Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Beach Boys - SMiLE (Hitsville Mix)

The Beach Boys - SMiLE

(stereo “Hitsville Mix” by soniclovenoize)

Side A:

1.  Our Prayer

2.  Do You Like Worms

3.  Wind Chimes

4.  Heroes and Villains Part I

5.  Heroes and Villains Part II

6.  Surf’s Up

7.  Good Vibrations

Side B:

8.  Cabin Essence 

9.  Wonderful

10.  I’m In Great Shape

11. Child is Father of The Man

12.  The Elements

13.  Vege-Tables

14.  The Old Master Painter

Need something to be thankful about this Thanksgiving?  How about a new SMiLE?

I have gotten many requests for an update to my SMiLE mix lately… and while I don’t necessarily see any pressing need to upgrade my previous SMiLE reconstructions (as yes, I do stand by my ‘67 reconstruction!), I thought it would be a fun challenge to make a completely different SMiLE mix!  I call this the “Hitsville Mix” (named after a Brian Wilson ad lib while recording “Heroes and Villains”) and it is unassociated with my previous mixes.  It is a completely different mix and ideally, a different SMiLE listening experience, intending to be more unpredictable and bizarre, much like the actual Smiley Smile album.  Here, I am using ALL NEW stereo mixes I’ve made over the last few months, except “Good Vibrations”, which is the brand new 2022 official stereo extraction mix, which sounds the best it ever has! 

What is the theme/concept of the Hitsville Mix of SMiLE?  I gave myself a few guidelines:

1)  Unlike my previous “1967” mix, I am not beholden to strict “historical accuracy” or the theoretical artistic intent of Brian Wilson.  This is the mix that I wanted to make, rather than the mix I presumed Brian Wilson wanted to make.  

2)  ALL STEREO.  This requires, as aforementioned, new stereo mixes to be made for all songs, except “Our Prayer” and “Good Vibrations”, whose official stereo mixes are just fine. 

3)  As a challenge, I chose to limit myself to using the handwritten “Capitol Trackllist” as submitted to Capitol Records in January 1967 and subsequently printed on the reverse cover slicks.  The majority of SMiLErs discard this track sequence for various reasons and create their own track sequence–often based upon either Dominic Priore’s suggested tracklist in Look! Listen! Vibrate Smile! or Darian Sahanaja’s tracklist on Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE.  Here, we will try to make sense out of the long-derided track order.  

The end result of my Hitsville Mix is exactly how I hoped: it is a little more bonkers and less logical than my previous reconstructions, and keeps the vibe of Smiley Smile, albeit more hi-fi.  Songs are allowed to be fragments and don’t necessarily go anywhere; the listener is thrown curve-balls and the trajectory of the album is fairly unexpected; Side B is specifically bizarre but ends with a wow! 

Side A begins like any other mix–with “Our Prayer”, the stereo mix from Made in California as an unlisted introduction to the album.  This is hard edited into a new stereo mix of “Do You Like Worms”, which uses the tracking sessions from The Smile Sessions as a base, with isolated vocals from the Smile Vocal Montage, Unsurpassed Masters 17 and the (lousy) 2022 stereo mix from Sounds of Summer.  Following is “Wind Chimes”, here ignoring the stereo Made in California mix and instead presented as a similar structure as Brian’s 1966 test edit, using a pitch-corrected backing track taken from The Smile Sessions, with vocals taken from The Smile Vocal Montage and Unsurpassed Masters 16.  

The project’s flagship song “Heroes and Villains” follows, which is a completely stereo version of the classic “Cantina Mix”, including the Verse and Three-Score-Five sections!  But instead, after Whistling Bridge there is a cut to Bridge To Indians and Prelude To Fade to create an ending (since I am using the proper Fade to end the actual album).  Next is my attempt to create the theoretical “Part II” of “Heroes and Villains”, that would have been found on its 7” single (or combined to the legendary six-minute “Heroes and Villains”, if you are so inclined).  Using the Gee and Part 2 iterations as a base combined with excerpts from the Brian Wilson led psychedelic sounds, mock interviews and experimental raps, we are able to create a faux Vaudeville variety act!  What I am intending is that the listener can imagine The Beach Boys as a psychedelic barbershop quartet who are literally framing a series of comedy sketches, all onstage and concluding with a laughing audience!

One gripe SMiLErs have with the Capitol Tracklist is the placement of “Surf’s Up” in the middle of Side A; while strange, we will embrace it and own it, as a song about a maestro artist on-stage literally follows an on-stage performance!  Here is a brand new stereo mix I’ve created using the tracking sessions from The Smile Sessions as a base, combined with the isolated vocals from the Feel Flows boxset.  Here, I’ve chosen to use Carl’s lead vocal instead of Brian’s, which seemed more appropriate with the song’s placement on the album.  Following is the fantastic 2022 stereo extraction mix of “Good Vibrations” from Sounds of Summer

Side B begins with a new, improved stereo mix of “Cabin Essence”, using the backing tracks from The Smile Sessions, combined with the extracted vocal from 20/20 and The Smile Vocal Montage.  Next is a brand new stereo mix of “Wonderful”, with a more defined soundstage, sourced from the Good Vibrations box set and The Smile Vocal Montage.  Using the Insert as a segue, we can modulate up to “I’m In Great Shape”, which combines the backing track from The Smile Sessions and the vocal from the Humble Harve demo, hard edited onto a stereo “I Wanna Be Around”; this follows the BWPS structure, which was how I always envisioned the song being constructed.  

Next is a new stereo mix of “Child is Father of the Man”, using a structure that best fits this album’s track sequence, rather than any version that Brian Wilson specifically designed.  Next is an edit I am fairly proud of–a completely new version of “The Elements”, again made to fit this album sequence, rather than any historical accuracy.  It begins with the Earth section, represented by a brand new stereo mix of “Barnyard”; then it is overlapped with the Wind section, represented by the alternate Whispering Winds from Sunshine Tomorrow; Fire is next represented by “Mrs O’Leary’s Cow”, proper, without any Chimes or Heroes and Villains Intros which is otherwise common; concluding is the Water section, represented by the alternate Water Chant from Sunshine Tomorrow.  

The concept of this new mix of “Vege-Tables” is to make an all-stereo version of a specific edit of “Vege-Tables” I made 20 years ago, which mainly constituted Brian’s mono mixdowns from Unsurpassed Masters 17 and Mark Linett’s mix on the Good Vibrations boxset.  Thus, using the stereo mix from Made in California, tracking sessions from The Smile Sessions and vocals from The Smile Vocal Montage and Unsurpassed Masters 17, we are able to have both the extended reverb at the end of the first two verses, as well as the unique crossfade between the Do A Lot chorus and the Fade, now in true stereo!  The Hitsville Mix of SMiLE ends with a big send-off: “The Old Master Painter”, featuring a brand new (and more accurate!) stereo sync.  Note that the Barnshine Fade is used here to end the track as originally intended before it was gutted for the Cantina mix of “Heroes and Villains”, giving this SMiLE and joyous finale.  

Sources used:

Feel Flows (2021 CD box set)

Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys (1993 CD box set)

Made in California (2013 CD box set)

The SMiLE Sessions (2011 CD box set)

Sounds of Summer (2022 deluxe edition)

Sunshine Tomorrow (2017 CD)

Unsurpassed Masters Vol 16 (1999 bootleg CD)

Unsurpassed Masters Vol 17 (2000 bootleg CD)

Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Beatles - Between The Lines

The Beatles - Between The Lines

(a soniclovenoize reimagining)

Side A:
1.  Let ‘Em In
2.  Crackerbox Palace
3.  Silly Love Songs
4.  Cookin’ In The Kitchen of Love
5.  Warm and Beautiful

Side B:
6.  See Yourself
7.  San Ferry Anne
8.  Beautiful Girl/Dear One
9.  Beware My Love
10. Tennessee

Hey folks.  Sorry about my absence…  A mix of being busy at work, a break-up, depression, etc etc etc.  I’ll try to “get back up on the horse” and drop some soniclovenoize reconstructions and reimaginings, starting with one that I think will be fairly unexpected and possibly exciting
for some (and loathed by others!).  I know long ago I said I would never do this, but during the pandemic (I had assembled this in November 2020, actually) I buckled down and made some Albums That Never Were I never expected to!  And you know what?  I actually really liked this one!  

If you couldn’t figure it out by the tracklist, this is an album “re-imagining” that postulates “What if The Beatles never broke up?” and is a part of my previous series of similar albums, including Instant Karma!, Imagine Clouds Dripping, Living In The Material World, Band On The Run, Goodnight Vienna and Skywriting By Word of Mouth.  This theoretical album– called Between The Lines (the tentative title of Lennon’s follow-up to Rock and Roll that was scrapped after being domesticated in 1975)-- encompasses The Beatles solo material spanning 1975 and 1976, and would have been theoretically released in fall 1976.  

As with my previous Beatles 70s Albums, I will adhere to three rules, although there are some slight modifications for these albums that follow Lennon’s real-life domestication and retirement:
1)  One album is represented per year, culled from tracks each Beatle recorded that year; this rule is revised so that one album spans two years instead of one.  Not only will this accommodate a lack of new material from some of the Beatles during this time, it will also force the outcome to be of better quality.  
2)  Generally speaking, to include five Lennon songs, five McCartney songs, three Harrison songs and one Ringo song; this rule is revised to presume that Lennon largely retired from The Beatles, occasionally contributing as a studio musician but leaving most of the heavy lifting for
Paul and George.   
3)  The chosen songs must be Beatle-esque in nature; we will attempt to avoid the idiosyncratic musical tangents each Beatle pursued in the 70s and vie for the solo songs that would have been most likely recorded by The Beatles (i.e. not vetoed by the rest of the band).
4)  The songs must flow together and make a unified album that shares a specific tone.

Between The Lines collects the highlights from Paul’s Wings at the Speed of Sound, George’s Thirty-Three and a Third, Ringo’s Rotogravure and, well, the six solo Lennon demos that date from his early Dakota era, approximately simultaneous to the aforementioned albums.  Both sides of the  re-imagining are edited to be two continuous sides of music.  The cover is taken from a Miro painting that somehow evokes the feel of this curious little album.  

Side A begins with my own unique edit of “Let ‘Em In”, which replicates the very rare original radio edit, only released as a promo disc; this is significant because that is the version I grew up listening to on the radio, and it is otherwise lost to time–and the unnecessarily long and repetitive album version.  This is followed by George’s classic “Crackerbox Palace”, which seems to somehow fit seamlessly before “Silly Love Songs”; like “Let ‘Em In”, this is my own unique ‘single edit’ since the song is likewise unnecessarily long.  Next is Ringo’s token song, written by John, “Cookin’ In The Kitchen of Love”, with the side closing with Paul’s ballad “Warm and Beautiful.”   Side B begins with George’s “See Yourself”, followed by Paul’s “San Ferry Anne”.  Next is a massive Paul-esque medley of George’s “Beautiful Girl” and Paul’s “Beware My Love”, using a brief bit of George’s “Dear One” to bridge the songs.  I couldn’t not have a John song, so concluding is the voice of our old friend: my own custom edit of “Tennessee”; although a Lennon home demo would sound drastically different from Paul & George ‘s studio output at this time, I believe this song works here as a closing piano solo.  

So sit back and imagine, if you will, an alternate timeline…
Although The Beatles went on an indefinite hiatus following the short 1974 tour for their hit album Goodnight Vienna, all four remained friendly, although not musically active with each other.  Paul took the opportunity to perform a solo tour (featuring wife Linda and his old friend Denny Lane as accompaniment) playing stripped down selections of his Beatles favorites from the last fifteen years.  George released a solo album Extra Texture, which had a lukewarm response despite featuring a moderate hit “You” (a duet with Ronnie Spector of The Ronnettes).  Ringo continued acting, building his filmography to include the role as The Pope in Listztomania, the voice of God in Monty Python and The Holy Grail and Uncle Ernie in the film adaptation of The Who’s Tommy.  John chose to stay home with his wife Yoko Ono and newborn Sean.  But the release of The Beatles’ Live at Madison Square Garden in late 1975 renewed some interest in the group continuing as a studio band, much like their late-60s era.  

Gradually, three of the four Beatles found themselves in each other's periphery and began plotting a new album, to be begun in early 1976.  John was only able to casually commit to the album, as he was no longer interested in living the rock star life.  While making only scant appearances on rhythm guitar and some backing vocals (although he distinctly took the lead for Ringo’s contribution to the album), a question emerged in the fans’ collective mind: is it really a Beatles album without John?  Regardless, a Paul-and-George -driven quartet released Between The Lines in October 1976, promoted only with a handful of live television  performances.  Most notable was their performance of “Let ‘Em In” on Saturday Night Live, in which Chevy Chase guested on a marching-band snare, prompting John Lennon to lead the entire show’s cast in a march outside and around Rockefeller Plaza.  

The moderate success of the double A-side single of “Silly Love Songs” and “Crackerbox Palace” encouraged the group to plan a follow-up in this short-lived and strange era of the band, and broad talks were made to reconvene in a year or so to see what the trio (and hopefully quartet) could muster…  


Sources used:
Paul McCartney & Wings - Wings at The Speed of Sound (2014 Remaster)
George Harrison - The Dark Horse Years 1976-1992
John Lennon - Between The Lines (2006 bootleg)
Ringo Starr - Ringo's Rotogravure (2009 Rhino Remaster)

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

Friday, January 14, 2022

Hey we got BAND SHIRTS for sale!

 We finally have something you never asked for!  


Because I am a broke ass musician/sound engineer/music nerd/blogger effected by the pandemic, I am now selling BAND SHIRTS for the various album covers that never were that I have done over the years.  Although initially a silly idea, who wouldn't want a Beatles "Band On The Run" shirt?  And they're only $25 which is kinda the going rate for band shirts, is it not?


Get 'em here:


I currently only have a handful of options to test the waters.  If this is a thing you like, I can add more designs, and possibly do requests of previous and future album reconstructions.  


Thanks and apologies for being a sellout!