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Smiley Smile Stuff => General On Topic Discussions => Topic started by: Mr. Cohen on April 14, 2013, 10:07:15 PM



Title: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Mr. Cohen on April 14, 2013, 10:07:15 PM
Over time, I've come to prefer the early material to what the BBs did later. I started out with Smile and Pet Sounds, but over time, I've come to appreciate the honesty and vitality of the BBs hit period more. The songs were just so... American. The rollicking shuffle beat, the pop culture lyrics. In many ways, songs like "I Get Around" are still what young people are all about - it's just become unfashionable to be so honest and clear about it.  I always come back to a quote "by" Mike Love in An American Family: "Those songs are who we are." Or when Sean Hagan said Brian was an avant-garde artist and Joe Thomas roughly responded with, "Not the Brian I know."

I believe "California Girls" is the BBs top masterpiece. I prefer "Rock & Roll Music" and "It's OK" to at least half of Smile. Smile is too slow, ponderous, and abstract from an emotional standpoint in comparison. I'd take "Little Deuce Coupe" over "Hang Onto Your Ego" each and every time, too. Don't get me wrong, Pet Sounds is a masterpiece and definitely quite honest, but that's where the hip posturing starts to creep in. For me, honestly, it's where the Beach Boys end. After that point, the group just became a talented collection of individuals. The angel had fallen from the group's graces.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to listen to "Wendy" again.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: AvanTodd on April 14, 2013, 10:27:04 PM
No.  Smile is the best thing they ever did.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: goodtimer on April 14, 2013, 10:27:41 PM
I guess everyone is entitled to their opinions but the musical quality of the beach boys 65-73 is just some of the best music you'll ever hear, the surfin, car and california chicks songs are real catchy and some of them are just as good as Pet Sounds material, but in my opinion, starting from Today, overall the music is better, i didn't get the whole SMiLE thing at first either but i started listening it by bits and i started to like it, and now i absolutely love it and don't waste any chance to listen it from our prayer to good vibrations.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Mike's Beard on April 14, 2013, 11:38:50 PM
Differs from song to song. Something like All Summer Long beats the pants off of stuff like Barnyard or Vegetables for me but songs such as Surfs Up and Good Vibrations are obviously superior to something like Denny's Drums or Carl's Big Chance. I'd say the best of the early days can stand proud with all but the very best of the Smile era.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: MBE on April 14, 2013, 11:44:17 PM
The early years were and are very accessible.

Pet Sounds and Smile are much more groundbreaking but demand closer attention.

Wild Honey through Holland was a nice blend of both heavier and simply fun things.

Myself I feel nearly everything through 1973 is gold so no need to pit them against each other.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Micha on April 15, 2013, 12:42:02 AM
You can have this opinion or the other, but you can't take either as fact. SMiLE is more complex musically, but does that equal "better"? For instance "Girls On The Beach" is more complex than "Surfer Girl", but I prefer "Surfer Girl". "Here Today" is more complex than "The Lonely Sea", I prefer the former but I'm sure there's people who prefer the latter.

Then there's the problem that SMiLE wasn't finished in its day. "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" moves me more than any version of "Surf's Up", but that could be different if Brian had been able to finish the song in 1967. CIFOTM works great within the movement suite, but I don't think it does as a standalone track. "I Get Around" does, so IMHO IGA is better than CIFOTM.

We need an abbreviation index. :-D


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cabinessenceking on April 15, 2013, 01:28:12 AM
Over time, I've come to prefer the early material to what the BBs did later. I started out with Smile and Pet Sounds, but over time, I've come to appreciate the honesty and vitality of the BBs hit period more. The songs were just so... American. The rollicking shuffle beat, the pop culture lyrics. In many ways, songs like "I Get Around" are still what young people are all about - it's just become unfashionable to be so honest and clear about it.  I always come back to a quote "by" Mike Love in An American Family: "Those songs are who we are." Or when Sean Hagan said Brian was an avant-garde artist and Joe Thomas roughly responded with, "Not the Brian I know."

I believe "California Girls" is the BBs top masterpiece. I prefer "Rock & Roll Music" and "It's OK" to at least half of Smile. Smile is too slow, ponderous, and abstract from an emotional standpoint in comparison. I'd take "Little Deuce Coupe" over "Hang Onto Your Ego" each and every time, too. Don't get me wrong, Pet Sounds is a masterpiece and definitely quite honest, but that's where the hip posturing starts to creep in. For me, honestly, it's where the Beach Boys end. After that point, the group just became a talented collection of individuals. The angel had fallen from the group's graces.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to listen to "Wendy" again.

I agree with your sentiment, and I can also say that I've safely removed Holidays and Barnyard from my Beach Boys playlist. The early hits are either very endearing to me or mean nothing at all, quite funny really. Interesting you should mention RnR Music and It's OK, the latter being fantastic in its single version form. However the versions of both on 15BO are really horrible.

15BO would've benefitted from being sped up actually ^^

The early hits are great nonetheless!!!  ;D


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: The Heartical Don on April 15, 2013, 02:02:57 AM
The early years were and are very accessible.

Pet Sounds and Smile are much more groundbreaking but demand closer attention.

Wild Honey through Holland was a nice blend of both heavier and simply fun things.

Myself I feel nearly everything through 1973 is gold so no need to pit them against each other.

Couldn't have put it better myself.

At any rate, IMHO we're talking about music styles that can't really be compared. The difference is so huge... I love Herman Melville, and I love Charles Dickens, but I would never ask myself: who's the better writer?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: OneEar/OneEye on April 15, 2013, 07:58:53 AM
It's almost like comparing two different groups, which in a sense it is, even though the same people were involved.   Neither period is "better", they're just completely different.   Sometimes it's just easier to listen to the earlier stuff because it's less challenging, it doesn't require as much of the listener in terms of emotional investment.   
One thing I feel too, Smile is much better when pared down.   To me, Smile as released, is way too long, it seems to go on forever.  After Surf's Up finishes, there's such an emotional release that to then be followed by the third movement it's like, "There's more?!"    To me it feels longer than it actually is.  Smiley Smile has the same time stretching quality (I think because there's so much going on in such a compact span) - it's a short album, but seems (to me) much longer than it is, and because of it's actual brevity it works better than the Smile album.  Pare Smile down and you have a more manageable listening experience


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: bonnevillemariner on April 15, 2013, 09:16:13 AM
This is an extremely general observation, but I see Pet Sounds as the culmination of everything the Boys were doing to that point.  GV (although not on Pet Sounds) is the perfect example of that.  To me, Smile is more like a movie soundtrack.  No artists specifically come to mind, but you'll have an artist that releases straight albums and then provides a soundtrack to a film.  Same artist but totally different kinds of music.  I can't say which is "better" because the intent with each, it seems, is quite different.

To me-- and again this is very general and perhaps personal to me-- there are three eras or categories:

1. Surfin' Safari to Party!
2. Pet Sounds/Smile
3. Smiley Smile to SIP

I prefer eras 1 and 2 to 3 by a wide margin.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: bonnevillemariner on April 15, 2013, 09:19:37 AM
Sometimes it's just easier to listen to the earlier stuff because it's less challenging, it doesn't require as much of the listener in terms of emotional investment.

Should music be challenging?  Not sure I want to be challenged.  Should I have to put forth some effort to invest emotion?  Or would truly good music suck me in, and I've invested emotion before I realize it?  I have a hard time with music (BB or other) that I need to understand the writer or producer's frame of mind to see what genius it is. 


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: pixletwin on April 15, 2013, 09:21:24 AM
In the morning I prefer eggs and oatmeal for breakfast. At dinner I prefer something more meat and cheese oriented... doesn't mean I like one more than the other. It's the same with BB music in various eras. In some moods I Get Around or Surfin' USA don't satisfy. But when the mood is right, watch out!


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: SMiLE Brian on April 15, 2013, 09:51:19 AM
I played the whole endless summer album at the end of a long night of partying and it was amazing.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Paul J B on April 15, 2013, 09:54:49 AM
The word better does not work for me either in this case. I love Smile and I love the early stuff as much if not slightly more, even though I admit Smile is Brian's best work.

This is a good opportunity to point out something a lot of folks here (Mike bashers in particular) seem to forget. The Beach Boys spent years recording and TRYING to sell records after the demise of Smile. The public did not care anymore (reasons aside) and the Boys no longer had much success making hits and selling records like the early days. Over these years there were almost NO songs or references to cars, surfing or beaches. Then, in 1974 Endless Summer sells millions of copies and brings thousands of new fans to a group who's glory days were seemingly well behind them. That did not just happen because there was a nostalgia craze going on,..........it happened because the early stuff is utterly amazing. It did not matter that the lyrics were about simpler times gone by, it sold millions of copies because it SOUNDED incredible.....and it always will.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Nicko1234 on April 15, 2013, 10:22:01 AM
Yeah, I think much of the Smile stuff is excellent but there are countless great songs on the first several albums. Some of said songs are certainly better than some of the Smile stuff such as Vegetables. I think if Vegetables had been recorded at any other time in the group's career it would have been largely forgotten by now.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: NHC on April 15, 2013, 02:04:09 PM
Yes. But, obviously hard to measure such different music against one another.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Pinder's Gone To Kokomo And Back Again on April 15, 2013, 02:52:39 PM
The word better does not work for me either in this case. I love Smile and I love the early stuff as much if not slightly more, even though I admit Smile is Brian's best work.

This is a good opportunity to point out something a lot of folks here (Mike bashers in particular) seem to forget. The Beach Boys spent years recording and TRYING to sell records after the demise of Smile. The public did not care anymore (reasons aside) and the Boys no longer had much success making hits and selling records like the early days. Over these years there were almost NO songs or references to cars, surfing or beaches. Then, in 1974 Endless Summer sells millions of copies and brings thousands of new fans to a group who's glory days were seemingly well behind them. That did not just happen because there was a nostalgia craze going on,..........it happened because the early stuff is utterly amazing. It did not matter that the lyrics were about simpler times gone by, it sold millions of copies because it SOUNDED incredible.....and it always will.

+++++++1


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Summer_Days on April 15, 2013, 02:52:58 PM
Depends. 'The Warmth of the Sun', 'Let Him Run Wild', 'Kiss Me Baby', 'In The Back of My Mind', 'The Little Girl I Once Knew', 'Please Let Me Wonder', and others I find particularly more enjoyable to listen to though not necessarily "better"; more like I love them more. I dunno. It's all brilliant Brian Wilson music, so in a way, it's all of a piece, no matter how different 'I Get Around' might seem from 'Surf's Up' (even if the latter might be the better tune, I could easily see why someone would prefer the former over it).


The word better does not work for me either in this case. I love Smile and I love the early stuff as much if not slightly more, even though I admit Smile is Brian's best work.

This is a good opportunity to point out something a lot of folks here (Mike bashers in particular) seem to forget. The Beach Boys spent years recording and TRYING to sell records after the demise of Smile. The public did not care anymore (reasons aside) and the Boys no longer had much success making hits and selling records like the early days. Over these years there were almost NO songs or references to cars, surfing or beaches. Then, in 1974 Endless Summer sells millions of copies and brings thousands of new fans to a group who's glory days were seemingly well behind them. That did not just happen because there was a nostalgia craze going on,..........it happened because the early stuff is utterly amazing. It did not matter that the lyrics were about simpler times gone by, it sold millions of copies because it SOUNDED incredible.....and it always will.

++++ infinity


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on April 15, 2013, 02:56:29 PM
Smile is a gorgeous anomaly but it is all beautiful surface and doesn't have the heart of the earlier stuff.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Jeff on April 15, 2013, 03:20:19 PM
Smile is a gorgeous anomaly but it is all beautiful surface and doesn't have the heart of the earlier stuff.

Wow.  You say that as though it's fact.  Although I normally appreciate your posts, I don't think you could be more wrong about that.

The earlier stuff is fine in context, but I really dislike the romanticizing some on this board do about the surf and hot rod songs.  Those subjects weren't in their hearts.  They weren't surfers (except one of them), and they weren't drag racers.  They picked those topics because they thought they would sell records, and they did.

This isn't to criticize the early material, but c'mon, some of you are starting to sound like Bruce ("the only four-letter words we use are 'cars', 'surf' and 'girl'.").  It's not true when he says it, and it isn't true when you say it.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: the captain on April 15, 2013, 03:32:17 PM
Smile is a gorgeous anomaly but it is all beautiful surface and doesn't have the heart of the earlier stuff.

Wow.  You say that as though it's fact.  Although I normally appreciate your posts, I don't think you could be more wrong about that.

The earlier stuff is fine in context, but I really dislike the romanticizing some on this board do about the surf and hot rod songs.  Those subjects weren't in their hearts.  They weren't surfers (except one of them), and they weren't drag racers.  They picked those topics because they thought they would sell records, and they did.

This isn't to criticize the early material, but c'mon, some of you are starting to sound like Bruce ("the only four-letter words we use are 'cars', 'surf' and 'girl'.").  It's not true when he says it, and it isn't true when you say it.

You can't confuse historical accuracy of or personal experience with subject matter with having heart.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on April 15, 2013, 03:34:27 PM
The thread asks what I think and that is what I think. Your mileage may vary.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Summer_Days on April 15, 2013, 03:53:31 PM

The earlier stuff is fine in context, but I really dislike the romanticizing some on this board do about the surf and hot rod songs.  Those subjects weren't in their hearts.  They weren't surfers (except one of them), and they weren't drag racers.  They picked those topics because they thought they would sell records, and they did.

This isn't to criticize the early material, but c'mon, some of you are starting to sound like Bruce ("the only four-letter words we use are 'cars', 'surf' and 'girl'.").  It's not true when he says it, and it isn't true when you say it.

What the boys sang and the music that Brian created in the early days is full of heart. In fact, they put more heart into the singing of 'The Warmth of the Sun' than 'Our Prayer', and you can feel that. Plus, summing up The Beach Boys' early sixties, pre-Today song being full of topics that wasn't in their hearts, well what about love songs? I mean, isn't that what Pet Sounds is? 'The Warmth of the Sun' is equally as beautiful as 'God Only Knows' even if it is less complex.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Jeff on April 15, 2013, 03:56:09 PM
In fact, they put more heart into the singing of 'The Warmth of the Sun' than 'Our Prayer', and you can feel that.

Um.  No, I can't.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Nicko1234 on April 15, 2013, 04:05:05 PM
I would agree that it sounds like there is more heart in many of the songs before Smile.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Alex on April 15, 2013, 04:05:38 PM
Oh please! Everybody knows that Drip Drop is the single most spiritual, moving, heart-wrenching piece of music the Boys ever committed to tape!! 15 Big Ones, not SMiLE, is Brian's true experimental/avant-garde masterpiece.  :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: hypehat on April 15, 2013, 04:43:29 PM
It's all good, you eejits. Just because Friends didn't hit the top #100 doesn't mean you can't feel good about liking it.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Mr. Cohen on April 15, 2013, 05:03:52 PM
Actually, Friends is probably my favorite overall BBs album. It has the same heart behind it as the early stuff with added musical sophistication (by this point, Brian could easily accomplish musically almost whatever he felt like). Songs like "Be Here In the Mornin'" impart joy in a way I don't feel while listening to Smile, outside of a few songs.  I think Smile is brilliant, but it's  mostly an intellectual curio more than anything. Only a few songs like "Cabinessence" and "Heroes and Villains" truly transport me emotionally.

And from '69 on, there's only a few songs here and there where I get that feeling of joy, warmth, or peace that I get from the early material. That's what I miss later on.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: SenorPotatoHead on April 15, 2013, 05:04:37 PM
I would agree that it sounds like there is more heart in many of the songs before Smile.

That's because Murry was around yelling at them to sing from their hearts.    :lol


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: hypehat on April 15, 2013, 05:06:07 PM
Actually, Friends is probably my favorite overall BBs album. It has the same heart behind it as the early stuff with added musical sophistication (by this point, Brian could easily accomplish musically almost whatever he felt like). Songs like "Be Here In the Mornin'" impart joy in a way I don't feel while listening to Smile, outside of a few songs.  I think Smile is brilliant, but it's  mostly an intellectual curio more than anything. Only a few songs like "Cabinessence" and "Heroes and Villains" truly transport me emotionally.

And from '69 on, there's only a few songs here and there where I get that feeling of joy, warmth, or peace that I get from the early material. That's what I miss later on.

That's funny, I get a lot of warmth and humour from Smile. I mean, Vegetables, for gods sake.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Gertie J. on April 15, 2013, 05:19:22 PM
I would agree that it sounds like there is more heart in many of the songs before Smile.

That's because Murry was around yelling at them to sing from their hearts.    :lol

lol


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: halblaineisgood on April 15, 2013, 06:54:28 PM
.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Jim V. on April 15, 2013, 07:39:49 PM
Do I think the early material is better than SMiLE? I almost feel that the better question to ask is "is the best early material better than SMiLE?" And I would probably say no. I don't think either is necessarily "better". They're different

I love "Surfin' U.S.A.", "Farmer's Daughter", "Little Deuce Coupe", etc. Those are great songs that I nearly always get enjoyment from. To me, they are high points of The Beach Boys. However, so is "Heroes And Villains" and "Surf's Up". And I think even in their unfinished states, "Do You Like Worms" and "Child Is Father Of The Man" are amazing.

One point I do wanna make, and I'm sure this will be controversial, but I kinda feel like songs like "Surf's Up" and "Cabinessence" have more impact via the albums they were originally released on (Surf's Up and 20/20) more than when I listen to them on SMiLE. It's almost like SMiLE is an overload of material, and it's more enjoyable when it's taken in smaller nuggets. Maybe that makes me crazy, but so be it.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Puggal on April 15, 2013, 08:09:27 PM
I don't think you can articulate how much "heart" goes into a particular vocal performance. All the vocal performances in both eras of Beach Boys music sounds fine to me.

I think its clear Smile, even in its unfinished state, is a much better album than really anything before (or after) Pet Sounds. It has no blooper tracks and is full of great sounds and melodies without a filler in sight. Pet Sounds is more quintessential Brian Wilson but he was still at his best during the Smile sessions.

The early work is just a buncha great pop songs, but the Smile material is great art. I listen to both.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Magic Transistor Radio on April 15, 2013, 08:24:09 PM
I don't know about 'heart', but the early songs sounded like they were having fun. Pet Sounds and SMiLE sounded like they were working hard to reach perfection. I love them both for different reasons. How ever, I feel more 'heart' in Smiley Smile, Wild Honey and Friends. After that they began to strive to make good music, or hit songs. With the exception of Dennis and Carl, I don't sense that a lot of heart went into the post Friends songs. A few exceptions, Al sang a heart felt lead in All This is That, and Mike in All I Wanna Do. Brian in Til I Die, but really didn't much again until TLOS. Not to say they didn't care (except Brian much of the time), because they were still trying to make good music, or hit music.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: halblaineisgood on April 15, 2013, 10:29:50 PM
.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Phoenix on April 15, 2013, 10:37:56 PM
To answer the original question in black and white terms with my own personal opinion: No.  However I see it as one straight line from "Surfin" right through to "Surf's Up", realizing that we couldn't have had the latter without the former.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: SonicVolcano on April 16, 2013, 01:43:51 AM
Smile = Brian & Van Dyke Parks

Give me the 69-74 period instead. The Sunflower sessions for example prove that all of them have/had talent. Probably their best group effort. Plus, their live performances were top-notch in this period.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Micha on April 16, 2013, 02:52:44 AM
Smile is a gorgeous anomaly but it is all beautiful surface and doesn't have the heart of the earlier stuff.

That's an interesting point of view. I'm not sure if SMiLE has less "heart", but it sure has a lot more "head". It has probably more head than for its own good. That's why SMiLE for me is a more intellectual than emotional experience.

Though Brian's vocal performance on "Surf's Up" has as much heart as you can get, the instrumental track IMHO has not any way near as much heart as the one to "Dance, Dance, Dance"... as I said, IMHO, feel free to disagree.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cabinessenceking on April 16, 2013, 05:57:33 AM
Do I think the early material is better than SMiLE? I almost feel that the better question to ask is "is the best early material better than SMiLE?" And I would probably say no. I don't think either is necessarily "better". They're different

I love "Surfin' U.S.A.", "Farmer's Daughter", "Little Deuce Coupe", etc. Those are great songs that I nearly always get enjoyment from. To me, they are high points of The Beach Boys. However, so is "Heroes And Villains" and "Surf's Up". And I think even in their unfinished states, "Do You Like Worms" and "Child Is Father Of The Man" are amazing.

One point I do wanna make, and I'm sure this will be controversial, but I kinda feel like songs like "Surf's Up" and "Cabinessence" have more impact via the albums they were originally released on (Surf's Up and 20/20) more than when I listen to them on SMiLE. It's almost like SMiLE is an overload of material, and it's more enjoyable when it's taken in smaller nuggets. Maybe that makes me crazy, but so be it.

I can agree with your sentiment that some Smile songs work very well outside of Smile.

Most strikingly is Surf's Up. The entire album basically clings to that mountain of a track. The album is called Surf's Up and upon listening to it you just know it wil culminate in something great, that fantastic mythical beast of a song, the opus magna of Brian Wilson's Smile puzzle.

In this sense I fully understand why Carl insisted on it being the final track, it works inextricably well in that configuration following the haunting ADITLOAT and 'Til I Die. Also the organ overdub puts it more in context with the rest of the album. Carl's vocal is very good although I understand many have a preference for Brian's original voc.

On a sidenote; it is quite amazing how SDT ruins the progression of the album, and the placement of DGNTW as the opener is strange. However imagine what the album would be even without the fabled WIBNTLA but with SDT removed and 4th coming in or Sound of Free.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Summer_Days on April 16, 2013, 06:01:32 AM
I think a lot of people are a little embarrassed about the early, "simpler" fun, surf n' cars era of the Beach Boys. A lot of Beatles fans also have this problem; there are many who disregard anything pre-Rubber Soul, which is astonishing to me. Man, are they missing out. Same deal with the pre-Today or pre-Pet Sounds (depending on how you measure it) Beach Boys.
One of the best things about listening to what Brian was doing in 1963 is to see how much he matured as a writer and producer, in just 3 years. It's staggering to think about and nobody else in pop music had his competitive drive, sheer talent or wide scope. That's one of many, many reasons why the early stuff is essential.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Magic Transistor Radio on April 16, 2013, 06:57:15 AM
Differs from song to song. Something like All Summer Long beats the pants off of stuff like Barnyard or Vegetables for me but songs such as Surfs Up and Good Vibrations are obviously superior to something like Denny's Drums or Carl's Big Chance. I'd say the best of the early days can stand proud with all but the very best of the Smile era.

I disagree with Vegetables, but Barnyard isn't meant to be part of a play list, or a song to hear in its own. It fits better in the context of the SMiLE album. Same with Old Master Painter/You are My Sunshine, Mrs O'Leary's Cow, Our Prayer and I Love to Say Da Da. I rarely listen to those songs on their own either. Where as with Pet Sounds I can listen to any song on its own.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Ziggy Stardust on April 16, 2013, 09:00:41 AM
My god.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on April 16, 2013, 09:10:19 AM
Smile is a gorgeous anomaly but it is all beautiful surface and doesn't have the heart of the earlier stuff.

