Brian Wilson is back at Capitol Records! Now there’s hope for Smile!
Ryan at losanjealous.com reports that Brian Wilson is putting out a studio release at Capitol Records on Sept 2 (and will be following up with some shows at the Hollywood Bowl).
This news is getting me all hot and bothered, not necessarily because Brian is being active again, but because I’m such a huge fan of the Beach Boys, and Smile in particular, and this means Capitol might finally do an official release of it.
Though I like the Wondermints and applaud them for helping Brian release Smile and tour it out a couple years back, the version they recorded with him was definitely “Brian Wilson’s Smile” and not Smile as it was originally intended to be heard. I mean, they had modern instrumentation, Of-Montreal-esque vocals, and synths instead of toy pianos. And nobody made them put the grand piano in a sandbox. And they had a woman singing Carl’s parts, for cryin’ out loud!
The Beach Boys were about more than just Wilson’s genius songwriting–they were also about the beauty of those blended voices, brotherly voices, the voices of children raised by a very violent hand to sing odd falsetto notes in such perfect harmony. The elderly Brian’s voice, though sometimes pitifully beautiful in its sadness, doesn’t match the acid Lutheranism that shows up in those sixties sessions. Even Mike Love’s gentle bass ba ba ba’s contributed so much to their sound. The Beach Boys were actually at the height of their harmonizing powers, which is why the implosion of Smile was such a tragedy at the time.
Luckily, most Beach Boys enthusiasts out there have heard bootleg Smile sessions, and know that pretty much every part of the final 2004 arrangements was originally recorded at some point or another with Mike, Carl, Denny, Al, and Brian on the mike back in 1967 or so. And because we’ve heard the bootlegs, we know that the masters are sitting in the Capitol vaults somewhere, just waiting to be unearthed, spliced, edited, tinkered with, and released in a super badassed amazing box set, with the final arrangement put together, plus bonus stuff, a historical booklet, liner notes with a Van Dyke Parks introduction, “stacks of vocals,” etc. I actually never thought I’d see this possibility come together so soon, and who knows, there may be some legal wrangling on Mike Love’s part to keep it from happening. But if Brian could re-release Pet Sounds, maybe his new alliance with Capitol means we’ll get Smile as well.
In the meantime, enjoy “Cool, Cool, Water,” which was pieced together from material written during the Smile era and finally released as a single in the early seventies: