Remember, what you’re listening to are unfinished productions, fragments, demos and tracks. Basically, the pieces (especially the ‘Heroes and Villains vocal sections) have been assembled in what seems like a listenable sequence; with a programmable CD player, you can make your own order. As so many sessions from that era are incomplete, unpolished or lost, it is impossible to construct a finished album.
(from the Capitol Good Vibrations – 30 Years of The Beach Boys box set notes)
If a ‘finished’ Smile were delimited solely by its projected tracklist, 1993’s Good Vibrations box includes two-thirds of the album, being eight of the album sleeve’s twelve ‘tracks’. Smiley Smile is immediately and for always erased from any future cassette sequence. The versions of Wonderful, Wind Chimes and Vegetables are, of course, superior in every way to their shoddy Smiley Smile simulacra. Gettin’ Hungry is still not conspicious by its absence.
With Child Is Father Of the Man and The Old Master Painter available on the Japanese 1991 bootleg, only The Elements and I’m In Great Shape were still missing – but Mrs O’Leary’s Cow, as The Elements’ Fire, is also included on this and other bootlegs, as well as the An American Band video. The Fire Intro is also on Good Vibrations under its session label of ‘Heroes And Villains (Intro)‘. With any version of I’m In Great Shape, some sort of Smile sequence could be approximated.
Capitol’s printed sleeves suggest you ‘see label for correct playing order’
which was not uncommon on 1960s pop records. If, for some reason, you believe that The History Of Pop Music is ‘a goal-obsessed narrative full of great leaps forward and heroic battles’, then you also already know that, in ‘the canon’s’ only possible timeline, The Beatles and The Beach Boys were the only contenders in 1966/67’s Great Leap Forward. Prior to Smile, there were only ever 3 ‘sequenced’ pop albums, ever: Rubber Soul, Pet Sounds and Revolver.
Capitol’s use of an industry-standard sleevenote was never meant to throw the ‘finished’ Smile sequence into a perpetual state of flux, existing forever outside time and space – I don’t think record executives thought in these terms in 1966. Possibly because they weren’t taking the same drugs as their artists. That came later.
The Capitol Smile tracklist derives from this
(scanned from page 15 of Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile!)
This is Brian Wilson’s 1966 handwritten note for Capitol’s A&R department. The Old Master Painter seems to be in flux itself…and is that Villains, or Villians? And where is Prayer, or Holidays, or Look? And is Love To Say Dada ‘Water’? Etc.
Caspar Llewellyn-Smith’s iconoclastic why I frown upon the Beach Boys releasing Smile piece in The Guardian (from March this year) seems to have undergone a revision or two since its first posting: I was sure Mr. Smith mentioned a couple of Smile ‘fan mixes’, as well as the Project Smile CD-ROM, but all that now remains is his hard-won Vigotone 2 disc bootleg (‘surely some things in life should be worth the extra effort to seek out?‘). Usefully, one knowledgeable comment upon his published disapproval reinstates this excised information:
14 March 2011 3:58PM
As for the ‘extra effort to seek out’ that ship’s well and truly sailed – google for “Beach Boys Smile torrent” and you can find Purple Chick’s reconstruction of the album, the Sea Of Tunes bootleg box set, the Vigotone set that Mr Smith discusses in the article, the Project Smile CD-Rom that allows you to compile your own version from the different snippets, the Secret Smile bootleg… all within the first two pages, and available at the click of a mouse button.
All of this is true. All those bootlegs you bought are now just a collection of redundant formats; the blog of ‘a cell phone salesman, piano/guitar instructor, musician and all around problem solver’ would be worth a month of Premium Megaupload Membership; and the Project Smile CD-ROM, in its v2.1, has ten hours of Smile-related audio (though I do find its contents more manageable on a 2GB SD Card, alongside a bunch of Smile bootlegs).
the freely distributed multimedia CD-R originally created by Chris Stapledon ( .. and beta tested to within an inch of its life by Steffan Johansson and Ken Worthing) is available through the Project SMiLE website, allows each of us to assess the countless musical fragments that make up SMiLE (as Brian Wilson chose to abandon conventional song-writing and production practices and record practically every drug and creativity-induced idea he came up with for his “teen-age symphony to God” and edit all the interchangeable segments together at a later time, ala “Good Vibrations”, but was never able to complete the task) and, through mp3 playlist technology and trial and error, lets us wear Wilson’s shoes, as amazingly difficult as that may be, and make our own decisions regarding the song and segment placement.
Project Smile‘s 2001’beta’ could not have been facilitated without a brand-new kind of bootlegging:
Disc one of this spanned zip is lost, but I’ve blurred the serial, just in case you’re still struggling to install Sonic Foundry’s new v3.0a – I obviously would not wish to either condone or encourage software piracy.
CD rippers and digital sound editors could now be used to chop Heroes And Villains (Sections) back into sections; every modular Smile construction could be reverted to its ‘brilliant little music bites’. Or, more mournfully:
Carl: It’s all just pieces Brian. Just…pieces. (from here)
Project Smile also has many other purposes; read more about it here.
Mojo Magazine published an article by Rob Chapman about Smile in 2002, entitled Unfinished Symphony, and as part of a ‘MISSING IN ACTION SPECIAL!’ (it’s archived on Mr. Chapman’s site, here). The US publishers had a rather different idea of the more worthy ‘missing’ cover star:
(UK cover/US cover)
Rob is also the author of Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head, of which someone on Amazon says:
Chapman has written an excellent book, which entirely avoids the `mythical approach’ to Syd, so common in rock journalism, relying instead on a scholarly approach, fusing sociological, historical, psychological and literary prisms as a means of approaching Barrett’s life and trying to understand who he was, and divining what moved his spirit.
Chapman has collected an impressive array of sources here – he has interviewed Barrett’s sister, nephew, friends and girlfriends, as well as collecting quotes from previous band mates and years of obscure and mainstream press sources.
It is a most beautiful and moving book, and if you are at all interested in Barrett, then Id say it is a book you must have on your shelf, and it is a book to read, and re read, and treasure.
Its value is in its scholarly foundation, as well as in its emotional and spiritual worth. Chapman has totally by passed the absurdity and hagiography of the music press and produced a far deeper work of significant value.
Other people are equally complimentary, despite one labelling An Irregular Head ‘the sniping A-level textbook for Sydologists’. Someone else with an opinion bemoans
2 – too many spurious interviewees/connections: for example, I fail to see the point in applying a review of a T. S. Eliot poem from the early 20th century to one of Syd’s songs.
On page 10 of Unfinished Symphony, Rob Chapman ’emerges from his editing parlour with a reconstructed version of The Beach Boys’ finest hour’, imagining his own ideal Smile sequence (over two sides of vinyl), with comments, session dates and sources. As part of his Elements, there is a track called ‘Earth Chant’:
a rarely heard bootleg segment of three instrumental sketches featutring ukelele, violins, sparse keyboards and lots of drum echo. You can sing the “dow-dow-dow-dum-be-doo-be-dows” from Heroes and Villians over it. In fact, you can sing half the album over it. Mr Wood meet Mr Trees. Brian, it’s getting too damn complex! (hear it on bootleg)
I read and liked the Mojo article, and was curious to see what the Smile cognoscienti made of it, so zipped over to whichever forum was active at the time (smileysmile.net? thesmileshop.com? Can’t remember…it was all so long ago) – to find a whole of bunch of vociferous dismissals of Rob’s ‘reconstructed version’, most especially his use of ‘Earth Chant’. I’m quoting from memory, but, as the latter was ‘a fucking fan-mix’ (being an amateur sound-editor’s own reconstruction, rather than an actual session track), the article’s author was an ill-informed poltroon (don’t thnk that was the actual perjorative used however); according to one disgruntled board contributor, ‘that article was the worst piece of writing I have ever read’. Had Brian Wilson: An Art Book‘s ‘acts of translation from one art form to another’ been in print in 2002, opinions might have been rather more measured – but no matter.
Where, what and who was the ‘ultimate authority’ that the online Smileheads expected from Mojo, while remaining surer still of their own convictions? Isn’t any Smile track released on a Capitol CD by nature also a fan-mix? They were all mixed (and often sequenced) by a fan, being Mark Linett, Brian Wilson’s engineer since 1988; Linett’s own contributions to a 5CD fan-mix is due for official release, as The Smile Sessions, on the 1st of November 2011. The Japanese-origin Smile bootleg CD (T-2580-2) ‘that took the Beach Boys’ collectors circuit by surprise’ 20 years ago was sourced from this cassette compiled by Linett when a legitmate Smile Sessions was briefly considered in 1988:
(scanned from page 288 of LLVS)
Six minutes and fifty nine seconds of Heros & Villians would have been condensed down from hours of session tapes; only an enthusiast could hear and know what to keep, and what to discard. I’m guessing that these executive decisions did not involve The Beach Boys at the time, if their 25 Years Together Anniversary Celebration In Waikiki from ’87 is any gauge…
I started my own first mix, in the late 90s, the week I bought a CD writer. With audio sourced from whatever I could find at the time (CD, vinyl, video, many untagged and unattributed mp3 downloads), I eventually emerged from my own editing suite, only to discover that everybody else had also used the same technologies and the same sources, and to do the same thing.
