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Author Topic: SMiLE was ready in 1967 - discuss  (Read 14985 times)
Angela Jones
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« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2022, 06:45:56 AM »

Interesting to compare the snippet of melody played by the upright bass on the clip Angela posted above to the melody Brian sings in the control room Rab mentioned at the link I just posted: They're in the same rhythmic groove, call it swing 8th's or dotted 8th note and a 16th note, but they're very similar motifs and both could compliment each other perfectly. The bass melody descends in a more smooth way, while the vocal is more angular.

Thanks Rab2591 and Guitarfool2002!

There is just so much to learn it's hard to get your head round, especially as much fits into different places.
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Galaxy Liz
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« Reply #26 on: July 20, 2022, 07:03:23 AM »

nspicuously, the list I made above of what needed to be done for each track on the December track list? Brian didn't do *any* of it in 1967 (except for arguably the work on Vegetables). Instead, he rerecorded things, he tinkered with Heroes, he started some new songs. Whatever he was doing, it wasn't finishing the album that he had conceived in the fall of 1966. Can a bootlegger make a great track list out of all the pieces Brian recorded during the Smile era? Yes, absolutely. But there is just no evidence whatsoever that Brian Wilson ever knew what the sequence was or that there is any way for anyone to figure out what his intentions were for it.
[/quote]

On 16, 17,18 May Brian worked on Love to Say Dada

On May 19 Capitol abandons the recordings for Smile
"Edited versions of the Love To Say Dada sessions are included in the 2011 Smile Sessions box; Brian certainly doesn’t sound like he knows that Smile is finished with. There is a playfulness to the announcement of each take, over both days of recordings. Brian affects a humorous voice, which he maintains throughout. The ‘Part Two, Second Day’ recordings (ie. 18th May 1967) also has an additional slide-whistle ‘birds singing’ development that suggests that this track is in process, with a finished version in mind.

That the Smile recordings were abandoned the next day does not appear to be reflected in the work the day before. And Smile ‘legend’ would have one believe that these sessions became increasingly weird, and increasingly ‘out of control’. But the recordings show the same Brian Wilson that all the Smile sessions reveal: a composer and a producer in control."

So the accepted history is utter rubbish and probably simply to protect the brand.  And it's funny how the message changed over time from 'it's a nuclear bomb' to 'let's release it' in 2011.

Brian himself in an interview about Smile says he realised he had 'art in the can'. Which rather sounds like he knew there was at least some of it ready.

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Galaxy Liz
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« Reply #27 on: July 20, 2022, 07:42:38 AM »

nspicuously, the list I made above of what needed to be done for each track on the December track list? Brian didn't do *any* of it in 1967 (except for arguably the work on Vegetables). Instead, he rerecorded things, he tinkered with Heroes, he started some new songs. Whatever he was doing, it wasn't finishing the album that he had conceived in the fall of 1966. Can a bootlegger make a great track list out of all the pieces Brian recorded during the Smile era? Yes, absolutely. But there is just no evidence whatsoever that Brian Wilson ever knew what the sequence was or that there is any way for anyone to figure out what his intentions were for it.

On 16, 17,18 May Brian worked on Love to Say Dada

On May 19 Capitol abandons the recordings for Smile
"Edited versions of the Love To Say Dada sessions are included in the 2011 Smile Sessions box; Brian certainly doesn’t sound like he knows that Smile is finished with. There is a playfulness to the announcement of each take, over both days of recordings. Brian affects a humorous voice, which he maintains throughout. The ‘Part Two, Second Day’ recordings (ie. 18th May 1967) also has an additional slide-whistle ‘birds singing’ development that suggests that this track is in process, with a finished version in mind.

That the Smile recordings were abandoned the next day does not appear to be reflected in the work the day before. And Smile ‘legend’ would have one believe that these sessions became increasingly weird, and increasingly ‘out of control’. But the recordings show the same Brian Wilson that all the Smile sessions reveal: a composer and a producer in control."

So the accepted history is utter rubbish and probably simply to protect the brand.  And it's funny how the message changed over time from 'it's a nuclear bomb' to 'let's release it' in 2011.

Brian himself in an interview about Smile says he realised he had 'art in the can'. Which rather sounds like he knew there was at least some of it ready.


[/quote]

In addition "In contrast to Brian’s own work alone, on sessions and tracks for Friends and 20/20, he does not appear to have been involved in the retrieval and reclamation of Prayer and Cabin Essence. That both tracks have survived intact, with some extra vocal overdubs on the former (plus its possessive retitling), and the new lead vocals (and final resequencing) of the latter, is probably only a reflection of the close-to-completion state of these session tapes."
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WillJC
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« Reply #28 on: July 20, 2022, 07:46:36 AM »


On 16, 17,18 May Brian worked on Love to Say Dada

On May 19 Capitol abandons the recordings for Smile
"Edited versions of the Love To Say Dada sessions are included in the 2011 Smile Sessions box; Brian certainly doesn’t sound like he knows that Smile is finished with. There is a playfulness to the announcement of each take, over both days of recordings. Brian affects a humorous voice, which he maintains throughout. The ‘Part Two, Second Day’ recordings (ie. 18th May 1967) also has an additional slide-whistle ‘birds singing’ development that suggests that this track is in process, with a finished version in mind.


The voice slating those takes is engineer Jimmy Hilton, and Smile had already been announced scrapped in a press release by Derek Taylor at the beginning of the month, a couple of weeks before the Da Da sessions.

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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #29 on: July 20, 2022, 07:57:22 AM »

It has caused some pretty intense arguments in the past, but I still have the opinion (based on the actual timeline, reports from those involved, and interviews with band members from 1967) that the Derek Taylor announcement was premature, if not inaccurate, and that the two weeks between that last "DaDa" session in May, the Beach Boys returning from a European tour where they got some bad reviews in the press, and work starting the first week in June on what would become the "Smiley" working method are KEY and absolutely essential in understanding why things happened as they did.

