Monday, August 29, 2011

Really ... the year has plenty to "SMiLE" about

The best music news I've gotten since confirmation I was going to see Brian Wilson in Clear Lake, IA, comes in the form of one of the most famous unfinished albums in pop/rock history: "SMiLE." Or, to be more accurate, "The SMiLE Sessions."

As far as Beach Boys fans are concerned, the year 2011 is notable for several reasons. 

First, 2011 is the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys getting together as a group (all the original members banding together, anyway). 

Second, to celebrate Record Store Day, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys gave the OK for a limited edition 78 RPM vinyl release of The Beach Boys' “Good Vibrations” paired with “Heroes and Villains.” This release featured the original single release mixes on one disc and alternate versions of both songs on the other. 

Third, the Beach Boys released a limited-edition 7-inch vinyl single of “Don't Fight the Sea” (a song from Al Jardine's "A Postcard from California") backed with “Friends (a capella),” a previously unreleased version of the song. Proceeds from this single were donated to help Japanese Red Cross relief efforts after the earthquake disaster.

Fourth, Brian Wilson is contributing a cover song to the new Buddy Holly tribute album, "Listen to Me," which is due for release on Sept. 6. Brian chose to do a version of the title song, “Listen to Me.”

Fifth (yes, really, this list is STILL going!), Brian Wilson will be releasing "In the Key of Disney," an album of Disney film music classics, on Oct. 25. The songs on the disc are, as follows:
01 You’ve Got a Friend in Me (from Toy Story)
02 Bare Necessities (from The Jungle Book)
03 Baby Mine (from Dumbo)
04 Kiss the Girl (from The Little Mermaid)
05 Colors of the Wind (from Pocahontas)
06 Can You Feel the Love Tonight? (from The Lion King)
07 We Belong Together (from Toy Story 3)
08 I Just Can’t Wait to Be King (from The Lion King)
09 Stay Awake (from Mary Poppins)
10 Heigh-Ho/Whistle While You Work (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
11 When You Wish Upon a Star (from Pinocchio)  ... the song that inspired his own "Surfer Girl"

Sixth, The music magazine Mojo (which is my favorite music magazine, period) put out a special Sixties issue that included a remastered 7-inch yellow vinyl single of the Beach Boys' "SMiLE" era compositions “Cabin Essence” and “Wonderful.”

Seventh, Brian Wilson toured to support his "Reimagines Gershwin" album. I've done a blog post already on going to Clear Lake, IA, and how I actually met the man and got an album signed. The U.S. tour was relatively short, but he did hit Europe and Canada too. Everything I've read (and I've read a lot) has suggested that every town he hit received him very warmly.

Eighth (and the release that really has me over the moon ... meeting BW is definitely the BB highlight of the year for me), the Beach Boys are releasing "The SMiLE Sessions," compiling material from 1966/1967 in the best quality and with more variety than has ever been released before. There are three versions coming out: A 9-disc super set (5 CDs, 2 LPs and 2 45 RPM singles with a book and poster), a 2 CD set and a 2 LP set. And it's all amazing!

According to Amazon, the deluxe box features 5 CDs filled with content, two vinyl LPs in gatefold covers, two vinyl 45s (“Heroes and Villains” and “Vege-Tables”) with picture sleeves, a reproduction of the original Smile insert booklet, a poster of Frank Holmes' original cover art, and a 60-page hardbound book written by noted "SMiLE" enthusiast Dominic Priore.

Amazon also notes that the set will feature liner notes from Beach Boys Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Alan Jardine and Bruce Johnston, as well as from artist Frank Holmes, and from people related to the Beach Boys universe like Peter Reum, Tom Nolan, Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford, Diane Rovell, Dean Torrence, Mark Volman, Michael Vosse, David Anderle and Danny Hutton. Also featured are the original booklet illustrations by Frank Holmes, previously unreleased photos, and more.

That was about enough to knock me out ... and then I actually got the tracklists! Whoo, boy!

