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Brian Wilson - Smile

Not sure what to make of this album. Yes it's an acheivement, it's different (much more like a musical than anything else) but to me sounds disjointed and a bit samey. Amazing re-recording of Good Vibrations, sounds almost exactly the same as the original. It's probably an album I won't listen to that much.

Been listening to Dan Hicks, can't go past I Scare Myself, great song.
It's certainly an interesting album, one that warrants more listening and attention paid to it. As Gav said, I found it a bit clinical and sterile though, and I'm not a fan of Wilson's modular writing approach, to me they sound exactly like a whole heap of little bits stuck together that have no relation to each other. I didn't get a sense that any of the material was developed, and I mean developement in a compositional sense.

Amazing re-creation of the Beach Boys harmony sound though. Like Tracy, I've never got into the Beach Boys.

I bought Smile after watching a documentary on Brian Wilson last Friday night. There was film of him performing Surf's Up solo at the piano (contemporary with the recording of Smile back in the 60s) and it was a fascinating song, and by far my favourite on the album.

So, anyone heard of or a fan of Dan Hicks?
I am completely obsessed with SMiLE at the moment but I will agree it is not for everyone. And good luck to anyone trying to describe what it is successfully!

I don't think the production is sterile. It says in the sleevenotes that they did try to go for a more 'analogue' feel by using tube consoles similar, if not the exactly same, to the original equipment Brian used in the original 1966-7 sessions. To me, the album does have a more human feel and warmth than most of today's contemporary productions (which are completely sterile!).

But then again I have had a massive argument about whether Pet Sounds sounds better in original 1966 mono or digitally remixed 1997 stereo (hell, let's throw in the 2001 5.1 surround mix). I was for stereo while my friend argued that the mono mix is the only true version as it had Brian's direct involvement. Would 'normal' people be that passionate about a minor point? Not as though the actual song is any different! Smiler
Would 'normal' people be that passionate about a minor point?

No, but Beatle fans certainly are. The difference there though is the stereo mixes were done around the same time as the mono mixes but with no Beatle involvement and not a lot of reference to the mono mixes, whereas any remix of Pet Sounds I would imagine would be paying close attention to the original mono mix.
As far as sterile or clinical, I meant the performances themselves, not the recording. The performance s for me seemed to lack energy. This could well be down to Wilson's recording technique, which I believe was modular as well. Certainly the original Good Vibrations was recorded this way, and it's always irritated me that you can hear an edit within the first 5 seconds of the song.
Fair enough point about 'sterile'. Can't agree with you there but that's what this forum's all about. It's fun to study Brian's original productions thanks to the high definiton remastering; you can hear the edits plain as day. God bless engineer Mark Linnett and remastering engineer Joe Gaswirt for trying to cover them up!

I have got the mono versions of Beatles albums and the difference in some songs is startling (especially in their later period). Albums like Revolver, Sgt.Pepper and The White Album in mono display a wealth of differences. Of course it's a bit much to ask Apple/EMI to re-master the mono mixes but it's a nice pipe dream.

And you're right about the Pet Sounds stereo and surround mixes. These were done to mirror the sound and feel of the original mono (but having said that there are minor differences in a couple of tracks which only a music trainspotter like me would bother to mention).
I suppose compared to Dan Hicks & Jim Croce, Brian Wilson's "Smile" compositon could seem a little sterile, & more like a frown.

Still, one man's Henry Mancini is another man's Mozart. It's all a question of aural perception. & the difference rests in some remote sensorial synapse somewhere. Eeker

Good Vibrations was recorded in 4 different studios, over a period of 6 months (Feb-August 1966), & had 26 takes, edited down to one final mix. With 17 separate recording sessions, & over 90 hours of tape recorded, all for a 3 minuit & 35 second pop song. US$50,000 was spent on the single (that's US$14, 925.37 a minute). At the time seen as a technological breakthrough, it turned the recording studio into a musical instrument in it's own right, albeit an expensive one. The best version of Good Vibrations appears on the Good Vibrations 40th Anniversay EP Cd, & also contains a stereo mix. The best version to these aural synapses.

Have been enjoying Semiacoustic Nature, by Atom Heart. Kind of picks up where The Acoustic Warriors left off.

Good, Good, Good *audible glitch* Vibrations...
more like a frown.

That hits the nail on the head for me. I don't get any sense of joy or happiness from it. More like pain, frustration and longing.

