February 24, 2004 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Brian Wilson performed “Smile” last Friday, in its entirety. One of the most anticipated “lost” albums of all time (a great deal of the material was released on other Beach Boys Albums, as well as the “Good Vibrations” Box set). Smile was Brian Wilson’s answer to the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The now legendary tale speaks of Brian’s slow decent into madness and drug abuse during the recording of “Smile,” (for example, when he was recording “Mrs. O'Leary's Cow,” otherwise known as the “Fire” element to Smile, he and the orchestra all had to wear plastic firefighters helmets. When he got home from recording, there were news reports of a huge fire in the area he was recording in, causing him to believe the “vibes” from the music started the fire. Needless to say, he freaked out a bit.) The album was shelved at the last minute, and for decades, Brian either told people that the Smile sessions had been destroyed, or flat out refused to speak of it at all.

Now, after 37 years of wondering, Smile is finally going to be released!!!
posted by Quartermass (30 comments total)
posted by mcsweetie at 7:25 AM on February 24, 2004

Really interesting... nice post.
posted by psychotic_venom at 7:29 AM on February 24, 2004

*points at brian wilson and shouts at dad "see?! barking mad IS a sustainable business plan!"*
posted by quonsar at 7:31 AM on February 24, 2004

Thank God pitchfork included the track listing! Otherwise none of their articles would cover any column inches at all!

posted by jon_kill at 7:32 AM on February 24, 2004

I have it on good authority that Charlie Manson is trying to get ahold of a copy.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:53 AM on February 24, 2004

I don't have much of an opinion on this but... good Christ PFM gets worse and worse every day, it seems. I can barely read the first paragraph of any of their reviews before completely losing interest in their self-important nonsense.
posted by dobbs at 7:57 AM on February 24, 2004

I second Dobbs. I lose them on the "funny" and "clever" subheading.
posted by jon_kill at 8:07 AM on February 24, 2004

An unofficial bootleg of Smile was recently torrented at Sharing the Groove. It'll be interesting to A-B whatever gets released with the version(s) that have been circulating since the non-release.

We recently talked about STG here.
posted by togdon at 8:08 AM on February 24, 2004

> Thank God pitchfork included the track listing! Otherwise none of their articles
> would cover any column inches at all!

Oh Hell, and I can't see pitchfork until I get home because of site filtering at work.

The set list is IMPORTANT, you understand, because so many people have tried so many times over the years to create a homemade version of Smile from bootleg tracks and the occasional Smile number that appeared on later Beach Boy releases. All these people (including me) are itching to know Did I get the song sequence right?

Don't suppose anybody would post the track list?
posted by jfuller at 8:10 AM on February 24, 2004

The tracklist, as related directly from a setlist posted on fansite The Smile Shop:

01 Our Prayer
02 Gee [aka "How I Love My Girl"]
03 Heroes and Villains
04 Barnyard [suite incorporating "Do You Like Worms," "Bicycle Rider," "Heroes and Villains," and "Barnyard"]
05 The Old Master Painter
06 You Are My Sunshine
07 Cabinessence

08 Wonderful
09 Look
10 Child Is The Father Of The Man
11 Surf's Up

12 I'm In Great Shape
13 Workshop [incorporating "I Wanna Be Around" and "Friday Night"]
14 Vegetables
15 Holiday
16 Windchimes
17 Mrs. O'Leary's Cow
18 I Love To Say Da-Da
19 Good Vibrations
posted by JollyWanker at 8:12 AM on February 24, 2004

Does this mean that The Last Dangerous Visions will finally be released?
posted by languagehat at 8:15 AM on February 24, 2004

Hilarious link, languagehat. You gotta be a serious Harlan Ellison sycophant to pen something like this: "One wonders what Priest could have accomplished had he devoted his efforts to helping Ellison get The Last Dangerous Visions, rather than this pamphlet, into print."
posted by rcade at 8:20 AM on February 24, 2004

If you couldn't tell by my post, I am really really F*n excited about this. I am a HUGE beach boys fan, especially the albums between "TODAY" and "HOLLAND." I can't wait to hear this!!!!

posted by Quartermass at 8:34 AM on February 24, 2004

I had the pleasure of attending the concert in London on Sunday, which happened to also be my 22nd birthday, and I have to say it was marvellous.

While most of my favorite Wilson tunes are of the brilliantly simple pop variety, experiencing Smile for the first time was something else altogether, but still great -- Good Vibrations and Heroes & Villains in particular.
posted by frednorman at 8:42 AM on February 24, 2004

I prefer the other answer to Sgt Pepper.

