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The Rock-itt : November 2011
Back in June I was raving about the appearance of legendary pro- ducer, writer, arranger and per- former Van Dyke Parks at Lizottes club in Dee Why. I could- n’t believe my luck at seeing him there. Those who attended were exposed to the genius of the man that night and for those who didn’t have that experience, to a de- gree, it is available now in the release of “The SMiLE Sessions” by the Beach Boys. The SMiLE Sessions is a compi- lation album bringing together all the work that went into producing a Beach Boys album that was, at the time scrapped! Parts of the Smile album were released and in fact became legendary Beach Boys tracks, Heroes and Villains and Surf’s Up being the most recognizable. In 2004 the album did get a release 37 years late as “Brian Wilson Pre- sents Smile” and in fact Brian, along with Van Dyke toured in support of the release. It actually made 13 on the US Billboard chart and got Brian three Grammy nominations, Brian won the “Best Rock Instrumental Per- formance” award. What we have released now is a Beach Boys version of the project as opposed to the Brian Wilson version (do keep up!). Sur- viving Beach Boys Al Jardine and Mike Love have collaborated with Brian and Van Dyke on this huge enterprise which finally tells the whole story of what Rolling Stone magazine recently called “the most famous unfinished album in rock & roll history.” To give you a brief history of this project and maybe shine a light on why this album be- came such a legend here’s a little bit of the mystery surrounding it; Recording for the album, began in earnest in August 1966 and continued until mid- December. In early December, Capitol Rec- ords were given a handwritten list of twelve tracks planned for Smile, for use on the LP back cover. Using this information Capitol began production on a lavish gatefold cover with a 12-page booklet. 466,000 covers and 419,000 booklets were printed; promotional materials were sent to record distributors and dealers, and ads were placed in Bill- board and teen magazines. Some time in December, Brian informed Capitol that Smile would not be ready that month, but he advised that he would deliver it "prior to January 15". He never did, probably due to the fact that the rest of the band didn’t like the direction the album was taking; all the manufactured record sleeves went to scrap along with the huge marketing campaign. However I have my own thoughts on what happened. At the time the Beach Boys and The Beatles shared the same PR man, Derek Taylor. During the recording of the Smile album Derek took the Beatles into the studio to meet Brian and to listen to some work in progress. What they heard they found very inspir- ing, they were in their own studio at the time recording, amongst other tracks, the Sergeant Pep- per’s Lonely Heart Club Band album. Before the end of the re- cording of Smile the Beatles re- leased “Strawberry Fields Forev- er” and upon hearing it Brian Wil- son declared that The Beatles had “got there first”. The stunning George Martin production affect- ed him deeply and along with the rows in the band and ultimately a walk out by Van Dyke Parks it marked the death knell for Smile. There were rumours that Brian had tried to burn all the tapes for the project, the legends just built and built. Conveniently timed for Christmas 2011 we now have the ultimate incarnations of the legend that is “SMiLE” depending how deep you want to go into the history Capitol/EMI have a couple of options for you. There is a 2CD set which includes the original album plus bonus tracks on one disc and more bonus tracks, out takes and stereo mixes on the second disc. This will also be available as a double vinyl edition and for download. Seems a shame to take the download route because the packaging is so great. If you are a Beach Boys nut and I know we have a lot of those on the Insular Peninsular you’ll need the expanded box set. It features the main SMiLE album CD, plus four CDs of additional audio from the ses- Brian Wilson, before he discovered LSD. Brian Wilson now, still a great performer.