That's an interesting point of view. I'm not sure if SMiLE has less "heart", but it sure has a lot more "head". It has probably more head than for its own good. That's why SMiLE for me is a more intellectual than emotional experience.

Though Brian's vocal performance on "Surf's Up" has as much heart as you can get, the instrumental track IMHO has not any way near as much heart as the one to "Dance, Dance, Dance"... as I said, IMHO, feel free to disagree.

I agree with you on my brilliance. Oh, not what you said. Must have read it wrong.

I think that alone is what brought Brian to bag SMiLE against all objections. It was exciting to show off and be cerebrial and hip, it was exciting to think out and make, but as the results felt less and less heart and more and more head he was less and less into it.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: bonnevillemariner on April 16, 2013, 09:11:19 AM
When it comes down to it, I appreciate the early stuff for the vocals (especially Brian's) and the Smile-era material for the music.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Micha on April 16, 2013, 12:59:09 PM
On a sidenote; it is quite amazing how SDT ruins the progression of the album

It is quite amazing that you feel that way. I think DG ruins the progression.

I agree with you on my brilliance. Oh, not what you said. Must have read it wrong.

Huh?!? I have no idea what you mean by that. Forgive me, I'm not a native English speaker, I didn't mean to say your point was invalid or something.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on April 16, 2013, 01:54:00 PM
On a sidenote; it is quite amazing how SDT ruins the progression of the album

It is quite amazing that you feel that way. I think DG ruins the progression.

I agree with you on my brilliance. Oh, not what you said. Must have read it wrong.

Huh?!? I have no idea what you mean by that. Forgive me, I'm not a native English speaker, I didn't mean to say your point was invalid or something.

No worries. I was poking fun at myself.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: bluesno1fann on April 10, 2014, 11:49:30 PM
No way in hell! lol.

The early period from 61 to 64 (As well as Party! from 1965) had it's moments with the occasional brilliant song (Songs like Surfin' Safari, Little Girl, Cuckoo Clock, Lonely Sea, Surfer Girl, In My Room, Be True To Your School, The Warmth Of The Sun, Don't Worry Baby, Keep An Eye On Summer, Wendy, All Summer Long, I Get Around, We'll Run Away, Little Saint Nick, Santa's Beard, etc.). But overall, it's not even close to their work from Pet Sounds to Holland.

This comment sums it up best:
I guess everyone is entitled to their opinions but the musical quality of the beach boys 65-73 is just some of the best music you'll ever hear. In my opinion, starting from Today, overall the music is better


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: shelter on April 11, 2014, 12:17:32 AM
I'm not a huge fan of the early material, I rarely listen to the pre-Pet Sounds albums. The Beach Boys from 1966-1973, that's my favorite band.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cyncie on April 11, 2014, 07:34:16 AM
Not better, or worse. Just different. Music evolves, matures, de-evolves and reinvents itself.  I think we can see all of that in this band.

I respond to music as a soundtrack to my own life. When I put the convertible top town on a sunny day, it ain't SMiLE in the CD player, because I want the music to fit the experience.  I'm cruisin' to the fun n sun period, then. When I want to connect at an emotional level, Pet Sounds comes out.  When I want to enjoy something from an artistic standpoint, there's SMiLE. And, when I want to lose myself in a sonic flood , 'Til I Die goes on loop.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Smilin Ed H on April 11, 2014, 07:54:31 AM
As a whole album listening experience, I prefer Pet Sounds, but some of the songs on Smile are amongst the best they ever did (whereas on PS, they're all amongst the best they ever did). album-wise, I find it easier to listen to post-Pet Sounds to Holland, but there's so much great stuff on the pre-Pet Sounds albums too.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: MaryUSA on April 11, 2014, 08:56:20 AM
Hi all,

When every song sung is perfection it is hard to choose a favorite.  In the morning when I wake up I like listening to Sufer Girl or In My Room.  Same with at night before going to bed.  I know that I might not be answering the question properly.  Yet I am saying how I feel.  After I am awake I like a BB tune I can dance to.   


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Dancing Bear on April 11, 2014, 09:15:26 AM
Brian worked on Smile for a year. In 1963 or 1964 he was releasing 30 new tracks a year. Select the best 12 of them and you have a fairer competition.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: ThyRavenAscend on April 11, 2014, 09:19:39 AM
Brian worked on Smile for a year. In 1963 or 1964 he was releasing 30 new tracks a year. Select the best 12 of them and you have a fairer competition.

This is a unique & fair way of looking at it.  For me, I think SMiLE would still win out...but the 12-song '63-'64 compilation might beat Pet Sounds...


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Gabo on April 11, 2014, 11:25:31 AM
Overall I think the pre-Pet Sounds music is better than the post-Pet Sounds music. Catchier songs with a greater sense of purpose.

I agree with the Beach Boys became a collection of individuals, though that happened after Friends


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: bachelorofbullets on April 11, 2014, 07:36:14 PM
I don't see how you can compare Smile to anything pre-Smile because nobody knows what Smile really is/was.  Brian himself said it was experimental music...background music.  The lyrics were mysterious and artsy-fartsy.  I really never got what was so smiling about Smile anyway, since when does women getting gunned down by bullets an American Indians getting wiped out amount to smiling?   Weird.  I mean don't get me wrong, I own Smile and spent a lot of time listening to it...but at best...I find it confusing.  The melody and harmony are often a mystery to find.

I'm more likely to listen to something from Love You, or California Saga, or something with Brian's trademark soaring harmonies.  Plymouth Rock can keep rolling over, but I probably won't get it.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: retrokid67 on April 11, 2014, 07:44:28 PM
Not better, or worse. Just different. Music evolves, matures, de-evolves and reinvents itself.  I think we can see all of that in this band.

I respond to music as a soundtrack to my own life. When I put the convertible top town on a sunny day, it ain't SMiLE in the CD player, because I want the music to fit the experience.  I'm cruisin' to the fun n sun period, then. When I want to connect at an emotional level, Pet Sounds comes out.  When I want to enjoy something from an artistic standpoint, there's SMiLE. And, when I want to lose myself in a sonic flood , 'Til I Die goes on loop.

I feel the same way  :-D


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: BillA on April 11, 2014, 08:32:03 PM
This is an extremely general observation, but I see Pet Sounds as the culmination of everything the Boys were doing to that point.  GV (although not on Pet Sounds) is the perfect example of that.  To me, Smile is more like a movie soundtrack.  No artists specifically come to mind, but you'll have an artist that releases straight albums and then provides a soundtrack to a film.  Same artist but totally different kinds of music.  I can't say which is "better" because the intent with each, it seems, is quite different.

To me-- and again this is very general and perhaps personal to me-- there are three eras or categories:

1. Surfin' Safari to Party!
2. Pet Sounds/Smile
3. Smiley Smile to SIP

I prefer eras 1 and 2 to 3 by a wide margin.

My eras would go like this:

1. Surfin' Safari to Xmas Album
2. Today through SMiLE Recordings - Brian at his peak
3. Smiley Smile through Sunflower - Brian steps back
4. Surfs Up through Holland - Brian reilly steps back, the Carl/Dennis Era
5 - 15BO - Love You - Brian is Back (Sorta)
6 - The Rest - Love Conquers All (Although LA doesn't fit in here).

My order is
2 3 4 1 5 6


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: bluesno1fann on April 11, 2014, 08:34:23 PM
This is an extremely general observation, but I see Pet Sounds as the culmination of everything the Boys were doing to that point.  GV (although not on Pet Sounds) is the perfect example of that.  To me, Smile is more like a movie soundtrack.  No artists specifically come to mind, but you'll have an artist that releases straight albums and then provides a soundtrack to a film.  Same artist but totally different kinds of music.  I can't say which is "better" because the intent with each, it seems, is quite different.

To me-- and again this is very general and perhaps personal to me-- there are three eras or categories:

1. Surfin' Safari to Party!
2. Pet Sounds/Smile
3. Smiley Smile to SIP

I prefer eras 1 and 2 to 3 by a wide margin.

My eras would go like this:

1. Surfin' Safari to Xmas Album
2. Today through SMiLE Recordings - Brian at his peak
3. Smiley Smile through Sunflower - Brian steps back
4. Surfs Up through Holland - Brian reilly steps back, the Carl/Dennis Era
5 - 15BO - Love You - Brian is Back (Sorta)
6 - The Rest - Love Conquers All (Although LA doesn't fit in here).

My order is
2 3 4 1 5 6


My honest order is:
3 4 2 5 1 6


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: ThyRavenAscend on April 11, 2014, 09:07:14 PM
This is an extremely general observation, but I see Pet Sounds as the culmination of everything the Boys were doing to that point.  GV (although not on Pet Sounds) is the perfect example of that.  To me, Smile is more like a movie soundtrack.  No artists specifically come to mind, but you'll have an artist that releases straight albums and then provides a soundtrack to a film.  Same artist but totally different kinds of music.  I can't say which is "better" because the intent with each, it seems, is quite different.

To me-- and again this is very general and perhaps personal to me-- there are three eras or categories:

1. Surfin' Safari to Party!
2. Pet Sounds/Smile
3. Smiley Smile to SIP

I prefer eras 1 and 2 to 3 by a wide margin.

My eras would go like this:

1. Surfin' Safari to Xmas Album
2. Today through SMiLE Recordings - Brian at his peak
3. Smiley Smile through Sunflower - Brian steps back
4. Surfs Up through Holland - Brian reilly steps back, the Carl/Dennis Era
5 - 15BO - Love You - Brian is Back (Sorta)
6 - The Rest - Love Conquers All (Although LA doesn't fit in here).

My order is
2 3 4 1 5 6


I feel like 5 should go through M.I.U. because Brian was decently involved there, and it's the last good Beach Boys album, IMHO.  With that small edit, mine would be:

2 3 1 4 5 6


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: runnersdialzero on April 11, 2014, 10:43:08 PM
This is an extremely general observation, but I see Pet Sounds as the culmination of everything the Boys were doing to that point.  GV (although not on Pet Sounds) is the perfect example of that.  To me, Smile is more like a movie soundtrack.  No artists specifically come to mind, but you'll have an artist that releases straight albums and then provides a soundtrack to a film.  Same artist but totally different kinds of music.  I can't say which is "better" because the intent with each, it seems, is quite different.

To me-- and again this is very general and perhaps personal to me-- there are three eras or categories:

1. Surfin' Safari to Party!
2. Pet Sounds/Smile
3. Smiley Smile to SIP

I prefer eras 1 and 2 to 3 by a wide margin.

My eras would go like this:

1. Surfin' Safari to Xmas Album
2. Today through SMiLE Recordings - Brian at his peak
3. Smiley Smile through Sunflower - Brian steps back
4. Surfs Up through Holland - Brian reilly steps back, the Carl/Dennis Era
5 - 15BO - Love You - Brian is Back (Sorta)
6 - The Rest - Love Conquers All (Although LA doesn't fit in here).

My order is
2 3 4 1 5 6


This is way too simplistic.

I'M VERY ANGRY


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Gabo on April 12, 2014, 12:25:04 AM
This is an extremely general observation, but I see Pet Sounds as the culmination of everything the Boys were doing to that point.  GV (although not on Pet Sounds) is the perfect example of that.  To me, Smile is more like a movie soundtrack.  No artists specifically come to mind, but you'll have an artist that releases straight albums and then provides a soundtrack to a film.  Same artist but totally different kinds of music.  I can't say which is "better" because the intent with each, it seems, is quite different.

To me-- and again this is very general and perhaps personal to me-- there are three eras or categories:

1. Surfin' Safari to Party!
2. Pet Sounds/Smile
3. Smiley Smile to SIP

I prefer eras 1 and 2 to 3 by a wide margin.

My eras would go like this:

1. Surfin' Safari to Xmas Album
2. Today through SMiLE Recordings - Brian at his peak
3. Smiley Smile through Sunflower - Brian steps back
4. Surfs Up through Holland - Brian reilly steps back, the Carl/Dennis Era
5 - 15BO - Love You - Brian is Back (Sorta)
6 - The Rest - Love Conquers All (Although LA doesn't fit in here).

My order is
2 3 4 1 5 6


213546


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Micha on April 12, 2014, 03:00:51 AM
I really never got what was so smiling about Smile anyway, since when does women getting gunned down by bullets an American Indians getting wiped out amount to smiling?

The pre-SMiLE music sure makes me smile more than SMiLE music does. When I need some Beach Boys music to motivate me cleaning up the house, it's never SMiLE, always pre-SMiLE or the Landlocked boot.

Once I drove in a car with a woman by my side and I had SMiLE on. Knowing me, she said: "Is that the Beach Boys? That's depressing music!!!" And that was when Holidays played, even not during one of the really sad sounding songs!

OT: I think Pet Sounds is better than SMiLE. The songs are better structured and better produced.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Orange Crate Art on April 13, 2014, 11:58:33 AM
Do I think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile? No I don't. I think it's excellent stuff, better than most bands that were out at the time. But for me it's always been about '65-'70. Everybody's different. Some people think Smile is boring. For me it's like coffee. To each their own. ;)


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: drbeachboy on April 13, 2014, 03:25:05 PM
Do I think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile? No I don't. I think it's excellent stuff, better than most bands that were out at the time. But for me it's always been about '65-'70. Everybody's different. Some people think Smile is boring. For me it's like coffee. To each their own. ;)
While I don't find Smile boring, it is not better than Pet Sounds, nor is it better than Brian's best work prior to it. Though I have to say that it is very imaginative and forward thinking. But, there is a reason why 50 years later that the pre-Smile music is still well regarded. My opinion for what it's worth.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Ron on April 14, 2014, 06:36:47 PM
Over time, I've come to prefer the early material to what the BBs did later. I started out with Smile and Pet Sounds, but over time, I've come to appreciate the honesty and vitality of the BBs hit period more. The songs were just so... American. The rollicking shuffle beat, the pop culture lyrics. In many ways, songs like "I Get Around" are still what young people are all about - it's just become unfashionable to be so honest and clear about it.  I always come back to a quote "by" Mike Love in An American Family: "Those songs are who we are." Or when Sean Hagan said Brian was an avant-garde artist and Joe Thomas roughly responded with, "Not the Brian I know."

I believe "California Girls" is the BBs top masterpiece. I prefer "Rock & Roll Music" and "It's OK" to at least half of Smile. Smile is too slow, ponderous, and abstract from an emotional standpoint in comparison. I'd take "Little Deuce Coupe" over "Hang Onto Your Ego" each and every time, too. Don't get me wrong, Pet Sounds is a masterpiece and definitely quite honest, but that's where the hip posturing starts to creep in. For me, honestly, it's where the Beach Boys end. After that point, the group just became a talented collection of individuals. The angel had fallen from the group's graces.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to listen to "Wendy" again.

Yeah... I agree.  There's a reason the earlier stuff was more popular with the masses.  It's a little more accessible, cmmercial, universal and in my book that's all good stuff.  When it comes right down to it, I'd rather listen to Summer days than SMiLE. 



Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Ron on April 14, 2014, 06:44:14 PM
1. Surfin' Safari to Xmas Album
2. Today through SMiLE Recordings - Brian at his peak
3. Smiley Smile through Sunflower - Brian steps back
4. Surfs Up through Holland - Brian reilly steps back, the Carl/Dennis Era
5 - 15BO - Love You - Brian is Back (Sorta)
6 - The Rest - Love Conquers All (Although LA doesn't fit in here).

My order is
2 3 4 1 5 6


Mine, honestly, would be

2, 1, 5,4,3,6

That's pretty wild. 


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Mr. Tiger on December 22, 2014, 10:38:48 AM
My favorite period is probably 1964-1968.

For me the Beach Boys really kick into gear with the "Shut Down Vol 2" album and tracks like "Don't Worry Baby" and "The Warmth of the Sun".

Although Brian's Golden Age ends with Pet Sounds and the collapse of Smile, the magic is still there for me through the Friends album. That (for me) is the last in the run of pure pop albums that they did (with Wild Honey being perhaps a bit of a detour)... Friends is the last album that seems to be fully infused with the pop sensibility of Brian at his prime.

I know that the period from 1969-1973 is very popular with fans, and there is much that I enjoy in it, but at that point, when the group really takes the reins, they change (IMHO) from pure vocal pop to more of a California rock sensibility. Something gained yet something lost. IMHO.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on December 22, 2014, 10:51:30 AM
Over time, I've come to prefer the early material to what the BBs did later. I started out with Smile and Pet Sounds, but over time, I've come to appreciate the honesty and vitality of the BBs hit period more. The songs were just so... American. The rollicking shuffle beat, the pop culture lyrics. In many ways, songs like "I Get Around" are still what young people are all about - it's just become unfashionable to be so honest and clear about it.  I always come back to a quote "by" Mike Love in An American Family: "Those songs are who we are." Or when Sean Hagan said Brian was an avant-garde artist and Joe Thomas roughly responded with, "Not the Brian I know."

I believe "California Girls" is the BBs top masterpiece. I prefer "Rock & Roll Music" and "It's OK" to at least half of Smile. Smile is too slow, ponderous, and abstract from an emotional standpoint in comparison. I'd take "Little Deuce Coupe" over "Hang Onto Your Ego" each and every time, too. Don't get me wrong, Pet Sounds is a masterpiece and definitely quite honest, but that's where the hip posturing starts to creep in. For me, honestly, it's where the Beach Boys end. After that point, the group just became a talented collection of individuals. The angel had fallen from the group's graces.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to listen to "Wendy" again.

I believe your issues are the same issues Brain had with SMiLE in 1966/67 and are the only real reason why he retooled/canned it.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Hank Briarstem on December 22, 2014, 11:30:01 AM
Brian Wilson, circa 1963, eats an ice cream cone. “This might be the finest ice cream cone I have ever eaten!” he cries. Forgive me. I do not know whether it was vanilla or chocolate. I prefer chocolate, of course, as most of you might have surmised. I believe Brian generally prefers strawberry. Perhaps it wasn’t available this day. Perhaps he was in a certain mood. Perhaps we’ll never know, though clearly it is information worth pursuit. I digress. He finishes the cone and moves to the piano (after a short restroom break). He thinks of the cone and the joy it provided. He is excited and begins the tune that would become “You’re So Good to Me,” after initially being “Wendy,” and for a few brief seconds, “The Theme from the Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Finally, when the song is written, the record eventually played, we hear the sound of a soul imbued with the joy of a simple ice cream cone. And that sound will never be topped, unless perhaps one has hot fudge available. Shall we say that an ice cream cone is better than foie gras? A child would say so, and child is the father of the man. Father knows best, they say. Now back to my nap.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Fire Wind on December 22, 2014, 12:45:50 PM
I guess I prefer the early stuff, though I don't know about it being better.

When it comes to orders, considered as a separate question, I see only two (Smileless because of its non-release).

1.  Surfin' Safari to Good Vibrations.
2.  Heroes and Villains to TWGMTR, with a bunch of subdivisions.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Smilin Ed H on December 22, 2014, 01:24:02 PM
No no and No. As a whole work, I'd take Pet Sounds over Smile any day, but I like Smile and it ushered in a period of creativity that is given the bum's rush by people that foolishly hang on to a very narrow definition of the Beach Boys sound, as if it wasn't going o change and grow as they grew older. I thin it says more about them and where they were, mentally and emotionally, at the time, than the band itself.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Hank Briarstem on December 22, 2014, 02:49:12 PM
I know that I for one am emotionally adrift, the victim of a series of relationships that can best be described as horrific, albeit productive in the sense that a tomato soup and hard-boiled egg lunch is fair recompense for an evening of martinis and shrill criticism. But enough about Ella, my fourth wife, who is probably happier with the sailor.

And where do we place Pet Sounds in attempting to balance this equation, as it were? Ah, the sophistication, the childlike innocence, the loss of that same innocence, and the awareness of mortality, albeit it in a soft whisper from the future. Is there “better” music than “God Only Knows”? Is there more spiritual, emotional soundscape than “Don’t Talk”? If so, put your head on my shoulder.

Do we pair “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” with “columnated ruins domino” or with “I’m gettin’ bugged driving up and down the same old street?” Is, perhaps, the Dennis Wilson-penned, or ghost-penned, note to fans on the back cover of the All Summer Long album the first true hint of the band’s direction? In fact, was Dennis aware before even Brian that life and music were going to take decided turns? I believe it is time for that first martini. Please bear with me. Ah, perfect! Can we answer the question of Sgt. Pepper versus Meet the Beatles without first deciding where Rubber Soul fits? And has anyone seen a blue sock? One seems to have gone missing.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Smilin Ed H on December 22, 2014, 03:37:42 PM
I know that I for one am emotionally adrift, the victim of a series of relationships that can best be described as horrific, albeit productive in the sense that a tomato soup and hard-boiled egg lunch is fair recompense for an evening of martinis and shrill criticism. But enough about Ella, my fourth wife, who is probably happier with the sailor.

And where do we place Pet Sounds in attempting to balance this equation, as it were? Ah, the sophistication, the childlike innocence, the loss of that same innocence, and the awareness of mortality, albeit it in a soft whisper from the future. Is there “better” music than “God Only Knows”? Is there more spiritual, emotional soundscape than “Don’t Talk”? If so, put your head on my shoulder.

Do we pair “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” with “columnated ruins domino” or with “I’m gettin’ bugged driving up and down the same old street?” Is, perhaps, the Dennis Wilson-penned, or ghost-penned, note to fans on the back cover of the All Summer Long album the first true hint of the band’s direction? In fact, was Dennis aware before even Brian that life and music were going to take decided turns? I believe it is time for that first martini. Please bear with me. Ah, perfect! Can we answer the question of Sgt. Pepper versus Meet the Beatles without first deciding where Rubber Soul fits? And has anyone seen a blue sock? One seems to have gone missing.


Glad to see you haven't lost your touch.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: D Cunningham on December 22, 2014, 04:18:38 PM
The greatest era for the Beach Boys lies between the opening anapest and final fade of Don’t Worry Baby. That’s about two-and-three-quarters minutes, Greenwich Summer Time. And somewhere in the mid-Sixties, when Americans (properly) were eating Forever Yours candy  bars. I listen to Brian’s genius phrasing and wonder, was he thinking of where Ronnie would have applied her vibrato/hiccup?  He steered clear of that, of course. Brian is Sinatra. Carl in the break, right?  On the other hand, that opening might be described as pyrrhic-spondaic. Era of the gods.  To talk about anything else is like bowling without trophies.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Hank Briarstem on December 22, 2014, 05:30:09 PM
Ah yes, "Bowling Without Trophies," what was to be the centerpiece of the lost Smile album until the Smile album we know itself became the lost Smile album. Was it Al Jardine who complained when our boys entered a tournament that offered no trophies? And Carl a scratch bowler! I believe it was in Toledo in 1965, though it might have been in Japan a year earlier. I have taken my pills. Ah you scrawny, healthy youngsters!