It is good to see Brian still going after all he's been through.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:26 AM on February 24, 2004

"Smile" is perhaps my favorite rock and roll myth of all time, and it will be fantastic to hear a Brian Wilson-authorized version of the great lost "album" - though to say it's going to sound today what it would have sounded like back then is probably incorrect. Wilson is going to draw on nearly 40 years of post-Smile experience to finish crafting what he began so masterfully back then.

But this is really something like Icarus finding another set of wings. The snippets on the box set were so intriguing, and in some cases amazing (that version of "Wonderful" is damn near the most heartbreaking song I've ever heard) that you can't help but wonder what might have been, had Wilson taken fewer drugs and gotten more support from the likes of Mike Love. It very well might have changed the pop landscape. But anyone who's abandoned any sort of creative project in mid-stream, then gone back later to resurrect it can attest that the final project ends up being different, packing perhaps less of a wallop, than what was originally intended.
posted by kgasmart at 9:28 AM on February 24, 2004

I am like you kgasmart. It is one of my favourite r'n'r myths. And at the same time I am afraid of hearing it in its 'correct' version. We all (we meaning music freaks) have all had this myth in our heads for so long that hearing it for real might just ruin the myth.

I reminds me of the Lewis Shiner novel Glimpses. I know it sounds somewhat corny, but if you love pop music it is a great read.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 10:11 AM on February 24, 2004

Amazing, Razzle. The first thing I thought about when I saw this post was Glimpses. (Even though I couldn't remember the name; I read it back in 1995.) I agree that it's a wonderful book.

The other thing is that the CD player in the other room is just getting to Good Vibrations, since I was playing Shut Down on the piano a little while ago and then dug out The Beach Boys's Greatest Hits Volume 1.

Brian Wilson was so good at phase one of his career (surf, sun, girls, hot rods) that a lot of people wouldn't go on to part two with him. Including, as that LA Times article says, some guys in his own band. But I especially loved Vegetables, along of course with Good Vibrations, and — despite the myth giving way to reality — it will be good to hear what he has in mind for career part three.

It's somewhat of a miracle that he got this far; I'm glad he's enjoying it. And he sounds pretty sensible — "I can't answer that question" is a great thing to tell a reporter.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:18 AM on February 24, 2004

Smile is finally going to be released!!!

And I really don't care!!!
posted by notme at 11:39 AM on February 24, 2004

I was a punk rock fan for most of my teen years, then I "heard" Pet Sounds in my early twenties. I know it is an album that is so over-hyped, but I can honestly say it changed my life. I was in a band, and the bass player was a huge "Smile" freak, who had tons of 'Smile' bootlegs, etc. My first listen to the "elements" part of Smile was, to say the least, another life altering moment.

I'll just say this, there MAY or may not be be bootlegs of high quality of last Friday's performance on a certain file sharing network that asks you to seek out your soul. I'll leave it at that.

posted by Quartermass at 11:47 AM on February 24, 2004

I too am so looking forward to this (frednorman, you lucky SOB), but y'all just know that no matter how great the finished product winds up being, a lot of people are going to be underwhelmed by the result.

Still. The fact that after 35 years (and how many lost brain cells) he somehow managed to finish it, though, gives me hope before even hearing a note of the final product.
posted by chicobangs at 12:40 PM on February 24, 2004

having a hard time tracking this down.......

*sends up the y2 signal *
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:18 PM on February 24, 2004

What, no "Smart girls"?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:06 PM on February 24, 2004

posted by sgt.serenity at 3:25 PM on February 24, 2004

I prefer this tribute album to Sgt Peppers. It may seem like a big joke, but it's actually a brilliant album that must be heard to be believed.

That said, I am totally stoked about Smile! I'm a musician and (like so many of us) Pet Sounds changed my life, so Smile was always my Holy Grail of lost recordings.
posted by tcobretti at 11:36 PM on February 24, 2004

Kevin Skomsvold - "We're only in it for the money" was a worthy and valuable answer to Sgt. Pepper's, but I've always felt the real answer was the Kinks' "Village Green Preservation Society". Not as adventurous musically, but songwise, it's magnificent.

Should be interesting to hear the real "Smile".
posted by pyramid termite at 3:14 AM on February 25, 2004

I think I missed something. Is there an actual review of the album around here somewhere?
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:39 AM on February 25, 2004

what part of "lost" dont you understand ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:42 AM on February 25, 2004

I always thought "Beach Boys Today!" was the best BB/Brian Wilson album, anyway, the point where he took the first big steps beyond what had been into what would (almost) be.
posted by kgasmart at 7:52 AM on February 25, 2004

I am listening to the bootleg of last week's show right now. It's good.
posted by subgenius at 6:06 PM on February 26, 2004

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