CONTEST HAS ENDED!
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*a rundown of the history of the Beach Boys & SMiLE*
The recording sessions for the Beach Boys SMiLE album are among some of the most infamous in rock music history. After launching their careers on clean cut images, vocal harmonies, and all-American subject matter like girls, cars, and surfing (although only the drummer/brother Dennis Wilson, actually surfed) in 1961, the brilliant producer/mastermind of the group, Brian Wilson, really began to take some left turns around 1965. After their first 2 albums, Brian began handling full production duties with 1963‘s Surfer Girl and, including the live album Beach Boys Concert, the band would effectively release a total of 7 full-lengths between the years of 1963 and 1964. With 4 albums released in ’64 alone, it’s no wonder that the year ended with Brian experiencing anxiety issues and withdrawing himself as a touring member of the band. It was also around this point that Wilson began smoking on chronic herbs to deal with his stress and the subsequent year brought the LP TODAY!, which had a B-side that ventured into darker areas and away from the typical, more accessible and upbeat subject matter still presented on the first half. TODAY! did well commercially, but the label (Capitol) and Beach Boys vocalist, Mike Love (Brian’s cousin) came at him, questioning his new musical direction, and trying to push him back towards the poppier boy band-style cheese that had made them stars. Wilson folded back into the more accessible Summer Day (And Summer Nights!!) -finding less overt creative outlets hidden in some of the backing arrangements/orchestrations- and finished the year off with a cover album, but, whether anyone saw it coming or not, his next album, Pet Sounds, would become his undisputed masterwork. Incorporating elaborate arrangements with unorthodox instruments – and anything else that would make a sound- Wilson worked diligently with studio musicians and inexperienced lyricist, Tony Asher to create an effort so revolutionary that it has consistently been hailed as one of the greatest albums of all time (often placing #1 on such lists for various publications). Now experimenting with weed and LSD, The Beatles had recently taken their own career altering detour with Rubber Soul and, after being blown away by the Fab Four‘s release, Brian was so instantly and fully inspired that he set out to create an album just as great. In turn, the Beatles (especially, Paul McCartney) were so enthralled with Pet Sounds that it has been credited as a major inspiration behind Sgt. Pepper. Even now, Pet Sounds has more than stood the test of time, but there was some huge opposition to the work, both by the label and the rest of the band. As legend has it, the title actually came from Mike Love questioning Brian by asking, “Who’s gonna hear this shit? The ears of a dog?” Regardless of what anyone thought, Wilson‘s vision saw the light of day and showcased his pure genius filtered through the culmination of knowledge/skill gained through his musical career and experiences up until that point. One of the greatest rock albums ever made had just been released and tales of the next great followup began to spill out over through the next year or two, but it never came. Brian was at the height of his creativity as a producer/arranger/musician and various sessions for the new album had taken place, before the project screeched to a halt and was, subsequently, shelved. That album was SMiLE.
As a true artist, Brian Wilson was obsessed with pushing boundaries through creation, but he was lacking something that the Beatles had… support. The fact that he was experiencing some turbulence with his mental state didn’t help the cause either. Neither did his brother and group member Carl Wilson receiving a military draft notice. The ridiculously successful #1 hit and Grammy Hall of Fame inducted track, “Good Vibrations” is a song that floated in between the release of Pet Sounds and the SMiLE project and wound up being released as a single. It’s also a song that widely-resented Beach Boy, Mike Love famously dismissed as “avant-garde shit“. Wilson wanted to create something inspiring that had never existed before and has referred to the SMiLE album as a “teenage symphony to god“. This viewpoint, as well as his collaborating with singer/musician/ composer/ lyricist Van Dyke Parks, was a threat to anyone that couldn’t fully comprehend Wilson‘s grand visions and wanted to take the risk-free route of singing pop tunes to the masses. Vand Dyke Parks eventually left the project after experiencing consistent opposition from the other members (specifically, Mike Love). Brian was using some production techniques which invovled him recording tracks in fragments, with the intention of soldering them together later. He has stated that Mike Love “hated” SMiLE and, when it was eventually abandoned and shelved, there were pieces that only Brian himself could ever put back together. With his rising mental instability, Wilson was left broken in various ways and retreated from his role as the groups producer/leader. Greatly simplified versions of some of the tracks wound up on their contractually obligated release called Smiley Smile, with others being sprinkled on various other future releases. The Seventies showed the group greatly regressing from the forward thinking promise shown on Pet Sounds. Using randomly leaked session audio, various fans began compiling their own makeshift bootleg versions of what SMiLE might have been, which have circulated for decades, while the myth of the album that never was continued to grow. After reuniting with Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson finally released his own “solo” version of SMiLE with his new backing band in 2004. But a “legitimate” Beach Boys version was never put out with the cooperation of the remaining members until now, 35 years after the sessions originally began.
THE NEW RELEASE(s)
Not only is the album itself a fascinating and worthwhile album in it’s own right, but the true bonus to the release is the bonus material (aptly titled). The actual sessions disc, in particular, provides unedited audio clips where you can actually hear Brian and the others discuss and/or debate the direction of the album. Also heard are behind the scenes comments and inquiries to each other about if they have any “hash joints” left or if anyone else is feeling “the acid“. Beyond the impressive audio, the approach to packaging is a work of art in it’s own right.
