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The Amazon Book Review
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Domenic Priore is a writer and television producer specializing in pop culture and music. He is the author of Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood (foreword by Arthur Lee of Love), Beatsville (with Martin McIntosh), Pop Surf Culture: Music, Design, Film and Fashion From the Bohemian Surf Boom (with Brian Chidester) and Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece (with forewords by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks). As a result of that project, Domenic wrote the liner notes, sourced photographs and helped sequence the music for The Beach Boys: Smile Sessions box set (Capitol Records), which won the 2013 Grammy for Best Historical Album. He was also the main writer on the AMC documentaries Hollywood Rocks The Movies: The Early Years 1955-1970 (hosted by Ringo Starr) and Hollywood Rocks The Movies: The 1970s (hosted by David Bowie). A Los Angeles native, Priore has returned to SoCal after living in New York City and San Francisco.
Smile has taken on almost mythical status over the years. Rivers of ink have been spilled, speculating as to its exact content, its possible impact had it been released, and the circumstances that derailed the project, along with its creator's peace of mind, back in 1967.
In his new book, Smile historian numero uno Domenic Priore de-shrouds the myth and dispels decades of misinformation -- much of it PR spin spewed out by the Beach Boys organization-to deliver the real story of "Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece," from its inception in 1966 in the wake of Pet Sounds to its resurrection and final delivery almost 40 years later. The author based his work on interviews with all the main figures, including Van Dyke Parks and Wilson himself, along with an extensive archive of press material. The book includes forewords by both Wilson and Parks, plus a photo section, including many never before published shots.
Priore writes in a passionate but clear-headed style, placing Smile in the larger context of its time and place: the creative ferment of mid-`60s Los Angeles centered on the Sunset Strip. He emphasizes that the album was not, as many have claimed, the work of a troubled loner frying on acid in his living room sandbox, but rather a collaborative effort driven by a musical genius riding a tidal wave of creative inspiration that surged across Southern California in 1965-67.
The erudite Parks provides fascinating insight into the songwriting process of the team, the meanings behind his often elliptical lyrics, and the album's grand theme of Americana. The project's many recording sessions are also covered in detail, as is the creation of album's original cover art by Frank Holmes.Read more ›
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Domenic Priore had previously published a curious book called "Look Listen Vibrate Smile" which was in effect a scrapbook of press clippings from the sixties about the "Smile" album. For a while that messy, offbeat primary source collection stood as the only book completely devoted to the subject of the famous lost Beach Boys album, and as such it was woefully insufficient. It has long been hoped that 1.) Brian Wilson would finish his odd masterpiece album and that 2.) somebody would sit down and write a proper, readable, blow-by-blow account of the original album's making - its writing, recording, detailed contents, business wrangling, emotional crack-ups, etc. Hope number 1 was fulfilled in 2004. Hope number 2 has not been fulfilled (though at least Keith Badman's book "The Beach Boys - the definitive diary" gives us a solid chronological overview.) This Priore book is short, spotty and sycophantic. It does not deal with the making of the original album in enough significant detail, though it does address the songwriting aspect a little bit with a few choice quotes from Van Dyke Parks (that is, when you can decipher whatever the heck Van Dyke is trying to say. He really is a convoluted speaker.) The book is filled with the author's own quirky opinions and is not terribly well organized or written, nor does it support many of its assertions with confirmation from more than one source when possible. Most of Brian Wilson's own significant emotional problems and eccentricities are glossed over. Famous "Smile" anecdotes are ignored and not investigated. The photographs included are scant; one might hope for more, especially studio shots which are known to exist. Also absent are many memories and input from musicians who worked on the original album.Read more ›
Trust me. I almost didn't purchase this because of the low average rating. After reading this book I am still baffled at the low rating. My review of the book is below, but first I want to correct some other reviewers:
One reviewer was complaining about Priore's book, saying that "Priore seems to be a good, devoted fan but not the guy to write a proper, journalistic book." Another review says that Priore "doesn't use factual information" - to both of these claims I will ask why would Brian Wilson AND Van Dyke Parks give their recommendation for this book if it is full of false information? I will also point out that the first paragraph in the 'Acknowledgements' section is FULL of the names of the people who DIRECTLY contributed to this book...this list includes Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Tony Asher, David Leaf, Chuck Britz, and many others.
As a consumer it irritates me when I see a blatant lie in an amazon review: 'Joe Shmo' writes "I'm not exaggerating by saying that most of the book has nothing to do with SMiLE itself." I respond by saying that the entire book is about SMiLE (hence the title). Sure, Priore gives background information on the Beach Boys and of the music scene in LA at the time, but this is VERY necessary for people not familiar with the starting of Psychedelia/Folk-Rock in LA. I'd say that 95% of the book deals directly with SMiLE.
If you actually read the book you will see how jaded many of these negative reviews are. I will say again that if you are even remotely interested in SMiLE ignore the majority of the negative reviews and check out this book.
On to my review:
Priore gives convincing arguments about the reasons for the non-release of SMiLE and Brian's mental breakdown.Read more ›
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