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Author Topic: The Stephen Desper Thread  (Read 429205 times)
DRM
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« Reply #1925 on: October 21, 2018, 02:05:54 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SruCNOALxTA
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« Reply #1926 on: October 21, 2018, 02:12:30 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bYufmMkiA4
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« Reply #1927 on: October 21, 2018, 02:27:50 PM »

I fully support Stephen Desper. 

We all need to step away sometimes. 

For ourselves.  And for others...

Thank you for everything, Mr. Desper.
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« Reply #1928 on: October 21, 2018, 06:19:05 PM »

There still seems to be a significant misunderstanding as to why the videos were taken down.

Did Mr. Desper appreciate being challenged on his thoughts about the vocals? No, probably not. But that's not the reason why he took the videos down.

He took the videos down because he was worried he would not be given permission to use the music anymore because of the controversy that he thought the videos were creating. It was not taken down simply because he was being challenged. Both sides in this argument seem to be missing that crucial point.
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« Reply #1929 on: October 21, 2018, 11:01:57 PM »

There still seems to be a significant misunderstanding as to why the videos were taken down.

Did Mr. Desper appreciate being challenged on his thoughts about the vocals? No, probably not. But that's not the reason why he took the videos down.

He took the videos down because he was worried he would not be given permission to use the music anymore because of the controversy that he thought the videos were creating. It was not taken down simply because he was being challenged. Both sides in this argument seem to be missing that crucial point.


You know what? After re reading you’re right. I admit to my misunderstanding
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« Reply #1930 on: October 21, 2018, 11:30:45 PM »

Yeah, me too.
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« Reply #1931 on: October 22, 2018, 10:18:42 AM »

While I think that Stephen may be overreacting in terms of the actual level of controversy that this matter is creating at the various locations where such things are discussed, he's perfectly within his rights and prerogatives to take these actions. No one wants to see his privileges curtailed in any way, shape or form--not one iota. I think everyone who weighed in on the matter would be horrified and saddened at such a result. So what might seem like a higher level of risk-aversion than necessary is perfectly understandable under the circumstances.

As noted, I hope this will blow over sooner than later--and most importantly, that someone with deep pockets will see fit to subsidize Stephen's ongoing effort to provide a definitive look at the Beach Boys' group efforts in 1967-71 that centered around that amazing home studio at Brian's house. The diagrams that Stephen provided and the accompanying descriptions of the creative process, along with his capsule characterizations of the creative psyches of the band, are priceless and deserve to be a prominent part of the Beach Boy historical literature. Let's all do what we "can and oughta" to make that happen.
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« Reply #1932 on: December 23, 2018, 09:27:25 AM »

From https://thenewperfectcollection.com/2015/08/30/the-beach-boys-sunflower-1970/

"The finale, ‘Cool Cool Water’, salvaged from the ‘Smile’ sessions is both a breeze across one’s forehead and somehow playfully buoyant, providing the perfect vehicle for showcasing the mastery of chief sound engineer, Stephen Desper, who conjures miracles from the mixing desk throughout the record."
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« Reply #1933 on: December 23, 2018, 09:42:58 AM »

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RO_LX-m74uw

"One of the better songs of the decade, and so criminally under-appreciated. This track predates dream pop, chillwave, and shoegaze by a good 15-20 years while containing elements of all three genres. Such production was unheard of in those days. Fantastic!"
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« Reply #1934 on: September 28, 2019, 11:45:32 AM »

Hi Stephen, if you still check up on this thread I have a question I was wondering if you might be able to help with about some of your work on Cool Cool Water - I've been reading through some (fascinating) old posts about the 'water keyboard' you created using an Eltro to change the pitch of real water recordings before making them playable via one of the group's Chamberlin models, and noticed in a couple of them you mentioned the then-not-quite-assembled state of the studio in Brian's house and also the link to the Eltro being used in She's Goin' Bald. Do you remember if the Eltro was used on She's Goin' Bald around the same sort of time that you were using it for the water project or was it rented out on separate occasions? I'm trying to gauge a sort of timeframe for when this might've been worked on (since Bald was around June-July 1967). Sounds like it would've been such a cool idea!

Much appreciated if you get a chance to reply to this!
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« Reply #1935 on: October 04, 2019, 02:32:29 AM »

Dear Stephen,

I'm trying to find out about some of the production tricks on Feel Flows, but couldn't find about it through the search engine. You might have talked about it at length in your wonderful study videos, but since those are no longer online I would like to ask you: could you tell me something about the way you achieved the different key sounds on Feel Flows?

With kind regards,

Yorick
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« Reply #1936 on: October 04, 2019, 08:49:37 AM »

Dear Stephen,

I'm trying to find out about some of the production tricks on Feel Flows, but couldn't find about it through the search engine. You might have talked about it at length in your wonderful study videos, but since those are no longer online I would like to ask you: could you tell me something about the way you achieved the different key sounds on Feel Flows?

With kind regards,

Yorick

I'm not Steve Desper, but here's Carl in 1971:

"I played piano first and then I played organ. I played piano twice, overdubbed it, and used a variable speed oscillator to make the track different speeds so that the piano would be a little bit out of tune, sort of a spread sound, do you understand what I mean? You play the tape at 30 inches per second, and then you may slow it down to about 29 and 3/4 inches per second. It wouldn’t be that great actually, I got my cycles mixed up with inches per second. But say at 60 cycles and then 59. So that makes the piano sound like the effect of a 12-string guitar, you know? When the two strings are at the same octave but just a tiny bit out of tune? you know that real ringing sound?

“And then I put the organ on and put it through the Moog at the same time, so that one side of the stereo had the direct organ sound and the other side had the return through the Moog synthesizer. It’s sort of like a vibrato, but the frequency changes, there’s a tone change, like a graphic tone. Do you know what a graphic equalizer is? Well, it just springs out, you can amplify any particular part of a sound spectrum, like from 50 cycles to 10,000 cycles. The Moog did that automatically; there’s a component called a sequencer and you can time it to react and go through a series of circuits all connected to a different frequency, and it does that back and forth. And therefore it sounded sort of like a vibrato or a wah-wah, sort of both at the same time.

“Then I put on the bass, played the bass guitar. Then I put on the Moog for that part where the piano comes in by itself after the instrumental part, you know? Then we put on the bells, and a guy named Woody Thews played percussion on it, and I sang it. I put the guitar on about the same time.

“Then I think it was the next day Charles Lloyd came by and we did the flute and saxophone. And I might add, he heard it one time and then started playing, he started recording right away. It was really a thrill for me to have him play on it ’cause he’s a gifted musician. It was really great. And then the next session we did the vocals, the background part, and that was it.”
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« Reply #1937 on: October 04, 2019, 12:23:52 PM »

Thank you so much, this is amazing! Smiley
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« Reply #1938 on: October 04, 2019, 01:49:57 PM »

Dear Stephen,

I'm trying to find out about some of the production tricks on Feel Flows, but couldn't find about it through the search engine. You might have talked about it at length in your wonderful study videos, but since those are no longer online I would like to ask you: could you tell me something about the way you achieved the different key sounds on Feel Flows?

With kind regards,

Yorick

I'm not Steve Desper, but here's Carl in 1971:

"I played piano first and then I played organ. I played piano twice, overdubbed it, and used a variable speed oscillator to make the track different speeds so that the piano would be a little bit out of tune, sort of a spread sound, do you understand what I mean? You play the tape at 30 inches per second, and then you may slow it down to about 29 and 3/4 inches per second. It wouldn’t be that great actually, I got my cycles mixed up with inches per second. But say at 60 cycles and then 59. So that makes the piano sound like the effect of a 12-string guitar, you know? When the two strings are at the same octave but just a tiny bit out of tune? you know that real ringing sound?

“And then I put the organ on and put it through the Moog at the same time, so that one side of the stereo had the direct organ sound and the other side had the return through the Moog synthesizer. It’s sort of like a vibrato, but the frequency changes, there’s a tone change, like a graphic tone. Do you know what a graphic equalizer is? Well, it just springs out, you can amplify any particular part of a sound spectrum, like from 50 cycles to 10,000 cycles. The Moog did that automatically; there’s a component called a sequencer and you can time it to react and go through a series of circuits all connected to a different frequency, and it does that back and forth. And therefore it sounded sort of like a vibrato or a wah-wah, sort of both at the same time.

“Then I put on the bass, played the bass guitar. Then I put on the Moog for that part where the piano comes in by itself after the instrumental part, you know? Then we put on the bells, and a guy named Woody Thews played percussion on it, and I sang it. I put the guitar on about the same time.

“Then I think it was the next day Charles Lloyd came by and we did the flute and saxophone. And I might add, he heard it one time and then started playing, he started recording right away. It was really a thrill for me to have him play on it ’cause he’s a gifted musician. It was really great. And then the next session we did the vocals, the background part, and that was it.”

COMMENT to wjcrerar:   Thank you for covering for me BUT I AM QUITE CAPABLE OF ANSWERING QUESTIONS MYSELF. Thank you.

Unfortunately, Carl's description of the engineering techniques used in this song are not correct. He's a great musician, but not an engineer.

If you want accuracy, I would disregard what is said in the interview.
~swd
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« Reply #1939 on: October 04, 2019, 01:55:08 PM »

Dear Stephen,

I'm trying to find out about some of the production tricks on Feel Flows, but couldn't find about it through the search engine. You might have talked about it at length in your wonderful study videos, but since those are no longer online I would like to ask you: could you tell me something about the way you achieved the different key sounds on Feel Flows?

With kind regards,

Yorick

COMMENT to Yoick:

The techniques used in Feel Flows are too complex to reiterate here when they were covered in depth on the Study-Video part 2. I realize it is not up right now. However, look for a personal message from me and hopefully, I can answer your questions on the phone
. ~swd
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« Reply #1940 on: October 04, 2019, 02:04:43 PM »

Dear Stephen,

I'm trying to find out about some of the production tricks on Feel Flows, but couldn't find about it through the search engine. You might have talked about it at length in your wonderful study videos, but since those are no longer online I would like to ask you: could you tell me something about the way you achieved the different key sounds on Feel Flows?

With kind regards,

Yorick

smh
COMMENT to Yoick:

The techniques used in Feel Flows are too complex to reiterate here when they were covered in depth on the Study-Video part 2. I realize it is not up right now. However, look for a personal message from me and hopefully, I can answer your questions on the phone
. ~swd
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« Reply #1941 on: October 04, 2019, 05:28:50 PM »

Dear Stephen,

I'm trying to find out about some of the production tricks on Feel Flows, but couldn't find about it through the search engine. You might have talked about it at length in your wonderful study videos, but since those are no longer online I would like to ask you: could you tell me something about the way you achieved the different key sounds on Feel Flows?

With kind regards,

Yorick

COMMENT to Yoick:

The techniques used in Feel Flows are too complex to reiterate here when they were covered in depth on the Study-Video part 2. I realize it is not up right now. However, look for a personal message from me and hopefully, I can answer your questions on the phone
. ~swd
Hi Stephen,

Merely thought I was being helpful to Yorick, apologies. Do you have any recollections regarding the Cool Cool Water ELTRO question?
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« Reply #1942 on: October 05, 2019, 02:24:36 PM »


 Do you have any recollections regarding the Cool Cool Water ELTRO question?

COMMENT to wjcrerar:  I looked back at your question concerning rate changing. The Eltro Rate Changer, it was not invented at the time of CCW. For the assembly of the water drop sounds on the Chamberlain keyboard, I borrowed a large machine from UCLA that did much the same thing that would eventually become Eltro. From that early rate changing machine, I created 2 1/2 octaves of spread for each of the 25 or so water sounds. But there was no Eltro involved in CCW.

Maybe someone can look back in the archives of this thread and find where I have written extensively with detailed pictures about this topic.

Interestingly, I still have all the original 2 1/2 octaves of sounds -- all edited between leaders. Before some people on this website caused me to remove my study-video series from public viewing, I was going to place them on the website in total, thinking that some enterprising fan could copy all of them onto a digital format -- a digital keyboard -- and be able to play them as Brian did no his Chamberlain. But for now, all the study-videos and many other goodies are stored until I believe it is safe to offer them again.
. ~swd
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« Reply #1943 on: October 05, 2019, 03:26:05 PM »

I found an old post (among some others) where you wrote about the process a few years back, and I have some others saved if you'd like them re-posted too for posterity. In this did you mean you were using the machine from UCLA rather than the Eltro?

Quote
I started recording --before-- the Sunflower CCW was recorded, but --after-- Brian had conceived of CCW. The creation of 2 1/2 octaves of drips by way of the ELTRON machine and subsequent transfer to the small CHAMBERLIN were in progress during the month or two it took to record CCW by the group. There were 30 different types of drips and blubbs recorded, each with 26 notes. That is a lot of work!! When we had our first production meeting concerning "Cool, Cool Water" I suggested the use of real water sounds recorded using an ELTRO machine (Eventide Harmonizer was not invented yet) to first shift the pitch making 2 1/2 octave half-note steps and to transfer all the notes to a small Chamberlin machine.

Management said to "go for it" and so I took off to northern California with my portable NAGRA profession tape recorder and a good microphone to capture running water sounds in the wild. Later I also recorded air making blubb-type sounds as blown air came up through flower mixed with water in large buckets. This too was put into 2 1/2 octave steps. It was not until this entire project was finished that Brian even became aware of what I was doing. The small Chamberlin, I modified so that I could use each of its internal playback heads for recording or re-recording each of the tape-threads in the instrument without needing to remove them from the unit. I assembled a variety of water sounds and bubble sounds tuned in one-half note steps for a 2_ octave spread - to be used for "Cool, Cool Water" - and installed or recorded them one by one into the smaller Chamberlin.

I was wondering more about whether or not the borrowed machine was used for the similar pitch-shifting effect on the vocals in She's Goin' Bald around the same time as work on the Cool Cool Water keyboard project (if both did use the same machine), because that could maybe narrow down the timeline a bit. It's really fascinating tracking this song's evolution through all the different permutations.

Also, so cool that you still have all the original water sounds! I (and I'm sure many others) would love to hear them if it's something you'd feel comfortable sharing in the future.
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« Reply #1944 on: October 06, 2019, 10:57:11 AM »

I found an old post (among some others) where you wrote about the process a few years back, and I have some others saved if you'd like them re-posted too for posterity. In this did you mean you were using the machine from UCLA rather than the Eltro?

Quote
I started recording --before-- the Sunflower CCW was recorded, but --after-- Brian had conceived of CCW. The creation of 2 1/2 octaves of drips by way of the ELTRON machine and subsequent transfer to the small CHAMBERLIN were in progress during the month or two it took to record CCW by the group. There were 30 different types of drips and blubbs recorded, each with 26 notes. That is a lot of work!! When we had our first production meeting concerning "Cool, Cool Water" I suggested the use of real water sounds recorded using an ELTRO machine (Eventide Harmonizer was not invented yet) to first shift the pitch making 2 1/2 octave half-note steps and to transfer all the notes to a small Chamberlin machine.

Management said to "go for it" and so I took off to northern California with my portable NAGRA profession tape recorder and a good microphone to capture running water sounds in the wild. Later I also recorded air making blubb-type sounds as blown air came up through flower mixed with water in large buckets. This too was put into 2 1/2 octave steps. It was not until this entire project was finished that Brian even became aware of what I was doing. The small Chamberlin, I modified so that I could use each of its internal playback heads for recording or re-recording each of the tape-threads in the instrument without needing to remove them from the unit. I assembled a variety of water sounds and bubble sounds tuned in one-half note steps for a 2_ octave spread - to be used for "Cool, Cool Water" - and installed or recorded them one by one into the smaller Chamberlin.

