Note: Disclaimer: this is in no way intended to be the definitive SMiLE guide! It's just a brief overview for those that are new/curious about SMiLE.
Now for a "just the facts, mamm" background on SMiLE:
The tale of SMiLE really begins in May 1966 with the release of the Beach Boys PET SOUNDS. The album (of which Brian said, "I'm gonna make the greatest rock-and-roll album ever made") received critical acclaim, but lackluster sales. "Good Vibrations" (actually started during Pet Sounds), in October of 1966 was a huge leap in Brian's recording development. On "Vibes", Brian used a modular ecording technique, linking the song segments together into a coherent song. Brian's formula worked, giving the Beach Boys their biggest worldwide #1 hit to date. Brian figured, why not use this formula for a whole album? SMiLE, a.k.a. Brian's "teenage symphony to God" was born. Originally entitled "Dumb Angel" ***, SMiLE was slated for a January 1967 release. But, something happened along the way, and in May of 1967 Derek Taylor announced that SMiLE was "scrapped". The album was never released in its intended form, although parts of SMiLE songs have appeared on subsequent Beach Boys albums over the years.
SMiLE is the classic case of "coulda, woulda, shoulda". Yes, SMiLE "could have" been bigger than Sgt. Pepper. It "would have" made some sort of impact. And, it "should have" been released! But the possible influence of SMiLE is all speculation. Just like the reasons for the albums demise. There have been many excuses for the non-release of the album: Brian's drug intake (although, a listen to the studio bootlegs pretty much shoot this theory down!), the reluctance of the other Beach Boys to Brian's new songs, the Beach Boys lawsuit with Capitol (which probably pushed the album's release back even further, causing them to "miss the boat"), and the Beatles release of Sgt. Pepper.
(*** "Dumb Angel", the first working title of "Smile", is said to have be an expression of Brian Wilson's insight into the character of his brother Dennis. -"Dumb Angel: the Life and Music of Dennis Wilson" by Adam Webb, 2000)
What we DO know are the titles of the songs intended for the album:
- Do You Like Worms
- Wind Chimes
- Heroes and Villains
- Surfs Up
- Good Vibrations
- Cabin Essence
- I'm In Great Shape
- Child Is the Father of the Man
- The Elements
- The Old Master Painter
Over the years, bits and pieces of SMiLE have appeared on other official Beach Boys albums. Here is a brief overview of what is available officially:
- SMILEY SMILE (Capitol/Brother released September, 1967)
Although under-produced to the max (the very antithesis of SMiLE!) , this album is important in two ways. First, it shows what happened when the production reigns were taken from Brian. Secondly, when compared to the original tracks ("Windchimes", "Vegetables" and "Wonderful" from the 1993 GV Box Set) you get a glimpse of what SMiLE could have been! There are also two songs which began as SMiLE fragments: "She's Goin' Bald" and "With Me Tonight".
- WILD HONEY (Capitol released December, 1967)
Contains "Mama Says" (an out-take/tag from "Vega-Tables").
- 20/20 (Capitol released February, 1969)
Contains two SMiLE recordings: an overdubbed "Our Prayer" and "Cabinessence."
- SUNFLOWER (Brother-Reprise released August,1970)
Contains "Cool, Cool Water", which has two SMiLE connections: it is based on "Love to Say Da Da (a puported SMiLE-era song) and it contains the water chant (which WAS recorded during SMiLE)
- SURF'S UP (Brother-Reprise released August, 1971)
The version of "Surfs Up" represented here is a bastardized version. New vocals from Carl were overdubbed onto the original the first section, joined with one of Brian's original vocal piano renditions of the second section. A coda of "Child Is Father Of The Man" is tacked on to the end.
- GOOD VIBRATIONS: THIRTY YEARS OF THE BEACH BOYS (Capitol released November, 1993)
It only took 26 years, but the inclusion of thirty minutes of original (still in question) SMiLE recordings makes this a MUST HAVE!
- ENDLESS HARMONY [SOUNDTRACK] (Capitol released August, 1998)
This release created a real buzz among SMiLE fanatics as it included the piano demo of "Heroes and Villains" including snippets of "I'm In Great Shape" and "Barnyard". But alas, the songs begs many more questions than it answers.
- HAWTHORNE, CA.-BIRTHPLACE OF A MUSICAL LEGACY (Capitol released May, 2001)
There are no real "relevations" to be found here, like on the Endless Harmony Soundtrack. But, there is somethings of interest for SMiLE fans: "Good Vibrations" (stereo track sections), "Good Vibrations" (concert rehearsal), "Heroes and Villains" (stereo single version), "Vegetable Promo" and "Vegetables (stereo extended mix).
The release of the GV Box set finally opened the flood gates for SMiLE bootlegs. There are dozens of titles, with lots of tracks repeated. These are just a few of the most important ones:
- Smile (GEMA)
- Smile (David Prokopy tapes)
- Smile (Vigotone)
- Heroes & Vibrations (Vigotone)
- SOT Vol. 15-Good Vibrations Sessions (Sea Of Tunes)
- SOT Vol. 16-Single Smile Disc (Sea Of Tunes)
- SOT Vol. 17-Smile Sessions (Sea Of Tunes)
- SOT Vol. 18 The Alternate "Smiley Smile" Album (Sea Of Tunes)
For reviews of the SOT albums, go to the Beach Boys un-official fan site click here
MP3 SOURCES ON THE WEB:
The internet has been a godsend for SMiLE fans. Before the world wide web, most were stuck with the official releases to make your own SMiLE tapes. Bootlegs were expensive and hard to find. But, with the internet and mp3 revolution, the normal fan can find just about ALL of the SMiLE bootlegs on mp3's! And its FREE! However, due to legalities and changing web hosting rules, the sites that contain mp3's usually don't last long! Here are just a few of the SMiLE related sites which have links to the much coveted SMiLE mp3's (*note: we are making no guarantees, we are just listing known sites from the past):
- Adam's Smile resources- currently has mp3 downloads. click here
- The Fool's Listening Room- real audio Smile. click here
- Yet Another SMiLE Page- has mp3 links for most of the SMiLE bootlegs (except SOT 17 & 18)-however, there are many dead links. click here
- LOOK! LISTEN! VIBRATE! SMILE!-compiled by Domenic Priore-Published 1995 by Last Gasp
Basically, this book is "the Bible" for any new SMiLE enthusiast. This incredible book gives the reader the largest collection of articles, essays and news clippings about SMiLE, with most articles actually from the SMiLE era. Some of the theories/assertions made in this book have been recently debated as to validity, but the book's impact is still not diminished. LLVS is the ONLY book entirely dedicated to SMiLE. So, until someone else writes a book on the subject , this is one-stop shopping for all your SMiLE needs. A must have!!
Order your own copy of LLVS atAmazon.com
- The Beach Boys-by David Leaf-Published 1985 by Kingsport Press
This is my second favorite book about SMiLE, only having one chapter about SMiLE. But, what a chapter it is-worth the price of the book alone. This book was my first exposure to the SMiLE legend. I also consider this a must have, not just for the SMiLE fan, but for any Beach Boys fan!
- Heroes & Villains (the True Story of the Beach Boys)-by Steven Gaines-Published 1986 by The New American Library
Although not half as good as the Leaf book, this book does have some merit in covering the SMiLE myth.
- Wouldn't It Be Nice (My Own Story)-by Brian Wilson with Todd Gold-Published 1991 Harper Collins Publishers
Total load of crap! Any book which says that "George Fell and "Been Away Too Long" were SMiLE tracks (which we know they AREN'T!) could NOT have been written by Brian. Avoid this book at all costs- it is about as truthful as the mini-series portrayal of SMiLE which came out this year...
SMiLE LINKS, CHAT & THE FUTURE:
Will we ever see a realease of SMiLE? Will there ever be a box set, like the "Pet Sounds Sessions" box set? Only time will tell. But, for the newest SMiLE news (as well as some good debates/discussions), check out these sites:
- Smile Shop Message Board click here
- Yahoo SMiLE-ing Club click here
- Our very own LINKS page (one of the few in SMiLE-land that is actually updated!) click here