Literally everything about the band's working methods in terms of recording and production changed in those two weeks, late May into June 1967. If the term to describe the changes could be a "seismic event", it would be appropriate. Things simply do not change that drastically in that short a time without a major catalyst leading to the changes.

One of the main events was the Beach Boys returning from Europe shouldering some criticism about their live sound versus the records.

Unfortunately very few have spoken about those two weeks in late May '67 with any specifics, except perhaps Nick Grillo. And I doubt we'll ever know, because I think some seriously heavy discussions happened that went beyond "what's our next album?".
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Galaxy Liz
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« Reply #30 on: July 20, 2022, 08:04:23 AM »

"In the following it is assumed that all the documented sessions, as described by Brad Elliott in his article ”The Facts About SMiLE”, actually did take place. This would mean that some SMiLE fragments, particularly from vocal sessions, have not (yet) leaked out. This is quite possible, since according to Brad Elliott tapes from vocal sessions may have been left behind at the Columbia studios and later been moved to a warehouse. And then there is that other possibility, that they were actually destroyed...

By November 30, when the other Beach Boys returned to the studio to continue recording vocals after being away on tour for several weeks, SMiLE's status was this:

The instrumental sessions for at least seven of the eleven songs (excluding Good Vibrations) may have been finished: Heroes And Villains, Wind Chimes, Wonderful, Cabin Essence, Child Is Father Of The Man, Do You Like Worms and The Old Master Painter. For Surf’s Up only the first movement had been recorded, while Vega-Tables had not been started. No instrumental sessions are documented for I’m In Great Shape, while evidence about The Elements is unclear; session documentation seems to be missing (at least for the ”Water Chant”), so it may or may not have been finished.

As for the vocals, the a capella Our Prayer (the planned ”intro to the album”) had been recorded. Vocals for Wind Chimes and I’m In Great Shape were also laid down by Nov. 30, and some vocals had been recorded for Wonderful, Child Is Father Of The Man, Cabin Essence and Do You Like Worms.

After the other Beach Boys returned, vocals were recorded for The Old Master Painter (on Nov. 30) and Child Is Father Of The Man (Dec. 2 & 6). On Dec. 6 another vocal session was held for Cabin Essence, but the lead vocal for the ”Home On The Range” section seems not to have been recorded. Vocals for Heroes And Villains were recorded on Dec. 13 and for Wonderful on Dec. 15. The status of Heroes And Villains is unclear; possibly the original version incorporating ”Barnyard” had been finished by this time.

Thus, by December 15 it looks as though Wind Chimes, I’m In Great Shape (possibly a capella), The Old Master Painter, Child Is Father Of The Man, Cabin Essence (possibly excepting the ”Home On The Range” lead vocal), Heroes And Villains (”Barnyard” version), Wonderful, The Elements and the intro Our Prayer all could have been finished. That leaves only three tracks that were clearly unfinished: Do You Like Worms (group vocals missing), Surf’s Up (only the instrumental track for the first movement had been recorded) and Vega-Tables (which seems not to have been started).

With so much of SMiLE already in the can, it is difficult to see why the album could not have been finished by the ”deadline” of January 15. To finish, Brian basically only needed to record vocals for Do You Like Worms, instrumental tracks and vocals for Surf's Up and Vega-Tables, probably some more sweetening, and then do the final mixdowns. So why didn’t he finish?"
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BJL
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« Reply #31 on: July 20, 2022, 09:03:44 AM »

With so much of SMiLE already in the can, it is difficult to see why the album could not have been finished by the ”deadline” of January 15. To finish, Brian basically only needed to record vocals for Do You Like Worms, instrumental tracks and vocals for Surf's Up and Vega-Tables, probably some more sweetening, and then do the final mixdowns. So why didn’t he finish?"

I agree with this 100%. My list of things to be done is a little bit longer than the one you're quoting here, but not much. The album was very close to finished. And yet, close but no cigar. Why? On one level, the answer to this question is abundantly clear from the timeline of sessions: because Brian Wilson stopped working on Smile the album, and worked on Heroes and Villains the single almost exclusively, with the exception of a burst of work on Vegetables and the Love to Say Da Da sessions.

I agree with you 100% that Brian did not lose control of the sessions in the way the Smile myth once portrayed things; that he did not become bogged down in drugs and that the sessions did not become out of control weird. He was clearly still working at a high level. And, of course, Smiley Smile itself is the work of an artist still operating at a very high level. But the fact remains that Brian didn't finish Smile. And even if it were true that significant additional vocal sessions were done from which the tapes were left at Columbia and lost... the fact remains that had Brian finished any of these songs, as in mixing them down and assembling them onto a master reel... the fact that the session tapes were thrown out by some janitor at Columbia in 1969 wouldn't matter!

All that said, I feel like I'm usually the one arguing that Smile was way closer to being finished and Brian way more in control for longer than people have thought! So I really don't think we disagree much at all! Maybe just on the question of whether an authentic track sequence for the Smile sessions was created in 1967 which is knowable to fans today through research. But on the real substance of what happened in 1967, I think we're saying similar things, honestly.
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« Reply #32 on: July 20, 2022, 09:08:45 AM »

It has caused some pretty intense arguments in the past, but I still have the opinion (based on the actual timeline, reports from those involved, and interviews with band members from 1967) that the Derek Taylor announcement was premature, if not inaccurate, and that the two weeks between that last "DaDa" session in May, the Beach Boys returning from a European tour where they got some bad reviews in the press, and work starting the first week in June on what would become the "Smiley" working method are KEY and absolutely essential in understanding why things happened as they did.

Literally everything about the band's working methods in terms of recording and production changed in those two weeks, late May into June 1967. If the term to describe the changes could be a "seismic event", it would be appropriate. Things simply do not change that drastically in that short a time without a major catalyst leading to the changes.

One of the main events was the Beach Boys returning from Europe shouldering some criticism about their live sound versus the records.