Had I only known.
A 2011 search, on one blog alone, has 23 different downloadable Smile mixes.
In 2002, I thought Rob Chapman’s Mojo tracklist had a nice cogent sequence, and was therefore another recombination worth trying out.
With tweaked Smile artwork (for an entirely mono montage)
and by borrowing Mojo’s text for the back cover tracklist
along with a lashed-together ‘official’ looking disc label
this was the most ridiculously time-consuming sequence I had compiled to date, audio and artwork both. And the last I will ever do.
Every track had been tweaked somehow or other, with different takes and variable sources spliced or mixed together.
Surf’s Up didn’t take as much work as some other tracks: the instrumental intro (hear it on: the GV box, Disc 5 – 00:00 to 01:35) was followed by Anne Wallace’s synched intro, with Brian instead of Carl’s lead (hear it on the internet somewhere, from years ago, and an excellent and impressive resynch – 01:35 to 03:10); Brian’s solo ‘demo’, from ‘dovenested towers’ onwards (hear it on: the GV box Disc 2 – 03:10 to 04:43), was followed by the solo falsetto, mixed with loops from the 1971 ‘child is father of the man‘ ending, (hear it on: GV Box Discs 2 & 3 and the CBS Surf’s Up Nice Price CD , 04:43 to 5:19), to a group fade (05:19 to 05:31), leaving Brian’s solo falsetto, looped and extended, and which itself then fades (05:31 to 05:35).
Oh, and all stereo tracks mixed down to mono first, for an overall mono mix. And an overall ‘master mix’ compression. And lots of other tweaks I cannot remember. Whole thing took fucking months.
I made copies of the CD for various people; but, apart from maybe somewhere on Soulseek, I don’t think it’s online, and I was never in a hurry to put it there. Caspar Llewellyn-Smith believes that ‘the album that [Brian Wilson] produced in 2004 purported to fill in the gaps, but no one really wanted that.‘ Maybe they didn’t (though I do believe he’s speaking only for himself, and the preciousnesses of his ‘impeccable musical taste’). ‘They’ certainly can’t need yet another ‘finished‘ Smile…to paraphrase his sage words, it is, undoubtedly, ‘something nobody wanted’.
The seed of the idea of making your own Smile came, for me, from Domenic Priore, in his 1988 Introduction to Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile!
What’s the Idea?
I seriously doubt that any of you reading this don’t have a homemade-cassette recorder. If you do, then try this suggestion on a blank cassette: COMPILE A SMILE ALBUM YOURSELF AT HOME!!! Don’t be afraid to be creative. I recompile my tape every time some new out-take tape floats in, or a new concept comes to light in the layout that I’ve never realized before. this is the only way you’ll ever grasp the beautiful essence of the concept Brian had in mind for us. If you scoff at this “do it yourself” concept, then it’s you who is missing out!
Priore’s extensive explications of his sequence’s rationale is on page 99 onwards, entitled The Smile Music (with keen perception and a lot of listening). It’s a three page essay, plus a two page tracklist, with explanatory notes that attempt to substantiate his own theories. Not everyone concurs:
Another wasted opportunity, 10 April 2005This review is from: Smile. The Story of Brian Wilson’s Lost Masterpiece (Paperback)
The book doesn’t match the hype. That’s all you need to know. OK, so the researching is sloppy as is the editing and fact-checking, and the much-vaunted Smile section is revealed to be nothing more than suppositions and theories masquerading as facts – and it’s not just me saying this, but the prime editor on a Beach Boys message board. If you’ve got Priore’s Dumb Angel Gazette #2, then you know what he’s saying, and has been saying for nearly 20 years, never mind that just about all of his theories have been disproven. If you’re a BB/BW fan, then you’ll probably buy this book anyway. Otherwise, don’t bother.
More stern stuff.
From Priore’s 1988 tracklist postscript:
some of the observations in this article were shared by Peter Reum, Bob Hanes, Darian Sahanaja, Dave Arnson, David Leaf, Byron Preiss, Andy Paley, Paul Williams and Jules Siegel.