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SmallraveMike

BOOKOFF SMILE - Liner Notes

Apr 13th, 2023
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  1. In the summer 2018 I traveled to Japan. On this trip, I discovered the wonders of the many "recycling shops" dotting the busy streets. These stores contain a number of exciting, almost random items that no longer have a loving home. A popular chain of these shops uses the "OFF" moniker, as in BOOKOFF.
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  3. On that fateful summer day, I slid a pink record sleeve out of a neatly packed shelf of vinyl records. Looking down at my prize, I was presented with a Native American glancing at the bicycle parked on the shore. The OBI strip simply ready: The Beach Boys Smile"
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  5. Now, as a long time fan... I found myself immediately taken aback. What was this mysterious record? Where did it come from? I didn't even have a turntable handy until I very careful brought this music back to the place it had been recorded. When the needle hit the disc, I discovered something utterly shocking. A seemingly complete, clean, stereo mix of the Beach Boys' unreleased opus.
  6.  
  7. ...
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  9. Or not! That's just a story! But after all, in some universe that must be true.
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  11. -Please listen to the mix and experience the surprises before reading on-
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  13. BOOKOFF Smile is the result of a several months journey to get a handle on and harness the newest advancements in AI tech. Smile has been a popular album in the "underground" for almost 50 years now, and in the decade since the Smile Sessions released not much has happened to truly "push" the scene forward.
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  15. Firstly, I wanted the album to be presented in Stereo. Every song, every piece. Now, some of these tracks already had excellent work done. (For example, "Wonderful" already had some extracted pieces from the version credited below.) but even these mixes needed work. Other songs, like "Child is Father of the Man", had almost no true stereo mix. The instrumental on TSS is clean and complete, but it lacks the vocals! It wasn't enough to simply pull the vocals out of the mono mix. This dynamic track begs for the full stereo treatment... and so I (for a longer time than I wish to admit) painstakingly used new technology to extract the separate pieces of the song and build what, to my ears, is a satisfying and complete stereo mix of that iconic chorus.
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  17. The other songs that really needed work are presented here as "The Old Master Painter" and "I'm in Great Shape". The vocals have come a long way in the decade+ since TSS. They are essentially fully isolated here. Beyond that, the songs both received a bump in their stereo profile, particularly Barnyard in "OMP". The fade in "I'm in Great Shape" has been cleaned as much as I could, and pulled apart into a stereo soundscape as much as a degraded ol' acetate could be.
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  19. Basically every track had this treatment, even the ones from other mixes such as "Heroes and Villains" (from the incredible Smile AD). The only tracks NOT receiving major changes are the almost-perfect mixes of "Wind Chimes" and "Vega Tables" from the Made in California official boxset.
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  21. The tracklist will certainly turn some heads, I know there are some missing tracks folks will mourn. Please keep in mind that Brian saw Smile as a continuation of what he did with Good Vibrations. This isn't to say the album had to be all "hits" with no "album" tracks but... Smile has a number of fantastic "pocket symphonies" and for the most part they comprise enough of the material to make up a full record! I basically stuck to those for my version here.
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  23. Further, I believe that Smile had an overarching theme of self discovery, as a nation, as a planet, and as a person. America finds itself, nature finds itself, and we find ourselves. Brian believed, and read a lot, about how humor is a part of our "wa" and makes up who we are in an almost religious way. So, Smile has essentially two sides.
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  25. Side One (Heroes and Villains)
  26. Prayer
  27. Heroes and Villains
  28. Do You Like Worms?
  29. Old Master Painter
  30. I'm in Great Shape
  31. Cabin Essence
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  33. Side Two (The Elements)
  34. Wonderful
  35. Child is Father of the Man
  36. Surf's Up
  37. Vega Tables (Earth)
  38. Wind Chimes (Air)
  39. The Elements (Fire)
  40. Love to Say Dada (Water)
  41. Good Vibrations
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  43. Now, this doesn't exactly fit perfectly onto two sides of a record which was, I'm sure, an issue Brian faced as well. But I feel that there was enough recorded music to complete the vision Brian was looking for back then.
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  45. This left only three songs by my measure that needed some missing parts taken care of. Do You Like Worms, Child, and Dada needed lead vocals. This has always been the trouble, as these are some of the best songs on Smile and indeed Brian Wilson presents Smile. I had created an entire version of Dada based on Cool, Cool Water. I'll be including that later as a bonus track! Personally, I don't know which I prefer, but for the sake of completeness I decided to take a swing at a BWPS version of Dada.
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  47. Months and months ago when I began this project I was pretty sure the community would be morally opposed to AI vocals. This had always been a dream of mine but I wasn't sure how I felt. When I started to see seltaeb1012002's work with his AI Brian model... I realized the time had come to unleash it on the world. I trained my Brian model right when so-vits-svc 4.0 was becoming publicly available... but I hadn't used it for Smile much because I wasn't sure I wanted to. In hindsight, after the 100 hours I must've put into the whole process of getting Brian's voice out of this machine, it was well worth it. If you turn off your mind and, perhaps, sing along... it really can feel like Brian sang on these. A special feeling I'm blessed to have been a part of making happen.
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  49. Do You Like Worms was easy. It's a fairly layered track, mostly complete, so the vocals fit in well and to my ears it's essentially as close to flawless a representation it could be with modern tech.
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  51. Child was a bit more interesting. Although BW sang in this range a bit, and I used mostly Pet Sounds and Smile reference material for the model, Brian doesn't quite fit as well into that range as I expected. This was a very tricky one and I believe it sounds pretty darn good. If they had recorded this song back in the day, I bet Carl would've at least sang this in unison with Brian. As matter of fact I kept the take I presented here because it almost sounds like that thanks to the double track, some moments sound like a bit Carl-esque!
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  53. Love to Say Dada... this got a little out of hand! As mentioned, I had a completely different no-ai version of this using a lot of pieces of Cool, Cool Water. I believe if Smile had dropped in 1967-68, CCW would've been the track we got. However, the AI snuck in and I couldn't help myself. This is by far the most extensive use of the AI vocals here, and probably one of the most complex uses of so-vits overall, in terms of the harmonies, different pieces of the mix, double tracking... etc. I really love how this came out, some parts are a bit pitchy and some parts are a bit of the opposite (that is to say, too "manufactured") but... come on. Listen to Brian on that "I could use a drop to drink right now" and tell me that doesn't put a Smile on your face!!!
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  55. A bonus: Brian used to sing the Old Master Painter vocal at some BWPS shows! It fits the "American Songbook" vibe with You are My Sunshine, so I went for it. I hope you enjoy this addition too!
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  57. So, as for the credits... obviously all of this music belongs to The Beach Boys and their respective record companies!
  58. As for mixes, I want to thank Eddie the Amateur for his awesome isolation of the horns on Wonderful. I used that as a jumping off point, and restored the rest a bit further. Beyond that, the amazing Smile A.D was used for Heroes and Villains and is, for my money, the best sounding version of the song (until this one!)
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  60. Well, that's enough... time for a break! I pushed myself hard to make this some of my best work, so I do hope you enjoy.
  61.  
  62. ...and smile!
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