Sunday, September 4, 2011

The SMILEY SMILE album, The SMILE Recordings, and Riverbend Oktoberfest

In 1967, after executives from Capitol Records forced the musical group to produce and release the album "Smiley Smile" - a series of truncated recordings from the historic Brian Wilson production pieces from the scrapped "SMILE" album - guitarist Carl Wilson proclaimed "Smiley Smile" to be a "bunt instead of a grand slam". In 2011, the Beach Boys - minus the late Carl Wilson or the late Dennis Wilson - will release a large CD set (it appears to be headed to whomever still sells compact discs in sets of 3 and 5) of the SMILE recordings. Although it has been seven years since Brian Wilson produced his solo/group project of "SMILE", Mike Love and Alan Jardine and Bruce Johnston and Brian Wilson (we all assume because of the press releases by Capitol Records over the past year or so) became involved in finding, listening to the recordings, and helping digital engineer extraordinaire Mark Linett designate an "order" for the SMILE recordings.

Will it be a successful release in the fall of 2011? That remains to be seen, but of course the hype from all of the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson fans will probably make it a chart-topper. As long as Rolling Stone readers in the U.S. and Melody Maker and MOJO in the UK have any publicity from Capitol Records', one can imagine that it will be the first-ever 45-year-old release to be at the TOP of the album charts IF the record company produces enough physical pieces of the release that the public can purchase the hard copies in stores.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the public will be listening to new singles from the SMILE recordings. After all this time, "Heroes and Villains" and "Good Vibrations" and "Child is the Father of the Man" and "Cabin Essence" may or may not have any viability in the realm of radio and music fans. One only need to search youtube to find multiple versions of these songs before the release to get a flavor of the fantastic works of Brian Wilson's mind and that of Van Dyke Parks who did most of the lyrics for SMILE. Okay, maybe Mike Love periodically put into the lyrics something of his own --- most of us know Love's history of filing multiple lawsuits against anyone of his fellow Beach Boys through the years to say that the person that fronts the Beach Boys band these days has little left to gain except maybe a few thousand dollars from the sales of this upcoming CD because he has pretty much exhausted his opportunities to file additional suits against all those people who were involved in the Beach Boys recordings back in the 1960s at the height of the California-based musical groups popularity. Love may be looking back with love at this recording only for monetary purposes (we can assure you that he is only seeing dollar signs because of his personal disdain for the hundreds of hours of cousin Brian's best unreleased works), but he'll make statements otherwise as the release date comes upon us. Mike Love would like nothing more than to make "The SMILE Recordings" too huge for even teenagers to ignore the hype. I'm not sure that he has another 15 seconds, let alone 15 minutes of fame left in his tired diatribe-filled body, but if Mike Love wants to try it out, he will give it his mouthy best shot.

Going back to what Carl Wilson said --- the release that the Beach Boys put out in 1967 was supposed to be the greatest album of all time in rock and roll history. It wasn't so many historians will point to the success of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by the Beatles as the ultimate epic release in the Rock era. Thus, Carl's assessment of "Smiley Smile" as a bunt instead of a grand slam has seemed to be the benchmark of "coming up short" sayings. One truly has to wonder where on the baseball scale "The SMILE Recordings" will fall.

I wish Carl Dean Wilson was still alive to tell us his opinion of this 2011 release. He would still carry the benchmark words comparing this release with the other two.


The Riverbend Oktoberfest -- originally scheduled for September 30, October 1 and October 2 at the Riverfront Amphitheater in Alton has been canceled due to a lack of funding for the event. A fully organized event, the producers did not receive enough financial support to make the festival happen in 2011, thus the cancellation.

If Carl Wilson were here, one wonders if he would use a comparison: "It was a 9th inning third strike with two outs to end the game instead of a walk off game-winning home run."