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Topic: How finished was SMiLE?



Article:
Ahhhh - someone has finally approached my favorite common sense question - how finished was SMiLE when it was abandonned? Here's my personal take:

VEGETABLES 65% (but order of sections unsure)

Well, depending on how you look at it, Veggies was either 98% complete or 1% complete. The version on the SOT box has pretty much all of the sections recorded, but it wasn't necessarily intended for the album... thanks to Cam's rcent discovery that the SOT 18 "wonderful" recorded in A was recorded around/at the same time the sessions for Vega lends more definitvie credence to the idea this version of the song was intended for a single. It might have also been intended for Smile, but there are many who believe the album had been scrapped by then.

The Vega-Tables demo, lacking a recording date but probably done in '66 is clearly only a demo. So, no Vega-Tables for SMiLE!

HEROES AND VILLAINS wouldn't like to guess% (1st couple of verses are obvious but after that it's really anybody's guess. I'm sure various acetate try outs survive.)

Heroes was 180 1/2% complete. That is to say it was done... several times, in different orders. Only one mix seems to have survived - the 2/10/67 mix - which was at one time labeled as a master and a safety copy (I believe) was made (which would mean it was 'ready for the presses')

Fantastic sections, but I've yet to hear a complete version - Brian mixes included - which really cuts it as a a complete song.

well, if you have the Smiley Smile two-fer you've heard two complete BW versions of H&V.

WIND CHIMES 75% (structure there but lead vox incomplete)

>None of the home-mixes I've heard follow the Brian version properly.

Little interjection here - it's pretty much been proven 'Brian's version' (or, if not proven, then satisfactorily explained to me by Brad Elliot) is the same order found on the 30 Years Cap box, and that the ending to song after the fade found on the instrumental version off of SOT was abandonned in studio. So Wind Chimes was actually much more complete.

>is there any reason to believe Brian threw the structure out?

Yes. As Brad explained it to me, I believe he was stating what we hear on SOT is in fact the complete Aug 3d tape reel - which has been edited by Brian to be the reel for master assembly. If you have a legit SOT set, there is a picture of the Aug 3d tape box inside, which lists the "ending" (track 9 on both the tape & cd) as running approx. 3 minutes. As you can hear on SOT, this has been lopped off the reel.

DO YOU LIKE WORMS 80% (missing lead vocal)
Well, it still may be 80%, but we don't know if it's missing the lead vocals. Might have been done close to as stands, there may still be sections we haven't heard from it, etc.

>We know that more lyrics were written. Yes, but we don't know whether they were discarded as unusable or they were to go ontop of other sections we haven't heard. Don't think they were but it's a possibility.

CHILD IS FATHER TO THE MAN 65%
Can't argue with the percentage, except that maybe it was closer at one time to 90 - 100%, and the track w/ lead vocals just hasn't been found. Interestingly, the only information on the vocals I've seen have described it as a "cowboy song".

OLD MASTER PAINTER/MY ONLY SUNSHINE 100% ?
>>I think this works ok as the Dennis sung version we all know. There may be more to it - the 'Barnshine' tag for instance if that IS from an acetate, not a fan/cobbled version.

Don't forget the possibility the Old Master Painter vocals were not recorded/as yet to be found. Possible they weren't intended to be recorded, but who knows?

SURF'S UP 75%
Have to disagree on this % here, from what we know existing at least. The second section for the song doesn't seem likely to have been recorded properly (string section was cancelled wasn't it?), and we haven't got any vocals for the 1st movement. Unless the solo piano version was meant for the album, then this song was less than 50% completed.

WONDERFUL 85%
Try more like 100% once, then 70% later with a possible 100% should Carl's "rock w/ me henry" lead be found (something I still think is possible).

>> The difference between the 2 versions isn't that great - not like take 1 of Good Vibrations compared with the final thing

Actually, I consider the difference to be even greater than the difference in Good Vibrations. For one thing, the version w/ "rock w/ me" has a swing feel to it, where as the original is straight. The keys are different and the arrangement different enough for me to think of it as a major re-interpretation of the song.

THE ELEMENTS 25%?
well, we have Fire and the Water Chant, and I don't see any reason for Water to be anything more than a chant at the point of "Smile", so lets' say 50%?

EARTH - woodshop - see Carol Kaye - if the elements were intended to go in this order it seems very hard to make a case for this track NOT to be Earth, unless it's 'part 2' of 'Cow', but how likely is that? It would be a bit long.

I think of "rebuilding after the fire" more as an experiment than a real contender (after all, it was Edited into Friday Night), but that's a personal interpretation. It is a possibility, but that would put the Elements closer to 75%.

WATER - Da DA (or variation of) - didn't Carl and Van Dyke seperately reference this track as part of 'Water'?

I'M IN GREAT SHAPE %?
>>Possibly a variation of 'Eat a lot', but really a total mystery to me.

Don't Forget that Friday Night was 'erroneously' (?) subtitled "I'm in Great Shape" or "Great Shape" (can't remember).

>>>Hmm - that's it. These are just my opinions but I hope I've stuck with analysing what we know to make reasonable extrapolation. For me the only areas which are still TOTALLY obscure are 'Heroes', 'The Elements' and 'Great shape'.

Do you mean Surf's Up, The Elements & Great Shape? My only question about Heroes and Villains is the segments some call "Part 2" - intended for a 2 sided single or not? I think yes, others think no - far as I can see we have equally interesting & loaded arguments. Also take into consideration the back cover song list comes a from a proof and was not finalized. I think I saw Brad Elliot claim he has seen the corrections made on the proof (which were filtered out for the repro slicks made - where all our known back cover images source) and they made him question the track list, but I have no idea how. Brad - you out there to confirm this one? I don't want to throw your name next to incorrect facts!

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Replying to Original Article:

Hello all

Some thoughts on various Smile tracks: in brackets after the titles I estimate % work completed during the actual sessions for each version WE HAVE HEARD - of course I could be wildly wrong but I think my guesses are informed. I use Brian mixes working versions/demos wherever possible - I think Linnett did his best but was quite inaccurate on a few tracks. Sea of Tunes 17 did throw up a few more clues I think, especially for 'Vegetables'.

With the various versions of the songs later finished for albums ie 20/20, plus the SOT sessions plus new finds like the proper order for 'Child' I think we can see a much more cohesive structure to the tracks than the GV box set/various home-made mixes.

See what you all make of my comments.

VEGETABLES 65% (but order of sections unsure)
I've always thought this track sounds too sparse. The SOT box reveals overdubs of the chimey organ part which sound as though it may have been meant to play through most of the track. We hear this to full effect on the fade of the 'Smiley...' version, the fast fade after the acapella bit. This section has a warm, bouncey, breezy feel (with chimey organ and comical b/g voices) which the track as a whole lacks. Also, early mixes reveal that this section was probably intended as part of the verses, not the fade. There is also a genuinely funny 'laughing' part which goes up and down the scale during the verses. I can't believe all these ace parts were chucked out, again my main reason being that the track is just too dry without them.

The fade seems to be the bicycle rider variation which was later changed and bunged into Wonderful. I expect this section would have had a lead vox overdub.

The acappella section sounds great at the start of the song. Listen to the Smiley version from the start of the acappella 'I know that you'll feel better' part and imagine it's the beginning of the track - works well doesn't it?

I know Vega-tables was remade, but aren't the changes more lyrical than structural?

The main problem to me with all the home-versions of this that I've heard are lack of flow - they all stop and start too much (see below).

HEROES AND VILLAINS wouldn't like to guess% (1st couple of verses are obvious but after that it's really anybody's guess. I'm sure various acetate try outs survive.)

Fantastic sections, but I've yet to hear a complete version - Brian mixes included - which really cuts it as a complete song. The common problem for me is the too-jarring transitions between sections.

Cabinessence and Surf's up were composed in the same time frame - both feature modular compositions, but both are fantastic and feel just right structurally.

