Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Holy Grail

The Beach Boys' legendary 1966 masterpiece Smile -- the real thing, essentially complete -- dropped (as the kids say) yesterday.

I have the two-disc version on order, but friend of PowerPop and all around swell guy Sal Nunziato has the super-deluxe version with all the outtakes and kindly shared this one. Brian conducting (for want of a better word) the sessions for "Surf's Up."

Words fail me.


Gummo said...

2 CDs will be enough for me, too.

Sal Nunziato said...

There's been plenty of discussion over at my place, re: Smile and big boxes in general. What I am most curious about is, are people opting for the 2 CDs strictly out of financial necessity, or as Gummo just said, 2 CDs "will be enough?"

I didn't have to pay full price, so that made it easy for me. But, if I had money, the 5 CD set would be a no-brainer, unlike the Elvis Costello box which, if money was no object, is still bullshit.

FD13NYC said...

Hi Steve, hope your jaunt to Europe was enjoyable.

I downloaded the 2CD set which was just enough. My thoughts on this supposed Holy Grail of Beach Boys hodgepodge is that maybe it should have stayed unreleased. Now, I love the guys and Brian but this is all too much. Who really has the time to listen to all this construction of supposed songs.

As my wife would say, give me the finished product, here there is none. I know, we're peaking in the door to hear something that wasn't to be heard, like the Beatles outtakes. But just give me the B-Boys version of Hushabye and I'm happy as a clam. Finished product.

Oh, by the way, to save money go to this fine site for just out releases for freeeeeeee!

hrockstar said...

I went for the 2CD version because the prices for anything higher were bordering on science fiction - I'm fairly certain that the rest of the outtakes are a bit tedious but I would like to hear them anyway - As you can imagine I paid full price and for the most part I'm happy with that - If the outtakes that I hear compel me to seek out the rest then I can find a more robust version in a used or discount venue -

buzzbabyjesus said...

If 2 cd's is enough for you then really one is.
I have a rip of the vinyl edition which covers Disc one, or the album proper with a couple bonuses.
I also have 3-4 bootlegs, and one of these is like a prototype for the new box with one disc of SMiLE, and 3 discs of sessions like the example here.
At first I thought I didn't need any of it because I've heard it all.
And the remake put me off. The unfinished versions left more to the imagination, and hearing Brian struggle with his voice is painful.
I'm glad he finished it so interviewers would quit asking the inevitable questions, but I don't like it.
Even though I've listened to my 'boots' for two decades, and all the bits are familiar, the new version took me by surprise. I played it 3 times yesterday.
And Sal is right, "sitting in" on the sessions is a fascinating look into Brian's process.
He is focused, and it's apparent the musicians enjoyed the sessions.

Sal Nunziato said...

"If 2 CD's is enough for you then really one is."

That is so my point, and thanks, Buzz, for making it in one sentence instead of the usual 30 it takes me to NOT make it.

I am NOT condoning the cost...AT ALL. I'm just wondering if long time Beach Boys fanatics are convincing themselves "they have no time," or that "it's too much," simply to quell the fact that it is overpriced.

FD13NYC said...

Actually the price of the 2 or 5 CD sets are irrelevant as far as affordability goes. I say, if one has the extra rupees to plunk down, go for it.

But, is one really after one tedious listen of either of the sets going to go back for a second? I don't know, I didn't.

Let's just say it's a nice addition to the collection of us Beach Boy buffs and completists and leave it at that. Now everyone go listen to All Summer Long, Today, Summer Days And Summer Nights, in a while the Xmas Album and by all means Pet Sounds.

Alinel' said...

Beach Boys = love

matthew said...

I guess it's like climbing the Everest of Beach Boy Fandom. I've come this far: Brian's out of it, Brian's back, Brian's out of it again, Brian's back again, Beach Boys slowly self-destruct, Smile rumors, Smile bootlegs, the drip, drip, drip, of officlal releases... and now, with the summit in sight, how could I not climb the final mile. I went for the big enchilada. I'm glad I did it. And as the exhaustive liner notes make clear, Mike Love is still a putz.

buzzbabyjesus said...

SMiLE is the reason I'm a fan.
It's Brian's best work.
I think he realized it wasn't a hit record, "Pet Sounds" was a disappointing seller, and this was even further afield.
But how can anyone complain about an album that contains, "Surf's Up", "Heroes And Villians", Cabinessence", "Windchimes", Wonderful", Veg-Tables",and "Good Vibrations"?
It's so much more interesting than the elevator music about teenage anxiety that is "Pet Sounds".
I have all those other albums because the guy that made SMilE is responsible for them, too.

steve simels said...

And as the exhaustive liner notes make clear, Mike Love is still a putz.


Seriously -- was this ever even in doubt?

FD13NYC said...

Why is everybody downplaying or not liking Pet Sounds? It's probably Brian's best work, not Smile, and one of my faves. For all the naysayers, I say go back and give it another listen.

As for Mike Love, he may be a putz, but the Beach Boy sound would not have been the same without him.

steve simels said...

That's the truly annoying thing about Mike Love -- he has his name (deservedly, alas) on a lot of really great songs.

I mean -- he fucking cowrote "The Warmth of the Sun." If he'd done nothing else but that, he'd deserve respect and gratitude.

Gummo said...

Blogger buzzbabyjesus said...

If 2 cd's is enough for you then really one is.

I don't get this at all.

Sal Nunziato said...


Let me take a stab since I gave Buzz a big pat on the back for making the comment.

The whole point of the "Sessions" box is everything NOT on the 2 CD set.

The 2 CD set is the album that you either love or don't, with a few extras. If you don't love Smile, then why bother at all. But if you do, how can there be no interest in the set? It's like enjoying the wedding scene in The Godfather, but not caring too much for the mob stuff.

(or maybe not. sounded good in my head)

This is why I asked way up top, are people just forcing themseves to be disinterested because of the cost? I can't imagine being a fan of Brian and just tossing off the chance to hear ALL of this.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Thanks, Sal. I wouldn't want anyone to know how long I spend sometimes crafting a comment to look like I tossed it off between sips of coffee, or gin.
My Nutshell: All the essentials are on disc one. If you like disc two, you'll want the rest.

I'll give Pet Sounds another spin if you approach SMiLE less dismissively. Deal?

FD13NYC said...

Agreed, deal. I'll certainly give it another go around.

pete said...

I got the "Smile" thing that came out a couple years ago (rerecorded by Brian?) and it didn't rock, didn't get me off. It was different, but for different give me Captain Beefheart. I haven't heard an edit of Heroes and Villains that moved me like the original released single version and I haven't heard versions of "Vegetables" et al better than the versions on the original "Smiley Smile" LP, which is a hell of an album BTW.

pete said...

And, yes, this is glorious, but my favorite version of Surf's Up is still that Jeff Beck video on YouTube.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I listened to Smiley Smile with different ears last night. I randomly bought the twofer back in 1990 and it with David Leaf's liners originally inspired my obsession with SMiLE, particularly the bonus track "Can't Wait Too Long".
Not long after I found a boot of SMiLE and never listened to it again. I'm glad Smiley Smile finally gets to be it's own thing instead of a poor substitute, but I missed the "In The Cantina" section of "Heroes and Villians", and found "Mama Said" at the end of Wild Honey really odd.
And I'm sorry for so harshly dissing Pet Sounds.

Gardner said...

I got the box.

In his music, Brian Wilson explains certain essential things to me with such poignance and depth that I want to know all I can about this peak accomplishment called SMiLE. I don't think I can persuade anyone it's a peak accomplishment; I'm not sure anyone can. Lewis Shiner's chapter in "Glimpses" might help. All I can say is that this music touches my heart and soul like no other, and I need the 5 CD set to understand better just what that means and how Brian accomplished it.

What I hear in this conducting session is almost beyond belief, so intricate and vivid is the musical imagination it demonstrates.

"You mustn't worry, Carol."

Pet Sounds? I love that too.