I'm going to include that stuff now. A word to the wise, there's a LOT of stuff here. It's gonna get LOOOOOOONG. This is for the super deluxe box:

Disc: 1

1. Our Prayer
2. Gee
3. Heroes And Villains
4. Do You Like Worms (Roll Plymouth Rock)
5. I'm In Great Shape
6. Barnyard
7. My Only Sunshine (The Old Master Painter / You Are My Sunshine)
8. Cabin Essence
9. Wonderful
10. Look (Song For Children)
11. Child Is Father Of The Man
12. Surf's Up
13. I Wanna Be Around / Workshop
14. Vega-Tables
15. Holidays
16. Wind Chimes
17. The Elements: Fire (Mrs. O'Leary's Cow)
18. Love To Say Dada
19. Good Vibrations
20. You're Welcome (Bonus Track)
21. Heroes And Villains (Stereo Mix) (Bonus Track)
22. Heroes And Villains Sections (Stereo Mix) (Bonus Track)
23. Vega-Tables Demo (Bonus Track)
24. He Gives Speeches (Bonus Track)
25. Smile Backing Vocals Montage (Bonus Track)
26. Surf's Up 1967 (Solo version) (Bonus Track)
27. Psycodelic Sounds: Brian Falls Into A Piano (Bonus Track)

Disc: 2

1. Our Prayer "Dialog" 9/19/66
2. Our Prayer 10/4/66
3. Heroes And Villains: Verse (Master Take) [Heroes And Villains Session: 10/20/66]
4. Heroes And Villains: Barnyard (Master Take) [Heroes And Villains Session: 10/20/66]
5. Heroes And Villains: I'm In Great Shape 10/27/66
6. Heroes and Villains Intro (Early Version) circa 12/66
7. Heroes And Villains: Do A Lot [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/3/67]
8. Heroes And Villains: Bag Of Tricks [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/3/67]
9. Heroes And Villains: Mission Pak [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/3/67]
10. Heroes And Villains: Bridge To Indians [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/3/67]
11. Heroes And Villains: Part 1 Tag [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/3/67]
12. Heroes And Villains: Pickup To 3rd Verse [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/3/67]
13. Heroes And Villains: Children Were Raised [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/27/67]
14. Heroes And Villains: Part 2 (Cantina track) [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/27/67]
15. Heroes And Villains: Whistling Bridge [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/27/67]
16. Heroes And Villains: Cantina [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/27/67]
17. Heroes And Villains: All Day [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/27/67]
18. Heroes And Villains: Verse Edit Experiment [Heroes And Villains Session: 1/27/67]
19. Heroes And Villains: Prelude To Fade [Heroes And Villains Session: 2/15/67]
20. Heroes And Villains: Piano Theme [Heroes And Villains Session: 2/15/67]
21. Heroes And Villains: Part 2 [Heroes And Villains Sessions: 2/20/67]
22. Heroes And Villains: Part 2 (Gee) (Master Take) [Heroes And Villains Sessions: 2/20/67]
23. Heroes And Villains: Part 2 Revised [Heroes And Villains Sessions: 2/20/67]
24. Heroes And Villains: Part 2 Revised (Master Take) [Heroes And Villains Sessions: 2/20/67]
25. Heroes And Villains: Part 3 (Animals) (Master Take) [Heroes And Villains Sessions: 2/20/67]
26. Heroes And Villains: Part 4 [Heroes And Villains Sessions: 2/20/67]
27. Heroes And Villains: Part Two (Master Take) 2/27/67 [Heroes And Villains Sessions: 2/27/67]
28. Heroes And Villains: Fade 2/28/67 [Heroes And Villains Sessions: 2/27/67]
29. Heroes And Villains: Verse remake [Heroes And Villains Session: 3/1/67]
30. Heroes And Villains: Organ Waltz / Intro [Heroes And Villains Session: 3/1/67]
31. Heroes And Villains: Chorus Vocals [Heroes And Villains Session: 6/14/67]
32. Heroes And Villains: Barbershop [Heroes And Villains Session: 6/14/67]
33. Heroes And Villains: Children Were Raised (Remake) [Heroes And Villains Session: 6/14/67]
34. Heroes And Villains: Children Were Raised (Master Take Overdubs Mix 1) [Heroes And Villains Session: 6/14/67]
35. Heroes And Villains: Children Were Raised (Master Take A Capella) [Heroes And Villains Session: 6/14/67]
36. Heroes And Villains Piano Demo (incorporating "I'm In Great Shape" and "Barnyard") Brian with Van Dyke Parks and "Humble Harve" Miller, KHJ Radio 11/4/66 (Bonus Track)
37. Psycodelic Sounds: Brian Falls Into A Microphone 11/4/66 (Bonus Track)
38. Psycodelic Sounds: Moaning Laughing 11/4/66 (Bonus Track)

Disc: 3

1. Do You Like Worms: Part 1 [DO YOU LIKE WORMS (ROLL PLYMOUTH ROCK) Session: 10/18/66]
2. Do You Like Worms: Part 2 (Bicycle Rider) [DO YOU LIKE WORMS (ROLL PLYMOUTH ROCK) Session: 10/18/66]
3. Do You Like Worms: Part 3 [DO YOU LIKE WORMS (ROLL PLYMOUTH ROCK) Session: 10/18/66]
4. Do You Like Worms: Part 4 (Bicycle Rider) [DO YOU LIKE WORMS (ROLL PLYMOUTH ROCK) Session: 10/18/66]
5. Do You Like Worms: Bicycle Rider Overdubs (Heroes And Villains Part 2) 1/5/67 [DO YOU LIKE WORMS (ROLL PLYMOUTH ROCK) Session: 10/18/66]
6. My Only Sunshine: Parts 1 & 2 11/14/66 [MY ONLY SUNSHINE (THE OLD MASTER PAINTER / YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE)]
7. My Only Sunshine: Part 2 (Master Take With Vocal Overdubs) 2/10/67 [MY ONLY SUNSHINE (THE OLD MASTER PAINTER / YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE)]
8. Cabin Essence: Verse [Cabin Essence Session: 10/3/66]
9. Cabin Essence: Chorus [Cabin Essence Session: 10/3/66]
10. Cabin Essence: Tag [Cabin Essence Session: 10/3/66]
11. Wonderful (Version 1) 8/25/66
12. Wonderful (Version 2) [Wonderful (Version 2 "Rock With Me Henry") Session: 1/9/67]
13. Wonderful (Version 2 Tag) [Wonderful (Version 2 "Rock With Me Henry") Session: 1/9/67]
14. Wonderful (Version 3) 4/10/67 ? [Wonderful (Version 2 "Rock With Me Henry") Session: 1/9/67]
15. Look 8/12/66 [LOOK (SONG FOR CHILDREN)]
16. Child Is Father Of The Man (Version 1) 10/7/66
17. Child Is Father Of The Man (Version 2) 10/11/66
18. Surf's Up: 1ST Movement 11/4/66
19. Surf's Up: Talking Horns 11/7/66
20. Surf's Up: Piano Demo (Master Take) 12/15/66
21. I Wanna Be Around 11/29/66 [I WANNA BE AROUND / WORKSHOP (FRIDAY NIGHT)]
22. Vegetables: Verse (Master Take Track) 4/4 - 4/11/67 [VEGA-TABLES (VEGETABLES) Sessions: 4/4-4/11/67]
23. Vegetables: Sleep A Lot (Chorus) [VEGA-TABLES (VEGETABLES) Sessions: 4/4-4/11/67]
24. Vegetables: Chorus 1 (Master Take) [VEGA-TABLES (VEGETABLES) Sessions: 4/4-4/11/67]
25. Vegetables: 2nd Chorus (Master Take Track And Backing Vocals) [VEGA-TABLES (VEGETABLES) Sessions: 4/4-4/11/67]
26. Vegetables: Insert (Part 4) (Master Take) [VEGA-TABLES (VEGETABLES) Sessions: 4/4-4/11/67]

Disc: 4

1. Vegetables: Fade 4/12/67 [VEGA-TABLES (VEGETABLES) (continued)]
2. Vegetables: Ballad Insert 4/14/67 [VEGA-TABLES (VEGETABLES) (continued)]
3. Holidays 9/8/66
4. Wind Chimes (Version 1) 8/3/66
5. Wind Chimes (Version 2) [Wind Chimes (Version 2) Session: 10/5/66]
6. Wind Chimes (Version 2 Tag) [Wind Chimes (Version 2) Session: 10/5/66]
7. The Elements: Fire 11/28/66 [THE ELEMENTS: FIRE (MRS. O'LEARY'S COW)]
8. Da Da (Taped Piano Strings) [LOVE TO SAY DADA / COOL, COOL WATER; Da Da Session: 12/22/66]
9. Da Da (Fender Rhodes) [LOVE TO SAY DADA / COOL, COOL WATER; Da Da Session: 12/22/66]
10. Love To Say Dada: Part 1 5/16/67 [Love To Say Dada Sessions: 5/16-5/18/67]
11. Love To Say Dada: Part 2 5/17/67 [Love To Say Dada Sessions: 5/16-5/18/67]
12. Love To Say Dada: Part 2 (Master Take) 5/17/67 [Love To Say Dada Sessions: 5/16-5/18/67]
13. Love To Say Dada: Part 2 (Second Day) 5/18/67 [Love To Say Dada Sessions: 5/16-5/18/67]
14. Cool, Cool Water (Version 1) 6/7/67
15. Cool, Cool Water (Version 2) 10/26/67 & 10/29/67
16. You're Welcome 12/15/66 [SMILE ADDITIONAL SESSIONS]
17. You're With Me Tonight 6/6-6/7/67 [SMILE ADDITIONAL SESSIONS]
18. Tune X (Carl Wilson) 3/3/67-3/31/67 [SMILE ADDITIONAL SESSIONS]
19. I Don't Know (Dennis Wilson) 1/12/67 [SMILE ADDITIONAL SESSIONS]
20. Three Blind Mice 10/15/65 [SMILE ADDITIONAL SESSIONS]
21. Teeter Totter Love (Jasper Dailey) 1/25/67 & 2/9/67 [SMILE ADDITIONAL SESSIONS]
22. Psycodelic Sounds - Underwater Chant 11/4/66 (Bonus Track)
23. Hal Blaine Vega-Tables Promo Session 11/11/66 (Bonus Track)
24. Heroes And Villains: Early Version Outtake Sections 1/67 - 2/67 (Bonus Track)

Disc: 5

1. Good Vibrations: Gold Star 2/18/66 (The Pet Sounds Session)
2. Good Vibrations: Gold Star 4/9/66
3. Good Vibrations: Western 5/4/66 (First Chorus)
4. Good Vibrations: Western 5/4/66 (Second Chorus & Fade)
5. Good Vibrations: Sunset Sound 5/24/66 (Part 1)
6. Good Vibrations: Sunset Sound 5/24/66 (Parts 2 & 3)
7. Good Vibrations: Sunset Sound 5/24/66 (Part 4)
8. Good Vibrations: Western 5/27/66 (Part C)
9. Good Vibrations: Western 5/27/66 (Chorus)
10. Good Vibrations: Western 5/27/66 (Fade Sequence)
11. Good Vibrations (Inspiration): Western 6/2/66 (Part 1)
12. Good Vibrations (Inspiration): Western 6/2/66 (Part 3)
13. Good Vibrations (Inspiration): Western 6/2/66 (Part 4)
14. Good Vibrations: Western 6/16/66 (Part 1)
15. Good Vibrations: Western 6/16/66 (Part 2 & verse)
16. Good Vibrations: Western 6/16/66 (Part 2 continued)
17. Good Vibrations: Western 6/18/66 (Part 1)
18. Good Vibrations: Western 6/18/66 (Part 2)
19. Good Vibrations (Persuasion): Western 9/1/66
20. Good Vibrations: Western 9/1/66 (new bridge)
21. Good Vibrations: Session Masters
22. Good Vibrations single version stereo track
23. Good Good Good Vibrations (first version with overdubs) 3/66
24. Good Vibrations: Alternate Edit 8/24/66

Disc: 6

1. Our Prayer (Side One) [LP Vinyl]
2. Gee (Side One) [LP Vinyl]
3. Heroes and Villains (Side One) [LP Vinyl]
4. Do You Like Worms (Roll Plymouth Rock) (Side One) [LP Vinyl]
5. I'm In Great Shape (Side One) [LP Vinyl]
6. Barnyard (Side One) [LP Vinyl]
7. The Old Master Painter / You Are My Sunshine (Side One) [LP Vinyl]
8. Cabin Essence (Side One) [LP Vinyl]
9. Wonderful (Side Two) [LP Vinyl]
10. Look (Song for Children) (Side Two) [LP Vinyl]
11. Child Is Father of the Man (Side Two) [LP Vinyl]
12. Surf's Up (Side Two) [LP Vinyl]