I knew the history of Good Vibrations, but it still doesn't excuse the very obvious edit 5 seconds in. And to be honest, It's a fairly straight forward song, you could easily record the backing track in one go with vocal overdubs. I've never really understood the point of it's convoluted recording.

Ah well, I didn't 'get' Pet Sounds either.
Good Vibrations straight forward? Hmmm, best not look at the music transcript then... Big Grin

And you didn't 'get' Pet Sounds either? OMG! Eeker

Horses for courses and all but how could anyone frown when listening to something as rich as 'Wonderful" or "Surf's Up"? I guess it's how people listen to it but I can't figure out how anyone could not be touched by it.

However SMiLE has always and will continue to polarize people one way or the other. Similar to arguements about whether Sgt.Pepper was all that good (for a while it started to become trendy to knock it). The thing is you get what you need from any music you enjoy listening to and dismiss the rest.]

By the way, I checked out Dan Hicks. Wasn't overly impreseed (and I'm not saying that to be nasty either!) Smiler
Good Vibrations straight forward? Hmmm, best not look at the music transcript then...

I'm not talking about the complexity of the parts (not that I think they're overly complex and I could easily transcribe them myself) but the fact is I don't really see why it was recorded in tiny sections (and we're not talking just different musical sections, even those are broken down via numerous edits). I just don't see what the point was.

Dan Hicks isn't for everyone, I don't like everything he put out.

I've said before that Sgt Pepper musically is over rated. It's good, very good, but not the be all and end all that people make out. To be honest, I just don't think I like the Beach Boys. While we're at it, I also don't like Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis or Jethro Tull.

BTW, the stereo remix of Pet Sounds was supervised by Brian Wilson (considering he's such a control freak I'd be surprised if they weren't).
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds in stereo.

Well I think it's much better than Smile, the songs are more cohesive for a start. I think the mono mix is dreadful, full of multi-generation tape hiss and the balance between the vocals and the instruments is pretty ordinary. I despaired when I first put it on trying to hear the harp notes at the beginning of Wouldn't It Be Nice through the murk, then realised the mono mix was first. Quickly speeding to the 1997 stereo mix the whole song opened up and sounded great. I think Pepper is the better album by far for me, but this time round listening to Pet Sounds in stereo, I could appreciate it far more. Gee he liked Phil Spector's Wall of Sound didn't he? It's a tad overblown for my tastes.
United - Phoenix (French band who sound like they're funkin' out in the summer of 1976)

Klaatu - Klaatu (weird and sometimes wonderful bunch of Canadians from the summer of 1976)

The Ultimate Collection - The Carpenters (the ultimate 'guilty pleasure' - if you feel guilty about liking them which I don't)

SMiLE - Brian Wilson (yes, still listening to it) Roll Eyes

Yep "Pet Sounds" in stereo is the only way to go (unless you got the 5.1 mix). Arguements between if stereo is better than mono varies from band to band but in this case it is a complete necessity. We waited 30 years for it but it was worth it. Brian sure did admire and try to recreate that wall-of-sound technique but he wasn't the only one back then.

And besides, Phil Spector is horribly over-rated. Always has been. Big Grin
Arguements between if stereo is better than mono varies from band to band but in this case it is a complete necessity.

For me it's usually stereo every time, unless there is a significant difference between the mono and stereo mixes (like with The Beatles, where I think they need to release the original mono mixes and a 5.1 surround mix when they finally remaster the catalogue). I usually go for a modern stereo remix everytime as well, as long as it is sympathetic/faithful to the original. Certainly the Yellow Submarine Song Track is so much better than the original stereo mixes, and the one and only song from The Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society (Johnny Thunder) that was able to be remixed sounds leagues ahead of the original. The difference between the original mix of Lennon's Walls and Bridges and the new remix is amazing.

I'm still listening to Smile, the above were my initial impressions. It's a long way to go before I have final impressions.

Dazz, you need to send me your email address, it don't come easy without your email addy Big Grin
I am *so close* to buying the 5 remaining remixed/remastered Doors studio albums I don't already have! Ooh...sooooooo tempting!

Gav, buy the Perception boxset from the US, you get The Doors, Strange Days, Waiting For The Sun, The Soft Parade, Morrison Hotel and LA Woman remixed on CD and also remixed into 5.1 on DVD-A, plus bonus tracks and out takes.

Strange Days sounds great, it's my favourite Doors album, closely followed by The Soft Parade.

I'm getting into Smile a little bit more, I really like Surf's Up and Heroes and Villains, and I love the accapella restatement of the Heroes and Villains theme in Roll Rock Plymouth or whatever it's called.
Some stores are not scrupilous (is that you spell it?). Manage to get the CD/DVD digipak of the first album and L.A. Woman. Sounds fantastic. (Plus there are DVD-Audio versions of "L.A. Woman" out there if you look in the best stocked stores).

Today I had a listen to "A Life Of Surprises: The Best Of" by Prefab Sprout. Reminded me how under-rated that band is/was. Looks like I'll be hunting down the deluxe edition of "Steve McQueen" now (must be a time for a trip into the city).
Vibes cd 2, only one I flogged off my sisters. Click on the link for a listen. Gotta have a bit of swing in your day.
Anyone recommend albums by some of the artists listed?
Loving Rosemary Clooney, Julie London, Vic Damone and Danielle Gaha. Grew up with Perry and Mr Bennet being played at home.
Must have a listen to Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield albums. Any recommendations there?
Well as far as Dusty goes, you really can't go wrong with the Dusty In Memphis album, an album everybody justifiably raves about. It's got "Son Of A Preacher Man" which is recommendation enough. Or for a compilation, try the CD titled simply Dusty(Mercury/Universal 538 345-2). The mastering is great and it also includes later material.

As far as Petula Clark, there's an Australian based compilation through Warners simply titled Greatest Hits (Warners 0630175032) that serves as a good introduction. Be careful though, some Pet albums can be cheap and nasty (and sound bloody awful) so I guess the main criteria is to make sure it's on a major label for best sound quality.

Happy listening!
The Beach Boys - Smilie Smile and Wild Honey

Interesting, it's certainly a lot more toned down than Smile would have been. I really like the original version of Heroes and Villains, though a bit of a shame the middle section 'in the Cantina' is cut. I take it it's Brian Wilson singing lead on it? Whoever it is reminds me a lot of Ray Davies (or is Ray Davies sounding like Brian Wilson??).

Still listening to Smile. It's making a lot more sense now, and it's really growing on me. I realise now I probably wasn't in the best mood when I was listening to it before, plus after reading the gushing liner notes for Pet Sounds I felt like throwing up Big Grin

Smile is one album that should always be listened to from start to finish without a break it seems to me.
Wild Honey is a great album.

A lot of people say that Smiley Smile was a very poor album, but given the hype surrounding the myth of what "Smile" was going to be like, it's little wonder that Capitol Records were more than happy to let The Beach Boys start their own label, after the album covers had been printed, but Brian had failed to produce the finished album.
Interesting that small snippets of what would have been Smile were included on the album. But by then of course Brian had burnt the original master tape of the album, after a bizarre series of events.

The official reason he gave was that after a confrontation with other band members (mostly Mike Love), he or "they", felt it was inappropriate music for the band to be making. Still, even when the world had all but forgotten them, they were still making some amazingly great albums like Holland, Friends & Surf's Up, to name a few. It is great to see the myth of Smile finally laid to rest. Seeing Smile performed live is still a musical highlight for me. A magic night.

I've been listening to, & enjoying, a new album by Japanese Ambient Minimalist composer Tetsu Inoue, called Inland. Composed whilst living amongst the wilds of Woodstock, New York. A still & reflective work.

& if you want to find me, i'll be out in my sandbox . Dr Landi won't find me there. Cool
& if you want to find me, i'll be out in my sandbox . Dr Landi won't find me there.

Mrs Camus won't let me build one in the front room Frowner

There seems to be a considerable amount of the original Smile included on the Good Vibrations boxset. I was playing around making my own edit of Heroes and Villains last night (dropping the Cantina section from the alternate take into the Smiley Smile version). Sounded good, the alternate and the album version must be from the same master (the backing anyway) they fit seamlessly together. When you can see the waveform Wilson's edits stick out like a sore thumb. There's one particularly bad edit where it goes back into the chorus towards the end. I can't get enough of Heroes and Villains, it's a superb song.
Completely agree, Camus. I think it's the best Beach Boys song written. Also love, Good Vibrations, but H&V better.

I've added Heroes and Villains to the small list of covers I'm practising at the moment (about to start performing live again).

I recorded a cover of Good Vibrations last night. 16 vocal tracks on it (8 vocal parts all double tracked). All last night all I could think was ooh bam bam, good vibrations Smiler Surprising how well the backing works just on piano, I guess that's what Wilson wrote it on originally. Having heard the Pet Sounds sessions version of Good Vibrations, I'm glad he sat on it for a while.

Ok I admit it, the guy is a genius.

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