"Don't Worry Baby," the magic of our lives. How many know that it was a metaphor for a bowling tournament or of Brian's angst at having notably large thumbs?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: krabklaw on December 22, 2014, 05:37:04 PM
The early albums all have at least a few amazing songs, But Smile and Pet Sounds represent the Beach Boys creative peak with beautiful sounds, meaningful lyrics, and boundary-pushing artistry.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on December 22, 2014, 08:18:17 PM
Where does the Oatmeal album fit in this continuum? Wasn't that like a Tuesday afternoon of February 6 1968 between 1:38 pm and Flipper at 7:00 pm PST?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Hank Briarstem on December 22, 2014, 08:34:59 PM
Roughly, yes, Cameron. So difficult to pinpoint, Dennis having been the official timekeeper. Oh those lovely distractions! Bonita, my third wife, I believe, though common law, was quite a distraction herself, bada bing. Yet we know "Mi Casa es Su Casa" was recorded that day, Paul McCartney on bongos. So we have some hard evidence. I was there at the time, I believe, though possibly only in spirit. The mind wanders.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on December 23, 2014, 06:06:59 AM
But seriously.

(tumbleweed)

We can argue about our ideas of "heart" etc., but to my mind it was with SMiLE just as Brian (and others) said back in the day: he had a problem mostly with the lyrics. My guess at his problem with the lyrics is he was very public about wanting the album to be spiritual, religious, humorous but most of the VDP lyrics are like a depressing history lesson about immigrant's plight and jingoism and gun violence and other issues that I'm guessing he did not find to be spiritual, religious, or humorous.

Looking at Smiley Smile, Brian pretty much de-VDP-History-Lessoned Smile and f***ed with the formula far beyond what he was doing in SMiLE imo.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on December 23, 2014, 06:18:13 AM
Roughly, yes, Cameron. So difficult to pinpoint, Dennis having been the official timekeeper. Oh those lovely distractions! Bonita, my third wife, I believe, though common law, was quite a distraction herself, bada bing. Yet we know "Mi Casa es Su Casa" was recorded that day, Paul McCartney on bongos. So we have some hard evidence. I was there at the time, I believe, though possibly only in spirit. The mind wanders.

She had a distracting bada bing for sure.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 23, 2014, 06:28:25 AM
But seriously.

Looking at Smiley Smile, Brian pretty much de-VDP-History-Lessoned Smile and f***ed with the formula far beyond what he was doing in SMiLE.

Yup.  Smile...you know...the album we weren't ready for???...was the next logical musical progression for Brian and the group.  It made sense...the path was all there.  I'm still not ready for Smiley Smile...even as we close in on 2015.  But you had to BE THERE at that exact time to GET that...to realize the void that was cratered into the proceedings. :(

So...yes...as I indicated...the early material forms the foundation and the scaffolding which brought us to Pet Sounds, Good Vibrations and Smile.  [Capitol brought us to Party]

The real questions are....What if Mike hadn't pestered Brian?  What if Brian had not been suffering from a condition which plagued him for WAY too long? And...What if Smile had been released in a timely fashion?

History would have changed.  The Beach Boys would have been considered differently. ..then and now. There would have been NO Smiley Smile...or Wild Honey...or 20/20.  The whole body of work would have been totally and completely different.

No...the early material wasn't better.  But it was necessary...and should have been more-so.  It was a  L O N G  wait from Pet Sounds and Good Vibes and Heroes and Mike....to BWPS.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 23, 2014, 06:29:47 AM
But seriously.

(tumbleweed)

We can argue about our ideas of "heart" etc., but to my mind it was with SMiLE just as Brian (and others) said back in the day: he had a problem mostly with the lyrics.

Which, of course, was a statement about as true and honest as "the tapes were destroyed," and the number one reason Smile didn't come out was because "Mike didn't like it." Brian has made a lot of statements about why Smile didn't work for him and when paired up with the historical and documentary record, we find that almost none of those statements hold up. It's not surprising why you seem to think this reason is legitimate but when you consider that Brian included three songs on Smiley Smile with Van Dyke Parks lyrics and continued to make attempts at songs like Surf's Up even into the Wild Honey sessions, we can see that this so called "problem with the lyrics" was just a lot of smoke being blown.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 23, 2014, 06:32:39 AM
we can see that this so called "problem with the lyrics" was just a lot of smoke being blown.


No...I believe we have all heard Mike plunder those lyrics he didn't like loudly and clearly.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 23, 2014, 07:03:21 AM
we can see that this so called "problem with the lyrics" was just a lot of smoke being blown.


No...I believe we have all heard Mike plunder those lyrics he didn't like loudly and clearly.

I'm not sure what you mean by this.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on December 23, 2014, 07:27:18 AM
But seriously.

(tumbleweed)

We can argue about our ideas of "heart" etc., but to my mind it was with SMiLE just as Brian (and others) said back in the day: he had a problem mostly with the lyrics.

Which, of course, was a statement about as true and honest as "the tapes were destroyed," and the number one reason Smile didn't come out was because "Mike didn't like it." Brian has made a lot of statements about why Smile didn't work for him and when paired up with the historical and documentary record, we find that almost none of those statements hold up. It's not surprising why you seem to think this reason is legitimate but when you consider that Brian included three songs on Smiley Smile with Van Dyke Parks lyrics and continued to make attempts at songs like Surf's Up even into the Wild Honey sessions, we can see that this so called "problem with the lyrics" was just a lot of smoke being blown.


Is "burned the tapes" a claim by Brian? The other statement is four decades after the fact and could even still be true and not change a thing about Brian's feelings about the lyrics.

Brian's complaints/explanations about the lyrics are from his own mouth and within a year of the event but that's not all, there is what he actually did in SS. Dehistoryed it pretty much except for a shade in H&V.

Some of VDP's history lyrics survived in H&V but reportedly he toyed with replacing the single with the non-history Vt. Wonderful, VDP didn't get credited on the SS album, weren't "history" lyrics. SGB is disclaimed by VDP as being his lyrics but isn't history lyrics anyway. Leaving SU out of SS and not releasing it himself is still a dehistorying.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Hank Briarstem on December 23, 2014, 07:36:39 AM
Who am I? One might suggest quite understandably that I am a relic of another generation – a robot lost in space, mourning Will Robinson’s passage to adulthood, an anachronism, as it were, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a tofu world. Still I dream of it.

Rarely does it turn out well when we attempt to become something we are not. I should know, given the failed experiment with judo. How these bones curse the error!

We could see a young Brian Wilson, surrounded by the Serious and Hip, being pulled in that direction, though he is at heart not at all Serious and Hip. Into this picture blunders the glib and worldly Van Dyke Parks, a man named for a facial hairstyle. Van Dyke is charismatic, his lyrics compelling. His word play and intelligence must be seductive to an awkward young man attempting to fit in with the pseudo-sophisticates and artistes so far removed from Hawthorne High School.

And the result truly suggests something akin to high art! Music and lyrics sprung from Picasso, merged somehow with Grant Wood (And how did he convince Mike Love to pose with that pitchfork?).  On some level, though, young Brian must miss the little girl he once knew and his Foster Freeze and his little surfer girl. Perhaps he doesn’t miss the pressure to surf or to hitch a ride in Denny’s Stingray.

From Teenage Symphony to God to Stephen Crane – a jolt not unlike the one I felt when lovely Melissa hurled the suitcase at my feet and effectively ended my second marriage. As the heart of Smile becomes, at least in some part, The Grapes of Wrath, and the basis for an emerging End of the Trail motif, young Brian surely must feel as if he has lost some control of his own ambition.

If this were merely a case of vertiginous lyricism, it probably would be a minor factor. But young Brian’s own life has become itself vertiginous – something of a freefall into a world far removed from what he has known and who he is.

Columnated ruins domino.

May I have a glass of water? Or a Sprite? Yes, a Sprite, I think.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 23, 2014, 07:42:49 AM
Is "burned the tapes" a claim by Brian?

The claim by Brian was what I quoted.

Quote
The other statement is four decades after the fact and could even still be true and change a thing about Brian's feelings about the lyrics.

Sure, but the mountain of evidence suggests that the statement is unlikely as the claim that he didn't like Van Dyke's lyrics.

Quote
Brian's complaints/explanations about the lyrics are from his own mouth and within a year of the event but that's not all, there is what he actually did in SS. Dehistoryed it pretty much except for a shade in H&V.

Within a year of the event, Brian recorded Heroes and Villains, Vegetables, Wonderful, and Surf's Up. Did Brian specifically say that he didn't like the history references in Van Dyke's lyrics? Please provide the quotation.

Quote
Some of VDP's history lyrics survived in H&V but reportedly he toyed with replacing the single with the non-history Vt.

Show me the evidence to suggest that he was "toying with replacing" H&V with Vegetables because Vegetables wasn't historical? And explain how this is entirely relevant when, despite it all, the lead single from SS was Heroes and Villains, regardless of what was being toyed with.

Quote
Wonderful, VDP didn't get credited on the SS album, weren't "history" lyrics. SGB is disclaimed by VDP as being his lyrics but isn't history lyrics anyway. Leaving SU out of SS and not releasing it himself is still a dehistorying.

Very little of what Van Dyke wrote for Smile had anything to do with history. Do You Like Worms is the biggest example, and Cabin Essence has some references to it but is mostly not about history. Surf's Up is certainly not about any specific historical moment, though one can do a historical reading of it. Some of the Smile-era tracks/sections that Brian did not use for SS are: Our Prayer, I'm in Great Shape, Barnyard, My Only Sunshine and these have little or nothing to do with history. Again, what specifically did Brian say about the historical nature of Van Dyke Parks lyrics that were so problematic?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Paul J B on December 23, 2014, 07:54:30 AM
The early "great stuff", not all of it, was just as good as the Smile stuff but in a different way. I  Get Around, Please Let Me Wonder, California Girls.....Those songs made Brian and the Beach Boys. Smile was Brian's creative peak and he crashed after that. The Beach Boys took a few years to come into their own post Smile, but they did. However the minimal role Brian played after Smile going down the drain stands out like a sore thumb to me. I don't think the late 60's ,  Brian no longer running the whole show match the pre Smile stuff.

Cam, I think Brian and VDP had issues and not just with the lyrics. An opinion that has grown on me over these last couple of years.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Mike Garneau on December 23, 2014, 08:06:12 AM
I relate more to the 65-72 period of the Beach Boys. So for me, no I do not think the early material is better than Smile (1966 is my favorite period of BB music). However I love the early material too. The early material is my second-favorite era of the Beach Boys, and I suppose the Brian-Is-Back 70s is my third favorite.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on December 23, 2014, 11:03:08 AM
Is "burned the tapes" a claim by Brian?

The claim by Brian was what I quoted.

Quote
The other statement is four decades after the fact and could even still be true and change a thing about Brian's feelings about the lyrics.

Sure, but the mountain of evidence suggests that the statement is unlikely as the claim that he didn't like Van Dyke's lyrics.

Quote
Brian's complaints/explanations about the lyrics are from his own mouth and within a year of the event but that's not all, there is what he actually did in SS. Dehistoryed it pretty much except for a shade in H&V.

Within a year of the event, Brian recorded Heroes and Villains, Vegetables, Wonderful, and Surf's Up. Did Brian specifically say that he didn't like the history references in Van Dyke's lyrics? Please provide the quotation.

Quote
Some of VDP's history lyrics survived in H&V but reportedly he toyed with replacing the single with the non-history Vt.

Show me the evidence to suggest that he was "toying with replacing" H&V with Vegetables because Vegetables wasn't historical? And explain how this is entirely relevant when, despite it all, the lead single from SS was Heroes and Villains, regardless of what was being toyed with.

Quote
Wonderful, VDP didn't get credited on the SS album, weren't "history" lyrics. SGB is disclaimed by VDP as being his lyrics but isn't history lyrics anyway. Leaving SU out of SS and not releasing it himself is still a dehistorying.

Very little of what Van Dyke wrote for Smile had anything to do with history. Do You Like Worms is the biggest example, and Cabin Essence has some references to it but is mostly not about history. Surf's Up is certainly not about any specific historical moment, though one can do a historical reading of it. Some of the Smile-era tracks/sections that Brian did not use for SS are: Our Prayer, I'm in Great Shape, Barnyard, My Only Sunshine and these have little or nothing to do with history. Again, what specifically did Brian say about the historical nature of Van Dyke Parks lyrics that were so problematic?



I'm aware Anderle claimed tapes were destroyed, I'm not remembering Brian saying it. My not remembering is more and more common.

Brian at the time said the lyrics were "too arty" and that is why he junked some of the songs written with VDP from Smiley. It is my observation that some the songs that he junked were the ones with lyrics by VDP and those have a historical theme. He also junked some covers which also had a historical theme. It's not a crime that Brian found some the lyrics not to his purpose.

It was reported in the press of the time that Brian was considering replacing the H&V single with a Vt single. Mike at the time said he thought it was a put-on by Brian. Either way some of the VDP lyrics got cut from H&V including the cantina bit.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Gerry on December 23, 2014, 11:06:43 AM
We're talking about art here. There is no better, simply what you prefer.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 23, 2014, 11:43:50 AM
I'm aware Anderle claimed tapes were destroyed, I'm not remembering Brian saying it. My not remembering is more and more common.

He says it at around the 2-minute mark here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7PjuaM4mR8

Quote
Brian at the time said the lyrics were "too arty" and that is why he junked some of the songs written with VDP from Smiley.

Can you please direct me to the source of this claim? The only person who has consistently referenced this quotation on this site is you and you have done it many, many times. Where is it from and what is the context? This is especially crucial in light of the fact that, in my opinion, you have in the past mischaracterized a Derek Taylor quote to conclude that Brian felt Smile to be old-fashioned.

Quote
It is my observation that some the songs that he junked were the ones with lyrics by VDP and those have a historical theme.

Some of the songs he junked had a historical theme such as Do You Like Worms and parts of Cabin Essence. Some of the lyrics he junked didn't have any direct historical references whatsoever: Surf's Up, I'm in Great Shape, Barnyard. One of the songs he retained had a sort of historical theme: Heroes and Villains. Of the 8 titled songs credited to Wilson/Parks on The Smile Sessions, Brian kept 3 to work with on Smiley Smile, one of which had historical references. Of the 5 he kept off, 2 had historical references, and 3 did not. Furthermore, Brian chose not to include versions of songs on Smiley that had neither any Van Dyke Parks lyrics or any historical references: Our Prayer, My Only Sunshine, Look, Holidays, etc.

The record really does not reaffirm your claims. Furthermore, if Brian wanted to go with the spiritual and the religious over Parks's supposed artiness, why did he include Heroes and Villains and Wonderful over the ethereal Our Prayer?

Quote
He also junked some covers which also had a historical theme.

Such as?

Quote
It's not a crime that Brian found some the lyrics not to his purpose.

It wouldn't be if it were true.

Quote
It was reported in the press of the time that Brian was considering replacing the H&V single with a Vt single.

Because of the historical references in Heroes and Villains? Because of the artiness of the lyrics? Do you have a source to confirm this or am I to assume that the is pure conjecture?

Quote
Either way some of the VDP lyrics got cut from H&V including the cantina bit.

Do we know the cantina section was cut because Brian had a problem with the lyrics?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on December 23, 2014, 12:32:35 PM
I've got to go make merry, so I'll get back to you but the quote is from Brian speaking on the KHJ History of Rock and Roll.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Hank Briarstem on December 23, 2014, 12:50:26 PM
Forgive me, please, if Van Dyke Parks’ rather startling comments in the 9 May 2013 Guardian – a newspaper published, I believe, either in the United Kingdom or in Schenectady – have left me a bit skeptical of the notion that he and young Brian Wilson were happy writing partners.

"It's a dull issue. I hope it doesn't need any further elaboration. To have been victimized by Brian Wilson's buffoonery. It just got too much for me. It was an expensive decision for me not to continue my association with the most powerful artist in the music business at the time, but I made the only decision I could. I walked away from that funhouse."

While it certainly could be true that the glib Mr. Parks was put off most by the attitudes of Michael Love, and perhaps the failure of young Brian to come adequately to his writing partner’s defense, a nearly 5-decades-old grudge that would prompt the Oxford Orator to refer to Brian as a buffoon is sufficiently intense to suggest a deeper layer of rejection and indeed humiliation.

My first wife Eileen’s brother – the knife thrower – came within a hair’s breadth of robbing me of my right earlobe, and yet – until the unfortunate incident with the camel – we continued to exchange holiday greetings, though always at a distance greater than the strength of his throwing arm. Were Fredrick not incarcerated I would still extend the annual fruitcake.

Beyond that, how could Mr. Parks’ decision have been “expensive” except at the loss of lucrative songwriting royalties?

I do not extend these comments as “proof” that young Brian was less than enthusiastic about Mr. Parks’ lyrics – indeed my attempt to prove that my fifth wife was undeserving of alimony fell victim to a clever legal gambit and to the fact that it was ultimately without even scant merit. But if “state of mind” is suggestive of anything, I would suggest that it isn’t outlandish to conclude that there was some acrimony with regard to the – and I quote here – “buffoon’s” reaction to that which Mr. Parks seems most to cherish – his clever way with words.

Would it be too much to ask for a club soda?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: halblaineisgood on December 23, 2014, 01:09:05 PM
.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: halblaineisgood on December 23, 2014, 01:10:38 PM
.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: halblaineisgood on December 23, 2014, 01:11:09 PM
.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Been Too Long on December 23, 2014, 01:18:23 PM

Quote
Brian at the time said the lyrics were "too arty" and that is why he junked some of the songs written with VDP from Smiley.

Can you please direct me to the source of this claim? The only person who has consistently referenced this quotation on this site is you and you have done it many, many times. Where is it from and what is the context? This is especially crucial in light of the fact that, in my opinion, you have in the past mischaracterized a Derek Taylor quote to conclude that Brian felt Smile to be old-fashioned.

Well there's this,

Rolling Stone
October 28, 1971

Tom Nolan: "Why didn't that Smile album ever come out?"

Brian Wilson: "Oh, well, that was because . . . the lyrics, Van Dyke Parks had written lyrics that were, it was all Van Dyke Parks and none of the Beach Boys. The lyrics were so poetic and symbolic they were abstract, we couldn't . . “





Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 23, 2014, 01:31:44 PM

Quote
Brian at the time said the lyrics were "too arty" and that is why he junked some of the songs written with VDP from Smiley.

Can you please direct me to the source of this claim? The only person who has consistently referenced this quotation on this site is you and you have done it many, many times. Where is it from and what is the context? This is especially crucial in light of the fact that, in my opinion, you have in the past mischaracterized a Derek Taylor quote to conclude that Brian felt Smile to be old-fashioned.

Well there's this,

Rolling Stone
October 28, 1971

Tom Nolan: "Why didn't that Smile album ever come out?"

Brian Wilson: "Oh, well, that was because . . . the lyrics, Van Dyke Parks had written lyrics that were, it was all Van Dyke Parks and none of the Beach Boys. The lyrics were so poetic and symbolic they were abstract, we couldn't . . “

And again, the context is crucial:

"Why didn't that Smile album ever come out?"

"Oh, well, that was because . . . the lyrics, Van Dyke Parks had written lyrics that were, it was all Van Dyke Parks and none of the Beach Boys. The lyrics were so poetic and symbolic they were abstract, we couldn't . . .

"Oh no, wait, it was, no, really, I remember, this is it, this is why, it didn't come out because, I'd bought a lot of hashish. It was a really large purchase, I mean perhaps two thousand dollars' worth. We didn't realize, but the music was getting so influenced by it, the music had a really drugged feeling. I mean we had to lie on the floor with the microphones next to our mouths to do the vocals. We didn't have any energy. I mean you come into a session and see the group lying on the floor of the studio doing the vocals, you know, you can't . . ."

So, yes, he does say that about the lyrics - doesn't necessarily say they were "too arty" - but then goes on to undercut it. I am not inclined to believe the second version he gives either.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: bgas on December 23, 2014, 01:52:48 PM

Quote
Brian at the time said the lyrics were "too arty" and that is why he junked some of the songs written with VDP from Smiley.

Can you please direct me to the source of this claim? The only person who has consistently referenced this quotation on this site is you and you have done it many, many times. Where is it from and what is the context? This is especially crucial in light of the fact that, in my opinion, you have in the past mischaracterized a Derek Taylor quote to conclude that Brian felt Smile to be old-fashioned.

Well there's this,

Rolling Stone
October 28, 1971

Tom Nolan: "Why didn't that Smile album ever come out?"

Brian Wilson: "Oh, well, that was because . . . the lyrics, Van Dyke Parks had written lyrics that were, it was all Van Dyke Parks and none of the Beach Boys. The lyrics were so poetic and symbolic they were abstract, we couldn't . . “

And again, the context is crucial:

"Why didn't that Smile album ever come out?"

"Oh, well, that was because . . . the lyrics, Van Dyke Parks had written lyrics that were, it was all Van Dyke Parks and none of the Beach Boys. The lyrics were so poetic and symbolic they were abstract, we couldn't . . .

"Oh no, wait, it was, no, really, I remember, this is it, this is why, it didn't come out because, I'd bought a lot of hashish. It was a really large purchase, I mean perhaps two thousand dollars' worth. We didn't realize, but the music was getting so influenced by it, the music had a really drugged feeling. I mean we had to lie on the floor with the microphones next to our mouths to do the vocals. We didn't have any energy. I mean you come into a session and see the group lying on the floor of the studio doing the vocals, you know, you can't . . ."

So, yes, he does say that about the lyrics - doesn't necessarily say they were "too arty" - but then goes on to undercut it. I am not inclined to believe the second version he gives either.

True dat! You have to take almost every Brian interview tongue in cheek; still, I hope there's some as yet unfound videos of the BBs in the studio lying on the floor singing....


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: CenturyDeprived on December 23, 2014, 01:57:54 PM
Forgive me, please, if Van Dyke Parks’ rather startling comments in the 9 May 2013 Guardian – a newspaper published, I believe, either in the United Kingdom or in Schenectady – have left me a bit skeptical of the notion that he and young Brian Wilson were happy writing partners.

"It's a dull issue. I hope it doesn't need any further elaboration. To have been victimized by Brian Wilson's buffoonery. It just got too much for me. It was an expensive decision for me not to continue my association with the most powerful artist in the music business at the time, but I made the only decision I could. I walked away from that funhouse."

While it certainly could be true that the glib Mr. Parks was put off most by the attitudes of Michael Love, and perhaps the failure of young Brian to come adequately to his writing partner’s defense, a nearly 5-decades-old grudge that would prompt the Oxford Orator to refer to Brian as a buffoon is sufficiently intense to suggest a deeper layer of rejection and indeed humiliation.
 

Let's make sure to note that VDP wasn't calling Brian a "buffoon" per se, but more I take it that VDP meant that Brian's actions at the time were buffoonery. There is a difference. Much like calling someone "a jerk" and saying they acted like a jerk are also two different things.

