the summer of 1976 and I remember Susie Cincinnati, A Casual Look, Palisades Park, Back Home, Rock & Roll Music and It's OK were highlights of the show.  It's OK live had a wonderful falsetto tag that I wish had been on the mix of the single.  As I recall, it was Al who sang it.  That same falsetto tag was featured on Celebration's 1978 cover of It's OK for the Almost Summer soundtrack, if anyone wants to hear what it sounded like live.  Had the Beach Boys single included that tag I think it would have been a bigger hit.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2021, 12:36:48 PM »

I'm not sure what else on either of the albums could have ever garnered them a "hit" single in some alternate scenario. I know many have mentioned "It's OK" coming out too late, and perhaps it would have done a bit better on the charts had it come earlier.

But by and large, they got the one hit single and a hit album for 15BO off the back of the publicity. Good for them, but much like "Kokomo", I view that as more of a fluke, more the exception than the rule, as far as getting a "hit." "Hit" being quite distinct from being *good* material; I love a bunch of stuff from the 1976-early 80s era, I bow to no one in my appreciation and fascination with that era. But as much as I love the material, I'm not sure what "deserved" (if we can even use that word) to be a "hit."

For 15BO, I agree with the theory put forth awhile back that their best bet for a follow-up hit to "Rock and Roll Music" would have been if they had been able to put out "Peggy Sue." Not my favorite cut (it's fine), but another familiar "oldie" with solid production would have been the best *possibility* for a hit single perhaps.

As for "LA (Light Album)", I think "Good Timin'" is the obvious jewel and the only thing on there worthy of potential "hit single" status. Again, lots of other *great* stuff on the album, just not "hit single" material necessarily. I even dig Carl's soft/yacht rock stuff. The Dennis and Carl stuff is quite good. Al's "Lady Lynda" is too overproduced and too soft. It sounded better out on tour.

Bruce functioned well in corralling all of that material and all the members and getting product finished and released. But I don't think Bruce Johnston as a *producer* was going to get anybody a hit single in the late 70s or early 80s.

As for comparing these two albums (not sure why these two?), I can't really pick one. LA probably has more good material on it, 15BO is at least more *consistent* on the production/mixing side. LA has Carl finally moving on from that sort of warbly, drunken voice he had in 76-77, so that's a positive.
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« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2021, 07:23:01 AM »

<<But as much as I love the material, I'm not sure what "deserved" (if we can even use that word) to be a "hit.">>
I also have a fondness for the 1976-1980 era... some real gems amid the flotsam, particularly considering the chaos the band was in.  At the time, I had the sense that they were picking the wrong tracks as singles.  In an alternate universe:
1977
ROLLER SKATING CHILD - a punchier, sweetened single mix with an organic base line, similar to the live version performed on the 1979 LA Light tour. I remember at the time talking to some insiders in early 1979 who had heard they were considering releasing a live version as a disco single... this was while Here Comes the Night was still on the charts,
1978:
COUNTRY PIE - after getting boos at a show I attended in the fall of 1977, this song was getting serious heat in concert in the summer of 1978, at least in the midwest.  I think a beach Boys version would have done well and my circle of friends assumed it would be the centerpiece of the new CBS/Caribou LP along with Lady Lynda.
MATCHPOINT OF OUR LOVE - Brrian's best vocal since 1971 - a tasty disco exercise that cuts HCTN to pieces.  It reminded me of the Dr. Hook hit When You're In Love With a Beautiful Woman.
1979:
ANGEL COME HOME - I have to agree with Bruce's assessment in his 1978 Pet Sounds interview that this song had serious potential as a hit single.  It had a vocal sound similar  to Eddie Money's work and Exile's Kiss You All Over. 
CONSTANT COMPANION - One of the many revelations in ESQ magazine's excellent issue on the making of LA LIGHT revealed that a Beach Boys version of this Dennis Wilson / Carli Munoz track was under consideration as the lead off single.  It might have done well in the same way Wings' GOODNIGHT TONIGHT was a hit.
1980:
I was working in college radio at the time KTSA came out.  We were pure college radio... alternate rock, etc. We were giving Peter Noone's Tremblers LP airtime as well as KTSA.  Our program director was vry fond of SCHOOL DAYS... and also thought KEEPIN' THE SUMMER ALIVE had serious single potential. 
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« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2021, 10:32:32 AM »

One of the main problems with the KTSA album was that the production was completely limp and soft. Again, Bruce was a good guy to get the job done and get the guys to get product finished and released, but he did not have an ear on the A&R side of things to make a hit out of that type of material, and his sonic prowess as a producer wasn't there either. All those KTSA "rock" songs have no edge. I don't know who coined that phrase years ago that Bruce "doesn't have a rock and roll bone in his body", but it's pretty accurate. If you're going to record, say, a BTO knock-off type of song, Bruce Johnston ain't the guy to produce it.

It's not a coincidence the stuff sounded at least somewhat better in concert.

It's interesting to hear what ideas Bruce was spitballing back then, but I don't know how well he has his finger on any chart pulses back then.

I'm not trying to jump all over Bruce; I think he was a good intermediary and certainly had musical and vocal chops to help in certain areas. I just don't think he was a good fit for the production of BB albums, other than, as mentioned, getting produce finished and released.
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« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2021, 01:24:41 PM »

Iím gonna say L.A. just for the Dennis stuff.

I really donít care for the old timey rock and roll covers that make up most of 15. I mean, they are great songs but I prefer the originals.
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marcella27
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« Reply #16 on: Today at 12:17:54 AM »

I'm pretty ambivalent about these two albums but if forced to choose I guess I'd choose 15BO.

The question did, however, make me realize that my favorite song off each is an Al song (Suzie Cincinnati and Lady Lynda).
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