But he also wrote Smart Girls… a song I would have all but forgotten about if I hadn’t been recording a podcast with The Squire recently.
Brian is a troubled soul; his mid-60s meltdown caused the abandonment of the Beach Boys’ Smile project (an approximation of this missing album finally surfaced in 2011 as part of the essential Smile Sessions box set), signalled the end of the Beach Boys as a major chart act and would lead to decades of pain for him and his family, years of substance abuse, and periods of virtual house arrest from his controversial therapist Eugene Landy before he finally re-emerged in 1988 with the rather wonderful Brian Wilson album an its’ hit single Love and Mercy. He’s since toured the world – both solo and with the band he founded – to great acclaim and released several albums of new and re-worked material.
Following the release of Brian Wilson he set to work on a second solo alum, originally to be titled Brian. He has said that the master tapes from the project – later titled Sweet Insanity - were stolen, although the songs were prepared for release (cassette promos exist) and have since appeared on numerous bootlegs. Five of the songs from the sessions were rerecorded and released on his 2004 album Gettin' in Over My Head, and one - The Spirit of Rock and Roll - which featured Bob Dylan on vocals, eventually turned up on the hard-to-find 2006 Beach Boys album Songs from Here & Back. However several of the songs remain officially unreleased to this day including the track I present for you here, Brian’s misjudged attempt at rap, Smart Girls. I’m breaking with tradition slightly by bringing you a recording that hasn’t officially seen the light of day, but I thought you’d enjoy it anyway.
Smart Girls – with a co-writer credit to Landy - was produced by Matt Dike, the co-founder of Delicious Vinyl and part of the production team behind hits by Tone Loc and Young MC, who chose to sample bits of earlier Beach Boys hits and sprinkle them liberally throughout the song. Wilson played the song on the air during an interview on Dr. Demento's show in 1992.
"Sweet Insanity was never really released,” Wilson said in an interview earlier this year. “You’ve got bootlegs, but it was never released. And I thought some of the stuff was pretty good. It wasn’t the best album I ever wrote. We just didn’t think it was good enough. They were just like demos. We recorded about 10-12 songs, and we decided not to put it because we thought that maybe people wouldn’t like it, so we junked it."
Good choice, Brian. The interviewer, Dave Herrera of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, asked Brian about Smart Girls: “Was that just you fooling around and having a good time?”
“Yeah, we were just having a good time,” Brian answered. “It was fun. We were just kidding. I felt like I was going in the right direction. I thought if I added a little bit more harmony, that people would like (that). Harmony is something that people love.”