Unfortunately very few have spoken about those two weeks in late May '67 with any specifics, except perhaps Nick Grillo. And I doubt we'll ever know, because I think some seriously heavy discussions happened that went beyond "what's our next album?".

Yea, on some level I think there must have been an explosive confrontation of some sort within the band in the transition to Smiley Smile... I mean, how could there not have been? But then, some things simply cannot be known. And at the same time, if they'd gone straight to Wild Honey, it all would make perfect sense. But Smiley Smile is so incredibly weird, and so incredibly Brian...
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Galaxy Liz
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« Reply #33 on: July 20, 2022, 09:22:20 AM »

And in July 1967 it seems that Capitol still planned to issue Smile after Smiley Smile and Smiley Smile used the same reference. 

Capitol Smile memo reads

"After discussing a number of alternatives with Schwartz, Polley, and Brian Wilson, I agreed with Brian that the best course of action would be to not include [the Smile] booklet with the Smiley Smile package, but rather to hold it for the next album which would include the aforementioned 10 selections. The second album which would be packaged with the booklet would not include the selections Heroes and Villains and Vegetables. However, inasmuch as these two selections would have already been released, I believe the consumer would be quick to pick up the connection between the cartoon and these tracks. In fact, some word of explanation could be included in the liner notes of the second album."

(quoted in Brad Elliott’s The Facts About Smile, originally published 1984, reprinted 1988 in Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile! p. 160)

After June 11th Brian home studio was operational.
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Galaxy Liz
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« Reply #34 on: July 20, 2022, 09:27:21 AM »


On 16, 17,18 May Brian worked on Love to Say Dada

On May 19 Capitol abandons the recordings for Smile
"Edited versions of the Love To Say Dada sessions are included in the 2011 Smile Sessions box; Brian certainly doesn’t sound like he knows that Smile is finished with. There is a playfulness to the announcement of each take, over both days of recordings. Brian affects a humorous voice, which he maintains throughout. The ‘Part Two, Second Day’ recordings (ie. 18th May 1967) also has an additional slide-whistle ‘birds singing’ development that suggests that this track is in process, with a finished version in mind.


The voice slating those takes is engineer Jimmy Hilton, and Smile had already been announced scrapped in a press release by Derek Taylor at the beginning of the month, a couple of weeks before the Da Da sessions.



I can't be sure about the voice - I'd have to listen again but why exactly was there a recording session for Dada if the album was scrapped and why in July did Capitol still plan to issue it post Smiley Smile?  There seems to be quite a bit of revisionist history going on.
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« Reply #35 on: July 20, 2022, 09:39:30 AM »

It has caused some pretty intense arguments in the past, but I still have the opinion (based on the actual timeline, reports from those involved, and interviews with band members from 1967) that the Derek Taylor announcement was premature, if not inaccurate, and that the two weeks between that last "DaDa" session in May, the Beach Boys returning from a European tour where they got some bad reviews in the press, and work starting the first week in June on what would become the "Smiley" working method are KEY and absolutely essential in understanding why things happened as they did.

Literally everything about the band's working methods in terms of recording and production changed in those two weeks, late May into June 1967. If the term to describe the changes could be a "seismic event", it would be appropriate. Things simply do not change that drastically in that short a time without a major catalyst leading to the changes.

One of the main events was the Beach Boys returning from Europe shouldering some criticism about their live sound versus the records.

Unfortunately very few have spoken about those two weeks in late May '67 with any specifics, except perhaps Nick Grillo. And I doubt we'll ever know, because I think some seriously heavy discussions happened that went beyond "what's our next album?".

Yea, on some level I think there must have been an explosive confrontation of some sort within the band in the transition to Smiley Smile... I mean, how could there not have been? But then, some things simply cannot be known. And at the same time, if they'd gone straight to Wild Honey, it all would make perfect sense. But Smiley Smile is so incredibly weird, and so incredibly Brian...

This is exactly what confuses me about the SMiLE to Smiley Smile transition. The music took such a dark/stark turn - it went from mostly happy and jovial to downright haunting. He went from the pinnacle of wall-of-sound with Pet Sounds (a sound that Brian had been using for years that led to so much of their success and fame) to the haunting desolation of Smiley Smile virtually overnight.

Did Brian really think that such a dramatic shift in sound was their key to a successful record? What did the other band members think of the shift in sound?

Guitarfool's quote above "One of the main events was the Beach Boys returning from Europe shouldering some criticism about their live sound versus the records." sheds some light on this, but I just can't see the guys (or Brian for that matter) saying "hey, we got a number 1 record with Good Vibrations, I bet our Woody Woodpecker song is really going to blow their minds next!"

I am way oversimplifying things, and I'm not staunchly fixed in my viewpoints regarding this era (mostly because it is just too confusing of a time, with so many variables, that it's impossible for me to have a logical/concrete perspective on it). But I'd also like to learn more about the band/Brian and this dramatic shift.
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« Reply #36 on: July 20, 2022, 09:54:42 AM »

It has caused some pretty intense arguments in the past, but I still have the opinion (based on the actual timeline, reports from those involved, and interviews with band members from 1967) that the Derek Taylor announcement was premature, if not inaccurate, and that the two weeks between that last "DaDa" session in May, the Beach Boys returning from a European tour where they got some bad reviews in the press, and work starting the first week in June on what would become the "Smiley" working method are KEY and absolutely essential in understanding why things happened as they did.

Literally everything about the band's working methods in terms of recording and production changed in those two weeks, late May into June 1967. If the term to describe the changes could be a "seismic event", it would be appropriate. Things simply do not change that drastically in that short a time without a major catalyst leading to the changes.

One of the main events was the Beach Boys returning from Europe shouldering some criticism about their live sound versus the records.

Unfortunately very few have spoken about those two weeks in late May '67 with any specifics, except perhaps Nick Grillo. And I doubt we'll ever know, because I think some seriously heavy discussions happened that went beyond "what's our next album?".

