SMiLE: the continuing saga of an unreleased album
With the great news that mythical SMiLE album will finally be heard live played by Brian Wilson, we are dedicating part of this issue of EAR CANDY to a few of the fan mixes of SMiLE that are out there. So, until the official release of the album (or a box set), we have these won, won, wonderful audio gems to whet our appetites! In this section, we talk about Mok's Smile, reviewing the disc and talking to its creator.

Mok's SMiLE
CD Review and conversation with Mok
By Ronnie


Of all the recent SMiLE fan mixes I've heard, this one is easily my favorite. At 22 songs it is a bit too long for my taste and I feel that there are a few extraneous tracks (such as "Look", "Holidays", "George Fell" and "You're Welcome") but some of these mixes are just so damn impressive that I overlook any such 'flaws' that I might see. Besides, EVERYONE in SMiLE-land has their own opinion of what belongs and what doesn't in a SMiLE mix - that's part of the fun.

Now for the critique…I'll leave out the tracks that have little or no changes from the 'accepted' versions and start with my only criticisms. "Heroes and Villains" is a little too long for my taste at 8:00, but there ARE some very interesting variations that work and that I haven't heard before. My least fave SMiLE song, "Vega-Tables" gets a new mix that actually is enjoyable. " Surf's Up" is great, but I still prefer the Ann Wallace mix (the only mix in this set that I favor another one of).

So, what DO I like about this set? Ah, where to start…"Barnyard" and "I'm In Great Shape" are the best sync versions I have heard so far, using Brian's 'demo' with the accepted track - but without the wobbly pitch variations in Brian's voice that have plagued other attempts on joining these two. What to do with the 'water' element? Well, this version of "Love to Say Da Da" mixes 'Cool Cool Water', the 'Water Chant' and the traditional 'Love to Say Da Da' into a very believable combination! I used to hate hearing 'Cool Cool Water' in any SMiLE mix, but Mok has made a believer of me (historical accuracy be damned!).

Now I get to what I consider the most spectacular songs in this collection. Mok's versions of "Do You Like Worms" and "Child is the Father of the Man" have to be about the best I've heard. In fact, I'm adding them to my own SMiLE lineup for those songs! Both have interesting little nuances that make them unique in my book (when you've heard as many SMiLE mixes as I have lately, it takes A LOT to impress!). Like Phil Spector did for the Beatles song "I Me Mine", Mok has done to "He Gives Speeches" - he pads the song into a cohesive until that doesn't sound like just a fragment - yet another favorite on this collection.

Mok has attempted to do what all SMiLE mixologists try -to make a cohesive album that sounds like a complete SMiLE album. And he comes pretty damn close…this is a MUST for any collection.


I started listening to the Beach Boys and taking them seriously when I first heard 'Pet Sounds' as a sophomore in high school. I'd heard of an 'unfinished' album called 'Smile' around then, but never really paid much attention to it, because really, how could it top 'Pet Sounds'? I went to college still hooked on PS, and getting other people hooked as well. After college, a friend of mine (who I'd hooked on PS) lent me a book of his called 'How Deep Is the Ocean?' by Paul Williams. Hoping to shed some light on the happenings of the PS sessions, I instead found an amazing account of this 'Smile' album.

I was then highly intrigued (as was friend Eric) and we proceeded to procure any session material we could find. Since most of these discs follow no more flow than the track masters, I found myself hearing similar sections of songs over and over again, and not being able to get them out of my head. It was 'Surf's Up' and 'Vega-Tables' that intrigued me the most, perhaps due to the astoundingly musical and varied sections of each. Being an audio engineer, I felt that an edit of this material could be made, but a lot of work would have to be done. I researched as much as possible about the ideas of the album, as well as what (and what quality of) material was available. Got a couple of bucks together to get a small Pro-Tools audio recording system at home (one that I know well from the professional world) and away I went.

This project consumed all of my free time for the spring of 2001. I holed-up at home and didn't talk to many of my friends. I slowly realized that I had to take breaks, because it was getting to me psychologically. I started to feel very frustrated, and if I was getting down (without any pressure from a label or a demanding fan base), I could only imagine what Brian must have felt. In order to finish my work, I realized I had to change my thought process. Instead of going with the idea that I could 'finish' Smile, I went down another road. I felt that I was happy, for the most part, with listening to the bootlegs, but felt that too much was repetition and too much was of poor fidelity. So, I decided to make a 'Smile' that was listenable, of reasonably high fidelity, and in an order I find pleasing. I cut together all of the parts of the 'songs' that I loved hearing, in a way that satisfied me. It was also important to me to use only the original material and add no 'newly recorded' parts, as I feel the material can still stand on its own.

After I finished my work, I knew I was done. No more could be tweaked, or fudged with. I still feel this way, and my only continuing contribution to the 'Smile' world is getting it out there to as many people who'll listen. I really didn't think many others would like it, because I still considered it too long for an album and too bloated in areas, but I was surprised. All of the responses from folks I've given my mix to have positive things to say about it. I'm glad now that I'm able to pass on 'Smile' to people as something they can put in their CD players and listen to, rather than just telling them about the idea or playing pieces of it. Any notion of furthering the idea of 'Smile' being the near masterpiece it may have been is one I'm happy to continue (as well as 'Pet Sounds' being the masterpiece that 'is').

