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Author Topic: SMiLE was ready in 1967 - discuss  (Read 20689 times)
guitarfool2002
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« Reply #325 on: July 24, 2022, 08:35:49 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?

It's possible, I just don't agree as much with that assertion that it was part of something on a larger scale, like an undercurrent or even a full riptide that was moving him in this direction. I think it was a guy doing what he thought his songs needed at any given time as any producer would do. I think the difference is I take those examples as individual examples and you're tying them into a larger movement, I don't see music production in those terms.
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« Reply #326 on: July 24, 2022, 08:36:10 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.

I agree…and yet another time you complete the thought I was making LOL

If my band ever takes off I should have you as my spokesperson  LOL Just don’t pull a Derek Taylor… no scraps here!
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« Reply #327 on: July 24, 2022, 08:39:43 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?

It's possible, I just don't agree as much with that assertion that it was part of something on a larger scale, like an undercurrent or even a full riptide that was moving him in this direction. I think it was a guy doing what he thought his songs needed at any given time as any producer would do. I think the difference is I take those examples as individual examples and you're tying them into a larger movement, I don't see music production in those terms.

OK, so let me ask you this.  Do you think of Brian as a guy who went through musical phases, or fads?  Do you think of him as a guy who gets obsessed with certain musical or production things, fixated on them, even?
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« Reply #328 on: July 24, 2022, 08:42:12 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?

It's possible, I just don't agree as much with that assertion that it was part of something on a larger scale, like an undercurrent or even a full riptide that was moving him in this direction. I think it was a guy doing what he thought his songs needed at any given time as any producer would do. I think the difference is I take those examples as individual examples and you're tying them into a larger movement, I don't see music production in those terms.

Honestly? I think it’s impossible to know the correct answer , because circumstances made it inevitable. That’s how I look at it. Since we can never know the exact *why*, in this case, motivations become murkier. It’d help to know the order the songs were written to even have a chance to definitively prove what the intent was, but there’s too much we don’t know.  

Heres a question I’ve always had…what happened between the last session being cancelled and the June sessions? Were the musicians ever told there would be no further sessions? You would think that question would’ve been asked in one single interview over the years
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How’s that view from the nosebleed seats?
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« Reply #329 on: July 24, 2022, 08:43:49 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.

I'm suggesting they spent a lot of money to ship the Baldwin because they were recording a live album and that pretty unique sound was a key element of their "new sound" which would be introduced fully on their new album a few weeks later. I speculate that if "Smiley Smile" had caught on in "Good Vibrations" fashion, shot into the top 5 and the Heroes or Gettin Hungry singles had gone top 5, I wouldn't doubt a Baldwin organ would go on tour with them. But none of that happened, and they didn't tour behind Smiley at all.

It just seems like a lot of money to spend but I guess money was no object. Likewise I also often wonder why so much was spent with Wally Heider to get a custom made board (literally finished the night before it was shipped to Hawaii) and one of the most high tech live recording setups to capture what we hear on the Hawaii tapes.
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« Reply #330 on: July 24, 2022, 08:43:54 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.  

Well, on what I'm about to say I'm pretty sure *no one* on this thread agrees with me! But nothing in this thread has really shaken one of the old school assumptions that some of ya'll are trying to overturn: that one day, Brian said f*** it, I'm done, Smile is over, called up his publicist Derek Taylor, and told him so, that Derek Taylor published an article saying that Smile had been scrapped, and that that was true.

There's been a lot of talk about people putting too much weight on this article, but to me, personally, that argument requires a very high bar of evidence. Because a publicist is a publicist, even one as unusual as Derek Taylor, and I just simply don't see any way that that press release goes out without Brian Wilson being the source. And that once Brian Wilson has decided Smile is scrapped and told his publicist and its been published in the press...the album is scrapped. And so here, I guess, I disagree with Joshilyn...because at some point Brian Wilson woke up, had breakfast, and said, you know what, I'm done. Done enough to announce it publicly. Whatever comes next, it's going to be something different. And if that's not an RIP date I don't know what is.


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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #331 on: July 24, 2022, 08:47:46 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?

It's possible, I just don't agree as much with that assertion that it was part of something on a larger scale, like an undercurrent or even a full riptide that was moving him in this direction. I think it was a guy doing what he thought his songs needed at any given time as any producer would do. I think the difference is I take those examples as individual examples and you're tying them into a larger movement, I don't see music production in those terms.

