Brian Wilson (and/or) SMiLE Fan Mixes
The two fan mixes that I am presenting this issue are both Brian Wilson related - but not both SMiLE related. While both are telling a story, both approach their topic differently. One is fantasy and one is biographical. But, I encourage you to listen for yourself as both of these projects have merit.
DISCLAIMER: The following works that we review are in no way "bootlegs" made for profit or sale. Rather they are simple fan mixes meant to be a tribute to the artistry of Brian Wilson.
LiFE OF BRiAN
The first fan mix that we are reviewing this issue covers the years of 1962 to 1965 in Brian Wilson’s life. The “LiFE OF BriAN” is not so much a fan mix as an ‘audio timeline. This ‘concept’ tells Brian Wilson's life story through the use of songs and sound bites. Jerry stated that his “main goal with this project is to portray Brian as the ultimate survivor.” Brief interview statements precede just about every song to get a “mindset” into the multi-faceted character who IS Brian Wilson. While the songs tell the story, the soundbites are a very nice touch. With the amount of audio interview material out there on the Beach Boys, I’m really surprised that someone hasn’t thought of this project before – it makes perfect sense. And the songs used are not all the familiar versions, but also rare/rehearsal takes of the songs.
On the back of the CD are 13 ‘themes’ for each song. To give a better idea of the biographic content, I have listed each theme with the Beach Boys’ song that is used:
1. A Pop Rachmaninov- “When I Grow Up To Be A Man”
So, does this project work? How does it flow in regards to sound bites versus music? Well, I would say that this is a perfect mix. Not only are the sound bites short and to the point, but also the ones picked are very relevant to telling the story. The CD flows well and that’s a sign that the project is a success – when you don’t have to push ‘forward’ to get through the interview sections. My only complaint is that the ‘flow’ of the project is broken on two tracks – I’m curious as to why these two songs do not have sound bites associated with them?
This ambitious project originally started out as a single disc, then turned into a projected four-disc project! LIFE OF BRIAN is the first of a 4-disc project by SurfClown. The subtitles of the 4 ‘chapters’ of this story are:
While this volume is interesting, I REALLY look forward to the discs that cover the years from PET SOUNDS through SMiLE! This is a very ambitious project that Jerry pulls off very effectively. Definitely worth seeking out!
E-mail Jerry at DJSurfClown@aol.com
Last SMiLE Of The Pied Piper
THE LAST SMILE OF THE PIED PIPER This is more of a ‘fan mix’ in the normal sense that there are drastic changes and edits made to the songs to create a ‘fantasy piece’. In a past issue, we reviewed the SMILE STORY fan mix by Alex. When I received his new disc (THE LAST SMILE OF THE PIED PIPER) I gave it several listens. It confused me a little and I contacted him to discuss the story line and what he was trying to achieve with this project. Actually, his explanations helped me understand this ambitious disc a little better.
Here are Alex’s thoughts on THE LAST SMILE OF THE PIED PIPER:
After the SMiLE STORY, the thought was to create a new music genre called “archaeological music” where music from the past is repaired and represented within a new context. So, it is actually an expansion of SMiLE STORY, or rather a companion piece containing both post and pre-SMiLE material. Perhaps the whole album is about a personal message of love from a fan to him and to let him know how much I value his work. On one level it’s just a huge celebration of Brian Wilson.Then, right after my talk with Alex - something in my memory banks made me recall Brian Wilson’s “Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairy Tale)” from the Beach Boys HOLLAND album (it was the bonus disc EP given away with the album). Alex hadn’t mentioned this song by Brian and I still didn’t make the connection until I actually heard “Mount Vernon…” again. For those of you unfamiliar with this song, it is basically pieces of music combined with storybook type narration, telling of a prince and his “magic transistor radio”. The other Beach Boys didn’t like the ‘song’, so it was delegated to a bonus EP that came with the HOLLAND album. It had been many, many years since I had heard this song and upon re-listening, the funniest thing was Brian’s voice of the “magic transistor radio” – it sounded remarkably like “Mr. Hankey” on South Park! But back to this disc…
It finally all made perfect sense! You actually have to be familiar with “Mount Vernon and Fairway” to fully appreciate this full-length, CD elaboration of Brian’s original fantasy piece. Armed with the knowledge of Brian’s original song, you become fully aware of the scope and magnitude of Alex’s PIED PIPER project! Loosely based on Brian’s ‘fairytale’, Alex has added the music of the Beach Boys (everything from “In My Room” through PET SOUNDS & SMILE through “Little Bird” & “Never Learn Not To Love” through sections of Brian Wilson’s first 1988 solo album), snippets from the original “Mount Vernon”, various sound bites of the Beach Boys. Carl and Dennis are now in the story as the ‘brothers’. My favorite edit is the combination of “The Lords Prayer” (from the Beach Boys Christmas album) with “Prayer” from SMiLE – it works fantastically!
Here is Alex’s quick synopsis of the storyline:
In the storyline: drugs, Carl, Mike and mother all kill a part of the “Piper”. Dennis is the lone hero, the hero of redemption. But he is also the tragic hero as he tries to right the wrongs of the past (unsuccessfully) and slides into a self-destructive whirlpool. The ‘prince’ (Brian) prays for his father to die and that prayer is answered and the ‘Piper’ is gone forever. Then comes a fairytale slant as he loses the ‘Piper’, but also loses his father. The ‘Piper’ can’t exist in a mind that wished something so dark as the demise of a father. Alas, he is no longer able to write. He got his wish, but had to make a supreme sacrifice.Alex has taken familiar tunes of the Beach Boys and interjected them into the story. Using clever edits, Alex has transformed “Mount Vernon…” from a lackluster ‘throwaway’ that just filled up an EP to a full-length CD, telling a story that makes much more sense. The story is pretty open to interpretation, as each listener is encouraged to read his own meanings into this recording. Or as Alex says, “As long as people enjoy the music I don’t think it really matters what I intended. “Decipher it any which way you like and you will still be correct.”
All in all, this is a very cool project that lives up to its very ambitious goals!
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E-mail Alex at email@example.com
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