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A WHILE BACK is an old person’s way of saying, “It was more than a few years ago but how much more, I ain’t certain.” So, a while back, I was telling my friends that the future of music was going to be AI generated by computer program developers who would not necessarily be musicians.
My favorite example was that someone would develop a program where the complete recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet would be entered into the computer and then just about anything could be “asked” of this band. I meant Davis’s first quintet from 1955-1959 with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, and John Coltrane.
Imagine Pink Floyd of 1973 playing the best of the Beach Boys from 1963: Dark Side Of The Surfer Moon!
We could be treated to the Davis group playing hard bop renditions of the complete SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND album exactly as they would have played the songs on the album in the ’50s if those songs had existed in the ’50s! I haven’t a clue how that would sound but Miles and Trane interpreting the Beatles’ guitar solos with their horns would probably be outta sight!
Or we could enter the complete Sun recordings of Elvis Presley cut in Sam Phillips’s studio in Memphis from 1954-1955 and then have the young singer (along with Scotty, Bill, and DJ) “record” all the songs that the older singer recorded in Chips Moman’s American Sound studio in Memphis in 1969.
Or how about Pink Floyd playing a selection of Beach Boys surf and hot rod songs from the early ’60s in the style of DARK SIDE OF THE MOON!
Beach Boys today
But those thoughts were just a bit of reverie. As for the actual development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 2023, I guess I’m kind of dumb about what’s happening as I have done a reasonably fine job of not keeping up with any of it. (And watching Joaquin Phoenix fall in love with his operating system in Her probably doesn’t count.) So, I was not prepared for hearing an AI generated version of what many fans believe was the opening production that led to the recording of my favorite album of all time, PET SOUNDS.
But first, let’s look back to June 1964, when Brian Wilson began the sessions that would lead to three hit singles for the Beach Boys—When I Grow Up (To Be a Man), Do You Wanna Dance, and Dance, Dance, Dance—and the BEACH BOYS TODAY album. These sessions would stretch out over six months and the album wouldn’t be released until March 1965.
This was the beginning of Brian’s branching out from the Beach Boys’ formula for success and trying new things. His work in the studio involved taking the ideas and techniques of Phil Spector and Burt Bacharach and expanding them. One of the most innovative tracks from these sessions was Guess I’m Dumb. The instruments—especially the percussive effects—the arrangement, and the production clearly pointed to PET SOUNDS.
But for inexplicable reasons, a completed lead vocal by one of the Beach Boys was apparently never made. Consequently, the track was left off of BEACH BOYS TODAY, where it would have shone as the album’s closing selection.
Glen Campbell, Beach Boy
While this was happening, the Beach Boys were touring and Brian was expected to be a part of the band that hit the road. But Brian wanted to devote all of his time to composing and arranging new songs and producing them as completed tracks for the group. So he opted out of touring, reducing the quintet to a quartet.
In December 1964, Los Angeles-based studio musician extraordinaire and multi-instrumentalist—if it had strings, he could play it and play it marvelously—Glen Campbell was brought on board to fill Brian’s spot on bass guitar and lead vocals. This lasted into April 1965, when Campbell left to pursue his solo career as a pop singer.
On March 8, 1965, Brian took Campbell went into the studio and recorded a lead vocal for the dormant Guess I’m Dumb track. Brian also added backing vocals by the Honeys (Ginger Blake, Diane Rovell, and Marilyn Wilson) and, supposedly, himself. The track was completed and it was arguably the most “sophisticated” recording that Brian had yet made!
Guess I’m dumb
In May 1965, Capitol shipped Guess I’m Dumb as Campbell’s tenth single. Like other side projects that Brian did for Capitol (singles for the Honeys, the Survivors, and Sharon Marie), the record’s labels called attention to the fact that Guess I’m Dumb was “arranged and conducted by Brian Wilson.” Not that it helped any of those records much.
The June 12, 1965, issue of Billboard reviewed the record: “With material written and produced by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, the semi-regular ‘Shindig’ TV star dramatically and emotionally delivers a hit sound.”
Campbell appeared on several television shows, lipsynching his latest record. In the YouTube video making the rounds in April 2023, Glen’s singing is superb, showing the full range of his flexible voice, even if he is effectively emulating Brian’s singing. And, unlike the many bland hits that would eventually follow starting in 1968, here Campbell allows passion into his singing. Unfortunately, like Glen’s previous nine singles, it failed to set the charts afire.
Check YouTube for a video.
Guess I’m Dumb slipped into obscurity, forgotten for years by everyone but diehard Brian Wilson and Glen Campbell fans and a few record collectors.
AI generated Brian Wilson
In the YouTube video making the rounds in April 2023, the singing voice of Brian Wilson from 1964 was artificially created and features the “virtual” Brian singing Guess I’m Dumb against a 1964-1965 backing track. I don’t know how this was accomplished—and there is no information on the YouTube page—but the vocal sounds like it is a mixture of an AI generated Brian Wilson merged with the authentic Glen Campbell vocal track for from 1965. (In fact, the Brian vocal sounds more like Campbell than Wilson.)
Check YouTube for a video.
As I said, I do not follow this stuff so was quite taken with the attempt by someone to give us fans a Brian Wilson version of this killer song. It didn’t take long for me to find that there were other similar AI-related creations. This includes a 1963-sounding rendition of Brian singing Be My Baby—apparently still Wilson’s favorite record—overdubbed onto the original Ronettes’ recording.
It shouldn’t take long before this creative process is perfected and the Brian Wilson vocals above can be replaced with even more accurate renditions. Until then, I will continue to look forward to hearing the Miles Davis Quintet of the ’50s doing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and the 19-year-old Elvis tackle In The Ghetto.
FEATURED IMAGE: The image at the top of this page was cropped from this photo of the Beach Boys’ original rhythm section from the ’60s: Dennis Wilson on drums and Brian Wilson on bass.
Finally, that old person at the beginning of this article saying “It was more than a few years ago but how much more, I ain’t certain”—yeah, that’s me.
2 thoughts on “guess I’m dumb about the state of AI generated music”
I picked up that single when I was a kid, having confused it for a different version of Marty Robbins’ “I Guess I’ll Just Stand Here Looking Dumb”. At that time, all I knew about Glen Campbell was from Rhinestone Cowboy, which was my secnd 8-track (or album, period).
Are you saying that you bought “Guess I’m Dumb” as a brand new record in 1964?