I was wondering more about whether or not the borrowed machine was used for the similar pitch-shifting effect on the vocals in She's Goin' Bald around the same time as work on the Cool Cool Water keyboard project (if both did use the same machine), because that could maybe narrow down the timeline a bit. It's really fascinating tracking this song's evolution through all the different permutations.

Also, so cool that you still have all the original water sounds! I (and I'm sure many others) would love to hear them if it's something you'd feel comfortable sharing in the future.

COMMENT to wjcrerar:   Thanks for digging that clip up.  I think when I wrote that I was trying to simplify everything without a lot of detail, thinking the reader could find the rate changing technology by looking up the ELTRO machine.  But the fact of the matter is that the machine I used was a monster of a thing, taking two people to move it, and it was noisy. I wish the ELTRO had been around, it would have simplified everything. I became aware of the UCLA rate changing machine from my friend Steve Temmer, at that time the owner of Gotham Audio Corporation, the sole importer of Neumann microphones, etc. into the USA. in late 1966 he was just beginning to import the ELTRO from its German manufacturer, but only had a couple of machines in NYC, but knew of a prototype used for teaching purposes at UCLA and occasionally rented to studios. At that time it was used when a commercial was slightly too long for its intended slot. In some ways the machine I used was the forerunner of what eventually became the ELTRO machine since the original patents date back to 1920. As with many inventions, the idea was there. but had to wait on technology to realize a practical device. I became fascinated with the idea of changing pitch without a change in duration and visa versa. I wanted to know how this was accomplished, so arranged a visit to UCLA for a demo. It was the ability to change pitch without changing duration that I was interested in. The ELTRO is a forsetter design, that is, it sets in front of a tape recorder. The machine I rented had an internal tape recorder. When the Cool Cool Water project came about, I rented the machine for ten days to transform all the water sounds from one event to twenty-six events, each a half-note apart. In this way a polyphonic chord could be played with each note of the chord starting and stopping at the same time. The machine was placed in Brian's living room, which would later become the house studio. At that time, recording of SmileySmile was underway and when I showed Brian what the machine did, he figured a place to use it in GB. I demonstrated it to Jimmy Lockart, the engineer for that album and the rest you hear. That would be around late 1966 or early 1967. Hope that helps.
~swd

References:

ELTRO II background >>> http://www.wendycarlos.com/other/Eltro-1967/Eltro-1967.pdf
 
ELTRO II history by Windy Carlos >>> http://www.wendycarlos.com/other/Eltro-1967/

First Imported 1966 >>> https://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Catalogs/Miscellaneous-Manufacturers/Gotham-Audio-1966.CV01.pdf

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« Reply #1945 on: October 06, 2019, 11:14:57 AM »

I found an old post (among some others) where you wrote about the process a few years back, and I have some others saved if you'd like them re-posted too for posterity. In this did you mean you were using the machine from UCLA rather than the Eltro?

Quote
I started recording --before-- the Sunflower CCW was recorded, but --after-- Brian had conceived of CCW. The creation of 2 1/2 octaves of drips by way of the ELTRON machine and subsequent transfer to the small CHAMBERLIN were in progress during the month or two it took to record CCW by the group. There were 30 different types of drips and blubbs recorded, each with 26 notes. That is a lot of work!! When we had our first production meeting concerning "Cool, Cool Water" I suggested the use of real water sounds recorded using an ELTRO machine (Eventide Harmonizer was not invented yet) to first shift the pitch making 2 1/2 octave half-note steps and to transfer all the notes to a small Chamberlin machine.

Management said to "go for it" and so I took off to northern California with my portable NAGRA profession tape recorder and a good microphone to capture running water sounds in the wild. Later I also recorded air making blubb-type sounds as blown air came up through flower mixed with water in large buckets. This too was put into 2 1/2 octave steps. It was not until this entire project was finished that Brian even became aware of what I was doing. The small Chamberlin, I modified so that I could use each of its internal playback heads for recording or re-recording each of the tape-threads in the instrument without needing to remove them from the unit. I assembled a variety of water sounds and bubble sounds tuned in one-half note steps for a 2_ octave spread - to be used for "Cool, Cool Water" - and installed or recorded them one by one into the smaller Chamberlin.

