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Capitol Records Alternate Album Covers

Last month we talked about the many Beatles albums on Capitol which had alternate covers. These included: two alternate covers for "Yesterday and Today", the first "Sgt. Pepper" cover by The Fool, the cover for "A Doll's House" (later to become the "White Album"), the original "Get Back" album cover (before the album became "Let It Be") and the two alternate covers for "Hey Jude" (which began with the working title, "The Beatles Again").

Now, we shall concentrate on several of the Beach Boys album covers, which came out slightly different than originally planned. A number of album covers were designed but never used, while still others were actually scrapped in the middle of printing. Here are a few of the unused album covers, along with the story behind them.

Smile  Mid-1966?

Not much is known about this cover, showing a seductive, smileing lady. It is obviously a pre-fall ’66 creation, before Frank Holmes was brought in to work on the project. Rumor has it that Mike Love objected because she looked, “too old for the Beach Boys fans”.

Smile   Dec, 1966

The Frank Holmes album cover and album booklet was the ‘official’ design for the first incarnation of Smile in the fall of 1966. Nearly half a million covers and booklets were produced, only to be destroyed at a later date. Since this cover and booklet has been thoroughly documented and discussed, we are simply placing it here to show its relevance in the timeline.

Smile   Mar, 1967

The Beach Boys lawsuit with Capitol pretty much killed the original Smile, so a new album cover concept was designed. Mike Love remembered a photo session from 1966 (during the group’s tour of England) in which the band re-created the Beatles pose on their first album. Beach Boys fanatics will no doubt point out that Brian and Van Dyke Parks were in the photo, and they were supposedly never in England at the time. Well, it is a little known fact that the two flew to England to play the Beach Boys (and the Beatles) some preliminary tapes of Smile. At Mike’s urging, the photo was used in redesign of the Smile cover. Mike saw the new cover as a hidden message to the Beatles, “you copied our music on Pepper, so we’ve copied your first album cover…” Brian liked the humor of the new cover, which seemed to fit the happy “smile” theme.

But the legal question of having Van Dyke Parks on the cover made Capitol nervous. Van Dyke was singed to Warner Brothers and Capitol feared lawsuits from the label. So, this cover was scrapped and the album "Smiley Smile" was created, becoming serial number Brother 9001 on the Beach Boys newly created Brother Records.

But what about the quote on the album, “Heroes & Villains with 12 other songs”? There were only 12 songs listed on Brian’s original songlist, supplied to Capitol in December of 1966. What is the elusive extra track? “Barnyard”? “Good News”? “Hawaiin Song”? “Good Time Mama”? Or, is it some yet unnamed title?

Smile   Aug, 1967

In a Capitol memo dated July 25, 1967, Capitol A&R director, Karl Engemann stated that he “agreed with Brian that the best course of action would be to NOT include Van Dyke Parks on the cover of the upcoming new Smile album, assigned the number Brother 9002. But, the original booklet should be included…” So, Van Dyke’s image was airbrushed out.

However, the dismal sales of “Smiley Smile” made Capitol nervous. Was psychedelic music now passe? Most of the Smile music had been recorded almost a year previously. The Beach Boys had already started “Wild Honey”. This is pure speculation, as the memos relating to the third cancellation of Smile have not surfaced.

More to come, including the 1972 Smile cover, the 1988 Smile cover and the 2001 Smile Master Plan box set


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