Nov 032011

Hell officially freezes over

Has anybody bought this thing? Anybody planning on it? If so: why?

I look forward to your responses.



  28 Responses to “Mike Love Seen Walking Barefoot Over Formerly Bubbling Pools of Molten Lava”

  1. I was streaming Smile on MOG this morning and my wife came down for breakfast and said “WHAT are you listening to?”

    I want that poster, though. I have a sticker on my outdoor boombox from the Brian Wilson deluxe release of a few years ago. What a nerd.

  2. I streamed most of it on It’s good, but it doesn’t really reveal a whole lot about Smile that wasn’t already apparent from the songs from the sessions released on Friends and Surf’s Up.; the bootlegs; the 2004 version, etc. “Surf’s Up,” “Wind Chimes,” and “Wonderful” sound amazing; no real surprise there. According to some of the reviews I’ve read, the real revelation of this release is the outtakes, where you can hear individual parts, studio chatter, etc. that help underscore just how musically ambitious this thing was. I have no real interest in hearing that stuff, though. The Purple Chick version I downloaded last year — which attempted to re-create the 2004 version using mostly ’60s-era recordings, as does this official release — is more than sufficient.

  3. I’m still trying to get Townsman Mickavory out of hiding. I know he got the (as we call it) “ass-out verison.” I have it on my Christmas wish list. It’s overkill, but, Jesus, I love that music.


  4. I’m with TB. And hopefully this package makes “The ‘Pet Sounds’ Sessions” sound like “Kokomo,” because the Stack-O-Vocals disc is the closest I’ve been to church in the last 20yrs.


  5. tonyola

    I already have a Smile album I’ve assembled myself plus a couple CDs worth of Smile material. However, I definitely want to listen to this.

  6. tonyola

    I bet it was Mr. Mod who voted for “Kokomo” on today’s poll. Either he’s an iconoclast or it’s a bad case of ADHD.

  7. hrrundivbakshi

    Are you kidding me? I love that “album,” but the entire box set is seven freaking hours of outtakes, rehearsals and studio jibber-jabber. Give me a single spin of “Kokomo” any day — turdular though it may be.

  8. I voted for Kokomo as well. I’ve never actually heard Smile but I’m not a big Beach Boys fan so I’d rather just yank the band-aid off quickly, albeit painfully.

  9. Happiness Stan

    This makes me feel unexpectedly sad.

    I saw Brian Wilson playing Glastonbury a few years ago, which I was expecting to be the absolute highlight of the festival, but to paraphrase the old slogan he didn’t look “back” to me. From my position right down the front, he looked like a frightened rabbit in headlights and I felt like a voyeur, ashamed to be part of the baying crowd putting him through what looked like an experience he would be better off not having, like poking a court jester with a stick. I love the Beach Boys music, but away from the music I can’t think of a single move they’ve made in either their business or personal lives since the time they were making this which they shouldn’t have been advised to do differently.

    I will listen to this one day, but – after hearing so many versions, all those hours and hours of Heroes and Villains, and so many years of anecdote and hype, reading the big yellow book and magazine articles and interviews – it feels sad to expect to be underwhelmed, like looking forward to the next good Stones or (until recently) REM album, and having heard all the songs in a dozen forms already. I certainly don’t need all the packaging.

    The set looks like Christmas dinner served up cold after the family and guests have all gone home hungry. I shouldn’t feel like this, perhaps I’m having a bad day.

  10. I haven’t had the opportunity to vote yet, tonyola, but certainly I will vote for “Kokomo.”

    I’m still waiting to hear from the booking agent who will schedule my lecture tour of hipster universities, in which I will laud the relative merits of “Kokomo.” Contact me offlist!

  11. tonyola

    I’m listening to the first CD of this set as I type. There are some musical surprises as some of the “official” versions of the songs are different than much of what’s been on bootleg. The real surprise, however, is the sound quality. The music is in mono, but the sound is much cleaner and clearer than any bootleg that I’ve heard. Even boomy parts like the “iron horse” part of “Cabinessence” have a lot of clarity and I’m hearing details in the songs that I’ve never heard before. There’s a big difference in sound quality. Even if you already have the bootlegs, the pristine sound of Smile Sessions is an eye-opener. I do wonder, however, if there’s been any latter-day sweetening or re-recording of the musical bits.

    Only the most obsessive types need spring for the full five-CD set, but the double-CD version at $23.90 on Amazon is a near must-buy for anyone with any interest in the Beach Boys. That includes you, Mr. Mod.

  12. hrrundivbakshi

    When I saw the Wondermints-featuring-Brian-Wilson performing “Smile” a few years back, the view from our seats clearly revealed that Brian wasn’t actually playing his keyboard — he was just moving his hands back and forth in a sad pantomime of playing one. He wasn’t doing much singing, either. A strange show for me. I enjoyed it as much as it depressed me, which was quite a bit.

    A side note: three of the dudes from REM made the trip to DeeCee to see the historic show, and were seated just a few rows in front of me. If I liked REM, this would have been a very big deal indeed. As it was, I was more impressed to have seen Stig O’Hara in live performance (he was in the backup band).

  13. machinery

    I will say that the making of thing I saw on PBS was pretty interesting and how the one guy practically had to put Brian on his back to get across the finish line. The performance is kinda sad though. Not quite the triumph they wanted.

