|Febuary 1 - 21, 1988
If there's one record that left a scar, the first Brian Wilson solo record was it. Ten years after the fact I can still get mad if I think about it long enough.
Poor Brian (see sidebar).
Hugh Padgham was back and Russ Titleman and Lenny Waroneker, the WB heavyweights were producing. Lenny did "The Suite" at another studio and wasn't around much, so it was Russ, Hugh, me, and a cast of characters in Studio B you wouldn't believe. Dr. Landy was barred from the sessions but his vibe was sure there. He had a snitch, Kevin the "Surf Nazi" sit in the back and take notes on what was going down, then call in with the details. Landy would call back in a few and I guess tell everyone what to do next, and all hell would break loose.
Basically Landy was a control freak running the whole Brian show. Russ was used to it, but Hugh and I were dumbfounded. Anyway it made it really hard to work and finally after 4 or 5 days a serious skirmish went down and everyone was kicked out except Brian and Andy Paley. Andy was Brian's bud and I think a wannabe Beach Boy, and the only guy I ever came really close to physically assaulting in a recording studio. He knew every part of just about every song The Beach Boys ever did.
Things cooled down for a while and Brian and Andy would be out in the room, with Brian on piano usually playing the same 50's riff over and over. They'd talk and laugh and go through some old song. Brian at that time was mentally like a 12 year old cause Landy had him doped up pretty good, so it took a little adjustment and he did some goofy things. We used Intra-Clean instead of alcohol to clean the tape machines, and I 'd catch him dipping his fingers in it and sniffing it up to get a little buzz. He scribbled "BW was here" on my takesheets a bunch of times and I'd have to copy it all over. But when he was by himself, he was harmless.
The first week was pretty brutal and we took Sunday off to go out to Pomona for the NHRA Winternationals with Jamo. Hugh was a sprint car owner in England if I remember right, and he enjoyed the races and the noise.
The next two weeks were about the same and Hugh did some great mixes despite the conditions. When the each song was about done, Brian and Andy would listen and Andy would argue on Landy's behalf. At some point the "Surf Nazi" was allowed back in and it came to a point where Russ blew his top and just said "fuck it" to the whole deal, and started not accepting input from anybody.
It was pretty weird watching the President of Warner Brothers Records totally blow his stack. Dr. Landy broke the "barred from the sessions" rule in the 3rd week and showed up unannounced one afternoon. I don't think I've ever felt a creepier vibe in my life. It was as if Charlie Manson was in the room. We ended up doing recalls on a few songs, and Hugh was finished, but I wasn't off the hook just yet.
The Johnson Mixes
March 7 - 13, 1988
There was a pretty big joke at some point that only Brad and I shared. Brad and Andy Paley had gone out to dinner the night before, Something transpired during their dinner outing that I can't remember, but the next day about 10 minutes of very anguished NOOOOOOO's!!!!!!! from Brad followed. For the next few day's if I said the word "everything" with a totality tone to it, Brad's reaction was the same.
The record wasn't finished when it left A&M, but I was sure glad to see it go!