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Cretanwelsh

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Reply with quote  #61 
Guitarfool whilst I respect the point you make about NPP -the 'road trip' review of it that you wrote is the best I've read- and yes it is beautifully recorded (the difference between it and TLOS is striking) there is I think a danger of so admiring the brushwork you neglect to look at the picture.
I love NPP but I understand the criticisms. Unlike TLOS, it isn't very emotional (Tell Me Why excepted). I laugh and cry with TLOS but not with NPP.
NPP is meticulously recorded but not so affecting. The feeling is quite washed out and some of the songs are pretty shells - interesting but not really moving. The album is at its best on tracks like Whatever Happened exactly because this happy, desolate place it suggests is expressly what the song is about.
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thorgil

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Reply with quote  #62 
Strange, on the contrary I find NPP a bit more emotional and TLOS a bit more "entertaining". Said that, I still have a slight preference for TLOS, more as a whole than song by song. In my opinion TLOS has better melodies and lyrics overall, while NPP has better harmonies, recording and 2 Beach Boys more. [smile]
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Cretanwelsh

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Reply with quote  #63 
TLOS is broader but richer, NPP finer but (I think) blander. I may be wrong- for example the big finale of Last Song doesn't work for me. But perhaps it just hasn't yet.

It's hard to choose between them: one's strength is the other's weakness.

There was a time when all those stars aligned and we had Pet Sounds.
Of course just because it isn't Pet Sounds doesn't mean it's not a beautiful thing.
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kds

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Reply with quote  #64 
Thorgil,

I see where you're coming from, but I wouldn't take lazy NPP reviews as an attack on Brian.  

It's part of the general attitude among people in the industry concerning legacy artists.  

"Oh, another album by a guy who put out his best material half a century ago.  I'll write some praise about his legacy as an artist.  Then, I'll applaud him for still putting out music today.  Quick visit to Wikipedia to add some current personal stuff.  General comment on a 30 second clip I heard on iTunes.  Done."  

I wouldn't waste time worrying about it.  Real fans know better.  And for today's musical climate, the album did very well.  
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thorgil

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Reply with quote  #65 
You're right, kds, it's more of a general attitude, though a bad one anyway!

I think that in Brian's case it's even worse because each one of his albums is much different from his previous one (BW88 -> IJWMFTT -> OCA -> Imagination -> GIOMH -> BWPS -> Christmas -> TLOS -> Gershwin -> Disney -> TWGMTR -> NPP), he never settles in a pattern where he can be relied to keep releasing the same old kind of stuff. Shortly, the "formula".
As I like Enya, I'll use her as a counter-example. As expected, I found her new album in my sock and of course it's much like the other ones. Her music is a block, either you like it or don't. Now and then she releases a "new chip from the block" and if you're a fan you're grateful, otherwise you're unaffected. You can rely on her. Critic paradise: you can recycle the same review over and over.
Brian? His albums require listening, thinking and listening again, and that's 21st-century-critic's hell. [smile]

The problem I have with Last Song is that it works all too much for me. I hope it's the Last Song of that type from Brian, he does them too well. One of the reasons I prefer the 18-tracks edition is that "In the Back of My Mind" and L&M soothe me after the LS emotional tempest.
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kds

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Reply with quote  #66 
Thorgil,

That's why, for the most part, I ignore music reviews of legacy artists.  

One exception is my subscription to the UK's Classic Rock.  For the most part, they do a good job with reviews of legacy artists in that they take the work for what it is, rather than expelling useless energy comparing it to past glories. 

Quite disappointingly, they did not review No Pier Pressure, which came as a surprise as they've published a review of every new Brian Wilson album since I've been subscribing in 2002 (that even includes a very brief, but favorable, review of TWGMTR).  
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Debbie KL

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Reply with quote  #67 
I'm with Thorgil on "Last Song." It's so powerful that it's almost unbearable on a certain level - yet it's something emotional that needs to be said as a part of being human.  I find the depth astounding, and I found the "La-la's" that some find objectionable to be a sort of "brave face" in the midst of the tragedy of loss and its memories of joy.  And loss is a part of life - the flip side of joy.  I think it's absolutely brilliant.  I tend to gravitate to "Tell Me Why," in that it's a more comfortable view of that intensity of feeling, but "Last Song" is a treasure to me.  It's brave and it has no peer - so to speak.

