‘Definitely a momentum killer': Mike Love laments the lost Beach Boys classic SMiLE

For Mike Love, the 2011 release of The ‘SMiLE’ Sessions was a case of too little, too late. This lost Brian Wilson project, which went unissued after sessions broke down in the late-1960s, killed the stunning momentum the Beach Boys had built up with the previous Pet Sounds — and, Love contends, the group never recovered.

“The problem was Brian was taking LSD at the time and he blew his mind,” Love tells the Irish Mirror. “He didn’t want to do it anymore. He shelved that album.”

Portions of the original project eventually found their way onto to subsequent Beach Boys releases, offering tantalizing glimpses into what SMiLE what might have been.

“The actual tracks and the actual vocals were insane — some of them were incredibly unique and far out,” Love admits. “I remember it being quite a stretch; there was a lot of experimentational stuff. That was the positive side. It was definitely something special musically, definitely. But you know, it got shelved so it’s kind of a moot point.”

By the time the Sessions set arrived, fans and critics alike were ready for a coronation. The album earned a Grammy after reaching No. 25 in the UK, and nearly equalling that in America. Unfortunately, both Carl and Dennis Wilson had passed. Dennis, like Brian, had dabbled in drugs for years. Carl died of cancer.

“What I wonder is what would have happened had there not been drugs involved in the Beach Boys history,” Love adds. “You know, not myself and Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, we never got into that stuff. But the Wilson brothers are a different story, and it definitely had an impact on the trajectory of the Beach Boys. When you shelve an album that’s as remarkable and innovative as SMiLE, and don’t come out with it for 40 or 50 years, it’s definitely a momentum killer.”

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  • markpassword

    How about this for a momentum killer – your lead singer hates the music, disrupts the sessions, disses the lyricist Van Dyke Parks and basically forces him out of the picture. Read the books about the Beach Boys and the true, complete story is told. Mike Love and some of the other BB’s were the momentum killers. Brian’s mental illness was also a factor – why doesn’t Love mention that? To blame it all on drugs is simplistic and misleading. To answer Love’s question: If drugs were never part of the Beach Boys history, songs like California Girls (written on Brian’s first acid trip) never would have been written. If Love wants no part of drugs then he should give up his songwriting credits to every Beach Boys song that Brian Wilson composed while high, and that Love also gets millions for. But gosh I betcha he never gives up a dime.

  • Simplistic Explanations

    Momentum killer? Mike Love is erectile dysfunction in a baseball cap, the most nauseating man in music and a dreadful bore in every interview he’s ever done – endlessly whining about problems from decades ago and sneering with such sniggering superiority over drug use, as if his own gaudy madness and greed is any easier for his family to deal with. Better a junkie than a Mike Love any day.

  • Larry “Law” Johnson

    Mike Love can lament all he wants about what a “momentum killer” the failure to complete the Smile project was, but much of the blame rests on his shortsightedness and lack of artistic vision. He wanted to continue singing about girls and surfing. It was the same as if John had argued Paul out of the excesses of that crazy Sgt. Pepper project and insisted they stick with the tried and true She Loves You formula. Besides struggling to, and for the most part succeeding , to keep up with the Beatles (who hw considered his greatest rivals and artistic competition,, Brian had to deal with asshats like Love, who could not get his apparently rather limited intellect around songs like Good Vibrations and Heroes and Villains., even going so far as to bully the great Van Dyke Parks out of the project.