Yea, on some level I think there must have been an explosive confrontation of some sort within the band in the transition to Smiley Smile... I mean, how could there not have been? But then, some things simply cannot be known. And at the same time, if they'd gone straight to Wild Honey, it all would make perfect sense. But Smiley Smile is so incredibly weird, and so incredibly Brian...

One of the articles I read put it down as 6th December over the lyrics to Surfs Up as a result the planned Surf's Up vocal wasn't completed that day.  Which I can't disagree with but despite but  somehow still have a recording of Surfs Up.  We also know that Brian's home studio became operational on 11th June and despite the album supposedly being scrapped in May, in July Capitol still planned its release post Smiley Smile and were using the same reference for both albums.  Perhaps the finishing of some of the Smile music is buried under the records for Smiley Smile?

And Brian very definitely recorded Smiley Smile at his home and tried to make it into the humour album according to Anderle and came up with the 'miracle' way of mixing so he was very much still on top of his game.  I think the accepted history is quite far from what actually happened.
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Galaxy Liz
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« Reply #37 on: July 20, 2022, 10:07:43 AM »


[/quote]

This is exactly what confuses me about the SMiLE to Smiley Smile transition. The music took such a dark/stark turn - it went from mostly happy and jovial to downright haunting. He went from the pinnacle of wall-of-sound with Pet Sounds (a sound that Brian had been using for years that led to so much of their success and fame) to the haunting desolation of Smiley Smile virtually overnight.

Did Brian really think that such a dramatic shift in sound was their key to a successful record? What did the other band members think of the shift in sound?

Guitarfool's quote above "One of the main events was the Beach Boys returning from Europe shouldering some criticism about their live sound versus the records." sheds some light on this, but I just can't see the guys (or Brian for that matter) saying "hey, we got a number 1 record with Good Vibrations, I bet our Woody Woodpecker song is really going to blow their minds next!"

I am way oversimplifying things, and I'm not staunchly fixed in my viewpoints regarding this era (mostly because it is just too confusing of a time, with so many variables, that it's impossible for me to have a logical/concrete perspective on it). But I'd also like to learn more about the band/Brian and this dramatic shift.
[/quote]

I don't think that Smiley Smile is that dark.  They say it is the ideal chill out album for those coming down from LSD and has been used to help people in this regard.  It's supposed to be the good humour album.  I think Smile is darker or at least more serious.  Of course the other band members hated Smile presumably they hated Smiley Smile less.  VDP's lyrics were dropped from Vegetables and Fire converted to the Woody Woodpecker Symphony which is a little more cheerful than Brian dying in flames and presumably the band preferred removing VDPs lyrics which were known to be a point of contention.
I'd say that the dramatic change was down to Brian wanting to progress (rather than die which is how he sees the alternative) and his collaboration with VDP who brought other aspects to Brian's work and a whole net work of other meanings.
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Angela Jones
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« Reply #38 on: July 20, 2022, 10:14:43 AM »

I DO find Smiley Smile quite ... well, I'm not sure 'dark' is the right word but a bit shadowy - I've always thought of it as the shadow of SMiLE.

It's such a confusing period of their history, with conflicting reports. Hard to know what to think but interesting trying to find out.

Not directly relevant to the thread but I found someone's suggestion of an explanation for part of the H&V lyric: 'Here's a wild and crazy interpretation on my part:
To ride in the rough and sunny downs.
's 'nough I'm alright (It's enough that I'm alright) with the heroes and villains.
It works with what I hear.' (https://forum.wordreference.com/.../sunny-down-snuff.../)

Sounds typical of a VDP pun....
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« Reply #39 on: July 20, 2022, 10:44:12 AM »

I don't think that Smiley Smile is that dark.  They say it is the ideal chill out album for those coming down from LSD and has been used to help people in this regard.  It's supposed to be the good humour album.  I think Smile is darker or at least more serious.  Of course the other band members hated Smile presumably they hated Smiley Smile less.  VDP's lyrics were dropped from Vegetables and Fire converted to the Woody Woodpecker Symphony which is a little more cheerful than Brian dying in flames and presumably the band preferred removing VDPs lyrics which were known to be a point of contention.
I'd say that the dramatic change was down to Brian wanting to progress (rather than die which is how he sees the alternative) and his collaboration with VDP who brought other aspects to Brian's work and a whole net work of other meanings.

I completely respect your viewpoint (and your explanation makes sense to me), but I have such a drastically different opinion about the Smiley tracks.

While the original Fire song is rather out there, the creepy deep "whomp whomp" (really for lack of a better way to describe it LOL) that start the Woody Woodpecker track (and is repeated throughout) is so darn haunting. And 'She's Goin Bald' gives me the most disturbing mental image of some poor woman suffering from a severe case of alopecia. That and the organ playing in many of the songs just puts me in a weird mood. Never done LSD, will never do LSD, but for the life of me I don't see how this isn't a one way ticket to a bad trip! But then again, I have no experience with it, and am completely ignorant about such matters.
_______

I can see why Brian would want to progress in his style/sound - he really brought about this stripped down style that bands started adopting post-67. But it is such a crazy shift - I just can't believe the guys were okay with it, especially after the wild success of Good Vibrations.
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« Reply #40 on: July 20, 2022, 10:46:48 AM »

Everyone has their own filter for this stuff of course, but I think "dark" is one of many apt descriptors for certainly large hunks of "Smiley Smile."

"Fall Breaks..." is not exactly a light, fluffy major key remake. When they laid the "Fall Breaks" elements onto the "Smile" track for the "Smile Sessions" box, it arguably made the song *more* ominous.

I guess creepy or spooky or whatnot are equally apt. There's a fine line between the songs sounding just kind of stoned and starting to sound kind of ominous. Less lyrically than in terms of texture and vibe and music. "Wonderful", "Wind Chimes", even some of the sort of peppy-sounding stuff like "Gettin' Hungry" and "She's Goin' Bald" has this kind of jarring, jutting nature to elements of those tracks.

