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RecentConvert

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Reply with quote  #1 
In the 2.5 years that I have been accumulating Beach Boys/Brian Wilson albums, I have previously found two gems at used record shops; Smiley Smile and Brian Wilson Presents Smile. Today, I stumbled across a copy of "Imagination". Oh my, and as Brian would say, "it blew my mind". I am utterly shocked at the improvement of Brian's vocals from his first solo album. I'm not an audiophile, so I can't really describe in musical terms the issue I had with his voice on it, but you guys probably know what I mean. However, I am stunned at the return of Brian's voice on the Imagination album. Did they have auto tune in 1998? Anyway, my only "complaint" after one full listen, is his remake of Run Wild. I so adore the original, that I practically had goosebumps the first time I heard it, I listened over and over. I know that Brian was unhappy with his singing on the original, so not for me to judge his need to remake it, but.....
I know this is old news for many of you, but for me, although I know and already like several of the songs,
Listening to the whole album all the way through was a joy as I discovered some of the songs/music for the first time😊 It will be my album of choice on the commute this week!
RC



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bugs

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Reply with quote  #2 
You're very lucky to be still discovering Brian's albums, RC.  Imagination is a fine album, and many agree with you that Brian's vocals are the very best of his solo efforts.  Some will have negative feedback about the 'slick production' by Joe Thomas, but I still feel the majority of Brian's fans like this LP.  To my knowledge, there was nothing 'tricked' about Brian's vocals here - just a good time in his life, and a lot of effort put into the arrangements.  "South American" was the only song on this LP where Brian shared any vocals (background in this case, with Jimmy Buffett) - every other song is all Brian, lead or otherwise!  "Lay Down Burden" and "Cry" are my two favs here...and I agree with you about LHRW.

Have you had a chance to listen to Van Dyke Parks/Brian Wilson's Orange Crate Art?  Near the same time frame, and also with outstanding vocals/arrangements. 

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“Like a dream that's somehow linked to all the stars above." 🌟 🌟 
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John B

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Reply with quote  #3 
Recent Convert: I like Van Dyke's album just fine, but Brian only contributed singing not songwriting to that one.

So, Bugs knows fully well that the true comparison for "Imagination" is:  The Lost (Brian Wilson) Andy Paley Sessions, which to my ears anyway--even better, if only available on boot; BUT, not that hard to find anymore. 

google:

JAGAMART Music Imports

then, on that site, find the little search box at top,
and type rare Beach Boys CD's  or rare Brian Wilson CD's

until you find:

Brian Wilson: Slightly American Music/The Lost Brian Wilson Andy Paley Sessions
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John B

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Reply with quote  #4 
Also, although it comes with some negative baggage, Brian sings beautifully on
"Sweet Insanity" as well.   You just have to make peace with all those Landy lyrics and the non-Brian production touches, such as use of NOT the saxophone from Dion's 'The Wanderer' but the smaller one that Kenny G. uses...

that said, both of these CDS are essential to me, both are better than 'Gettin' in Over My Head' (the album) and always in my car.  and of course, I would/will buy any legitimately released version of these two, should that happen in the future.
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kds

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Reply with quote  #5 
I also got my copy of Brian Wilson Present Smile at a used record store.   

All the others I got on Amazon, except for NPP, which I bought at Target the date of release.  

I'm glad to hear somebody enjoying Imagination.  As far as Brian solo work goes, I rate that album pretty highly.  It also includes South American, one of my favorite BW solo songs.  
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John B

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Reply with quote  #6 
... to what kds said, I would add, it's absolutely worth it to find the DVD for the album, which includes Brian and his wife talking about 'Imagination', as well as Joe's thoughts, some GREAT live performances near that time, including an amazing "Don't Worry Baby" and ...a film of a respectful and genuine Sean Lennon talking quite naturally to Brian privately about how much he loved the "Imagination" songs, such as "Happy Days."   Just wonderful!
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bugs

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by John B
Recent Convert: I like Van Dyke's album just fine, but Brian only contributed singing not songwriting to that one.

So, Bugs knows fully well that the true comparison for "Imagination" is:  The Lost (Brian Wilson) Andy Paley Sessions, which to my ears anyway--even better, if only available on boot; BUT, not that hard to find anymore. 

google:

JAGAMART Music Imports

then, on that site, find the little search box at top,
and type rare Beach Boys CD's  or rare Brian Wilson CD's

until you find:

Brian Wilson: Slightly American Music/The Lost Brian Wilson Andy Paley Sessions

That guy Bugs doesn’t think ‘Imagination’ is much like ‘The Paley Sessions’ at all, RC.  Fans generally grab the officially-released LPs prior to reaching out for bootlegs.  Therefore, strong Brian Wilson vocals in the mid-90s made me think of ‘Imagination’ (‘98) and ‘Orange Crate Art’ (’95) – still does.  However, that Sleuth John B is correct that OCA is officially written/produced by Van Dyke Parks, and is therefore not a true BW LP.  Yet it’s pretty clear that those great OCA vocal arrangements have Brian’s stamp all over them. 

‘The Paley Sessions’ are, indeed, worthy of a listen (or 30).  Yet as much as I love those tracks (selection will vary some by bootlegger), the vocals aren’t top-notch.  They are strong, but not as polished as either Imagination or OCA.  That rawness is also part of its strength though.

Tastes will vary.  For me, The Paley Sessions (they were never “Lost”) are Brian’s best overall work from the ‘90s.  Vocals?  I’d go with ‘Imagination,’ followed closely by OCA.  For the ‘90s only.


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“Like a dream that's somehow linked to all the stars above." 🌟 🌟 
-Brian Wilson, 1976
                        

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kds

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by John B
... to what kds said, I would add, it's absolutely worth it to find the DVD for the album, which includes Brian and his wife talking about 'Imagination', as well as Joe's thoughts, some GREAT live performances near that time, including an amazing "Don't Worry Baby" and ...a film of a respectful and genuine Sean Lennon talking quite naturally to Brian privately about how much he loved the "Imagination" songs, such as "Happy Days."   Just wonderful!


That's a DVD I have yet to buy, yet plan to.  I just recently got the TLOS DVD for Christmas, and I really liked it.  
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John B

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Reply with quote  #9 
"not much like," well, except in quality during the same general time period, bugs,

and like you, for some reason, rough or not, I still prefer 'Slightly American Music/the Lost...' to 'Imagination.'   

I'm glad you said that about rawness being a part of the strength, prior punk fan that I was.  Can you imagine a multi-tracked, 'sweetened' and vocally perfect, "I'm Broke," or "It's Not Easy Being Me" or "Everything I Need"?  Present company excluded of course, but I ...worry, that there are Brian fans who like him to be 'less of an oddball' and produce less original art.  Sometimes, well, much more often than I would like, these people 'won' the day. 

Joe deserves credit for yes, helping to restore Brian's vocal chops to such extent and beauty that he had the confidence to return to live performances and sing such challenging songs as "Don't Worry, Baby" and yes, he was able to complete 'Smile.'  That's quite a lot of credit for him, so don't label me a Joe-hater.  However, again, the Paley Album would have been better than "Imagination" because even now in the unreleased state that it is in, it is already better.  Arguably, so is "Sweet Insanity."


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bugs

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by John B
"not much like," well, except in quality during the same general time period, bugs,

and like you, for some reason, rough or not, I still prefer 'Slightly American Music/the Lost...' to 'Imagination.'   

I'm glad you said that about rawness being a part of the strength, prior punk fan that I was.  Can you imagine a multi-tracked, 'sweetened' and vocally perfect, "I'm Broke," or "It's Not Easy Being Me" or "Everything I Need"?  Present company excluded of course, but I ...worry, that there are Brian fans who like him to be 'less of an oddball' and produce less original art.  Sometimes, well, much more often than I would like, these people 'won' the day. 

Joe deserves credit for yes, helping to restore Brian's vocal chops to such extent and beauty that he had the confidence to return to live performances and sing such challenging songs as "Don't Worry, Baby" and yes, he was able to complete 'Smile.'  That's quite a lot of credit for him, so don't label me a Joe-hater.  However, again, the Paley Album would have been better than "Imagination" because even now in the unreleased state that it is in, it is already better.  Arguably, so is "Sweet Insanity."


But what kind of quality?  That's what my message was addressing (vocals).
To get an idea how BIG of a fan I am of 'The Paley Sessions' - that studio was on my list of stops to SoCal last year, along with Western Recorders #3.

