Henry Rollins: The Column! The Beach Boys' SMiLE: Even Better than Advertised
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
At this moment, I am sitting in front of my stereo as the Beach Boys' SMiLE album wraps up with "Good Vibrations." Sonically, the album is one of the best things you are likely to hear in all of your life. There are moments on SMiLE that are so astonishingly good you might find yourself just staring at your speakers in unguarded wonder, as I have.
SMiLE is perhaps the Beach Boys' most legendary album. It was recorded in 1966 and 1967 but only saw a formal release in 2011. That's a long time to wait for what was said to be Brian Wilson's masterpiece.
The reasons the band did not release SMiLE in 1967 are probably myriad and perhaps not made any clearer with the passing of more than four decades. Being one of those people who have heard hours of outtakes of the songs, I have my theories as to why the album didn't come out, one of which I will come back to shortly.
Several of the songs on SMiLE have been released over the years: "Heroes and Villains," "Surf's Up" and, of course, "Good Vibrations." The entire album -- the concept, as it were -- was left for the bootleggers to assemble.
And did they ever. The Beach Boys are one seriously bootlegged band, almost on the level of the Beatles and Dylan. As proof, I direct you to the site surfermoon.com/boots.shtml, which has a fairly exhaustive list. One label in particular, Sea of Tunes, seemed to have total access to the Beach Boys tapes. Several years ago Beach Boys box sets on Sea of Tunes were dropping every few hours, it seemed.