Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Beach Boys - "Heroes and Villains" (forgotten song)

For most people, The Beach Boys discography mysteriously ends in 1966 with "Good Vibrations".  Largely forgotten is the single that followed, 1967's "Heroes and Villains", conceived as the center piece of the aborted "SMiLE" project that devolved into the less ambitious "Smiley Smile".  The single failed to duplicate the success of "Good Vibrations" and Brian Wilson's subsequent disappointment brought a messy end to the friendly competition with The Beatles.  It's a good song, but it really only makes sense in the larger context of SMiLE's cryptic theme of "journey across America".

Poking around on YouTube the other day, I was surprised to find the number of different videos for the song that most people don't know exists.  It turns out that Capitol Records held a video contest for 2011's (re-)release of SMiLE, and many of the submissions found their way onto YouTube.

There are many arrangements, demos, outtakes, etc. of this song, but basically they fall into 2 general categories: the simpler, ~3 minute version from Smiley Smile, and the more complex, ~5 minute version from SMiLE.  The latter has the "cantina" break, and is often prepended with two opening acapella tracks "Our Prayer" and "Gee". 

Smiley Smile version:

SMiLE version:

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