Also, it's a huge oversimplification to say the rest of the band "hated" Smile. Most of the band members knew they were hearing brilliant stuff (and they sang on it). Most of them were only skeptical about the logistics of it much more than the music itself, beyond the well-documented issues (Mike and the lyrics, etc.).

Looking at the subsequent history of the band, passing on releasing music or even actively shutting down work on tracks doesn't necessarily equate to any particular hate. We're currently in the middle of an archival release program where the band laid down HOURS of amazing music that in some cases they simply wrote, recorded, and then forgot about. Simultaneously brilliant and foolish of course.
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« Reply #41 on: July 20, 2022, 10:53:58 AM »

One way I would describe how “close” the “Smile” album ever was to being “finished” would be to point to the circa 1995 Paley sessions. The comparison is only apt in this specific way: Andy Paley has gone on record saying the Beach Boys could have cut vocals for *an entire album* of that material in two days.

Similarly, it’s easy to look at the “Smile” assembly presented at the front of the “Smile Sessions” box and say “well, all we need is the following overdubs…..” Even if we ignore that the circa 2003 work on compiling a “finished” album accomplished a lot of the compositional work to getting the track flow to seem “complete”, and we just assume for the sake of argument that the assembly as presented on the 2011 set could have existed in 1967 and just needed X number of overdubs, a very similar problem presents itself as what happened decades later on the Paley material.

Namely, get all of the creators and band members in there to do the work. There are approximately 87 roadblocks to making that happen. Yes, the Paley project had more business/internal politics issues than “Smile” did (arguably, certainly *different* types of those issues). But there’s a TON of BB material, and just projects in general, that are seemingly *so* close to happening, yet are a million miles away.

And that’s not even getting into truly actual *finished* projects that have been shelved.
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« Reply #42 on: July 20, 2022, 10:58:15 AM »

As ever, it is useful to keep in mind that the Beach Boys is not just a band, or group, that makes music.  Before that, they are a family. It so happens that this family makes music and then found commercial success with that music, but they are a family first and foremost.

For the Beach Boys, Smiley Smile is preferable to whatever Smile could or would have been because Smiley is, in their collective mindset, a collective endeavor by the whole band ("Produced by the Beach Boys") with all members engaged in the creation of the album.  The album is recorded in sequestered  family space, Brian Wilson's home, away from the outsiders and various external "bad influences" that are perceived to the cause of Brian's problems.  In this way, Smiley Smile is indeed Smile - but only the Beach Boys' version of Smile, not that of Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks.

During the time period in question, they primary operating goal of the collective Beach Boys is not musical, let alone artistic.  As of mid-1967, the main purpose of the Beach Boys is to stay together as a family/band. Their career is, arguably, in jeopardy during the Smile-era, and once Smile collapses, it becomes more apparent that something must be done, and done quickly, to right the ship, or to revert the Beach Boys back to its prior equilibrium state - that of a unified family organization, rather than an artistic dictatorship whereby all members of the family are at the mercy of the whims of one eccentric family member.

Stability is goal number one, because if they cannot do that, then everything else - chart ranking, singles, musical quality, etc. - is moot.  Because of Brian's actions circa 1966-67, the family foundation of the Beach Boys had been in jeopardy.  If that hadn't been the case - for example, if, hypothetically, Brian had hired Tony Asher to help him write happy, up-tempo songs about boy-girl relationships - there wouldn't have been as much of a problem.  If the family foundation is strong and secure (i.e., nobody in the band is going to leave, or go solo, or do anything that threatens the existence of the band) then yes, it is possible to move on and try to make good music. This was the state of things in, say, 1963, and into the first half of 1964. In those days the Beach Boys, as a whole, single entity, is in good shape (especially if they can put some distance between themselves and Murry, which they did)  Brian Wilson, however, as an individual, is progressively in worse and worse shape, as signified by the nervous breakdown at the end of 1964.

Anybody can fill in the rest... it's basically a tug-of-war between Brian and what he represents (both positive and negative) and the Beach Boys business family and what it represents (both positive and negative). Anyway, this dynamic is a significant (though not the only) reason Smiley Smile sounds the way it does in comparison to the Smile Sessions music. Smiley was a function of business necessity (survival) , not just unfettered artistic license on the part of the band members, as if they could easily choose what they wanted Smiley to sound like.

Smiley is a a reflection of the Beach Boys as of mid-1967: talented, but hopelessly dysfunctional.  I appreciate Smiley too, but to really celebrate the album, you need to push the dysfunction and family problems out of your mind and pretend that the Beach Boys are happily unified and are intending to make a cool, weird, left-field album.

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« Reply #43 on: July 20, 2022, 11:52:08 AM »

One way I would describe how “close” the “Smile” album ever was to being “finished” would be to point to the circa 1995 Paley sessions. The comparison is only apt in this specific way: Andy Paley has gone on record saying the Beach Boys could have cut vocals for *an entire album* of that material in two days.

Similarly, it’s easy to look at the “Smile” assembly presented at the front of the “Smile Sessions” box and say “well, all we need is the following overdubs…..” Even if we ignore that the circa 2003 work on compiling a “finished” album accomplished a lot of the compositional work to getting the track flow to seem “complete”, and we just assume for the sake of argument that the assembly as presented on the 2011 set could have existed in 1967 and just needed X number of overdubs, a very similar problem presents itself as what happened decades later on the Paley material.

Namely, get all of the creators and band members in there to do the work. There are approximately 87 roadblocks to making that happen. Yes, the Paley project had more business/internal politics issues than “Smile” did (arguably, certainly *different* types of those issues). But there’s a TON of BB material, and just projects in general, that are seemingly *so* close to happening, yet are a million miles away.

