Posted: 01 Aug 2008 07:00 AM CDT
Posted: 01 Aug 2008 04:11 AM CDT
Both of the original tracks on the Christmas album were Brian, and it shows. There's a different feeling about them that is lacking from his other work. HCWSBD, btw, was an Imagination-outtake, or roughly around the same time period. A Friend like You was definitely Brian musically, but damn'd if the lyrics weren't clunky. Everything else was old.
Posted: 01 Aug 2008 02:32 AM CDT
Brian's solo career was loaded with promise. If you listen to his earliest solo endeavors, going back to 1962-63 (The Beginning of the End, Visions, Thank Him, Mother May, Marie), he was really on to something special. Simple pop songs with incredible harmonies. Simultaneously similar to and different from what the Beach Boys did if that makes sense. Treading the same water, so to speak, but also forging his own path.
If you listen to his stuff around the mid-60s, he's getting into more spaced out, orchestral forms (Three Blind Mice), which were really out of sync with the Beach Boys stuff he was working on at the time.
Then in 1967-70 he's working on and off, mostly for himself, with tracks like Honey Get Home, which was originally on a tracklist for Wild Honey before being pulled. Here's where the real division between Brian Wilson-written/produced Beach Boys recordings and Brian Wilson recordings enters.
1970-75 had all the "living room #1s", some of which we've heard, some we haven't.
When he was rehabilitated by Landy in 1975-76 and after he had finished 15 Big Ones, Brian basically recorded for himself again, putting down tracks like Short Skirts, Marilyn Rovell, and the sublime You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' cover. And of course, Love You. The only reason the latter became a Beach Boys album was because, of course, Carl stepped in, since Brian was only into his own way of doing music which didn't jibe with Carl's ideas of such, meaning Carl preferred, as he was entitled to as second in "command", so to speak, something a little more produced.
In 1977-78 he recorded new songs with Stan Love and Rocky Pamplin in an effort to help the latter become a star, since, for some reason, Brian thought Rocky was a great singer. The circulating cover of To Sir With Love from these recordings is evidence enough that Brian was WAY off. Avoid at all costs.
Then of course the early 80s brought an influx of creativity encouraged by vast quantities of greasy beef, cheese, and cocaine as we all know. These "cocaine sessions" are pretty much the building blocks on which Brian built his, shall we say, "official" solo career.
After being farmed out to Hawaii for detox, Brian goes back into composing mode, and he's inspired in ways he hasn't been since Love You. A great tape circulates of Brian in 1983 working on four tracks (In The Night Time, Black Widow, There's So Many, Little Children) with just a keyboard and drum machine. These show Brian in good voice, and the compositions, while simpler than before, are endearing and touching.
Then the Wilson/Usher period left tons of working recordings behind, and these, as the Wilson Project book described, showed Brian in a great frame of mind, really enjoying himself and digging the music. Funny how none of these ever came out in original forms, because for the 80s, they were probably the purest Brian compositions that existed from what I've heard.
After the first LP, Brian pretty much lost his way. It wasn't a huge success, Sweet Insanity got rejected, he lost Landy, then he really became disjointed musically, and this is when Brian the active songwriter truly ended.
At the end of the day, Brian writes, yes. There is unmistakable evidence on the first album, Sweet Insanity, the Paley sessions, that there is considerable input from the other half of the songwriting partnership beyond the lyrics. Imagination? Forget it...two BW solo compositions, two remakes, and 7 questionable ones to say the least. GIOMH, yeah ok, we have something original, but who really LIKES the album?
BWPS doesn't count.
TLOS is Brian's last gasp, and even then he's still poaching bits of material from the past.
Facts need to be faced. When Landy went, the songwriting quantity and quality pretty much went. We should be glad he even writes for himself, let alone for public consumption.
Posted: 01 Aug 2008 01:50 AM CDT
Hum. Here are two points that I believe are factual.
