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Author Topic: What if a 10-track Smile is released in Jan 67? How does it chart/what changes?  (Read 468 times)
thr33
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« on: November 11, 2020, 10:08:17 PM »

I'm sure this has been done before but wanted to see how people think it charts and how the Beach Boys' trajectory changes with this specific track-listing.

Hypothetical track-listing (10 tracks, no cross-fading):

Side A
Our Prayer (Smile Sessions version)
Heroes & Villains (2011 Smile Sessions version)
Wonderful (2011 Smile Sessions version)
I'm In Great Shape (medley with Barnyard and You Were My Sunshine Parts 1 + 2)
Cabin Essence (Smile Sessions version)

Side B
Good Vibrations (Smiley Smile version)
Vega-Tables (Smile Sessions version)
Wind Chimes (Good Vibrations Box version)
Mrs. O'Leary's Cow (Smile Sessions version)
Surf's Up (Smile Sessions Version)

Note 1: Yes I know the above mixes for Heroes & Villains, I'm In Great Shape and Vega-Tables didn't exist and Cabin Essence, Mrs. O'Leary's Cow and Surf's Up had vocals added. For the sake of this thread assume they are all completed for a January 1967 release.

Note 2: Do You Like Worms and Child is Father Of The Man are omitted as elements of both were repurposed for Heroes & Villains and Surf's Up respectively. Additionally, Mrs. O'Leary's Cow supplants The Elements.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2020, 10:10:33 PM by thr33 » Logged
juggler
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2020, 12:39:54 AM »

January '67?  Well, on the continuing strength of the still new-ish GV single at that point, I think that your imaginary album would have done fairly well. Some fans would undoubtedly have thought it weird, much like some thought that Pet Sounds was weird.  By then, the Beatles had moved into Strawberry Fields forever, so I'm not sure it would have been that disorienting.  Your tracklist is a hell of an album.  Way beyond most everything else that had been done by that point, with a few exceptions like Pet Sounds and Revolver.

Of course, as you note, any Jan '67 versions of nearly half those tracks would have been quite a bit different than the semi-finished versions that you list and were recorded and/or constructed after Jan '67.   But I get your point.  What if an album like that made it onto the shelves at the time?  Let's face it. This is the greatest, most enduring "what if" in the Beach Boys' long, storied history.  Less hash, less paranoia, less litigation, less resistance from the band, less perfectionism... and maybe you get a finished Smile album in winter/spring '67.  That's not what happened... at least in this timeline.   But it is what it is.  

 In my opinion, the greatest insight into Smile's demise comes in Brian's early 1968 Jamake Highwater interview wherein BW explains (or implies) that trying to complete Smile nearly killed him, that he had been experiencing paranoia that subsided when he moved on to the casualness of Smiley Smile, and that he "stopped trying to do such great things."  As a fan, it's an absolutely heartbreaking thing to hear him say, but I think that we all know that he was telling the truth.   In fact it's obvious, right?  With Heroes & Surf's Up & Cabin & the Elements and a few others, he was essentially trying to do a whole album in the ground-breaking, blow-your-mind, this-is-gonna-scare-a-lot-of-people manner in which he had done Good Vibrations.  But therein lies the problem.  GV took 6 months.  Like he tells Humble Harv, it was all about repetition. Keep working on it, redoing it over and over and over, and finally it'll become so visual that it manifests as a great masterpiece.   But turned out that didn't really work for a whole album, especially after you factor in the drugs, paranoia, intra-band conflicts, litigation, etc.   But what we have, even in its incomplete, unfinished form, is *still* a great masterpiece.   I compare it to Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Gaudi might have been able to finish a far less ambitious, far less grand project in his lifetime, but the things that he did do (the partial facade, the models, the sketches) are masterpieces.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2020, 02:31:43 AM by juggler » Logged
mtaber
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2020, 03:12:59 AM »

In my opinion, the specific make-up of a SMILE album, be it which titles were released and/or in what order, is not the deciding factor on how well the album would have fared commercially. The Beach Boys pre-dated the Beatles, and that was an important factor in how the general public at that time perceived the group.  Think about this. How many groups/artists that were successful prior to the Beatles rise were still commercially successful after the lads from Liverpool showed up on the charts? To a large degree, anything that represented “pre-Beatles” was viewed by the American public as uncool, out-dated and almost an embarrassment. Even the Beach Boys’ own label had this mindset, releasing hits compilations as Brian was soaring artistically with new, groundbreaking, mind blowing music. 

I think SMILE, if released in the general vicinity of 1967, would have been an album that would have done reasonably well, charting with a peak of around Top Ten, but not blowing everything in its path off the charts.  SMILE was/is great enough to  overcome the aforementioned obstacles to some degree, but the general public would have largely “looked the other way”.
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Gerry
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2020, 11:42:59 AM »

I think it would've changed the Beach Boys career. I always felt that for years they were paying for the disappointment of Smiley Smile. Especially in the eyes of the rock press, which was starting to become a "thing" at that time.
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Emdeeh
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2020, 11:49:27 AM »

I think it would have gotten some airplay on FM radio, but none on AM.
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Lonely Summer
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2020, 07:14:31 PM »

In my opinion, the specific make-up of a SMILE album, be it which titles were released and/or in what order, is not the deciding factor on how well the album would have fared commercially. The Beach Boys pre-dated the Beatles, and that was an important factor in how the general public at that time perceived the group.  Think about this. How many groups/artists that were successful prior to the Beatles rise were still commercially successful after the lads from Liverpool showed up on the charts? To a large degree, anything that represented “pre-Beatles” was viewed by the American public as uncool, out-dated and almost an embarrassment. Even the Beach Boys’ own label had this mindset, releasing hits compilations as Brian was soaring artistically with new, groundbreaking, mind blowing music. 

I think SMILE, if released in the general vicinity of 1967, would have been an album that would have done reasonably well, charting with a peak of around Top Ten, but not blowing everything in its path off the charts.  SMILE was/is great enough to  overcome the aforementioned obstacles to some degree, but the general public would have largely “looked the other way”.
Preceding the Beatles on American radio didn't stop Fun Fun Fun,  I Get Around, Don't Worry Baby, When I Grow Up, Do You Wanna Dance, Dance Dance Dance, Help Me Rhonda,  California Girls, The Little Girl I Once Knew, Barbara Ann, Sloop John B, God Only Knows, Wouldn't it Be Nice, and Good Vibrations from being hits.
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