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Old 07-22-2017, 09:38 PM   #49
Minion of Satan
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Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 5,450

Another amazingly beautiful composition that tells of a girls' adolescence, "Wonderful" is an example of Brian nailing down the perfect SMiLE arrangement, only to second guess himself and fall down the rabbit hole of rerecording, trying to fix what was never broken in the first place, only to resolve in a complete opposite arrangement for the eventual Smiley Smile album.

The first version of "Wonderful" recorded August 25th, 1966 was sparse and driven by a harpsichord and upright bass with a triumphant trumpet interjection. It's simplicity matched the elegance of the melody and lyric, and Brian tracked his own lead vocal on October 6th after slowing the tape down one whole step. The group's backing vocals were overdubbed on December 15th, master mixes were prepared and marked "FINAL" on the tape box. Another song easily completed for SMiLE... Or so Brian thought.

A few weeks later, Brain seemed unsatisfied with "Wonderful" and decided to restart from scratch. On January 9th, 1967, The Beach Boys cut a new, decidedly more uptempo version, again based around the harpsichord but with an overdubbed drums, bass and mandolin. This second version features idiosyncratic backing vocals that state "Om pretty baby won't you rock with me Henry"--leading this version to be dubbed the 'Rock With Me Henry' version. An unusual a capella tag was also taped on this day, with a chanted "mama mama mama" underscore. With only half a lead vocal, it was hardly completed nor a highlight of the SMiLE session and this version too was abandoned.

Near the very end of the SMiLE sessions, Brian attempted a third version of "Wonderful" on April 10th--possibly meant as the b-side to the "Vege-Tables" single he was working on at that time--but only got as far as a solo piano track with some tinkering group backing vocals. This third "Wonderful", like the other two, was abandoned; this time in an even more skeletal state.

After the demise of SMiLE and it's rebirth as Smiley Smile, Brian cut a brand new fourth version of "Wonderful" at his home studio in June. After abandoning a piano-based version, Brian resolved on a delicate but slightly disturbing organ-based arrangement with a series of haunting vocal overdubs. Oddly enough, this new version featured a middle section stolen form the February 20th "Heroes and Villains: Part 2" iterations! This frankly bizarre arrangement of "Wonderful" exemplifies Brian's attempt to completely deconstruct and invert SMiLE's intended majesty with unsettling ambiguity and a lo-fi aesthetic, as well as his tendency to bastardize and appropriate melodic ideas from SMiLE into other post-SMiLE songs. Luckily, the serene initial incarnation of "Wonderful" was featured in the 1993 Good Vibrations box set and it's arrangement used in 2003's Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE, with the author implying admittance that the first version of "Wonderful" was the definitive take of the song.

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