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John B

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hear me out, NPP lovers, I'm not a hater here.  I don't think MIU is the worst BB's album--in fact, it has a GREAT song on it: 'My Diane', and NPP has the great 'Right Time' and 'Sail Away'.  But both LP's have sparked controversies of a rather similar nature, haven't they?  upon closer inspection, there are other similarities, too, that's all I'm sayin'. 

and I know, Brian's similarly talented peers from the '60's such as Paul McCartney has not released nearly as great of material for his fans in his 60's and 70's--that just happens to be a fact.  plus, since I'm not yet 70, or even 55, I acknowledge I could be missing something with those NPP lyrics, such as on 'Whatever Happened?'  NPP also came with (Joe's great true skill, you know) a masterfully produced concert film, 'Live at the Venetian'. that every Beach Boy fan's collection is incomplete if they do not own.

Okay.   That's out of the way.    How about direct odes to the past, both musical and lyrical?   On 'MIU' you had 'Kona Coast' dispensing with similarity and barreling straight into copying 'Hawaii'.  Then you have the ponderous/new-agey lyrics of 'Winds of Change' deciding to borrow 'It won't last forever' from "When I Grow Up."   On 'NPP' you have--and these are two of the very best songs on the record, mind you, 'I'm Feelin' Sad' stealing from 'Kiss Me Baby' and then there's 'Sail Away' borrowing 'Sloop John B'.
One person on the NPP appreciation topic asserted that 'Whatever Happened' sounded like 'Pet Sounds', like the Gershwin cover 'Someone to Watch Over Me'.  It's true.   He further alleged that 'if you don't like 'NPP' you must not like 'PS'.  Not true. 

Disco.  There are two such references on MIU: 'Matchpoint of our Love' and 'She's Got Rhythm'.  On 'NPP', you have 'Don't Worry' and 'Runaway Dancer'.

But let's get to the heart of the comparison.  You/me play both and at least I, was overjoyed X 2.  Both are featuring Brian songs--all over them.  I played both over and over and over and over again, thinking, the critics are all wrong, to a Brian fan, these are GREAT!  But...eventually, I began skipping songs on both.  Why?   Like Thorgil said, Brian has a legacy, such a high achievement level that these are not up there.  Yes, yes, you can still enjoy them.  But let's not get carried away.  You guys comparing 'NPP' to 'Pet Sounds'?  Well, bully for you.  But it's not true.  Let's talk about what 'PS' is NOT.  It's not bland.  It was not produced by committee.  It was not watered down by conventional sensibilities, almost if the regular guy was being cajoled to buy: 'he's not THAT weird!  listen to this!'  Brian doesn't need an apology regarding musical issues, and anyone who thinks they can 'better' him by making him more ordinary, is really doing him an injustice. 

This is troublesome because as I've said before, Brian's genius is so great, that virtually anyone he uses as a collaborator, and the end result is still going to be pretty good.  Make no mistake about it, 'NPP' is 'pretty good' as a whole, but I can say the same thing about 'MIU'.  But Brian has always used collaborators, even in the olden days.  True.  But, the songs that Mike Love wrote with Brian, or Roger Christian, or Gary Usher, or Bob N., etc., were not apologizing to the 'regular guy' about that strange-oh.  IMO, Joe DOES.  Please look back at the chapter in 'Catch a Wave' where Carlin writes about the recording process for "Imagination" where Brian would do what he does and Joe would typically un-rock n roll it, un-Spector it, un--(BRIAN!) it with sweetening, with his gosh darn adult-contemporizing.  and 'if Brian had any objections, he did not voice them'.  Very nice and knowledgeable posters on this site have interjected that 'Brian is in charge and approves Joe's suggestions on NPP'.  Maybe so.  Out of friendship?  Because musically pedestrian Joe knows of no other musical language to converse?   In short, on 'NPP', Joe did what he always does, because that's all he's apparently capable of doing, and I'm not going to say 'dumbed down', but I will say 'make more ordinary'. 

Did anyone see the Bobby Fischer movie 'Pawn Sacrifice'?  There's a scene where the seemingly benevolent Catholic priest character stops Bobby from taking psychotropic meds (as his close family members want) because 'it would be like pouring cement down a holy hole.'  So, instead, Bobby goes on to do the impossible and defeat Boris Spasky, but then, even this movie admits, he goes stark-raving bonkers.     

I am glad for Brian's happiness, I really am.  I am glad he's taking psychotropic medications.  Any of us went through what he did, we wouldn't likely have been as strong.  His brothers weren't.  We might be dead too.  and so what am I complaining about, that he makes better records now in his 70's than does Paul McCartney, isn't that still pretty good?  Of course.  Why must the master aim for a masterpiece every time?  Can't he just settle for good once in a while.  You bet.   All I'm asking for is honesty.  'MIU' was not really terrible, but...the worst thing I can say about it, is that it appears to have been done AGAINST rather than in support of Brian.  Say what you will about 'Love You'--right about everything else except that album, Lee Marshall, but 'Love You' was Brian, as 'Adult Child' would also have been.  'MIU' in that context was a whiny group think faux conceit/almost scolding their meal ticket as if he does not know any better.  THEY do.  They are ordinary "Joes" you see.  THEY'LL get you on the radio. This is what is hep.  this is happenin'.  If you don't like it, go back to your room. 

NPP is not that bad.  I like it better than 'MIU' as a matter of fact.  But, please, let's just be honest when reviewing it.  It AIN'T 'Pet Sounds'.  One can love "PS" and note that 'NPP" is not up there, can't one?
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kds

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Reply with quote  #2 
John,

That's an interesting comparison that I didn't really think of.  But, very apt.  I find both albums to be very pleasant listening experiences overall.  

Good catch on the call backs to classic tracks on both records.  There's also a hint of Summer's Gone on the NPP opener This Beautiful Day.  

I know critics of both MIU and NPP often use terms like MOR or "Yacht Rock" to describe both.  

I think MIU is an underrated Beach Boys album.  I'm also a big fan of My Diane.  

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John B

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks, kds.  (one of the consistently best posters here, by the way)
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kds

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks John.  
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HAL2591

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
But both LP's have sparked controversies of a rather similar nature, haven't they?


What controversy? No Pier Pressure is one of Brian's most loved albums (a quick look at the Amazon rating clearly shows NPP is in the top tier of what he has released). Just because a petulant vocal minority took it upon themselves to unfairly lambast this album on some fan forums doesn't mean there is controversy comparable to the M.I.U. album (an album with a rather mediocre standing amongst the Beach Boys fans).

Quote:
You guys comparing 'NPP' to 'Pet Sounds'?  Well, bully for you.  But it's not true.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You yourself agree that 'Whatever Happened' sounds like Pet Sounds, and others have raised valid points that these songs are layered with that classic Pet Sounds instrumental/harmonic production vibe. I compare aspects of this album to many sonic creations that Brian has brought us throughout the years, including Pet Sounds...and it's not an unfair comparison in the least.

Quote:
Let's talk about what 'PS' is NOT.  It's not bland.  It was not produced by committee.
 

I suggest you read up on your Beach Boys history. Some of Pet Sounds was most definitely produced by committee. 'Caroline, No' being sped up? Murry's idea. Mike Love refused to sing the vocals of 'Hang On To Your Ego' and re-wrote the lyrics to something more suitable, making 'I Know There's An Answer'. Bruce Johnston thinks that the record company slid the track 'Sloop John B' on the album to give it more commercial traction (whether this is true or not, I don't know). The Pet Sounds we know and love today wouldn't be the same album had people that weren't Brian Wilson made production suggestions and contributions.