__________________

“Like a dream that's somehow linked to all the stars above." 🌟 🌟 
-Brian Wilson, 1976
                        

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John B

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Reply with quote  #11 
Not to belabor the point, as we are agreeing more than disagreeing.

I think it is note-worthy to point out that when asked, knowing everything that happened to him--after March 1966, and that is quite a lot of negative things, would he still release "Pet Sounds" and Brian, responded, immediately, and directly:

"Yes."


The quality I am talking about is originality, is greatness, is ...genius.  I feel that when Brian records with Thomas, he is taking at least one large step towards "Regular Joe." (or adult-contempo-Joe, or Joe the Wrestler, choose your own favorite nick-name).

But when he makes his masterpieces, such as 'Smile', there really is no Joe in sight (and only a very protesting and annoying Mike Love), as he is asking for people to take at least one giant step towards HIM>.



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Let'sgoaway

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RecentConvert
In the 2.5 years that I have been accumulating Beach Boys/Brian Wilson albums, I have previously found two gems at used record shops; Smiley Smile and Brian Wilson Presents Smile. Today, I stumbled across a copy of "Imagination". Oh my, and as Brian would say, "it blew my mind". I am utterly shocked at the improvement of Brian's vocals from his first solo album. I'm not an audiophile, so I can't really describe in musical terms the issue I had with his voice on it, but you guys probably know what I mean. However, I am stunned at the return of Brian's voice on the Imagination album. Did they have auto tune in 1998? Anyway, my only "complaint" after one full listen, is his remake of Run Wild. I so adore the original, that I practically had goosebumps the first time I heard it, I listened over and over. I know that Brian was unhappy with his singing on the original, so not for me to judge his need to remake it, but.....
I know this is old news for many of you, but for me, although I know and already like several of the songs,
Listening to the whole album all the way through was a joy as I discovered some of the songs/music for the first time😊 It will be my album of choice on the commute this week!
RC

I was stunned as well when I heard it, such a vastly underrated album. Brians tender tribute to Carl was such a beautiful and heartfelt song and my favorite. My opinion is that it was his best singing since the late 60’s and his real comeback. There are always going to be critics saying it was overproduced but I never felt that way.
Another thought on that album is that it represented Brian being free of Landry and overcoming a prescription drug problem that almost ruined his voice and life. Landry should have spent the remaining years of his life in jail for what he did.
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dancai

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by John B
... Sean Lennon talking quite naturally to Brian privately about how much he loved the "Imagination" songs, such as "Happy Days."   Just wonderful!


Just to hook on to your mention of "Happy Days," John:  The first part of the song is based on a Halloween song Brian produced back in the '70s, "My Solution" (a very funny song, by the way, but unfortunately not released.)  One question:  has anybody been able to decipher the spoken words (Joe Thomas?) buried far back in the mix at the very beginning of the song?  All I hear is mumbling.

Also, I agree with your opinion of "Let Him Run Wild," and to that I would add "Keep an Eye on Summer" as the low points of the album.  Those versions are almost bound to be compared to their originals, which are-- well, incomparable.  It's not as if Brian hadn't stockpiled tunes from recent years.

DCC



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kds

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancai


Just to hook on to your mention of "Happy Days," John:  The first part of the song is based on a Halloween song Brian produced back in the '70s, "My Solution" (a very funny song, by the way, but unfortunately not released.)  One question:  has anybody been able to decipher the spoken words (Joe Thomas?) buried far back in the mix at the very beginning of the song?  All I hear is mumbling.

Also, I agree with your opinion of "Let Him Run Wild," and to that I would add "Keep an Eye on Summer" as the low points of the album.  Those versions are almost bound to be compared to their originals, which are-- well, incomparable.  It's not as if Brian hadn't stockpiled tunes from recent years.

DCC




I couldn't agree more.  Imagination was a really solid comeback album for Brian as a solo artist.  To include two remakes of BB classics seemed very odd.  
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Darren J. Ray

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Reply with quote  #15 
RecentConvert, it remains my favourite BW solo album. 

Re: voice, I've read Pro Tools was much used [wink]

Re: 'Let Him Run Wild' and 'Keep an Eye on Summer', I actually prefer these versions. 
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