Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Love And Mercy (Part 3)

We've got lots more of your "Love And Mercy" comments today in Forgotten Hits ... seems quite a few of you were quick to defend the film after reading my rather negative review ... which has prompted me to see it again with a fresh set of eyes.  (Had hoped to do that over the weekend but constantly changing plans made that impossible ... and then last night we had a tornado for good measure ... so now we're probably pushed back to the upcoming weekend.)  Sounds like we even scared a few of you off from seeing it ... which was certainly not our intent.  I think everyone needs to draw their own conclusions about this film ... and what it means to you.  (Scroll back to June 10th to see our original movie review if you missed it.)

Sounds like most of the points taken by others reviewing the film is that this is NOT the story of The Beach Boys but rather of Brian Wilson and his inner demons.  I get that ... but I don't know that one can be told without the others.  Without the proper set up to show what drove Brian to his madness, the story simply doesn't make sense.  (It wasn't exactly Jimmy Piersall trying to climb over the outfield fence ... but there were times it was close!)  Even his recovery after breaking free from the clutches of Dr. Landy aren't fully explained ... Brian has been a successful touring artist again for decades ... and continues to write and perform brand new music.  His latest LP, "No Pier Pressure", recorded with the help of both vintage and contemporary artists, is one of his finest works ever.

In any event, you'll find that some good points are taken below, so we'll share a few more with you today ... including this link below that not only includes a brief interview with Brian Wilson ... but also shows The Beach Boys' induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, circa 1988.  (Be sure to click on the YouTube Video of The Beach Boys being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1988 ... worth it just to watch the ALWAYS reliable Mike Love make a complete ass of himself again as he does nearly every time he opens his mouth.)  kk

This comes from former Beach Boys Manager (and Forgotten Hits Reader and frequent contributor) Fred Vail ... 

Good late evening, Kent ...
I figured you'd be flooded with reviews and first impressions on the new Brian Wilson biopic "Love and Mercy" by now. I saw the first showing yesterday afternoon at the historic Belcourt Cinema in Hillsboro Village (Nashville). Ed Salamon put together a little 'viewing' get together with a few "Vinyl Vinyl" and Spectrapop friends, Henry Gross (and wife, Marilyn), Bill Lloyd, Bob Irwin (and wife), Garry Tallent, Jay Mc Donnell (and his Dad).  These are all good friends and folks who I totally respect.
We went out for dinner after the show and the general consensus was that it was a pretty good flick.  Having known 'the boys' (wives, ex-wives, kids) for over 52 years, I'm still trying to process it all but hope to post something on my Facebook page on Sunday or Monday. I'm also eager to read some of your loyal readers' feedback.  
I, like a few others, easily give the movie 4 stars -- would like to see it again -- and could upgrade that to 4+ -- but there are a few inaccuracies in the film that bother me more than 'just a little.' I'll explain that in more detail when I send you my review in the next few days.
I really did enjoy the long review on 'Sloop John B' you ran the other day which, when I first heard the completed track at the 'mastering' session, I knew instantly was going to be a hit single. Over the years that song has been 'fodder' to thousands of Beach Boys / Brian Wilson die-hards.
While it came 'out of left field' at the time, I've become an even bigger fan and can't see it 'not being in the album.' Of course, there is one song that is missing: "Good Vibrations," which was 'in the works' at the time. Can anyone even begin to imagine "Pet Sounds" with that additional track?
Have a great 'fun, fun, fun' weekend. Glad to have a new Triple Crown winner!
Fred Vail / Treasure Isle / Nashville, TN   

It was at Capitol Records' insistence that "Sloop John B" be included in the "Pet Sounds" album.  They simply didn't hear a single ... and were afraid the album would tank without one, especially since it was SO far removed from anything The Beach Boys had recorded up to this point in time. 

In the brand new Ken Sharp Wrecking Crew book "Sound Explosion", Al Jardine tells the story of the time he first brought "Sloop John B" into the studio for Brian's consideration ... 

When I brought "Sloop John B" to Brian, I was almost trembling. I was thinking, "Am I wasting Brian's time doing this?"  I showed Brian the chords and he sucked it up like a sponge.  The next day he'd arranged a brass section and cut the track on it and it became a huge hit for us.
Listen to "Sloop John B" ... God, the bass is perfect ... the flute, all the guitars are clear and sharp.
-- Al Jardine   

Good evening, KK,
I'm a bit surprised your review is 'very' negative. Overall, I'm pretty favorable to the movie -- but significant events could have been added ... also, a few 'fact check' instances, like Murry playing "I Live For The Sun" while Brian is in the studio doing vocals on "Caroline, No," would have been hard to do since the timing for each of these was off by about a year :)
You'll find an interesting post about that very subject if you go to Rick Henn's Facebook page. He may be "Richard Henn" on FB, but he has a humorous take on that section of the movie -- one I'm sure your readers would enjoy:) Overall, over the years, Rick and I have been two of the most visible 'defenders' of Murry, although there is no defense for the physical abuse he took out on his sons. Part of it was the times in which we lived but he went beyond the limits.
More on that later.
It finally opened at a 20 screen Carmike Cinema here today -- I hope this means it's now being mass distributed to the other major chains. It's amazing that Brian Wilson is 'the last man standing,' when it comes to the three Wilson brothers. I often made the joke that Dennis Wilson would die in his 80's, caught in the act  of making mad passionate love to some guy's 25 year old wife:) Obviously -- and sadly -- that was not the case ... and the group's 'true spirit' died just three weeks after his 39th birthday.  So much talent and energy ... and many don't realize he was the first Beach Boy to make a solo album. Not bad for "Mr. Cool," who was initially looked at as little more than a sex symbol. Damn, I miss Dennis and Carl Wilson so much. We were really more like brothers than close friends and I think of them almost every single day. The two actors who played them did not come close to physically capturing their look, nor were their scenes -- and contributions to the group -- developed to any degree. 
I felt that (other than the obvious Mike Love character) NO time was spent identifying or exploring the rest of The Beach Boys clan.  They were practically nameless and interchangeable.  In fact, other than one reference to Bruce (who wasn't there at the beginning), it was hard to tell one Wilson from the other thanks to virtually no screen time.  (As I understand it ... and the new Wrecking Crew book mentioned above confirms this as well ... Brian tried to include Carl more so than any of the others in his entire recording process.)  Brian Wilson recently told Endless Summer Quarterly Publisher David Beard that he still writes music for Brian's voice to this very day.  In fact, several tracks on his new "No Pier Pressure" album were written with The Beach Boys in mind ... all the more fitting that he has Al Jardine sing a couple of tracks and invited Blondie Chaplin back to handle a lead vocal as well.  (kk)

Two stars?  I think I'll just wait for it to come to DVD LOL

I may not agreed with what you have to say but I will defend to the death that you turned out one hell of a tasty review.
Chet Coppock

Hi Kent -
I enjoyed the honesty in your review of "Love and Mercy".
I have read almost every book on Brian and the Beach Boys and have most of their documentary type dvds and look forward to seeing the movie soon.
Like you said, the story of Brian and the Beach Boys is very complex from start to finish, yet at the beginning, they were an overnight success!!
After I see the movie, I will give you my opinion!
If any of the readers see Brian and Friends at Ravinia, hope they write a critique!
GREAT JOB as usual Kent!!!
Carolyn - Westchester, IL

Hey Kent,
I caught Love And Mercy yesterday and initially liked it, but felt (as you) the story could've been told better.
Definitely the movie would've been better showing Brian's rise, fall and comeback in a more detailed and cohesive way. 
I thought your review was fairly spot on. The actors' and actresses' performances sparkled -- I liked Paul Dano's 60's Brian portrayal better than John Cusack's 80's Brian.  
More of the early music definitely would've been great, but the music in this flick served more as a backdrop for the main plot of the movie, which was Melinda Ledbetter saving Brian from Landy (and from himself).   
This movie will appeal more to avid Brian Wilson fans (like myself) than the casual Beach Boy fan. 
I think the soundtrack will be interesting, if it includes those sounds 'inside Brian's head' (which sounded pretty trippy in the theater : )
I'm gonna go see it again. The movie wasn't bad .... it just could've been better.  
At least it compelled me to go to the movies, something I seldom do.  
Your review was good, man. 

Maybe because I wasn't as familiar with the whole Brian Wilson story as you were, a lot of the discrepancies you mentioned didn't bother me.
I was wondering who the character in the pool scene was. Thank you for explaining it was Van Dyke Parks, and his relationship to the Beach Boys.
I was wondering if Dennis was going to drown on screen. It was only mentioned briefly when he was looking to buy the car - many years later. I would have thought that would have played an important role, also. We never saw any repercussions from that tragic accident.
I think the Beatles were mentioned in one sentence right at the beginning. There was no other mention of the rivalry that was between the two groups.
I couldn't get into John Cusak at all as Brian. Paul Dano totally nailed his part. Maybe because John looked nothing like Brian? It's not a fictional character - the casting director could have looked for someone to resemble him at least a bit! I loved Elizabeth Banks. You could see how much she cared about the tortured Brian and how she wanted to be a part of his life, but was outnumbered by his entourage.
I really enjoyed the film. I have been a Beach Boys fan forever.

I have not seen the Brian Wilson movie.  I’ll wait for it to show up on the TV screen!
Joel Whitburn

Loved the movie, Love and Mercy!!!  I am grateful for any movie being made at this point in time to bring to our nation the history of the music of our lives.  As a big Beach Boy fan I instinctively knew who the people were in the story - Parks, and the studio musicians.  I think that even as a casual observer any viewer can benefit from watching this movie including people with drug problems. There is much to gain from learning about the background of the Beach Boys and all that it took to make the beautiful music. Maybe it's called a "rockumentary."  I still enjoyed the movie and thought the acting was good.  I hope it makes a lot of money. Peace.  

I don't have to agree with each of your points to be able to say that I appreciate your careful analysis. You bring up several points / perspectives that are worthy of further discussion.
As I've said earlier, to me Love and Mercy is really the story of Brian's heroes and villains and his amazing ability to survive them all. Love and Mercy is a bio of Brian, albeit episodic, not the story of the Beach Boys. SO, in that measure, I think the film hit its marks well. Like you, I brought a ton of knowledge / surmising to the plot that both helped and at times hindered my experience of the movie. 
I believe the "motion picture" tells a compelling and inspiring story but, as your review indicates, it also provides hard core Beach Boys / Brian Wilson fans, months (years?) of fodder for discussion and debate.
Kent, FH is a unique place for analysis because everyone respects, in this case, the group and the man, and wants a serious discussion ... even debate.
Help us, Rhonda!!

Wow, I guess I'll wait until it comes on TV to see Love And Mercy. Guessing that there was some reputable Beach Boys historian on hand to look over the script, but the movie was edited to fit a certain narrative. That's too bad. 
Carl Wiser  

Hi Kent, 
Don’t know if you’ve seen this article yet so thought I would forward it on to you.
I agree with your review of the movie and was disappointed also.  There are events that should have been included.  The first signing with Capitol, their euphoria and excitement and the energy in making their first recordings ... the hilariousness whenever Murry entered the Tower and sometimes Nick Venet would hide under his desk to avoid having to deal with him ... and especially Brian’s involvement with other artists until his dad put a stop to it.  
The relationship between Brian and Mike Love is so similar to the Lettermen and the relationship between my brother Jim Pike and Tony Butala.  Jim was the creative force behind the Lettermen from the beginning and his behavior in his creative efforts during rehearsals and in the studio is so similar to Brian’s early behavior it’s scary.  Although we never did drugs, Jim’s hands on approach with the very same musicians was ironically the same.  But that’s what was so great about all the guys and gals in the Wrecking Crew ... whoever was producing could approach them, explain their vision and they could adapt and get the sound. 
In the movie in one scene Hal Blaine was on drums and reference was made to Earl.  Now, Earl Palmer was a Wrecking Crew Drummer (at least in my eyes) and I’m sure Brian Wilson’s also.  I was a little thrown by that unless there is another Earl they were referring to.  I don’t know of any. Anyway, I was a little disappointed in the movie.  I guess I was looking for a little more of a historical aspect.
The thing I was most impressed with was the musical abilities of the actors, except Cusack of course.  Dano and the kid that played Carl Wilson did an outstanding job of coming as close to sounding like Brian and Carl as anyone could.  To my ears, all the music they shot in the studio scenes was really them live, and I thought they did an outstanding job.  I don’t know if Capitol wanted too much money for use of the tracks or what, but I thought it was much better the way they did it.
I’m still convinced that when Jim asked Brian to write a song for the Lettermen it inspired him to resurrect Surfer Girl, and that’s about the same time Murry cracked down on Brian to keep all his songs for the Beach Boys.
My two cents worth.
Ex Lettermen Gary Pike
You heard "Earl" and I heard "Al" ... I saw Al DeLory listed in the end-credits so I believe that's who Brian was talking to.
Thanks for the "Fact vs. Fiction" article ... I think there are several more discrepancies than those listed here.  (Fred Vail mentions Rick Henn and The Sunrays above ... and that timeframe was off by better than a year.) 
I looked for Henn's Facebook posting but as a non-Facebook member, I may not have access to hit.  Fred says he's listed as Richard Henn these days so those who ARE on Facebook may want to seek this out.
Thanks, Gary!  (kk)

Endless Summer Quarterly Publisher David Beard reflects back on the 50 Year Anniversary of The Beach Boys' album "Summer Days (And Summer Nights)" ...

Be sure to check back tomorrow for more from Fred Vail, too, as Fred takes a look back at The Beach Boys ... The Early Years!