Love You (album)
|Studio album by The Beach Boys|
|Released||April 11, 1977|
October 1976–January 1977,
Brother and Brian Wilson's studio, California
|The Beach Boys chronology|
|Singles from Love You|
Love You (also known as The Beach Boys Love You) is the twenty-first studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on April 11, 1977. Originally conceived as a Brian Wilson solo album entitled Brian Loves You, the album is almost entirely written and performed by him, with the other band members mainly serving as additional lead vocalists.
Penned during a process of mental and drug rehabilitation for Wilson, Love You has been praised by critics for the album's honest, unpretentious lyrics, and has been described as a portrait into Brian Wilson's sense of self in 1977. Heavily reliant on 1970s analog synthesizer, the album has been recognised as an idiosyncratic and creative oddity in the Beach Boys' canon.
Ten years ago, I had resolved I wasn't going to tour, that I was much better off, I assumed, at home, in an environment where I could create music. Then, the guys in the group said, "Hey Brian, would you help us? We think your presence on the road would improve the quality of the show and help sell tickets." Another reason was that my psychiatrist wished I would do something to keep me from sitting on my ass, to keep me from going insane.
Three months following the release of 15 Big Ones, Wilson commenced recording the bulk of Love You—then tentatively a solo project titled Brian Loves You and Brian's In Love—that he had mostly written alone. The songs were largely performed by Brian through the aid of multitrack recording, his arrangements inspired by works such as Switched-On Bach by Wendy Carlos. From October 13 to November 10, 1976, it is reported that Brian demoed over sixteen tracks for the Beach Boys' next release at Brother Studios. In comparison to the Beach Boys' previous entry 15 Big Ones, Brian intended Love You to be "more creative, more original," and, "lyrically much more interesting."
Similar to previous Brian Wilson-lead work Mount Vernon and Fairway and 15 Big Ones, Love You's instrumentation is almost entirely made up of state-of-the-art analogue synthesis such as the Moog Taurus. The arranging and mixing methods of these instruments were often made from a Wall of Sound approach, owing to Wilson's fascination with the work of record producer Phil Spector. Producer Earle Mankey served as engineer for the album, and has said that musician Wizzard frontman Roy Wood contributed to "Honkin' Down the Highway" and "Ding Dang," also noting, "everybody who showed up got subjected to 'Ding Dang.'". He described his own role in the album as "the low man on the totem pole," elaborating,
I would sit in there with Brian for his morning session, which ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nobody else wanted to get up that early. And nobody else wanted to sit around if Brian didn’t have anything to do. I worked there. I got paid to do that. I spent a lot of time with him–sometimes productive, sometimes not productive. It was very cool because I was a major Brian Wilson fan and I got to talk to him a lot about the recording aspects of the music that interested me.…Lots [of discussions] about Phil Spector and his techniques and the things that he learned from Phil Spector and the methods that he used. At the foot of it all Brian would say, “There was a fire, and I don’t have that fire anymore and I wish I could get it back.”…When I would get him up to that point he would be talking about how he wrote the songs and recorded them with lots of live musicians in the room."
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On November 27, eleven days after compiling the first rough mix of these demos, Brian made an appearance on Saturday Night Live, promoting the upcoming album and performing "Love is a Woman" for the first time. A few weeks following this performance, Brian's involvement in the project significantly waned. Starting with the dismissal of his therapist Eugene Landy in early December, 1976, Brian was once again encumbered with the weight of poor mental health. Needing a completed album to submit to Reprise Records in order to fulfill contractual obligations, Carl Wilson remixed the completed material in January 1977, overdubbing elements such as guitar and extra percussion to compliment the idiosyncratic sound of the songs; for these contributions, he was credited as "Mixdown Producer". Around this period, the call and response tag to "Airplane" was recorded. Fellow bandmember Al Jardine considered Carl and Dennis Wilson's contributions as crucial, accordingly, "It’s got all these wonderful songs. I didn’t have that much to do with it.…I remember watching the brothers work on it. In a way, [Love You] was Carl’s tribute to Brian. The title of that album is really The Beach Boys Love Brian. Carl wanted Brian to feel appreciated. He had the most to do with that album, him and Dennis, paying tribute to their brother. The Minimoogs are all over the place."
Wilson has explained, "'Johnny Carson' came about when I was sitting at my piano and someone was talking about him. I told them I was gonna write a song about him and they didn’t believe me. I had the whole thing done in 20 minutes." Despite the song's eccentric lyrics ("Don't you think he's such a natural guy / The way he's kept it up could make you cry"), it has been speculated to have been written as a semi-autobiographic piece. The lyrics can be interpreted as Wilson's frustrations with outside pressures expecting him to be consistently active; which leads him to compare himself with the daily appearing late-night talk show host Johnny Carson.
On January 14, 1977, the Beach Boys' twenty-first studio album, then titled Love You was assembled. Containing twelve of the songs the Beach Boys had worked upon during 1976 and 1977, the album also sourced two tracks from earlier recording sessions. "Good Time" a song co-written by Brian and Al Jardine was the first of these, being recorded on January 7, 1970 during a Sunflower session. Noted for being an abnormality in the context of the Love You album, the song features a Brian Wilson lead vocal recorded prior to the deepening of his voice. The second of the tracks, "Ding Dang", was largely conceived by Brian with lyrics contributed by Roger McGuinn. Brian became obsessed with the vocal arrangement of the song and as such, various sessions of "Ding Dang" and its derivatives were recorded throughout the 1970s creating ambiguity in determining the version on Love You's precise recording date. Beach Boys historians have estimated that it was likely recorded sometime in late 1973. McGuinn later expounded on his writing contributions, stating that Wilson had one day drove to his house unexpectedly for amphetamines. He explains,
Brian parked in the driveway and approached the house. I opened the front door and invited him in. "I just wanted to see you," he said. "Do you have any speed?" "Why yes," I replied. "Are you sure you should be taking it?" He said, "I'm running away from Dr. Landy, so it's OK," with a half smile from the side of his mouth. I gave him two Biphetamine 20s and a glass of water and he gulped them down like someone gasping for fresh air after having been submerged for a long time. We had a beer and played pool for a while and then Brian found his way to the music room. He had seated himself at my upright piano and was playing a tune. "What's that?" I asked. "Oh nothing. Just something I came up with now," he replied. I said, "It sounds great! Do you want to write some words?" "OK," he replied. We played the tune for an hour or so but the only lyrics we had were: "I love a girl and I love her madly / I treat her so fine but she treats me so badly," et cetera. After about five or six hours of this, I got tired and went to bed. When I awoke the next morning, Brian was still at the piano playing the same verse over and over.
In 1976, Brian Wilson retrieved an instrumental track he recorded in 1965 for the album Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) entitled "Sandy". He renamed the song "Sherry She Needs Me" and recorded new vocals, but ended up discarding the song for Love You. A cover version of the Spector-produced "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" was also recorded. According to later Beach Boys engineer Alan Boyd,
I talked to Earle Mankey about it and he remembers the session vividly. He recalls that Brian came in one day and recorded the whole song. He plays everything on it, did all the vocals. Everything was pretty much done in one take. Apparently when he was singing both vocals parts at the end—the Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield parts—he really got into that. Earle described his head bouncing back and forth from one side of the microphone to the other. Like a lot of the material from Love You, Brian was working very quickly on his own. It’s a very simple production. Everything is anchored by that tack piano. Brian did this very interesting thing and it goes back to his early days too, for rhythm he’d often use guitars and piano to fulfill the same rhythm function as a high-hat. He’d always have these eighth notes but there’d be these chord clusters. I think he liked the tack piano because it had that sort of percussive click on it and it sort of fulfills the same function as a high-hat except with all these notes so it makes everything sort of swirl. His version of "You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling" is very dark and it’s very raw. It almost has kind of a punk edge to it.
Both outtakes would remain unreleased until 2013 for the Made in California box set. Other Love You-era outtakes would later be reworked for the aborted follow-up Adult/Child and Wilson's debut solo album Brian Wilson.
Release and aftermath
Released on April 11, just weeks after announcing the band's new record deal with CBS, it has been hypothesized that the lack of promotion Reprise Records put into Love You was a byproduct of the falling out between artist and label. It was relatively overlooked by mainstream audiences, which Wilson later attributed to the poor promotion.
Peaking at number 28 in the UK and number 53 in the US, the album was a moderate success, but weighed against the band's prior chart placements. With the momentum of the "Brian's Back" campaign passing and the surge of commercial popularity for disco and punk, the Beach Boys' commercial appeal had slowed down once more. Following the album's lukewarm reception and the re-emergence of personal demons, Brian Wilson resumed his back seat proceedings in the band and would never again be as involved with an album's genesis and execution until the release of That's Why God Made the Radio, in 2012.
|The A.V. Club||positive|
Positively received by critics both then and today; Love You has been noted to possess awkward beauty and high levels of musical creativity. Among fans, Love You is renowned for its swamping sounds of layered synth, gruff vocals and unique production approach, however there are others who have found the release's raw, unconventional sound difficult to appreciate. Keith Phipps of the A.V. Club somewhat echoed this statement admitting "there's something not-quite-right about men on the cusp of middle age hungering after a 'roller-skating child'—but its failure reveals a touching vulnerability beneath the sunny good-times image of an American institution" going on to say that "more often than not, Love You has a winning, human directness".
D. Erik Kempke of Pitchfork Media said of the album: "The Beach Boys Love You stands in sharp contrast to the albums that preceded and followed it, because it was a product of genuine inspiration on Brian Wilson's part, with little outside interference". AllMusic's John Bush also agreed that the emotional inspiration was apparent, believing "The Night Was So Young," "I'll Bet He's Nice," and "Let's Put Our Hearts Together" form a suite during side two that possesses a breadth of emotional attachment to rival Pet Sounds.
Comments by musicians
Brian Wilson has stated that the album is one of his favorite Beach Boys releases, saying to biographer Peter Ames Carlin "That's when it all happened for me. That's where my heart lies." Love You has since developed a cult following and is regarded as one of the band's best albums. He added in later years, "I think because I felt so sad I had to bring out my feelings, and try to create music that would make me and all my friends feel better.…My favorites are 'I Wanna Pick You Up' and 'Ding Dang'. that was a good cut, wasn't it? Just a very short song, that's all. One of the shortest records we have ever made. It's funny because now people are beginning to see that album as a classic - it was quite revolutionary in its use of synthesizers." After being asked where somebody should begin with the Beach Boys discography, Wilson said, "They should listen to Pet Sounds first, and then listen to The Beach Boys Love You."
In 2013, Beach Boy Al Jardine expressed enthusiasm for performing the entire Love You album in concert, going on to note, "those are some of the best songs we ever did".
Patti Smith lauded the album at release, and helped promote it with her own review which called Love You "[an album] siphoned from the meandering mind of a madman…laced w/ tender cynicism, seems to exude from a dead man w/ memory."
In a review of Love You for Circus, Lester Bangs wrote "[the Beach Boys are] a diseased bunch of motherfuckers if ever there was one…But the miracle is that the Beach Boys have made that disease sound like the literal babyflesh pink of health…Maybe it’s just that unprickable and ingenuous wholesomeness that accounts not only for their charm, but for their beauty—a beauty so awesome that listening to them at their best is like being in some vast dream cathedral decorated with a thousand gleaming American pop culture icons."
All songs written and composed by Brian Wilson, except where noted.
|1.||"Let Us Go on This Way" (B. Wilson/Mike Love)||Carl Wilson with Love||1:58|
|2.||"Roller Skating Child"||Love, C. Wilson, Al Jardine with B. Wilson||2:17|
|3.||"Mona"||Dennis Wilson with B. Wilson||2:06|
|4.||"Johnny Carson"||Love with C. Wilson||2:47|
|5.||"Good Time" (B. Wilson/Jardine)||B. Wilson||2:50|
|6.||"Honkin' Down the Highway"||Jardine||2:48|
|7.||"Ding Dang" (B. Wilson/Roger McGuinn)||Love||0:57|
|1.||"Solar System"||B. Wilson||2:49|
|2.||"The Night Was So Young"||C. Wilson with B. Wilson||2:15|
|3.||"I'll Bet He's Nice"||D. Wilson, B. Wilson with C. Wilson||2:36|
|4.||"Let's Put Our Hearts Together"||B. Wilson with Marilyn Wilson||2:14|
|5.||"I Wanna Pick You Up"||D. Wilson with B. Wilson||2:39|
|6.||"Airplane"||Love, B. Wilson with C. Wilson||3:05|
|7.||"Love is a Woman"||B. Wilson, Love with Jardine||2:57|
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (September 2013)|
- The Beach Boys
- Al Jardine – lead, harmony and backing vocals; bass guitar
- Mike Love – lead, harmony and backing vocals
- Brian Wilson – lead, harmony and backing vocals; moog, moog bass, keyboard, tack piano, electric harpsichord, hammond organ; bass guitar, electric guitar; drums, handclaps, tambourine, percussion; producer
- Carl Wilson – lead, harmony and backing vocals; lead, rhythm and twelve-string guitar; handclaps, percussion; mixdown producer
- Dennis Wilson – lead, harmony and backing vocals; drums
- Additional musicians and production staff
- Ed Carter – electric guitar
- Stephen Desper – sound engineer ("Good Time")
- Steve Douglas – tenor saxophone
- Bruce Johnston – backing vocals and harmony
- Stephen Moffitt – sound engineer
- Jay Migliori – baritone saxophone
- Earle Mankey – sound engineer
- Marilyn Wilson – lead, harmony and backing vocals
Sales chart positions
|Canada RPM Albums Chart||66|
|Swedish Album Charts||34|
|UK Top 40 Album Chart||28|
|US Billboard 200 Albums Chart||52|
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