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curt lambert

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Reply with quote  #68 
Debbie - I am a "Tell Me Why" guy. That is my favorite song on what I believe is a wonderful album. "Last Song" is not one of my top five from NPP, and now, thanks to you, I know why. It is so emotionally powerful, and takes me to a sad place, that its beauty is almost painful. I really love NPP. Brian gave us a marvelous 2015.
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guitarfool2002

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Reply with quote  #69 
There were reviews which were not as lazy as they were attacks on Brian personally. When it went as far as using false information and ginned-up "facts" from whatever bogus source was feeding those facts, it got ugly and disgusting. And, there were personal jabs taken at Brian in some of them too, not worth repeating or rebroadcasting because they were playground-level insults being taken by so-called "professionals" in their field. Yeah, right.

There is a matter of doing one's job as a reviewer, and there is the matter of getting the story straight before publishing the article or review. And too many I saw regarding NPP failed across the board. Unfortunately, now, at least one of them is still cited in an online source despite being chock full of inaccuracies and wrong information, and others have fortunately fallen into the dustbin of internet history and forgotten.

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HAL2591

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Reply with quote  #70 
Quote:
NPP is an audiophile album. It sounds terrific. Don't let the naysayers and the ersatz "critics" suggest otherwise. There are some stellar sonic treats captured in the recording and mixing of this album that are worth more attention.


Absolutely. And for those who whine ad nauseam about Joe Thomas supposedly controlling the production - listen to Brian's cover of 'Listen To Me' from the 2011 Buddy Holly tribute album. Tell me that that song isn't a near perfect fit on NPP (production-wise).

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Debbie KL

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Reply with quote  #71 
Curt, yes - one has to be emotionally ready for "Last Song" - painful beauty is a good description.

GF - I agree that there were a few people who were just jumping on the "snark" train in reviewing NPP.  It's easier than thinking and gets cheap applause from the dumber members of the public. Just look at the Presidential campaign.

So right, HAL...The fantasy that Brian wasn't producing NPP somehow suits certain fans personal images of who Brian is as a producer - not the reality.  Brian has always experimented, enjoyed the tools of the studio and done the unexpected - that's one consistency over more than 50 year.  Being a Brian Wilson fan isn't conducive to having rigid expectations of Brian as an artist, but it certainly is exciting.
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guitarfool2002

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Reply with quote  #72 
With the upcoming PS tour I'd love to see some of the NPP songs we didn't get to hear last year featured in the non-PS sets. One favorite is still "Guess You had To Be There", it would be a kick to hear that live!
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guitarfool2002

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Reply with quote  #73 
And...forgot to add...as I do hear shades of Pet Sounds at various points throughout the arrangements on NPP, from the subtle (the layered guitar textures in The Right Time) to the overt (Sail Away), maybe it would get lost in the excitement and the vibe of a live show, but audiences would be able to hear something like an A/B comparison between how Brian used these musical arranging and orchestration techniques in 1966 and how he's still using them in the present day. Kind of like a then and now line being drawn connecting all the sounds to the guy responsible. Just a random thought.
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Akosito

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Reply with quote  #74 
I've been reading this whole tread and although i am not a music expert i find NPP a great album. I find it very, how can i put this stretches imagination in many ways but still can be very cohesive and very Brian. I Love the collaborators on the album. I must admit i never heard of many personally but i love the work they done. I discovered the album in Spotify and i waited some months to get a deluxe audiophile print on LP. I am very proud of it. I think Brian's genius will always live on. I am listening to the album as i write this and i get what you say about the several layers. that is such a Brian thing i suppose.


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guitarfool2002

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Reply with quote  #75 
Great post and thoughts, Akosito! I'd also love to add an audiophile vinyl LP of NPP to my collection. My reference so far has been just the CD, and as I've repeated here maybe too often, it's such a rewarding experience to listen through headphones. So many little sonic details and layers of instruments come through in the mix that you might not catch if listening on a computer or other portable devices. I hear so much care was put into the textures of these tracks, and each was very carefully mixed to create that sound.

What struck me first was the guitars on The Right Time, as a guitarist and writer it took me back to hearing tracks from Pet Sounds like I Just Wasn't Made For These Times or even I Know There's An Answer...where Brian had the guitars playing these lines that are unlike maybe 99% of the guitar parts I've ever heard. They're playing separate melodic lines, but they intertwine and start swirling around the mix in a way that I don;t think anyone has figured out exactly how he did that.

That's been my obsession, and I'm sure shared by others too: How in the world did he come up with those lines? Spector, Sonny Bono, and other peers in the mid 60's were layering guitars, but not doing it with the same kind of phrasing and note choices as Brian had them playing. It was closer to big-band sax section arranging or something than it was for pop music.

When it showed up again on Right Time and then in spots on NPP, I thought "That's Brian Wilson" because it's such a unique touch.

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