Disc: 7

1. I Wanna Be Around / Workshop (Side Three) [LP Vinyl]
2. Vega-Tables (Side Three) [LP Vinyl]
3. Holidays (Side Three) [LP Vinyl]
4. Wind Chimes (Side Three) [LP Vinyl]
5. Mrs. O'Leary's Cow (Fire) (Side Three) [LP Vinyl]
6. Love to Say Dada (Side Three) [LP Vinyl]
7. Good Vibrations (Side Three) [LP Vinyl]
8. Your Welcome - Stereo Mix (Side Four) [LP Vinyl]
9. Vega-Tables - Stereo Mix (Side Four) [LP Vinyl]
10. Wind Chimes - Stereo Mix (Side Four) [LP Vinyl]
11. Cabin Essence - Session Highlights and Stereo Backing Track (Side Four) [LP Vinyl]
12. Surf's Up - Session Excerpt and Stereo Mix (Side Four) [LP Vinyl]

Disc: 8

1. A side: HEROES AND VILLAINS Part One [Vinyl 45]
2. B side: HEROES AND VILLAINS Part Two [Vinyl 45]

Disc: 9

1. A side: VEGA-TABLES [Vinyl 45]
2. B Side: SURF'S UP [Vinyl 45] 

OK, did you all get all of that? Heh. Yeah. That's a LOT of content, isn't it? If you're addicted to the Beach Boys and the "SMiLE" era stuff, in particular, then this is the crack cocaine of archival releases. It's like a handful of Christmases, rolled into one. 

Really, if you're not into the musical history of the "SMiLE" material, or if you're not a huge Brian Wilson/Beach Boys fan, this release won't do a lot for you. Maybe you like "Good Vibrations," but you may not have the desire to see how the "sausage was made," with the different takes and experiments that culminated into the Beach Boys' most successful single to date (which will probably mean their most successful single ever, since they're all in their late 60s or early 70s at this point).

For those who ARE huge fans, though, this box is similar to getting the sketches and partial works of Michelangelo's paintings of the Sistine Chapel as the work progressed. Brian Wilson was at his creative peak, following the release of the Beach Boys' masterpiece "Pet Sounds." The music is evocative, provocative, pastoral, pictorial, classic and so American ... And the lyrics exemplify those qualities to an extreme.

The centerpiece of the album was to be "Heroes and Villains," which Brian Wilson conceived as the follow-up to "Good Vibrations," though "Heroes" would be an even more elaborate and complex production than "Vibrations" was (really, that's not an exaggeration). These archival releases will prominently feature "Heroes and Villains," including previously unreleased mixes AND the "Heroes and Villains Pt. 1" / "Heroes and Villains Pt. 2" single that so many fans have discussed and dreamed about for decades!

I could go into great detail into the history and creation of the "SMiLE" materials, and how it all fell apart and how Brian's collapse and decline into mental illness and substance abuse followed ... But that material is all easy to find in books, magazines and blogs like this one. (Still, maybe I'll cover that information in a future entry). Instead, I just wanted to really celebrate how GOOD of a year 2011 is for Beach Boys fans.

It's shaping up to be one of the most important, enjoyable and illuminating years for fans since the 1964/1965/1966 years. It's a genuine thrill for me to look over those tracklists and see all the material there. To hear the bits and pieces that were never released in the past (not even on bootlegs), and to hear an official release of the Beach Boys' version of "SMiLE" (though it'll remain incomplete, since some vocals were never recorded and not all of the instrumental link tracks had been finished).



  1. This box set is fantastic! All the music together as it should be, at long last, plus extras on disc two that prove Brian Wilson was the master of his domain, the world of pop music. Brian's Smile album in 2004 was also wonderful music, but I believe this tops it, just because the musicians and the voices of the Beach Boys were the best ever, better than anyone else in history.

  2. Espana, thank you for the comments!

    I quite agree with you ... the 2004 "Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE" is a wonderful album, but the 2011 "The SMiLE Sessions" box is just about the best collection of these songs out there. The Beach Boys voices are unparalleled (though the band Brian Wilson has with him these days did a great job).

    The nice thing is we don't have to choose, it's finally all out there for us to enjoy. We can listen to BWPS, "Smiley Smile" and "The SMiLE Sessions" and enjoy all the bits.

    Big props to Brian, the Beach Boys, the co-producers of the box (Mark Linett and Alan Boyd) and the folks at Capitol who all worked together to bring this music to the fans after all these years.

    Thanks again for the comment, Espana! Hope to hear from you again!


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