Song Of The Day 6/24/2016: Paul Shaffer – “Metal Beach”

The Life of Brian – If you're a diehard Wilson watcher then you no doubt know about the whole sordid deal with Dr. Eugene Landy, the controversial psychologist retained by Wilson's family and friends to get the musician's life and health back on track. Landy's methods were always a little cuckoo, but seemed to have some benefit initially. But they were painful. Landy simply commandeered every aspect of Wilson's life, isolating him from the family that had contacted Landy in the first place. He over-medicated Brian with a huge range of antipsychotic drugs he kept in a jar, unsorted. At some point the line between life coach and egomaniacal micro-tyrant blurred, and it seemed as if Landy's living through Wilson's art was getting less vicarious and a lot more hands-on. The State of California eventually took his license away for a rainbow of ethical malfeasances, and the Wilson family wrested Brian out of Landy's grip in 1991, effectively blocking the doctor from ever being in touch with Wilson again. Landy died in Hawaii in 2006 after getting some undefined modicum of his business back.

Back in 1987 Landy and Wilson entered into some kind of "creative partnership" that was called "Brains and Genius." They basically split profits on everything Wilson did creatively. And on Brian's acclaimed, frankly beautiful 1988 solo album Landy actually got co-composer's and executive producer's credit, although he had no discernible musical skills. Co-producer Russ Titelman said Landy's behavior during the making of Brian Wilson was "anti-creative." When it comes to the decorum and creativity in the studio, I'm always going to take the opinion of the guy who produced Randy Newman's albums over the human pill dispensary. Every time.

This scheme even extended itself to Wilson's production and writing contribution on "Metal Beach," a fairly unremarkable song on David Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer's solo album Coast to Coast, on which Landy again receives co-writing credit. At least this time Landy also contributies some kind of performance: That's him speaking the vaguely threatening, un-EQed song title at the beginning of the track. Even in that brief snippet of pseudo-suave mumbling, it sounds like he's barging in. Well, they can't all be spun gold, folks.

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