Monday, December 24, 2018

The Beach Boys - SMiLE (upgrade)

The Beach Boys – SMiLE

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

December 2018 UPGRADE

Disc 1 – SMiLE ’67 Reconstruction
Side A:
1.  Our Prayer - Heroes and Villains
2.  Vege-Tables
3.  Do You Like Worms?
4.  Child is Father of The Man
5.  The Old Master Painter
6.  Cabin Essence
Side B:
7.  Good Vibrations
8.  Wonderful
9.  I’m In Great Shape
10.  Wind Chimes
11. The Elements
12.  Surf’s Up


Disc 2 – The Beach Boys Present SMiLE + Vintage Brian Wilson Mixes
1.  Our Prayer - Gee
2.  Heroes and Villains
3.  Do You Like Worms?
4.  Barnyard
5.  The Old Master Painter
6.  Cabin Essence
7.  Wonderful
8.  Look
9.  Child is Father of The Man
10.  Surf’s Up
11.  I’m In Great Shape
12.  Vege-Tables
13.  Holidays
14.  Wind Chimes
15.  Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow
16.  I Love To Say Dada
17.  Good Vibrations
18.  Our Prayer (December 1966 Comp Reel)
19.  Wonderful (December 1966 Comp Reel)
20.  Cabin Essence (December 1966 Comp Reel)
21.  Child is Father of The Man (December 1966 Comp Reel)
22.  Do You Like Worms? (December 1966 Comp Reel)
23.  Vege-Tables (1967 Track Assembly)

Disc 3 – Behind The SMiLE
1.  Good Vibrations (March 1966 Reconstruction)
2.  Good Vibrations (May 1966 Reconstruction)
3.  Good Vibrations (June 1966 Reconstruction)
4.  Wind Chimes (Early Version Reconstruction)
5.  Wind Chimes (Backing Track Reconstruction)
6.  Wonderful (Chronological Reconstruction)
7.  Cabin Essence (Backing Track Reconstruction)
8.  Child is Father of The Man (Early Version Reconstruction)
9.  Child is Father of The Man (Stereo Backing Track Reconstruction)
10.  Do You Like Worms? (Backing Track Reconstruction)
11.  Surf’s Up (1966 Mix Reconstruction)
12.  Heroes and Villains (November 1966 Reconstruction)
13.  Heroes and Villains (January 1967 Reconstruction)
14.  Heroes and Villains (February 1967 Reconstruction/'Part II")
15.  Heroes and Villains (March 1967 Reconstruction)
16.  I Love To Say Dada (Chronological Reconstruction)
17.  The Elements (Excerpts from Psychedelic Sounds)

Merry Christmas and happy Holidays!  This is an UPGRADE to my reconstruction of The Beach Boys SMiLE album.  For this special occasion, I offer a special three-disc set...  Disc 1 contains the standard, upgraded mono and stereo versions of my SMiLE ’67 Mix, which attempts to recreate what the SMiLE album would have sounded like in 1967.  Disc 2 contains an all-stereo, all-Beach Boys version of SMiLE, structured in three movements just as 2004’s Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE; as a bonus, it also contains several vintage Brian Wilson mixes—mostly a reconstruction and remaster of Brian Wilson’s December 1966 Comp Reel, his first attempt to compile a series of SMiLE era mixes.  Disc 3 contains an hour of custom-made bonus material and reconstructions meant to showcase the making of the album—Behind The SMiLE. 

The upgrades in this December 2018 edition of SMiLE ’67 are:
- Remade “Child is Father of The Man” which follows the structure of Brian Wilson’s vintage three-minute 1966 test edit (both mono and stereo).
- Remixed “Cabin Essence” (stereo).
- Remade “The Old Master Painter” using the correct take 11 as the core of the song (stereo).
- Remade “The Elements” to be a completely self-contained track, separate from “Wind Chimes”, “Vege-Tables”, etc (both mono and stereo).
- All tracks banded as twelve separate, uncrossfaded songs, as per Van Dyke Parks.
- SMiLE 2004 reconstruction is updated with aforementioned sources and included on Disc 2
- Creation and inclusion of Disc 3, Behind The SMiLE, as well as remastered Brian Wilson vintage mixes on Disc 2

* See included essay ‘Behind The SMiLE’ for specific song, recording and argument information.

Much has been written about the unreleased album SMiLE; even more so in recent history due to The SMiLE Sessions boxset.  The first disc of that set was purported to be an accurate reconstruction of what SMiLE would have been.  But is it so?  Most likely not: the tracklist is based upon the sequence found on Brian Wilson’s 2004 solo album Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE, in which the great artist finally “finished SMiLE”.  Well surely, that was how SMiLE was supposed to sound?  Again, most likely not: that sequence was devised by The Brian Wilson Band musical director Darian Sahanaja for the purpose of the previous year’s SMiLE Tour, as an interesting live performance that showcased all of the known and popular SMiLE tracks.  Furthermore, his vision of SMiLE seemed to be greatly influenced by sequences found on known bootlegs in the 1990s as well as fan fiction on their own SMiLE mixes.  As a matter of fact, Brian Wilson himself has admitted that what we think of as the “finished SMiLE” is not what it would have sounded like in 1967; Wilson himself didn’t even know what it would have sounded like, even in 1967!  By spring 1967, the album itself was abandoned and he focused on two songs for a single release (“Heroes and Villains” and “Vege-Tables”) and the structure of those two songs changed from day to day!   

How could we possibly assemble something that Brian Wilson himself couldn’t?  Fans and SMiLE aficionados have been spending the last 40 years making their own SMiLE mixes, so it’s not an unreachable dream.  After over fifteen years of research, I believe I have found a method to make an extremely educated guess to what the album contained and how it was structured.  First and foremost, I offer that SMiLE would have been a singular, two-sided album of twelve banded pop-songs, just as Pet Sounds was; not three conceptual suites or movements; it would not have been a three-movement suite as it exists today.  As much as we won’t want to imagine it, SMiLE is just an album.  Anything more might be succumbing to mythos. 

But of all the many pieces recorded for SMiLE, what would be included?  Our first clue is found in a handwritten tracklist addressed to Capitol Records, which was used to manufacture LP mock-up artwork for the album.  The tracks included, in this order: “Do You Like Worms?”, “Wind Chimes”, “Heroes and Villains”, “Surf’s Up”, “Good Vibrations”, “Cabin Essence”, “Wonderful”, “I’m In Great Shape”, “Child Is Father Of The Man”, “The Elements”, “Vege-Tables” and “The Old Master Painter”.  Any listener who can make a playlist will know this is a terrible track sequence for an album; there is no flow or cohesion and the two sides do not time-out correctly!  My theory is that this was not the specific intended track order of the album, but instead a shortlist of the songs that would be on the final album; note that the more completed songs are listed first and the most ‘under construction’ songs listed last.  Thus certain SMiLE staples not included on the list such as “Look”, “He Gives Speeches” or “Holidays” would be excluded from the final running order of an authentic 1967 SMiLE.  The one exception is “Our Prayer”, used as an (uncredited) opening track outside of the twelve, which was Brian Wilson’s intention at the time. 

The next step is to “finish” each of the twelve songs as close to how Brian Wilson envisioned the songs in 1966-1967.  Some already exist as finished mixes (“Wonderful”, the ‘Cantina Version’ of “Heroes and Villains”), while we have vintage test edits for others to base a reconstruction off of (“Do You Like Worms?”, “Wind Chimes”, “Child is Father of The Man”).  We will have to make educated guesses for the remainders based on primary sources and session information (“I’m In Great Shape”, “The Elements”).  Also note, no anachronistic digital “fly-ins” were used to complete songs; in my view, leaving some songs unfinished seemed more authentic than using sound elements recorded in 2004.  Finally, we will organize these twelve songs into two sides of an LP, unbanded (unconnected or unsegued) with each side beginning with a ‘hit’ and each side closing with an ‘epic’.

Side A of my SMiLE ’67 begins with “Our Prayer”, just as instructed by Brian Wilson on session tapes.  My mono mix uses the version from The SMiLE Sessions and stereo from Made in California.  It segues directly into the ‘hit’ of side A, “Heroes and Villains”.  Here we use what is called ‘The Cantina Version’, the mix of the song prepared by Brian on February 10th, 1967—what I believe is the version of the song truly intended for SMiLE; both mono and stereo versions taken from The SMiLE Sessions.  Next is also what follows on the Smiley Smile album: “Vege-Tables”.  My construction removes the third verse as I thought it was lyrically redundant and disrupted the gradual ‘winding-down’ flow of the song.  The mono mix is edited from The Smile Sessions and stereo mix edited from Made in California.  My own unique construction of “Do You Like Worms?” follows, based on Brian Wilson’s test mixes from December 1966.  Note that in my stereo mix—created from syncing the isolated vocals to the assembled backing tracks—the tack piano of the ‘Bicycle Rider’ theme pre-chorus travels stereophonically from right to left, reminiscent of the pilgrims and pioneers moving across America during the Western Expansion—who The Bicycle Rider presents!   All sources edited from The SMiLE Sessions. 

Next is a reconstruction of “Child is Father of The Man” based on the structure of Brian Wilson’s three-minute 1966 test edit, which featured a standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure.  All sources edited from The SMiLE Sessions.  Following is “The Old Master Painter”.  Although the song was known to conclude with the ‘Barnshine’ Fade from “Heroes and Villains”, here we utilize the rerecorded bird whistle Fade from March 1967 since the original Fade is already in use on “Heroes and Villains”.  Mono mix is edited from The SMiLE Sessions, stereo mix is a splice between that and the stereo master take from Unsurpassed Masters Vol 16.  Side B concludes with the epic song that cannot be topped: “Cabin Essence”.  While the mono mix is taken from The SMiLE Sessions, my stereo mix features the isolated lead vocals from 20/20 and backing vocals from The SMiLE Sessions, synced up to the stereo backing tracks from The SMiLE Sessions.  The result is a fuller stereophonic mix with the instruments panned left and right and vocals centered, rather than vice versa as per the common 20/20 version. 

Side B opens with the ‘hit’ of this half of the album, as it did on Smiley Smile: “Good Vibrations”, both mono and stereo mixes from the 2012 remaster of Smiley Smile.  Next is “Wonderful”, mono mix sourced from The Smile Sessions.  The stereo mix features the master from the 1993 Good Vibrations box set synced up with the isolated backing vocals from The Smile Sessions.  “I’m In Great Shape” is one of the many unsolved mysteries of SMiLE, and probably always will be.  Here we presume it to be the four-part ‘Barnyard Suite’ Brian alluded to in the 1970s, using “I’m In Great Shape” and “Barnyard” as its base; it is completed with “I Wanna Be Around” and “Friday Night”, both labeled as ‘Great Shape’ on their tape box and who also feature a slightly farm-like theme. 

Next is “Wind Chimes”, edited from the mono on The Smile Sessions and stereo edited from Made In California, but restructured to match Brian Wilson’s 1966 test edits.  Following is “The Elements”, a hotly-debated subject of SMiLE Lore.  Here we will create a self-contained piece that covers all four Elements without overlapping with previous songs (“Wind Chimes”, “Vege-Tables”, etc).  Fire is represented by the ‘Firetruck’ Intro to “Heroes and Villains”, crossfaded into “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” and concluding with the fire sound effects from the session; Earth is represented by the percussive “I Love to Say Dada – part 1” that brings peddles and rolling rocks to mind and concludes with vegetable chants from Psychedelic Sounds; Air is represented by “Second Day”, with its flute conjuring up images of the breeze and concluding with wheezing chants from Psychedelic Sounds; Water is represented by “I Love To Say Dada – Part 2”, it’s treated piano reminiscent of running water and concluding with underwater chanting from Psychedelic Sounds.  Finally, SMiLE concludes with the song Vosse stated was to end the album: “Surf’s Up”, mono and stereo taken from The SMiLE Sessions. 

If you find this reconstruct a bit hard to swallow, I don’t blame you; fifty years of SMiLE mythology has very much overshadowed the facts; hype has become reality.  So on Disc 2, I have also included an updated version of my all-stereo reconstruction of SMiLE based on 2004’s Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE.  If you feel that was how SMiLE should be, well, here it is!  Following are a set of bonus tracks, my own remaster of Brian’s original December 1966 Comp Reel, his first assemblage of SMiLE era mixes. Also included is my remaster of Brian’s test edit of “Vege-Tables”; not originally a part of the reel but is included for historical relevancy. 

But the real fun can be found on Disc 3, Behind The SMiLE.  Meant as a ‘making-of’ audio documentary, it is an assemblage of stereo backing tracks, alternate versions and possible variations.   Included are what I call ‘chronological reconstructions’, in which the many modulations of a specific song are organized in the order of when they were recorded.  In effect the listener can understand Brian Wilson’s ideas for a given song in real time.  Behind The SMiLE is also meant to be listened along with the included Behind The SMiLE essay, which includes recording notes for each song.   

Sources used:
1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow (2017 CD)
Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys (1993 CD box set)
Good Vibrations (2006 40th Anniversary CD EP)
Made in California (2013 CD box set)
Smiley Smile (2012 CD remaster)
The SMiLE Sessions (2011 CD box set)
The SMiLE Sessions (2011 LP, son-of-albion vinyl rip)
Unsurpassed Masters Vol 16 (1999 CD)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro & Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Turtles - Shell Shock (upgrade)

The Turtles – Shell Shock
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)
September 2018 Upgrade

Side A:
1.  Goodbye Surprise
2.  Like It or Not
3.  There You Sit Lonely
4.  We Ain’t Gonna Party No More
5.  Lady-O

Side B: 
6.  Gas Money
7.  Can I Go On
8.  You Want To Be A Woman
9.  If We Only Had The Time
10.  Who Would Ever Think That I Would Mary Margaret?
11.  Teardrops

This is a reconstruction of what was intended to be The Turtles final album Shell Shock.  Produced by Jerry Yester for a 1970 release, the band envisioned Shell Shock as their masterpiece and career coda but it remained unfinished due to extreme meddling from their record label.  White Whale Records went back on their word to fund the album and entrapped frontmen Flo and Eddie to bend to their corporate wishes.  After dissolving the band, White Whale trickled out the Shell Shock material, in various forms of completeness, on various compilation releases until the label themselves dissolved as well.  This reconstruction attempts to cull all the material originally recorded and meant to be a part of the Shell Shock project into a finished, cohesive album, utilizing the best possible masters of each track.

Upgrades to this September 2018 edition are: 
  • Upgraded sources from  All The Singles and the  Turtle Soup remaster

An extreme example of the commercial world destroying the artistic: quite simply, The Turtles are martyrs.  Locked into a record contract so rigid that frontmen Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman were not even allowed to use their actual names after the break-up of The Turtles, much of their career in the 60s were spent fighting the industry that restrained them.  Miraculously, many of their successes were an embodiment of this—most notably their hit song “Elenore”, a sarcastic response to their label’s request to write an assembly-line pop hit in the fashion of their signature hit “Happy Together”.  That friction climaxed in 1970 as the band began winding down after years of biting the hands that barely fed them as well as the commercial let-down of their previous album, the Ray Davies-produced Turtle Soup.

In an attempt for a final bravado, the quintet assembled at Sunset Sound studios in January 1970 and began recording their usual mix of originals and outside-written tracks.  Produced by Jerry Yester, the band again sought to record another intelligent and musically diverse album as Turtle Soup, this time a bit more commercial.  At least seven songs are known to have been recorded during these Yester sessions including: original compositions “Can I Go On”, “If We Only Had The Time”, “There You Sit Lonely”, “We Ain’t Gonna Party No More”; guitarist Al Nichol’s “You Want To Be A Woman”; and the Bonner/Gordon leftovers “Goodbye Surprise” & “Like It Or Not”.   The Turtles also recorded a pair of ridiculous songs as: an authentic cover of Jan & Arnie’s “Gas Money” and a cover of the band's live staple, Lee Andrews & The Hearts’ “Teardrops”.  It was released as a very rare, promo-only single in February 1970, credited to The Dedications. 

But midway through the Yester sessions, White Whale desired The Turtles to have a hit single after being dismayed by the lackluster sales of Turtle Soup.  They suggested that Kaylan and Volman fly to Memphis and record vocal overdubs on a pre-recorded backing track for the ridiculously corny song “Who Would Ever Thought That I Would Marry Margaret?”, penned by professional songwriters Ralph Dino and John Sembello.  Kaylan and Volman refused, claiming this transgression would reduce their rock band into transparent pop idols.  In retaliation for their refusal to turn their band into a pair of fake pop singers, White Whale chained the doors to their studio at Sunset Sound and even posted guards outside the door, not allowing The Turtles to even retrieve their own gear, let alone finish the album!

