Beach Boys – Smile (Sea Of Tunes C9949)

Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 16 (1966-1967) SMILE (Sea Of Tunes C9949)

Total Time: 43:36     1. Prayer (1:05) 2. Heroes And Villains (2:55) 3. Barnyard (0:54) 4. Do You Like Worms (4:04) 5. The Old Master Painter/You Are My Sunshine (1:10) 6. He Gives Speeches (0:54) 7. Wonderful (2:05) 8. Child Is Father Of The Man (1:45) 9. Cabin Essence (3:30) 10. Look (2:39) 11. Good Vibrations (3:39) 12. I Wanna Be Around/Friday Night (1:35) 13. Vega-Tables (3:27) 14. Wind Chimes (2:26) 15. Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow (2:34) 16. I Love To Say Da da (2:24) 17. You’re Welcome (1:05) 18. Surf’s Up (5:15)

“SMILE”/Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 16 (1966-1967) is the 16th of 20 Unsurpassed Masters volumes on the  penned Beach Boys “Sea Of Tunes” label.

The Beach Boys Album Reviews, Message Board offers as part of its conclusion that “‘SMILE was to have been released before ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ wouldn’t have been as well-received as it was, had ‘SMILE’ come out when and as intended. That’s for sure. It’s possible The Beatles ‘response’ would have been seen as ‘too commercial’ and ‘lightweight’ by serious music commentators in the context of a full-blown release of ‘SMILE’. When “Surf’s Up”, the song, was completed in 1971 – it revealed well and truly to everyone how good ‘SMILE’ ‘could’ have been. If “Surf’s Up” had been released December 1966/January 1967 – it would have been acclaimed for what it is, one of the greatest songs of all time”.

I disagree.

The website offers the following review of ‘SMILE’: “This 16th volume in “Sea Of Tunes” all-Beach Boys-all-the-time Unsurpassed Masters series is none other than another set of bootleg takes from the legendary SMILE project that Brian Wilson emotionally, psychologically, and literally walked away from in 1967, leaving it as perhaps the most famous unfinished album in pop music history. Countless different bootleg versions of the original SMILE sessions have been bouncing around for decades now, and even though Wilson “finished” the album with all new recordings in 2004, the aborted 1967 model continues to fascinate, charm, and frustrate its many fans and admirers. The thematic and loopy cartoon Americana Gothic art of the finished version is cool to see revealed in Wilson’s newer rendition, but the original tapes are in many ways more powerful and striking, due in no small part to the angelic singing of Carl Wilson and the other Beach Boys. Even broken into tantalizing and frustratingly unfinished fragments like this, these 1967 recordings suggest a world that almost was, and if Brian Wilson feels the matter is closed, it really isn’t, because although you can make a wonderful facsimile that approximates the past, you can’t, no matter how hard you try, escape it”.

Wikipedia’s article on SMILE concluded with the following: “Despite the cancellation of SMILE, interest in the work remained high and versions of several major tracks – including “Our Prayer”, “Cabin Essence”, “Cool Water”, and “Surf’s Up” – continued to trickle out. Many were assembled by Carl Wilson over the next few years and included on later albums. The band was still expecting to complete and release SMILE as late as 1972, before it became clear that Brian had been the only one who could have made sense out of the endless fragments that were recorded. A substantial number of original tracks and linking fragments were included on the group’s 30th anniversary CD boxed set in 1993. The full SMILE project did not surface until Wilson and Parks completed the writing, aided by Darian Sanahaja who helped in the sequencing and Brian re-recorded it as Brian Wilson Presents “Smile” in 2004″.

This “Sea Of Tunes” 1999 release comes with a beautiful thick booklet including gorgeous pictures, graphics and detailed track by track breakdowns. This merits an interesting, if not compelling, listen after all of these years.

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  1. These are the facts: In 1966/67 The Beatles were the biggest musical phenonemon in the world. George Martin was their producer ie. the person responsible for transferring their music onto tape. His name never appears on any songwriting credits. To suggest that a completed “Smile” would have overshadowed “Sgt. Peppers” is simply ridiculous. None of the songs on “Smile” come even close to “A Day In The Life”, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, “With A Little Help From My Friends”, “She’s Leaving Home” etc. The only people who support this myth are die-hard Beach Boys fans!

  2. Opinions vary…

    Deal with it!

  3. “Pet Sounds” was finished and it’s a masterpiece as good as anything the Beatles did. Also, “SMiLE” is very nearly a masterpiece even if it wasn’t finished in ’67. More importantly, it was finished in 2004 and is a masterpiece.

  4. Consider yourself lucky to have this forum to air your opinion. The operative fact to bear in mind is that SMILE was never completed; “Brian Wilson emotionally, psychologically, and literally walked away from it in 1967”. They call that an incomplete where I come from. We at CMR do not fancy going toe to toe or engaging in so-called One-upmanship. What really matters is that Brian Wilson inspires you…

  5. The only thing ludicrous is Rocker’s statement: “To even suggest that The Beach Boys were in the same league with The Beatles in any way shape or form, with or without George Martin, is simply ludicrous.”

    Brian Wilson was not only in the same league as the Beatles he surpassed them. Brian wrote all most all of the Beach Boys music AND also produced by himself all of the great Beach Boys records.

    No one is disputing the the Beatles were strong song writers, but they were not strong producers. Without Martin in the studio, or someone else to hold their hands, the Beatles would have been lost in the and would never have been able to create albums like Sgt. Pepper’s. For that reason alone, without even comparing song writing abilites, Brian Wilson is in their league.

    Also, clearly Paul McCartney thinks Brian is in his league. I will take Paul’s opinion over Rocker’s any day.

    So, Rocker, it seems you’ve fallen off your rocker and need to view the whole picture before you make such silly pronouncements that have no basis in fact.

  6. I don’t think so.

    To even suggest that The Beach Boys were in the same league with The Beatles in any way shape or form, with or without George Martin, is simply ludicrous.

    The above Sea Of Tunes 1999 release clocks in at 43:36 and the review just scratches the surface but does, however, refer to Brian Wilson having “finished” SMILE in 2004…Frankly, one could write a thesis about the SMILE sessions for any number of reasons. I concur that SMILE is deserving of the multi-disc box set treatment and we encourage you to embellish upon the above.

  7. Is this a review? Or just a list of other reviews?

    It misses out on several issues pertaining to this particular bootleg. First off, it was an attempt to sequence SMiLE as it might have bee,n had it been released back in ’67, using officially released SMiLE tracks and fragments of unreleased music that had surfaced on the previous SoT release, a 3CD box set of Smile sessions.

    Look at the 2004 release of Brian Wilson Presents Smile and you’ll notice several similarities in the track-listing, possibly down to the fact that Wilson’s aide in assembling SMiLE for release was Wondermints member Darian Sahanaja, himself a SMiLE obsessive and bootleg collector. Was he influenced by this boot? That would appear to be a possibility.

    Without this and other boots there’d’ve been no SMIiLE 2004, of that I’m quite sure. The unofficial releases helped fuel a demand for the material among fans that’s still not been entirely satisfied, and won’t be until an official, all-encompassing, perhaps even multi-media (Wilson was experimenting with film at the time) box set of the material is released.

    But it doesn’t take a boot to convince me that SMiLE would have contained some of the finest rock music ever recorded – the officially released material, including Heroes and Villains, Cabinessence and particularly the epic Surf’s Up demonstrate that Brian Wilson – who was writing, composing and producing the material, with no George Martin to hold his hand – was leagues ahead of anybody else in the business at that time, and perhaps since.

    Where SMiLE might have fallen down in comparison to Pepper is in the widely differing styles on the album – compare the exquisite, pared-down version of Child is the Father of the Man on this CD to the lush arrangements of the officially released version of Surf’s Up for example.


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