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Author Topic: Demos posted to Brian Wilson's website  (Read 3477 times)
SaltyMarshmallow
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« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2021, 05:53:40 AM »

I particularly enjoyed Sunshine. Clearly an album of Imagination demos would have been miles better than what was actually released.

That isn't a demo, it's an early mix of the track that's actually on the album.
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« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2021, 06:29:16 AM »

I particularly enjoyed Sunshine. Clearly an album of Imagination demos would have been miles better than what was actually released.

That isn't a demo, it's an early mix of the track that's actually on the album.

There are a number of these new tracks that the website has labeled as "Demo" that surely aren't; I think they're being pretty loose with their definitions. We know Andy Paley has said he didn't consider the stuff he was doing with Brian as "demos", yet some of the Paley tracks are labeled as such.

The '76 piano stuff is clearly "demos" in the more traditional sense; he's demonstrating the songs. 

The Usher stuff is kind of "demos", though some of it (e.g. "Spirit of Rock and Roll") got built into something that was aired as "finished" product on TV (in the case of that track and the BB 25th Anniversary show).
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« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2021, 06:39:37 AM »

I particularly enjoyed Sunshine. Clearly an album of Imagination demos would have been miles better than what was actually released.

That isn't a demo, it's an early mix of the track that's actually on the album.

Thanks - I guess I mean an album of rough mixes then, without having been buffed and polished into smooth and easy nothingness.
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SaltyMarshmallow
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« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2021, 07:07:29 AM »

I particularly enjoyed Sunshine. Clearly an album of Imagination demos would have been miles better than what was actually released.

That isn't a demo, it's an early mix of the track that's actually on the album.

There are a number of these new tracks that the website has labeled as "Demo" that surely aren't; I think they're being pretty loose with their definitions. We know Andy Paley has said he didn't consider the stuff he was doing with Brian as "demos", yet some of the Paley tracks are labeled as such.

The '76 piano stuff is clearly "demos" in the more traditional sense; he's demonstrating the songs. 

The Usher stuff is kind of "demos", though some of it (e.g. "Spirit of Rock and Roll") got built into something that was aired as "finished" product on TV (in the case of that track and the BB 25th Anniversary show).

In the truest sense of the word, I think the only things that should be called 'demos' here are the Love You songs. If Usher considered those obviously quite elaborate studio productions demos, but Brian didn't, and some were built into actual finished products, shouldn't we take Brian's definition here when it's his music?

A number of things labelled 'demo' are older mixes of tracks that were actually released, which feels kind of absurd.
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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2021, 07:51:58 AM »

Regarding the Paley/Was sessions at least, and I'll have to dig to find it to confirm, I think Don Was had referred to the sessions he was doing with Brian and Andy as demos even though they had the full band of session pros in the studio working up the tracks. From the descriptions he gave, they were building the tracks a lot of times in the studio, with Brian and Andy trying out different ideas on the spot. Of course that's not every song they did, but it felt like these tracks or the mixes we have heard from them were often demo mixes or rough mixes (reference mixes) which would be added to and fleshed out later.

The term "demo" is pretty loose when it comes to doing a bare-bones piano-vocal or piano-guitar tape like we hear on the Love You material, and that's what many think of for the term demo. But it's also used when they work up a track in the studio, maybe do a guide vocal and rough mix, and then later other musicians or a group like the Beach Boys would go back and recut it. How much of the "demo" they'd use would be up to them.

I can give dozens of examples of this through the years, where a backing track originally cut as a song demo ended up being pressed as the master track, or copied exactly for the master track. Some that even became top-ten hits. So it's not unusual to hear what sounds like a full band track referred to as a "demo" even though the term is more often known for being a stripped down vocal-piano tape, again like the Love You tracks. And as the years went on, the old-school stripped down demo got replaced by more fully-produced tracks anyway, especially since the 80's when sequencers and multitrack recorders became more affordable.



Whatever the case, this week's surprise releases/postings was terrific. Hot damn, that's how it's done!
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Leo K
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« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2021, 08:07:29 AM »

Wow I just have to post. Gettin' In Over My Head in this pristine quality is a revelation. Wow.
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« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2021, 08:13:45 AM »

It's great to see the Lucky Old Sun session video too, that's been one of my favorites so far. Something that further blows to bits those wacky notions on how "involved" Brian was in that and other projects of the past 20+ years. You see it right on the video, it could have been 1965 as much as the 2000's to see the man working in the studio producing and building up the tracks.

It's great to have them all collected in one place now, with the ones that had been digital posts previously alongside "new" releases. The quality is amazing. And that Smile session material...wow.
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« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2021, 09:46:46 AM »

Regarding the "Demo" terminology, I'm sure this has been debated in the past.

I'd hold things to a bit of a higher standard on an actual release of the material as opposed to random (albeit very nice) tracks dropped on a website.

As far as I see it, I'm willing to use a somewhat loose definition. No, I wouldn't call an alternate mix of a finished studio track a "demo."

Technically, not even all early/rough/home recordings are "demos" as such. Are the "Cocaine Tapes" demos? Not really, that's just a random home recording. But if they put "Oh Lord" or "City Blues" from that tape on an archival release, I'd probably be fine calling those "Demos" even if they aren't literally for demonstration purposes. But maybe they are. Is Brian demonstrating them for Dennis or anybody else in the room?

For that matter, while the '76 piano tape seems to literally be Brian "demonstrating" the songs to Mike and possibly others in the room, what if we later found it *was* just a case of Brian playing songs and someone flipping on the recorder?

I'd generally lump "demos" into the category of "song demos", meaning just playing songs so people can hear them (e.g. the '76 piano tape), and then recordings that might be "song demos" but also a "recording demo", meaning a guide to how a finished studio recording might be. If we were to call Usher or Paley tracks "demos", they would be in this latter category.

Regarding specifically the Paley tracks, the only person I've seen who has stated emphatically that they are *not* demos and were in fact a document of work on what was going to be (or was already) a "finished" releasable master was Andy Paley, who in an interview with the short-lived petsounds.com website seem to be offended by the idea that his recordings with Brian were being called "demos". He seemed to firmly feel they could have been finished and released, going so far as to say he envisioned the Beach Boys could have cut vocals for *the entire album* in two days! Paley was that sure of his recordings and also that *impressed* with the skill and efficiency of the full Beach Boys vocal contingent laying down vocals.

Infamously, with Usher, it was the opposite. He describes in his book how he felt awkward knowing that Brian seemed to think they were like full-on recording an album, while Usher very much viewed this as a "demo" situation.

Ironically, in *both* cases, both Usher and Paley material ended up being used in various official/"finished" capacities. In particular, a number of Paley tracks have been released with only minimal additional overdubs or mixing/remixing.
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« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2021, 10:09:13 AM »

Man, listening to some of this stuff, particularly the Brian-alone-with-piano stuff, it's yet another reminder what a once-in-a-generation musical talent the man possesses.    Not that anyone reading this board likely needs much in the way convincing of that, but, still, there it is.  What he has can't be taught.   You either have it or you don't, and the man has or had it in spades.
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« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2021, 11:14:17 AM »

Heather Paley on Instagram: "Just saw this - sounds great! That’s my husband Andy on drums, bass, Fender 6-string bass, harpsichord and guitar; Michael Andreas on saxes and Brian on organ. This was produced by Andy and Brian, recorded in Glendale, engineered by Mark Linett. Brian and Andy wrote and recorded a bunch of great material during this period. They weren’t “demos” - they were masters in progress."

Well, there it is.
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« Reply #35 on: July 21, 2021, 11:52:06 AM »

Well, I guess the recordings are whatever they are until something indicates otherwise.

Don Was re-cut the backing tracks to "Soul Searchin'" and "You're Still a Mystery"; does that make the Paley versions demos? I have no idea. I guess they just become "Alternate Versions." Then they ended up reverting to Paley's backing track for "Soul Searchin'", but Was's remains for "Mystery."

I think it's mostly a misnomer to use "Demo" to describe the Paley tracks. Paley certainly intended/assumed they were working up to commercial release (or potential release), and they're generally arranged and recorded with enough instrumentation that it seems weird to call them "Demos." And some of the tracks have been released mostly untouched.

On the other hand, if the aversion to calling them demos comes more from a level of defensiveness regarding the mere idea that they could have or should have been *re-recorded*, then of course that was proven not to be the case as a number of the tracks were later re-worked or partially or fully re-recorded. And most of the Paley stuff eventually released more or less "as is" have been featured not on things presented as "new" albums, but instead various archival compilations where the line between "new" track and "archival/rough/unreleased" track becomes blurred.

Let's look at the Paley tracks (from the common group of "Paley sessions", not including a few other collabs) we know of that we've heard.

