|Long-awaited ‘Smile’ surfaces as double disc album|
|Written by Kevin Pajor, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Tuesday, 08 November 2011 15:26|
When most people think of the Beach Boys, they think of “fun in the sun” pop music fluff. By the general public, they aren’t really considered a “serious” band that’s ranked alongside the other greats of their time.
When they were at their best, however, very few other acts in the business could equal the musical magic created by primary songwriter and arranger Brian Wilson.
Their 1965 album “Pet Sounds” is widely regarded by music critics as one of the greatest of all time. In the mid-'60s the Beach Boys were in a race to the top of the music world with the Beatles.
“Rubber Soul” influenced “Pet Sounds,” and “Pet Sounds” was a large influence on the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Brian Wilson’s massive response to that '67 psychedelic masterpiece was to be called “Smile.”
Due to Wilson’s problems with drugs and schizophrenia, the album never saw the light of day. Obsessed fans mixed tapes of the recording sessions together to create their own “Smile” albums, many of which were shared across the country and across the Internet.
In 2004 Wilson and his band revisited the “Smile” music and recorded their own version. While that album was successful and eye-opening in its own right, fans have been waiting a long time to hear “Smile” as originally recorded. Last week, a package called “The Smile Sessions” was released.
It may be disappointing to some long-time Beach Boys fans that the version of “Smile” on this set follows almost the exact same track order as Brian Wilson’s from 2004.
The audio quality varies from track to track, but is almost always wonderful considering the age of the music. This is the best the original Beach Boys tracks for “Smile” will ever sound.
Listeners new to “Smile” may be taken aback by its structure. It isn’t sequenced like an ordinary album of song after song. Rather, it is built around a few big songs and surrounded by soundscape-type tracks that build the atmosphere and Americana effect of the album.
“Smile” isn’t just an album; it’s an experience that really has to be listened to from beginning to end. The crowning achievement, other than the famous “Good Vibrations,” has to be “Surf’s Up.” It is a gorgeous track depicting desolate human civilization, full of clever wordplay and soaring falsetto. For my money, “Surf's Up” is one of Brian Wilson’s absolute masterpieces.
This isn’t “Smile” as it would have been released in 1967 — it’s still safe to say that it’s the greatest album never made. However, the great-sounding compilation here, alongside the plentiful bonus material, makes this set a must-buy for fans of popular music.