And while it was undoubtedly a crass comment to make, I've always read that to mean that the actions VDP was speaking of were regarding Brian going back to the BBs (regressing, in VDP's eyes), with the Brian/Mike power structure back intact (such as "Wild Honey") after having experienced some pretty major fallout and creative differences with them. I think VDP thought it was buffoonery for Brian to go back to working with Mike, specifically.

Can one imagine what went through VDP's mind when "Gettin' Hungry" was released specifically by "Brian and Mike" in 1967? I don't think it's reaching to think that must've been more than weird in VDP's eyes at the time.
 


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Hank Briarstem on December 23, 2014, 02:19:13 PM
A fair point, young man, and one worthy of note. Still, the quote regarding a disagreement more than 45 years in the past belies hostility, does it not? Perhaps I am sensitized by the sheer magnitude of my second ex-wife's hostility toward me -- a hatred burning with such intensity she refers to me as "the trail of slime left behind a departing worm -- and not one of those 'cute' worms; a disgusting one more mindful of a maggot than anything else." Nonetheless she provided me with a Swanson dinner the day flu raged inside me with the fire of Hades itself. There is comfort in that, though her name often escapes me. For that matter, so does mine.

We are also provided with this chestnut from the talkative Mr. Parks, a relic of a New York Times article. "Also, by 1967 I had been through eight months of Beach Boys experience — or Brian Wilson, really, with one short conversation with one or two of the other Beach Boys. I left that job in the shambles that became so famous. Perhaps the "one short conversation" with other Beach Boys was so hostile as to burn in the good wordsmith's heart lo these many years. Or perhaps the long grudge is a sample of his relationship with Brian.

In any event -- pass me that tomato juice, please, and the Metamucil -- Mr. Parks is quoted frequently regarding his grand efforts to resurrect the Beach Boys' career at its low ebb, and always his role seems to have been to ride in to the firestorm as the Lone Ranger, acting nobly to fashion Shinola from waste product. It is an heroic self-portrait and one that, if accurate, must make him particularly angry at the buffoonery of others. Would that we were all so dashing and guileless!


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Stegibo on December 23, 2014, 02:27:34 PM
Yes, I think so.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Fire Wind on December 23, 2014, 02:38:28 PM
Brian should've let Mike re-write the lyrics for Smile, while driving around, much like his excellent lyrics for Good Vibrations.  Worth a bash.  Challenge the man, instead of just using him for the more formulaic ideas.  Mike could've gone psychedelic, but kept it accessible, much like the Beatles did.  Sgt. Pepper isn't clouded by abstract lyrics, but aims for the average joe.  The Smile music with Mike's lyrics would've been the real show-stopper and changed the way the Beach Boys were viewed, a real album follow-up to Good Vibrations.  Smile, as it was going, with the VDP lyrics, would never have shook the world.  Mike was in his peak years then too.   Should've used him.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: halblaineisgood on December 23, 2014, 02:42:27 PM
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Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: CenturyDeprived on December 23, 2014, 03:46:52 PM
He should've written the lyrics with a lyrics writing-robot

time machine that was better than VDP and mike combined.

For Mike to really show there are no hard feelings as he claims (because of course, the Summer in Paradise musician-for-hire attempt at that was derailed by the infamous Mike-reneging-on-covering-VDP's-airfare-incident), Mike just simply needs to name a child of his Van Dyke Love.  ;D


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 23, 2014, 04:46:00 PM
The fact is many artists could have used the "Mike Love touch" over the years. I recently read about a couple of paintings that were discovered by an unknown artist named Picassoe (sp?). Apparently this guy thought he could have a major cultural impact with his art, but talk about confusing! There's no way this stuff could have ever possibly caught on - it's like it's the very definition of abstract.

Reminds of the story of this author from the same time. His name was James Joyce. He was very well known for a short story collection called The Dubliners but then he started to write some really difficult stuff with tons of allusions and really strange turns-of-phrases. Too bad - had he kept up the style of the Dubliners he could have really shaken things up.

It's too bad too that Mike Love couldn't have re-written the lyrics by Bob Dylan. I mean, "you used to be so amused by Napoleon in rags and the language that you used"? What the hell? It's pretty easy to see why that never caught on.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: ontor pertawst on December 23, 2014, 04:55:23 PM
riverrun, fun, fun, fun past the hamburger stand, from swerve of shore to bend
of bay,  brings us by a commodius vibration of excitation back to Hawthorne and environs.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: CenturyDeprived on December 23, 2014, 05:02:00 PM
Brian should've let Mike re-write the lyrics for Smile, while driving around, much like his excellent lyrics for Good Vibrations.  Worth a bash.  Challenge the man, instead of just using him for the more formulaic ideas.  Mike could've gone psychedelic, but kept it accessible, much like the Beatles did.  Sgt. Pepper isn't clouded by abstract lyrics, but aims for the average joe.  The Smile music with Mike's lyrics would've been the real show-stopper and changed the way the Beach Boys were viewed, a real album follow-up to Good Vibrations.  Smile, as it was going, with the VDP lyrics, would never have shook the world.  Mike was in his peak years then too.   Should've used him.

Mike could have just added the word "now" to the end of all of VDP's sentences in the lyrics. That's what SMiLE really needed, come to think of it. That would have made the music more relatable to listeners, plus the deceptively simple "now" lyric would have had a deeper intentional dual meaning by the Lovester, with the added bonus of bringing a subliminal, yet impactful early feminist Pro-N.O.W. stance (later explored in "When Girls Get Together").

 


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: halblaineisgood on December 23, 2014, 05:09:37 PM
.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: relx on December 23, 2014, 05:36:49 PM
riverrun, fun, fun, fun past the hamburger stand, from swerve of shore to bend
of bay,  brings us by a commodius vibration of excitation back to Hawthorne and environs.


As someone who took a graduate seminar on Finnegans Wake, this is awesome.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Dancing Bear on December 24, 2014, 03:36:03 AM
Brian should've let Mike re-write the lyrics for Smile, while driving around, much like his excellent lyrics for Good Vibrations.  Worth a bash.  Challenge the man, instead of just using him for the more formulaic ideas.  Mike could've gone psychedelic, but kept it accessible, much like the Beatles did.  Sgt. Pepper isn't clouded by abstract lyrics, but aims for the average joe.  The Smile music with Mike's lyrics would've been the real show-stopper and changed the way the Beach Boys were viewed, a real album follow-up to Good Vibrations.  Smile, as it was going, with the VDP lyrics, would never have shook the world.  Mike was in his peak years then too.   Should've used him.

Mike could have just added the word "now" to the end of all of VDP's sentences in the lyrics. That's what SMiLE really needed, come to think of it. That would have made the music more relatable to listeners, plus the deceptively simple "now" lyric would have had a deeper intentional dual meaning by the Lovester, with the added bonus of bringing a subliminal, yet impactful early feminist Pro-N.O.W. stance (later explored in "When Girls Get Together").

"It starts with just a little glance, now
Right away, you're thinkin' 'bout romance, now"

Tony Asher used the Lovesterism and Pet Sounds got realeased. Van Dyke didn't. Asher's the smarter man.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Debbie Keil-Leavitt on December 24, 2014, 06:23:48 AM
The fact is many artists could have used the "Mike Love touch" over the years. I recently read about a couple of paintings that were discovered by an unknown artist named Picassoe (sp?). Apparently this guy thought he could have a major cultural impact with his art, but talk about confusing! There's no way this stuff could have ever possibly caught on - it's like it's the very definition of abstract.

Reminds of the story of this author from the same time. His name was James Joyce. He was very well known for a short story collection called The Dubliners but then he started to write some really difficult stuff with tons of allusions and really strange turns-of-phrases. Too bad - had he kept up the style of the Dubliners he could have really shaken things up.

It's too bad too that Mike Love couldn't have re-written the lyrics by Bob Dylan. I mean, "you used to be so amused by Napoleon in rags and the language that you used"? What the hell? It's pretty easy to see why that never caught on.

Too bad that kid Joyce never made it...and who is this Dylan guy?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Don Malcolm on December 24, 2014, 02:58:27 PM
Brian should've let Mike re-write the lyrics for Smile, while driving around, much like his excellent lyrics for Good Vibrations.  Worth a bash.  Challenge the man, instead of just using him for the more formulaic ideas.  Mike could've gone psychedelic, but kept it accessible, much like the Beatles did.  Sgt. Pepper isn't clouded by abstract lyrics, but aims for the average joe.  The Smile music with Mike's lyrics would've been the real show-stopper and changed the way the Beach Boys were viewed, a real album follow-up to Good Vibrations.  Smile, as it was going, with the VDP lyrics, would never have shook the world.  Mike was in his peak years then too.   Should've used him.

"You're too late mama, there's nothing upside your head..."  :3d

Love that song, but let's face it, the world was neither shaken nor stirred by Mike's lyrics "celebrating"  that bald chick.

(Anybody know if BW ever saw Sam Fuller's THE NAKED KISS? From "dove-nested towers to Constance Towers"--a hidden furrow in subliminal BBs history...)  :hat


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Fire Wind on December 25, 2014, 04:00:41 AM
It's too bad too that Mike Love couldn't have re-written the lyrics by Bob Dylan. I mean, "you used to be so amused by Napoleon in rags and the language that you used"? What the hell? It's pretty easy to see why that never caught on.

Here's the chorus to that song.

How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?


Clear as day, and provides, as well as other parts of the lyrics, a easy-to-understand general theme that can be used to interpret lines like the one quoted.  More importantly, it doesn't lose the personal connection.   I'm not sure that Mike wanted only to write about surfing and hot rods.  Perhaps he just saw, with the too-abstract Smile lyrics, that the baby was being thrown out with the bathwater in that there was nothing for the average radio-listener to connect with.  The Good Vibrations lyrics are a fine example of him working with a more psychedelic angle. But that song also doesn't lose the personal connection.

Similarly, the Beatles, in their most far-out tunes of the time, never lost the connection, putting the personal subject of the song, the 'I' or the 'you', first and foremost.

'Turn off YOUR mind, relax and float downstream.'

'Picture YOURSELF on a boat on a river'.

'Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all YOU see.'

'Life goes on within YOU and without YOU.'

This is pop music.  Joyce and Picasso are irrelevant.  Dylan, however, was smart enough to keep the identifying subject in his songs, in order to evoke direct personal feeling, even if all the lyrics are not clear.  Dylan understood this.  The Beatles understood it.  Mike Love understood it.  Brian Wilson lost sight of it.  Perhaps he realised this as the project began to collapse.

Smile should have had lyrics akin to those of Good Vibrations.  That would have been the album to shake the world and have the impact that Sgt. Pepper had.  From the beginning of the involvement of VDP and the Smile project, the Beach Boys stopped being a contender.  Smile, as it was going, would have ended up a beautiful curio, respected by Mojo-readers, beard-scratchers and internet dweebs as probably the best, most beautiful album of the sixties, but not the all-conquering album that was hoped for, raising the Beach Boys to another level in the eyes of the world.  That's little different to how it is regarded now.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Jim Rockford on December 25, 2014, 09:06:44 AM
Different would be the word I'd use. Not better. It's just a different style. It's all good stuff. :)


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Ron on December 25, 2014, 06:30:53 PM
The lyrics mentioned above have a style that's always perplexed me.

"It starts with just a little glance, now
Right away you're thinking bout romance, now"

The "Now" is completely frivolous.  It's not needed to make the lines rhyme, and although the melody as we know it has that one extra syllable, you could easily sing it slightly different and ditch the now.

Fun Fun Fun has the SAME DAMN THING in it.

"Well she got her daddy's car and she cruised to the hamburger stand, now
Seems she forgot all about the library like she told her old man, now"

I will add, though, that I've seen rappers do the same damn thing.  They'll rhyme sh*t that has a word on the end that's the same, although the word preceding it rhymes already. 

I'm just saying it's a strange style, now.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on December 26, 2014, 12:18:14 PM
Re. “arty”

Here are a couple of more quotes:

“Well we got a little arty about it, and it got to the point where we were too selfishly artistic and we weren't thinking about the public enough. It got to that level. Partially because of the drugs…” Brian Wilson  1976 (In Their Own Words p. 32)

“We didn't finish it because we had a lot of problems, inner group problems. We had time commitments we couldn't keep, so we stopped. Plus for instance, we did a thing called the Fire Track. We cut a song called Fire and we used fire helmets on the musicians and we put bucket with fire burning in it in the studio so we could smell smoke while we cut. About a day later a building down the street burned down. We thought maybe it was witchcraft or something, we didn't know what we were into. So we decided not to finish it. Plus I got into drugs and I began doing things that were over my head. It was too fancy and arty and was doing things that were not Beach Boys at all.” Brian Wilson (In Their Own Words p. 32)


"Early 1967, I had planned to make an album entitled SMILE. I was working with a guy named Van Dyke Parks, who was collaborating with me on the tunes, and in the process we came up with a song called 'Surf’s Up,' and I performed that with just a piano on a documentary show made on rock music.

The song 'Surf’s Up' that I sang for that documentary never came out on an album, and it was supposed to come out on the SMILE album, and that and a couple of other songs were junked ... because I didn't feel that they ... I don't know why, I just didn't, for some reason, didn't want to put them on the album ... and the group nearly broke up, actually split up for good over that, that one ... the decision of mine not to put a lot of the things that we'd cut for the album SMILEY SMILE on the album, and so for like almost a year, we're just now kind of getting back together ... because I didn't think that the songs really were right for the public at the time, and I didn't have a feeling, a commercial feeling, about some of these songs that we've never released, and ... maybe I ... some people like to hang onto certain things and ... just as their own little songs that they've written almost for themselves. And a lot of times, you know, a person will write and will realize later that they're ... it's not commercial, you know, but what they've written is nice for them, but a lot of people just don't like it."  Brian Wilson 1968 (KHJ History of Rock and Roll)

Also this:

"DAVID: Michael was just starting to get into the picture. Paul Robbins was starting to get into the picture at this time. Then when I started coming up to the house a whole bunch, when the Brother Records thing started to happen. Van was there like all the time. And Van and Brian were running together, very hot and heavy. And Van was blowing Brian's mind, and Brian was blowing whole situation and I said, at that time, that's never to work. Those two are never gonna be able to work together.
And they never have, they never really did. They had a great moment of creativity. I think Van Dyke is one of the few, very few people that Brian truly looked at on an equal level, or maybe that's a little presumptuous to say. Van Dyke blew Brian's mind and I hadn't seen anyone else do that. And Van used to walk away from his evenings with Brian, very awe-struck at what Brian was doing musically. I think to this day Van Dyke is the first one to admit — again, not influence, but the effect that Brian had, or has, on Van Dyke. Very strong. Their parting was kind of tragic, in the fact that there were two people who absolutely did not want to separate but they both knew that they had to separate, that they could not work together. 'Cause they were too strong, you know, in their own areas.

PAUL: When, February?

DAVID: Right around February, yeah. Van was getting — his lyric was too sophisticated, and in some areas Brian's music was not sophisticated enough, and so they started clashing on that.

PAUL: They missed each other.

DAVID: Yeah. They were together to a certain point, and then zingo! they bypassed each other, and never the twain shall meet with those two."

David Anderle and Paul Williams 1967 (Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys - A Celebration Of Wild Honey: a discussion with David Anderle)



Re. “Old fashioned”

“BUT ALAS…
Brian Wilson began to stare at the glittering ships of tape and as the day of the launch became nearer than a date on the never-never calendar, he gazed at his plans and he turned his mind’s ear inwards and the longer he stared and the more he heard, the clearer it became that he was now in his jet age, building steamships.

Which couldn't be right.

In truth, every beautifully designed, finely-wrought inspirationally-welded piece of music made these last months by Brian and his Beach Boy craftsmen has been SCRAPPED.” What, then? I don’t know. The Beach Boys don’t know. Brian Wilson, God grant him peace of mind…he doesn't know. He is waiting with his nearest Mike and Al and Bruce and his dearest Carl and Dennis. And if it is difficult for them, it is absolutely unbearable for Brian. It has to come. New single, new album.” Derek Taylor (published May 6 67)

How do you interpret building steamships in his jet age?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Debbie Keil-Leavitt on December 27, 2014, 01:35:06 PM
...and then Brian did "Smile," - LIVE for heaven's sake - in London in 2004.  Working with VDP, Darian and the rest of Brian's amazing band.  Lots of quotes from Brian around that time as well, of course...They don't seem to be posted here.  It seems the "jet age" finally happened.



Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 27, 2014, 02:21:14 PM
It does reach a point where there's really little more that can be said other than 'SMILE' is brilliant...[I mean even better than 'Moon Dawg' or even '10 Little Indians' for goodness sake]...and if it took a little POSITIVE assistance from Darren and Van Dyke to get 'er done...well...GOOD ON YA Brian. 

Music is like comedy.  Timing really IS everything.  2004 and whenever the Beach Boys replication arrived...was it 3 or 4 years ago?...notwitstanding.

1967 would have been better...and would have re-shaped music history.

All this prattle about the lyrics not being whatever...

What a PILE.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Debbie Keil-Leavitt on December 27, 2014, 03:30:49 PM
 ^-^
It does reach a point where there's really little more that can be said other than 'SMILE' is brilliant...[I mean even better than 'Moon Dawg' or even '10 Little Indians' for goodness sake]...and if it took a little POSITIVE assistance from Darren and Van Dyke to get 'er done...well...GOOD ON YA Brian. 

Music is like comedy.  Timing really IS everything.  2004 and whenever the Beach Boys replication arrived...was it 3 or 4 years ago?...notwitstanding.

1967 would have been better...and would have re-shaped music history.

All this prattle about the lyrics not being whatever...

What a PILE.

 ^-^


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 27, 2014, 05:02:53 PM
  The Good Vibrations lyrics are a fine example of him working with a more psychedelic angle. But that song also doesn't lose the personal connection.

Similarly, the Beatles, in their most far-out tunes of the time, never lost the connection, putting the personal subject of the song, the 'I' or the 'you', first and foremost.

'Turn off YOUR mind, relax and float downstream.'

'Picture YOURSELF on a boat on a river'.

'Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all YOU see.'

'Life goes on within YOU and without YOU.'

This is quite easy to do when you are cherry picking. Watch:

I'VE been this town so long

SHE'S still dancing

SHE belongs there left with her liberty

Lost and found YOU still remain there/I'LL find a meadow filled with rain there

Bicycle rider, see see what YOU'VE done

I know that YOU feel better when YOU send me in YOUR letter and tell me the name of YOUR, YOUR favourite vegetable

By your own standards, Parks's lyrics are perfectly mainstream.

Quote
This is pop music.  Joyce and Picasso are irrelevant. 

You didn't say anything about "pop music" -- the point is, can abstract art "shake up the world?" History proves that it absolutely can - in fact, if history tells us anything, it's that abstract art can perhaps have an even bigger impact on the world than other forms of artistic representation. If you think pop music can't do what other forms of art do, that's you placing a limitation on it. Personally, I don't believe pop music to be an inferior art form.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 27, 2014, 05:18:53 PM
Re. “arty”

Here are a couple of more quotes:

“Well we got a little arty about it, and it got to the point where we were too selfishly artistic and we weren't thinking about the public enough. It got to that level. Partially because of the drugs…” Brian Wilson  1976 (In Their Own Words p. 32)

“We didn't finish it because we had a lot of problems, inner group problems. We had time commitments we couldn't keep, so we stopped. Plus for instance, we did a thing called the Fire Track. We cut a song called Fire and we used fire helmets on the musicians and we put bucket with fire burning in it in the studio so we could smell smoke while we cut. About a day later a building down the street burned down. We thought maybe it was witchcraft or something, we didn't know what we were into. So we decided not to finish it. Plus I got into drugs and I began doing things that were over my head. It was too fancy and arty and was doing things that were not Beach Boys at all.” Brian Wilson (In Their Own Words p. 32)


"Early 1967, I had planned to make an album entitled SMILE. I was working with a guy named Van Dyke Parks, who was collaborating with me on the tunes, and in the process we came up with a song called 'Surf’s Up,' and I performed that with just a piano on a documentary show made on rock music.

The song 'Surf’s Up' that I sang for that documentary never came out on an album, and it was supposed to come out on the SMILE album, and that and a couple of other songs were junked ... because I didn't feel that they ... I don't know why, I just didn't, for some reason, didn't want to put them on the album ... and the group nearly broke up, actually split up for good over that, that one ... the decision of mine not to put a lot of the things that we'd cut for the album SMILEY SMILE on the album, and so for like almost a year, we're just now kind of getting back together ... because I didn't think that the songs really were right for the public at the time, and I didn't have a feeling, a commercial feeling, about some of these songs that we've never released, and ... maybe I ... some people like to hang onto certain things and ... just as their own little songs that they've written almost for themselves. And a lot of times, you know, a person will write and will realize later that they're ... it's not commercial, you know, but what they've written is nice for them, but a lot of people just don't like it."  Brian Wilson 1968 (KHJ History of Rock and Roll)

Also this:

"DAVID: Michael was just starting to get into the picture. Paul Robbins was starting to get into the picture at this time. Then when I started coming up to the house a whole bunch, when the Brother Records thing started to happen. Van was there like all the time. And Van and Brian were running together, very hot and heavy. And Van was blowing Brian's mind, and Brian was blowing whole situation and I said, at that time, that's never to work. Those two are never gonna be able to work together.
And they never have, they never really did. They had a great moment of creativity. I think Van Dyke is one of the few, very few people that Brian truly looked at on an equal level, or maybe that's a little presumptuous to say. Van Dyke blew Brian's mind and I hadn't seen anyone else do that. And Van used to walk away from his evenings with Brian, very awe-struck at what Brian was doing musically. I think to this day Van Dyke is the first one to admit — again, not influence, but the effect that Brian had, or has, on Van Dyke. Very strong. Their parting was kind of tragic, in the fact that there were two people who absolutely did not want to separate but they both knew that they had to separate, that they could not work together. 'Cause they were too strong, you know, in their own areas.

PAUL: When, February?

DAVID: Right around February, yeah. Van was getting — his lyric was too sophisticated, and in some areas Brian's music was not sophisticated enough, and so they started clashing on that.

PAUL: They missed each other.

DAVID: Yeah. They were together to a certain point, and then zingo! they bypassed each other, and never the twain shall meet with those two."

David Anderle and Paul Williams 1967 (Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys - A Celebration Of Wild Honey: a discussion with David Anderle)

Good. Now we know for a fact that the many times that you have claimed on this board that Brian directly referred to Parks's lyrics as "too arty" is flat out false. You also have made it seem as if Brian had a problem with the lyrics. But in these quotations, Brian never mentions the lyrics directly at all. What he does do mostly is suggest that the music was too personal for the public to enjoy. The idea that this suddenly translates into Brian complaining that Parks's lyrics were "too arty" is totally a fiction that you have concocted out of these statements where he says absolutely nothing of the sort. And, quite unbelievably, you've repeated this myth for years on this board. This is the second time, by the way, that your penchant for quoting others can be traced back to no quote at all. In most fields, that's referred to as fabrication.

