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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 5:33 am 
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1. Little Saint Nick
2. Man With All the Toys
3. Santa's Beard
4. Merry Christmas, Baby
5. Christmas Day
6. Frosty the Snowman
7. We Three Kings of Orient Are
8. Blue Christmas
9. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
10. White Christmas
11. I'll Be Home for Christmas
12. Auld Lang Syne
13. Little Saint Nick [Single Version][*]
14. Lord's Prayer [*]
15. Little Saint Nick [Alternate Take][*]
16. Auld Lang Syne [Alternate Take][*]

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SAMPLES

The Tragical History of the
Beach Boys' Smile
by Michael J. West

IT WOULD BE exceedingly difficult to comprehend what might have happened had
Smile ever seen the light of day;
for better or for worse, however, Brian Wilson's great magnum opus was locked
away for ever, coarse, unfinished, disjointed, and uncomprehended, never to be
released. For all the hype it has received, both in anticipation of its release
and in bewilderment over its apparent nonexistence, Smile remains the most
talked about, most speculated upon, and altogether most notorious album that
rock fans everywhere have never heard.
What Smile has come to represent in the intelligentsia of rock music is the
unfulfilled zenith of the unsurpassed genius of lead Beach Boy Brian Wilson,
probably the greatest American musical mind in the history of rock & roll, maybe
of the century. The story is a classic one, explored by many, written quite
frequently; the musical work is a mysterious one, bootlegged often, analyzed
incessantly.
And yet, what is Smile, really? What would it have been, and what do the
fragmentary remains of it reveal today? An unfinished meisterwerk whose scope
and innovation can only just barely be imagined? A recorded mass of aural
incomprehensibility? The last gasp of a creative mastermind whose genius and
ambition finally pushed too hard?
The answer is, "Yes." Smile was all of these things, and, in a distorted sense,
something completely undefinable. The history behind Smile is quite revelatory
in its own right, but is, naturally, a an intriguing, perpetual enigma.

By 1966, Brian Wilson had been almost universally hailed as a genius, both by
critics and fellow musicians;
his latest brainchild, the awesome and monumental Beach Boys album Pet
Sounds, had been immediately declared one of the greatest rock albums ever made.
The English listeners, in particular, were so impressed by the work that in New
Music Express magazine's poll for the favorite artists of 1966, the Beach Boys
unseated The Beatles for the first time since 1963. Pet Sounds was even cited
by Paul McCartney as his all-time favorite album, and the inspiration for Sgt.
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band the following year. After this, Brian and the
Beach Boys did the impossible: they outdid the album. "Good Vibrations,"
written with fellow band member Mike Love, topped the charts on both sides of
the Atlantic. The track, recorded over three months and at the
then-unprecedented sum of $1 million, was a step up from even the phenomenally
sophisticated Pet Sounds, and has since been lauded as the greatest single ever
recorded. Yet even by its release, Brian was in the planning stages
of--incredibly--an even greater accomplishment for the band.

After having sent the Beach Boys (with Bruce Johnston standing in for Brian) on
tour in Japan, Brian began the rough work on a new album titled Dumb Angel,
which, as he announced to the press that summer, soon became Smile. "It will be
as great an improvement over Pet Sounds, as Pet Sounds was over [the previous
album]," Brian promised, and with that, the project became one of the most hotly
anticipated of the year.
The Beach Boys had maintained a friendly rivalry with the Beatles over the past
several years: Brian had created Pet Sounds with the express intention of
outdoing the Beatles' Rubber Soul LP, and the Fab Four had, in turn, used the
aural innovations Pet Sounds as the basis for Revolver, and would do so again
with Sgt. Pepper. But Brian had by this time resolved to end the competition,
creating an album of such scope and invention that The Beatles could not hope to
compete. This was Smile.
Brian's first step was to recruit Van Dyke Parks, an obscure poet with a
surrealist bent, to compose lyrics to complement his own sonic ideas. What
happened then was months and months worth of intense and meticulous labor, with
Brian breaking his back in the compositions of brilliant song after brilliant
song. And, if writing and arranging the tracks was hard enough, recording demos
of them was mind-numbing. Yet Brian pressed on, and, after hammering out a
virtual library of tracks, had assembled the following tentative track listing,
as put forth in Domenic Priore's book Look, Listen, Vibrate, Smile, with my own
(bracketed) explanations:
SIDE ONE
Our Prayer [a capella "intro"]
Heroes and Villains
Barnyard
Do You Like Worms
Bicycle Rider [Segue]
Old Master Painter/You Are My Sunshine
She's Goin' Bald
Wonderful
Child is the Father to the Man
Cabinessence
SIDE TWO
Good Vibrations
Vega-Tables
Wind Chimes
The Elements Suite:
Look ["Earth" section]
Tones ["Air" section]
Mrs. O'Leary's Cow ["Fire" section]
I Love to Say Dada ["Water" section]
I'm in Great Shape
Surf's Up
You're Welcome
Having come thus far, Smile was immediately plagued by a long and unlikely chain
of events whose very nature shows that the entire project was doomed from its
very conception.
Brian was at this point rapidly decelerating into heavy drug abuse, as were many
of his peers; his experiences with hashish and psychedelics, combined with his
natural eccentricities, made his conception of the album quite damp with
weirdness. Brian felt, apparently, that none of his charges in the Smile
sessions would understand the album unless they "experienced" it, body and soul;
the musicians and production crew were required daily to sit barefoot in a
sandbox, swim in a pool, work out strenuously, and, in the case of the "Fire"
section, to hustle about on foot and in mechanical cars while wearing fire hats.
While there certainly seems no harm in this sort of giant playroom construct,
those involved in the project began to find it asinine and trivial. Moreover,
they were also being told how to do their jobs. Brian was--and is--well-known
for having complete grasp over each individual sound that he wanted included in
a song's mix, and found that they were beyond verbiage in the Smile project. He
felt forced to push the session musicians to the limit, sometimes even
physically showing the musicians what to do, which is, genius or not, the most
potent faux pas in the artistic professions. Indeed, the bootlegs from the
sessions are rife with the sounds of Brian's interruptions, saying, "I'm sorry,
but you're hitting the tambourine just a little too hard," or cutting a vocal
rehearsal to say, "Deeper breaths before you start." Songs could take a
multitude of weeks and sessions to finish, and even then were not necessarily
satisfactory to Brian. He was recording in a modular fashion, and the sessions
consisted of uncounted versions of many songs (most notably "Heroes and
Villains"), and snippets built around recurring themes, and bizarre fragments.
Perhaps the quintessential Smile track, "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" is not only a
potent example of these fragmentary ideas, but a problem all by itself.
Intended as the "Fire" section of the album's Elements Suite, "Mrs. O'Leary's
Cow" was a sound collage of strange atmospheric music built in several layers,
strings imitating the sounds of fire sirens, and the unmistakable sound of
flames crackling in great abundance. This last is a significant testimony to
Brian's unswerving brilliance; an associate from the period, David Anderle,
insists that the song uses no sound effects, only "manipulated strings and a lot
of incredible soundboard maneuvering." The song was also, according to Anderle,
frightening to behold, and as such rather ill-received by the band and the
session musicians. In his fury, Brian retaliated by destroying the finished
master tape; glimpses of the sound of the record can be heard on bootlegs.
The fate of "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" also serves to pinpoint one of the chief
factors working against Smile: Brian's dangerous obsession with the project.
His conception of the album was the pinnacle of all music up to that point, and
the apex of his own creative ambition. Such was his determination to put forth
his greatest ideas--especially after the somewhat lukewarm reception of Pet
Sounds from the record-buying public in the US--that he seemed willing to let
nothing and no one stand in its way. This, of course, could only lead to
trouble.
The first serious struggle for absolute power over the album came from Warner
Brothers, the Beach Boys' record company. Having viewed the intended track list
for Smile, they were bewildered to discover that it did not include "Good
Vibrations." Brian had never intended the song for Smile, but only as a point
of transition between Pet Sounds and the new album. Indeed, in the context of
the bootlegged versions of the songs, "Good Vibrations" seems to fit only very
peripherally. Warner Brothers, however, demanded the use of a guaranteed hit
single on the record, and Brian reluctantly agreed to put the already
phenomenally successful "Good Vibrations" on the album--although not without
reworking it first.
The other--and most important--struggle came from the other members of the band,
who, returning from their tour to find Brian waiting for them with yet another
complete departure in sound, were skeptical. They managed to keep their doubts
to themselves for much of the sessions, until early 1967, probably when they
felt Brian was becoming too obsessive and demanding, and certainly when they saw
how his intense drug use and even more intense work on the album were breaking
him.

It was Mike Love (above), the lead guitarist and principle lyricist for the
band, who lodged the most prominent complaints: the album was too uncommercial.
They were so successful with Pet Sounds, why should they change the formula
again? And, the lyrics are too heavy. When the other Beach Boys seemed to
agree with Mike, lyricist Van Dyke Parks abandoned the project, instead
surfacing on his debut album Song Cycle a year later.
Without Parks' assistance, Brian seemed at a loss to work on the album, with
songs still unfinished and with no lyricist to contribute to them. It seems
that Brian was so thoroughly discouraged, and so intent on keeping the group
happy in spite of his total obsession, that his work on the album dropped
steeply, from all-day surges of writing and recording to almost nil. It would
be The Beatles who would prove the final nail in the album's coffin; as the
summer of 1967 blossomed, they took the pop world by storm with Sgt. Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Club Band. Brian, who had met with John Lennon and Paul McCartney
during the initial Smile sessions, felt that he could never hope to surpass this
masterpiece, and abandoned the project entirely. What followed was Brian's
nervous breakdown, and, subsequently, a 15-year stretch of serious psychological
problems, whose causes were various and sundry, but which stemmed quite strongly
from the demise of Smile.
As Brian became less and less involved with the group and more and more
unstable, the Beach Boys found that they needed competent filler for their
subsequent releases. Many tracks were included on Smiley Smile, the hurried and
disappointing replacement of Smile; two of these tracks, "Heroes and Villains"
and "You're Welcome," were released as A- and B-sides of the same single in
October of 1967. As the years progressed and the glossed-over albums kept
churning forth, so did various detached Smile songs; "Cabinessence," "She's Goin
Bald," "Vegetables," and "Wind Chimes" would make appearances on albums in the
late 60s. In 1971, an album was patterned around the best completed Smile
track, the dark and haunting "Surf's Up." All of these songs, however, present
a fragmental and jumbled picture when strung together. While the bootlegged
tracks do display a sort of thrilling artistic unity, they are so incomplete and
disjointed that it is impossible to tell from them what a finished Smile might
have sounded like.

While Brian made a well-documented recovery of his mental health in the mid-80s,
his artistic prowess has only begun to return. Smile, the album he perceived to
be his great expression of high art, remains shrouded in mystery. Its final
sound is only barely alluded to by shards of fragmentary, jumbled, and
incoherent, yet nonetheless beautiful and brilliant, pirated music. Smile was
denied the place in musical evolution that it may have merited, instead being
relegated to a backroom status of rumor, gossip, and speculation. Rather, those
of us who delight in the great innovations in pop music are left to fantasize
about the potential effect of a never-completed, ingenious work of rock music
whose only enduring legacy is more myth than music.
Yet what of Smile?

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