In a desperate attempt to save the Shell Shock recordings and the hope to somehow finish the album, Kaylan and Volman agreed to record “Margaret”, although they refused to add anything other than their necessary lead and backing vocals.  This ‘unfinished’ mix was released to dismal critical and commercial attention—just as the pair had predicted—and the single was a flop.  Despite Kaylan and Volman’s participation, White Whale still refused to let The Turtles finish Shell Shock and both parties sued each other: White Whale sued The Turtles for a breach of contract and The Turtles sued White Whale for a missing $2,500,000 that was owed to them. The band soon called it quits amidst litigation.  In one final plea to salvage the band’s reputation, White Whale allowed Kaylan, Volman and Nichol to record vocals for a final Turtles single, the beautiful “Lady-O”.  Written and performed acoustically by Judee Sill, it was a gentle goodbye to the band.   

Shell Shock remained in the vaults and as Kaylan and Volman regrouped as Flo and Eddie and were absorbed into Frank Zappa’s reformed Mothers of Invention, White Whale continued to exploit The Turtles name, the label’s only charting act.  After re-releasing some of their mid-60s singles, White Whale released the more completed Shell Shock material on the compilation More Golden Hits in 1970.  After the the collapse of the reformed Mothers of Invention, Flo & Eddie recorded their first solo album The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie in 1972, which contained new recordings of "Goodbye Surprise" and "There You Sit Lonely", as well as other tracks that would have been originally meant for Shell Shock, had they been recorded.  Eventually, time would prove our protagonists as victors, as White Whale went bankrupt and their assets auctioned off in 1974.  Who was it that bought The Turtles back-catalog?  Two gentlemen by the name of Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan!

As “Happy Together” proved to be a timeless classic, the legacy of The Turtles seemed profitable enough for re-releases, this time controlled by the actual founders of The Turtles.  Notable from this first reissue campaign on Rhino Records was an official reconstruction of Shell Shock released in 1987, attempting to match what the band might have released in 1970 had the album been finished!  Unfortunately, Flo and Eddie’s own official Shell Shock reconstruction is long out-of-print and is not even mentioned in the band’s own online discography.  Luckily for us, all of the songs trickled out as bonus tracks on The Turtles reissues on the Repertoire and Sundazed labels in the 90s.  The most recently, all the material, remastered from the original mastertapes, appeared on the anthology All The Singles and as bonus tracks on Turtle Soup.  Even though the band’s own take on Shell Shock is long forgotten, we have no trouble replicating it… or rather, making our own take on it, an album that never was!

My reconstruction of Shell Shock begins similarly to The Turtles' own out-of-print reconstruction from 1987, with the bombastic rocker “Goodbye Surprise”, taken from the Turtle Soup remaster.  Following is “Like it Or Not” and “There You Sit Lonely”, also taken from the Turtle Soup remaster.  The twin-singles “We Ain’t Gonna Party No More” and “Lady-O” conclude Side A, both in their original stereo single mixes, taken from All The Singles.  Unlike the band’s official reconstruction, I am excluding “Cat In The Window”, it being an outtake from 1967 and not from the 1970 Yester and related singles sessions.   

Side B deviates a bit from the band’s own reconstruction, as my version opens with the ruckus of “Gas Money”, taken from All The Singles.  Following is “Can I Go On”, taken from the Turtle Soup remaster.  Another deviation from the official Shell Shock is my exclusion of “Dance This Dance”, another track misappropriated to Shell Shock by Rhino, it being from the Turtle Soup demo sessions a year prior.  Instead is “You Want To Be a Woman” and “If We Only Had The Time”, both from the Turtle Soup remaster.  While many feel that the atrocious “Who Would Ever Think That I Would Marry Margaret?” was never truly intended to be on the album, I propose it probably would have been White Whale's condition for the album's release and it is included here as a historical curiosity at the very least, in it’s true stereo mix from All The Singles.  My reconstruction ends with “Teardrops”, also taken from All The Singles.   

Sources used:
All The Singles (Manifesto, 2016)
Turtle Soup (Manifesto, 2016 remaster)

flac --> wav --> editing in Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included