Quote
Re. “Old fashioned”

“BUT ALAS…
Brian Wilson began to stare at the glittering ships of tape and as the day of the launch became nearer than a date on the never-never calendar, he gazed at his plans and he turned his mind’s ear inwards and the longer he stared and the more he heard, the clearer it became that he was now in his jet age, building steamships.

Which couldn't be right.

In truth, every beautifully designed, finely-wrought inspirationally-welded piece of music made these last months by Brian and his Beach Boy craftsmen has been SCRAPPED.” What, then? I don’t know. The Beach Boys don’t know. Brian Wilson, God grant him peace of mind…he doesn't know. He is waiting with his nearest Mike and Al and Bruce and his dearest Carl and Dennis. And if it is difficult for them, it is absolutely unbearable for Brian. It has to come. New single, new album.” Derek Taylor (published May 6 67)

How do you interpret building steamships in his jet age?


Well, I reiterate that you positioned old-fashioned as a quotation and then attributed the quotation to Brian and then it turned out you were, in fact, making an inference out of a poetic turn of phrase from a press release written by Derek Taylor. Again, my objection was the fabrication and the misattribution. However, I definitely do not agree with your interpretation.  What I think Taylor means (and keep in mind, I've spent a lifetime reading Taylorisms) is what many others have said - that Brian felt that the time had past and that he had lost the production race. That the longer Brian took, the less avant-garde it would be - a belief, that Derek Taylor correctly thought, was unfounded. I suppose if you think you can either be avant-garde or old fashioned then maybe you can take this to mean that Brian thought the music was old fashioned but I doubt that Brian or Derek Taylor would have such an unnuanced way of thinking about music.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Debbie Keil-Leavitt on December 27, 2014, 06:27:49 PM
Re. “arty”

Here are a couple of more quotes:

“Well we got a little arty about it, and it got to the point where we were too selfishly artistic and we weren't thinking about the public enough. It got to that level. Partially because of the drugs…” Brian Wilson  1976 (In Their Own Words p. 32)

“We didn't finish it because we had a lot of problems, inner group problems. We had time commitments we couldn't keep, so we stopped. Plus for instance, we did a thing called the Fire Track. We cut a song called Fire and we used fire helmets on the musicians and we put bucket with fire burning in it in the studio so we could smell smoke while we cut. About a day later a building down the street burned down. We thought maybe it was witchcraft or something, we didn't know what we were into. So we decided not to finish it. Plus I got into drugs and I began doing things that were over my head. It was too fancy and arty and was doing things that were not Beach Boys at all.” Brian Wilson (In Their Own Words p. 32)


"Early 1967, I had planned to make an album entitled SMILE. I was working with a guy named Van Dyke Parks, who was collaborating with me on the tunes, and in the process we came up with a song called 'Surf’s Up,' and I performed that with just a piano on a documentary show made on rock music.

The song 'Surf’s Up' that I sang for that documentary never came out on an album, and it was supposed to come out on the SMILE album, and that and a couple of other songs were junked ... because I didn't feel that they ... I don't know why, I just didn't, for some reason, didn't want to put them on the album ... and the group nearly broke up, actually split up for good over that, that one ... the decision of mine not to put a lot of the things that we'd cut for the album SMILEY SMILE on the album, and so for like almost a year, we're just now kind of getting back together ... because I didn't think that the songs really were right for the public at the time, and I didn't have a feeling, a commercial feeling, about some of these songs that we've never released, and ... maybe I ... some people like to hang onto certain things and ... just as their own little songs that they've written almost for themselves. And a lot of times, you know, a person will write and will realize later that they're ... it's not commercial, you know, but what they've written is nice for them, but a lot of people just don't like it."  Brian Wilson 1968 (KHJ History of Rock and Roll)

Also this:

"DAVID: Michael was just starting to get into the picture. Paul Robbins was starting to get into the picture at this time. Then when I started coming up to the house a whole bunch, when the Brother Records thing started to happen. Van was there like all the time. And Van and Brian were running together, very hot and heavy. And Van was blowing Brian's mind, and Brian was blowing whole situation and I said, at that time, that's never to work. Those two are never gonna be able to work together.
And they never have, they never really did. They had a great moment of creativity. I think Van Dyke is one of the few, very few people that Brian truly looked at on an equal level, or maybe that's a little presumptuous to say. Van Dyke blew Brian's mind and I hadn't seen anyone else do that. And Van used to walk away from his evenings with Brian, very awe-struck at what Brian was doing musically. I think to this day Van Dyke is the first one to admit — again, not influence, but the effect that Brian had, or has, on Van Dyke. Very strong. Their parting was kind of tragic, in the fact that there were two people who absolutely did not want to separate but they both knew that they had to separate, that they could not work together. 'Cause they were too strong, you know, in their own areas.

PAUL: When, February?

DAVID: Right around February, yeah. Van was getting — his lyric was too sophisticated, and in some areas Brian's music was not sophisticated enough, and so they started clashing on that.

PAUL: They missed each other.

DAVID: Yeah. They were together to a certain point, and then zingo! they bypassed each other, and never the twain shall meet with those two."

David Anderle and Paul Williams 1967 (Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys - A Celebration Of Wild Honey: a discussion with David Anderle)

Good. Now we know for a fact that the many times that you have claimed on this board that Brian directly referred to Parks's lyrics as "too arty" is flat out false. This is the second time, by the way, that your penchant for quoting others can be traced back to no quote at other. In most fields, that's referred to as fabrication.

Quote
Re. “Old fashioned”

“BUT ALAS…
Brian Wilson began to stare at the glittering ships of tape and as the day of the launch became nearer than a date on the never-never calendar, he gazed at his plans and he turned his mind’s ear inwards and the longer he stared and the more he heard, the clearer it became that he was now in his jet age, building steamships.

Which couldn't be right.

In truth, every beautifully designed, finely-wrought inspirationally-welded piece of music made these last months by Brian and his Beach Boy craftsmen has been SCRAPPED.” What, then? I don’t know. The Beach Boys don’t know. Brian Wilson, God grant him peace of mind…he doesn't know. He is waiting with his nearest Mike and Al and Bruce and his dearest Carl and Dennis. And if it is difficult for them, it is absolutely unbearable for Brian. It has to come. New single, new album.” Derek Taylor (published May 6 67)

How do you interpret building steamships in his jet age?


Well, I reiterate that you positioned old-fashioned as a quotation and then attributed the quotation to Brian and then it turned out you were, in fact, making an inference out of a poetic turn of phrase from a press release written by Derek Taylor. Again, my objection was the fabrication and the misattribution. However, I definitely do not agree with your interpretation.  What I think Taylor means (and keep in mind, I've spent a lifetime reading Taylorisms) is what many others have said - that Brian felt that the time had past and that he had lost the production race. That the longer Brian took, the less avant-garde it would be - a belief, that Derek Taylor correctly thought, was unfounded. I suppose if you think you can either be avant-garde or old fashioned then maybe you can take this to mean that Brian thought the music was old fashioned but I doubt that Brian or Derek Taylor would have such an unnuanced way of thinking about music.

All I can say is, anyone who saw the light in Brian's face at the end of the first night of "Smile" at RFH knows that he always knew in his heart that it was timeless.  Anyone who saw the joy on Van Dyke Parks's face that evening, knows it was worth it to him.  Anyone who saw the tears rolling down the cheeks of Abe and Brian from McCartney's band, and saw their boss's stunned look and wild applause knows that THEY knew it was worth it.  And I was lucky enough to have Derek Taylor's wonderful widow sitting in front of me one evening.  She was witty, sweet and as sassy as her husband, loving every second of "Smile."  She also celebrated this work and got to see what her husband wanted fulfilled. 

The early stuff was great as the fans got to grow with the creativity of the art and artist...It was a growth experience - an evolution - not intended for some impossible comparison, as best I can tell. If you prefer to jump off at some point and not go for the entire ride, fine.  I'm still stunned I got to live to see "Smile," and that Brian is still at it.  We are truly blessed to be listening to any part of it.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 27, 2014, 06:35:41 PM
"The early stuff was great as the fans got to grow with the creativity of the art and artist...It was a growth experience - an evolution - not intended for some impossible comparison, as best I can tell. If you prefer to jump off at some point and not go for the entire ride, fine.  I'm still stunned I got to live to see "Smile," and that Brian is still at it.  We are truly blessed to be listening to any part of it." :hat
 
Oh YA....and thanks too for the inside insight Debbie.  REALLY great to know that...'cause as we sat, listened, marvelled and appreciated I'm sure we all hoped MAJORLY  that BRIAN was reading the reaction.  It was important to me that he knew exactly how much we 'got' Smile...and even more...how much we LOVED it.

Extraspecially and extraordinarily nice to be there for the "home run".  Glad we got the ball back to the man who hit it.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Debbie Keil-Leavitt on December 27, 2014, 06:38:09 PM
"The early stuff was great as the fans got to grow with the creativity of the art and artist...It was a growth experience - an evolution - not intended for some impossible comparison, as best I can tell. If you prefer to jump off at some point and not go for the entire ride, fine.  I'm still stunned I got to live to see "Smile," and that Brian is still at it.  We are truly blessed to be listening to any part of it." :hat
 
Oh YA....and thanks too for the inside insight Debbie.  REALLY great to know that...'cause as we sat, listened, marvelled and appreciated I'm sure we all hoped MAJORLY  that BRIAN was reading the reaction.  It was important to me that he knew exactly how much we 'got' Smile...and even more...how much we LOVED it.

Extraspecially and extraordinarily nice to be there for the "home run".  Glad we got the ball back to the man who hit it.

An absolute honor, wasn't it?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Fire Wind on December 28, 2014, 07:21:49 AM
You didn't say anything about "pop music" -- the point is, can abstract art "shake up the world?" History proves that it absolutely can - in fact, if history tells us anything, it's that abstract art can perhaps have an even bigger impact on the world than other forms of artistic representation. If you think pop music can't do what other forms of art do, that's you placing a limitation on it. Personally, I don't believe pop music to be an inferior art form.

Obviously, there are pronouns in Smile songs.  The point is how they are used and what surrounds them.  Barring Vegetables, the Smile lyrics do not create the connection to the listener that my examples do.  The Beatles' ones are pretty much just addressing the listener, easing them into a psychedelic world.  Smile lyrics do no such easing.

If I wasn't talking about pop music, what field could I have been talking about?  This is all about pop music, as far as I was aware.  When making Smile, did Brian want it to top the charts?  I would have thought he'd have been extremely keen for its commercial success.

I think pop music works best according to its strengths, that is, accessibility, and in taking difficult stuff and making it palatable, and in doing so, innovating the pop field at the same time.  I'm not saying there's no place for abstractedness in pop, just that there's a dividing line as to how far you can go with the lyrics without losing the wider public.  Other acts managed this.  Popular music can match other art forms, but it needs to connect and to sell.

I'm not trying to diminish Smile in any way (I don't see why some people posting here have to take it all so black-and-white).  Do I think a completed Smile have been the best album that year?  If it matched in quality the ambition behind it, then certainly.  Would it have had the immediate sales and influence upon the wider consciousness that Sgt. Pepper had?  I'm less than certain.  If released, it might have had the sort of impact like the VU and Nico, a big thing among a certain set, influencing other musicians etc, which is fine, but I doubt that's what Brian was aiming for, either in sales or in initial impact.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Dancing Bear on December 28, 2014, 08:03:28 AM
Good Vibrations would have been a hit even with Van Dyke Parks' "artsy" lyrics in the verses, as long as the chorus was straight and direct ('I'm picking up good vibrations' fits the bill).

Heroes and Villains wouldn't have been a big hit even if Mike had written his best personal-relatable-boy-girl lyrics ever for it.

Smile dodn't have a appropriate single to carry it and Brian knew it. That's why he wasted months trying to fix H&V.



Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 28, 2014, 08:49:25 AM

Obviously, there are pronouns in Smile songs.  The point is how they are used and what surrounds them.

Then why did you give a song like Strawberry Fields as an example which includes just as much nonsense and abstraction as any song on Smile? Yes, the song has some lines that build connections no more or less than a song like Cabinessence which has verses that are largely built as a love letter.

Quote
If I wasn't talking about pop music, what field could I have been talking about?

Lots of artistic forms can have an impact on the world.

Quote
When making Smile, did Brian want it to top the charts?

I'm sure he did, and I'm sure he was also smart enough to realize that all but one of the Beach Boys albums had failed to top the charts - and that wasn't even a Wilson studio effort.

Quote
I think pop music works best according to its strengths, that is, accessibility,

OK, but now we are talking about your personal opinion. And as we've also discovered, what you think is accessible and inaccessible is very subjective.

Quote
Popular music can match other art forms, but it needs to connect and to sell.

You don't think Picasso wanted to sell his art?

Quote
I'm not trying to diminish Smile in any way (I don't see why some people posting here have to take it all so black-and-white).  Do I think a completed Smile have been the best album that year?  If it matched in quality the ambition behind it, then certainly.  Would it have had the immediate sales and influence upon the wider consciousness that Sgt. Pepper had?  I'm less than certain.  

Of course it wouldn't have. But that's not just because of the lyrics. Did any Beach Boys album with Mike Love lyrics ever have "the immediate sales and influence upon the wider consciousness" that any competing Beatles album had?

Quote
If released, it might have had the sort of impact like the VU and Nico, a big thing among a certain set, influencing other musicians etc, which is fine, but I doubt that's what Brian was aiming for, either in sales or in initial impact.

I doubt it. The Velvet Underground were nobodies without a huge mega hit single. Branding means a lot, unfortunately.

I think it's remarkable that you question whether the album would have sold well when you have an actual verifiable case that shows that, when released, the album can actually do well chart wise. In 2004, Smile hit #13 on the US charts and #7 on the UK charts. You don't think it would have done a bit better than that had it been released in say January 1967 on the heels of Good Vibrations and with all the positive press the Beach Boys were getting at the time, a good deal of which was engineered beautifully by Derek Taylor?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 28, 2014, 09:24:18 AM
And from the exact time-frame in question...I give you...'A Whiter Shade of Pale'   [aka 'The Bleached Bucket'. ;)] 

This 'point' about Smile's lyrics and their supposed accessibility is EVER so weak.  What?  We were too stupid in 1967?  But by the time 20/20 came out we were ready for Cabinessence?  Or was it the 'Our Prayer' lyric which was too much for Beach Boys fans and the general public to absorb?

"influencing other musicians etc, which is fine, but I doubt that's what Brian was aiming for, either in sales or in initial impact."...

Brian [and the Beach Boys] had ALREADY had a huge, siginificant and ongoing IMPACT on other musicians and on the industry.  It had been going on for several years...so the point was actually made before it's being denied retroactively here.

One thing I wasn't ready for...when 'she' started going bald.  There was no hair-club for women then.  I couldn't relate.  Oh...wait...that was a different album.  The one with stoned 'wind-chimes'.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Debbie Keil-Leavitt on December 28, 2014, 11:37:28 AM
Is there some point at which an artist earns the right to be their best and do their best, or must they always have to pander to the lowest common denominator?  I'm serious when I ask this, as it seems to be a crisis for all the public figures that we-the-masses either destroy or nearly destroy in a world where art has to appeal to the vast public to survive, and the money for distribution is controlled by people who think they know what the public wants, often lacking a single clue.  And it seems to be the primary argument of some very insistent people here that whatever might have sold the absolute most is the correct path, no matter what - as if anyone honestly knows what that might be now or might have been in the past.

Brian wrote beautiful, fun and fabulous music in the beginning and continued to grow in sophistication as he mastered his craft with equal joy and beauty.  Is that a crime?  And are that relentless-few-of-you seriously going to continue trying to argue the idea that Brian is incapable of writing a hook on his own, after he's proven what he can do over and over and over again?  

Appealing to people who just want to pop open a six-pack and be mindless can sometimes do well on one commercial level.  We all like to relax and get stupid on occasion.  I'll give you that.  I'm just not certain that's what a smart artist wants as their final accomplishment and voice when they know their body eventually will leave this planet and all that is left is their work and whomever they loved, inspired and nourished.  That artist might want to think that he/she did some good.  I tend to think Brian brought in enough $$$ to have earned that privilege.  

Can't there be some sort of balance and a little gamble on the part of the industry that the best work might also sell?  It seems that artists who cling to an old style without growing end up forgotten in the dust more than the ones with some imagination, versatility and guts.  It's hard to list examples of such artists who didn't grow, as their names don't come to mind in most cases.  If their "brand" doesn't push a boundary here and there, the public moves on, aside from a niche who loves nostalgia.

I don't speak for Brian, obviously.  But, just looking at Brian's work and knowing what he's said, I think he wants people to feel love and joy and hope - as many of them as possible - and he wants to get people to think, too.  I'd like to think that humanity is capable of more love, harmony (a gift for which Brian is acknowledged as an amazing master) and thoughtfulness as to what human life might be about.  I hear that in Brian's music.  I certainly saw the results when he had the courage to complete "Smile" after so many years.  That was a true hero's journey completed, and people - his musical commercial peers and us regular fans - were moved to tears when we saw the courage and beauty of spirit that required - and how it generated some of the same in all of us.  And it didn't end with "Smile" - there's more coming...That's pretty exciting.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 28, 2014, 11:50:17 AM
Absolutely, Debbie! Spot on.

How many artists had to fight against financial backers to get their own personal vision out and ended up creating what was probably the most enduring work of their career? It's such a familiar narrative that one wonders why anyone has any faith anymore in anyone who thinks they know what will sell and what won't.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: LostArt on December 28, 2014, 12:36:33 PM
Wonderful post, Debbie.  I agree wholeheartedly.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Dancing Bear on December 28, 2014, 12:59:25 PM
Is there some point at which an artist earns the right to be their best and do their best, or must they always have to pander to the lowest common denominator?  I'm serious when I ask this, as it seems to be a crisis for all the public figures that we-the-masses either destroy or nearly destroy in a world where art has to appeal to the vast public to survive, and the money for distribution is controlled by people who think they know what the public wants, often lacking a single clue.  And it seems to be the primary argument of some very insistent people here that whatever might have sold the absolute most is the correct path, no matter what - as if anyone honestly knows what that might be now or might have been in the past.

What an artist creates and releases is his choice. Art is completely subjective, who's to say that 'Cabinessence' is objectively a better song than 'The Little Girl I Once Knew'?

Brian wrote beautiful, fun and fabulous music in the beginning and continued to grow in sophistication as he mastered his craft with equal joy and beauty.  Is that a crime?  And are that relentless-few-of-you seriously going to continue trying to argue the idea that Brian is incapable of writing a hook on his own, after he's proven what he can do over and over and over again?

He couldn't write a great hook immeadiately after Good Vibrations, and for months after that. And to be fair neither could any other member of the band. It happens. I certainly don't think he owed his audience a proper follow up to Good Vibrations in early 67. Life goes on. Brian moved on, stumbled with Smiley Smile and was back on his game with Wild Honey.

Appealing to people who just want to pop open a six-pack and be mindless can sometimes do well on one commercial level.  We all like to relax and get stupid on occasion.  I'll give you that.  I'm just not certain that's what a smart artist wants as their final accomplishment and voice when they know their body eventually will leave this planet and all that is left is their work and whomever they loved, inspired and nourished.  That artist might want to think that he/she did some good.  I tend to think Brian brought in enough $$$ to have earned that privilege.

Brian probably drank some six-packs while writing songs with Van Dyke.  :)

Can't there be some sort of balance and a little gamble on the part of the industry that the best work might also sell?  It seems that artists who cling to an old style without growing end up forgotten in the dust more than the ones with some imagination, versatility and guts.  It's hard to list examples of such artists who didn't grow, as their names don't come to mind in most cases.  If their "brand" doesn't push a boundary here and there, the public moves on, aside from a niche who loves nostalgia.

Sometimes record companies print thousands of record covers to be filled with an artist's best work. Sometimes the record isn't finished and those same record covers gather dust for years.

I don't speak for Brian, obviously.  But, just looking at Brian's work and knowing what he's said, I think he wants people to feel love and joy and hope - as many of them as possible - and he wants to get people to think, too.  I'd like to think that humanity is capable of more love, harmony (a gift for which Brian is acknowledged as an amazing master) and thoughtfulness as to what human life might be about.  I hear that in Brian's music.  I certainly saw the results when he had the courage to complete "Smile" after so many years.  That was a true hero's journey completed, and people - his musical commercial peers and us regular fans - were moved to tears when we saw the courage and beauty of spirit that required - and how it generated some of the same in all of us.  And it didn't end with "Smile" - there's more coming...That's pretty exciting.

I don't know Brian and I can't begin to guess how he is in real life behind the public persona. Being limited to just litening to his records, I'd say that Smile 2004 didn't move me that much, having listened to all the old recordings and all. I liked TLOS better. You see, it's all good. I expect some good and some great in his next CD.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: bringahorseinhere? on December 28, 2014, 01:02:53 PM
to the original question...

no way.

the 65 period to 73 era was the best

RickB


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 28, 2014, 02:08:57 PM
He couldn't write a great hook immeadiately after Good Vibrations, and for months after that.

The Bicycle Rider theme is as good of a hook as any that Brian has written in his career.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 28, 2014, 02:16:54 PM
I kind of get the impression that DB is a one trick Bear.  He Dances...but he needs a LOT more practice when it comes to the beating of that dead horse he's trying to flog. ;)

Didn't really like BWPS???  Really?  Just a so-so effort was it?

R   I   G   H   T .


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 28, 2014, 02:39:55 PM
I would agree that Brian's obsessive tinkering with H&V came from an anxiety about how the single might perform in the charts. And I would certainly suggest that the song was never destined to be in the same league as Good Vibrations in terms of commercial success - but that's a difficult standard to reach.

Ultimately, while Heroes and Villains wasn't as hook-laden as, say, Good Vibes or California Girls, it is absurd to say it is completely bereft of hooks. On the surface, it might be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the hooks are in Wouldn't it Be Nice - and yet they are there - in the rhythms, the tone of the song as a whole, the "Wouldn't it be Nice" line, etc. Similarly, the hooks are there in Heroes and Villains - as Brian points out in the demo of the song, it has a great feel (yes, largely copped from recent Spector tracks) and it had a lively melody in the verses. Maybe not a #1 with a bullet, but certainly a track with several hooks.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Fire Wind on December 28, 2014, 03:07:33 PM
(quotes by rockandroll)

Quote

Then why did you give a song like Strawberry Fields as an example which includes just as much nonsense and abstraction as any song on Smile? Yes, the song has some lines that build connections no more or less than a song like Cabinessence which has verses that are largely built as a love letter.

I don't find SFF to contain nonsense and abstraction.  The singer might be feeling to be in a world of abstraction, but the identifying subject (the 'I', the chap singing) is very solidly there and lets us in, emotionally.  Apart from that, what about my other three examples?  Is my wider point nullified by what you see as a flaw in one example out of four (five, to include Dylan's)?

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Lots of artistic forms can have an impact on the world.

I was speaking rhetorically.  Wasn't actually asking a question.  All this time, I've just been talking about the Beach Boys, about pop music.

Quote

"I think pop music works best according to its strengths, that is, accessibility"

OK, but now we are talking about your personal opinion. And as we've also discovered, what you think is accessible and inaccessible is very subjective.

I would be happy to remove the 'I think', if that's distracting.  Do you think that accessibility isn't one of pop music's chief strengths?

Quote
 
Of course it wouldn't have. But that's not just because of the lyrics. Did any Beach Boys album with Mike Love lyrics ever have "the immediate sales and influence upon the wider consciousness" that any competing Beatles album had?

No, but in the production race of the time, I would assume Brian wanted to knock them off the top as the best band.  I see this as a factor here.  He wanted to beat the Beatles.  The music was up to it.  The publicity was also making it happen, thanks to Taylor.  Surely, he wanted big things for what he called his 'teenage symphony to God', not just again to be second to the Beatles.  With VDP lyrics, it would've gone down as an interesting album by the Beach Boys, another also-ran, not really for everyone.  At the same time, the Beatles still made music for everyone (while still leaping forward, musically) and now their reputation is untouchable.  That's my point.  It's not that anyone made better music than Brian, but that some acts, like the Beatles, knew how to stay top of the game.

Quote
I think it's remarkable that you question whether the album would have sold well when you have an actual verifiable case that shows that, when released, the album can actually do well chart wise. In 2004, Smile hit #13 on the US charts and #7 on the UK charts. You don't think it would have done a bit better than that had it been released in say January 1967 on the heels of Good Vibrations and with all the positive press the Beach Boys were getting at the time, a good deal of which was engineered beautifully by Derek Taylor?

BWPS had 37 years of hype and myth-making and sold well to baby-boomers and younger hipsters.  Totally different scenario.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Fire Wind on December 28, 2014, 03:16:22 PM
This 'point' about Smile's lyrics and their supposed accessibility is EVER so weak.  What?  We were too stupid in 1967?  But by the time 20/20 came out we were ready for Cabinessence?  Or was it the 'Our Prayer' lyric which was too much for Beach Boys fans and the general public to absorb?

Who's 'we'?  You're talking about yourself.  Just because you were game for something doesn't mean the average pop fan would have bought it in droves.

By the time 20/20 came out, the public didn't give a toss about the Beach Boys and the psychedelic era was in full swing.  it didn't matter if anybody was 'ready' at that point.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: runnersdialzero on December 28, 2014, 03:54:48 PM
I would agree that Brian's obsessive tinkering with H&V came from an anxiety about how the single might perform in the charts. And I would certainly suggest that the song was never destined to be in the same league as Good Vibrations in terms of commercial success - but that's a difficult standard to reach.

Ultimately, while Heroes and Villains wasn't as hook-laden as, say, Good Vibes or California Girls, it is absurd to say it is completely bereft of hooks. On the surface, it might be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the hooks are in Wouldn't it Be Nice - and yet they are there - in the rhythms, the tone of the song as a whole, the "Wouldn't it be Nice" line, etc. Similarly, the hooks are there in Heroes and Villains - as Brian points out in the demo of the song, it has a great feel (yes, largely copped from recent Spector tracks) and it had a lively melody in the verses. Maybe not a #1 with a bullet, but certainly a track with several hooks.

"Heroes" was the song I heard by the Beach Boys that totally sold me on them. Like, that's the song that pushed me from "Hrm, some of this stuff is pretty interesting" to "Holy sh*t, this is incredible and I'm really looking forward to hearing anything by these guys that I can get my hands on." That melody was stuck in my brain for months.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: luckyoldsmile on December 28, 2014, 04:11:17 PM
"Heroes and Villains" stole my mind for weeks at a time.

I remembered my first hearing, from the "Good Vibrations" box set. The "Cantina" version and then the Smiley version both just had me, like ... DUDE.

I sat in class, writing out the lyrics. I had the song playing constantly in my head. Didn't need it playing. It was the first song that ever just stole my head. This was probably around the time I was 17, when I was writing the lyrics down on a notepad when I should have been listening to the professor more closely. Whatever. I stand by my priorities, even now. ;)

I found the notebooks a couple years back. Pages of notes, often getting patchier as the page next to it or after it started becoming "Heroes and Villains" notes and lyrics and rearrangements. I still passed the class, but boy ... It wouldn't be the last time that the music of the Beach Boys overtook the "more important" priorities of my life. :)

I grew up loving the Beatles and knocking the Beach Boys. It took a while for me to learn the error of my ways, but by the time I was 16-17, I was wising up. As enraptured and in love with the music of the Beatles as I was, and still am, no song (not "A Day in the Life," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Hey Bulldog" or any of my other favorites) just grabbed me and held me and took me over the way "Heroes and Villains" did.

The intro. The loping introduction. "You're under arrest!" The build to the tape explosion. My children were raised. Often wise? I mean ... Damn. Damn, damn, damn.

So much of that song still owns me.

Bits of it almost hypnotize me at points (like some of the parts of the Fairytale Music ... another thing that grabbed me from the Good Vibes box).

"Heroes" has hooks. If anything, maybe it has too many of them. It's a big tapestry piece. I get so much out of the song. I never get tired of it, no matter the mix, version, live performance, etc.

What a miracle of a song, that "Heroes and Villains."



Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 28, 2014, 04:40:06 PM
I don't find SFF to contain nonsense and abstraction.

Well, as the wise Rockman once said, "You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear. Dig."

Quote
The singer might be feeling to be in a world of abstraction, but the identifying subject (the 'I', the chap singing) is very solidly there and lets us in, emotionally.  Apart from that, what about my other three examples?  Is my wider point nullified by what you see as a flaw in one example out of four (five, to include Dylan's)?

You are cherry picking examples. Yes, during the 1966/67 period, there were artists, like The Beatles who sometimes wrote lyrics that were not abstract or contained certain aspects that weren't abstract. There were other examples where the lyrics were almost entirely abstract, or were mostly abstract. That didn't stop them from being hits. Another poster gave the example of Whiter Shade of Pale. In that respect, Van Dyke Parks's lyrics were entirely in-keeping with the most successful songs of the times - they contained elements that were abstract and they contained elements that were relatable.

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Do you think that accessibility isn't one of pop music's chief strengths?

I'm not even sure what you're arguing here. Pop music is, by definition, accessible to a wide audience. You might as well ask, "Do you think that moving pictures isn't one of cinematic film's chief strengths?" I mean, yes, of course, pop music is going to be accessible. If it isn't accessible, it isn't pop music. Full stop. That being said, nobody has ever been able to successfully predict what will be accessible to the public and what won't.

Quote
 
e production race of the time, I would assume Brian wanted to knock them off the top as the best band.  I see this as a factor here.  He wanted to beat the Beatles.  The music was up to it.  The publicity was also making it happen, thanks to Taylor.  Surely, he wanted big things for what he called his 'teenage symphony to God', not just again to be second to the Beatles.  With VDP lyrics, it would've gone down as an interesting album by the Beach Boys, another also-ran, not really for everyone.  At the same time, the Beatles still made music for everyone (while still leaping forward, musically) and now their reputation is untouchable.  That's my point.  It's not that anyone made better music than Brian, but that some acts, like the Beatles, knew how to stay top of the game.

At the time, those in the "race" didn't get to the top by emulating others.

Quote
BWPS had 37 years of hype and myth-making and sold well to baby-boomers and younger hipsters.  Totally different scenario.

You're right. Totally an apples and oranges situation. In late 1966/1967, The Beach Boys had just scored their biggest hit, the massive-selling #1 Good Vibrations which was being used to market the album and creating a fervour as to what the band was going to release next. There was a massive PR campaign that was hyping the band in a way that had never been seen before. As Brian puts it on the Heroes and Villains demo, 1966 was "the year that was." In 1966, The Beach Boys were a major part of the cultural zeitgeist working in the most culturally relevant genre making music that was very much of its time. In 2004, Brian Wilson was not considered a major commercial artist, was not at the commercial forefront of his musical peers, had not had a nationally unparalleled string of successful hits, did not have a huge mega-hit single to help sell the album which was full of music that was completely out of step in both substance and style to the pop music of the day, as created by artists like Usher, OutKast, and Alicia Keys. You're completely correct - totally different scenario. Despite the 37 years of myth-making, when all things are considered, Smile was far more prepped to sell records in early 1967 then it was in 2004. And yet the album went to #13 in the US and #7 in the UK. Given all the facts, it more than likely would have done much better chart wise in 1967.

But I'm glad you're admitting that there are factors that can go into making a record very successful even when the lyrics are as abstract as they are on Smile.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Dancing Bear on December 28, 2014, 05:46:37 PM
Despite the 37 years of myth-making, when all things are considered, Smile was far more prepped to sell records in early 1967 then it was in 2004. And yet the album went to #13 in the US and #7 in the UK. Given all the facts, it more than likely would have done much better chart wise in 1967.

I think in 2004 CDs were already selling far less than ten or five years before, then when a group of diehards supported a release in its first week it was easier to make it chart top 5 or 10. Neil Diamond had a career first #1 CD in 2005 - a Rick Rubin production hyped as a 'return to form' - do you think he was at a commercial peak in 2005 or in the 70s?

PS: I do believe Smile would have charted easily in the top 10 in both sides of the Atlantic in 1967.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: KittyKat on December 28, 2014, 05:51:05 PM
Where was the radio airplay for Smile in 2004? Nowhere that I ever heard. It didn't fit any of the formats of the time, anyways. It sold due to publicity generated over decades. More publicity than it got back in the days anticipating its release in the '60s. It sold out of people's curiosity after reading about it on the internet, books about the Beach Boys, and renewed publicity on mass media outlets. It had a core audience who already heard the 60s versions via bootlegs, and another audience who bought it based on reading about it rather than hearing it, apart from being familiar with GV.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Chocolate Shake Man on December 28, 2014, 05:54:53 PM
Where was the radio airplay for Smile in 2004? Nowhere that I ever heard. It didn't fit any of the formats of the time, anyways. It sold due to publicity generated over decades. More publicity than it got back in the days anticipating its release in the '60s. It sold out of people's curiosity after reading about it on the internet, books about the Beach Boys, and renewed publicity on mass media outlets. It had a core audience who already heard the 60s versions via bootlegs, and another audience who bought it based on reading about it rather than hearing it, apart from being familiar with GV.

And yet, it was still far more prepped to be a hit album in 1967 than it was in 2004. Given FireWind's argument, the album shouldn't have sold well in either year.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: SMiLE Brian on December 28, 2014, 09:17:25 PM
Remember, the smile sessions won a Grammy! ;D


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Don Malcolm on December 28, 2014, 10:22:23 PM
A point that might further amplify what Debbie is saying is that Capitol had some crazy idea that SMiLE was just another LP to be cranked out ("we're sure to sell a million units in January"). This, despite the fact that Brian had resorted to some creative subterfuge to buy more time to produce PET SOUNDS by cutting PARTY.

It's certainly clear to us now that songwriters/bands/composers should be cut more slack (i.e., given more time) in order to explore their muse and expand their work. However, that doesn't stop the process by which a huge amount of slickly produced product winds up cluttering the airwaves. Even the Internet has not brought that phenomenon to its knees.

But the pressure that Brian and so many of his contemporaries were under to keep cranking out material was beyond insane in the mid-60s. It was the recognition of this that brought Brian together with people like David Anderle, who wanted to find a way to give the artist more say-so. That's the often overlooked underside of the SMiLE period, which clearly took its toll on Brian and the band.

Artists on the cutting edge were trying to push past the paradigms of pop form. Brian was at the cutting edge of that cutting edge. "Good Vibrations" is still the greatest example of that attempt to explode those boundaries. It was a tall order for anyone to surpass that moment. To do it, Brian found himself moving into the realm of "art song"--"Surf's Up," "Cabinessence." Songs too ornate and complex to have chart success--not even, probably, with the endorsement of Leonard Bernstein (who, after all, was trying to bridge what was increasingly being seen as a "generation gap").

One can imagine that the battle (as David Anderle alluded to in various interviews) was that SMiLE had to have a single. And that discussion seems to have been as much a part of what threw off the creative process as any internal band dissension. It certainly appears that Brian wanted to do something more elaborate with "Heroes and Villains." But the pressure to conform to industry reality was suddenly omnipresent from all directions--including the folks that had up to that point wanted to move into the most avant-garde directions possible.

By pushing things in that direction, all those forces conspired to make Brian back away from the initial idea. It's likely that he couldn't get his head around any of those "shotgun" versions of "Heroes and Villains" because it was no longer about the music, but instead about "the product." It took him months to come back to the track and retool it into the 45 version. After that ordeal, he didn't seem to want to think about the track, or play it at the piano, or anything: for him, the track became "lost and gone and unknown for a long, long time"--about thirty-five years, according to the account in Peter Ames Carlin's CATCH A WAVE. It's really possible that we owe BWPS to that randomly timed request from David Leaf's wife Eva that Brian play "H&V" when he was holding forth on the piano.

And all that modularity that had been more than a bit disconcerting during the SMiLE era had a silver lining when it came time to (re)create it in 2003. "H&V" became another version of itself--an "art song" version--for the 21st century SMiLE. That was both a "safe" choice and a "gutsy" choice, and it helped redeem the entire effort for Brian, I suspect. It gave him back a crucial piece of artistic license that had been taken away from him in early 1967.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 29, 2014, 05:54:08 AM
That's an interesting look at it Don. :hat


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: guitarfool2002 on December 29, 2014, 11:15:50 AM
A point to consider and one which ties in directly with the topic is how the "early material" and Smile share many of the same lyrical and musical traits. Let's not forget what some of the subject matter and specific lyrics were on the earliest of the early songs and albums.

Consider this: Up to the present day, how many listeners are familiar with the car and hot-rod terminology sung in the so-called "car songs", whether the lyrics were by Usher, Christian, Wilson, or Love? How many listeners and fans do not know what a "Lake pipe" is, what a "solenoid" (and it's various regional variations) is or does, what it means to race for a pink slip, or what "tach it up" really means...or how many fans have ever "tach'ed it up" themselves.

All of that lingo was specific to a niche market of car and hot-rod enthusiasts, especially back in 1962-63. How many people who bought those records actually knew what the hell they were singing about unless they were into hot rods and cars? Yet here were The Beach Boys singing totally foreign-sounding phrases and words, and fans were grooving to the music just the same.

Seriously, consider how many people who really liked the music in 1963 actually knew what Lake pipes are or were. Can you get more abstract than singing words and phrases that less than half (or less) or the general public knew?

Then...go back to the earliest days of the Beach Boys and their defining image...Surfing! Outside of specific coastal areas, and outside of various military members who may have been stationed somewhere where surfing was a thing...who in 1962-63 knew much about it?

Here are the Beach Boys again turning lingo, slang, and specific terms which only surfing fans and surfers knew and used into pop hits. "Surfer knots", "waxing" a board, listening to the radio to get the surf reports, name-checking the best spots in California to surf...seriously, who in the hell knew what any of this stuff meant as they heard the Beach Boys singing about it on those records?

It was niche, it was obscure, it was lingo that only those connected with the surfing and the hot-rod scenes would know directly. It assumes too that a majority of the audience had no clue what "hurachi sandals" or any of the other terms meant, yet like the hot rod songs, they were grooving to the music.

And I'm sure many of them may have taken a step further even back in 1963 and visited a library or a magazine stand to look up what some of this stuff actually referred to, and perhaps kept looking it up to the point where they learned things they had not known before hearing the Beach Boys sing about them.

Kind of like Smile's so-called "obscure" lyrics that could have gotten people listening and interested in learning more about what they were hearing sung as lyrics. "Manifest Destiny...Sandwich Isles...Hmmmm...maybe I'll look up what all that stuff is about!"

And there it is. Just like those who in this past year posted on this board asking about what a solenoid did on a car based on hearing the Beach Boys sing about it. Same thing, different topics.  :)


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 29, 2014, 11:43:25 AM
Often enough...at least for some of us I would think, it really wasn't so much WHAT they were singing about so much as HOW they actually did it.  If there were a couple of words in there you could latch onto...good enough.  For me it was listen to what they're doing with those voices...the arrangements...the harmonies...the way the vocals just sprang out of the speakers as if they had a life of their own.  [and listening to the vocals only from the Pet Sounds sessions we discovered that they did in fact have a life of their own]

As the subject matter changed...many of us just followed along...mesmerized.  It was the SOUND...and it kept getting more and more complex with each passing album.  Smile would have been the next mountaintop.  I mean Heroes and Villains?  Awesome.  Cabinessense.  How the hell do they DO that?   So lyrics...as important as they are...the KEY for many...really and truly don't mean as much to me.

AND...as a radio guy...there was/is a time when you don't want to know the hit songs any better than you HAVE to.  Play them over and over and over and over...day after day/week after week...and now month after month.  You get sick of them.  You can't let it sound like you're sick of them on the radio.  What I used to do was change the lyrics so that I could sing along using profane and preposterous lyrics in order to amuse myself.  I never did that with Beach Boys tunes...although THEY did...on the Party album.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Debbie Keil-Leavitt on December 29, 2014, 12:56:03 PM
"Heroes and Villains" stole my mind for weeks at a time.

I remembered my first hearing, from the "Good Vibrations" box set. The "Cantina" version and then the Smiley version both just had me, like ... DUDE.

I sat in class, writing out the lyrics. I had the song playing constantly in my head. Didn't need it playing. It was the first song that ever just stole my head. This was probably around the time I was 17, when I was writing the lyrics down on a notepad when I should have been listening to the professor more closely. Whatever. I stand by my priorities, even now. ;)

I found the notebooks a couple years back. Pages of notes, often getting patchier as the page next to it or after it started becoming "Heroes and Villains" notes and lyrics and rearrangements. I still passed the class, but boy ... It wouldn't be the last time that the music of the Beach Boys overtook the "more important" priorities of my life. :)

I grew up loving the Beatles and knocking the Beach Boys. It took a while for me to learn the error of my ways, but by the time I was 16-17, I was wising up. As enraptured and in love with the music of the Beatles as I was, and still am, no song (not "A Day in the Life," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Hey Bulldog" or any of my other favorites) just grabbed me and held me and took me over the way "Heroes and Villains" did.

The intro. The loping introduction. "You're under arrest!" The build to the tape explosion. My children were raised. Often wise? I mean ... Damn. Damn, damn, damn.

So much of that song still owns me.

Bits of it almost hypnotize me at points (like some of the parts of the Fairytale Music ... another thing that grabbed me from the Good Vibes box).

"Heroes" has hooks. If anything, maybe it has too many of them. It's a big tapestry piece. I get so much out of the song. I never get tired of it, no matter the mix, version, live performance, etc.

What a miracle of a song, that "Heroes and Villains."



Thanks, that was beautifully written...and thanks to Don, Guitar Fool, Addsome and all of you.  This is the most interesting reading I've seen on this Board.  I feel like I know more about this music than before, and more about you than before.  Great stuff.  One of the gifts of this music is that it makes us think and sort things out and make our own discoveries, and this beyond the powerful feeling of something so amazing it moves us to new places.  



Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Fire Wind on December 29, 2014, 01:44:44 PM

Well, as the wise Rockman once said, "You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear. Dig."


Nah, my analysis was pretty sound.

Quote
You are cherry picking examples.

Yes, I cherry-picked, or 'selected', if you will.  I selected relevant lyrics by the folks that were the chief competition for the Beach Boys at the time, not lesser bands and one-hit wonders.  If they wanted to compete with the Beatles, then IMO, they were putting themselves out of the race with these lyrics, if those lyrics did not connect on a mass level, get played on the radio, sell to kiddies and please those looking for new sounds, as well as the blokes down the pub.  Understand that I'm not saying that Mike Love should have written Smile from scratch in his own fashion.  I said 're-write', much as he did with his lyrical improvement of GV.  The themes and much of the lyrics could have remained the same.  I'm talking changes by degrees.  It was a success with the single.  It could've been with the album too.  This is, of course, all pointless alternate-universe stuff I'm coming out with.

Debbie Keil-Leavitt, above, asks if artists should have to pander to the lowest common denominator.  I wasn't saying they should.  My point was that the Beatles did NOT pander lyrically or musically, yet they kept the connection to the pop audience front and centre, alienating nobody at the point at which they were at their most innovative.  That's a way smarter act than suddenly acting with absolute freedom.

Quote
 At the time, those in the "race" didn't get to the top by emulating others.

Brian wasn't emulating anybody by bringing the wordy Van Dyke on board?  Not even Mr. Dylan?  He was moving with the times on that.

I never said Smile wouldn't chart.  But topping the Beatles would have meant bigger things than just charting.  Earlier on this thread, a poster said that Smile in 1967 would have reshaped music history, a notion which hasn't been much questioned.  I'm saying that these just-slightly-too-abstract lyrics might have been a handicap, or part of a handicap (given all the talk about the lack of a single) that could have prevented them from knocking the Beatles off their perch.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 29, 2014, 01:55:49 PM
That was me who said that...you know...the reshape music history theory.  They had already knocked the Beatles off their perch in Merry Olde...The Melody Maker poll - looking back at 1966.  NOT releasing the album in early '67, while they were riding the crest of HUGE momentum, certainly did NOTHING to reshape any kind of history.  By the time the oh-so-insignifcant "bunt" was finally released that fall in place of 'Smile'...the world had long since passed our heroes by.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Debbie Keil-Leavitt on December 29, 2014, 02:02:33 PM
I guess I should have posted this separately...

We can speculate forever about whether "Smile" would have sold competitively in 1967, or not...how accessible it was or wasn't - is or isn't, whether Brian had enough support from his label and others (and why) to compete with the formidable Beatles/George Martin cooperative.  And how could anyone determine who won in the end?  Just record sales?  Or do we need decades or centuries to see what was the most valuable to all of us.

Judging from the writings of all of you here, I'd have to say that this music did - and continues to do - its job.  Any competition between Brian and the Beatles doesn't mean much in the face of what that music has given us.  It provokes love, inspiration, new thoughts year after year, and a pure awe at the beauty available to us.  And most, if not all of us will pony up and pay for the next record with a lot of excitement over what it may or may not be - if purchases are the real measuring stick of its value.  We'll puzzle over some of it only to fall in love with it later, worry about whether it meets our expectations or not, love most something about it, only to have that change the next time we listen to it.  We'll love it like a new friend and an old friend combined.  We already love this music and have some idea of the artist's heart, yet it's a brand new expression from there.  I think we have a lot to look forward to.  

My gut and certain trusted people have convinced me that Brian's heart is in this next one, so it will be valuable and can be considered in a thread like this.  I keep thinking that when artists speak from the depths of their soul or just sing happily about something they love, we get a valuable work.  If they're just trying to crank out something commercial because they're being pressured, or just want the money or to win the competition, then they end up giving birth to a prickly little bastard who mocks them and finds them pathetic.  When anyone aims for popularity alone, they aren't authentic and always miss the mark, as it's already passed them by and the public has found some new shiny object, or hopefully, another authentic artist - or that same artist's next, more sincere effort.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Mr. Cohen on December 29, 2014, 02:07:55 PM
Besides even the lyrics, I think the music on Smile isn't necessarily pop gold, either. Brilliantly artistic? Yes. But I don't hear radio hits on Smile. It's highly accessible avant-garde rock music.  "Heroes and Villains" was Brian's attempt to find a commercial middle ground, but it didn't quite hit on the charts. I don't see "Vegetables" doing a lot better.

To expand on my initial post, I'd even say that I enjoy much of Brian's early '70s work - plus Love You - more than Smile. That's not to say I'm not big fan of Smile. I really like it, and there's no denying the brilliance of a song like "Cabinessence". But I find myself listening to the other stuff more.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 29, 2014, 02:18:12 PM
The thing is Mr. C...radio was changing...significantly.  FM was moving into a whole new 'free-form' ball game and radio hits were NOT what they were looking for or programming.  Brian's timing was perfect.  [well...perfect IF the album had been released.]

It wouldn't be all that much longer and albums would be outselling singles and FM radio would over-take AM top 40 stations in the ratings.  Why?  Because that's what the buying and listening public voted to do...with their dollars and with their time. :hat

THAT was 1967 heading into 1968.  THAT'S when the rules all changed.  Brian instinctively must have felt it.  He just missed the boat by a step.

Yet here we all are collectively appreciating what he and the rest of the boys did anyway.  Our numbers could have been greater.  As Debbie points out.  In another 50 to 100 years...they may well be. :drunks


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: KittyKat on December 29, 2014, 02:55:53 PM
There wasn't that much freeform radio in the USA back in 1967. A few markets, yes, but it wasn't in every city and it didn't draw that large of an audience. The radio regulations didn't officially change until January of 1967, which was the rule that required stations to broadcast different programming on AM and FM. It took a few months/years for that to get all shaken out and for FM to build album oriented rock stations. Freeform became the province of college radio, with smaller audiences. So, no, there wasn't this robust, large FM radio market ready to embrace all that music. It was gradual and it wasn't mature yet at that time, though there were acts that were selling reasonably well and drawing crowds in major cities, without having Top 40 AM hits, even before the evolution of album oriented FM rock. Just not Beatles-sized record sales.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: guitarfool2002 on December 29, 2014, 03:05:27 PM
I feel like some of the points I wrote earlier on this page have been missed, based on the replies so far. If I didn't think it were important to the bigger picture of where Smile came from, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but please hear this out and at least consider it.

Someone over a decade ago who has since passed made a very clear challenge and point about Smile. He told me on a phone call that many of the Smile questions can be traced back to the teenage years in Hawthorne. Some of the humor, some of the recordings that didn't seem to "fit", some of the mysteries in general had some roots in how Brian Wilson was as a teenager before any of the artistic pursuits of 1966 were in play.

One startling example for me came out in the box set promotions. There was an interview where one of the band members described how Brian would have each of them take on the role of a Dixieland jazz instrument and start improvising and riffing as a Dixieland jazz combo would do on stage. There was a vocal fragment in the "Heroes" bucket of recordings that i thought was pretty striking, but had no idea where or what it was trying to do, musically and within the context. Then there was an interview snippet where Al Jardine said something about doing bits of Heroes back in 1961 with the Wilsons...I thought Al *had* to be mistaken. But it turns out he was right on the mark.

It was the Dixieland vocal bit he was remembering in that interview years before the Smile box even came out. And it was clarified when that box did come out...and sure enough, that vocal bit that was a mystery was the Boys emulating a Dixieland band with their voices.

Mystery solved...and the answer was there for years, just needing clarification or maybe a different way of hearing that music. That person who recommended looking back into the Hawthorne years for some of the clues and possible answers was also right on the money.

Consider:

Some of the abstract lyrics, some of the unknown phrases, some of the cryptic lyrics and slang/lingo of Smile...there is such a strong precedent for that in what basically put the Beach Boys on the map in 1962-63. I'll repeat myself with a twist:

They were singing about things, using specific slang and wording that I have no problem estimating most of their potential audiences and listeners as of 1962-63 had *no idea* what they were referring to. If those listeners did seek to understand these references or at least have some idea what the Boys were singing about in those lyrics, they in some cases would have to research it. Find a surfing magazine, talk to a classmate who was in auto shop at school or was into hot rods, buy a copy of "Hot Rod" magazine...whatever the case.

"Oh, so *that's* what they mean by that word 'Posi-Traction'...that's what he means by saying "walk a Thunderbird like she's standing still'!...that's what La Jolla and Waimea are...cool!"

They were singing phrases that were abstract to many if not most of the kids buying their records, unless those kids knew about surfing and hot rods.

The early hits and lyrics were relatable? Based on obscure references that only surfers and hot rodders would know? How does that pan out, exactly? They were doing anything but speaking the common vernacular of boy-meets-girl in this early music. They were using specific lingo which would be abstract if not completely unknown to anyone not into those pursuits in 62-63.

They were also making hit records because in large part the records sounded so damn good and were so catchy. And the fact that some of the lyrical content sounded like a cool secret club you had to join to know what they were celebrating made it more exotic and mysterious.

Then carry that into this group of California teenagers basically creating an entire mythology, where surfing and hot rodding are not only fun activities but also total and complete ways of life!

The California myth at it's finest. Created by one guy with a bad ear who had a natural talent for producing records and writing songs with only basic formal training, various lyricists who knew the lingo and could approximate how the real surfers and hot rodders talked among each other, and a rebellious type brother who was actually in one of these cool cliques and suggested writing a song about surfing since all the local kids were doing it.

And there is the mythology being created by singing lyrics hardly anyone "outside" would know, but whose appeal was in part getting a glimpse into what was happening and being compelled to learn more about all these mysterious phrases.

So how different are some of these more "abstract" lyrics of Smile from a group of guys singing about surfing and hot rodding in 1962-63 to an audience who knew as much about those things on the whole in 1963 as the potential listeners in late 1966-67 (post 'Like A Rolling Stone' rock poetry and free-association lyricism) knew about the Sandwich Isles or "columnated ruins"?

Not too different at all, in retrospect. So how abstract would Smile have been for the same artists to release when they built their musical career making hits and creating a California mythology from lyrics most of their audience would not have understood?


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Debbie Keil-Leavitt on December 29, 2014, 07:06:08 PM
I feel like some of the points I wrote earlier on this page have been missed, based on the replies so far. If I didn't think it were important to the bigger picture of where Smile came from, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but please hear this out and at least consider it.

Someone over a decade ago who has since passed made a very clear challenge and point about Smile. He told me on a phone call that many of the Smile questions can be traced back to the teenage years in Hawthorne. Some of the humor, some of the recordings that didn't seem to "fit", some of the mysteries in general had some roots in how Brian Wilson was as a teenager before any of the artistic pursuits of 1966 were in play.

One startling example for me came out in the box set promotions. There was an interview where one of the band members described how Brian would have each of them take on the role of a Dixieland jazz instrument and start improvising and riffing as a Dixieland jazz combo would do on stage. There was a vocal fragment in the "Heroes" bucket of recordings that i thought was pretty striking, but had no idea where or what it was trying to do, musically and within the context. Then there was an interview snippet where Al Jardine said something about doing bits of Heroes back in 1961 with the Wilsons...I thought Al *had* to be mistaken. But it turns out he was right on the mark.

It was the Dixieland vocal bit he was remembering in that interview years before the Smile box even came out. And it was clarified when that box did come out...and sure enough, that vocal bit that was a mystery was the Boys emulating a Dixieland band with their voices.

Mystery solved...and the answer was there for years, just needing clarification or maybe a different way of hearing that music. That person who recommended looking back into the Hawthorne years for some of the clues and possible answers was also right on the money.

Consider:

Some of the abstract lyrics, some of the unknown phrases, some of the cryptic lyrics and slang/lingo of Smile...there is such a strong precedent for that in what basically put the Beach Boys on the map in 1962-63. I'll repeat myself with a twist:

They were singing about things, using specific slang and wording that I have no problem estimating most of their potential audiences and listeners as of 1962-63 had *no idea* what they were referring to. If those listeners did seek to understand these references or at least have some idea what the Boys were singing about in those lyrics, they in some cases would have to research it. Find a surfing magazine, talk to a classmate who was in auto shop at school or was into hot rods, buy a copy of "Hot Rod" magazine...whatever the case.

"Oh, so *that's* what they mean by that word 'Posi-Traction'...that's what he means by saying "walk a Thunderbird like she's standing still'!...that's what La Jolla and Waimea are...cool!"

They were singing phrases that were abstract to many if not most of the kids buying their records, unless those kids knew about surfing and hot rods.

The early hits and lyrics were relatable? Based on obscure references that only surfers and hot rodders would know? How does that pan out, exactly? They were doing anything but speaking the common vernacular of boy-meets-girl in this early music. They were using specific lingo which would be abstract if not completely unknown to anyone not into those pursuits in 62-63.

They were also making hit records because in large part the records sounded so damn good and were so catchy. And the fact that some of the lyrical content sounded like a cool secret club you had to join to know what they were celebrating made it more exotic and mysterious.

Then carry that into this group of California teenagers basically creating an entire mythology, where surfing and hot rodding are not only fun activities but also total and complete ways of life!

The California myth at it's finest. Created by one guy with a bad ear who had a natural talent for producing records and writing songs with only basic formal training, various lyricists who knew the lingo and could approximate how the real surfers and hot rodders talked among each other, and a rebellious type brother who was actually in one of these cool cliques and suggested writing a song about surfing since all the local kids were doing it.

And there is the mythology being created by singing lyrics hardly anyone "outside" would know, but whose appeal was in part getting a glimpse into what was happening and being compelled to learn more about all these mysterious phrases.

So how different are some of these more "abstract" lyrics of Smile from a group of guys singing about surfing and hot rodding in 1962-63 to an audience who knew as much about those things on the whole in 1963 as the potential listeners in late 1966-67 (post 'Like A Rolling Stone' rock poetry and free-association lyricism) knew about the Sandwich Isles or "columnated ruins"?

Not too different at all, in retrospect. So how abstract would Smile have been for the same artists to release when they built their musical career making hits and creating a California mythology from lyrics most of their audience would not have understood?

I can't speak for anyone else, but I only thanked you and didn't take your specific comments any further because I thought you said it so well and so effectively. 

Those of us who weren't into cars or didn't live anywhere near the beach so loved the music that it didn't matter that we didn't relate to the lyrics terribly well.  Some of us weren't even males with that point of view, but that was no problem either.  The lyrics were definitely abstract to many of us  for those reasons alone.  Because of the great music, we got the feeling and whatever lyrics we didn't understand we were moved to romanticize and have our own images to fit the music.  I don't think I was crying about someone else's car getting old when I heard "Ballad of Ol' Betsy."  When the music is that powerful, how immediately relate-able do the lyrics need to be? 

People get it even if they don't speak the language, or it isn't their first language or culture.  I found it interesting that the best fan letters I read back in the Ivar offices (from my teenage fan girl point of view) were the ones from Japan.  They wrote their own inspired poetry in celebration of the beauty of the music, with English not being their first language.  They got it in Tokyo and Kobe where the culture and language were different.  From what I read from them, they heard the beauty and it became Haiku in their heads...That's pretty abstract, yet still a valid response, actually a really beautiful response.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: guitarfool2002 on December 29, 2014, 07:50:47 PM
 :) Debbie, just to clarify what I said wasn't in reply to anything you wrote, and your most recent post above sums up and backs up nearly everything I've been thinking and expressing about the abstract versus relatable lyrics. Fantastic insight, especially about the non-English-speaking fans who were compelled to write. That gets to the heart of it.

What you wrote also backs up exactly my point that Smile was not the grand, sudden and shocking departure from what Brian had been doing since he was in his teens - as some in this thread and previously have suggested. Rather, it feels like the same musician and artist going after many of the same pursuits in similar ways but adjusting them to both the times and his age (and priorities). And, specific to both the surfing-cars AND Smile, what was going on around him as he wrote the music and often collaborated on the lyrics.

Roger Christian was on board because he knew the hot rod culture personally, he was a true dyed-in-the-wool gearhead from the time he wasn't legally able to drive a car. He lived the scene, he knew the talk and Brian's music needed that kind of authenticity. Same with Usher, Love, and whoever else added their input on everything from surfing to love won and lost. It was a terrific arrangement that spawned some of the best music of the past 50 years, hands down.

Smile was developing as 1966 Los Angeles was happening around Brian and everyone else who opened their eyes and ears to pick up on it. LA was ahead of the so-called "Summer Of Love" by at least a year, if you knew where to find it. And Brian Wilson happened to be in the eye of the storm which would soon develop into things well beyond Sunset Strip clubs and bookstore cafes. So he had a lyricist who was also tuned in, who could express the thoughts in words that would invite listeners into that world...just like the surfing and car lingo supplied by those collaborators did for audiences a few years prior when Brian's world was surrounded by surfers and hot rodders. The fans may not have known exactly what some or many of the phrases actually meant, but it was an invitation to both learn more and to come into the scene to share the discoveries and celebrate it.

It worked with surf and cars. Smile worked too, it still does. I'm just on a kick right now trying to do my best to suggest there is little or no difference between what Gary Usher and Roger Christian brought into the mix by way of unknown phrases and abstract imagery relevant to 1962 and 1963 as Van Dyke Parks brought into the mix with what was relevant in 1966 and 1967.

They're really not too far removed conceptually, with the obvious difference being the subject matter of their abstractions having changed with the times surrounding their creation.

And that connection is something that I really think is vital to these kinds of discussions, especially where terms like accessible and relatable start appearing.  ;)


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 29, 2014, 08:07:55 PM
Makes 100% sense to me...and my ears.  But I didn't have a problem with it back THEN either.

Someone 'took me to task 'cause they thought I suggested earlier that we were stupid back then.  I actually was asking a question which could have been prefaced with What??? We were stupid?  Or Why?  Did you think we were stupid?  Or whatever.  The point was that we WEREN'T stupid...then...or now.

We do tend to over analyse 'beautiful' don't we? :hat


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: bgas on December 29, 2014, 08:36:32 PM
Makes 100% sense to me...and my ears.  But I didn't have a problem with it back THEN either.

Someone 'took me to task 'cause they thought I suggested earlier that we were stupid back then.  I actually was asking a question which could have been prefaced with What??? We were stupid?  Or Why?  Did you think we were stupid?  Or whatever.  The point was that we WEREN'T stupid...then...or now.

We do tend to over analyse 'beautiful' don't we? :hat

I'd say that most of us understood without the need for a ?, tho of course there are always those too blind to see


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: GhostyTMRS on December 29, 2014, 10:11:17 PM
Personally, I see the music from 1961 up to SMiLE as being one era: The era where Brian called the shots and was in top form. It's like listening to a flower bloom. Guitarfool is right in that lyrically and musically it's all of one piece.

While my favorite (or at least the most interesting) era of the Beach Boys is immediately after SMiLE collapses, I don't harbor any illusions that the music The Beach Boys recorded between 1961 and 1967 didn't profoundly change the world in a way that the material they recorded afterwards didn't and couldn't.



Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: luckyoldsmile on December 30, 2014, 01:24:52 AM
Not necessarily relevant to this discussion, though perhaps it is -- I apologize in advance for this diversion:

Many times, with many people, I've listened to many songs, and even with "straightforward" lyrics, found that a lot of people don't always pay attention to the narrative. They don't get the gist. They don't know what the verse was.

"Don't bore us, get to the chorus" kinds of situations.

Radio when I was in the high school (later 1990s) wasn't exactly filled with the most verbose, intellectually challenging music. That's not to say the music wasn't being made, but it was the lighter, brighter, hookier pop that was getting the major nod.

I grew up in the days when Hanson were "MMbopping" and Nickelback were rising and the Spice Girls were telling us what they want (what they really really want). Different strokes for different folks. At the time, I was judging my friends quite harshly, as I had my headphones on and was relistening to "Abbey Road" for the thousandth time.

There was Oasis. Nirvana. Green Day. Pearl Jam. Stone Temple Pilots. Rage Against the Machine. Nine Inch Nails. There was a lot of variety, there was shock. There was Marilyn Manson.

But meh. Really, I don't know that radio really mattered to most of us in the 1990s. I still had a cassette deck in my car (and my personal CD player that I could run through the deck). My friends in high school were getting into CD burning, so there was a lot of sharing that way. Radio was ... boring. John Mellencamp, the Eagles, Foreigner, Styx ... Not bad acts themselves (well ... guess it depends on what you like), but very safe stuff. Stuff you could listen to with your parents and not get too many looks. Homogenized. Nothing wrong with vanilla, but vanilla is seldom the attractive flavor on the shelf.

Maybe that's why the Good Vibrations box with the Smile stuff really stood out to me. Because it was SO DIFFERENT to me at that time. It caught my attention because there was nothing like it at the time. Champagne Supernovas vs. Wind Chimes. One I could find without too much problem, the other was hidden away on a box set that no radio station in my state probably even owned, much less cared about. For a vanilla palette, I was now in a world of hundreds of flavors (if not more).

Smile, in the world of 1966/1967/1968 had a lot of comparable, challenging, pushing-the-boundaries stuff. A Whiter Shade of Pale? Sure. "Forever Changes." The Doors. That "Porpoise Song." "Strawberry Fields Forever." "Blonde on Blonde." The first (two) Pink Floyd album(s). And a hundred others. Would it have made waves with all the competition (not just "Sgt. Pepper)? Who can say. A lot of people guess, and always will. And with good reason. Definitely. But I'll give credit where it's due, and that's to say that "Sgt. Pepper" probably paved the way for me to get into "Smile," and that the two together helped get me into Love's "Forever Changes," and so on and so on.

The 2004 release, better promotion than 1966/1967? The music more likely to be a hit in 2004 because of the hype? The mythology? The years of revivals and all the questions? Could be.

I was born in 1980. My dad liked the Beach Boys, my mom liked some of their songs, my younger brother got some cassettes of their music when I was getting into the Beatles, but I can easily say that never in my lifetime up until the last handful of years were the Beach Boys any sort of real "modern, commercially exciting" act except for the "Kokomo" period. So my classmates, my friends, the neighborhood kids, we weren't clammoring about Beach Boys, radio play, concerts, etc. Lots of New Kids on the Block excitement. MC Hammer. Vanilla Ice. Eventually Pink Floyd. The Rolling Stones. Paul McCartney. But never the Beach Boys.

When BWPS was released, I remember there being almost as much backlash BECAUSE of the myths / hype as there was a boost from it. People my age were hearing how special and important this music was and weren't particularly overwhelmed with how challenging / different / downright magical the stuff was just because "some guy" with mental / drug / emotional issues finally released some stuff that seemed noisy and disjointed (to them).

In the 1990s, as I remember them, as a jaded teen at the end of them, made me disinclined to accept the judgments of others. Mariah Carey was a genius in many people's eyes / ears. Eric Clapton was trying to Change the World. Babyface was a phenom. So Brian Wilson in 2004? Genius? Releasing a  work of art? Some folks just didn't care, and were disinclined to buy into it ( -- let me make a distinction, I was not a part of that crowd).

And that last point may also be a relatively important one for members of this board to rally around. Many of us are not a part of that crowd, or any real crowd, except for the (growing) pool of fans of the Beach Boys / Brian Wilson / Dennis Wilson / Carl Wilson / Mike Love / Al Jardine / Bruce Johnston / Blondie Chaplin / Ricky Fataar / (insert your favorite additional sideman / collaborator / musician here). I can't speak for the rest of you, and wouldn't want to, but I'd bet that it's a fair guess that many of us weren't necessarily into the "hip" stuff (except for those of you who were lucky enough to live through the original rush of the Sixties). I'm sure many members even pride themselves on NOT being into popular stuff. That's cool. Like what you like.

I've never been a Kanye West guy. Don't hate him, just don't care. Britney Spears? Not interested. Kesha? Don't know that I could pick her face (or one of her songs) out of a lineup. Taylor Swift? I've tried, can't do it. Doesn't mean they aren't all worthy artists or that they don't deserve fans. I just don't personally care. They have hits. A lot of them. Big hits. Hugely commercial interests, those folks. They are hip (or have been hip, or could be hip again).

I was listening to the Beach Boys and the Beatles and Queen and the Boomtown Rats when the kids my age were listening to Eminem and Blink-182 and Sugar Ray. I just am not plugged into the "popular" thing. Not knocking it, I'm just not a part of it.

I just don't get wrapped up into whether something would have been a hit in 1967, or if it was better that it came out in 2004. There are so many good arguments, both ways. Some music just ... transcends time, but isn't ever going to be A HIT. Sure, BWPS / TSS were huge in their own way. Charting in an age where charting is a bit easier than it was in 1967. But if my coworker doesn't own a copy of the album, I don't feel like my enjoyment of the album is changed in any particular way (and boy, I've bought and given away so many copies of BWPS and TLOS, doing the evangelistic thing). But I don't get too wrapped up in the "what could have beens." I understand why people do, and I'm sure I've engaged in that before myself. And I'm not trying to hijack this thread or change the topic. I'm not trying to rechannel the "would people have understood the lyrics" and "people didn't understand earlier lyrics, either, but they figured it out ... or didn't" thing.

I guess I'm just grateful that music comes out. Whenever it does. And that when I'm ready for it, it's there. I'm lucky. Really damn lucky. A lot of people have passed away who were HUGE fans and certainly more deserving than me, and I got it. I got it all (well, all so far). I've seen Brian Wilson tour! Several times! I've got a couple legit versions of Smile, not just bootlegs! WOOOOO!

I'm just pretty darn thankful, I guess.

Thanks to you all, for giving so many engaging ideas. The discussion is always so interesting. Sure, sometimes there are arguments and personal swipes and agendas and whatever, but getting beyond the surface muck to the purer waters below it, finding that river of absolute fandom we all dwell in, that's pretty reaffirming for me. I may not be plugged into "what's popular," and I may not require the affirmation of whether or not the music I like is a "chart topper," but it's great to have a community that at least gets as geeky and excited about a release of a new mix of an alternate take of an album cut from 1964 that no one else in my city, or county, could pretend to even KNOW about.

So that's pretty special. All props to the music. And to the Beach Boys for making it.

I love the music before Smile and after Smile. And I love Smile. I love it all. Bring on a "Love You" deluxe edition. A box of "L.A." sessions? Yes, please. Heck, I'd take a "state fair, live appearances" box set from the later 1980s. Bring it all on. Loves me some Beach Boys music.

All apologies for the rambling.



Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: luckyoldsmile on December 30, 2014, 01:49:54 AM
My last thing for the night ...

"The Little Girl I Once Knew" is owning my heart tonight. Whew. Good lord. What couldn't the Beach Boys do? :)

Got some new headphones for Christmas, wanted to break them in properly. Wife went to bed, so I'm giving the Beach Boys the spotlight tonight. Beautiful.




Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Sheriff John Stone on December 30, 2014, 07:46:57 AM
With the early songs (1961-64), when The Beach Boys were singing about fads, which by definition was something new, trendy, or even "cool", the lyrics were still relatable. I wasn't familiar with every car "part" they included, couldn't find a 4-speed dual-quad positraction without a manual, but I knew they were singing about a car, and I could relate to that. I liked the way it sounded, I liked the way it felt. The same thing applies to the surf songs. Was a gremmy and a hodad a good guy or a bad guy? I couldn't find the surfing spots named in "Surfin' Safari" and "Surfin' U.S.A." without a map. It didn't matter. Again I knew what they were singing about - surfing! - and it sounded and felt so good.

The lyrics and subject matter were only a part of the reason(s) for the success of those early songs. One could argue that they fell somewhere behind the melody, arrangement, and vocal performance. But I think it would be ignorant to NOT give them some credit. I know a singer/lyricist who would give them a lot of credit, at least the subject matter itself. ;)

Now, flash forward to SMiLE. I often think that for Brian it might've been a case of "be careful what you ask for..." Brian sought out Van Dyke Parks; he wanted somebody to write "arty" lyrics, something different from past subjects/concepts; he wanted to "push the envelope". Well, Van Dyke took care of that, maybe too well. And I think Brian blinked.

Not to get into the whole debate again, but I think there were a number (maybe even 5 or 6) of real reasons that Brian scrapped SMiLE in 1967. I have to think the unrelatable lyrics were one of them. Did Brian know they were good? Hell yeah. Were the lyrics something that Brian expected when he employed Van Dyke Parks? I would think yes. Did Brian like them? Probably. Did Brian think that "his fans" or even the general listening public would relate to them or LIKE them? I'm not so sure. I think he was seriously second-guessing them, for various reasons.

To avoid getting banned  :P let me first say this. I love "Surf's Up". It is essential to SMiLE. I end all my SMiLE mixes with "Surf's Up". I'm glad Brian recorded it; I'm glad it was released. I think Carl's and Brian's vocal performances were among the best of their careers. The arrangement is magical. It is a true work of art. There still hasn't been anything recorded quite like it. And then there's the lyrics.

I read the interview (first in the Byron Preiss book) where Brian explained what "Surf's Up" meant. While I "got" some of the lyrics and references before reading the interview, I didn't really know what the song meant until I read Brian's explanation. Maybe Brian felt that many of his fans wouldn't understand, relate - or enjoy - the songs/lyrics without a manual.

I'll take it a step further, specifically the relating and enjoying part. Again, I love "Surf's Up". I never get tired of listening to it. Brian deserved the right to create, record, and release this work of art, regardless of whether fans "got it" or bought ($$$$) it. However, I have to admit that I don't FEEL it or am touched by it the way I am touched by other BW/BB songs. Well, of course I'm not; it's not THAT kind of song. But it could be considered important, at least I think it was, in relation to Brian's thought process in 1967. I know - and I think Brian knew - that "a diamond necklace played the pawn, hand in hand some drummed along, to a handsome mannered baton" wasn't gonna be related or  ENJOYED like "as I drove away I felt a tear, it hit me I was losing someone dear, told my folks I would be alright, tossed and I turned, my head was so heavy..."

Again, Brian had the right to pursue his art, and I think had SMiLE been released, it would've gone Top 10, even without a Top 10 single. Would've the avant-garde music been a drawback? As beautiful and stunning as it was...yes, probably. But, eventually the music would've been, not only accepted, but praised. It would've won out. It's that good, it's that great. The lyrics? That's another question. I mean, I'm still not entirely sure what ALL of "Surf's Up", "Wonderful", and "He Gives Speeches" means. ;D But, I FEEL IT when I hear "sitting in class she sets my soul on fire, God please let us go on this way" or "it's three o'clock, I go to my sink, I pour some milk, and I start to think, is she awake..." And that's important. It was to Brian, too, in 1967.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Micha on December 30, 2014, 09:10:51 AM
A point to consider and one which ties in directly with the topic is how the "early material" and Smile share many of the same lyrical and musical traits. Let's not forget what some of the subject matter and specific lyrics were on the earliest of the early songs and albums.

Consider this: Up to the present day, how many listeners are familiar with the car and hot-rod terminology sung in the so-called "car songs", whether the lyrics were by Usher, Christian, Wilson, or Love? How many listeners and fans do not know what a "Lake pipe" is, what a "solenoid" (and it's various regional variations) is or does, what it means to race for a pink slip, or what "tach it up" really means...or how many fans have ever "tach'ed it up" themselves.

All of that lingo was specific to a niche market of car and hot-rod enthusiasts, especially back in 1962-63. How many people who bought those records actually knew what the hell they were singing about unless they were into hot rods and cars? Yet here were The Beach Boys singing totally foreign-sounding phrases and words, and fans were grooving to the music just the same.

Seriously, consider how many people who really liked the music in 1963 actually knew what Lake pipes are or were. Can you get more abstract than singing words and phrases that less than half (or less) or the general public knew?

Then...go back to the earliest days of the Beach Boys and their defining image...Surfing! Outside of specific coastal areas, and outside of various military members who may have been stationed somewhere where surfing was a thing...who in 1962-63 knew much about it?

Here are the Beach Boys again turning lingo, slang, and specific terms which only surfing fans and surfers knew and used into pop hits. "Surfer knots", "waxing" a board, listening to the radio to get the surf reports, name-checking the best spots in California to surf...seriously, who in the hell knew what any of this stuff meant as they heard the Beach Boys singing about it on those records?

It was niche, it was obscure, it was lingo that only those connected with the surfing and the hot-rod scenes would know directly. It assumes too that a majority of the audience had no clue what "hurachi sandals" or any of the other terms meant, yet like the hot rod songs, they were grooving to the music.

And I'm sure many of them may have taken a step further even back in 1963 and visited a library or a magazine stand to look up what some of this stuff actually referred to, and perhaps kept looking it up to the point where they learned things they had not known before hearing the Beach Boys sing about them.

Kind of like Smile's so-called "obscure" lyrics that could have gotten people listening and interested in learning more about what they were hearing sung as lyrics. "Manifest Destiny...Sandwich Isles...Hmmmm...maybe I'll look up what all that stuff is about!"

And there it is. Just like those who in this past year posted on this board asking about what a solenoid did on a car based on hearing the Beach Boys sing about it. Same thing, different topics.  :)

You just convinced me that the early material in fact IS better than SMiLE. You're right, the lyrics are just as inaccessible as SMiLE's, so the music must be that better. :-D

That said, I'm convinced SMiLE would have found a cult following, and it would be regarded as one of those 1967 classics like "Their Satanic Majesties Request" or "The Who Sell Out". Would SMiLE have charted well? YES OF COURSE IT WOULD HAVE. Early 1967 it would have been pulled by Good Vibrations' success, and nobody would claim it's a shitty album. I assume it would have done about as well as Pet Sounds. No way that SMiLE would have been as widely loved as the Sgt. Pepper's album, due to the lyrics to some extent IMHO. Perhaps Mike would have penned more accessible lyrics than Van Dyke, we'll never know, Good Vibrations' lyrics certainly are pretty accessible. But could he have done a whole album in that quality? It would have been hard to do.

One more thing about the music: my father, born in 1947, doesn't know English, so he never understood any lyric, so SMiLE's lyrics couldn't put him off - he just doesn't like SMiLE music, neither does he like Sunflower... but loves the early stuff.

My friends of my age who are mindful about music, they like SMiLE (I do too) and find it interesting, but the casual music consumers among them are always put off. One even said during Cabin Essence: "Can you put real music back on again?" It seems we have to accept that with all of SMiLE's artistic merits, it just isn't a lot of people's beef.

And I agree with most of what the Sheriff said above.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: rab2591 on December 30, 2014, 09:46:46 AM
Bernstein said of Surf's Up that it was "grown out of the ferment that is today's pop culture". There's a reason why Leonard f-ing Bernstein praised the lyrics of Surf's Up - Brian's new music was exploring new paths/boundaries of pop-music in an abstract but relatable sense. 'Surf's Up' is relatable as it's a song about a crumbling culture. Yes, it is abstract, but it's not like you can't decipher the lyrics without a great deal of thought.

Wonderful is relatable if you take two seconds to think about the words. You Are My Sunshine is one of the most heartbreaking bits of music Brian ever recorded - because it's a song about relatable heartbreak. Heroes and Villains is almost like 'That's Not Me' in the sense that it's about a man who seeks adventure, gets caught up in chaos, lives through life, etc. Cabin Essence is very much a love song with interludes of abstract imagery in the chorus/coda.

Obscure lyrics are all over Smile, no doubt. But even then, as Bernstein says of Surf's Up, "poetic, beautiful, even in it's obscurity". I think some people forget that beauty, even when abstract, is something every human being relates to.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lowbacca on December 30, 2014, 10:17:54 AM
Bernstein said of Surf's Up that it was "grown out of the ferment that is today's pop culture". There's a reason why Leonard f-ing Bernstein praised the lyrics of Surf's Up - Brian's new music was exploring new paths/boundaries of pop-music in an abstract but relatable sense. 'Surf's Up' is relatable as it's a song about a crumbling culture. Yes, it is abstract, but it's not like you can't decipher the lyrics without a great deal of thought.

Wonderful is relatable if you take two seconds to think about the words. You Are My Sunshine is one of the most heartbreaking bits of music Brian ever recorded - because it's a song about relatable heartbreak. Heroes and Villains is almost like 'That's Not Me' in the sense that it's about a man who seeks adventure, gets caught up in chaos, lives through life, etc. Cabin Essence is very much a love song with interludes of abstract imagery in the chorus/coda.

Obscure lyrics are all over Smile, no doubt. But even then, as Bernstein says of Surf's Up, "poetic, beautiful, even in it's obscurity". I think some people forget that beauty, even when abstract, is something every human being relates to.
Great post.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: SMiLE Brian on December 30, 2014, 10:43:48 AM
Rab is totally right. The lyrics were totally accessible for the times. It was the time of the American people questioning traditional values in the counterculture. The early 1960s were a light year away due to the turmoil of the decade.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Debbie Keil-Leavitt on December 30, 2014, 11:00:41 AM
:) Debbie, just to clarify what I said wasn't in reply to anything you wrote, and your most recent post above sums up and backs up nearly everything I've been thinking and expressing about the abstract versus relatable lyrics. Fantastic insight, especially about the non-English-speaking fans who were compelled to write. That gets to the heart of it.

What you wrote also backs up exactly my point that Smile was not the grand, sudden and shocking departure from what Brian had been doing since he was in his teens - as some in this thread and previously have suggested. Rather, it feels like the same musician and artist going after many of the same pursuits in similar ways but adjusting them to both the times and his age (and priorities). And, specific to both the surfing-cars AND Smile, what was going on around him as he wrote the music and often collaborated on the lyrics.

Roger Christian was on board because he knew the hot rod culture personally, he was a true dyed-in-the-wool gearhead from the time he wasn't legally able to drive a car. He lived the scene, he knew the talk and Brian's music needed that kind of authenticity. Same with Usher, Love, and whoever else added their input on everything from surfing to love won and lost. It was a terrific arrangement that spawned some of the best music of the past 50 years, hands down.

Smile was developing as 1966 Los Angeles was happening around Brian and everyone else who opened their eyes and ears to pick up on it. LA was ahead of the so-called "Summer Of Love" by at least a year, if you knew where to find it. And Brian Wilson happened to be in the eye of the storm which would soon develop into things well beyond Sunset Strip clubs and bookstore cafes. So he had a lyricist who was also tuned in, who could express the thoughts in words that would invite listeners into that world...just like the surfing and car lingo supplied by those collaborators did for audiences a few years prior when Brian's world was surrounded by surfers and hot rodders. The fans may not have known exactly what some or many of the phrases actually meant, but it was an invitation to both learn more and to come into the scene to share the discoveries and celebrate it.

It worked with surf and cars. Smile worked too, it still does. I'm just on a kick right now trying to do my best to suggest there is little or no difference between what Gary Usher and Roger Christian brought into the mix by way of unknown phrases and abstract imagery relevant to 1962 and 1963 as Van Dyke Parks brought into the mix with what was relevant in 1966 and 1967.

They're really not too far removed conceptually, with the obvious difference being the subject matter of their abstractions having changed with the times surrounding their creation.

And that connection is something that I really think is vital to these kinds of discussions, especially where terms like accessible and relatable start appearing.  ;)

I knew your post wasn't a specific reply to me...I just wanted you to know that we valued and understood what you said.

I guess we have to define "abstract" here to deal with all this, and that would be another path that might just take us away from the wonder of the music.  It is "wonder-ful."  Some people love the old stuff, some the new - many, many love both...While I listen to "Smile" and "BW Reimagines GG" more than anything else these days, that doesn't mean that I don't love the old stuff.  "Car Crazy Cutie" always makes me fill with joy.  So does "Warmth of the Sun."  I think comparing and labeling is the booby prize in all of this...


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Dancing Bear on December 30, 2014, 11:07:41 AM
It would take four or five hits with the caliber of Good Vibrations to make the Beach Boys the #1 group in the world, combined with a huge flop of the Beatles '67 new album. It's not about rooting for this or another band, that's how things were in 1967.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 30, 2014, 11:24:19 AM
"combined with a huge flop of the Beatles '67 new album."


And that's what happened.  After Pepper....Magical Mystery Tour was a bit of a/a LOT of a flop by John, Paul, George and Ringo standards.  As was the video accompaniment.  The door was wide open.

And we waited...and we waited...and we waited.  And the world kept turning and spinning w/o Smile which was finally incinerated, and destroyed, and lost forever.

But at least we had She's Goin Bald, Gettin Hungry, Fall Breaks Back Into Winter. and Whistle In to compete with...
Magical Mystery Tour, Baby You're a Rich Man, Flying and I Am the Walrus.

Hard to understand how the Beatles, even with that failed Magical Mystery Tour project, ever managed to catch and pass the Beach Boys again given the OFF year they had thanks to MMT.

But as they cautioned our boys with the unopposed success of SPLHCB ...Life goes on within you...AND without you.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Dancing Bear on December 30, 2014, 12:01:41 PM
The MMT PROJECT was a misstep. The Hello Goodbye single topped the charts in UK and US, as did the MMT US album and UK double EP.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Mr. Cohen on December 30, 2014, 12:13:27 PM
Yep, the MMT album worked as a sort of grab bag of Beatles singles, with its own original songs and single.  Had the BBs had that many hit singles lying around at that time, they would've done alright, too.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Fire Wind on December 30, 2014, 01:31:13 PM

Someone 'took me to task 'cause they thought I suggested earlier that we were stupid back then.  I actually was asking a question which could have been prefaced with What??? We were stupid?  Or Why?  Did you think we were stupid?  Or whatever.  The point was that we WEREN'T stupid...then...or now.


Was this your post? 

Quote
This 'point' about Smile's lyrics and their supposed accessibility is EVER so weak.  What?  We were too stupid in 1967?  But by the time 20/20 came out we were ready for Cabinessence?  Or was it the 'Our Prayer' lyric which was too much for Beach Boys fans and the general public to absorb?

There were question marks.  You were clear.  I understood you.

In my reply, I asked 'who's we?'  Did you mean the Beach Boys fans in their entirety?  Pop fans generally?  That's all I meant, though I probably wasn't clear.

I just raise an eyebrow when one is speaking for many.  You, personally, and the people you knew, might have been cool with the Smile lyrics.  Others might not have been and may have fallen off the Beach Boys bandwagon.  When pop music sells to this many people, as did the Beach Boys and the Beatles, there's gonna be varying levels of commitment and expectations.  Being hugely popular means you're selling to all kinds of people, including those who actively seek out music and those who just think are few songs are pretty cool.  And when it comes to selling to kids/early teens, some are gonna be into it simply because their friends are, just the fad factor.  If the Beach Boys had found a new, more mature audience with Smile in the rock world, as we all hope they would have done, that's great.  But I don't see it as the case that all the early fans necessarily would have gone with them.

I dunno about the word, 'stupid', either, to describe people for whom Smile lyrics would not have attracted.  How about simply...uninterested.  Just not into music enough to give much thought to it.  There's a huge mass of people out there who'll have little to do with stuff like that.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 30, 2014, 02:52:07 PM
Fire Wind...Naw...The "we" was inspired by what Brian had said that "we" weren't ready for Smile...So he stuffed it back in the closet under the old whatsits and instead annointed us with Smiley Smile.

Mr. C...I get that.  Still...Smiley Smile did have Good Vibrations on it..plus Heroes and Villains which had done quite well in the UK [and Canada] and marginally well in the U.S.  If SS had contained reasonable material, in addition, they might have come out of it with maybe one nostril still above water.  But to keep the public waiting THAT long for a follow-up to Pet Sounds...an for it to turn out to be SS...well...Way too little...way too late.

D Bear...Yes MMT was a misstep...Just a little one really though.  A greatest hits packet with a few decent bonus songs to round it out in time for Christmas.  AND...the Fabs had released something which fared reasonably well earlier in the summer.  You know...that Pepper thingy.  The Sand-Pail Sailors though?  Diddley.  Their "misstep" took 'em ass-over-tea-kettle right down to the cold concrete basement level.

As the New Music Express Poll winners for 1966/67  [I think I incorrectly said Melody Maker Poll winners earlier in the thread] the Beach Boys had ligitimately unseated the Fabs as top dogs in their own back yard.  The chance of that continuing was severely diminished by the turn of events...or lack of same.  As the Beach Boys stalled and faltered...the Beatles moved back in front...and the rest of the music world pretty much stepped over our heroes and just kept rolling along.



Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Shady on December 30, 2014, 08:45:11 PM
Reading what was being released around the same time as Smile it really makes you see that Brian was 10 steps ahead of everyone.

Brian shelved the album, every musician got a pass. He was getting ready to kick some ass.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: guitarfool2002 on December 31, 2014, 11:44:22 AM
That is an important point, especially in 1965-66. Brian was steps ahead, and the particular "scene" and various things surrounding that scene in and around LA at this time were also several steps ahead of what would soon explode due to media attention and marketing.

It's actually one of the elements of watching "Inside Pop" which stands out, at least for me. This was mostly filmed in fall and late 1966, broadcast in April 1967. You still see more "traditional" imagery relative to 1966, yet there is in almost every clip an undercurrent of something about to bust wide open. And the fact that CBS was right there in the heart of it, especially things like the Pandora's Box marches (aka the Sunset Strip Riots) was just one of the things that was building and swirling around LA at this time.

By the time the media actually caught on, and they never really did but instead almost whitewashed the whole reporting of these things, it was looking at certain cultural aspects which had already been playing out at least a year prior to the great, mislabeled "Summer Of Love", and again that scene is in part where some elements of Smile were coming from.

One last thought: A teacher I had years ago was talking about how he got started in education in the early 60's after getting his degree and landing the job. He said if you wanted to see the effects of what was happening in the mid 60's, find your school's yearbooks from 1966, then find the yearbook from 1967, and notice just how radically the overall "look" of everything from clothing to hair to basic stuff in general had changed over a year. And from all examples I've seen, he was right. Pretty amazing stuff in retrospect.

And again, what was happening in LA in 65-66 was steps ahead of the pack in some ways. Best example: Listen to Cabinessence as recorded in 1966 and find anything, anything at all, that was comparable in pop music.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: luckyoldsmile on December 31, 2014, 11:56:14 AM
Is there anything comparable to Cabinessence now, today?

I'd be down with hearing some of that. :)



Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Lee Marshall on December 31, 2014, 02:54:56 PM
When I was out in Vancouver in 2010 working the Olympics I was invited, during off hours, to be a 'guest ' on a local radio show.  I was to select an hours worth of GREAT songs and then tell the host and audience why I'd chosen them.  The one I chose  as THE song was 'Cabinessence'.  I'll bet it was the first time the majority of those listening had ever heard it.  It IS an amazing piece of music...a sensational arrangement and an etherial performance.  To be able to do SO MUCH with voices is just brilliantly stunning to me.  One of my all time favourite songs...regardless of the artist or era.  A personal 'GEM'.

Damn crows. :lol


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Cam Mott on January 01, 2015, 09:39:43 AM
Good. Now we know for a fact that the many times that you have claimed on this board that Brian directly referred to Parks's lyrics as "too arty" is flat out false. You also have made it seem as if Brian had a problem with the lyrics. But in these quotations, Brian never mentions the lyrics directly at all. What he does do mostly is suggest that the music was too personal for the public to enjoy. The idea that this suddenly translates into Brian complaining that Parks's lyrics were "too arty" is totally a fiction that you have concocted out of these statements where he says absolutely nothing of the sort. And, quite unbelievably, you've repeated this myth for years on this board. This is the second time, by the way, that your penchant for quoting others can be traced back to no quote at all. In most fields, that's referred to as fabrication.

So you are proposing I posted all of the info so I could fabricate a myth. Interesting. I might have said I was “mistaken” or “presumptive”.  Feel free to post all of my “fabrications” and I’ll be glad to apologize.

You earlier argued for context and to me it all forms a context for 1967 where Brian felt lyrics (and probably music) were too arty and that Van Dyke’s lyrics specifically were an issue for Brian is confirmed by Anderle.

Well, I reiterate that you positioned old-fashioned as a quotation and then attributed the quotation to Brian and then it turned out you were, in fact, making an inference out of a poetic turn of phrase from a press release written by Derek Taylor. Again, my objection was the fabrication and the misattribution. However, I definitely do not agree with your interpretation.  What I think Taylor means (and keep in mind, I've spent a lifetime reading Taylorisms) is what many others have said - that Brian felt that the time had past and that he had lost the production race. That the longer Brian took, the less avant-garde it would be - a belief, that Derek Taylor correctly thought, was unfounded. I suppose if you think you can either be avant-garde or old fashioned then maybe you can take this to mean that Brian thought the music was old fashioned but I doubt that Brian or Derek Taylor would have such an unnuanced way of thinking about music.

Yes, “old fashioned” would be an interpretation, my apologies for any mis-use of quotation marks. And yes, I disagree with your interpretation mainly because Brian then scrapped songs which were old or had old timey themes and lyrics.

Hope everyone had a Merry and a Happy.


Title: Re: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?
Post by: Don Malcolm on January 01, 2015, 01:26:00 PM
When I was out in Vancouver in 2010 working the Olympics I was invited, during off hours, to be a 'guest ' on a local radio show.  I was to select an hours worth of GREAT songs and then tell the host and audience why I'd chosen them.  The one I chose  as THE song was 'Cabinessence'.  I'll bet it was the first time the majority of those listening had ever heard it.  It IS an amazing piece of music...a sensational arrangement and an etherial performance.  To be able to do SO MUCH with voices is just brilliantly stunning to me.  One of my all time favourite songs...regardless of the artist or era.  A personal 'GEM'.

Damn crows. :lol

Spot on, Add Some! Definitely the pinnacle of Brian's "art song" excursion. It's like we've been allowed to enter some special realm for 3:33, where a unique style of modular compositional logic is flourishing under hothouse conditions. A "world of forbidden beauty," if you will.

Still blows my mind 40+ years after hearing it (the third time was the charm, and the spell has never worn off!). :love