Honestly? I think it’s impossible to know the correct answer , because circumstances made it inevitable. That’s how I look at it. Since we can never know the exact *why*, in this case, motivations become murkier. It’d help to know the order the songs were written to even have a chance to definitively prove what the intent was, but there’s too much we don’t know.  

Heres a question I’ve always had…what happened between the last session being cancelled and the June sessions? Were the musicians ever told there would be no further sessions? You would think that question would’ve been asked in one single interview over the years

That is a good question that was never asked! I'd also add why was there absolutely no follow up, none at all, in any other music press outlet after Derek Taylor's "scrapped" comment was published? It's as if no one noticed that he basically wrote the obituary for one of the most anticipated albums of the year,  and no one even referenced addressed the comment. Very, very odd!
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« Reply #332 on: July 24, 2022, 08:49:26 PM »

100%, 50%, 0%.

For simplicity's sake, let's say that these are the portions of material recorded for the projects Pet Sounds, Smile, and Smiley Smile, that can be called "big productions", however we want to classify that. It seems that we all have some sort of agreeance on what that means, and these numbers are actually pretty close.

This series of values is something that we call "strictly decreasing". This is not something that can be argued. Our interpretation of it, of course, is subjective. But take any selection of, say, 3 months from 1966-1967, and you will find a lower proportion of these "big productions" compared to what came before. Even within the Smile period, the shift from the Looks and the Cabin Essences into the Vega-Tables and the Cantinas is very, very apparent. This is objective. You can make the claim that, although Brian's production style slowly changed from one thing to another, it was all coincidental, and Brian never looked past each individual section as a production. That is a claim that can be made, and I disagree with it, but it is something that can be argued.

What cannot be argued is that Brian's productions slowly approached minimalism throughout this period. That is a fact, not an opinion.
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« Reply #333 on: July 24, 2022, 08:52:05 PM »

BJ, I actually don't think we disagree about that.  While I don't believe Smile had a fixed RIP date, I do believe that the Derek Taylor assessment came from Brian and that, by that time, he considered Smile over and done with.

At that point, he was still working on music, for some album, it just wasn't Smile anymore.  So we have something like Dada, which is not part of Smile and not part of Smiley Smile, but is part of the continuing work towards some new product, and likely recorded for some inchoate "album" that Brian had in mind that day.
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« Reply #334 on: July 24, 2022, 08:54:08 PM »

The May 19th cancelled Da Da session was one of about a dozen cancelled sessions in the past few months, no different than the rest. It wasn't even the first cancelled session of the week! It just so happened to be the last time he called a recording date off at the last minute, as there were only a few weeks left of recording in LA studios with session musicians before the big home studio move.
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« Reply #335 on: July 24, 2022, 08:55:57 PM »

That is a good question that was never asked! I'd also add why was there absolutely no follow up, none at all, in any other music press outlet after Derek Taylor's "scrapped" comment was published? It's as if no one noticed that he basically wrote the obituary for one of the most anticipated albums of the year,  and no one even referenced addressed the comment. Very, very odd!

Interesting indeed.

And another thing worth pointing out: Derek Taylor had spent a lot of time hyping this music. Once he *believed* it was not coming out, he would arguably have had something of an incentive to say so publicly, if only to make clear that whatever Brian Wilson was now working on, it wasn't the music he'd, at least to some extent, hitched his professional reputation to!
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« Reply #336 on: July 24, 2022, 08:58:11 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?

It's possible, I just don't agree as much with that assertion that it was part of something on a larger scale, like an undercurrent or even a full riptide that was moving him in this direction. I think it was a guy doing what he thought his songs needed at any given time as any producer would do. I think the difference is I take those examples as individual examples and you're tying them into a larger movement, I don't see music production in those terms.

OK, so let me ask you this.  Do you think of Brian as a guy who went through musical phases, or fads?  Do you think of him as a guy who gets obsessed with certain musical or production things, fixated on them, even?

No more or less than any other musician does, I suppose.

I can point to the Bossa Nova songs he was writing in '68, the "modular" tape edit-based songwriting in '66, the many incarnations of the "Shortnin Bread" riff he was playing with in the 70's, and his obsession with recording Proud Mary in the 90's and 2000's.

As far as Smile, he was stylistically all over the map, covering many styles of American popular music which I think was part of the album's concept. It's hard to say he was fixated on anything because Smile has Dixieland, Great American Songbook, jazz, avant garde, doo wop, pop, psychedelia, humor...I don't even know how I'd categorize music like Cabinessence or Child Is Father or Surf's Up enough to label it a particular style or genre!
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« Reply #337 on: July 24, 2022, 09:01:33 PM »

BJ, I actually don't think we disagree about that.  While I don't believe Smile had a fixed RIP date, I do believe that the Derek Taylor assessment came from Brian and that, by that time, he considered Smile over and done with.

At that point, he was still working on music, for some album, it just wasn't Smile anymore.  So we have something like Dada, which is not part of Smile and not part of Smiley Smile, but is part of the continuing work towards some new product, and likely recorded for some inchoate "album" that Brian had in mind that day.

Yea that makes sense. It's funny how often disagreements boil down to just...saying the same thing two different ways! (although it's also absolutely true that there are fundamental disagreements of interpretation going on this thread at various points!)
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« Reply #338 on: July 24, 2022, 09:07:55 PM »

No more or less than any other musician does, I suppose.

I can point to the Bossa Nova songs he was writing in '68, the "modular" tape edit-based songwriting in '66, the many incarnations of the "Shortnin Bread" riff he was playing with in the 70's, and his obsession with recording Proud Mary in the 90's and 2000's.

As far as Smile, he was stylistically all over the map, covering many styles of American popular music which I think was part of the album's concept. It's hard to say he was fixated on anything because Smile has Dixieland, Great American Songbook, jazz, avant garde, doo wop, pop, psychedelia, humor...I don't even know how I'd categorize music like Cabinessence or Child Is Father or Surf's Up enough to label it a particular style or genre!

Interesting.  See, I see patterns of obsession everywhere with Brian, so I guess I'm predisposed to thinking of more minimal productions as an obsession.  The kinds of obsessions I take note of are on a much smaller scale, normally, than the scale of an entire production.  Things like the way he would get obsessed with a certain piano, or a certain keyboard, or a certain instrument, or a certain player.  His transition from hiring Ray Pohlman to play bass on Pet Sounds to hiring Bill Pitman all the time for the bigger Smile stuff strikes me as an example of one of these micro-obsessions.  That's one example of many.  But my point is that I don't think that what Brian did was ever coincidental, the man cannot help but follow his gut, often to his own detriment.  So if I see a pattern, I tend to give it some weight.  If others see Brian as a less deliberate producer, so be it, but have trouble seeing him that way.
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« Reply #339 on: July 24, 2022, 09:09:35 PM »

100%, 50%, 0%.

For simplicity's sake, let's say that these are the portions of material recorded for the projects Pet Sounds, Smile, and Smiley Smile, that can be called "big productions", however we want to classify that. It seems that we all have some sort of agreeance on what that means, and these numbers are actually pretty close.

This series of values is something that we call "strictly decreasing". This is not something that can be argued. Our interpretation of it, of course, is subjective. But take any selection of, say, 3 months from 1966-1967, and you will find a lower proportion of these "big productions" compared to what came before. Even within the Smile period, the shift from the Looks and the Cabin Essences into the Vega-Tables and the Cantinas is very, very apparent. This is objective. You can make the claim that, although Brian's production style slowly changed from one thing to another, it was all coincidental, and Brian never looked past each individual section as a production. That is a claim that can be made, and I disagree with it, but it is something that can be argued.

What cannot be argued is that Brian's productions slowly approached minimalism throughout this period. That is a fact, not an opinion.

I'll ask for a clarification; In an earlier reply, you said this:


Sure: Heroes on Smiley has the same number of sections, and some parts of the song have more instruments than sections in the Cantina edit. Both edits use the main "wall of sound" verse section, although the cantina edit only uses 2.5 of these verses, while the June edit uses 3. The part 2 bridge section (Cantina, then Chorus) goes from piano and mandolin to electric harpsichord, piano, various percussion, and organ. Children Were Raised goes from just a piano to electric harpsichord and organ. The "flow" of both edit is very musical, which doesn't make either version a more difficult performance. And neither version of the song, nor any song on Smiley Smile, was played on the fall 1967 tour.

Compare how Wonderful was "stripped down" from Smile to Smiley: Instead of 2 keyboards playing similar parts, we have 4 different textures (piano, organ, melodica, and celeste) all playing against each other, and a bridge section in a completely different tempo which comes after a long pause. No version of Wonderful was added to the live set.

Going from April Vegetables to June Vegetables: Instead of a single piano and bass, it's now a bass and carefully tuned containers of water. A very simple song, not made much simpler. In October 1966, it was just a piano. The April verse shows up at the end anyways, with yet another keyboard. No version of Vegetables was added to the live set.

If Brian was trying to make it easy for the guys to do these songs, and that was the entire reason for scrapping the album called "Smile" (after accidentally predicting the future in a press release anyways), he wasn't doing a good job... and they didn't even end up performing them.

I'm trying to understand how the point earlier was that Brian actually made some of the Smile songs more complex productions when he remade them for Smiley Smile, and how that would match what you're suggesting as fact that he was moving toward minimalism. If he actually loaded more instruments and parts onto these songs and made them more complex than they had been, how does that equal a move toward minimalism?
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« Reply #340 on: July 24, 2022, 09:14:48 PM »

I'm trying to understand how the point earlier was that Brian actually made some of the Smile songs more complex productions when he remade them for Smiley Smile, and how that would match what you're suggesting as fact that he was moving toward minimalism. If he actually loaded more instruments and parts onto these songs and made them more complex than they had been, how does that equal a move toward minimalism?

I mean, I think the larger point is just about continuity between Smile and Smiley Smile... so like, in *Smile,* minimalism is evidence of continuity with Smiley Smile...whereas in *Smiley Smiley* complexity is evidence of continuity with Smile.

But really I stand by the belief that everyone here is right with just various differences in focus and emphasis.
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« Reply #341 on: July 24, 2022, 09:15:17 PM »

No more or less than any other musician does, I suppose.

I can point to the Bossa Nova songs he was writing in '68, the "modular" tape edit-based songwriting in '66, the many incarnations of the "Shortnin Bread" riff he was playing with in the 70's, and his obsession with recording Proud Mary in the 90's and 2000's.

As far as Smile, he was stylistically all over the map, covering many styles of American popular music which I think was part of the album's concept. It's hard to say he was fixated on anything because Smile has Dixieland, Great American Songbook, jazz, avant garde, doo wop, pop, psychedelia, humor...I don't even know how I'd categorize music like Cabinessence or Child Is Father or Surf's Up enough to label it a particular style or genre!

Interesting.  See, I see patterns of obsession everywhere with Brian, so I guess I'm predisposed to thinking of more minimal productions as an obsession.  The kinds of obsessions I take note of are on a much smaller scale, normally, than the scale of an entire production.  Things like the way he would get obsessed with a certain piano, or a certain keyboard, or a certain instrument, or a certain player.  His transition from hiring Ray Pohlman to play bass on Pet Sounds to hiring Bill Pitman all the time for the bigger Smile stuff strikes me as an example of one of these micro-obsessions.  That's one example of many.  But my point is that I don't think that what Brian did was ever coincidental, the man cannot help but follow his gut, often to his own detriment.  So if I see a pattern, I tend to give it some weight.  If others see Brian as a less deliberate producer, so be it, but have trouble seeing him that way.

That makes sense, definitely. I just don't see Brian's musical obsessions as being too far different from any other musician or band as they progress through their career. They do something for awhile, feature a sound or style or particular instrument, then they move on. Very few bands or artists end up doing the same thing over and over, except maybe AC/DC because they're great at what they do.

What always caught my ear about Smile was the diversity of musical styles on display, and how it really is impossible to label a lot of it as any one genre or style. That made Smile pretty unique and still does.

And yes, the Baldwin organ was an obsession, I have to agree! Then that quickly, it was gone.
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« Reply #342 on: July 24, 2022, 09:19:43 PM »

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 🧐

That's got to be tough, I'm sorry about that. For what it's worth, everything you're saying in this thread makes total sense...I was just reading too fast!
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« Reply #343 on: July 24, 2022, 09:20:17 PM »

Well, that original post was a refute of the idea that Smile was completely maximalist, and Smiley completely minimalist, and that the two were worlds apart. But some songs, like Vegetables, went from one instrument to two. Wind Chimes didn't get much bigger or smaller, besides the bombastic bridge section in the Smile version, which itself was a result of an earlier, larger production from August.

But of course, other Smile tracks, such as Cabin Essence, My Only Sunshine, Fire, Look, and more were swapped out in favor of songs that are more low key. These two notions aren't contradictory - Smiley Smile is generally smaller than Smile, but there are traces of each in the other, and the change was more gradual than many suggest.
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« Reply #344 on: July 24, 2022, 09:23:44 PM »

I don't think Brian's obsessions are that much different than anybody else's either -- maybe they're a little more esoteric, or sort of endearingly funny because of his exuberant naïveté.  In our context, I think that Brian's very human tendency towards shifting abiding interests can yield useful analytical fruit; that, if he's doing something, it's for some reason, and if there's a pattern to things he's doing, it's a significant indicator of where his head is at.  Ergo, if Brian is doing smaller scale productions at a higher frequency per session in a given timeframe, I take that as evidence that he has an interest, during that time frame, in smaller scale productions.

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I mean, I think the larger point is just about continuity between Smile and Smiley Smile... so like, in *Smile,* minimalism is evidence of continuity with Smiley Smile...whereas in *Smiley Smiley* complexity is evidence of continuity with Smile.

Yeah, that's exactly right, I think.
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BJL
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« Reply #345 on: July 24, 2022, 09:25:21 PM »

Wind Chimes didn't get much bigger or smaller, besides the bombastic bridge section in the Smile version, which itself was a result of an earlier, larger production from August.

I agree with this. But I think the quote I pulled is where you maybe lost guitarfool, and me too a little. Because, sure, technically Wind Chimes might have been recorded using the same number of musicians, it might be musically at a similar level of complexity. And yet, my ears tell me that the Smiley Smile version is smaller. Or maybe, a better way to put it would be more "low key." It's low key in the way Carl is singing, it's low key in the way its mixed, it's just... Like, you're right, it didn't get smaller, not technically, not factually. But somehow, that fact, the fact that it didn't get bigger or smaller, doesn't tell the whole story. Because even though it didn't get smaller, it still *feels* smaller. It just does. You know what I mean?
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« Reply #346 on: July 24, 2022, 09:30:21 PM »

Wind Chimes didn't get much bigger or smaller, besides the bombastic bridge section in the Smile version, which itself was a result of an earlier, larger production from August.

I agree with this. But I think the quote I pulled is where you maybe lost guitarfool, and me too a little. Because, sure, technically Wind Chimes might have been recorded using the same number of musicians, it might be musically at a similar level of complexity. And yet, my ears tell me that the Smiley Smile version is smaller. Or maybe, a better way to put it would be more "low key." It's low key in the way Carl is singing, it's low key in the way its mixed, it's just... Like, you're right, it didn't get smaller, not technically, not factually. But somehow, that fact, the fact that it didn't get bigger or smaller, doesn't tell the whole story. Because even though it didn't get smaller, it still *feels* smaller. It just does. You know what I mean?

And that's also where I think, at least in a certain light, or a certain iteration, the story Joshilyn and you are telling about Smiley Smile doesn't always feel quite right to some of us. And again, I don't think there's a real, significant difference here. Just a shift in emphasis, maybe. But I think there is an extent to which fans of Smiley Smile (like me!) want to position it as "just Brian's next obsession". And like, yes, that's  true. But also it represented a huge decline in ambition as a commercial record producer, and I'm not willing to concede that point... that in addition to a new set of obsessions, Brian also brought to this moment a shocking lack of ambition compared to what had come before.
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sloopjohnb72
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« Reply #347 on: July 24, 2022, 09:43:59 PM »

Wind Chimes didn't get much bigger or smaller, besides the bombastic bridge section in the Smile version, which itself was a result of an earlier, larger production from August.

I agree with this. But I think the quote I pulled is where you maybe lost guitarfool, and me too a little. Because, sure, technically Wind Chimes might have been recorded using the same number of musicians, it might be musically at a similar level of complexity. And yet, my ears tell me that the Smiley Smile version is smaller. Or maybe, a better way to put it would be more "low key." It's low key in the way Carl is singing, it's low key in the way its mixed, it's just... Like, you're right, it didn't get smaller, not technically, not factually. But somehow, that fact, the fact that it didn't get bigger or smaller, doesn't tell the whole story. Because even though it didn't get smaller, it still *feels* smaller. It just does. You know what I mean?

I do know what you mean. It's nothing to do with the number of players, or how many overdubs were done, or how many tape generations were used... but that bizarre, intimate feeling is directly in your face here. How so?

I think what we're talking about here is in the arrangement. Instead of a pristine Carl Wilson vocal, which is double-tracked and tripled slightly off-mic by Brian in a soft whisper, and sounds more like what we would call a "produced recording" (its timbre is more in line with Good Vibrations than with Smiley's WC), we get 5 Beach Boys delivering a group performance, which, while carefully arranged note-by-note, feels almost improvised. It's like they themselves are being hypnotized by the wind chimes while they're singing. You can almost picture them all staring upwards, completely stoned, going "...wiiiind chimmmmesss??" in that astounded, questioning tone. The doubling only appears on a few select lines to give them emphasis, and Brian's "close your eyes and lean back" is sung so differently than Carl's vocal that it hardly even matters that one is a dry single-tracked performance. The unorthodox delivery adds to the bizarre vibe, and gets the sound away from the "clean" Smile recording.

I see the big melodica echo jump scare as sort of a revival of the loud bridge section... it serves the same humorous purpose of interrupting this peaceful song with something loud and startling, but in an easier way. "What if, instead of using a piece of an older production with loud horns and vocals, I just hold down as many notes on the melodica as possible, blow as hard as I can, and crank the echo?"

The tag, instead of being a bed of pianos that slowly increase in number, is an extremely quiet a cappella piece. I mean really quiet - you can barely hear the thing! It's not a less complicated production, but physically, the actual sound is smaller. There is literally less sound.
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sloopjohnb72
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« Reply #348 on: July 24, 2022, 09:47:57 PM »

Wind Chimes didn't get much bigger or smaller, besides the bombastic bridge section in the Smile version, which itself was a result of an earlier, larger production from August.

I agree with this. But I think the quote I pulled is where you maybe lost guitarfool, and me too a little. Because, sure, technically Wind Chimes might have been recorded using the same number of musicians, it might be musically at a similar level of complexity. And yet, my ears tell me that the Smiley Smile version is smaller. Or maybe, a better way to put it would be more "low key." It's low key in the way Carl is singing, it's low key in the way its mixed, it's just... Like, you're right, it didn't get smaller, not technically, not factually. But somehow, that fact, the fact that it didn't get bigger or smaller, doesn't tell the whole story. Because even though it didn't get smaller, it still *feels* smaller. It just does. You know what I mean?

And that's also where I think, at least in a certain light, or a certain iteration, the story Joshilyn and you are telling about Smiley Smile doesn't always feel quite right to some of us. And again, I don't think there's a real, significant difference here. Just a shift in emphasis, maybe. But I think there is an extent to which fans of Smiley Smile (like me!) want to position it as "just Brian's next obsession". And like, yes, that's  true. But also it represented a huge decline in ambition as a commercial record producer, and I'm not willing to concede that point... that in addition to a new set of obsessions, Brian also brought to this moment a shocking lack of ambition compared to what had come before.

I absolutely agree, and I also think, again, that neither point contradicts the other. Brian was getting into a new groove and a new sound he liked, and it was a complete drop in his attempt to be commercial and competitive. I don't think these things happened despite each other, but that not worrying about beating Phil Spector and The Beatles all at once allowed Brian to follow his muse while also not feeling the pressure he did just a few months earlier. It's Brian giving up his attempt to make the best album of 1967 that would hit the top of the charts, and it's also Brian making music that he liked to make.
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Zenobi
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« Reply #349 on: July 24, 2022, 09:52:57 PM »

I'll just mention that Liz, the originator of this (once) great thread, has gotten only the thanks of being effectively bullied and chased from the thread, and maybe from the board.
And this reminds me why my personal story with BB fandom is a story of participating, quitting, participating again, quitting again...
Too many delusional self-appointed "authorities" on these matters (not directed at the always excellent admins).
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