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Psychedelicatessen

Topic: Bells & Whistles and MORE Elements Chat



Date: 01/19/01 05:46:10 AM
Subject: "Bells & Whistles"

This "piece" that I am going to be talking about here today is the "Intro To Heroes And Villains/Fire Intro". "Take 1" features bells and is from the same reel as the "Wiz Bang" version with whistles. I think that it appears on that reel just a few takes before the more common version does. There were also a variety of other versions of this on that same reel. That's Brian and Van who were experimenting with that little riff. It really seems to be an "unfinished piano piece" rather than any kind of section for "Heroes And Villains". I have forgotten who was doing what, but I could tell from listening to the other takes. The "proximity effect" from where they are speaking tell me which microphone they were closest to.

I believe that the basic piano track for the "INTRO" was recorded at Columbia Studios along with several other piano tracks for other sections being made my Brian on the same date. This studio sounds much more like a broom closet than say Western does. That is why Brian used it mainly for vocals or a basic piano track and a few instrumental overdubs like cello or guitar here and there.

You could artificially add in whatever ambience you wanted at Columbia, which makes it a great place to do most of your final mixing. This studio was really for use by Columbia's small combos or pop groups, artists like Doris Day, Bob Dylan and The Byrds. It was not the kind of place where you would want to record a large group of session musicians or an orchestra. The final mixing from the 8-track machine would also have to be done at Columbia.

The "bells and whistles" and things like that do not really sound like they were done live. They were possibly overdubbed onto that tape afterwards, perhaps a little later that same day or even weeks later. Whenever the bells were done, it wasn't very good was it? The final "Wiz Bang" take from this session is the BEST. It is finished and obviously the one they would have used. I really doubt that Brian would have wasted a number of sessions on that chromatic run. Unless of course, he could think of nothing better to do, but that seems pretty unlikely to me.

Perhaps he was just too stoned to come up with anything else, no I think probably not. It appears to me that he tried to do the tracking sessions at Western straight. This was because he had to stay more in control and keep the respect that he had achieved of the hired musicians. It would be really easy to waste alot of money with studio time and musicians during the tracking sessions recording "messed up" music. I should hope that Brian as the producer would be more responsible than that! He used Goldstar for some of the more bizarre experimental instrumental things like "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" and "Friday Night". But the more intimate atmosphere of Columbia is where you actually can hear the drugs!

The tape box of the "Intro To Heroes And Villains" was a 10" NAB reel of 1/2" 4-track tape that I think is either SCOTCH 201 or probably 203. It was for certain labeled at Columbia Studios with the reel number "D57". This is how a lot of reels were labeled there, not just the Beach Boys sessions. So that reel number is not really too relevant to the Beach Boys other than it was the next reel used at Columbia after the 1-inch 8-track labeled "D56". Although it should be, the date marked on the tape box does not have to be when the reel was first used. The box could have gone unlabeled for some period of time. As far as the session documentation goes, there were so many "Heroes And Villains" sessions going on at this time, it is likely that someone just got a little confused. Now aren't you really confused right now? Well, if not you will be very soon!

Just because the tape box has "3/1/67 - Intro To Heroes & Villains" written on it; that doesn't mean that this "piece" has to have anything to do with that song, does it? Too many people have jumped to conclusions based on things like that. It could just simply be another case of someone putting that tape into the wrong box. It could also be that the 4-track "INTRO" originally on this reel in the first place was later removed and spliced onto another "Heroes And Villains" 1/2" reel for easier access. Another very unlikely possibility could have occurred after the tracks had been bumped up to 8-track. This reel might have been wiped afterwards and used for something else! If any of this was in fact what did happen then the date on the tape box may also be unrelated to this "piece". In any of these events, that could mean this "piece" could have been recorded weeks earlier or later than the date on the box. What is extremely improbable in any scenario is that there would be two Columbia reels numbered sequentially one after the other from the same studio recorded two months apart!

I am going to have to say that this "INTRO" was recorded onto a four-track tape (no kidding!) 1/2 inch 4-track tape is a lot more economical to use for numerous takes at a tracking session than 1-inch 8-track tape is. In this way it is more realistic to keep 25 takes of the basic backing track. The BEST take you then copy over onto one or two tracks of an 8-track and overdub vocals or whatever on top of it over and over again onto the same little piece of tape until you have got it to your satisfaction. You also have the option of using exactly the same piece of backing track onto different pieces of 8-track tape. This would be how verses with different lyrics would be made or even a completely different version of the section.

Brian also used different tracks on the same piece of 8-track tape for the lead vocals of different verses. "Vegetables" is a perfect example of this, but it was done later at another studio. Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood also had an 8-track machine in those days. Their engineering techniques would be different than those at Columbia. Sound Recorders was an independent studio their policy would be to not waste alot of tape without a good reason. Columbia on the other hand was constantly changing reels during sessions. Instead of rewinding back over reels when it got near the end the tape operators would simply put on a fresh one before they ran out of tape. That would be his job to make sure they always had plenty of tape left on the machine.

