Wednesday

The Beach Boys

Smiley Smile Sessions - 1967

Officially titled "Unsurpassed Masters Vol.18 (1967):The Alternate "Smiley Smile" Album", this collection anything but an "alternate album". Even the cover to this poorly titled bootleg (a shot of the band taking a playful romp in the surf) doesn't even fit, so I've decided to ditch both of them. In reality, what we have here is a fascinating look into the Beach Boys' recording process as they tried to rise from the ashes of their aborted Smile LP. Rather than the usual bootleg mix of alternate takes in muddied fidelity, you hear the songs literally being built before your ears, track by track, instrument by instrument, voice by voice. If you're not familiar with the Smiley Smile LP, fear not, this collection is akin to an instruction manual that breaks down the working methods of one of the greatest bands of all time. Those who already have every sloppy, silly psychedelic inch of Smiley Smile imprinted on their brains, will find a whole new way of loving it. Either way, get yourself a nice set of headphones and enjoy!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've tried to enjoy Smiley Smile, but its really not that great. This isn't up to the quality from prior albums. Lazy and rushed? I wished they would have stuck to Brian Wilson's Smile album. "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes and Villians" are great singles, but it doesn't save the Smiley Smile LP. Fast forward to their next album "Wild Honey". They sound like they're having lots of fun with this one.

JR HeatWarp said...

I couldn't agree more with the fact that the band really start to pick up momentum again with Wild Honey -- one of the finest LPs of their career. Smiley Smile isn't to be overlooked though, no matter how ramshackle and blatantly half-assed it comes across. It's a transitional album in every aspect, and although it may not be an incredibly successful one, it was this experimentation with song form, non-traditional harmonics and instrumentation that gave birth to the Beach Boys' reinvention in the early 70s with songs like "Til I Die" and "Steamboat".

Anonymous said...

I think people often come to Smiley Smile expecting something like a slightly lesser version Smile and are disappointed. But if you listen with no preconceptions you find an extraordinary collection of sheer inventiveness, humour, hooks, experimentation, and that peculiar Brian Wilson intimacy and colour, that puts the vast majority of albums from any era in the shade as works of art. And let's face it, any album that has even one track as good as Good Vibrations or Heroes and Villians would be considered an astonishing high point that most bands would build a whole career around. Smiley Smile, although patchy, is fascinating and entertaining, and is essential to any self-respecting lover and student of pop music.

BT said...

My friend,

I'm kinda new to blogs... but as far as kindred spirits, you are my GOD! beach Boys, Beefheart, Faust V, Miles... this is the finest treasure chest I've yet found.

MANY thanks for taking the time. and, for all those others that don't bother to leave comment (like myself)... THANKS!

BeatleMax said...

Wild Honey is a listenable LP of so-so songs from a band trying to find itself in a post-Monterey Pop
scene. Wild Honey is poorly recorded
and under-produced, with some pleasant results: The ONLY fully listenable LP since Pet Sounds, or ever. Except..Smiley Smile.

Carl described as a "bunt", is perhaps the MOST interesting Beach Boys record, period. Recast from
the hash & acid fueled Smile acetates. The resulting LP is a masterpiece, truly. Far more compelling than ANY other.

It is usually in the "worst" lp
that an artist truly gets to shine.
In the 1967, Beach Boys went from
the top to the bottom. Later that
same year, Murry will sell the
Beach Boys catalog, as was the
style at the time. {spector, mardin included}

Smiley Smile IS Carl Wilson's SWAN SONG. Contains the out of place singles Heroes & Vibrations.

Listen to the vocals swell on certain words in "Wonderful"
Session tapes reveal portions
of Smile is recorded of LSD.

You can feel it on Smiley Smile.