Quote:
It was not watered down by conventional sensibilities, almost if the regular guy was being cajoled to buy: 'he's not THAT weird!  listen to this!'  Brian doesn't need an apology regarding musical issues, and anyone who thinks they can 'better' him by making him more ordinary, is really doing him an injustice.


73 year old Brian Wilson wrote and recorded an EDM song. He combined moog synth sounds with flutes and acoustic guitars on 'Sail Away'. He recorded a song about him sitting in an easy chair and then walking to the grocery store. That is not in the least bit "ordinary"...and it's certainly not catering to your average person.

Also, if you knew anything about Brian Wilson, you'd know his number one goal these days is to get another number one hit on the radio. With that goal in mind of course he is going to attempt to follow current top-40 trends - but that doesn't in the least bit make him ordinary. If anything, putting EDM, country, pop, bossa nova, instrumental music all on one album is a very ballsy and out-of-the-ordinary thing to do.

Anyways, again, beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.

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John B

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Reply with quote  #6 
I like Amazon very much Hal.  But, the review percentages are well known to be bolstered uh, artificially, shall we say?  I hope I did not spoil that for you. 

Greatness I think does not derive from trying to sound like something you did before.  I don't think Brian does this--but I think his lessor mates do.  Again, sorry.

I don't think Brian's assistance from others on 'Pet Sounds' compares to his assistance on 'NPP'.  You do, Hal, we will have to respectfully disagree.  I would also assert that if the changes you suggest were made to 'Pet Sounds' had not been made to 'Pet Sounds', the record would have remained as great, probably better even.  On the other hand, the changes I (and Carlin) are talking about regarding the way Brian's records sound when produced by Joe, made the end results worse.  Sorry.  

Why do you have to add those things about how I should read up on Beach Boys history and if I knew anything about Brian...?   I have read plenty.  or did you mean, personally?   I don't know him personally, of course.  That's what you mean?  If so, sorry.  If not, I am not sorry.  Yet, when Sinatra was in his 60's, I think Eric Carmen said the same thing about him being concerned with making a hit.  Unrealistic though.  Hits are not very important now, unless you can do the flip and the stanky leg and watch you neigh-neigh, and so forth.

but you're welcome Hal.  You scared me in that Kubrick film though...
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John B

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Reply with quote  #7 
I stand for Brian's musical autonomy--and to a fault.  That is, musically, anything he wants to do is great.  To the extent that you are supporting HIS ideas, I approve.  To the extent that you, as a musical lessor, are stupidly twisting nobs like Murray, well, I do not approve.   I think Lee Marshall will tell you that he can vouch for that 'to a fault' part, since he does not care for 'The BB's Love You' and I do.  I admit it.  I'm a musician working for Brian?  'am I crunching that celery loud enough, sir?  louder? okay.  The fire hat?  Of course I'll wear it.  Anything else?...'  The problem is, as I see it, is not necessarily that Brian must interact with musical mortals, but that only seldom, at least until Darian and the band came along, was he able to bounce ideas off people with closer musical intellect.  I mean, really, even a non-musical criminal made records with Brian and no matter: there were still some good stuff to be had.  Same with Joe.  So, if you are asking do I prefer Van Dyke Parks to the lyricists on NPP?  and Do I prefer 'That Lucky Old Sun' to "NPP"?  Well, of course, you got me, I'm guilty as charged.
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HAL2591

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
I like Amazon very much Hal.  But, the review percentages are well known to be bolstered uh, artificially, shall we say?  I hope I did not spoil that for you.


You're not spoiling anything for me. I'm well aware of any "artificial" ratings when it comes to Amazon. I'm also aware that many NPP reviews are made by real fans. On the flip side, I'm sure that there are plenty one star reviews for NPP on Amazon that were made by people with an ax to grind (and I'm sure many were legitimate). Regardless, on fan boards and elsewhere the reception from fans was quite good.

Quote:
Greatness I think does not derive from trying to sound like something you did before.  I don't think Brian does this--but I think his lessor mates do.  Again, sorry.


