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Everyone knows about SMiLe. About how it was supposed to be The Beach Boys' 1967 LP, but Brian, lacking much support from those around him, intimidated by The Beatles' progress, and just going crazy in general, really lost it (and heck, the album was 90% done by that point).
So then The Beach Boys got together again when Brian was feeling better, and 1967's Beach Boys album ended up being... "Smiley Smile." A parody of a parody of a great album. Consisting mostly of quick takes of songs that they'd already done much better. But yeah, it woulda been such a monumental job to try to assemble the bits of SMiLe together, that they decided to release a piece of crap instead.
And so, during the following decades, while Pet Sounds was busy becoming the most mythical album ever released, SMiLe got busy becoming the most mythical album never released.
It was finally released in 2004 as a Brian Wilson solo album, rerecorded by an amnesiac Brian whose memory recovery was aided by His Biggest Fan, Darian Sahanaja, who forced him to listen to all the old tapes and get his stuff together.
Of course, it's not all that the album could have been. Brian has an old man's voice in the 2004 version (mostly because he was, and probably still is if my information is correct, an old man), so that makes the album slightly lousier. Also, the vocalists aren't nearly as good as The Beach Boys were. And the sound, as cute and shiny as it is, isn't as endearing as the sound of 40 years ago (even though they cut the album in a studio with old equipment).
And, of course, people didn't like it nearly as much because it came out 37 years after the fact. 37 bloody years! It's sort of amazing it even got the acclaim it got, though not really, because great music is supposedly timeless, except with the exception of great music that isn't.
37 years. That's, like, twice my age + 3. That's as old as nicolas. It's crazy. Lotsa people who were waiting for it in 1967 were already dead by the time it came out.
In any case. It became Metacritic's #1 Album Evar. Whoa.
And everyone knows that Pet Sounds is Acclaimed Music's #1 Album Evar.
Whereas 2004's SMiLe is #197 on Acclaimed Music, but that's probably because of the reasons I enumerated above. (And you gotta admit they're good reasons.)
Now tell me. Do you believe that, if SMiLe had come out in 1967, it could have been the #1 album of all time, instead? If not, approximately what spot do you think it would have been on?
Because they're both such awesome album. I especially adore the Purple Chick bootleg of the 1967 SMiLe (the one made after the 2004's format).
I think it would have been top 10, but it might have kept both albums off the #1 spot. Critics have no real choice now when picking Beach Boys albums, they would if Smile had been released in 1967. But we'll never know.
Think it would have been more acclaimed that Sgt. Pepper, though?
I don't take much heed in Metacritic's top albums ever. There's some kind of flaw with the system (and I understand that this is only taking into account albums released since Metacritic's inception) when the end result looks like they raided a 60 year old rock historian's collection.
That said, I don't think Smile even comes close to Pet Sounds. It sounds like a guy who bought into the idea that he was a genius and produced a record that completely destroyed the reason he was considered a genius in the first place. The guy wrote unique, amazing pop songs. While there are a few on Smile it doesn't even come close to Pet Sounds and Wilson definitely wasn't able to make the transition the Beatles made so easily.
There's 3 rap records in the top 10. I don't think it's such a bad ranking really.
But what about the cohesiveness and wonder that SMiLe has and Pet Sounds doesn't?
I'm supposed to praise something just because it's a concept album? No way. I'll say it's a decent album with a few great songs. Kind of like The Who Sell Out. In fact, that's exactly the album it should be compared with not a masterpiece like Pet Sounds.
I think that if it we're to be released it would be highly-acclaimed, I'm guessing around 20. It was right after Pet Sounds during their peak, and it had Good Vibrations and Heroes & Villains, which obviously would bring it pretty high.
But but. I have scientifically proven that SMiLe is better!
God Only Knows < Good Vibrations
(Because "Good Vibrations" is not just as beautiful, but more creative too.)
Wouldn't It Be Nice < Heroes And Villains
("Wouldn't It Be Nice" is pretty, but "Heroes And Villains" is awesome AND pretty.)
Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) < Surf's Up
("Surf's Up" is one of the most beautiful and magical songs they ever made. "Don't Talk" is close, but its beauty ultimately can't compare to the entire world that "Surf's Up" creates.)
I Just Wasn't Made For These Times < Vega-Tables
(People forget about "Vega-Tables" because it's silly. But it's... well, the most angelic song about vegetables ever. And it's funny too. What more could you ask for?)
You Still Believe In Me < Wonderful
("Wonderful" has a slow start, but ends up being heavenly. "You Still Believe In Me" is really sweet, but isn't really there.)
I Know There's An Answer < Wind Chimes
("Wind Chimes" has an amazing melody. "I Know There's An Answer" is lovely, but not lovely enough.)
That's Not Me < Cabin Essence
("Cabin Essence" is way crazy, and cool! "That's Not Me," on the other hand, is just as pretty, but duller.)
Caroline, No < Our Prayer, Gee
("Our Prayer, Gee" is not much of a song, but it's The Beach Boys' "Because". Whereas "Caroline, No" is their... "Dear Prudence". C'mon, everyone knows "Because" is awesome.)
Let's Go Away For Awhile > I'm In Great Shape / I Wanna Be Around / Workshop
(The Pet Sounds song is way better.)
Sloop John B. = Roll Plymouth Rock
(They are equally messed up.)
Pet Sounds < On A Holiday
(They both serve the purpose of "relatively useless filler instrumental," except "On A Holiday" is much cuter, and less pointless.)
I'm Waiting For The Day < Mrs. O'Leary's Cow
("I'm Waiting For The Day" is a pleasant Pet Sounds throwaway. "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" is a demented psychedelic ride! And it won a Grammy too.)
Here Today < In Blue Hawaii
("In Blue Hawaii" is the end of SMiLe, at least before the "A Day In The Life"-ishness of "Good Vibrations." And, as you'd expect from "Sgt's Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)," it's deep and cool and... something. Just listen to the 2004 version for this one, cause the 1967 one is really incomplete. But listen to 1967 for all the others.)
Therefore... SMiLe is obviously more creative and fun, and better!
Correction: "Wind Chimes" has an amazing melody... before it goes bonkers.
Brian Wilson writing perfect pop > Brian Wilson as mad scientist. Sorry, I just didn't want to be repetitive.
God Only Knows < Good Vibrations= Wrong
Wouldn't It Be Nice < Heroes And Villains= Wrong
Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) < Surf's Up= Absolutely not.
I Just Wasn't Made For These Times < Vega-Tables= Maybe, but I don't think so.
You Still Believe In Me < Wonderful= Close but no.
I Know There's An Answer < Wind Chimes= Are you kidding me?
That's Not Me < Cabin Essence= Holy crap no.
Caroline, No < Our Prayer, Gee= Sinder Velvin, No
Let's Go Away For Awhile > I'm In Great Shape / I Wanna Be Around / Workshop= Finally.
Sloop John B. = Roll Plymouth Rock= I kind of like Roll Plymouth Rock better actually.
Pet Sounds < On A Holiday= I'll agree with you on this one.
I'm Waiting For The Day < Mrs. O'Leary's Cow= Nope.
Here Today < In Blue Hawaii= I can't remember what In Blue Hawaii sounds like.
Fine, you're right.
Pet Sounds is better. But SMiLe is magiiiiical, and I'm never denying that!
By the way, John, I've been dying to ask you: how much do you like "Forever" from 1970's Sunflower?
You mean by Jessie and the Rippers?
A decent song by Dennis. Kind of cheesy but not terrible.
C'mon. By those standards, even "God Only Knows" is cheesy.
"Pam pam pam pam pam pam pam pam pam pam pam pam"
And Brian said about "Forever":
"Forever has to be the most harmonically beautiful thing I've ever heard. It's a rock and roll prayer."
It's my favorite song of theirs.
Yeah, it's my favorite Jessie and the Rippers song too!
Hahaha on Sinder Velvin's song-by-song matchup,pretty much every one is the wrong way around(ie. the better song almost always loses)
I always look forward to the Pet Sounds instrumentals way more than God Only Knows. John, I hope you don't dislike them as much as it appeared.
Forget it John. I'm used to people talking bad about them.
Looking back, it was Sinder Velvin's switch that fooled me. Other than that, I do feel bad about "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times".
I don't think the version of Smile that came out in 2004 is that great an album. Sure, it's easily top ten for it's year, but it's not the same masterpiece that might have come out in 1967.
Pet Sounds has several great songs on it. But the Beach Boys aren't a band where the album is greater than the sum of the singles on it. Smile has Good Vibrations that probably deserves to be in this forum's top ten all time, and the first song's really good, but other than that there aren't really standout singles. Brian Wilson wasn't trying to put standout singles on it, he was going for greatness of overarching theme and meaning. And he can't do that quite as well as the bands he designed Smile to compete with.
I don't think so either Bill. It sounds like a touring show of Westside Story. It's great music but it's just not the same and in some places sounds cheesy. The 2004 version of Heroes and Villains is just plain goofy.
Everything The Beach Boys ever put out sounds cheesy in some way.
Disconnect your cheesiness sensors, or flee from the very sight of the band!
P.S. Who cares about the 2004 version anyhow? You won't find me listening to it. :)
Unless I'm in an "listen to old dude covering his old music" mood.
I have lots of weird moods, but that one is infrequent.
Are you really only 17 Sinder Velvin? BTW, am I the only one who things "Don't Worry Baby" is better than anything on Pet Sounds?
I love "Don't Worry Baby" but too often I get lured in by "Rag Doll," which has nearly the same intro.
Actually, I'm not even 17 yet. But yeah, almost am, tragically.
"Don't Worry Baby" was my fav for a while, but then I listened too much to it, and it rather lost its charm.
I think it's better than about half of Pet Sounds, but not nearly as deep, musically or beautifully, as the other half.
My current favorites (the ones i would give an A) are
Wouldn't It Be Nice - You Still Believe In Me - Sloop John B - Here Today
... and God Only Knows, of course
Ranking Pet Sounds and Smile songs: Top 20
1. You Still Believe In Me
2. God Only Knows
3. I'm Waiting For The Day
4. Wouldn't It Be Nice
5. Heroes And Villains
7. I Know There's An Answer
8. Hang On To Your Ego (Honorary member)
9. Good Vibrations
10. Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
12. That's Not Me
13. Roll Plymouth Rock
14. Sloop John B
15. Caroline, No
16. I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
17. Surf's Up
18. Let's Go Away For Awhile
19. Our Prayer, Gee
20. Wind Chimes
Nice list, John. Too bad you don't like "Surf's Up".
Pet Sounds is obviously better.
The real question is Brian Wilson vs. Mike Love.
That was a joke.
That's funny - can't seem to find 'Pet Sounds' on John's list - now THAT'S a classic.
Personally I feel Pet sounds to be over rated. Sure It's a great album. It's 47 on my own top 500 albums list. Pet Sound's is a 9.5/10 It has alot of amazing moments, but howver in my opinion it has a couple downers.
SMILE 7/10: A very good album (456 on my top 500) If it had been completed in 1967 it would have been alot better. brian was at his peak artistically. However the album seems at times to be trying to hard to make thinks flow. Idea's are used up and sometimes overdrawn. Guess what Im trying to say is that maybe he was trying to hard to outdo himself. Sometimes a good thing, this time not a great thing.
Oh ya. Good Vibrations add's 1.5 to the album all by it's lonesome.