Where this kind of waste of tape is most noticeable is during the vocals sessions for "Heroes And Villains". During those sessions, multi-track tape was left rolling at Columbia while the vocals were being recorded. This was because the basic track in this case was the group vocals. Later more would be overdubbed onto the best take. That is why there are so many vocal takes of sections of this song. This saved time rewinding and the studio would charge whoever was paying the bill for another expensive reel of tape. CBS didn't start scraping 1-inch tape that they had been storing until around the late 1980's.

So most likely the "INTRO" on the "D57" 4-track reel was a backing track of some kind, probably just Brian on piano, recorded at Columbia Studios on their four-track. This would be the same four-track machine that they used to bump 4-track tapes from Western up to Columbia's eight-track machine. Here is what explains the consecutive reels numbers "D56" and "D57". They were using both of these reels at the same time, one on each tape machine at Columbia. Now what if that date really means 3 January 1967? That means that the reel really was the next reel used at Columbia after "D56" on the SAME day? Now considering how many reels they would have used up in a week, doesn't that seem much more likely?

Have you ever wondered why there is a little remnant of the piano backing tracking track from the "Heroes And Villains", "Bicycle Rider" or "Do You Like Worms" (bridges) on one of the 8-track tapes after the first verse of "Heroes And Villains" with vocals? See if you can figure out how that happened now. Okay, time is up! Obviously the piano track recorded by Brian at Columbia had also been bumped from 4-track up to 8-track tape. The piece was then wiped in the same manor with the backing track for the first verse and they eventually filled the other 6 or 7 tracks up with vocals. What you hear at the end, as a little glitch is what was left of the piano track after they "punched out".

It seems to me that this "INTRO" was one of the versions that Brian did at Columbia of that "Heroes And Villains" piano theme or something like that done on January 3, 1967. After that he recorded the chromatic piano "piece" runs and dubbed on top of that. A line was drawn on the spine of the box where the next item would be written in. It seems that no one had bothered to fill in titles of the remaining items contained on that 4-track reel labeled "D57".

8-track reels that have had backing tracks bumped onto them will tend to be just the sections of the original session tapes that were necessary to be overdubbed onto. Why waste space on an 8-track reel when you don't need all of the outtakes? Think of how much harder it is going to be to overdub onto the vacant tracks when you rewind back the tape you aren't sure which take you are one!

That would be a "major fuck-up" on the part of the tape operator! How would you try to explain that one? "Yeah, we got it Brian, but it's on the wrong take!" Just think of how upset everyone would be if that were the best one! Actually in the case of Brian Wilson, he would be able to tell if it was the wrong backing track, as soon as he heard the reason that it was an outtake in the first place, even if no one else on Earth could! But if it were just a brief section of the tape where there were no mistakes, maybe even he wouldn't notice.

They were bumping sections from 4-track to 8-track at Columbia Studios on January 3, 1967. That is why there are things like "Bridge To Indians" and "Tag To Part 1" on "D56". Then vocals could be added to the vacant tracks whenever they needed to be. Then the rest of the 4-track reel was used for something else, probably yet another basic track of piano at Columbia. Overdubs could then be done either directly onto the other three vacant tracks or more likely at Columbia, it would be again bumped to yet another 8-track tape. That has happened on many occasions. "Oh, here's a reel with some tape left on it, let's just use that for this instead of using a fresh one". That is even more likely to be the answer.

This instrumental "piece" was obviously never intended to have Beach Boys vocals overdubbed onto it. This "piece" MUST in fact have been the "unfinished piano piece" that Brian was talking about for the AIR ELEMENT years ago. I really don't see how it could have been anything else. I have never found anything that matches the bill better than this either. I have thought this to be the most likely AIR candidate for over ten years and that this must be it. Just recently Brian was asked that same question. At first he went, "AIR ELEMENT, huh?" Then he said, "Yeah". It is very similar in structure to both FIRE and FALL BREAKS and is much more ELEMENTAL than it is "Old West" or AMERICANA (did Domenic make all that up?). Wouldn't you have to agree? Which is the one ELEMENT that is required to blow a whistle? Try blowing anything without AIR, Duh!

So if this piece is what it seems that it must be, how and where does it fit in? Do you remember that I have found the two most "valid" sequences for THE ELEMENTS?

One is the more TRADITIONAL: EARTH-AIR-FIRE-WATER.

