AUGUST 2005 ISSUE

"SMiLE...As It could have been"
Review by Ronnie


Back when the 2004 version of SMiLE was debuted, it was only a matter if time until SMiLE fans started doing their own SMiLE mixes using the original tracks to follow the 2004 SMiLE. In August of 2004, we reviewed a batch of these SMiLE mixes

For those SMiLE fanatics out there you can add a new mix to your list - "SMiLE...As It could have been". Created by Michelle Schacht. (who has the Vigotone tribute site), the disc has a total of 31 tracks, it combines a "what if" SMiLE mix as well as a healthy batch of "rarities".

The disc comes in a professional looking cardboard cover slip (of vinyl album stock) that recreates the original Frank Holmes artwork for the album. There is also a full color, CD size recreation of the famous booklet that was to go with the original album. Also included is a booklet with all the track information. Finally, the disc itself has a Capitol records imprint.

Michelle Schacht explained:

"I just took all of the SMiLE CDs I had and edited them together to make a Beach Boys' version of SMiLE that sounded like Brian's 2004 SMiLE release. Anyone can do it with a decent sound editor and lots of free time!

Some of the tracks sound very good, but "sonic scars" are evident on others (like Good Vibrations, for example). My favorite part is "Surf's Up" as I was able to (pretty much) seamlessly mesh Brian's 1966 vocal / piano "demo" with the "Track Only" version (both in the 1993 GV box). There is a mono version (coupled with the 1971 "Child Is Father Of The Man" coda) ala Brian's 2004 SMiLE, but I also included a stereo version (minus the 1971 material) as a bonus track.

Also, you should know that I'm not associated with the guys who made Vigotone CDs. As my hotmail name says, I'm just a fan of the label. The SMiLE re-creation was something I did for myself, but the few people I gave it to encouraged me to make it available through my Vigotone tribute site.

For information purposes, I'm including the entire text of the booklet, along with a few clarifications by Michelle Schacht on sources. That way, veteran SMiLE-philes can decide themselves if they want to get this disc.

Here are the notes from the booklet:

SMiLE... As it could have been....

Imagine what would have been available in early 1967 had Brian Wilson been able to finish SMiLE as planned...

Capitol Records would have released an LP of beautiful Brian Wilson/Beach Boys tunes, packaged in a striking sleeve with artwork by Frank Holmes. A full-color 12-page booklet with pictures of the band and more Frank Holmes' artwork would have been included as a bonus item.

This collection is an attempt to replicate what Brian Wilson & Capitol Records should have released all those years ago...

The original sleeve has been reproduced in miniature, complete with the catalog number Capitol would have given SMiLE had it been released. (The mono sleeve was chosen as mono is what Brian would have mixed the album in.)

The original SMiLE booklet was recreated by using the best available color images (but, since the source material wasn't that great to begin with, expect that the original booklet would have looked a bit better..!).

The CD itself has two parts (& two purposes):

The first part is a re-edit of various tapes to make a Beach Boys' version of SMiLE that sounds similar to Brian's 2004 release Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE. This section was created to show just how close Brian was to finishing his masterpiece back in 1967. (The goal was to assemble the tapes as seamlessly as possible, but a few sonic "scars" will be evident. This was unavoidable due to the varying quality of the source material.)

The primary ground rule was to use music recorded during 1966-1967 recording sessions. But, a few exceptions were made to make this version sound as close as possible to what Brian released in 2004:

1. A few snippets of music from Brian's 2004 SMiLE (all in mono) were used to help with the "flow" of the album. Four small "transitionals" were used to link tracks. ("Heroes And Villains" to "Do You Like Worms", "Do You Like Worms" to "Barnyard", "Look" to "Child Is Father Of The Man", and "Child Is Father Of The Man" to "Surf's Up".) These transitionals were used as no music was recorded in the 60's that sounded similar. Also, the non-vocal portion of "I'm In Great Shape" was married to Brian's 1966 demo of the lyrics as no instrumental version of this track seems to have been recorded during the SMiLE sessions (at least nothing sounding similar to what Brian released in 2004 was recorded). (The total amount of 2004 SMiLE material used here is less than one minute.) 2. "Surf's Up" contains the "Child Is Father Of The Man" coda from the 1971 Surf's Up album.

And, since Brian never got around to recording vocals for "Do You Like Worms", Look", "Child Is Father Of The Man", and "I Love To Say Da Da" back in the day, they are presented here as instrumentals.

More details as to how the songs were edited together are listed below:

1. Our Prayer / Gee
Both are from the 1993 Good Vibrations box. "Gee" is contained in the "Heroes and Villains (sections)" track. Unlike BW's SMiLE, "Gee" hasn't been processed.

2. Heroes And Villains
The "alternate" version from the 1993 box was mixed with pieces from the released 1967 single version. The "H&V sections" track was also used for a few small bits. The "woo woo woo" portion at the end of the cantina section is from the original unedited cantina tape. The "sunny down snuff" portion is from the Vigotone "H&V Part 2" (the 45 version also contains this section, but the Vigotone version doesn't have an extended fade ala the single version (so it's closer to the B.W. SMiLE version). The transitional/segue from this track to the next was borrowed from Brian Wilson's SMiLE.

3. Do You Like Worms (aka "Roll Plymouth Rock" on Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE)
This is primarily the version contained in the 1993 G.V. box, but it has been edited to better resemble "Roll Plymouth Rock" on B.W.'s SMiLE. The "woo woo woo" ending is from the original H&V cantina tape. The short percussion transitional/segue into the next track was taken from B.W.'s SMiLE.

4. Barnyard
The basic track can be found on most SMiLE boots (including Vigotone's 1993 release). The vocal is from a 1966 demo Brian did (contained in the track "Heroes And Villains - demo", found in 1998's Endless Harmony collection). A portion of the instrumental section was removed to incorporate Brian's second verse (as per the version on his SMiLE release). (The unedited instrumental version can be found in the second section of this disc.)

5. Old Master Painter / You Are My Sunshine
Directly from the 1993 Vigotone release.

6. Cabin Essence
A mono mix of the the 1993 Good Vibrations box version.

7. Wonderful
From the 1993 G.V. box.

8. Look (aka "Song For Children" on Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE)
An edited version of this song (to better simulate B.W.'s 2004 version). While Vigotone's 1993 SMiLE collection contains this song, a better source was used here. (The unedited version can be found as a bonus track on this disc.) The very short transtional/segue from B.W.'s SMiLE was used here to get us to the next track.

9. Child Is Father Of The Man
Primarily the version found in the Vigotone collection. But, as per the version on B.W.'s SMiLE, the parts have been rearranged. The closing orchestral transitional/segue is from B.W.'s SMiLE. (The original, un-rearranged version can be found as a bonus track on this disc.)

10. Surf's Up
The 1966 vocal version & the "track only" version (both from the 1993 G.V. box) were combined. A mono mix of the "Child Is Father Of The Man" coda (from 1971's Surf's Up LP) was added to the end. (A stereo version (minus the 1971 material) is included as a bonus track.)

11. I'm In Great Shape / I Wanna Be Around / Workshop
Since no 60's recording of the basic track of "I'm In Great Shape" is available on the collectors' circuit, B.W.'s SMiLE was used for this portion only. The vocals for this track are from the "H&V demo" track found on Endless Harmony. "I Wanna Be Around/Workshop" are from the 1993 Vigotone release ("The Woodshop Song").

12. Vega-Tables
The version found on the1993 G.V. box was used primarily, together with the closing of the Smiley Smile version. The opening /segue into the song was restored by using a piece from the instrumental master track.

13. Holidays (aka "On A Holiday" on Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE)
From the 1993 Vigotone release

14. Wind Chimes
From the 1993 G.V. box, with its opening/segue into the song restored by using a piece from the original instrumental master track.

15. Mrs. O'Leary's Cow (Fire)
The opening section is from the Vigotone set. The basic "Fire" track is from the Sea Of Tunes (SOT) SMiLE Sessions box (this is the version with the crackling fire sound effects).

16. Water / I Love To Say Dada (aka "In Blue Hawaii" on Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE)
Water (chanting) is from the SOT SMiLE CD. The balance (I Love To Say Da Da) is from the 1993 Good Vibrations box.

17. Good Vibrations
The original 45 version, together with the early version found on the Smiley Smile / Wild Honey Two-fer are the main sources here. The "Hum-Be-Dum" section is from the 1993 G.V. box ("Good Vibrations - Sessions").

The second part of the CD presents the bulk of tracks from the 1993 Vigotone SMiLE that were on the infamous 1988 Capitol memo, but were not included in the 1993 Good Vibrations box. This means that if you have the 1993 box and this CD, you'll have just about everything that's on the 1988 memo. So, the purpose of this section is to give the seasoned fan the ability to edit his or her own version of SMiLE together (but, you'll still need the Good Vibrations box, as this CD serves to augment that release, not replace it).

(These tracks are from the 1993 Vigotone release unless noted.)

18. You're Welcome - This starts at pretty much full volume & doesn't fade in like the released version.

19. Heroes And Villains Part 2 - The legendary "lost" version that was to be the original B-side to the H&V single. (This is track 1, disc 1, of the Vigotone Smile)

20. Barnyard - Original, unedited version.

21. Wonderful - Instrumental version.

22. Look - Original, unedited version in STEREO (From Red Odeon Smile- a better source than the mono version found on the Vigotone release).

23. Child Is Father Of The Man - Original un "re-"edited version. (Vigotone Smile)

24. Surf's Up - Infamous version from Leonard Bernstein's CBS TV special: INSIDE POP: THE ROCK REVOLUTION.

25. The Woodshop Song - STEREO recording of "I Wanna Be Around/Workshop". (From Red Odeon Smile - a better source than the mono version found on the Vigotone release).

26. She's Goin' Bald - This is the earlier, SMiLE-era "He Gives Speeches" version.

27. Holidays - Unedited version. (Vigotone Smile)

28. Mrs. O'Leary's Cow (Fire) - No crackling fire effects & in STEREO. (From Red Odeon Smile - a better source than the mono version found on the Vigotone release).

29. Good Vibrations - This is the version found on 1983's Rarities collection (as well as on the Vigotone set).

30. Surf's Up - This the 1966 vocal version, married to the instrumental version. In STEREO. Exclusive to this CD! (1993 GV box & my own editing)

31. SMiLE Promo - 1966 dealer promo with an upgraded music track. Exclusive to this CD! (Red Odeon Smile & single version of GV)

I am familiar with most of the versions used on this disc, but there were enough personal mixes to pique my interest, including "Heroes And Villains", "Surf's Up" and "Good Vibrations". The versions rival the Anne Wallace mixes of "Heroes And Villains" and "Surf's Up" (always my favorite mixes). Also, "Good Vibrations" is the best version I've heard which uses the 2004 template with original lyrics.

My major gripe with this mix is that is uses portions of the 2004 version of SMiLE to "fill in" the gaps. While they are professionally done, the insertion of "new" SMiLE segments takes away from the "purity" of the mix. (Although these 2004 SMiLE segments total less than a minute) But that's just my nitpicking.

While the majority of these tracks are well known to seasoned SMiLE-philes, this disc would be a great introduction for those newbies who don't want to track down all the various collections out there containing those '60s SMiLE tracks. Sort of a "one stop shopping place" for original SMiLE tracks. Plus, the packaging is phenomenal!