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Author Topic: SMiLE was ready in 1967 - discuss  (Read 23720 times)
sloopjohnb72
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« Reply #300 on: July 24, 2022, 07:59:39 PM »

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I see it as a composer, arranger, and producer doing what he thought best suited the material at hand and what he thought would work for each song. One of the most common pieces of advice I've heard top producers and engineers give to students and at various clinics and interviews is always make decisions which serve the song, not the other way around. If Brian heard those arrangements for those songs, I think it's just that with no other implications; You may see it as a move toward minimalism, and I don't share that opinion, so we can agree to disagree. If he didn't hear a 14 piece ensemble on "Wonderful" or any of the other tracks, or he didn't want the "Good Vibrations sound" on every song he wrote, that was Brian doing what he thought best served the song.

To me that feels like too zoomed-in of a perspective.

I'm not looking this up right now, so I could be wrong, but I believe the last time Brian used 3 people to do a basic track was probably I'm So Young on Today?  (Not counting IBAMOM, obviously, which has a lot in common with Smiley anyway, and the a capella stuff.)  So there is a pattern of Brian hearing big ensembles on like, 25 straight productions with the previous exceptions noted.  You are unwilling to even consider that a person who had done a big string of big productions who then starts doing some smaller productions might be entertaining the idea of doing smaller productions?  I'm having trouble understanding what your resistance is to this.

I'm just calling it as I see it! If he thought those songs would be better served by a more sparse arrangement, that's exactly what he worked up for them and recorded. I just don't see any bigger implications behind those decisions that are made with basically any song in the production process. Was "Yesterday" anything beyond the Beatles and their producer thinking the song would be better served by a string quartet and guitar accompaniment rather than the standard "Beatles" lineup heard on all the songs that surrounded it?

Well... if half of the Help album consisted of tracks with 1 or 2 instruments, and then the entirety of Rubber Soul reflected that noticeably different change in style, I think you might have a comparison.
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BJL
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« Reply #301 on: July 24, 2022, 07:59:53 PM »

I found you.  Go Tigers.  You owe me a book in a few years--I'll trade you for mine.

 Smiley
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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #302 on: July 24, 2022, 08:05:21 PM »

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I see it as a composer, arranger, and producer doing what he thought best suited the material at hand and what he thought would work for each song. One of the most common pieces of advice I've heard top producers and engineers give to students and at various clinics and interviews is always make decisions which serve the song, not the other way around. If Brian heard those arrangements for those songs, I think it's just that with no other implications; You may see it as a move toward minimalism, and I don't share that opinion, so we can agree to disagree. If he didn't hear a 14 piece ensemble on "Wonderful" or any of the other tracks, or he didn't want the "Good Vibrations sound" on every song he wrote, that was Brian doing what he thought best served the song.

To me that feels like too zoomed-in of a perspective.

I'm not looking this up right now, so I could be wrong, but I believe the last time Brian used 3 people to do a basic track was probably I'm So Young on Today?  (Not counting IBAMOM, obviously, which has a lot in common with Smiley anyway, and the a capella stuff.)  So there is a pattern of Brian hearing big ensembles on like, 25 straight productions with the previous exceptions noted.  You are unwilling to even consider that a person who had done a big string of big productions who then starts doing some smaller productions might be entertaining the idea of doing smaller productions?  I'm having trouble understanding what your resistance is to this.

I'm just calling it as I see it! If he thought those songs would be better served by a more sparse arrangement, that's exactly what he worked up for them and recorded. I just don't see any bigger implications behind those decisions that are made with basically any song in the production process. Was "Yesterday" anything beyond the Beatles and their producer thinking the song would be better served by a string quartet and guitar accompaniment rather than the standard "Beatles" lineup heard on all the songs that surrounded it?

Well... if half of the Help album consisted of tracks with 1 or 2 instruments, and then the entirety of Rubber Soul reflected that noticeably different change in style, I think you might have a comparison.

It's the basic concept of serving each individual song in my opinion, not everything done while recording an album has to fit into an overarching pattern or suggest something other than that's what fit the song best.
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sloopjohnb72
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« Reply #303 on: July 24, 2022, 08:08:34 PM »

Yes, but...

