UPDATE 04 February 2010: I have posted the tracks here
I recently did a new reconstruction (remix or completion if you will) of The Beach Boys’s SMiLE from vintage 1967 tracks into a cohesive piece. If you are unfamiliar with SMiLE see here and here. This is my third crack at doing this. The first time was before Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE sometime in 2003. I found some random constructions all in mp3 and put it together from that. My second attempt was after Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE using mp3 versions of the Good Vibrations boxset and tracks from my first attempt and a bit better understanding of DAWs (I was still using Acid at that point). That version was pretty good (a hybrid between my first version and the 2004 version), but it always annoyed me that it was in mp3, so now I have done a lossless version. I have tracked down the best sounding versions (all lossless) that I could. Now I have and can use Logic, so the result flows and has a bit more polish (aside from the rough recording quality on some pieces).
I take some cues from the 2004 SMiLE and other constructions, but have left out awkward vocal overdubs, using clips from the modern recording, and digital pitch correction (please don’t make the Beach Boys sound like Kanye West!). I respect the effort of PurpleChick, but am not a fan of her version. I wanted He Gives Speeches, more Bicycle Rider, an ending with Surf’s Up, among other pieces not included with 2004 recording. The end results is not a slavish recreation of Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE with vintage tracks nor a purely historical recreation of what might have been had the album seen release in ‘67. This is personal and reflects my avant-garde aesthetics (but they aren’t hard to find in the original tracks), a fondness for instrumentals/extended pieces, and a bit of revisionist history.
Here are some notes by track. The source(s) for each track are in parentheses.
- Our Prayer / Gee (Good Vibrations Box). I like the pairing and transitions on Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE. All sourced from the Good Vibrations Box, so it all sounds great (especially Our Prayer).
- Heroes and Villains (Smiley Smile Bonus Track). I love this version (the Cantina version). It’s weirder than the released version: love the tape feedback in the middle. It fits SMiLE more than the single version.
- Do You Like Worms (Good Vibrations Box). This is nice and stretched out.
- Barnyard (SMiLE Vigotone). Has the vocals/animal sounds and decent sound, though it’s probably one of the worst songs from a fidelity standpoint. There is not much to be done here.
- Old Master Painter / You are my Sunshine (SMiLE Vigotone + Mark Linnet Mix). The Old Master Painter sounded better on the Vigotone and Sunshine better on the Mark Linnet Mix. The vocals are much more audible. The sax ending is better on Vigotone. All crossfaded seamlessly.
- He Gives Speeches (Mok SMiLE). I’m not sure where he got this version, but it sounds great. I like the slapback delay on the handclaps.
- Wonderful (Good Vibrations Box). Wonderful sound for a wonderful song.
- Child is Father of the Man (Mok SMiLE). Not sure where he got this version, but it sounds better than the Vigotone and has quite a bit more on the end. I did some editing to remove a vocal section I didn’t like towards the end. These pieces are so wonderfully modular that you can do this.
- Cabinessence (Good Vibrations Box). This is my favorite version of this song. I love the droning trombone.
- Bicycle Rider (Good Vibrations Box + SMiLE Vigotone). This is my experimental track; a home for all the avant-garde or drugged out (depending on your bias) snippets. I incorporate George Fell into his French Horn (I had to include some of it!) and bits of Heroes and Villains with the Bicylce Rider Theme. I apologize for the creative liberties, but this is my reconstructions.
- Good Vibrations (Smiley Smile). The original and best. I toyed with the idea of using the stretched out instrumental version from the sessions, but why mess with perfection? The best way to end side one, as likely would have had it been released in ‘67.
- Look (Mark Linnet Mix). No vocals, but I like this as an instrumental. I did a bit of editing to take a section that interrupted the flow towards the end. This piece is full of abrupt cuts, so it works. I think mine is much smoother.
- Vegetables (Good Vibrations Box). This is a nice version. It may not be my favorite, but it sounds great. The ending piano segues nicely into…
- I Want to be Around / Workshop (SMiLE Vigotone). This the best sound I’ve heard for this one. I don’t like the vocals on Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE. It works much better as an instrumental, much weirder.
- Holiday (Mark Linnet Mix). Another instrumental. The sound is pretty good, better than a lot of versions I’ve heard. The piano towards the end is pretty cool. I’m not sure that I like the vocal version of this one either.
- Windchimes (Good Vibrations Box). Great song, great sound. If only it had the great drum part of Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE, though the piano ending is fantastic.
- Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow (Mok SMiLE + Mark Linnet Mix). This may be my favorite piece on SMiLE. The tasty intro from Mok just makes it all the weirder. There are versions I like ever so slightly better (like on Archeaology, but this one sounds the best).
- I Love to Say Dada (Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 17 - SMiLE Sessions + Good Vibrations Box). The water chant comes from syncing the backing organ drone take with a wonderful stereo vocal take. The I Love to Say Dada comes from Good Vibrations. I prefer the instrumental and wordless vocals over the lyrics.
- Can’t Wait Too Long (Smiley Smile). This is not a true SMiLE track as it was recorded later, but it’s wonderful and fits the feel of the end. The production and vocals are just to die for. The outro is fantastic. It was included on the Mark Linnet tapes, as well.
- Surf’s Up (Mok SMiLE). The arrangement is stretched out and suitably baroque to end the album and the sound is great. I feel Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE did this song a disservice by not ending with it. The solo Brian version is still my favorite, but this fits best. Though I love it and it sounds great, the solo piano is a bit too austere to fit with the rest of the album.