This is why I requested you read up on Beach Boys history. You're making baseless claims and in doing so honestly coming across as a troll. Brian has reused MANY of his and others ideas and sounds in the past: their charting number 3 hit 'Surfin USA' was basically a note for note remake of 'Sweet Little Sixteen' by Chuck Berry. Cherry Cherry Coupe (one of my absolute favorites from their early years) is a remake of 'Land Ahoy'. Hell, their number 1 hit 'Help Me, Rhonda' was nearly a direct remake of 'Help Me Ronda'. Brian does derive greatness from sounding like something he did before. He also derives greatness in other ways, but building on a tried and true sound is just another tool in Brian's vast box of tricks.

Quote:
I don't think Brian's assistance from others on 'Pet Sounds' compares to his assistance on 'NPP'.  You do, Hal, we will have to respectfully disagree.


No, I don't. You said Pet Sounds was not produced by committee. I merely gave examples that some of Pet Sounds was indeed produced by committee.

Quote:
To the extent that you, as a musical lessor, are stupidly twisting nobs like Murray, well, I do not approve.


And at this I bow out of this conversation. It's been real, John.

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John B

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Reply with quote  #9 
When I said 'you' I did not mean YOU, Hal.  It was a figurative word choice.  I uh, thought we were pretty much all in agreement about the (lack of) merits of Murry's faux mixing board demands... So, your special offense at that seemingly innocent criticism makes me wonder. 

you know, Hal, if you are really Joe the wrestler, and don't divulge that in a BW-related discussion, then I don't think it's right... or else, you should not take those opinions so personally.

In short: disagreeing with you is not 'being a troll.'  That's my final answer.  Ta, as the Brits would say.



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HAL2591

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
When I said 'you' I did not mean YOU, Hal.  It was a figurative word choice.  I uh, thought we were pretty much all in agreement about the (lack of) merits of Murry's faux mixing board demands... So, your special offense at that seemingly innocent criticism makes me wonder.


I took offense merely because it's such a ridiculous statement from my perspective. Whether or not you care for Murry's meddling, one of those people "stupidly twisting the nobs" on No Pier Pressure was Mark Linett, who has done a damn good job of mixing Beach Boy related tracks throughout the years.

Quote:
In short: disagreeing with you is not 'being a troll.'  That's my final answer.


I called you a troll specifically because you are ignoring facts (and I made that point crystal clear), not because I disagree with your opinion.

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thorgil

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Reply with quote  #11 
John, I don't think you are a troll, but that you are sincere. I just don't agree with you, and not just because you seem to relish panning NPP. I was (and am) "guilty" of the same thing regarding GIOMH.
No, I don't agree with you because you, like too many others, seem unable to evaluate anything Brian does on its own merits. It has always to be the new Pet Sounds, the new Smile, the new Love You, even the new TLOS. Brian past work is always used to beat on his present one, when the secret to his continuing creativity is right that he moves always on.
One of my musical dreams is Brian sitting down alone at a piano, and/or a synth, and blow my mind away with something totally weird... you know, like the Smiley take on "Wind Chimes". But I suspect that he should be in a bad place to do that again, so I'll be happy that we have "One Kind of Love" instead. What would be best for me probably would not be best for him.
Oh, and Sail Away is not a Sloop ripoff or anything like that: it's very much its own song with a joking tribute of some notes in the flute.
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guitarfool2002

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Reply with quote  #12 
I often compare a lot of things to food. I enjoy having a good meal, what can I say? Every few weeks when I can, I go to this local buffet restaurant, not a chain or widely-known name restaurant, but just a place where I like the food and look forward to going there. Good prices, and most importantly I like the way they cook certain things.

So I look at it like this. There are many choices available on those tables and trays, rows of them, both hot and cold items. Obviously I go for what I like, those items I look forward to every visit. Sometimes I'll try something new, if I like it, I'll get it again. If not, no big deal, I won't look for it again.