When all of the songs on Pet Sounds are heavily orchestrated, and then half of the songs on Smile are heavily orchestrated, and then even those initially orchestrated songs are redone in a minimalistic fashion, do you see that there is, objectively, a general movement to more minimalistic recording?
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« Reply #304 on: July 24, 2022, 08:10:39 PM »

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But I actually disagree pretty strongly with most of this. I have never bought that "Brian bit off more than he could chew" line, or the "if he'd only had pro-tools" line, and I certainly don't agree that Brian Wilson wasn't *capable* of finishing Smile (although you don't exactly say that).
I actually was stating that pro tools would’ve helped him finish it..actually though I was also saying it wouldn’t have mattered , because he kept changing his mind on both the albums and the songs themselves too much. It was his indecision for him to make a solid decision  that made it impossible , in my view, not his musical or technical ability.
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« Reply #305 on: July 24, 2022, 08:12:12 PM »

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But I actually disagree pretty strongly with most of this. I have never bought that "Brian bit off more than he could chew" line, or the "if he'd only had pro-tools" line, and I certainly don't agree that Brian Wilson wasn't *capable* of finishing Smile (although you don't exactly say that).
I actually was stating that pro tools would’ve helped him finish it..actually I was saying it wouldn’t have mattered , because he kept changing his mind on both the albums and the songs themselves too much. It was his indecision for him to make a solid decision  that made it impossible , in my view, not his musical or technical ability.

Sorry to mischaracterize you Billy, that does make more sense!
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« Reply #306 on: July 24, 2022, 08:12:30 PM »

I also was thinking of "That's Not Me" in the same way, how it stands out from the rest of Pet Sounds by featuring the core group of musicians as the Beach Boys' own self-contained band, 3 of them actually, with none of the more full ensemble sounds and more complex arranging style heard on all the other tracks surrounding it. Was that decision anything beyond Brian thinking that less dense core group sound would serve that particular song better than having horns, woodwinds, and strings on the track?
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sloopjohnb72
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« Reply #307 on: July 24, 2022, 08:16:56 PM »

That's Not Me doesn't stand out particularly to me as something minimalist compared to other Pet Sounds tracks, besides the knowledge that it was completely put together by The Boys. Consider the instrumentation:

Hammond C-3 organ
Electric guitar
Electric 12-string guitar
Another electric 12-string guitar
Electric bass
Another electric bass
Drums
Tambourine
Another tambourine
Castanets amplified through a Leslie speaker

Really, it's just something that didn't require the wrecking crew, as it's the only song on the album that features purely rhythm instruments, with no horns or strings. Compare this to the instrumentation of Vega-Tables:

Piano
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« Reply #308 on: July 24, 2022, 08:17:25 PM »

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But when Brian was told he needed a single, he chose to rework this song as something both commercial and exciting, and that's when it began to consume parts of other songs. First I'm in Great Shape, then Do You Like Worms, then Cabin Essence, then My Only Sunshine... songs became unusable for the next project, as they were physically disassembled, and the focus shifted entirely toward the new single. It didn't help that for the first time for The Beach Boys (this had been the case for other artists, pseudonyms, studio bands, etc), Brian needed TWO new songs. Previously, he'd relied on material from released albums to fill out the B-side, but on a new record label, he couldn't just take something off Pet Sounds, for example. The entirety of the next 5-6 months is spent trying to get a single. That's not a sign of a stable and healthy mind, it isn't productive to constantly rework one song rather than 12 at once, and it is not going to produce both a single and an album without some big changes being made.


That’s the point I was trying to make earlier but couldn’t word it right !  😎
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« Reply #309 on: July 24, 2022, 08:17:42 PM »

Yes, but...

When all of the songs on Pet Sounds are heavily orchestrated, and then half of the songs on Smile are heavily orchestrated, and then even those initially orchestrated songs are redone in a minimalistic fashion, do you see that there is, objectively, a general movement to more minimalistic recording?

No, I do not see any implications beyond Brian deciding to remake, rerecord, and change his mind on certain tracks. And perhaps after hearing the fuller arrangements he decided they didn't work for those songs as well as a more sparse sound would serve them. You say objectively as if it's fact, but ultimately that's just your opinion, isn't it?
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BJL
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« Reply #310 on: July 24, 2022, 08:18:17 PM »

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure at this point that I fundamentally agree with sloopjohnb72, Joshilyn, *and* guitarfool.

Brian gradually incorporated more and more minimalistic experiments into his working methods over the course of Smile into Smiley Smile, *because he thought it served the material well*, and this gradually laid the foundation for Smiley Smile. AND when the band got back from Europe there was some kind of, at the very least, heavy conversation about what direction the band would go in, which very quickly led Brian to go *all in* on this more minimalistic (but *not* necessarily less musically sophisticated) aesthetic, one which could accommodate a more congenial working method with the Beach Boys, without Brian actually giving up control over the production process.