1.) Brian has virtually always written with strong collaborators -- Mike, Gary Usher, Asher, Parks. Love You was an exception -- an album in which Brian did most of the music and lyrics himself (but not the production -- that was finished and polished by Carl). So to diminish recent BW songs simply because they're collaborations ignores the past. You may not like the songs, you may feel the collaborators do too much -- but that's different than dismissing something out of hand because it's a collaboration.
2.) New songs are quite easy to find on BW solo albums, and he has written far more that were not released. BW88 has many, of course, but "Imagination" also has "Cry" (a solo composition), "Lay Down Burden," and several others. GIOMH has "A Friend Like You" and HCWSBD. Both Christmas album songs are new. Then there are spare songs like "Walkin' Down the Path of Life" (another solo comp), "Believe in Yourself" and "Everything I Need." Not to mention unbooted tunes written with Paley, Asher, Kalinich and Bennett. So again, to act as though the new songs simply aren't there is untrue. Again, you may not like them, and that's fine. There may not be as many as from the Brian of the 60s. But that's not the same as them not existing.
We are walking perilously close to the "because I don't like the music, that means Brian didn't do it" territory. It's a land where conspiracy theories take root and Melinda sprouts little devil horns.
I think the simpler answer is that Brian still composes music, but often with substantial help from others for lyrics, piecing his "feels" together and writing connecting melodies. He still produces, but has a short attention span that means orchestral arranging, technical and mixing details are often handled by others. He still sings, but he has a 66-year-old voice that has been abused in various ways. And while he may have had a clear course as a young man, his career now is guided by an informal committee of friends, business folk and his wife.
For some, this all leads to a product that is too compromised to enjoy. I understand why they feel that way. But I also think that Brian's spirit and musical presence is often strong enough to cut through that and hit listeners in the gut. TLOS seems like it could do that.
Posted: 01 Aug 2008 01:46 AM CDT
A Brian Wilson demos compilation is long overdue.Forget "compilation". We need a 30 CD set, please. Hell, I'll even take the hundreds(literally...) of "homework songs" that Landy had him do.
Posted: 01 Aug 2008 01:24 AM CDT
This may not be in the right section, so feel free to move it if need be. I just got the new POB/Bambu set, and I LOVE IT!!!!! In the past few years, the only POB songs I knew were River Song and Thoughts of You. So all this talk of POB being a "masterpiece" kind of left me in the dark. I've just discovered all these incredible songs like Friday Night, Under The Moonlight, Album Tag, Constant Companion, etc. I know POB/Bambum has been talked about to death, but I just HAD to talk about it. I'm all giddy! Wild Situation just might be my favorite song of all time.
Posted: 01 Aug 2008 12:42 AM CDT
Posted: 31 Jul 2008 11:23 PM CDT
Posted: 31 Jul 2008 10:07 PM CDT
Posted: 31 Jul 2008 09:27 PM CDT
Posted: 31 Jul 2008 09:17 PM CDT
Here's a promo video:
Posted: 31 Jul 2008 09:11 PM CDT
Posted: 31 Jul 2008 09:02 PM CDT
At times, I find something 'off' with Brian's solo work. It's a conflicting reality of eccentric-land meets bland-ville. I have a hard time with that. Art should address the reality of the artist. I don't blame ANY of that on Melinda -- don't misunderstand. Maybe it's Brian, but there's clearly an attempt to play it safe and drown Brian's music with crap so we don't notice something.
On Imagination I don't have this problem, you see. Imagination has the slickest production, yet...the slickest vocals. Brian comes off to me as "natural" and "at ease" and so does the production. So it works. Any "smoothness" in his voice, actually matches the music. They're in harmony. No conflict to me. I like that.
But at other times, the flaky emotional quality of his vocal--does not jib with the background. Like on GIOMH, when he sings "you made my spirit whole." It doesn't have any feel. He's robotic, yet the background is this lush, professional, soothing seaside paradise. Riiiiiiight.
Dare I say it...but on BWPS, there's something not right too. Is it the overly-enthusiastic band, pulling off these vocal gymnastics, yet fronted by a damaged man struggling to carry the tune? He's clearly not "in great shape" yet the band is doing cartwheels all around him.