When playing versions of HV to non Smile fanatic music lovers the same comment emerges every time - too bitty, stop/startish.

My feeling is that there are possibly vocal parts we haven't heard which would flesh the thing out. The single mix gets the closest but seems so throwaway when compared to the original sessions, especially the big droney organ.

Let's not forget the 'musical comedy' slant. I think a whole version with this approach would be a very lively proposition.

The actual sound textures of the various sections are the most advanced Brian ever created, and would have given a fantastic overall effect. Imagine the track fading out with 'Barnyard'. 'Barnshine' is also very energetic and dynamic, more the sort of thing a single would contain.

If some of the spookier more ponderous parts were to be included, maybe they would have been in a second movement: get the dynamic, tuneful stuff in first then segue into the avant-garde, just like Good Vibrations.

WIND CHIMES 75% (structure there but lead vox incomplete)
None of the home-mixes I've heard follow the Brian version properly. We have an early complete take plus ending on the SOT. Granted these may have been re-recorded seperately, but is there any reason to believe Brian threw the structure out? After the funky bass middle eight the song DOESN'T go back to the chorus, it goes to a different ascending part that is reminiscent of the chorus, then stops dead (we hear the dead-stop during another take as well). Then we get the ending, which does seem to contain a reprise of the chorus. A million miles from the Linnett mix and a belter of a track even in it's unfinished form.

DO YOU LIKE WORMS 80% (missing lead vocal)
GV box-set version appears to be not that far off a finished track. It does seem to lack lead vocals, for instance the track would almost certainly have contained the title in the lyric. The theme of the song seems to be the desecration of the Indian by the white man - you can't glean this at all from the current takes. Surely lyrical reference would be essential? We know that more lyrics were written.

CHILD IS FATHER TO THE MAN 65%
Again the Brian sequence is (obviously) much better structured than the Linnett mix. It seems obvious that the verses are missing lead vocals. Apparently Van Dyke has said he wrote lyrics for it - I imagine these and other song's missing lyrics were recorded at some point, even if it was just for demo purposes.

OLD MASTER PAINTER/MY ONLY SUNSHINE 100% ?
I think this works ok as the Dennis sung version we all know. There may be more to it - the 'Barnshine' tag for instance if that IS from an acetate, not a fan/cobbled version.

CABINESSENCE 85%
Obviously very close to the finished '66 product. There may be a few overdubs missing on the chorus - see additional lyrics in ESQ - but the track works just fine without them.

SURF'S UP 75%
Again a brilliant version just as Brian's demo. The Surf's Up album version uses parts of the original backing track but is a hybrid and has been tinkered around, possibly with lyrics written in '71. (still overtly brilliant though

WONDERFUL 85%
GV box set version stunning. All the song seems to lack is a tag. I know the 'Rock with me Henry' bits are a contender for this, but they sound a bit crap don't they. Really the song is great as is but it just sounds like it ends too abruptly. Was remade but seems possible the original was preferred. The difference between the 2 versions isn't that great - not like take 1 of Good Vibrations compared with the final thing

THE ELEMENTS 25%?

If the order fire/earth/air/water was followed then I'd suggest the following

FIRE - Mrs O'learys Cow - this we know (unless it was remade)

EARTH - woodshop - see Carol Kaye - if the elements were intended to go in this order it seems very hard to make a case for this track NOT to be Earth, unless it's 'part 2' of Cow', but how likely is that? It would be a bit long.

AIR - no real contender, it could be anything.

WATER - Da DA (or variation of) - didn't Carl and Van Dyke seperately reference this track as part of 'Water'?

I'M IN GREAT SHAPE %?
Possibly a variation of 'Eat a lot', but really a total mystery to me.

Hmm - that's it. These are just my opinions but I hope I've stuck with analysing what we know to make reasonable extrapolation. For me the only areas which are still TOTALLY obscure are 'Heroes', 'The Elements' and 'Great shape'.

Any comments on these comments?



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