Make of that what you will, but I'm not seeing some massive incompatibility in yall's perspectives, I'm really not!
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« Reply #311 on: July 24, 2022, 08:19:39 PM »

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But when Brian was told he needed a single, he chose to rework this song as something both commercial and exciting, and that's when it began to consume parts of other songs. First I'm in Great Shape, then Do You Like Worms, then Cabin Essence, then My Only Sunshine... songs became unusable for the next project, as they were physically disassembled, and the focus shifted entirely toward the new single. It didn't help that for the first time for The Beach Boys (this had been the case for other artists, pseudonyms, studio bands, etc), Brian needed TWO new songs. Previously, he'd relied on material from released albums to fill out the B-side, but on a new record label, he couldn't just take something off Pet Sounds, for example. The entirety of the next 5-6 months is spent trying to get a single. That's not a sign of a stable and healthy mind, it isn't productive to constantly rework one song rather than 12 at once, and it is not going to produce both a single and an album without some big changes being made.


That’s the point I was trying to make earlier but couldn’t word it right !  😎

Okay, yea, we are definitely all on the same page here!
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« Reply #312 on: July 24, 2022, 08:21:37 PM »

That's Not Me doesn't stand out particularly to me as something minimalist compared to other Pet Sounds tracks, besides the knowledge that it was completely put together by The Boys. Consider the instrumentation:

Hammond C-3 organ
Electric guitar
Electric 12-string guitar
Another electric 12-string guitar
Electric bass
Another electric bass
Drums
Tambourine
Another tambourine
Castanets amplified through a Leslie speaker

Really, it's just something that didn't require the wrecking crew, as it's the only song on the album that features purely rhythm instruments, with no horns or strings. Compare this to the instrumentation of Vega-Tables:

Piano

Purely rhythm instruments, no strings, woodwinds, or horns. Exactly. It could be said "That's Not Me" was a sign Brian was looking to return to his 1964 production methods, but that would be silly. Kind of like pulling out "Vega-Tables" and writing "piano".

Sorry I just don't agree with the "shift to minimalism" theory based on your examples, and I see it as nothing more or less than Brian choosing what type of arrangement fit each song the best as all producers do. Agree to disagree.
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♩♬🐸 Billy C ♯♫♩🐇
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« Reply #313 on: July 24, 2022, 08:22:15 PM »

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Also, I *do* think the Smile working method was perhaps uniquely liable to be derailed by a long delay. Because any creative person knows how hard it is to pick up a project you've set aside for months, whether it's a draft of an essay or a half-finished song or a short story. It really is, in most cases, just harder once the momentum is gone. And because of how Smile was organized, Brian would have had to do that with *every* *single* *song* if he'd wanted to finish the original session tapes in the summer of 1767. Every single song would have been - okay, what was I thinking here, what did I want to do with this, where did I put that tape, was this section on this reel or that reel. Whereas if he'd been recording songs one at a time, he could have just picked up with whatever song he'd been in the middle of. And if he'd *not* been derailed by Heroes, well than work wouldn't have been interrupted and he would have just kept going.


This too! I have a hard time articulating myself sometimes… I’ve had a couple of strokes and since then I have a tendency to talk in circles to the point where the meaning of what I’m trying to say gets lost.

I almost started doing it again 🧐
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How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #314 on: July 24, 2022, 08:22:44 PM »

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure at this point that I fundamentally agree with sloopjohnb72, Joshilyn, *and* guitarfool.

Brian gradually incorporated more and more minimalistic experiments into his working methods over the course of Smile into Smiley Smile, *because he thought it served the material well*, and this gradually laid the foundation for Smiley Smile. AND when the band got back from Europe there was some kind of, at the very least, heavy conversation about what direction the band would go in, which very quickly led Brian to go *all in* on this more minimalistic (but *not* necessarily less musically sophisticated) aesthetic, one which could accommodate a more congenial working method with the Beach Boys, without Brian actually giving up control over the production process.

Make of that what you will, but I'm not seeing some massive incompatibility in yall's perspectives, I'm really not!

I wish I could have said it that way!  Smiley
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« Reply #315 on: July 24, 2022, 08:23:38 PM »

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure at this point that I fundamentally agree with sloopjohnb72, Joshilyn, *and* guitarfool.

Brian gradually incorporated more and more minimalistic experiments into his working methods over the course of Smile into Smiley Smile, *because he thought it served the material well*, and this gradually laid the foundation for Smiley Smile. AND when the band got back from Europe there was some kind of, at the very least, heavy conversation about what direction the band would go in, which very quickly led Brian to go *all in* on this more minimalistic (but *not* necessarily less musically sophisticated) aesthetic, one which could accommodate a more congenial working method with the Beach Boys, without Brian actually giving up control over the production process.