Unfortunately, I don't feel that the Smile recordings will ever be released as a completed album. This is the main reason I attempted this project. With the upcoming tour, perhaps the performances will satisfy some folks' desire of 'completion', but will we ever really be satisfied? I think for me, laboring through this project gave me enough of a sense of 'completion' on the album, but Brian will always be a mystery.


Here's a rough idea of what's on this disc and the work that went into it:

1 - Our Prayer
This is a synchronization of the beautiful stereo mix with the mono mix found on bootleg (which I believe is a more coherent sound).

2 - Heroes and Villains
This is an amalgamation of all of the great pieces of Heroes, in an order I find appealing. There are attempts at increasing the clarity of the mix made by using the isolated vocal tracks from Sea of Tunes synchronized with the main mono track (making a rough stereo). Longer than I would like (8:00) but I feel complete by the end. (probably 3rd most worked-on)

3 - Barnyard
Pitch matched the instrumental track from bootleg with the demo piano and vocal from the GV box. It fits, amazingly, although a considerable amount of elbow grease was applied.

4 - I'm In Great Shape
The 'waking up' sounds of H&V sections mixed into the actual wakeup "mornings tumble out of bed..." vocal/piano demo by Brian (a bit cleaned up).

5 - Do You Like Worms
IMHO, the right pieces in the right order, this track sounds amazing. I believe one of the finer sounding tracks, 99% in stereo. Vocal clarity was obtained by mixing splits (again) into the stereo track.

6 - Child is the Father of the Man
Hard to get great quality, since most of the material comes from acetates, but I mixed several different 'takes' and 'remakes' of this song into one, satisfying another completions urge. Nobody's thought of *this* yet. Lots of work went into this (probably 4th most worked-on).

7 - Look
Not much editing, just judicial eq to clean up - the sequencing of this song and the next are key.

8 - Good Vibrations
A GV 'greatest hits' edit - the best parts of this song mixed as if it was whole. Now I hear this edit when I hear this song on the radio (and it hasn't ruined it). Find it in your heart to forgive my hacks, I think it's worth it.

9 - Holidays
Segueing out of GV, Holidays is not edited, just cleaned up as well. This track and Look were 'done' IMHO. A clever way in and out of GV.

10 - The Old Master Painter
A tough edit of the stereo instrumental with the mono vocal mix. These do not sync up well, but my crossfades take care of the wonky-ness.

11 - He Gives Speeches
Padded at the beginning and faded out at the end, a minor touch-up to the "beginning of side 2" (for me).

12 - Wonderful
The version from the box set, unaltered. This is beautiful, and never should be messed with.

13 - I Love to Say Da-Da
I know, I know, Cool Cool Water isn't Da-Da, but I felt this made a better flowing track with the two edited together (water chant drops in the middle).

14 - Mrs. O'Leary's Cow
H&V intro is Fire. This segues quite nicely into Cow, and that dies out.

15 - Friday Night
After the craziness, the 'rebuilding' smoothness comes in. Stereo Version was cleaner, sorry for the right channel only woodwork. (Woodwork is always in mono!)

16 - Reprise
A reprise of the H&V theme, with no H&V-specific vocal. I thought it went well here. A cleaned-up edit and fade makes it leaner, but still nice.

17 - Vega-Tables
This was just love from the beginning. This plays everything I want to hear of Veg, with only a slight weird phasing that could not be avoided. So many sections with so many edits, this was probably the most intensive editing on the project. Mostly stereo (where it counts) and I 'never was lazy' putting it together.

18 - Wind Chimes
Almost the same edit as on the box set, but using stereo sources from the bootlegs for (better?) sound.

19 - CabinEssence
This incorporates the 'instrumental' sections from the boots (I can't ever go without hearing that) with the completed Carl vocal version from the box set. I cleaned up some of the vocals on this track so they stand out a little more.

20 - You're Welcome
Regardless of the intent, I couldn't resist putting this on there. Very little work involved, but it might be noticeable to others...

21 - George Fell Into His French Horn
I clipped a small section of this because I heard the segue from this track to the next in my head months before attempting this project. It makes me laugh and works in a way you would never expect.

22 - Surf's Up
One of the hardest things to work on in the project and ultimately the most rewarding. I love the stereo backing track, but wait, there's now Brian's demo vocal (and only Brian) in sync! Pitch correction, time compression, whatever it took, I had to do it just to see if it could be done. This was the whole inspiration for the project, and the last thing I worked on. Try not to cry when you hear it the first time. Goosebumps every time.

Ultimately it's too long and overstuffed to be an 'album', but there never was an album, and this is my way to feel totally complete with Smile (if one ever can). -Mok

For a few samples of Mok's SMiLE go to:

E-mail Mok at

Wanna learn more about SMiLE? Well go to the SMiLE ALBUM PRESERVATION SOCIETY links page. It's the best, most comprehensive and only regularly updated SMiLE source on the web: