Posts Tagged ‘Carl Wilson’

Beach Boys

For some bands, it’s an awesome to try and collate what their best album is. For instance Do you prefer Abbey Road, Revolver, or Sgt. Peppers? Siamese Dream or Mellon Collie?. Some bands have a best album that’s hard to debate against. Despite a vast catalogue of 29 studio albums (plus a few legendary discontinued records) and loads of hit singles, there’s a critical consensus that 1966’s Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys‘ is their greatest record, It’s a highly personal work from Brian Wilson that captures him at the peak of his composing teenage symphonies to God. I’m not going to argue with the consensus, For a window of time, they were one of the few American bands that could legitimately rival The Beatles. It’s hard to remember that now, amidst all the legal battles over rights to the band’s name and the tidal waves of sloppily-curated studio session box sets, but for awhile and, yes, even beyond the release of Pet SoundsThe Beach Boys were making albums that were strange and beautiful in equal measure. The great and storied (and eventually released) Smile was supposed to follow that, but was aborted after Mike Love’s objection to it and the label’s demand for a deadline. Brian’s mental health also got in the way.

Their power was in more than just those two albums though. There are hardly any Beach Boys albums that don’t have at least one worthy song,  The Beach Boys have many other worthwhile albums in their catalogue. Here are my favourites from these Californians Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston:

The Beach Boys Summer Days and Summer Nights

Summer Days (And Summer Nights!) ( 1965 )

Often the mark of a good Beach Boys album is how much of it is contributed by the Wilsons, as opposed to the less talented members. There’s plenty of Brian Wilson genius on Summer Days, Of all The Beach Boys’ albums featuring exclamation marks, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) is the strongest. Released in 1965, it was then a 23-year-old Brian Wilson’s ninth studio album and provided the platform for the complex harmonies and chord structures of overplayed/underappreciated pop standards like “California Girls” and a superior version of “Help Me, Rhonda” that he’d become famous for. It’s an album of high highs, like Brian’s nod to Phil Spector’s signature powerhouse sound on the gorgeous “Let Him Run Wild” as well as equivalent limbo-champion lows.

Summer Days is a borderline surf-rock album (Capitol Records demanded he return to these themes after The Beach Boys Today! failed to sell as well as past records) with a song dedicated to Salt Lake City. The track “I’m So Bugged At My Ol’ Man” is so laughably bad that Brian cited his vocals as “Too Embarrassed” on the album. Also the Carl Wilson showcase ‘Girl Don’t Tell Me’, but it’s offset by Mike Love’s crassness on cuts like ‘Salt Lake City’ and ‘Amusement Parks U.S.A.’.

People like to say that although Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) is the technical predecessor to Pet Sounds, Today! is the true predecessor. I actually disagree. Side B of Today! is undeniable in the development of Pet Sounds, but in different ways Summer Days came closer. (It also has the superior version of “Help Me, Rhonda.”) It came out a month before The Beatles’ Help!, and both of those albums feel similar. They’re both the last album by each band to contain any resemblance to their early material, and both followed by what’s largely considered each band’s first 10/10 classic. Summer Days‘ most obvious achievement is “California Girls,” which is sort of the significantly better sequel to “I Get Around.” Like that song, it’s still fair to call it surf pop, but other than Mike Love’s nasally vocals and the lyrics, this is much closer to the heavily-arranged pop of Pet Sounds. Brian conducting The Wrecking Crew on this one was his greatest musical achievement to date (Hal Blaine’s drumming and the song’s intro are major highlights), and the harmonies in the chorus are transcendental. The Brian-sung, Wall of Sound-inspired “Let Him Run Wild” could fit on Pet Sounds without changing it at all. “You’re So Good to Me” is close too and the a cappella closer “And Your Dreams Come True” is the most psychedelic the band’s harmonies had sounded at that point. “Amusement Parks U.S.A.” is a fascinating one because it kind of sounds like Mike Love fighting to make it “Fun, Fun, Fun” over Brian’s increasingly darker arrangements. The one cover here is of a Phil Spector song, which is a fitting tribute to his hero who he’d eclipse on his next album. And then there’s the great “Girl Don’t Tell Me,” which basically predicts The Shins’ first two albums. It doesn’t have the cohesion of Pet Sounds or side B of Today!, but it’s a collection of some the band’s finest material.

Beach Boys

Friends (1968)

If there’s a most underrated Beach Boys album, it’s gotta be Friends. It wasn’t popular like their early material, and it wasn’t a critical darling like Pet Sounds either. But it’s really just about as good. If Smile had come out and gained success and competed with Sgt. Pepper’s, maybe Friends would be talked about in the same breath as White Album. But the way things played out, you’ll hardly hear it mentioned in the same breath as The Notorious Byrd Brothers. It’s still up the stripped-down, lo-fi alley of Smiley Smile and Wild Honey, but it’s prettier and less quirky. Brian’s unique vision of pop music and the band’s unparalleled harmonies are as intact here as they are on Pet Sounds and Smile, and there’s truly no skippable track.

The harmonies on “Anna Lee, The Healer” are some of the most gorgeous of the band’s career. They’re so full-sounding that you forget they’re only backed by piano, a bass, and the tiniest bit of hand drumming. Mike Love had just gotten back from a trip to India to study Transcendental Meditation with The Beatles and Donovan, so even he was on board with the ’60s counter-culture stuff this time. The closing track is actually named “Transcendental Meditation,” it’s one of the band’s most outwardly psychedelic songs ever, and Mike Love even helped write it. This is the first one where Dennis was a key songwriter too, and his contributions (“Little Bird” and “Be Still”) are both up there with Brian’s. The one-two of opening tracks “Meant for You” into “Friends” is as good an album introduction as any, and this album’s genre experiments are successful too. “Busy Doin’ Nothin’” toys with bossa nova, while the instrumental “Diamond Head” incorporates Hawaiian music. It’s not an album with Brian in the conductor’s booth, but it’s definitely the one where they clicked most as a band.


The Beach Boys Love You ( 1977 )

Love You was initially intended as a solo debut for Brian Wilson, who provides most of the songs, instrumentation, and lead vocals. It’s an oddity in The Beach Boys’ catalogue – largely played by Wilson on synthesisers, it sounds off the cuff where most Beach Boys records are pristine and lovingly arranged. But it’s a fascinating insight into Wilson’s state of mind in the late 1970s, oscillating between childlike playfulness and devastating insightfulness.

Admittedly, I like Love You more in concept than in actuality, but the story behind it and the weirdness of its existence keep it interesting. After Brian had retreated from much of the band’s writing and recording, he took most of Love You on by himself It hearkened back in spirit to Pet Sounds and “Good Vibrations,” but it was recorded largely with synthesizers before that approach became commonplace. Theoretically, Love You is what Animal Collective and Panda Bear have spent the last nine years doing (though in reality, they’ve bested this album a few times). It’s a total outlier in the band’s catalog, a highly underrated album of the late ’70s, and a rare moment where Brian took control of songwriting during that era. It’s the first must-hear album on this list.

Beach Boys Holland

Holland ( 1973 )

After the underwhelming Carl and the Passions, The Beach Boys attempted to focus Brian Wilson by recording in the Netherlands. Wilson was still troubled, listening obsessively to Randy Newman’s Sail Away during the trip, but he was functional enough to contribute the opener ‘Sail On Sailor’. Carl provides the historical epic ‘The Trader’, and even Mike Love contributes the likeable ‘Big Sur’. It was the last really satisfying group effort from The Beach Boys before the success of the Endless Summer compilation turned them into an oldies act.

After Blondie Chaplin struggled to fit in with the band’s sound on Carl and the Passions – “So Tough,” he ends up being the strongest part of Holland. Blondie takes lead vocals on opener “Sail On, Sailor,” a song Brian had written with Smile collaborator Van Dyke Parks that was given to the other band members (and a few co-writers) to finish. It’s the album’s best song, and remains their most memorable ’70s single.

Some of the Wilson/Parks song cycles also must have rubbed off on Mike Love and Al Jardine, who offer the three-part “California Saga,” one of Love’s finest moments in the band. There isn’t much contribution from Brian on this one, but all the members are on their A game and it’s really a progressive record. There are no throwaways or silly covers or needless instrumentals, and no throwbacks to their early days or misguided hard rock songs. but today it sounds like a gem of that era.

The Beach Boys Wild Honey

Wild Honey  ( 1967 )

The Beach Boys recorded the relatively straightforward Wild Honey at the height of psychedelia. It must have made them look anachronistic when The Beatles were making Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour, but it holds up well, with the group handling most of the instruments themselves and Carl recording terrific lead vocals on songs like ‘Darlin” and a cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Was Made To Love Her’.

This was a Beach Boys attempt at an Stax-inspired album should have been, for all intents and purposes, a bona fide disaster, as there are very few things whiter than suburban boys in matching pinstripe shirts and ’50s-style crewcuts. Instead, 1967’s Wild Honey marks a return to music created in-house by The Beach Boys themselves instead of the complex instrumentalist backings performed by the Wrecking Crew forPet Sounds and Smile. Even though it’s the last album that features Brian as primary composer, it’s cherub-voiced Carl who took the lead on many songs and in many areas of production on the album. The only actual connection to Smile though is “Mama Says,” which is a reworked part of “Vega-Tables.” Sometimes I actually prefer this weird a cappella version.

What Wild Honey lacks in musical complexity, it makes up for in personality on songs like the title track for the most part, his lead vocals help his songs to resonate through clear pop hooks and infectious lightheartedness in ways that no song on any of Brian’s hyper-controlled albums ever could. Even Brian sounds like he’s having actual fun as lead on the deceptively innocent “I’d Love Just Once to See You” and “Here Comes the Night” .

The Beach Boys All Summer Long

All Summer Long  ( 1964 )

At only 25 minutes long, and containing filler like studio banter and an unremarkable guitar solo on ‘Carl’s Big Chance’, All Summer Long is a remnant of the era before the pop LP as an art-form. But there’s a lot of great material here – ‘I Get Around’ was the deserved hit single, but there are also great album tracks like ‘Girls On The Beach’ and ‘We’ll Run Away’.

“The Warmth of the Sun” may have hinted at the balladry of Pet Sounds, but the first time we hear Brian attempting the multi-layered complex pop is “I Get Around.” It was All Summer Long‘s lead single, opening track, and The Beach Boys’ first U.S. #1 song. The song sounded enough like a fun-in-the-sun pop song to fit in with stuff like “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Surfin’ USA,” but Brian knew it was so much more. The way he brings in the overlapping vocal harmonies in the intro was some of his most complex work to date. And though he had worked with members of The Wrecking Crew before (the group of session musicians who Phil Spector also worked with), this was the first time he teamed with them to give The Beach Boys his own spin on Spector’s Wall of Sound. If you’re making a list of milestones leading up to Pet Sounds, this song is a major one. The album’s title track, “Wendy,” and “Don’t Back Down” are three more stone cold classics of the early era; and “We’ll Run Away” and “Girls on the Beach” are two more of Brian’s excellent falsetto-led ballads. Both of them show how essential the group’s lush harmonies would be to those types of songs in their psychedelic period.


Adult/Child  ( 1977 ) (unreleased)

It might be cheating including an unreleased, but widely bootlegged, album in this list, but Adult/Child is a fascinating part of the Beach Boys story. Brian Wilson launched into recording Adult/Child just five days after completing Love You, but instead of using synthesisers, he often utilised big band arrangements, reminiscent of Sinatra. The record company rejected it for being too strange, but it’s no stranger than Love You, and it feels more like a group effort, with lead vocals from all five Beach Boys.

Beach Boys

The Beach Boys

I said in the intro that there are hardly any Beach Boys albums that don’t have at least one worthy song. I’ve mentioned a few highlights on the previous albums, but starting here, every album has a handful of worthwhile tracks. Brian wrote or co-wrote three songs on this one, and horribly dated production aside, you can still hear some of his magic. All three of Brian’s contributions have melodic changes that ever so slightly hint at his better days, and even the songs that aren’t penned by him have those Beach Boys harmonies that still no other band has been able to master. It didn’t produce any real Beach Boys staples and it didn’t break any of the ground that their best releases did, but it’s too straight-up enjoyable to fully hate.

Especially given the sort of ’80s pop revival that goes on today, these songs could be very fashionable right now with a little tweaking. Dev Hynes would probably love to write a song like “Crack At Your Love.”

Beach Boys

20/20 (1969)

This one has an uneven and often disappointing side A, but side B is almost flawless. Side A kicks off with “Do It Again,” an obvious throwback to their early days in sound and song title, which felt like a major regression coming right after the band’s most creative period. Brian co-wrote it with Mike Love, and it’s always seemed like the moment Brian finally gave in to Mike’s three-year-long pleas to return to this sound. Side A also has the hard rocking “All I Want to Do,” a sound that’s never suited them well, and Bruce Johnston’s pretty but mostly-unnecessary instrumental “The Nearest Faraway Place.” At least those are balanced out by Dennis’ quality ballad “Be with Me” and a fine Carl-sung version of The Ronettes’ “I Can Hear Music” (honoring the band’s Phil Spector influence once again). Side B begins with a cover of blues legend Lead Belly, and only gets better from there. The psychedelic waltz “I Went to Sleep” is up there with Brian’s best work and “Time to Get Alone” isn’t far behind. (They were also both reportedly written before the 20/20 sessions, which is not surprising.)

Then comes Dennis’ masterful “Never Learn Not to Love,” which was based on a song given to him by his then-friend Charles Manson (despite Manson being a truly horrific person, it is difficult to deny his musical talent). And they’re less necessary in this context now that The Smile Sessions exist, but the album closes with two of the very best songs from the then-abandoned Smile, “Our Prayer” and “Cabinessence.”

Beach Boys

Carl and The Passions “So Tough” (1972)

This is the followup to their last truly excellent album, and the first to feature Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar. Blondie’s contributions would improve significantly on the next album, Holland , but here his harder rock tendencies feel out of place and often hold the band back. Brian doesn’t take lead on any songs and only contributes a bit of songwriting (including the highlight “Marcella”), but the real star on this album is Dennis. His ballads “Make It Good” and “Cuddle Up” are as good as most anything he’s written.

“Cuddle Up” was written by The Beach Boys‘ drummer, Dennis Wilson, and Daryl Dragon of The Captain and Tennille. “Cuddle Up” appeared on The Beach Boys‘ 1972 album, Carl and the Passions – “So Tough”. It was also the B-side of the single, “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone”.

Beach Boys Surf's Up

Surf’s Up ( 1971 )

Surf’s Up is a decidedly two paced record. You get divine music from the angels, like the beautiful title track (a Smile leftover), Brian’s ‘Til I Die’, and two of Carl’s best Beach Boys songs, ‘Feel Flows’ and ‘Long Promised Road’, but you also have to sit through atrocities like ‘Take Good Care Of Your Feet’ and Love’s hackneyed ‘Student Demonstration Time’.

The Beach Boys’ released Surf’s Up, and despite the tongue-in-cheek title it was the darkest album the band would ever record. The album cover depicts a nod to “End of the Trail,” a sculpture featuring a broken-down Native American man who, after coming to a sudden halt, is about to plummet over an unseen precipice—given Brian’s all-consuming nervous breakdown within the next two years, the imagery is all too portentous.

Straight from the discordant chords that open the album on “Don’t Go Near the Water,” the album is miles from “Surfin’ Safari” as an early pioneer of prog rock. Carl’s alien and ethereal “Feel Flows” finally connected The Beach Boys to the counterculture more than the album’s Kent State shooting protest jam “Student Demonstration Time” ever could, and the organ-laden “A Day in the Life of a Tree” and the haunting “Til I Die” may just be Brian’s last great compositions. But the real standout is the album’s title track, a leftover from Smile. “Surf’s Up” is innovative, enigmatic and sublime evidence of the woulda/coulda/shoulda run for their money The Beach Boys almost gave the Beatles in 1967.

Beach Boys Sunflower

Sunflower  (1970 )

1970’s Sunflower takes the group’s penchant for sun-soaked melody and applies it more gently on an album that exudes warmth through skilled, elegant production. The Beach Boys’ efforts on the album “in many respects, it’s their Abbey Road a lush production that signaled an end to the 1960s, the decade that gave them creative flight.” There are points when Sunflower is too decadent for its own good ”Tears in the Morning” oozes schmaltz, including a literal accordion solo when Bruce Johnston laments that his wife has left him for Europe—but the album also contains the the undeniably cool shoegazing precursor “All I Wanna Do” and the aching “Forever,” Dennis Wilson’s finest lead vocal contribution apart from his solo work on Pacific Ocean Blue.

The Beach Boys re-focused at the beginning of the 1970s, after signing to Reprise Records. The album went through a troubled genesis – there were enough leftover songs from the aborted attempts to form a bootleg named Landlocked – but the results were strong, a collaborative album with songs from Brian, Dennis, and Bruce Johnston.

After the 1960s ended, The Beach Boys had another creative boost. They weren’t doing weird lo-fi recordings anymore, and they successfully moved past the indecisive 20/20 to write another classic album. An early highlight is Brian’s “This Whole World” that sounded more spirited that he had in a while, and he and Carl sound great singing it together. “Deirdre,” “All I Wanna Do,” and “Our Sweet Love” have remnants of the psychedelic era, and they’re three of the band’s most gorgeous ’70s songs. They also managed to tack on a Smile leftover that never made it on the eventual Smile tracklist, “Cool, Cool Water.” Dennis’ songwriting contributions were becoming more and more important to the band, and it’s actually he who wrote the album’s best song: “Forever.” He must have hung around his brother enough that he picked up a trick or two, because this is the same kind of intimate beauty Brian perfected on “God Only Knows” and “Caroline, No.” Sometimes “Brian Wilson” and “The Beach Boys” begin to feel synonymous, but Dennis wrote enough great songs in their career to make up an album of their own. He’s The Beach Boys’ George Harrison in a way. (And actually, he did make an album of his own: 1977’s Pacific Ocean Blue, which may be the best Beach Boys offshoot album.)

The Beach Boys Smile Sessions

The Smile Sessions recorded 1965-1971, released  ( 2011 )

Smile was Brian Wilson’s ambitious followup to Pet Sounds, but it was beset with difficulties – Wilson became laden with addiction, superstition, and pressure from band mates, and was unable to complete the project, despite the massive success of single ‘Good Vibrations’. While many of the key songs turned up on later Beach Boys albums, and it was widely bootlegged, it wasn’t until Wilson’s 2004 re-recording of the project that there was a template for an official version, and it’s often spellbinding.

The 2011 release of The Smile Sessions finally gave us the 1967 recordings, assembled mostly according to the BWPS tracklist (with input by Brian), and it’s probably about 90-something percent done compared to the way Brian envisioned it at the time. Considering his perfectionism was hitting insane levels at that time, this is a more-than-acceptable version of the album.

Still, the possibilities did, and in some ways still do, remain endless. If Smile came out in 1967, would “Good Vibrations” have turned into an eight-minute song? Or a 15-minute one? Going by the song getting a full disc of outtakes, that doesn’t sound impossible. And would it really have ended up as the last track on the album? Either way, the album as we know it is as amazing as it was always hyped to be. It took what Brian had achieved on Pet Sounds to wildly new levels, it topped anything The Beatles had done, and it quite possibly would have been the greatest album of the 1960s if it had come out then.

Pet Sounds is a perfect album of pop songs, any of which exist as perfect pop songs on their own. But working with Van Dyke Parks, Brian crafted Smile as a song cycle where countless segments were recorded separately (enough to fill five discs on the box set version of The Smile Sessions), intended to be pieced together as one massive statement. (As you may know, Van Dyke Parks put out his own similarly-minded album that same year, simply titled Song Cycle.) Where songs exist that could be considered covers, like Dennis’ haunting medley of “You Are My Sunshine” and “The Old Master Painter” or the segment of doo wop song “Gee,” they’re working within the storyline of the album. The same is true for the instrumentals and the a cappella songs. A few absolute classic pop songs appear — “Heroes and Villains,” “Cabin Essence,” “Surf’s Up,” and of course “Good Vibrations” but even those take on a larger life within the context of the album. What is “Heroes and Villains” without “Our Prayer” and “Gee” leading into it? Or “Surf’s Up” without “Child Is Father of The Man”? And “Good Vibrations” manages to sound even more epic coming right out of “Love to Say Dada.” (“Good Vibrations” is, by the way, the greatest pop song of all time.

I’ll still take certain Smiley Smile and bootleg versions over the ones here. And Brian’s solo piano version of “Surf’s Up” bests the full-band one. That doesn’t actually take away from the album though. Those versions still exist and they’re still great to listen to, but no bootleg could sequence and transition these songs the way Brian could and eventually did. Even if it wouldn’t have been exactly like this in the ’60s. It’s still tragic that Brian’s internal demons and the album’s external enemies prevented it from being released then. But maybe it needed to be this way. Maybe Smile was truly ahead of its time, and it needed to sit in the vaults, slowly become a legend, and finally get a release over 40 years later. Or maybe I’m just buying too much into good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll myth-making. Either way, it’s expertly executed ambition from an artist who’s truly a pop genius.

The Beach Boys, 'Smiley Smile'

Smiley Smile  (1967)

Let’s just get one thing out of the way right now: Smiley Smile isn’t Smile, the much-mythologized magnum opus Brian meant to follow up Pet Sounds with. The album—Brian’s “teenage symphony to God”—was meant to be an auditory journey across America via Van Dyke Parks’ tongue-twisting lyrics and Brian’s soundscape vignettes of American life to, the through-line of classical composition not to replace pop’s intimacy but to reinforce it, linking one personal moment to the next.” After 90 hours of tape and an estimated $50,000 spent on “Good Vibrations” alone, Smile was shelved, and The Beach Boys still owed Capitol a record. Enter Smiley SmileThe Beach Boys cranked out the diminutively-titled album in under two months to meet the record label’s deadline. It was met with critical confusion, and even Carl bemoaned it as “a bunt instead of a grandslam.” And it’s true: Not to mince words, but Smiley Smile is fucking weird, to the point where it’s almost … remarkable? It contains obvious Smile-era standouts like “Good Vibrations” and the poignant Western-themed “Heroes and Villains,” but those are nestled in among the stoner strangeness of lo-fi-produced songs like “Wind Chimes” and “Wonderful.” “Vegetables” features the percussive rhythm of one Paul McCartney chomping celery, and “She’s Going Bald” is a hilarious reminder that The Beach Boys were 100% dudes in their early 20s, Pet Sounds elegance be damned. As far as late ’60s time capsules go, Smiley Smile is a goofy exploration of the new musical freedom The Beach Boys had, even if nobody—including the band themselves—took it too seriously.

Some days Smiley Smile is my favorite Beach Boys album, if Smile would’ve come out in 1967 how the history of pop music would’ve changed because of it. Would it have topped Sgt. Pepper’s?  Would that have caused The Beatles to react the way they reacted to Pet Sounds, causing them to write an entirely different album than White Album?.  I wish Mike Love wasn’t resisting it’s release, I wish the label wasn’t rushing Brian to put something out,  Smile was aborted, it resulted in Smiley Smile, one of the strangest and absolute greatest albums of the strange and absolutely great 1960s. Most of the album was material written for Smile, which would’ve been Brian’s grandest and most ambitious statement to date, instead turned into minimal lo-fi recordings in his home studio. Where “Vega-Tables” had countless musicians on the Smile version, here it was backed by little more than a 2-note bassline.  “Little Pad,” one of the songs that wasn’t written for Smile, has the band laughing while they’re singing. “She’s Goin’ Bald,” based on a Smile track that never made it on the eventual tracklist, has the band pitching up their voices until they sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks. It’s obvious why it flopped as a followup to Pet Sounds, but it’s an endlessly fascinating album that we’re lucky exists. It’s easy to draw direct lines from this to the lo-fi indie scene of the ’90s, or like, Pinkerton. If an album was ever ahead of its time, this one is.

While Smile is absolutely the album it was always talked up to be, I prefer some of the Smiley Smile versions of these songs. This quirky version of “Vegetables” has always suited the lyrics better. And I’ll actually take the more minimal, haunting Smiley Smile version of “Wind Chimes” over the way Brian first intended it. Pet SoundsandSmile are no doubt classics of psychedelic pop, but they’ve never actually sounded as druggy as this album does. If you’re trying to convince a newcomer that the Beach Boys had an edge, sometimes you can’t even put on “Good Vibrations” or “God Only Knows” because people know those songs and never thought about them as psych-pop. But put on the Smiley Smile version of “Wonderful” or “Fall Breaks And Back To Winter” and they might say, “That’s The Beach Boys?” It’s amazing that almost 50 years into this album’s existence, it’s still that shocking.

The Beach Boys Today!

Today!  ( 1965 )

If Pet Sounds is famous for being Brian’s “complete statement” to rival the thematic continuity of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, then the roots of thier efforts lie in The Beach Boys Today!. It came out three months after Beatles for Sale, which was The Beatles’ first album after Bob Dylan had introduced them to pot. The transition that album makes is undeniable, and likewise Today! is Brian’s first album after being introduced to pot and it’s the first one that you can’t call surf pop.

Side One is run-of-the-mill pop fodder laced with the surf guitar riffs familiar to the group’s early albums on songs like “Do You Wanna Dance?” ‘When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)’, and “Help Me, Ronda,” a standout despite the unnecessary fake fadeouts and the brutal recording sessions it look to make it (hear the Wilson brothers’ father drunkenly berate them and sweet, sweet Al for almost 45 minutes as they try to record the song’s tricky harmonies . But Side Two is where The Beach Boys Today! shines, on which Brian creates a suite of cohesive ballads that turn the band’s attention away from cars, girls and surf to focus on more introspective themes. Brian began to experiment with non-traditional pop music instrumentation,but it’s the second side that’s truly spellbinding, a mini-suite that’s like an overlooked younger sibling of Pet Sounds, with great tunes like ‘Kiss Me Baby’, ‘Please Let Me Wonder’, and the doo-wop of ‘I’m So Young’, It’s a stunning statement from a young Brian Wilson. using French horns and additional pianos, basses and saxophones on confessional tracks like “She Knows Me Too Well” and “In the Back of My Mind” for a stunning departure from the band’s previous style.

beach boys

Pet Sounds’ (1966)

Brian got blown away by the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, and Pet Sounds was his response. He paid the price for ditching their hitmaking formula when Pet Sounds flopped. Now it’s one of the planet’s most beloved albums (ranking Number Two on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 greatest albums). Yet it’s still startling to hear, full of alien sonic details. Especially “God Only Knows,” a song everybody wishes they could sing, although only angels or Carl Wilson could reach the high notes.

beach boys

‘Endless Summer’ (1974)

A whole album of “Fun, Fun, Fun,” stretched out to a double-vinyl portrait of the life and death of the American dream. Endless Summerhas all the early hits – from the joyride of “I Get Around” to the moody gloom of “In My Room.” It cuts off before Pet Sounds, but it still remains their essential anthology – if only because you’re guaranteed not to run into “Kokomo.”

thanks Aphoristic Album Reviews, Paste Magazine

Where next after the album Surf’s Up?That was the question for The Beach Boys as they sailed the uncertain commercial waters of the early 1970s. The surprising answer was an album in which Brian Wilson’s involvement was limited, on which Bruce Johnston barely featured after his sudden (and temporary) departure, and which was named after the band that Carl Wilson and Mike Love had formed in high school.

Carl and the Passions – ‘So Tough’was released on 15th May 1972, and if it failed to deliver any major hits, It was the Beach Boys’ 17th studio album stands as a showcase, especially, for Carl, as he took a greater hand in studio direction. Surf’s Uphad won rave reviews and landed the group on the cover of Rolling Stone in an extensive interview, but it was less than a sales blockbuster, and the group’s direction was to change again.

Sessions for the new record began in December 1971 at the Beach Boys’ new recording studio, Brother, just before the group embarked on some pre-Christmas tour dates. ‘All This Is That,’ written by Carl, Mike and Al Jardine, was one of the first songs to come together, as were ‘He Come Down’ and ‘Marcella,’ which (as Keith Badman’s The Beach Boys diary book detailed) came to life under the title ‘Beatrice From Baltimore.’ 

By the new year of 1973, the factions within the band were prompting Carl to suggest that fresh impetus and new faces may be needed. Not long after the sessions began, Bruce Johnston had a falling out with manager Jack Rieley and left the band. That led to the arrival as official members of South Africans Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin, as the Beach Boys became, in name at least, a seven-piece outfit. Their input was felt on the albums that continued, firstly at Brother, and then at Brian’s home studio in Bel Air.

Fataar and Chaplin wrote and sang on ‘Here She Comes’ and ‘Hold On Dear Brother,’ while Dennis Wilson took lead vocals on the pretty ‘Make It Good’ and ‘Cuddle Up,’ written with Daryl Dragon, later to find fame as one half of the Captain & Tennille. Brian’s main involvement was on the opening ‘You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone,’ which became the LP’s first single, followed by ‘Marcella.’

By the spring, Johnston’s departure through what he called “differences in musical policy” was confirmed. When the album emerged, with the Beach Boys on an extensive European tour, the overall feeling was of a highly listenable if disjointed record, by a group heading in several directions at once.

Carl Wilson described this album as “a scattered project , it wasn’t everybody pitching in…”.it’s certainly an eclectic collection ; “all this is that ” is certainly a hidden gem. I’ve always much preferred side two of “Carl & The Passions” over side one – I’ve always taken “Hold On Dear Brother” to be about Brian.. I think that “All This Is That” is one of The Beach Boys more beautiful songs – kind of their own “Across The Universe” in a way, and the two Dennis Wilson songs are career high points for him, in my opinion…“Marcella” does sound kind of Stones-ish to my ears – the Chaplin/Fataar songs, sound very much to me like something by The Band – but the first five songs on the album, to me, are just so – so. good,

Reprise released it in America as an initial twin-pack with Pet Soundsa juxtaposition which hardly helped the new record to shine.  Rolling Stone felt that only four of the tracks were “acceptable”, and that Brian Wilson’s lack of genuine involvement hurt the album.

The Beach Boys
  • Blondie Chaplin – vocals
  • Ricky Fataar – vocals; drums; slide guitar; production on “Here She Comes” and “Hold On Dear Brother”
  • Al Jardine – vocals; production on “He Come Down” and “All This Is That”
  • Mike Love – vocals
  • Brian Wilson – vocals; production on “You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone”
  • Carl Wilson – vocals; guitar; bass; keyboards; production on “He Come Down,” “Marcella,” and “All This Is That”
  • Dennis Wilson – vocals; production on “Make It Good” and “Cuddle Up”
  • Bruce Johnston — harmony and backing vocals on “Marcella”

The Beach Boys released three albums chock full of material from 1967!

1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow, 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow 2: The Studio Sessions, and Live Sunshine – 1967 dive deep into a fascinating and frenetic chapter in The Beach Boys’ long, groundbreaking creative arc, exploring the band’s dynamic year through their recordings. The Beach Boys have personally overseen the creative process for the three collections, which are produced by Mark Linnet and Alan Boyd. Reviewer Jesse Jarnow praised 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow as “remarkable,” saying, “These recordings make it possible to hear The Beach Boys simultaneously as the moody pop geniuses of Pet Sounds and the fresh-faced surf-rockin’ teens from Hawthorne, California.”

1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow features Linett and Boyd’s new, first-ever stereo mix of The Beach Boys’ 1967 Wild Honey album and all three collections throw open the legendary band’s vault to debut sought-after rarities, 50 years after they were put to tape. Previously unreleased highlights across the titles include The Beach Boys’ shelved “live” album, Lei’d in Hawaii, studio recordings from the Wild Honey and Smiley Smile album sessions, and standout concert recordings spanning 1967 to 1970. Wild Honey’s 2017 stereo mix is also available in a 180-gram vinyl 50th Anniversary Edition.

The Beach Boys’ final studio session for the shelved SMiLE album took place on May 18th, 1967, with Smiley Smile album sessions booked at Brian Wilson’s new home studio from June 3rd through the end of July. The band’s 12th and 13thstudio albums were released exactly three months apart to cap the year’s studio efforts: Smiley Smile on September 18th followed by Wild Honey on December 18th.

For the Smiley Smile sessions, “I wanted to have a home environment trip where we could record at my house,” recalls Brian Wilson in the liner notes for 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow. “I wanted to try something different, something new. I produced Smiley Smile, but Mike inspired me. He said ‘Brian, let’s make a really good, easygoing album’. We had an engineer convert my den into a studio. We had my piano detuned to make it ring more.”

“Just prior to that, Brian had built up this production peak and then just completely reversed field, and (for Smiley Smile) did something so light and airy, and y’ know, easy,” explains Mike Love. “That was an underground album, I figure, for us. It was completely out of the mainstream of what was going on at that time, which was all hard rock, psychedelic music, and here we come with a song called ‘Wind Chimes.’ It just didn’t have anything to do with what was going on – and that was the idea.”

“Times were changing,” adds Al Jardine. “We were happy to put our musical skills to work. We didn’t have to look at the clock; there was virtually 24-hour availability to experiment.”

In ’67, The Beach Boys Still Raised A Smile

It was, at the time, an album of what might have been, but Smiley Smile is nonetheless a fascinating chapter in the story of the Beach Boys.

The early weeks of that year saw Brian Wilson experimenting with ever more sophisticated studio techniques in his quest to follow the groundbreaking Pet Sounds opus of 1966. The first working title for the new project was Dumb Angelwhich later changed to the name that would become legendary among legions of fans as the great lost Beach Boys record, Smile.

The ambitious ideas and often eccentric methodology that Wilson explored with lyricist Van Dyke Parks, for what was envisaged as an even greater sonic tour de force than Pet Sounds, were often met with bemusement by Brian’s band members. Huge sections of what was recorded were subsequently abandoned, and became the subject of great conjecture among devotees for the next four decades.

In more recent years, Wilson let audiences into his creative process of the periodfirstly with the 2004 live performances that became the Brian Wilson Presents Smile album, and then via Capitol’s The Smile Sessions box set, which set out to reassemble much of it in 2011.

Heroes and VillainsBut at the time, what remained of the work was gathered together on Smiley SmileIt was something of a curate’s egg of a disc, onto which Capitol placed the previous year’s masterwork ‘Good Vibrations’ and a tantalising glimpse of what might have been, in the epic ‘Heroes and Villains.’ The song charted in the summer and performed well, reaching No. 8 in the UK and No. 12 in the US.

British audiences, indeed, remained loyal to the Beach Boys through the year, also giving them an unlikely hit with the incongruously belated release of ‘Surfer Girl.’ Even as the Smile sessions were unravelling in May, the group (minus Brian) were delighting British audiences on an eight-date, two-shows-a-night tour.

Smiley Smile included several whimsical and sometimes downright peculiar material, such as ‘Vegetables’ and ‘She’s Goin’ Bald,’ but it was also home to Carl Wilson’s lovely vocal interpretation of a Parks lyric and his brother’s melody on ‘Wonderful.’ American audiences never fully embraced the album, which peaked there at No. 41; in the UK, it didn’t enter the chart until November, but spent four weeks in the top ten and peaked at No. 9. It was a positive end to a difficult year.

All three of the releases document the group’s pivotal post-Pet Sounds period – including sessions for Smiley Smile and Wild Honey, the two 1967 albums they recorded after shelving the famously ambitious SMiLE LP. 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow 2: The Studio Sessions includes 29 studio session recordings, and Live Sunshine – 1967 features 109 live recordings, most of which are previously unreleased.

Highlights from the Studio Sessions set include an a cappella version of “Heroes and Villains,” the previously unreleased “Tune L” and outtake “Good News.” The live set includes recordings from Hawaii, Detroit, Washington D.C.; White Plains, New York; Pittsburgh and Boston.

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling

The Beach Boys oversaw the creative process for all three collections, which Mark Linett and Alan Boyd co-produced. 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow included Linett and Boyd’s first-ever stereo mix of Wild Honey; the previously unreleased “live” album Lei’d in Hawaii, studio recordings from the Wild Honey and Smiley Smile sessions and concert recordings spanning 1967 to 1970.

On August 25th and 26th, 1967, The Beach Boys (absent Bruce Johnston, but with Brian Wilson on organ for his first concert appearances with the band in more than two years) recorded two concerts and rehearsals in Honolulu for a prospective live album to be titled Lei’d In Hawaii, applying a new Smiley Smile-inspired aesthetic to the performances. Just over two weeks later, the band (with both Brian and Bruce participating) began re-recording the live set in-studio at Brian’s house and at Wally Heider Recording in Hollywood, after the Honolulu concert tapes were deemed unusable. Although completed and mixed, the final planned audio element of a canned concert audience was not added and the Lei’d In Hawaii project was cancelled. Those live, in-studio performances morphed into sessions for the Wild Honey album, primarily comprised of original Brian Wilson/Mike Love compositions.

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Two days after wrapping the Wild Honey sessions on November 15th, 1967, Mike Love, Carl and Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston returned to the road for The Beach Boys’ Thanksgiving Tour, premiering several songs from the forthcoming album at their concerts.

An impossible dream has become reality. “Smile”, the great lost Beach Boys album, Finally received an official release on Capitol Records in 2011. The musical jigsaw that Brian Wilson couldn’t quite piece together in 1967, has, thanks to the wonders of digital editing, been assembled 44 years behind schedule. It may only be a version of Smile – using the 2004 album Brian Wilson Presents Smile as a template – but that’s good enough for Wilson. “Yes, Smile is now a finished piece of work,

Pet Sounds (1966) had been a symphonic, heart-tugging album about adolescent love and the coming of age. The intention with Smile – briefly called “Dumb Angel”, a title soon jettisoned – was to explore America’s landscape and history in a theatrical (but also cinematic) style, executed in a spirit of gaiety and fun. “Brian was consumed with humour at the time and the importance of humour,” his friend David Anderle later recalled. “He was fascinated with the idea of getting humour onto a disc and how to get that disc out to the people.”
“We wanted to try something different with music,” says Brian today. “We wanted to do something a little more advanced. We wanted to try and top Pet Sounds.” Brian Wilson and his lyricist Van Dyke Parks conceived Smile as a journey across America from east to west; a movie in widescreen Surreal-O-Vision, featuring pioneers and frontiers, cantinas and log cabins, railroads and “waves of wheat”. Wilson began recording Smile in earnest in October 1966, a week before the release of the spectacular No 1“Good Vibrations”. As Wilson and his musicians – some of LA’s leading session players – worked on the new songs (tackling them in individual sections to be linked together later), his fellow Beach Boys embarked on their second European tour. On October 27th, to pick a date at random, Brian was in Western Studio at 6000 Sunset. Directing and organising sessions for “Heroes And Villains” and “I’m In Great Shape”, while his stripey-shirted comrades performed on a bill with Peter & Gordon in Ludwigshafen, oblivious to their leader’s visionary activities back home.

Smile was given a catalogue number (T-2580) by Capitol and scheduled for release in December 1966. In mid-December, its release date was put back to January 1967. Artwork depicting a Smile ‘shop’ was created, and Capitol printed around 400,000 booklets for the album. Smile missed its January release, but Brian told the NME’s Keith Altham, in an article published on April 29, that the 12-song album was at last ready. Brian was filmed singing “Surf’s Up”, a particularly poignant moment on the LP, for a CBS TV doc, Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution, which aired on April 26th. However, on May 6th, Beach Boys’ publicist Derek Taylor broke the news that Smile had been “scrapped”. Though Wilson continued to record until May 18th, he formally abandoned work on the album later that month. “We junked it,” he says now, curiously adopting the royal ‘we’. “We didn’t like where we were coming from. It was too advanced. We were taking drugs. We just decided not to do it any more.”

Various problems had combined and conspired to send the Smile project and Brian Wilson as a human being – off the rails. He was smoking hashish and ingesting uppers on a regular basis, and had started experimenting with LSD. An enormous musical backlog had built up as he attempted to edit down more than 30 hours of music into the 36-minute confines of a vinyl LP. In a classic case of a man under stress, he worked obsessively on details (“Heroes And Villains”, a proposed single, ran to some nine sections), losing sight of the overall picture. He became paranoid that tapes of Smile had fallen into the hands of The Beatles. He daily faced the implacable opposition of his father, Murry, and he’d seen Van Dyke Parks quit the sessions twice (in March 1967, and again in April), offended by Mike Love’s mockery of his lyrics.

Some months later, in September, a new Beach Boys album, Smiley Smile, emerged. Consisting of re-recordings of tracks intended for Smile, it was a vastly  reduced, whimsically simple outline of Brian’s grand vision. Sessions for Smiley Smile had begun, tellingly, on June 3rd – two days after the release of Sgt Pepper, the conclusive proof that Brian’s race with The Beatles for artistic supremacy had been lost. Despite the presence of “Good Vibrations” and “Heroes And Villains”, Smiley Smile was savaged by critics for being hopelessly anti-climactic. “There was no purpose to it,” says Brian. “We just wanted to make something peaceful. Like ‘aaaaah… peace of mind’.”

For some years afterwards, The Beach Boys excavated elements of Smile periodically. “Cabinessence” and “Our Prayer” featured on their 1969 album 20/20. “Cool Cool Water” (previously known as “Love To Say DaDa”) appeared on Sunflower (1970). “Surf’s Up”, combining original Smile recordings with a new lead vocal from Carl Wilson and new ensemble vocals at the end, was the finale of the 1971 album Surf’s Up. Indeed, as their record sales declined, plans were even concocted for The Beach Boys to finish Smile as a matter of urgency. Capitol circulated an internal memo in late 1967 promising a forthcoming album of 10 unheard Smile tunes (and, for good measure, the release of the 400,000 booklets). The insurmountable obstacle, though, was that Brian was in no fit state to revisit the tapes. The Beach Boys released Wild Honey instead, and the Smile booklets were pulped.

A second attempt to revive Smile was made in 1972. The Beach Boys had left Capitol and were now signed to Reprise. Their contract, intriguingly, demanded that they deliver a master tape of Smile to the record company by May 1st, 1973. “When The Beach Boys started courting underground radio in the early ’70s, it was almost like they had to pull Smile out of the hat,” says Domenic Priore, author of Smile: The Story Of Brian Wilson’s Lost Masterpiece. “It was as if Smile gave them legitimacy in the eyes of the counterculture.” Carl Wilson, along with the group’s manager Jack Rieley and recording engineer Stephen Desper, sifted through the tapes – and quickly realised that, sans Brian’s input, they were lost. The tapes were returned to the vaults.

In the summer of 1975, a three-part article was published in NME, written by Nick Kent. Armed with bizarre stories of ‘meditation tents’ and pianos in sandboxes, Kent delved deep into the genius and insanity of Brian, the dysfunction of The Beach Boys and the enigma of Smile. He revealed that, following a hashish-fuelled recording session for a song called “Fire”, Brian had flown into a panic on hearing that a fire had broken out in another part of LA at the same time. He was convinced his music had become witchcraft.

There was a further twist that proved crucial to Smile’s mystique. When Kent wrote his story, Smile was so rare, so forgotten, that people couldn’t even find it on bootleg. “The first tape that started circulating of Smile – in very limited circles – was in about 1979, 1980,” explains Andrew G Doe, curator of the online Beach Boys archive Bellagio 10452, “when an official biography of the band was written by Byron Preiss. He was given Smile tapes by a member of Brian’s household, and they got into the hands of collectors. Those tapes circulated for two or three years before we began to see, in 1983, the first vinyl bootlegs that you could go into a shop and buy.”
In ’85 came a second bootleg, with improved sound quality. Evidently, a Beach Boys insider had obtained access to the vaults and, as Doe puts it, “liberated very good cassette copies”. In the late ’80s, Smile bootlegs began to creep out on CD. One of the most popular, believed to have emanated in Japan, bore the album’s original Capitol catalogue number (T-2580) and opened with a 15-minute “Good Vibrations”. The reason it sounded so good. Reputedly is because first-generation Smile tapes had been given to a collaborator on Brian Wilson’s 1988 solo album, who made copies and passed them to a DJ, who distributed them among friends. After that, the vaults opened wide. “Bootlegs of Smile came out left, right and centre,” says Doe. A 20-volume series of high-quality Beach Boys CD boots (Unsurpassed Masters) was made available in the late ’90s by the Sea Of Tunes label, which took its name from the publishing company founded by Murry Wilson.

Volumes 16 and 17 were dedicated to Smile sessions copied directly  from original tapes. Other CD bootlegs included a 5CD set (Archaeology – The Lost Smile Sessions 1966-1967) on a German label, Picaresque; Heroes And Villains Sessions One & Two, on Wilson Records; and a 2CD edition of Smile on the renowned bootleg label Vigotone, in 1993. Vigotone released a follow-up, Heroes And Vibrations, in 1998, examining the sessions for “Heroes And Villains” and “Good Vibrations” in detail, and planned a multi-disc Smile box set before being raided by the authorities and closed down in 2001.

Bootlegs of Smile, as a rule, contain familiar Beach Boys songs (“Good Vibrations”, “Heroes And Villains”, “Surf’s Up”, “Cabinessence”) performed in rather haunting, and at times halting, fragments. Some tracks have vocals, some don’t. As it became clear that Wilson had been working on up to 20 songs, fans speculated about which ones he’d earmarked for the LP – and in what versions, and in which order, they might have appeared. Nobody has ever been able to ascertain the truth. But one thing was inescapable. The music on the bootlegs lived up to the description of Smile as something exceptionally ambitious. How does Wilson feel today, Uncut wonders, about people first hearing Smile on bootlegs? “Well, I don’t know if they liked them or not,” he replies uneasily. “I mean, do you think they did?” Oh, absolutely! “Are you sure? Really?” Yes, really – they loved them. “OK, then.” Besides, didn’t the bootlegs help to establish Smile’s ‘specialness’, creating the romantic notion of a long-lost masterpiece that would blow people’s minds if it ever came out? “No!” he guffaws, and pauses. “But I guess it did, though, right?”

From the mid-’80s onwards, there have been occasional tantalising glimpses of Smile in an official capacity. Excerpts were used in a 1985 documentary, The Beach Boys: An American Band, including the notorious “Fire”. In 1990, edited highlights of sessions for “Good Vibrations” and “Heroes And Villains” were issued as bonus tracks on Smiley Smile/Wild Honey, a Capitol twofer CD. As interest in The Beach Boys’ legacy grew, a 5CD box set in 1993, Good Vibrations: Thirty Years Of The Beach Boys, found room for almost 40 minutes of music from Smile. Finally , on the 1998 anthology Endless Harmony Soundtrack, fans were treated to a recording of Brian and Van Dyke running through three Smile songs for an LA-based radio presenter in November 1966.

In the meantime, there had been another attempt (in 1988-’89) to prepare the Smile tapes for an official release, but things went awry when a cassette compiled for Capitol executives leaked into the public domain, causing Brian to lose interest.

In the mid-’90s, yet another attempt was made. Capitol announced plans for a Pet Sounds boxset (The Pet Sounds Sessions), to be followed by a 3CD Smile box. But the latter failed to materialise. An 18-month delay in the release of The Pet Sounds Sessions – allegedly due to Mike Love’s unhappiness about the way he was portrayed in the sleeve notes – made the relevant parties unwilling to risk a repeat performance.

A few years passed. Brian made a recovery and was persuaded by his wife Melinda to perform live again. His Pet Sounds tour played to packed houses in 2000-2002. Then, in 2003-’04, aided by Van Dyke Parks and musician Darian Sahanaja, work began on Brian Wilson Presents Smile, a modern-day recreation of Smile. “I will be honest with you,” Sahanaja told interviewer Lindsay Planer, “at first he was not into doing it at all. Remember, this was emotionally taxing for him back in 1967. So much so, he abandoned it. Bringing it all back to him was unsettling to say the least.” Brian Wilson Presents Smile was received warmly on its release in September 2004. Seven months earlier, amid scenes of extraordinary praise (the Evening Standard compared it to the comeback of King Lear), Wilson performed Smile live for the first time at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Even so, few people expected an official release of the original 1966-’67 recordings. Al Jardine let the cat out the bag in February 2011: “Smile is the Holy Grail for Beach Boys fans… I’m happy to see it finally come out. Brian’s changed his mind about releasing the material, but it was inevitable, wasn’t it?” True to form, Smile still missed its scheduled release date (July 12), then its next one (August 9), then the one after that (October 4). It seems amazing it came out at all. Domenic Priore: “When Smile ended, it wasn’t pretty. All of them had their hearts broken in 1967. But I always believed this day would come. I always thought the music on Smile would overcome the inhibitions and the inertia about releasing it.”

Within days of being listed on Amazon, it was the fifth best-selling music title on pre-orders alone. Not bad for a bunch of 44-year-old songs recorded in mono.

Uncut broke the happy news to Brian Wilson. “Are you sure, man?” he says, uncertainly. “Really? It’s gonna sell? What market, though? Who’s going to buy it?” Bless him.

But don’t assume that the release of Smile has rendered the bootlegs obsolete. Collectors don’t think like that. “Bootlegs will still have a place,” remarks Andrew G Doe. “People will look at the Smile box and say, ‘It hasn’t got this 30-second snatch of “Cabinessence”, or it hasn’t got the 1967 Capitol promo disc.’ It’s extensive, but it won’t make the bootlegs redundant. I’m sure there’s stuff to be unearthed. New tapes will turn up.”

This version of “Smile” was made in 2000 and has some of the most interesting arrangements of the usual smile songs. I especially like the extended Heroes and Villains, the foxtrot version of Wonderful with the Rock with me Henry ending and The powerful Elemental suite. This version has great dynamics and originality but also uses some clips with too much static without any effort to remove it, but thankfully this doesn’t happen very often.

Our Prayer: Real stereo version and the last verse remixed with break out into laughter.

Heroes and Villains (The Barnyard Suite): This is not “Heroes and Villains”. This track is new-salvage remix called “Heroes and Villains” suite made with lots of fragments. This stereo remixed version contains “I’m In Great Shape” demo verse. Constitution is different from ever make-up another suite.

Child is Father of the Man: This track contains a lot of pieces from “Child is father of The man” sessions. The first verse is the same as “Look”. The second verse diverted to last verse of “Surf’s Up”. Break in as “Vega-Tables” tag, track move on last verse like a Jazz flavor (sic) sound.

Wonderful: Harpsichord version with “ma ma ma” chorus and “rock with me henry” verse. Ending part is smiley smile’s laughing dialogue tag.

With Me Tonight: An acappella (sic) version is smiley smile sessions, but this track’s end verse is never heard fast chorus on album version.

Do You Like Worms?: Real stereo version you never heard on other disc. Complete last mix with stereo sounds. And also this song is one part of “Heroes and Villains” suite.

The Old Master Painter: Real stereo version with “Barnyard part 2”. This song might be included among “Heroes and Villains” suite, too.

Cabin Essence: This a long version with instrumental introduction. After “Grand coolle (sic) dam-Over the crow cries” verse, “Who run the iron horse” arrival again as ending verse.

Good Vibrations: Incredible Stereo sound! First Time On C.D.! Try to hear each channel. Maybe you can find secret of this miracle number.

Vega-Tables: Incredible arrival at first time on this C.D. Real stereo sound! Again try to hear each channel.

Wind Chimes: Beautiful marimba version with stereo sound.

The Elemental Suite: The “Elements” is still in mysteriousness. Maybe Brian construct with “Good Vibrations” ” Vega-Tables” “Wind Chimes” “Look” “Holidays” “Mrs. O’leary’s (sic) Cow” “I Love to say Da-da” “I wanna be around” “Friday Night” … and other fragment from SMILE sessions. This is a puzzling suite made with lots of fragments that previously we heard.

Vega-tables reprise: Reprise with a incredible session track! This is take-2 of the session. Maybe this take is Brian’s original idea for “SMILE”. Because he filled up the track with a burst of laughter.

Surf’s Up: Luckily you can hear heavenly sound in this version presented by Brian. This version contains four parts. The First verse is instrumental introduction as prelude for Brian’s singing. Second one is incledible (sic) with Brian’s lead vocal and perfect track. Third one is solo performance from “Inside Pop”. Fourth one is as known as “Child is father of the man”.



Carl Wilson is one of the most-loved and much-missed vocalists and musicians of his generation, whose glorious voice and authoritative guitar graced scores of great recordings. In celebration of the late Beach Boys singer,

His premature death at just 51, in 1998, robbed us of many more years more of his fine work.

Born in the Californian town that the Beach Boys made famous, Hawthorne, Carl was four and a half years younger than his brother Brian, and two years the junior of his other sibling, Dennis. He was close to six years younger than the other mainstay of the group’s sound and personnel, his cousin Mike Love, so Carl had his work cut out to be taken seriously, at least as a vocalist.

He was, however, established in the role of lead guitarist for the group from their very first album, 1962’s ‘Surfin’ Safari.’ His Fender solo, halfway through the hit single title track and in between Love’s verses, sets the template for the customisation of Chuck Berry’s lead lines that was Carl’s first hallmark as a guitarist. His bold introductory line on ‘Surfin’ USA’ was another memorable motif, and occasional instrumentals also put him centre stage, such as the affectionately- titled rock ‘n’ roll shuffle ‘Carl’s Big Chance’ on 1964’s ‘All Summer Long.’

Carl’s early vocal leads on Beach Boys songs were often in the Berry-influenced rock ‘n’ roll idiom that partly defined their early sound, and he was in the spotlight on early album versions of ‘Summertime Blues,’ ‘Louie Louie’ and others. But gradually, his pristine voice started to imprint itself on some of the group’s most memorable sides.

As Brian’s songwriting became more sophisticated, Carl’s voice grew with it, developing a distinctive, supple soulfulness that makes a song like ‘Girl Don’t Tell Me,’ from 1965’s ‘Summer Days (And Summer Nights!)’ such a pleasure. By now, he was also expanding as a guitar player, using the 12-string Rickenbacker that he and other figureheads such as Roger McGuinn and George Harrison helped to popularise.

Then, in the mid-1960s period, came the two most indelible of all Carl’s vocal performances. To this day, many casual listeners probably don’t realise that it’s the often unsung Carl who gives life to his brother Brian’s incredible melodies and lyrics on either of them: ‘God Only Knows,’ the 1966 masterpiece from the ‘Pet Sounds’ album was followed by another work of genius before the end of the year, ‘Good Vibrations,’ on which Carl does the lion’s share of the vocal work, augmented by Brian and Mike.

Carl also showed himself a fine interpreter of the complex lyrics of Van Dyke Parks, as on the mesmeric ‘Wonderful’ from ‘Smiley Smile.’ As the group’s work became more influenced by the experimentation of the later 1960s, there was still room to rock out, with a soulful lead on their cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Was Made To Love Her,’ and to helm chart hits like ‘Darlin’’ and another cover, ‘I Can Hear Music.’

Wilson’s voice helped ease the Beach Boys into the 1970s on ‘Surf’s Up,’ on whose title track Carl plays a major role. The group’s next album, ‘Carl and the Passions – So Tough,’ was even named after an early group of his. As Brian’s involvement lessened, Carl’s musicianship grew ever more important, and his lead vocals on some of their less successful albums of the late 1970s remain very charming, notably ‘Sweet Sunday Kinda Love’ from the ‘M.I.U. Album.’

Carl was the main featured vocalist on 1979’s return to acclaim, the ‘L.A. (Light Album),’ singing and co-writing the fine ‘Good Timin’’ with Brian and steering the lovely ‘Full Sail,’ among others. As the 1980s dawned, the group’s momentum ebbed, even if they were, as Carl sang, trying to keep the summer alive; but 1985’s self-titled album provided the ballad ‘She Believes In Love Again,’ which he co-sang with its writer, Bruce Johnston.

Carl made two solo albums, a self-titled 1981 set and ‘Youngblood’ in 1983. while both are now sadly deleted, here also is a great live performance of ‘Heaven,’ one of the highlights of that solo debut:

A talent such as Carl Wilson’s comes along all too rarely and should be remembered every day, but especially on his birthday.