Make of that what you will, but I'm not seeing some massive incompatibility in yall's perspectives, I'm really not!

I'm really not either! The only part where it falls apart for me is when the claim is made that the Smiley Smile arrangements are somehow easier to perform live, or the stronger claim that they were done for that purpose, when the songs were never incorporated into the live set in any way, the instrumentation is completely different from what the touring band used, the studio effects are no less pronounced, the tempo shifts are more noticeable, and the entire album is characterized by the sound of 2 very distinct instruments - the Baldwin organ on its buzziest setting, and Brian's specially (de)tuned grand piano, which are not close to the sound of the live band in any way, shape, or form.

But everything else? Yeah, it makes sense! People are agreeing here more than we think.  Smiley
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« Reply #316 on: July 24, 2022, 08:25:41 PM »

Yes, but...

When all of the songs on Pet Sounds are heavily orchestrated, and then half of the songs on Smile are heavily orchestrated, and then even those initially orchestrated songs are redone in a minimalistic fashion, do you see that there is, objectively, a general movement to more minimalistic recording?

No, I do not see any implications beyond Brian deciding to remake, rerecord, and change his mind on certain tracks. And perhaps after hearing the fuller arrangements he decided they didn't work for those songs as well as a more sparse sound would serve them. You say objectively as if it's fact, but ultimately that's just your opinion, isn't it?

guitarfool, I say this with all love and respect, because truly you have made really helpful and important contributions to this thread, have posted primary sources I had never seen before, and have said a ton of things I agree with! But there is a move towards a more minimalistic approach during the smile sessions compared to the Pet Sounds sessions. That *does not mean that your argument about Smiley Smile's conception is wrong!* It really doesn't, and that's why, as I've said, I'm not 100% aligned on either side here.... but like, Brian pursuing minimalistic production methods more often in 1967 than he had done in 1966 is not an opinion, it is a fact. What that fact *means* is an opinion. Whether that fact matters for how we view the transition between Smile and Smiley Smile is an opinion, but that Brian's methods were changing over time, I mean, it's on the tapes, it's happening.

(Although in your defense, I also want to say that I agree with your older point that, despite this gradual movement, *anyone* can hear the difference between the Smiley sessions and the Smile sessions. Like, in the big picture, there is a clear difference between the sonic profiles of those two projects, and I think at one point earlier in this thread *you* were really just saying that, and other people were like, that's not true, and I totally see how that would be exasperating on your end too.)
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« Reply #317 on: July 24, 2022, 08:27:22 PM »

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But I actually disagree pretty strongly with most of this. I have never bought that "Brian bit off more than he could chew" line, or the "if he'd only had pro-tools" line, and I certainly don't agree that Brian Wilson wasn't *capable* of finishing Smile (although you don't exactly say that).
I actually was stating that pro tools would’ve helped him finish it..actually I was saying it wouldn’t have mattered , because he kept changing his mind on both the albums and the songs themselves too much. It was his indecision for him to make a solid decision  that made it impossible , in my view, not his musical or technical ability.

Sorry to mischaracterize you Billy, that does make more sense!

No worries … I don’t always explain what’s in my head correctly, at least not anymore. Especially typing !
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« Reply #318 on: July 24, 2022, 08:28:51 PM »

We can agree to disagree, as we will, apparently, have to.  But I will never understand why you can't just say, "Ok, it's possible" to the idea that a guy who snapped a long string of big productions might have been exploring moving in a smaller-scale direction.  Heck, I'll go so far as to say that it's possible that Smile has an official RIP date.  Very, very unlikely, but possible.  

Brian primarily created big productions in 1965 and 1966.
The frequency of smaller productions increases as 1966 moves into 1967.
Therefore, it's possible that he was exploring smaller productions.

What is wrong with that syllogism?
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« Reply #319 on: July 24, 2022, 08:28:56 PM »

Since the Baldwin organ was mentioned, I think it's worth noting how the band spent a lot of money to crate and ship Brian's Baldwin organ to Hawaii for those August '67 shows. Not suggesting anything other than by doing that, they were putting what was perhaps one of the main sonic hooks of Smiley Smile on stage in Hawaii, and perhaps (just perhaps...) trying to give their setlist of old hits the "Smiley sound".

