Closer to Perfect Smile
October 9, 2017 3:57 AM   Subscribe

Here's a fan edit of the legendary Smile album by the Beach Boys. As there have been lots of fan edits of this album this doesn't seem very special on it's own, were it not that this one is particulary well done. In my ears the album sounds more coherent and like a finished product than ever before. posted by Kosmob0t (13 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I remember downloading and burning Anne Wilson's MP3 construction of Smile back in the long long ago. Played that to bits on my portable CD player.

Anne also produced incredibly complex MIDI tracks from Smile and Pet Sounds. All gone now …
posted by scruss at 8:15 AM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

So, I looked at the YouTube to try to understand how this fan edit differs from the official release or other edits. It says it uses elements of the Smile Sessions and from the 2004 Brian Wilson “Smile” release. Is that the whole story?
posted by chrchr at 8:16 AM on October 9, 2017

Oh, this great, unfinished pop magnum opus...I listen to the Smile Sessions every now and then, and try to imagine how Wilson and Parks would have finished things....

This is a pretty good attempt to finish up what we do have, though, thanks for posting!

(for anyone interested in the history of this amazing unfinished album and the creative interplay among Wilson and Lennon & McCartney, we did a podcast episode about it a while back, "The Story of SMiLE, the American Sgt. Pepper")
posted by LooseFilter at 8:47 AM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

It says it uses elements of the Smile Sessions and from the 2004 Brian Wilson “Smile” release. Is that the whole story?

Well, maybe a little background from my point of view on this post is in order. I stumbled upon this YouTube version of Smile quite accidentaly and while listening it struck me as having a far more "complete album" feel than what I remembered from listening to the Smile sessions. I'm far from an expert on sixties rock or the Beach Boys but did a little research after listening to this version just because I'm also curious what exactly made me feel this way.

There seem to be two vital things happening here. Firstly, it's not just some tunes from the 2004 version mixed with some of the 2011 release. The maker did an excellent job of putting elements (most obviously some vocals) from the 2004 tracks on unfinished versions of the 1967 tracks. This will most likely have caused a lot of problems as the tempo and harmonics almost certainly don't match.
Secondly, he made the right choice in what versions of the tracks to use on this. I mean, there's lots of bits and pieces here and if you put everything on top of everything you will have the "most complete" version of the album but it sure won't sound as good as this version.

In short; I think it took a lot of effort and very good taste to get it this way. I'd love to get some more details on the process but regretfully it seems impossible to contact Dave Lister (the uploader/maker). I tried his but didn't get an answer and there's no option to pm him on YouTube.

thanks for posting!

No problem, thanks for the podcast link. Enjoyed it very much!
posted by Kosmob0t at 11:03 AM on October 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

I dig this version from Albums That Never Were, meant to mimic how it might have sounded if released in 1967.
posted by kaisemic at 11:16 AM on October 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I used to listen to the Purple Chick reconstruction of Smile before the release of The Smile Sessions.
posted by chrchr at 12:16 PM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

"The Story of SMiLE, the American Sgt. Pepper")

Wait, I thought Sgt. Pepper was the British Pet Sounds.
posted by rhizome at 12:18 PM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bizarrely, the Jefferson Airplane apparently intended their 1967 album After Bathing at Baxters to be the American Sgt. Peppers. I like that band a lot, but that's just delusional.
posted by msalt at 12:25 PM on October 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

This Smile edit seems to be from this soundcloud user, with some other remixes there. The Dave Lister on youtube is probably a nom de plume as Dave Lister is one of the characters from Red Dwarf.

Also, I'm a huge fan of the Albums That Never Were blog too, especially his imagining of a Beatles "Get Back" album, (if you swap two of the tracks as mentioned in the comments.)
posted by Catblack at 12:39 PM on October 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes! I rarely pull out the canonical Let It Be after hearing that permutation.
posted by kaisemic at 2:05 PM on October 9, 2017

Wow, that's a great blog. Listening to Get Back now. Thanks!
posted by Kosmob0t at 2:57 PM on October 9, 2017

The ATNW version of Smile is indeed very very good. It sounds more authentic 1967 than the Dave Lister Version. Especially the first side of the album is flawless. I'm less certain of the second side but I guess some tracks on that side were less finished than the tracks on Side 1.

For now I'd say that the ATNW version is the most authentic version. The DL version is still wonderful and about 50% longer which is a nice bonus. It's really great to have them both.

I must say I was a bit underwhelmed when I first listened to the Smile sessions. Was Smile really that great an album? Now I've had a month of listening to different versions a lot, it has grown on me and I do think it is indeed a masterpiece on par with Pet Sounds.
posted by Kosmob0t at 11:23 AM on October 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

The "Albums That Never Were" link makes a good point about the official 2011 SMiLE album, which is that the sequence of songs doesn't make sense for an LP vinyl record in 1967.

"Good Vibrations" is at the end of the 2011 Beach Boys SMiLE because the tracks are in the same order as they were on Brian Wilson's solo 2004 version. And they were in that order because that's how Darian Sahanaja, leader of the backing band The Wondermints, had arranged them for the live tour show set list.

And "Good Vibrations" was at the end of the live show because it was the encore, the big hit song to send everyone home, thank you and goodnight.

In 1967, "Good Vibrations" would definitely have been put at the start of side 2 of the LP, because that's where you always stuck the already-released hit single. The last spot on side 2 is reserved for something that can't immediately be followed by another track, e.g. "Surf's Up" or "Cabin Essence."
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:50 PM on October 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

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