Now that SMiLE is finally seeing the light of day, it’s being released in various different formats and packaging options, which include everything from digital, CD, & LP formats to an autographed, light up box set ($699) limited to 100 units and another super rare version (only 10 units) that includes a specially created Beach Boys SMiLE surfboard ($5999.99).
Scroll down to win a Beach Boys SMiLE 2 Cd + SMiLE T-Shirt prize pack, now!
Via press release:
SMiLE Sessions physical and digital configurations include an assembled collection of core session tracks, while the box set delves much deeper into the sessions, adding early song drafts, alternate takes, instrumental and vocals-only mixes, and studio chatter. SMiLE Sessions invites the listener into the studio to experience the album’s creation, with producer, singer and bassist Brian Wilson’s vision leading the way as he guides his fellow Beach Boys, singer Mike Love, drummer Dennis Wilson, lead guitarist Carl Wilson, rhythm guitarist Al Jardine, and newest member Bruce Johnston (who’d replaced Brian Wilson in the touring group during 1965), through the legendary sessions.
Artwork for all of the SMiLE Sessions physical and digital configurations has been created with and inspired by Beat-Pop artist Frank Holmes’ original 1967 LP sleeve art and booklet designs intended for the SMiLE album. With its three-dimensional shadowbox lid, The SMiLE Sessions box set offers a whimsical peek inside the storied “SMiLE Shop.”
[Find more at BeachBoys.com]
The Beach Boys SMiLE 2 CD Set+ SMiLE T-Shirt Package (Ltd ed./300)
SMiLE 2CD Set
2CD Set Tracklisting
CD 1 – SMiLE
1. Our Prayer
3. Heroes And Villains
4. Do You Like Worms (Roll Plymouth Rock)
5. I’m In Great Shape
7. My Only Sunshine (The Old Master Painter / You Are My Sunshine)
8. Cabin Essence
10. Look (Song For Children)
11. Child Is Father Of The Man
12. Surf’s Up
13. I Wanna Be Around / Workshop
16. Wind Chimes
17. The Elements: Fire (Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow)
18. Love To Say Dada
19. Good Vibrations
Bonus Tracks CD 1:
20. You’re Welcome
21. Heroes And Villains (Stereo Mix)
22. Heroes And Villains Sections (Stereo Mix)
23. Vega-Tables Demo
24. He Gives Speeches
25. Smile Backing Vocals Montage
26. Surf’s Up 1967 (Solo version)
27. Psycodelic Sounds: Brian Falls Into A Piano
CD2 – SMiLE Sessions
1. Our Prayer “Dialog” (9/19/66) 3:02
2. Heroes and Villains (Part 1) 3:08
3. Heroes and Villains (Part 2) 4:18
4. Heroes and Villains: Children Were Raised (1/27/67) 2:07
5. Heroes and Villains: Prelude to Fade (2/15/67) 3:42
6. My Only Sunshine (11/14/66) 6:52
7. Cabin Essence (10/3/66) 5:19
8. Surf’s Up: 1st Movement (11/4/66) 4:55
9. Surf’s Up Piano Demo (12/15/66) 3:53
10. Vegetables Fade (4/12/67) 5:25
11. The Elements: Fire session (11/28/66) 8:27
12. Cool Cool Water version 2 (10/26-10/29/67) 3:32
13. Good Vibrations Session Highlights 8:20
100% Cotton Fine Jersey Navy Blue T-Shirt. Carries the Beach Boys and Smile logos. Available in Men’s Medium, Large and Extra Large. *Not Final Art – Changes may be made in the final steps of production.
THE CONTEST / GIVEAWAY:
*One winner will receive the Beach Boys SMiLE 2CD Set + T- Shirt package
(full product details above)
HOW TO ENTER:
This contest is based on the legendary conflict regarding Mike Love and Van Dyke Parks, which resulted in Parks finally just walking out of the SMiLE sessions.
There were a number of factors preventing SMiLE’s original release, but one of the main reasons that Van Dyke Parks walked out was because of Mike Love. The most infamous story involves Love accusing Parks’ lyrics of being meaningless hallucinogenic-fueled nonsense and demanding that the lyricist explain the following line from the song “Cabinessence”:
“Over and over, the crow cries, uncover the cornfield. Over and over, the thresher and hover, the wheatfield“
To enter, just come up with your own original interpretation of what the line could mean. Be creative.
(Bonus points if you actually make us SMiLE.)
Post your answer in the comment section below.
There is no part 3. That’s all there is to the contest. It’s pretty easy… but you should probably read the fine print.
The Fine Print:
All entries must be received by Monday November 14th at 11:59 pm to be eligible.
You can enter as many times as you want but, use a valid email so that we can contact you.
Winner’s will be chosen arbitrarily, based on our personal “favorite”, so try to be clever and/or interesting.
If we are unable to contact the winner in a reasonable amount of time, a new winner will be chosen.
[If you have any intentions to post comments asking us to pick you, or asking when the winner will be announced… how about, just don’t do it? It’s pretty fucking obnoxious and it won’t help your chances.]