And that’s not even getting into truly actual *finished* projects that have been shelved.


along those lines, Brian must have considered Van Dyke Park's work unfinished, or else it wouldn't have been such a big deal when he quit the project. So assuming that the lyrics we have represent the lyrics that Brian and Van Dyke Parks assumed they would need is also probably a mistake.

Edit: another thought on this theme: during the Pet Sounds sessions, Brian often seems to have recorded a scratch vocal while the band was away for songs, like Here Today or I know There's an Answer, that were presumably always intended for other band members, or like Wouldn't it be Nice that weren't. I was *going* to say that Brian didn't do that as often on the Smile material, probably because before he could record a scratch vocal, he had to assemble the backing track from its various pieces, and that this extra step ended up getting on the way of things getting finished. But then it occurred to me, thinking about Bicycle Rider's comment early in the thread about Wonderful possibly being intended for Carl from the beginning, that actually Brian *was* doing this, and that the vocals we have on songs like Wonderful or Wind Chimes were just guide vocals, in which case actually Brian had done almost no recording of lead vocals at all. Which would feed into the theory that getting the Beach Boys together to do the necessary work was a big part of the problem.
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« Reply #44 on: July 20, 2022, 12:34:22 PM »

I don't think that Smiley Smile is that dark.  They say it is the ideal chill out album for those coming down from LSD and has been used to help people in this regard.  It's supposed to be the good humour album.  I think Smile is darker or at least more serious.  Of course the other band members hated Smile presumably they hated Smiley Smile less.  VDP's lyrics were dropped from Vegetables and Fire converted to the Woody Woodpecker Symphony which is a little more cheerful than Brian dying in flames and presumably the band preferred removing VDPs lyrics which were known to be a point of contention.
I'd say that the dramatic change was down to Brian wanting to progress (rather than die which is how he sees the alternative) and his collaboration with VDP who brought other aspects to Brian's work and a whole net work of other meanings.

I completely respect your viewpoint (and your explanation makes sense to me), but I have such a drastically different opinion about the Smiley tracks.

While the original Fire song is rather out there, the creepy deep "whomp whomp" (really for lack of a better way to describe it LOL) that start the Woody Woodpecker track (and is repeated throughout) is so darn haunting. And 'She's Goin Bald' gives me the most disturbing mental image of some poor woman suffering from a severe case of alopecia. That and the organ playing in many of the songs just puts me in a weird mood. Never done LSD, will never do LSD, but for the life of me I don't see how this isn't a one way ticket to a bad trip! But then again, I have no experience with it, and am completely ignorant about such matters.
_______

I can see why Brian would want to progress in his style/sound - he really brought about this stripped down style that bands started adopting post-67. But it is such a crazy shift - I just can't believe the guys were okay with it, especially after the wild success of Good Vibrations.
Truth be told, the first time I heard "Fall Breaks..." is scared the hell out of me. It still creeps me out a bit. But you know what really creeps me out? Believe it or not, it's "With Me Tonight". I have no idea why. It just gives me an unsettled feeling. Same with "Wonderful", "Wind Chimes", and "She's Goin' Bald". The thing about the whole Smile saga that confuses me the most is, if everybody was so worried about Brian getting so freaked out with making weird music that would alienate their fans, why on earth would the group instead release an album that is approximately 1000% percent weirder(not to mention commercially polarizing)?
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« Reply #45 on: July 20, 2022, 01:52:54 PM »

I don't think that Smiley Smile is that dark.  They say it is the ideal chill out album for those coming down from LSD and has been used to help people in this regard.  It's supposed to be the good humour album.  I think Smile is darker or at least more serious.  Of course the other band members hated Smile presumably they hated Smiley Smile less.  VDP's lyrics were dropped from Vegetables and Fire converted to the Woody Woodpecker Symphony which is a little more cheerful than Brian dying in flames and presumably the band preferred removing VDPs lyrics which were known to be a point of contention.
I'd say that the dramatic change was down to Brian wanting to progress (rather than die which is how he sees the alternative) and his collaboration with VDP who brought other aspects to Brian's work and a whole net work of other meanings.

I completely respect your viewpoint (and your explanation makes sense to me), but I have such a drastically different opinion about the Smiley tracks.

While the original Fire song is rather out there, the creepy deep "whomp whomp" (really for lack of a better way to describe it LOL) that start the Woody Woodpecker track (and is repeated throughout) is so darn haunting. And 'She's Goin Bald' gives me the most disturbing mental image of some poor woman suffering from a severe case of alopecia. That and the organ playing in many of the songs just puts me in a weird mood. Never done LSD, will never do LSD, but for the life of me I don't see how this isn't a one way ticket to a bad trip! But then again, I have no experience with it, and am completely ignorant about such matters.
_______

I can see why Brian would want to progress in his style/sound - he really brought about this stripped down style that bands started adopting post-67. But it is such a crazy shift - I just can't believe the guys were okay with it, especially after the wild success of Good Vibrations.
Truth be told, the first time I heard "Fall Breaks..." is scared the hell out of me. It still creeps me out a bit. But you know what really creeps me out? Believe it or not, it's "With Me Tonight". I have no idea why. It just gives me an unsettled feeling. Same with "Wonderful", "Wind Chimes", and "She's Goin' Bald". The thing about the whole Smile saga that confuses me the most is, if everybody was so worried about Brian getting so freaked out with making weird music that would alienate their fans, why on earth would the group instead release an album that is approximately 1000% percent weirder(not to mention commercially polarizing)?


Exactly! If  anything , it was *further* from The Beach Boys’s “formula”. If the issue was time…why instead start a new album and re-record most everything? And…why in the hell would you choose the name “Smiley Smile” and risk confusing the public , especially if the goal was to allegedly release Smile later?
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« Reply #46 on: July 20, 2022, 02:02:35 PM »

So many things about this time period are confusing.
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« Reply #47 on: July 20, 2022, 02:09:52 PM »

As ever, it is useful to keep in mind that the Beach Boys is not just a band, or group, that makes music.  Before that, they are a family. It so happens that this family makes music and then found commercial success with that music, but they are a family first and foremost.

For the Beach Boys, Smiley Smile is preferable to whatever Smile could or would have been because Smiley is, in their collective mindset, a collective endeavor by the whole band ("Produced by the Beach Boys") with all members engaged in the creation of the album.  The album is recorded in sequestered  family space, Brian Wilson's home, away from the outsiders and various external "bad influences" that are perceived to the cause of Brian's problems.  In this way, Smiley Smile is indeed Smile - but only the Beach Boys' version of Smile, not that of Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks.

During the time period in question, they primary operating goal of the collective Beach Boys is not musical, let alone artistic.  As of mid-1967, the main purpose of the Beach Boys is to stay together as a family/band. Their career is, arguably, in jeopardy during the Smile-era, and once Smile collapses, it becomes more apparent that something must be done, and done quickly, to right the ship, or to revert the Beach Boys back to its prior equilibrium state - that of a unified family organization, rather than an artistic dictatorship whereby all members of the family are at the mercy of the whims of one eccentric family member.

Stability is goal number one, because if they cannot do that, then everything else - chart ranking, singles, musical quality, etc. - is moot.  Because of Brian's actions circa 1966-67, the family foundation of the Beach Boys had been in jeopardy.  If that hadn't been the case - for example, if, hypothetically, Brian had hired Tony Asher to help him write happy, up-tempo songs about boy-girl relationships - there wouldn't have been as much of a problem.  If the family foundation is strong and secure (i.e., nobody in the band is going to leave, or go solo, or do anything that threatens the existence of the band) then yes, it is possible to move on and try to make good music. This was the state of things in, say, 1963, and into the first half of 1964. In those days the Beach Boys, as a whole, single entity, is in good shape (especially if they can put some distance between themselves and Murry, which they did)  Brian Wilson, however, as an individual, is progressively in worse and worse shape, as signified by the nervous breakdown at the end of 1964.

Anybody can fill in the rest... it's basically a tug-of-war between Brian and what he represents (both positive and negative) and the Beach Boys business family and what it represents (both positive and negative). Anyway, this dynamic is a significant (though not the only) reason Smiley Smile sounds the way it does in comparison to the Smile Sessions music. Smiley was a function of business necessity (survival) , not just unfettered artistic license on the part of the band members, as if they could easily choose what they wanted Smiley to sound like.

Smiley is a a reflection of the Beach Boys as of mid-1967: talented, but hopelessly dysfunctional.  I appreciate Smiley too, but to really celebrate the album, you need to push the dysfunction and family problems out of your mind and pretend that the Beach Boys are happily unified and are intending to make a cool, weird, left-field album.


No, The Beach Boys are a band that makes music.  Brian has other cousins who are not in the band.  Al and Bruce are no relation at all.  If the group disbanded those who are family would still be family.

If your primary aim is to keep the group (family and non-family) together then it still is way off target since it started the decline in Brian’s creative involvement in the group and his decline in health and into drug taking and remaining in his room which eventually ended with them expelling him from the group. 

But that isn’t the primary aim of a group.  It is to make music and the best music that they can.  As they very soon started trading off Smile - not The Beach Boys version but the version by Brian and VDP - by promising its release and then putting pieces of it on various albums it’s obvious that they realised its worth eventually.  Brian puts a version of it out to great acclaim and then in 2011 The Smile Sessions are released which presumably was approved by the remaining band.

Smiley Smile was labelled ‘produced by the Beach Boys’ yet they over ruled Brian’s wishes not to include GV.  It is made in Brian Wilson’s home not the Beach Boys family home!

Mike Love was not happy with Tony Asher’s lyrical contribution either.  There was a problem during Pet Sounds.

What it basically amounted to was that Brian had musical acumen which the other band members lacked but they didn’t trust him.  Them forcing Brian to abandon 3 Dog Night who he had signed to Brother and then blaming Brian for not keeping them when they went on to be extremely successful is another case in point of them not trusting Brian’s skill and then blaming him for them not doing so. So basically instead of keeping the band together, they shot themselves in the foot.

According to David Anderle Brian did intend to make a good humour album and THAT is Smiley Smile.
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« Reply #48 on: July 20, 2022, 02:18:12 PM »

I don't think that Smiley Smile is that dark.  They say it is the ideal chill out album for those coming down from LSD and has been used to help people in this regard.  It's supposed to be the good humour album.  I think Smile is darker or at least more serious.  Of course the other band members hated Smile presumably they hated Smiley Smile less.  VDP's lyrics were dropped from Vegetables and Fire converted to the Woody Woodpecker Symphony which is a little more cheerful than Brian dying in flames and presumably the band preferred removing VDPs lyrics which were known to be a point of contention.
I'd say that the dramatic change was down to Brian wanting to progress (rather than die which is how he sees the alternative) and his collaboration with VDP who brought other aspects to Brian's work and a whole net work of other meanings.

I completely respect your viewpoint (and your explanation makes sense to me), but I have such a drastically different opinion about the Smiley tracks.

While the original Fire song is rather out there, the creepy deep "whomp whomp" (really for lack of a better way to describe it LOL) that start the Woody Woodpecker track (and is repeated throughout) is so darn haunting. And 'She's Goin Bald' gives me the most disturbing mental image of some poor woman suffering from a severe case of alopecia. That and the organ playing in many of the songs just puts me in a weird mood. Never done LSD, will never do LSD, but for the life of me I don't see how this isn't a one way ticket to a bad trip! But then again, I have no experience with it, and am completely ignorant about such matters.
_______

I can see why Brian would want to progress in his style/sound - he really brought about this stripped down style that bands started adopting post-67. But it is such a crazy shift - I just can't believe the guys were okay with it, especially after the wild success of Good Vibrations.
Truth be told, the first time I heard "Fall Breaks..." is scared the hell out of me. It still creeps me out a bit. But you know what really creeps me out? Believe it or not, it's "With Me Tonight". I have no idea why. It just gives me an unsettled feeling. Same with "Wonderful", "Wind Chimes", and "She's Goin' Bald". The thing about the whole Smile saga that confuses me the most is, if everybody was so worried about Brian getting so freaked out with making weird music that would alienate their fans, why on earth would the group instead release an album that is approximately 1000% percent weirder(not to mention commercially polarizing)?


Exactly! If  anything , it was *further* from The Beach Boys’s “formula”. If the issue was time…why instead start a new album and re-record most everything? And…why in the hell would you choose the name “Smiley Smile” and risk confusing the public , especially if the goal was to allegedly release Smile later?

In his discussions with Capitol Brian seems to want to link the Smiley with Smile but I suspect that Smiley enabled Brian to continue working on Smile when the rest of the group were against it being released.  It also seems that the greatest objection to Smile were VDPs lyrics.  Vege-tables had VDP's lyrics removed and replacements put in and the whole album is dumbed down lyrically - too late for H&V though and Wonderful survived.
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« Reply #49 on: July 20, 2022, 02:40:49 PM »

As ever, it is useful to keep in mind that the Beach Boys is not just a band, or group, that makes music.  Before that, they are a family. It so happens that this family makes music and then found commercial success with that music, but they are a family first and foremost.

For the Beach Boys, Smiley Smile is preferable to whatever Smile could or would have been because Smiley is, in their collective mindset, a collective endeavor by the whole band ("Produced by the Beach Boys") with all members engaged in the creation of the album.  The album is recorded in sequestered  family space, Brian Wilson's home, away from the outsiders and various external "bad influences" that are perceived to the cause of Brian's problems.  In this way, Smiley Smile is indeed Smile - but only the Beach Boys' version of Smile, not that of Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks.

During the time period in question, they primary operating goal of the collective Beach Boys is not musical, let alone artistic.  As of mid-1967, the main purpose of the Beach Boys is to stay together as a family/band. Their career is, arguably, in jeopardy during the Smile-era, and once Smile collapses, it becomes more apparent that something must be done, and done quickly, to right the ship, or to revert the Beach Boys back to its prior equilibrium state - that of a unified family organization, rather than an artistic dictatorship whereby all members of the family are at the mercy of the whims of one eccentric family member.

Stability is goal number one, because if they cannot do that, then everything else - chart ranking, singles, musical quality, etc. - is moot.  Because of Brian's actions circa 1966-67, the family foundation of the Beach Boys had been in jeopardy.  If that hadn't been the case - for example, if, hypothetically, Brian had hired Tony Asher to help him write happy, up-tempo songs about boy-girl relationships - there wouldn't have been as much of a problem.  If the family foundation is strong and secure (i.e., nobody in the band is going to leave, or go solo, or do anything that threatens the existence of the band) then yes, it is possible to move on and try to make good music. This was the state of things in, say, 1963, and into the first half of 1964. In those days the Beach Boys, as a whole, single entity, is in good shape (especially if they can put some distance between themselves and Murry, which they did)  Brian Wilson, however, as an individual, is progressively in worse and worse shape, as signified by the nervous breakdown at the end of 1964.

Anybody can fill in the rest... it's basically a tug-of-war between Brian and what he represents (both positive and negative) and the Beach Boys business family and what it represents (both positive and negative). Anyway, this dynamic is a significant (though not the only) reason Smiley Smile sounds the way it does in comparison to the Smile Sessions music. Smiley was a function of business necessity (survival) , not just unfettered artistic license on the part of the band members, as if they could easily choose what they wanted Smiley to sound like.

Smiley is a a reflection of the Beach Boys as of mid-1967: talented, but hopelessly dysfunctional.  I appreciate Smiley too, but to really celebrate the album, you need to push the dysfunction and family problems out of your mind and pretend that the Beach Boys are happily unified and are intending to make a cool, weird, left-field album.


No, The Beach Boys are a band that makes music.  Brian has other cousins who are not in the band.  Al and Bruce are no relation at all.  If the group disbanded those who are family would still be family.

If your primary aim is to keep the group (family and non-family) together then it still is way off target since it started the decline in Brian’s creative involvement in the group and his decline in health and into drug taking and remaining in his room which eventually ended with them expelling him from the group. 

But that isn’t the primary aim of a group.  It is to make music and the best music that they can.  As they very soon started trading off Smile - not The Beach Boys version but the version by Brian and VDP - by promising its release and then putting pieces of it on various albums it’s obvious that they realised its worth eventually.  Brian puts a version of it out to great acclaim and then in 2011 The Smile Sessions are released which presumably was approved by the remaining band.

Smiley Smile was labelled ‘produced by the Beach Boys’ yet they over ruled Brian’s wishes not to include GV.  It is made in Brian Wilson’s home not the Beach Boys family home!

Mike Love was not happy with Tony Asher’s lyrical contribution either.  There was a problem during Pet Sounds.

What it basically amounted to was that Brian had musical acumen which the other band members lacked but they didn’t trust him.  Them forcing Brian to abandon 3 Dog Night who he had signed to Brother and then blaming Brian for not keeping them when they went on to be extremely successful is another case in point of them not trusting Brian’s skill and then blaming him for them not doing so. So basically instead of keeping the band together, they shot themselves in the foot.

According to David Anderle Brian did intend to make a good humour album and THAT is Smiley Smile.

This is a vast, vast oversimplification of the rest of the band's attitude towards Brian (and their attitude towards the "Smile" music), especially if we're lumping *all* of the other members together.

There's no successful reductionist approach to trying to explain the demise of "Smile", and certainly no reductionist approach to trying to explain the demise of Brian, both within the group and outside of the group.

And if we're getting into "expelling Brian from the group", which I have to assume means the late 1982 "firing", then that's a *whole* other ball of a wax full of tons of moving parts.
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