Heroes & Villains

by Domenic Priore

"Look, Listen, Vibrate, Smile" is required reading for anyone interested in SMILE. This essay is from pages 290-293 of "Look, Listen, Vibrate, Smile" by Domenic Priore. "Look, Listen, Vibrate, Smile" can be ordered for $19.95 from Last Gasp: (415) 824-6636. Reprinted by permission from the author.

The true follow-up single to "Good Vibrations." The version prepared for 45 release on Capitol would have been a double-sided record. Only one of these sides has been officially released. That is the "in the cantina" version found on SMILEY SMILE/WILD HONEY teo-fer and "the box set." This cut was slated to be "Heroes & Villains (Part One)."

"Heroes & Villains (Part Two)" remains unreleased. However it is available on both the Vigitone CD and the SMILE (T 2580-2) bootleg from Japan. This is where it gets confusing, so hang on tight.

The 45 master tapes for "Heroes & Villains (Part One)," "Heroes & Villains (Part Two)," "I Get Around," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Be True To Your School," "The Warmth Of The Sun," "Don't Worry Baby" (abd probably five more of the early hits) are all missing from both The Beach Boys' and Capitol's tape library. Engineer Mark Linett did manage to find other sources for these tunes. In the case of "Heroes & Villains (Part Two)," all that remained was a tape reel with three sections that needed to be spliced together. These were obvious splices from their placement on the reel, and Linett also took cue's from Brian's instructions to the group on the session reel. Brian Wilson is heard on these sessions coaching vocal parts and describing which sections precede and follow each other. With this information, Linett was able to reconstruct "Part Two." At the end of these three sections, Linett added the closing from the SMILEY SMILE version of "Heroes & Villains." (This edit was done in 1988.)

Lee Dempsey describes this "Part Two." "It begins with a quick a capella lift from The Crows' doo wop hit 'Gee,' and segues into some great counterpoint 'Heroes & Villains aoom diddy wadda' vocals. This is followed by a section of 'dip dip dip Heroes & Villains' lead vocals backed by 'ahhhhhhs.' In the next section, The Beach Boys create farm animal effects. This segues into a clip clop percussion track with 'Heroes & Villains' chanting backed by 'ahhhhhhs,' more 'dip dip dip Heroes & Villains' lead vocals backed by a 'dum dum dum dum' vocal bass line, and finishes with the entire 'my children were raised' ending."

That said, it is Brian Wilson at his most masterful. Both "parts" of "Heroes & Villains" need to be heard back to back in their uninyerupted glory. It becomes easy to understand just how well Brian had the coherent artistic direction of SMILE in the palm of his hands. "Heroes & Villains," in its original Capitol production, is easily as exciting a single as was "Good Vibrations," and that places it among the finest recordings of the 1960s, let alone one of the best in The Beach Boys catalog. The non-release of this single is crucial to understanding the non-release of SMILE itself. The main reason for SMILE's demise was the very lawsuit that held back the release of this Capitol single, thus bringing a certain amount or irony to the title "Heroes & Villains."

Coupled with the lawsuit and denial of product release was the resistance of (at least) Mike Love to Brian's new music. Two session tapes for "Heroes & Villains" and "Cool, Cool Water" tell the story not only of SMILE's demise, but that of The Beach Boys as leaders in the pop music field.

From a late 1967 "Cool, Cool Water" session tape, it's clear that the other Beach Boys are telling Brian what to do. "Oh no, Brian, it's too bad, no Brian...." You can hear that he was not in charge anymore. Listening to vocal session tapes of "Heroes & Villains" from early 1967 is quite a different story. He is really giving them a hard time. Brian: "Why can't you sing this?... I'm gonna leave.... I've had it.... If you guys can't do this any better, I'm leavin'...." He's really giving them grief over their performances. Yet in the late '67 tapes of "Cool, Cool Water" their opinions suddenly have weight.

In THE DUMB ANGEL GAZETTE #1, Hal Blaine made a telling comment about the self-destructive attitude taken by the touring group at this time: "I think the main period of hitmaking for The Beach Boys ended when they put that studio in the home, because the other guys were around making decisions and getting in the way, whereas before, Brian was in control. In a regular studio, it was a more professional situation."

Similarly, in the December 1993 issue of GUITAR PLAYER magazine, various members of the session "Wreciking Crew" were interviewed in an article titled "The Beach Boys Sound." Among the participants in this article were Chuck Britz, Billy Strange, Jerry Cole, Tommy Tedesco, Barney Kessel, Stephen Desper, and Hal Blaine. The consensus reached by writer Chuck Crisafulli is simple enough: "'Good Vibrations' marked the pinnacle of Brian and the Crew's work together. Great music came out of the SMILE sessions of 1966-67 ("Heroes & Villains" for instance), but Brian's personal troubles and lack of support from the other Beach Boys took its toll on his music making. A few of the Crew members continued to work on later albums like FRIENDS, 20/20, and SURF'SUP, but after the SMILE sessions, the Beach Boys' pop glory days were over."

Brian Wilson nearly left the group at this point. Certainly, as the creative force behind all their music, he found this type of repression good reason to give up on The Beach Boys as his main artistic focus. One only has to listen to Brian's next two 45 productions ("Time To Get Alone" and "Darlin'" for Redwood, the group who later became famous as Three Dog Night) to hear exactly where he'd put his energy for the hitmaking process he had come to master so well.

"Time To Get Alone" by Redwood remained unreleased until the recent CD package CELEBRATE THE THREE DOG NIGHT STORY 1965-1975 (MCA D2-10956). This recording is the direct artistic descendent of the Capitol production for "Heroes & Villains." Brian put his all into the production of this tune and "Darlin'" for Redwood, because The Beach Boys had subverted his creative process. (When one considers where he put them, it becomes even more absurd -- would Mike Love still be pumping gas?) Yet even Brian's work for Redwood was foiled when Mike Love tapped on Danny Hutton's shoulder and informed him that Brian "didn't have time" to produce Redwood for Brother Records. This is how The Beach Boys ended up wiping Redwood's voices off the track for "Darlin'" and using it to squeeze another Beach Boys hit from Brian's energy (which he had not intended for them; the minimalist production of SMILEY SMILE and WILD HONEY being the case in point).

Of course, all this abuse of Brian's talents by Mike Love has its roots in an idiotic move by Murry Wilson in 1965. It has become well known by now that Mike Lve was not credited for writing lyrics on "California Girls." This happened at the hands of Murry Wilson -- Brian never concerned himself with the business end. Yet for years Love has chosen to believe that Brian was involved in this omission. (This is about as plausible as Brian Wilson signing away his publishing royalties in 1969 -- it is believed Murry Wilson forged his son's signature on these documents.)

Certainly Mike Love has great reason to be upset, considering how much money "California Girls" has made over the years, and had every right to sue for his share recently. However, Love's mistake has been to hold an irrational, jealous grudge, which led to years of continued arrogant abuse of Brian WIlson. Brian's reaction to this manifested itself in a retreat from the whole sordid Beach Boys circus. Love's behavior, for 30 years, has been irreversible, and his control over the group complete. This explains the maelstrom of stupidity that has guided the popular and critical disrepute bestowed on The Beach Boys since 1967.

Mike Love's negative attitude towards "Heroes & Villains" can be heard in a recently unearthed tape of the rehearsals for LEI'D IN HAWAII, where both Love and Al Jardine "recite" a poem about how terrible they feel the song really is. It's a very sad tape to hear, especially considering that Brian's live performance of "Heroes & Villains" at this August 23, 1967 concert (released on the BEACH BOYS CONCERT/LIVE IN LONDON two-fer) exhibits exactly the standards that could have put The Beach Boys over at the Monterey Pop Festival.

So it was the combination of the delay brought on by the ill-timed lawsuit against Capitol Records, and the opportunity for resistance by The Beach Boys in the intervening period that truly deprived the music world of SMILE.

A final note on this concerns another "live" album which Brian produced for The Beach Boys. In late 1966, Brian flew to Michigan State University to sharpen up the group's performance of "Good Vibrations" (released on "the box set") and lend his production touch to the master tape. (A bootleg CD on Vigitone has recently surfaced of this stop-gap "live album.") Although this session helped prepare the touring group for their invasion of Britain (see pages 24-47), the group's attitude gave Brian Wilson a notion to have the SMILE participants meet him at the airport for a group photo by Guy Webster. Brian phoned this congregation together on the spur of the moment, on the airplane back from Michigan. for he instinctively knew that his friendships, and the creative atmosphere surrounding the SMILE sessions, would be in jeopardy upon The Beach Boys' return. These group photos feature Van Dyke Parks, David Anderle, Danny Hutton, Mark Volman, Dean Torrence, Michael Vosse, Marilyn Wilson, Diane Rovell and others posed with Brian at Los ANgeles International Airport.

Brian was, of course, correct. Upon The Beach Boys' return, a December 15 group vocal session for "Surf's Up" turned into the solo rendition we can hear today on GOOD VIBRATIONS; 30 YEARS OF THE BEACH BOYS. In "Goodbye Surfing, Hello God," Jules Siegel describes the date; "And there is also a spectacular peak, a song called 'Surf's Up' that Brian recorded for the first time in December in Columbia Records Studio A for a CBS-TV pop music documentary. Earlier in the evening the film crew had covered a Beach Boys vocal session which had gone very badly. Now, at midnight, The Beach Boys had gone home and Brian was sitting in the back of his car, smoking moodily." Brian went on to record "Surf's Up" alone that evening (amd this is what appears on "the box set"). Beach Boys fans often assume that since there is a session worksheet conveying a 1966 group vocal session for "Surf's Up" that finished vocals by The Beach Boys may exist on tape. This fan-tasy is dashed in view of the footage shot by CBS on December 15. Celluloid reality reveals what stood in the way of not only "Surf's Up" in 1966, but of SMILE itself.

The reason I must go into great detail to clearly explain these matters is that there are Beach Boys fans in this world who stubbornly hang on to the myth that there are 8-minute, 10-minute, 12-minute, or 15-minute versions of "Heroes & Villains." However, these are nothing more than dead '70s fantasies. As with "Good Vibrations," there are a number of neat musical sections left out of the "final" two-part, 6 minute version of "Heroes & Villains" cut for Capitol Records. Some of these amazing instrumental sections were cut as link tracks for the SMILE album and appear (incorrectly) edited as if they were part of the same track on "the box set!" (Perhaps this was done to appease the dead '70s fantasies ofg one of the compilers?)

Rumors of a 12-minute version of "Heroes & Villains" stem from a 1972 Carl Wilson interview in NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS. These can now be discounted, as engineer Stephen Desper denies such a version exists. Despite Carl's interview, the 1972 attempt by Warner Brothers to release SMILE was blocked by Brian Wilson, and no actual work on the tapes took place. In all, the completed musical sections of "Heroes & Villains" do add up to about 12 minutes, but this does NOT add up to any "long version," longer than what Brian produced for Capitol 45 (5826) in early 1967. That single was engineered by Chuck Britz, and his testament reveals that nothing more than the 6-minute, two-parter described above was ever cut by Brian. This corresponds with a "preview" listen given to NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS writer Keith Altham when he visted Mike Love's house in June of 1967. Altham confirms in this clipping that "the tape ran for about six minutes."

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