  14. misterioso

    I am 100% in agreement with tonyola based on my listening so far. Except for one small, perhaps semantic point: I don’t have much interest in the Beach Boys outside of their 1966-67 output and a few other songs, but I think Smile is tremendous and have ever since I first overcame my suspicions about it and listened to it. So, I call a ZZ-Top-concert-load of bullshit on Mod and everyone else who rips Smile. I also call a double-load on all those who continue to think that Smile was left “half finished” or “fragmentary.” Even on the bootleg versions I have (which are very similar to the now “official” version) it sounded pretty well complete. What it doesn’t sound much like, of course, is a Beach Boys record. This, no doubt, is what made Mike Love so hostile towards it; and since Mod follows his hero the Loveman’s lead in these things, it follows that Smile must be contrary (and hostile) to everything that the Beach Boys represented and which Love seems to embody for Mod. And, hey, guess what: that is totally correct! Smile is a near-complete abandonment of, if not a colossal “screw you” to the fun-fun-fun Beach Boys. Thank you very much, too! A much needed and welcome one. Surf’s up!

  15. I can’t really explain the effect this music has on me. There are few records I can name where listening to them are like having a religious experience. Love Supreme is one. What’s Going On is another. Pet Sounds certainly falls into this category. Perhaps I am just a sucker for the myth and am totally buying into the hype surrounding this music? I just know that when I hear it, it makes me feel…different. Like I know something that everybody else doesn’t know. Brian’s music, more than anyone else has always had this effect on me. I love The Beatles. I love The Who. There are writers and groups I adore, but something about Brian Wilson just taps into this very deep and personal. I can’t relate to the drugs are abuse, but it simply speaks to my innermost thoughts and emotions more than any other writer is able to do. It is “soul” music. This “soul” is the very thing that’s lacking from “Kokomo.” I’ll give you that this track is not the scourge of Beach Boys music that it is made out to be. As a matter of fact, I’ll even one-up and go so far as to say that they made far worse music than “Kokomo.” But the song does have this lack of Brian therefore denying it the “soul” and spirit of something like “Good Vibrations” or even “Surfer Girl.” There’s a beauty and a drive behind Brian’s best material that give it this spiritual quality. Dennis had a little of this, too, and Carl, to a lesser degree.

    I saw Brian a couple of times and I’ll have to admit that I didn’t have the visceral reaction I had to seeing Paul McCartney or Pete Townshend the first time. I gues I half-expected to stop breathing for a few seconds, but I didn’t. I saw the SMiLE tour in 2004 and did enjoy it, but sometimes I get the distinct impression that his handlers are trotting him around like a sideshow attraction. Then, from watching the DVDs and interviews, I do get a feeling that while he is not completely comfortable in front of people, his wife and band do have his best interest at heart and that he is in complete control. Perhaps it’s a gesture here or a look there, but I just like to think that the guy is so plugged in to music and only music that everything else just exists in his world. Still, I’d rather give money and support to Brian and the Wondermints than that thing Mike Love jumps around the country with.


  16. Was this at Wolf Trap? I was there if it was. I also saw him do Pet Sounds — the sad thing for me was him reading the lyrics to these old songs off a teleprompter.

  17. 100% agree. I wonder the kidz still listen to In My Room? You can make fun of Brian’s “teenage symphonies to God” remark, but there’s a lot of truth in that.

    We’ll have to see what 2012 brings and the rumored “reunion” of Wilson, Love, Jardine, and Johnston — I hope they use the Wondermints and not Love’s “good time” Beach Boys band.

  18. ladymisskirroyale

    Forget “Smile” – I’d rather listen to this:

  19. That’s great – I never saw that clip before.

  20. mockcarr

    Great album too.

  21. hrrundivbakshi

    Happy to be the turd in the punchbowl here. I never understood what the big deal with Velvet Crush was — and that album bugs the hell out of me. It’s like one step removed from Soul Asylum for me. Formulaic power pop, yawn. And I know all about writing yawn-worthy, formulaic power pop!

  22. I liked the video more than anything. I used to own their first record and still own one other. I enjoy them the same way I occasionally enjoy my one Posies album. At least they’ve got a little scruff in their power pop and aren’t all airbrushed, like your Holy Trinity of Rock-devotee heroes Jellyfish.

  23. BTW, speaking of the Holy Trinity of Rock, our youngest son (age 10) has spent the last month FASCINATED by ELO’s “Sweet Talkin’ Woman.” He listens to it 25 times per day. He knows every word, every part, probably every part left on the cutting room floor. The kid has an amazing ability analyze whatever catches his eye or ear each month. I hope he never finds my one ZZ Top album.

  24. mockcarr

    I think Menck is a really good pop drummer, for starters.

  25. I had written this Velvet Crush disc off years ago.I listened to it again this morning and it was better than I remember.I think in the mid-90s I wasn’t ready for the country touches in my Power Pop. I think Mod should go back to the Posies, I think their power pop + nearly atonal guitar solos really holds up. Especially Frosting on the Beater .

    I normally wouldn’t comment at all in a Beach Boys thread. Their surf singles were fun, “God Only Knows” is glorious, but I’m not onboard with all the other stuff.

  26. I’m thinking I’ll spring for the 2CD set because I didn’t buy the Brian Wilson version, and I don’t own any bootlegs. I hate “Kokomo” but would much rather listen to it than the 5CD set in its entirety.

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube