Smiley Smile

From Academic Kids

Smiley Smile
Missing image
Album cover

Album by The Beach Boys
Released September 11, 1967
Recorded June 3-July 14, 1967
Genre Rock
Length 24 min 38 sec
Record label Capitol
Producers The Beach Boys
Professional reviews
AMG 4/5 link (
The Beach Boys Chronology
Pet Sounds
Smiley Smile
Wild Honey

Smiley Smile was an album released by The Beach Boys on Brother Records in 1967. The album included reworked songs from the never-finished Smile (note: Smile was completed as a Brian Wilson solo album in 2004). Many of the tracks were very unusual for a Beach Boys record, but after the huge success of "Good Vibrations" and the intense expectations surrounding "Smile", the project was almost certain to fail; Carl Wilson later referred to it as "a bunt rather than a grand slam". The album was not a major success and marked a sharp decline in The Beach Boys' popularity that lasted for many years. Although the album was a relative failure, barely scraping into the Top 50, the song "Good Vibrations was a #1 hit for the band (their last of the 1960s).

Stress (due to intraband friction, the artistic expectations for the record, and mental illness exacerbated by drug use) during the production of Smile led Brian to abandon that work; after production on Smile fell apart, the band rushed to put together Smiley Smile instead.

Smiley Smile is notable as the first Beach Boys record not produced by Brian Wilson (production credit went to the entire band). The lo-fi production on the album -- mostly recorded without the usual team of session players at Brian's home studio in Bel-Air -- was a sharp (and distasteful) contrast for the band's fans.

The dazzling production of "Good Vibrations" is in stark contrast to the claustrophobic, muddy sound on most of the album. The Smiley Smile version of "Heroes and Villains" stands somewhere in between these two extremes, but both this version and a slightly different mix released as a single, are both significantly reduced from the original conception of the song. Prior to release, an entire interlude (known as the "Cantina section") was removed and although the single was originally scheduled for January 1967, Brian laboured over the song for several months, apparently unable to produce a version that satisfied him.

"Vegetables" was also touted as a possible single in early 1967. Intended as the "Earth" section of Smile's Elements Suite, it was recorded in at least three different versions, including one which is reported to have included Paul McCartney munching vegetables into the microphone.

Most of the songs had been written for Smile, but when Brian eventually shelved the project in mid-1967 he began re-recording several of the key tracks in drastically scaled-down arrangements. Although it is speculative, it is possible that this decision was motivated by pressure from the other Beach Boys, who would clearly have been unable to perform 'the complex music of 'Smile in its original form.

As a result, the most complex Smile tracks -- notably "Surf's Up" and "Cabinessence" -- were abandoned (although both were subsequently 'completed' by the group without Brian and released on later albums). Most of the original recordings made for Smile remained unheard by the general public until the release of a substantial portion of the material on the Beach Boys' 30th anniversary CD boxed set in 1992.

Five of Smiley Smile's eleven tracks were re-arrangements of songs intended for "Smile" -- "Heroes And Villains", "Vegetables", "Good Vibrations", "Wind Chimes" and "Wonderful". The instrumental "Fall Breaks and Back To Winter" is a folksy and highly simplified version of "Mrs O'Leary's Cow", the legendary "Fire" section of Smile's 'Elements Suite'. "She's Goin' Bald" is believed to be a reworking of an unreleased Smile piece, usually referred to as "He Gives Speeches". Certainly, every track shares the same basic structures that underlay Smile, including the use of alternating two-chord patterns and the numerous melodic and harmonic variations on the themes from Smile's centrepiece, "Heroes And Villains".

British music journalist, Nick Kent's description of the album as "do it yourself, acid casualty doo-wap" will probably never be bettered.


Track listing

  1. Heroes and Villains (Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks) - 3:36
  2. Vegetables (Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks) - 2:05
  3. Fall Breaks and Back to Winter (Woody Woodpecker Symphony) (Brian Wilson) - 2:19
  4. She's Goin' Bald (Brian Wilson/Mike Love/Van Dyke Parks) - 2:14
  5. Little Pad (Brian Wilson) - 2:30
  6. Good Vibrations (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) - 3:35
  7. With Me Tonight (Brian Wilson) - 2:13
  8. Wind Chimes (Brian Wilson) - 2:36
  9. Gettin' Hungry (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) - 2:27
  10. Wonderful (Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks) - 2:20
  11. Whistle In (Brian Wilson) - 1:02



  • Producer: The Beach Boys
  • Engineer: Jim Lockert


Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1967 Pop Albums 41

Singles - Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1966 "Good Vibrations" Pop Singles 1
1967 "Heroes And Villains" Pop Singles 12
de:Smiley Smile

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