I was wondering more about whether or not the borrowed machine was used for the similar pitch-shifting effect on the vocals in She's Goin' Bald around the same time as work on the Cool Cool Water keyboard project (if both did use the same machine), because that could maybe narrow down the timeline a bit. It's really fascinating tracking this song's evolution through all the different permutations.

Also, so cool that you still have all the original water sounds! I (and I'm sure many others) would love to hear them if it's something you'd feel comfortable sharing in the future.

COMMENT to wjcrerar:   Thanks for digging that clip up.  I think when I wrote that I was trying to simplify everything without a lot of detail, thinking the reader could find the rate changing technology by looking up the ELTRO machine.  But the fact of the matter is that the machine I used was a monster of a thing, taking two people to move it, and it was noisy. I wish the ELTRO had been around, it would have simplified everything. I became aware of the UCLA rate changing machine from my friend Steve Temmer, at that time the owner of Gotham Audio Corporation, the sole importer of Neumann microphones, etc. into the USA. in late 1966 he was just beginning to import the ELTRO from its German manufacturer, but only had a couple of machines in NYC, but knew of a prototype used for teaching purposes at UCLA and occasionally rented to studios. At that time it was used when a commercial was slightly too long for its intended slot. In some ways the machine I used was the forerunner of what eventually became the ELTRO machine since the original patents date back to 1920. As with many inventions, the idea was there. but had to wait on technology to realize a practical device. I became fascinated with the idea of changing pitch without a change in duration and visa versa. I wanted to know how this was accomplished, so arranged a visit to UCLA for a demo. It was the ability to change pitch without changing duration that I was interested in. The ELTRO is a forsetter design, that is, it sets in front of a tape recorder. The machine I rented had an internal tape recorder. When the Cool Cool Water project came about, I rented the machine for ten days to transform all the water sounds from one event to twenty-six events, each a half-note apart. In this way a polyphonic chord could be played with each note of the chord starting and stopping at the same time. The machine was placed in Brian's living room, which would later become the house studio. At that time, recording of SmileySmile was underway and when I showed Brian what the machine did, he figured a place to use it in GB. I demonstrated it to Jimmy Lockart, the engineer for that album and the rest you hear. That would be around late 1966 or early 1967. Hope that helps.
~swd

References:

ELTRO II background >>> http://www.wendycarlos.com/other/Eltro-1967/Eltro-1967.pdf
 
ELTRO II history by Windy Carlos >>> http://www.wendycarlos.com/other/Eltro-1967/

First Imported 1966 >>> https://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Catalogs/Miscellaneous-Manufacturers/Gotham-Audio-1966.CV01.pdf



Brilliant, thank you so much for the info! That's exactly what I wanted to find out and more, I'll have to do some reading up on the links you attached. In that case I believe it can be pinpointed to sometime in June/July 1967 going off of the She's Goin' Bald association Smiley  

The earliest version of Cool Cool Water (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fmPrlVwXlA) comes from a session at Western about a week before the first known recordings in Brian's house, which suddenly makes a whole lot of sense next to what you're describing. I've always wondered if it was seriously being considered for the Smiley Smile album or which stage of the song's evolution was closest to the water-Chamberlin project!
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« Reply #1946 on: October 06, 2019, 11:38:25 AM »

I've always wondered if it was seriously being considered for the Smiley Smile album!

COMMENT to wjcrerar:  No CCW was not considered for SmileySmile, the album. It was still far from complete, even in writing, at that time. Union records do not always mean what they say. If a studio date shows CCW as one song worked on, it could mean, usually in Brian's case, trying out a small section to see what the playback sounded like. Or it could be recording on the piano trying several differing styles, or just to cut an Acetate for purposes of composition or adding harmonies while listening. In other words, don't be deceived by the ticket. It certainly does not mean a tracking session -- at least not for that song. It was entirely recorded at the house studio, so whatever was recorded was a test or trial. ~swd
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