They could easily have rented an Hammond or any other organ in Hawaii with far less cost and difficulty, why specifically spend that much to ship the Baldwin there unless it was going for a certain sound and vibe that would be on their proposed live album a few months later?
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« Reply #320 on: July 24, 2022, 08:31:30 PM »

Vega-Tables, as it stood in late 1966, had just a piano, and that is a fact. This is because it best suited the song as it was written. But notice that more songs are being better suited by a sparse arrangement. Eventually, the songs that are initially heavily arranged, are eventually considered to be "better suited" by a sparse arrangement. This is what we call a shift, and objectively, that is what happened.

Guitarfool - I'm agreeing with you! But I'm also saying that it is not a coincidence that the amount of songs that are better suited by this new arrangement style is increasing over the months, and this is very traceable. I also don't doubt that the boys had some undocumented talks about this back in June 1967. It is pretty clear that our perspectives on this era complement each other.
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« Reply #321 on: July 24, 2022, 08:31:49 PM »

I'm really not either! The only part where it falls apart for me is when the claim is made that the Smiley Smile arrangements are somehow easier to perform live, or the stronger claim that they were done for that purpose

But I don't think that's what Guitarfool was saying. If I understand him correctly (and this was like pages and pages ago at this point!), what Guitarfool was arguing was not that Smiley Smile's arrangements were designed to be easy to perform live, but rather that the criticism the Beach Boys picked up in Europe over their live performances, and their general anxiety about the recorded material getting further and further from the reality of the touring band, that those *bad feelings* pushed Brian towards a more minimalistic recording method that was, if not necessarily easy to perform live, might have nonetheless taken some of the teeth out of the band's complaints. It's a subtle, but I think important, distinction.
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« Reply #322 on: July 24, 2022, 08:32:58 PM »

Since the Baldwin organ was mentioned, I think it's worth noting how the band spent a lot of money to crate and ship Brian's Baldwin organ to Hawaii for those August '67 shows. Not suggesting anything other than by doing that, they were putting what was perhaps one of the main sonic hooks of Smiley Smile on stage in Hawaii, and perhaps (just perhaps...) trying to give their setlist of old hits the "Smiley sound".

They could easily have rented an Hammond or any other organ in Hawaii with far less cost and difficulty, why specifically spend that much to ship the Baldwin there unless it was going for a certain sound and vibe that would be on their proposed live album a few months later?

Definitely… had to give everything a seamless vibe .  Really, they should’ve been doing this earlier and maybe they could’ve played Monterey.
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“My cape is at the dry cleaners,” he explained.

I’m writing a book of online BB fandom. It’s called “Never Trust Anyone Who Spends More Time Reading Signatures Than Bathing”.  It’s sure to sell a million copies in January!

How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #323 on: July 24, 2022, 08:33:24 PM »

Since the Baldwin organ was mentioned, I think it's worth noting how the band spent a lot of money to crate and ship Brian's Baldwin organ to Hawaii for those August '67 shows. Not suggesting anything other than by doing that, they were putting what was perhaps one of the main sonic hooks of Smiley Smile on stage in Hawaii, and perhaps (just perhaps...) trying to give their setlist of old hits the "Smiley sound".

They could easily have rented an Hammond or any other organ in Hawaii with far less cost and difficulty, why specifically spend that much to ship the Baldwin there unless it was going for a certain sound and vibe that would be on their proposed live album a few months later?

Is it also not possible that they shipped the Baldwin just because it was a sound Brian was weirdly into, and they could?  
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« Reply #324 on: July 24, 2022, 08:34:26 PM »

Since the Baldwin organ was mentioned, I think it's worth noting how the band spent a lot of money to crate and ship Brian's Baldwin organ to Hawaii for those August '67 shows. Not suggesting anything other than by doing that, they were putting what was perhaps one of the main sonic hooks of Smiley Smile on stage in Hawaii, and perhaps (just perhaps...) trying to give their setlist of old hits the "Smiley sound".

They could easily have rented an Hammond or any other organ in Hawaii with far less cost and difficulty, why specifically spend that much to ship the Baldwin there unless it was going for a certain sound and vibe that would be on their proposed live album a few months later?

It should also be noted that the Hawaii shows were a unique recording experience, during which the Beach Boys were producing material for the next album to follow Smiley Smile. Are you suggesting that the Baldwin may have been introduced as a permanent instrument?

We know that this is not the case. Brian was requested to go, and he insisted on bringing that big ol' thing. Because it was his instrument that he wanted to play. We're talking about the same guy who would rent a piano from Sunset Sound and have it moved by professional piano movers a few blocks down the street to Western, because he liked the sound of Sunset's detuned tack, and the room sound of Western.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2022, 08:35:01 PM by sloopjohnb72 » Logged
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