“Wilson’s instinctive talents for mixing sounds could most nearly equate to those of the old painters whose special secret was in the blending of their oils. And what is most amazing about all outstanding creative artists is that they are using only those basic materials which are freely available to everyone else.”—Derek Taylor, music business publicist
Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” reportedly cost somewhere between $50,000 and $75,000 in mid-60s dollars (That would be between $360,000 and $550,000 today). Laid down with the finest studio musicians in Hollywood—known, of course, as the Wrecking Crew—the sessions used over 90 hours of magnetic recording tape. It was at the time the largest sum of money ever spent on a single song. The whole of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album had cost $70,000 ($510,000 in today’s terms), which itself was considered an unusually high cost for a longplayer.
Although I was planning to write up something about the recording history of the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” after getting lost in the weeds of the incredibly authoritative and detailed Wikipedia page—which I highly recommend—I decided that this just wasn’t possible. I’ll simply send you there for the exhaustive history. No point in giving the making of a masterpiece short shrift. I did notice a few bits of minutiae in the entry however, which might prove of interest to our readers who like the Beach Boys but who are not absolute Beach Boys fanatics, because they will already know this stuff.
First off, there was no “proper” stereo version of “Good Vibrations.” The reason for this is was the loss of the multitrack tapes of the vocals, which were probably tossed out by Capitol Records. In 2012 a stereo/mono release of Smiley Smile included a Brian Wilson-approved stereo mix for the first time, when a technology invented by Irish engineer Dr. Derry Fitzgerald was used to separate each instrument and each voice, allowing for a “stereo extraction” remix for the first time from the mono master. (You can watch a video about Dr. Fitzgerald’s work on “Good Vibrations” here.)
Here is that 2012 stereo mix. I’d never heard it before. It’s pretty neat.
And then I found THIS:
You feel privileged for having heard that, now don’t you? I know I sure do.
Second, in the part about the marketing of the single, it describes the various promotional films relating to “Good Vibrations” made in 1966, like the Monkees-esque romp shot in a Los Angeles fire house by future famed cinematographer Caleb Deschanel.
Read more after the jump…