I sure don't feel like sending in the name of my favorite vegetable, like I did on Smiley Smile, that's for sure. Would I email it in now? Who's going to get it, anyway? Would I get an automated response? "Thank you for you Vegetable submission. Brian really appreciates " I know, it's about completing the work...I get it. I don't fault this album AT ALL. How can I!
With BW88, again something's not on the level. He sounds like Brian the frail-soul, with a production that is so atrociously void of humanity. Too much is left for Brian's thin voice to fill in. He ends up sounding like he's this poor, fragile man trapped in the cold, sterile world of TRON.
Love You...on the other hand, is pure goofy and brilliant Brian....but it's backed by pure, goofy and brilliant music. Perfecto!
I'm just worried that TLOS, will have that incongruence to it as well. The poor man, who sounds "not quite right." Yet he's sitting there with this overly-tight studio band of enthusiastic TV-studio professionals. Either do it all smooth, like Imagination, or go honest and raw, like Love You.
Can I get a witness
How can this be? Brian can do this all by himself! Brian Wilson going solo is an unbelievable dream come true for everyone on this board. My Lord, can I get a witness!! Yet, somewhere, somehow, something is still keeping Brian Wilson from us.
Great, great, great, GREAT post! I have been feeling your feelings for over a quarter of a century now.
Yes, something is "off" with Brian's solo work. When Brian emerged from the Landy hijacking in 1983, something was seriously wrong with him. He was not the same. But, it was determined that Brian would be a solo artist. The only problem was, Brian no longer had the goods to be a solo artist. So, people did the work for him. Something is "off" with Brian's solo work because it's probably not his work. The production was done mostly by others - Titleman, Lynne, Paley, Thomas, Parks, Sahanaja, Bennett, etc. You wanna hear some examples of Brian's production, listen to GIOMH and some of those Christmas tracks.
The same thing with the songwriting. First, it's hard to find "new" songs written by Brian on his solo albums. They are either re-writes, re-recordings, or written "in collaboration" with others. The last time Brian sat down and wrote a batch of new songs for an album project was for Love You in late 1976. I could probably find some new songs that were "aided" by others, though; just enough to make them sound "off".
So, what are Brian's main contributions on his solo recordings? Well, the vocals, both lead and background. But, as you said, Bean Bag, the flaky quality of the vocal doesn't match the music, or the "feel" that he was trying to get across. It is so frustrating because Brian used to be the master at communicating those feelings with his vocals. Maybe the vocals don't match the music because it ain't his music.
And, lastly, Bean Bag, you hit the nail right on the head. You have this enthusiastic band doing these vocal gymnastics, "fronted by a damaged man trying to carry a tune". As the late, great Jim Morrison used to sing, "Something wrong, something not quite right." Thanks again for your thoughts, Bean Bag.
Posted: 31 Jul 2008 08:45 PM CDT
Posted: 31 Jul 2008 08:27 PM CDT
I uploaded my unfinished recreation of the "Remember The Zoo?" album onto YouTube... enjoy!
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7VKTcNWbfg
01) In The Back Of My Mind
02) Let Him Run Wild
03) Summer Means New Love - I have no idea why this ended up so bloody loud.
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag1NeEL7nyI
04) The Little Girl I Once Knew
05) Trombone Dixie
06) In My Childhood
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a1ppAru2B4
07) Pet Sounds
08) I'm Waiting For The Day
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj2dHt7jgZ8
09) I'm In Great Shape
10) Teeter-Totter Love
You'll note that the title track mentioned in the article is missing... the simple fact is, it just plain doesn't exist. The Beach Boys, nor anyone else apparently, recorded a 'Tomorrow Never Knows'-esque song called "Remember The Zoo".
I know the album sounds a bit odd because it's compiled from different sources, but this is the closest I could get to the article, honest. :-)
Posted: 31 Jul 2008 06:27 PM CDT
Posted: 31 Jul 2008 04:37 PM CDT
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