I guess I cannot see how rewarding of an experience it would be to stand there looking at a tray full of brussels sprouts or something others seem to be enjoying, and thinking of the reasons why I don't enjoy them, or listing those reasons in my mind then telling others there why I'm not eating brussels sprouts. There is so much else to choose from, both the old favorites I know I can count on and perhaps something new that week to sample.

All of it is a buffet, really. New things to try, things you know are good and look forward to, things you just might not like.

But isn't it generally better to share the good experiences (and food items in that buffet) with others enjoying them with you rather than giving reasons not to like something?

Music is not a buffet, obviously. It's a personal thing. People are moved to tears by hearing something that grabs them and won't let go. If the floor is open to debating the relative merits of a given song or album, that's par for the course. But where people are praising and appreciating a certain work that maybe someone else doesn't like, that someone isn't going to convince anyone any differently by giving reasons not to like or even worse, not to enjoy and to skip entirely some of what they're enjoying.

If I see people at the next table enjoying their plate of whatever it might be that's not to my taste, I say better to let them enjoy whatever it is and enjoy what it is I like and we both leave the restaurant full and with a smile, maybe even a shared one at that. They don't need to hear my reasons for not liking something as they're obviously enjoying what it was that brought them to the same place, and I'm happy to enjoy what's in front of me without worrying what others think.

Enjoy every sandwich, as Warren Zevon once said. Better yet, let everyone enjoy their sandwiches too.


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kds

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Reply with quote  #13 
Reading John's post, I really don't think he was intending to tear down or criticize either MIU or NPP.  In fact, there's a lot of compliments about both records.  Simply saying he tends to skip tracks on both doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't like it.  Even Today has it's easily skippable Bull Session track.  

I think the point John was making was that many NPP critics tend to unfairly compare Brian's very good 2015 album to a masterpiece album he spearheaded 50 years prior - Pet Sounds.  

Thorgil, you hit on that point that NPP should be taken on its own merits.  I think, in a way John was making the point that both MIU and NPP have been unfairly compared to past glories.  

Maybe I inferred his message differently.  
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John B

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Reply with quote  #14 
Thanks, kds.  I do try to be fair.  and Hal the computer acts like he never heard any controversy before about Joe or NPP.  How can THAT be?    I don't think of myself as a 'meanie'.  I decided in fact that it was better to extricate myself from the "NPP Appreciation" thread, to enter my dissent over here.  Why wasn't THAT gesture appreciated?  You 'NPP-is-as-good-as-Pet Sounds' true-believers did not have to follow me here if you did not want.  Sometimes I think the offense I receive is disproportionately from those who don't have brothers.  I have more than Brian, three of them, and they are all close to my age. =my life has been arguments all the time, even my job for the past 20 years+... Plus I am from Texas.  You know that 'Seinfeld' with the loud guys on the plane with George, 'you tell that SOB!' and so forth.  Absolutely fair and not exaggerated.  If this site was merely to agree about everything, it would be too boring.   Guitar hero: Warren Zevon, really?  He wasn't a regular Joe... He was that weird guy who sung about drinking toxins and sleeping when he was dead, about sending lawyers guns and money to spies, about warewolves drinking pina colladas with perfect hair.  He didn't like everyones' sandwich--I doubt he ever dined at a buffet, and we are all better for it...

Thorgil is right, but so is Lee Marshall when he suggested, we are all here now on this site because of "Pet Sounds".  So, what's wrong with having standards?
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Akosito

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Reply with quote  #15 
I started reading this tread a few minutes ago. I must admit, i'm not as musical savvy as most of the folks here. So MIU as been pointed out to me before. So i decided to put it for a spin on Spotify. I loved the 1st track immediately. And thats saying much because i've been kinda cranky and tired for days. Listening to it made me immediately turn my mood to upbeat. So i guess i'll listen to it from start to finish and keep an eye on it.
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