The following have been released more or less "as-is" without any notable latter-day overdubs:

In My Moondreams - Released 1995
This Song Wants to Sleep With You Tonight - Released 1995
Some Sweet Day - Released 2017
Soul Searchin' - Rejiggered BB version using Was vocals and Paley backing - Released 2013
Soul Searchin' - Rejiggered BB version using Was vocals and Paley backing, but with less vocal overdubs - Released 2021 on Brian's website
Soul Searchin' - Rejiggered Brian solo version using Paley backing, Was vocals for Carl's lead, new Brian vocals, and some new instrumental overdubs - Released 2004
*You're Still a Mystery - BB-billed version featuring 1995 Was/Paley track and BB backing vocals, with 1999 Brian lead vocal overdub - Released 2013
*You're Still a Mystery - Brian-billed version featuring 1995 Was/Paley track and BB backing vocals, with original 1995 Brian lead - Released 2021 on Brian's website


* - I guess it's debatable whether "You're Still a Mystery" is fully part of the main "Paley Sessions", as both the track and vocals come from the later Was sessions (also attended by and/or co-produced by Paley).

We also have the rest of the recently-unveiled website tracks that seem to include the original Paley Sessions recordings, billed, even if erroneously, as "Demos" (likely simply to flag that they're unreleased archival tracks):

Gettin' In Over My Head - Released 2021
Desert Drive - Released 2021
I'm Broke - Released 2021
Saturday Morning in the City - Released 2021


Then there are the other GIOMH album track(s) utilizing some elements of the Paley tracks (to what degree is I guess still debated maybe?) but with some amount of latter-day overdubs:

Saturday Morning in the City

At least one track that was completely re-made from scratch post-Paley Sessions:

Gettin' In Over My Head - Backing track from Circa '97 Joe Thomas sessions, Overdubs circa early 2000s - Released 2004

And another re-made prior to the GIOMH sessions and then finishe during GIOMH:

Desert Drive - Recorded circa 2002 & 2004 - Released 2004

Then everything else still remains officially unreleased:

Proud Mary
Chain Reaction of Love
It's Not Easy Being Me
Market Place
Must Be a Miracle
My Mary Anne
Slightly American Music
Frankie Avalon
Elbow '63
God Did It
Going Home
What Rock and Roll Can Do
Dancing the Night Away

(and a few various mixes/versions of the above, such as Paley's guide on "Soul Searchin'", and the lengthy studio control room playback video for "Dancing the Night Away").

I forget all of the additional titles supposedly cut during that time. I know the early 80s song "The Boogie's Back in Town" was one of them. We still haven't heard exactly what constituted "Baywatch Nights."

The main takeaways from looking at this (surely incomplete, off-the-top-of-my-head) list are: One, it's a rather nebulous enterprise to determine what exactly to call this material; it's kind of a mess release-wise. Secondly, an easy solution that screams out here, especially given Brian's website teasing more or less pristine versions of a few more of the songs (and no apparent aversion at this point to releasing earlier versions of songs Brian later released on albums), is to release all of these sessions in a nice package.


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« Reply #36 on: July 21, 2021, 11:58:54 AM »

It's interesting as well that while Paley thought of his material as "masters", while Usher thought of his material as "demos", Brian over the years ended up treating their work together respectively somewhat similarly.

That is, in both cases, a few rando tracks were officially released from the collaborations somewhat contemporaneously with the initial recording time frame. Then, over the years, a few of the songs got partly or fully re-made. Then a few things were used as bonus tracks on archival releases. And then, some tracks still remain completely unreleased.
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« Reply #37 on: July 21, 2021, 12:18:18 PM »

The Desert Drive version on the GIOMH album doesn't use any Paley-era recordings, as far as I know. It was recorded in 2002, a year before the rest of the GIOMH sessions (excluding the even older material):

http://bellagio10452.com/gigs02.html
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« Reply #38 on: July 21, 2021, 01:07:26 PM »

The Desert Drive version on the GIOMH album doesn't use any Paley-era recordings, as far as I know. It was recorded in 2002, a year before the rest of the GIOMH sessions (excluding the even older material):

http://bellagio10452.com/gigs02.html

Ah, makes sense. Maybe my brain remembered it pre-dated the "proper" GIOMH sessions. And/or I was remembering it "resurfaced" a few years prior during the 2001 Paul Simon tour.

I remember Bob Hanes telling some epic stories about those early 2000s Brian/Andy sessions.....
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« Reply #39 on: July 21, 2021, 01:24:19 PM »

That was the missing piece! When Andy filled in on the road in 2001, the BW band started performing Desert Drive. And then that same group, more or less, went into the studio the next year to record it.
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« Reply #40 on: July 21, 2021, 01:34:44 PM »

That version of "Spirit of Rock n Roll" is a revelation. Brilliant to finally have a good clean full length release of the 1986 'finished' song. It's hands down the best version out there now.
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« Reply #41 on: July 21, 2021, 02:11:34 PM »

I think the aversion to calling the Wilson/Paley tracks demos is that they're not demos, basically. 'Version' - that's a word you can use.

Andy's been clear that this wasn't an album project. He and Brian were making music because they wanted to make music, no definitive destination. At times, it was The Beach Boys, and at others, there was hope that a Brian solo record deal could be struck. But any discussion was for these recordings that they'd been working on to be finished to their ideal standard and put out in some way, not the songs - Don Was doing them over was a compromise to allow the Beach Boys thing to happen.

You wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't call Sherry She Needs Me a demo for She Says That She Needs Me, etc.
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« Reply #42 on: July 21, 2021, 03:33:18 PM »

I think the confusion and splitting hairs over the term "demo" related to the Paley material is because people know these tracks from several time periods, so there cannot be a one size fits all label or definition put on them. For me, some of the confusion comes from which ones were later revisited and reworked, and sometimes even that was done multiple times. So it's good to see research like the Paul Simon tour point raised a few posts ago, that does clear it up.

Consider that a lot of info came from the publicity that was surrounding the Don Was documentary, and interviews given at that specific time. And at that specific time, we'll narrow it to late '95 into early '96, there are specific mentions made of these sessions and sometimes individual songs too.

What sticks out for me is Brian saying he and Andy had "38 songs written", and when asked if they had done demos for them, Brian said "we have about 20 demo tracks". That interview was given a week after Brian, Andy, Don, and the session players were cutting the basic tracks to "Soul Searchin" which was in mind for a Beach Boys track, and according to Brian, Carl liked it. At that time at least. And Don Was a few months earlier said the pair had around "40 songs" which matches exactly what Brian said months later. And in that interview, again months prior to Brian's interview above and before the session guys had done the basics for "Soul Searchin", a cassette was played at Brian's house during the interview which had "Gettin In Over My Head", "Chain Reaction Of Love", "Slightly American Music", and others. And Brian also played a cassette of "Proud Mary" which he had recorded with Don.

So add up everything that has leaked, streamed, been written about, etc and there were obviously what they called "demos" among those recordings. Were they bare-bones piano and vocal demos like the Love You material streamed this week? I doubt it, because that's not how Brian and Andy seemed to be working. But were there actual demos of songs among that mix of 20 which Brian mentioned that have leaked out and which were done before they were given full band sessions like "Soul Searchin" was described? Absolutely.

I guess more pieces of the puzzle need to fall into place to clarify, because when a song is demo'ed, tracked, overdubbed onto, revisited, remade, re-recorded, etc over the span of 7 years or more, you'll have a handful of cassettes or DAT tapes with rough and reference mixes to wade through, and it gets confusing unless absolute information on dates and what it actually is would be included with a given recording.

I'd also suggest if "Soul Searchin", for one example, existed in a more complete version or even with backing tracks ready for a vocal on top and a final mix, they could have used that instead of having Don Was and the session pros cut it that week before Brian's interview.

But I readily admit, this stuff can confuse the hell out of me.  Grin
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« Reply #43 on: July 21, 2021, 03:58:49 PM »

I don't want to belabor the point, as I agree "demo" is a misnomer for the Paley stuff.

I guess what I was getting at is that my sense is that Paley's scoffing at the stuff being called "demos" has less to do with the semantics of the definition of the word, and more to do with the simple and understandable fact that calling them "demos" could be considered insulting. The guy who co-wrote the stuff, co-produced it, and played many if not most of the instruments doesn't like his stuff being called "demos" because it implies the stuff sounds unfinished or rough or somehow not up to "releasable" standards. I can understand his viewing that as an affront.

I can also understand fans, especially decades ago with little info other than the not-so-great-sounding circulating tapes, thinking or feeling the stuff was "demos", if elaborate ones. Some tracks have Paley guide vocals, some have only what sound like scratch/guide lead vocals and/or sparse (for Brian) backing vocals. While the brass and other overdubs sounds way too elaborate for demos, other backing tracks sounds more sparse. And again, the audio quality on the stuff, and the fact that it was unreleased, probably led to people calling them "demos" as shorthand.
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« Reply #44 on: July 21, 2021, 07:05:44 PM »

It's great to see the Lucky Old Sun session video too, that's been one of my favorites so far. Something that further blows to bits those wacky notions on how "involved" Brian was in that and other projects of the past 20+ years. You see it right on the video, it could have been 1965 as much as the 2000's to see the man working in the studio producing and building up the tracks.

It's great to have them all collected in one place now, with the ones that had been digital posts previously alongside "new" releases. The quality is amazing. And that Smile session material...wow.

And the good man himself sitting next to Brian in the video.
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« Reply #45 on: July 21, 2021, 08:18:31 PM »

Back during the recording of the Wilson/Paley productions, Andy was on record saying, "These aren't demos - we're recording masters". When Don Was got involved, he (Was) referred to them as demos. Brian and Andy pretty clearly thought of their work as masters, whereas Was considered those to be demos, and that he'd be producing the final masters (hence, his re-recording the track for SOUL SEARCHIN'). Something Joe Thomas also felt he'd be doing (hence, his re-recording the track for GETTIN' IN OVER MY HEAD). I think most of us here would agree that when something is so perfect, and full of the right feeling - you should just let it be. Nothing wrong with these "demos"...nothing to be improved upon.
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« Reply #46 on: July 22, 2021, 05:59:52 AM »

But it's understandable why Don Was re-recorded some of that material when you factor in how Don was specifically going for a production like Brian would have done in the 60's with a new version of the "Wrecking Crew" cutting the tracks live on the studio floor. In contrast, Andy was playing the bulk of the instrumental tracks himself as overdubs, and as good as those were it was not the production mindset Don had brought to the table for these projects. And after Summer In Paradise flopped with it's digital cut-and-paste production, I think Beach Boys fans were hoping for a return to the classic production sounds of the mid 60's (well, not think exactly, I know because I was one of many fans I knew at this time saying the same things...) and Don went into the projects with that exact mindset like Brian would cut tracks with the session guys live. And naturally not all 38-40 songs would make the cut.


I also can't get past the fact that Brian said "we have about 20 demo tracks" when asked about it a week after the Soul Searchin tracking sessions with Don and Andy and the session players.
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« Reply #47 on: July 22, 2021, 06:29:06 AM »


I also can't get past the fact that Brian said "we have about 20 demo tracks" when asked about it a week after the Soul Searchin tracking sessions with Don and Andy and the session players.

Well, at that particular moment in time, the tracks by Brian and Andy were being handled as demos for Was to reproduce. Before and shortly after those sessions with the Beach Boys, they were masters. I think it's been said by insiders that one of the reasons Was walked away from further involvement that he realised he couldn't improve their work, hence Mark trying a sync of the Soul Searchin' vocals to Paley's track back in '95.
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« Reply #48 on: July 22, 2021, 07:13:05 AM »


I also can't get past the fact that Brian said "we have about 20 demo tracks" when asked about it a week after the Soul Searchin tracking sessions with Don and Andy and the session players.

Well, at that particular moment in time, the tracks by Brian and Andy were being handled as demos for Was to reproduce. Before and shortly after those sessions with the Beach Boys, they were masters. I think it's been said by insiders that one of the reasons Was walked away from further involvement that he realised he couldn't improve their work, hence Mark trying a sync of the Soul Searchin' vocals to Paley's track back in '95.

Not saying that wasn't an issue but there was a lot more at play in 1996 than Don Was walking because he couldn't improve on those original tracks.

For one, Joe Thomas had entered the scene through his contact with Mike, with the idea of the Stars & Stripes project, which was already being worked on in 1995. Eventually all talk of and plans for a new original Beach Boys album in 1996 was dropped in favor of Stars & Stripes and promoting that on TV and in live appearances.

Another bigger one was Carl putting the kibosh on Wilson/Paley tracks like Soul Searchin' and ending it with a dull thud. This was after Brian had told an interviewer just after the Soul Searchin tracking date with Don how much Carl liked the track and Andy too.

Bruce thought it would be a good idea to invite Sean O'Hagan in to co-produce with Brian after hearing "Hawaii" and had at least Carl on board with the idea, obviously that didn't end well.

Richard Branson came calling with an offer for the BB's to sign a deal with his Virgin label, again each "camp" of the band wanted something in that deal including Brian who wanted co-production credit (as did any labels who were interested since 1970) and a solo album deal, and that didn't work either.


So after all that - and this period was a real mess for the band where each "camp" got even more segmented behind the scenes than most fans know - Don Was had a situation where Carl vetoed the idea of releasing songs like Soul Searchin and instead just months after the interview where Brian was enthusiastic about working with Don and Andy, and all plans for a new release of original Beach Boys music were scrapped in favor of a country covers album.

At that point, with all that happening, it wasn't a case of Don not being able to improve previous recordings, but rather he got swept up in yet another period of inner turmoil within the band and the project he had been working on got scrapped outright in favor of Stars & Stripes, and other factions within the band were scouting other producers and still chasing a label deal. All of this was late 95 into 96.
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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
SaltyMarshmallow
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« Reply #49 on: July 22, 2021, 07:53:33 AM »

I'm aware of all that - did say 'one of'.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2021, 09:13:46 AM by SaltyMarshmallow » Logged
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