This is the running order that I have always had the most trouble trying to work with. I seriously doubt that THE ELEMENTS (Part 1) would be slated as that during the session and then moved to "Part 3" afterwards. Brian always recorded "Parts" in order; "Part 2" came after "Part 1", not before it. The mono master was completed, it was edited, overdubbed with SFX and mixed at Goldstar, and so was the master for "Friday Night" the next day. Now "Love To Say Da Da" was also recorded at Goldstar and it has a vocal track on it probably done elsewhere.

So maybe the idea of "Love To Say Da Da" having something to do with WATER isn't too far fetched after all. The "Water Chant" may have been recorded late in the project at around this time as well. It is possible that it was done just before at one of the vocal sessions. The live versions performed of "Cool Cool Water" during the early 1970's in fact began with this same "Water Chant". The single version did also.

The big problem was EARTH. Okay, maybe "Barnyard" might work as EARTH, but that doesn't feel right to me when placed next to the known ELEMENTS like FIRE & WATER, no matter how you slice it. "Friday Night" on the other hand seems to fit in nicely directly after FIRE. So I have to assume that Carol Kaye is correct about that! Brian has recently stated that the "I'm In Great Shape" from the piano demo was in fact the missing song and not just a fragment of "Heroes And Villains".

I don't think that "I'm In Great Shape" ever did have any real connection to "Heroes And Villains". The fact is that Brian was just playing this song along with some of his other latest work to someone. This demo was recorded at the end of one of the "Psychedelic Sound" reels in Columbia Studios on November 4, 1966. How does Brad explain the AFM sheet for "Friday Night (I'm in great shape)"? I thought he had said something about that being some kind of an error! Can someone send me whatever he or she has that has been said regarding these subjects?

TRACK 11: THE ELEMENTS

EARTH: "Barnyard"
AIR: "H&V/Fire Intro" FIRE: "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow
WATER: "The Water Chant

TRACK 12: SURF'S UP

The other is based on the ZODIAC: FIRE-EARTH-AIR-WATER

TRACK 11: THE ELEMENTS

FIRE: "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" (The Elements - Part 1, we all know this is "Fire")
EARTH: "Friday Night" (Part 2 - Rebuilding the "Earth" after the "Fire", recorded at the same studio the following day!)
AIR: "H&V/Fire Intro" (which ELEMENT does this sound most like?)
WATER: "The Water Chant" (obviously this has to be WATER, what else could it be?)

TRACK 12: SURF'S UP

Note: that in both cases WATER is always the last ELEMENT and is followed by even more WATER the Pacific Ocean! The Signs of the Zodiac Horoscope symbols on the back cover tend to infer by association that this is the version for THE ELEMENTS

Well its 3:46 AM and I think that this is enough for now...

Date: 01/19/01 10:11:03 AM
Subject: "Fire Intro"

Yeah, I always liked having the "Fire Intro" in THE ELEMENTS, but it appears that it actually belongs third in the sequence. Not before FIRE as it's intro. I believe that "intro" idea first appeared on a Mark Linett compilation from 1988. The SMiLE CD from Japan in 1989 was made from a fairly decent copy of that. I think that the "Fire Intro" was either Mark's or David Leaf's idea. It was David's idea to use a 14 minute version of "Good Vibrations" as one whole track at the very beginning of the compilation. Instead of breaking it up into three separate tracks like I think it should have been done.

Date: 01/19/01 07:45:01 AM
Subject: Re: elemental - americana

>>> hmmm - isn't that a Priore theory <<<

Yeah, I pretty much think that it was. But I don't give him that much credit for his "original ideas" when I know the people that have given him these "ideas"

>>> apparently 'black key side/white key side' was stated by Parks, if memory serves me correctly <<<

Exactly, your memory is serving you right. Fortunately BOTH of these two "theories" work well together in this particular case. They compliment each other and don't cause a confliction. Both thr relative keys and the flavor make it fairly obvious what goes on which side of the LP. With SMiLE you have to consider the sides. But unfortunately people now think in terms of a single sided CD!

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Replying to:

"Windchimes" has long been the favorite contender for AIR. My thoughts were how could "Vegetables" or "Windchimes" be "THE ELEMENTS" when they were clearly listed on Brian's list and the cover as separate "tracks"? Well actually it could be that was another story too long to get into again. I suppose they do make much more sense on "ELEMENTAL" side than they would on the "AMERICANA" side.

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Replying to:

Okay 'airdada' is really only an outtake. I hereby rename that "Birdoodoo". It's just not a serious contender for a finished album. It's just a little too sloppy in my opinion.

>>> this is surely also a contender for air as it has the bird sounds <<<

Okay how do explain that as sounding ELEMENTAL? Really it is more ANIMALS-MINERALS-VEGETABLES

You could also says that "Tones/Holidays" with the flutes sounds AIRY. But I wouldn't, not ELEMENTAL enough...




If you have any comments on this topic, psychedelismile@yahoo.com and I will try to promptly post any interesting replies.