Saturday, November 5, 2011

All SMiLEs

Jeez, this is GORGEOUS.
The Beach Boys' brand-new SMiLE SESSIONS is amazing, beautiful, & only 44 years overdue. It sounds GREAT. It makes 4 Xcellent early-morning wake-up music -- I'm listening 2 it right now. & it really will make you smile.
There's no point recounting the history -- if you're reading this you likely already know at least the "high points" of the story Bhind this, the most famous unreleased album in rock history. Bsides, books have been written about this album. I'm not gonna try 2 add 2 that here.
4 me, this package has bn worth the wait. I've bn waiting since about 1974, when I 1st read about this mysterious Beach Boys album that never appeared. I went 4 the 2-CD "highlights" version of the sessions. 4 1, Bcos I was afraid if I went 4 the 5-CD box with all the added attachments, I'd disappear in2 it 4ever.
Bsides, I couldn't afford the $140 or whatever....
It all sounds wonderful. But there's a catch here, of course. If you're a big enuf fan of this stuff 2 have grabbed all the late-'60s/early-'70s Beach Boys albums that the bits & pieces of SMiLE came out on over the years, + you bot the Boys' THIRTY YEARS best-of back in 1993 (which included 1/2anhour of SMiLE trax), & grabbed Brian Wilson's reconstruction/update of SMiLE that came out in 2004 ... maybe you even found summa the vinyl & cassette bootlegs of these sessions that came out over the past decade or so .... then there is very little of this music that you haven't already heard. On 1st listening I noticed maybe a new keyboard part & some vocal sections I hadn't heard B4.
The diffrence is that here it's CLEAR & DETAILED & LOUD & UP-CLOSE, & it doesn't sound like a fuzzy/goopy 5th-generation re-recording of some badly-recorded scratchy old acetate floppy-discs. & of course having it ALL TOGETHER & in 1 place, well....
It's freakin gorgeous. Crystal clear & airy & cosmic & happy. You can hear why Mike Love mighta gotten nervous about the "commerciality" of it all way back in '67. It sounds VERY diffrent even from PET SOUNDS -- & the most out-there sections sound even more out-there than "Good Vibrations" did back in the day.
But it's all of a piece. Even "Good Vibrations" fits right in. & THAT still sounds great.
There's a basic 19-song SMiLE album here that flows 2gether nicely. There's "Heroes and Villains" section mixes & "Parts 1&2" that R pretty great -- including that vocal section that sounds like The Muppets got 2gether 4 a Group Orgasm session.... There's a backing vocal montage that's as hypnotic as summa the songs. & the parts interweave & could go on 4ever as far as I'm concerned.
I still think that if the Boys had bn able 2 piece all this 2gether back in '67, the strongest songs woulda carried it Dspite Mike Love's worries -- there's no arguing with "Good Vibrations," "Heroes and Villains," "Cabin Essence" & "Surf's Up." Even the stuff I've never liked much -- "Wonderful," "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" -- sounds pretty great here. Even the instrumentals -- "Do You Like Worms," "Look," "Holidays," "Love to Say Dada" -- sound great, & fans of previous BB instrumentals like "Let's Go Away for Awhile" & "Pet Sounds" & "Trombone Dixie" should enjoy these.
Capitol/EMI knows what they've got here. They oughta, after 44 years. Look at the way the album's packaged -- check the cover: It's packaged as SMiLE. That "SESSIONS" subtitle is a bit of an afterthot. There's also some proof of how absurdly optimistic Capitol was the 1st time around: As a special "bonus" bonus track, there's a Capitol sales promo spot from '66 boosting the original album: "With the happy cover and the happy sounds inside, we're sure to sell a million units ... in January." Maybe THIS time, guys....
There's also some other bonuses, some funny comments from the Boys & session musicians scattered thruout the last 1/2 of the 1st disc & all of the 2nd, some funny "playlets" here & there, great session talk among the Boys during the "Our Prayer" sessions & at the end of the "Good Vibrations" session highlights.
But that's all 2ndary 2 The Good Stuff -- 19 trax that make up the Real Album, + 22 bonus trax. It's as close as we're ever gonna get. & if you're a fan, it's worth it. Go get it.
Great, cosmic, gorgeous vocals, beautiful music, the best. Words fail me. I've got my SMiLE button, & I'm wearing it.
Album Of The Year, obviously. 2 bad it's from 1967. Hope Brian & the Boys get a Grammy or somethin, tho....


Italia said...

This box set is fantastic! All the music together as it should be, at long last, plus extras on disc two that prove Brian Wilson was the master of his domain, the world of pop music. Brian's Smile album in 2004 was also wonderful music, but I believe this tops it, just because the musicians and the voices of the Beach Boys were the best ever, better than anyone else in history.

TAD said...

Thanx 4 commenting! & I basically agree -- I'd been waiting a long time 4 this package, & overall it makes me happier than anything else I've heard in quite awhile. & there R no letdowns or disappointments anywhere in it.
Thanx 4 dropping in!