Teenage symphonies to God [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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01-26-2004, 10:28 AM
Nice little interview/article about Brian Wilson in Friday's Guardian, including some juicy info on Smile. I wonder if they ever do release a new official version of Smile if people will buy it. Or is it just a curiosity by now since many (most?) of the songs have been included on other collections? Anyway, it's worth following the link for the whole article, but I pasted some of it that talked about the Smile sessions below for those in a hurry :)


"Teenage symphonies to God," Brian called it. The Beach Boys, when they got back, called it "freaked out" and "f<a>ucked up". Mike Love, Wilson's cousin and most vocal critic in the band, scoffed that it was "a whole album of Brian's madness".

Already reeling from a distressing battle with the group's record company, Wilson was overwhelmed. And when Parks was forced out by the band, there was no one to fight his corner. He was "brain-fried", as he put it, and suffering spiralling paranoia - believing that Spector was monitoring his brain and that a track on Smile had caused an outbreak of serious fires in Los Angeles.

The final straw was the sudden appearance at the top of the charts by another far-reaching concept album: Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by arch-rivals the Beatles. Wilson put the Smile tapes on the shelf, went home, got into bed and closed the door.

And for decades, while some of his Smile songs were rejigged for subsequent Beach Boys albums or slipped out on bootlegs or the internet, he refused even to mention the project. Until last October, when he went back to the album and finished it.

He was aided by the now-sexagenarian Parks and - half his age - Wondermints keyboardist Darian Sahanaja. Sahanaja located what was left of the tapes in the Capitol records vaults and "loaded all the complete to nearly complete pieces of music on to my laptop and played through them with Brian".

Wilson was nervous at first. So was Sahanaja, "because it was well known that this was the music that began Brian's withdrawal and subsequent spiral. It had to be done in small steps. Fortunately, we had already been performing some of the cornerstone pieces such as Heroes and Villains, Surf's Up and Good Vibrations, all serving as a good points to rally around." Then Wilson "started getting into it. He was genuinely turned on by the sounds he was hearing and asking me how we would pull certain things off live."

It was Melinda's idea for him to play the album in its entirety, on stage and worry about details like releasing a recording later. It was, she believed, the only way he could top 2002's Pet Sounds tour. The British reaction to earlier shows convinced him to bring Smile over here.

01-26-2004, 10:41 AM
Also a little essay from Van Dyke Parks that is apparently due to appear in the programs for the upcoming Smile tour next month......


"Smile" sat there, like the bride's cake on Miss Havisham's table--- a memento from another age, an age of "Great Expectations"!

I thought that cake had collapsed. It had been such a beautiful thing, some 40 years ago, when it was hot out of the oven. It had laid there, in the shadows all this time. I avoided the mention of it.

What kind of fare for the light of day, I wondered.

I waited for Brian to see if and how he related it to his formidable body of work. Too true, I've autographed uncountable copies of "Smile", all boot-leg, from "appreciative fans" of Brian. Each time I did, an impish banker on my left shoulder, dressed in red, said: "Another Pirate!"

But I always have signed this work, without mention of my own debts.

Now I must take the opportunity to thank Brian in-public for tearing open those old curtains and letting the sun shine once again on this inspired, serio-comic work.

In summer '03, I read in the press that "Smile" would be Brian's next tour. I wondered for two months longer what form that music would take. Did Brian imagine I wasn't interested? Finally, he asked me up to listen.

Invited up to the Wilson house in the Hollywood Hills. Like a deer in the head-lights, I lugged my 60 year-old frame to his music-room and heard the collection for the first time in 37 years. I had dreaded that moment so, not knowing what the results could be after such a time of dashed expectations. Would it simply be a veteran's repetition of some youthful glory or folly?

In sitting with Brian and his musical director Darian, I immediately felt a wash of great relief come over me at first listening. "Smile" strikes me as a wondrous achievement from a 24 year old musician and a 22 year old lyricist. It's robust and athletic, with all the promise talented youth suggests. It's kind on the ears.

Perhaps now, people may remember that "Surf's Up"" was cited by composer Leonard Bernstein as "a significant contribution to American Popular Music of the 20th Century..." I agree with Lenny.

Brian has made a lasting contribution in this work. In performing "Smile", he opens his heart to a possibly vulgar public gaze. What has he got that I ain't got? Courage!

Only at one point during the playback of Smile in that recent time in his music room did I lose an immediate recall. I just couldn't place the music. It slowly dawned on me; the section I was hearing came from the inferno of "The Elements" ("Fire").

I'd sat out that so-called "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" session in 1966; I felt an emerging irrelevance. With no lyrics, yet. The writing was on the wall. So when "The Elements" (the only piece of "The Elements" I worked on was "Vege-Tables") were all brought together by Brian for this performance, I heard in this troubling section (as will you) a suspended E chord that hangs on forever in a miasma of some new breed of transcendental mock-Asiatic chant. Half-Hopi....half- Himalayan. Definitely new-age stuff. On the old tapes, the meditative chant of Mike Love came through as the dominant consolation. This chant, I'm told, was recorded in the spring of 1967, long after I'd departed the scene for "Palm Desert" and my just desserts.

Still Mike's voice somehow consoled me now in the present tense. And the "Fire" section typified the events that surrounded Brian in that turbulent time. Retrospection brings greater clarity to those events, with a wide pallet of emotional force.

I'm thrilled Brian asked me to include some thoughts on this. Brian's staging "Smile" feels like a validation. And, I feel my own work has been validated by his so doing. Hell, I almost feel relevant...although I still can't tell you what I meant by the words: "Over and over the crow cries uncover the cornfield".

It does test "poetic license."

"Smile" has snap, crackle, and pop. Its audio imagery (Brian), its insouciant visuals (Frank Holmes), and its skewed lyrics all give anecdote to the great American dream. Don't waken me.

With a salute to Brian,

Van Dyke Parks
Los Angeles
Dec. 24, 2003

01-28-2004, 01:55 PM
I'm bumping this up. I've had an extremely hectic few days & wasn't able to read the entire thing until just now. As anyone reading this probably knows, I've been extolling the virtues of SMILE ad nauseum for more than 3 years now. To anyone who hasn't heard it, if you have any interest in pop or rock music, it's something you should hear. To anyone who agrees with Rolling Stone that 'Sgt. Pepper' belongs at the top of the 'list' of 'best' rock and pop albums, you REALLY need to hear it. I am eager to hear what form the official release will take. I have 4 or 5 different versions of this album, each slightly different in content, and disc after disc of sessions bootlegs. My first copy was sent to me by Mike 'Sport' Murphy (on whose most recent album Van Dyke Parks makes an appearance), & it blew my mind. I have since received at least 2 from Brad, and another from a guy who did wacky things, like put his bootleg on reel-to-reel tape & doctor the tape in ways that would bring out parts that were otherwise low in the mix...in effect, a remix without benefit of the master tapes. Bizarre. But that's how obsessive people get about this thing. And I could be wrong, but I have to believe that prog fans would find something to like about this, too...it being a concept album & all, it certainly does have its proggy moments & its proggy aspects. But I guess we'll find out. My prediction: people who are serious rock music fans, such as the people on this board, will hear it & like it. The critics won't, & it very well may be skewered & even ridiculed. I hope I'm wrong, but I have a feeling that the Pitchforks & other pubs like that are simply not going to dig it. But I guess we'll just have to wait & see.

I am sending a copy of SMILE to Mad Rhetorik, along with a Beach Boys comp I put together for him. My intent was to show another side of this band to people who may have only heard the hit singles. If anyone's interested, let me know. Here's the tracklist (which doesn't really do a good job of getting across what some of the stuff on this comp actually sounds like):

1. All I Really Want To Do (1968)
2. Breakaway (1969)
3. Dance, Dance, Dance (1964)
4. In My Room (1963)
5. Friends (1968)
6. Please Let Me Wonder (1965)
7. I Was Made To Love Her (1968)
8. Transcendental Meditation (1968)
9. Cabinessence (1966)
10. Cabinessence (track only) (1966)
11. I Just Wasn't Made For These Times (1966)
12. The Warmth Of The Sun (1964)
13. Time To Get Alone (1968)
14. "Stack-O-Vocals" Wouldn't It Be Nice (vocals only) (1966)
15. Surfer Girl (1963)
16. God Only Knows (sessions) (1966)
17. God Only Knows (1966)
18. Do It Again (1969)
19. Forever (1970)
20. Honky Tonk (1963)
21. Sail On Sailor (1972)
22. All Summer Long (vocals/instruments split channels) (1964)
23. Hang On To My Ego (1966)
24. I Get Around (track only) (1964)
25. Kiss Me Baby (stereo remix) (1965)
26. Don't Worry Baby (1964)
27. The Beatles-Here, There & Everywhere
28. Danny Gatton-In My Room

I threw on the last two covers for a small sampling of the influence the Beach Boys had. I realized after I made it I could've used the Engless Harmony version of 'Surfer Girl,' but I forgot. Oh, well. I did use a few stereo remixes here & there, though, which sound absolutely gorgeous. Mad, if you're reading this, I'll have this out to you ASAP.

01-28-2004, 02:26 PM
I'm bumping this up.
Hey, thanks for the bump. I thought this post was already down the drain, but now it's circling again. Cool :)

Looks like a very cool comp ya got there. Yeah, it will be interesting to see how a "real" Smile release is received. Still many problems to work out before that might happen, though. Hopefully it will happen before either of us hangs up our dancing shoes. My copy of Smile is one of Brad's mp3 jobbies, but it sure would be nice to have a full fidelity version one of these days. And since Pet Sounds has already found its way to DVD-Audio at 24/96 resolution, maybe someday Smile will too :)

01-28-2004, 05:33 PM
The one that Brad sent me that he did two years ago was overall the best version I've heard yet, both content-wise, flow, & sonically. MP3s or not, they blow the crap out of the bootlegs that people had to rely on for years before better-sounding tapes surfaced. When I first got into SMILE I borrowed some boots from Sport & was appalled at how awful they sounded. And I'm not only not an audiophile, as you know, I'm not even really a stickler for sound quality. But this was ridiculous, and people were paying like $50 or more for single discs. After having listened to the cassette Sport sent me years ago so many times, I still blink a bit at the minor differences in how certain snippets are sequenced on Brad's 2002 SMILE. But it's got snippets I've never heard, and overall I think it sounds pretty good. Is that the version you have? Does the fact that they come from MP3s really affect the sound quality to you all that much? I've heard plenty of lousy MP3s, but this does sound very good so far as I'm concerned.

If you'd like a copy of the BBs comp I listed, you're welcome to it; it's sourced from a wide range of stuff & doesn't function as a 'hits' collection at all. The instrumental-only version of 'Cabinessence,' from the bonus disc on the box set, is, after hearing the version with vocals, one of the most incredible things I've ever heard. Imagine a song that's a stream-of-consciousness slice of Americana, and a paean to the Old West & Great Plains, with swirling Beach Boys harmonies, and you take the vocals off, and it's practically classical music. Stunning. And you know I don't say stuff like that too often.

mad rhetorik
01-28-2004, 06:41 PM
Sorry I didn't respond to this thread earlier Jay. I'm not really a Beach Boys fan based on what I've heard, but since you seem to be a pretty good judge of music and this comp isn't based on radio tunes I can trust your judgement.

Consider my interest piqued, dude. When does it get here? : )

01-29-2004, 07:53 AM
Hey Davey, need a little memory jogger. A couple years ago, you sent me a few tracks that were nominees for CRSV1. The band I chose to go on the comp had a major Beatlesque/Beach Boys influence in their vocals. I can't recall their name...

01-29-2004, 08:53 AM
Hey Davey, need a little memory jogger. A couple years ago, you sent me a few tracks that were nominees for CRSV1. The band I chose to go on the comp had a major Beatlesque/Beach Boys influence in their vocals. I can't recall their name...
Simian is the one you put on the comp, credited to me and the Snowflake girl since she is the one that turned me on (to the band, that is). I also included a track from the Mockers, both at the end of a modified version of my Electric Lights comp. I then put another Simian track from that same album, Chemistry Is What We Are, on the second Song of the Day (Sep 13, 2002) comp per your request.


That's their only CD I have but I think Dusty got the next one too and liked it. I also sent you some Super Furry Animals songs off the Rings Around The World CD at one point which also has a lot of those same influences. Can't remember exactly what that was for, but maybe to fill up the comp of tunes for your Rave Recs Discoveries comp.

01-29-2004, 08:59 AM
Thanks, I couldn't remember their name for sh*t. I recently saw a video by them on VH1 Classics, from a newer release, I think. Evidently, I wasn't as impressed with the Super Furries.

01-29-2004, 09:05 AM
Is that the version you have? Does the fact that they come from MP3s really affect the sound quality to you all that much? I've heard plenty of lousy MP3s, but this does sound very good so far as I'm concerned.

If you'd like a copy of the BBs comp I listed, you're welcome to it
I'd love a copy of your comp. I'll email you my addy. And yeah, I think that's the version of Smile I have and it does sound very good for using compressed files. But sometimes I like to play audiophile, and I have a copy of the mono DCC vinyl pressing of Pet Sounds from the mid 90s that sounds incredible, and I'd like to believe that same sound is hidden away in the Smile session tapes. Mastered by the well known Steve Hoffman on a vintage tube system. Some words from http://www.eyeneer.com/Labels/DCC/LP/pet.html .....

From the first note of this record, I was immediately struck by the stunning clarity laid out before me. DCC did an awesome job with the epic Beach Boys record PET SOUNDS, reissued it in it's original monophonic form on 180 gram virgin vinyl. The comparisons that I did with an older Capitol vinyl pressing was distinctly noted because, in short, the DCC version blew it away - absolutely no comparison and bar-none this takes the cake for one of the best sounding reissues of 1996 hands down. Besides being an essential rock record, you can be assured that this pressing is the best that you are going to find in an audiophile format, nonetheless it will probably take on the first pressing as well. Mastered on DCC's all vacuum-tube vintage mastering system by Steve Hoffman - it images beautifully and is the most revealing pressing that I have ever heard - certainly done meticulously down to the album reproduction with original insert. A stunning achievement and essential audiophile pressing