Brian Wilson Presents Smile (also referred to as Smile or the abbreviation BWPS) is the fifth studio album by American musician Brian Wilson, released September 28, 2004 on Nonesuch. It features all-new recordings of music that he had originally created for Smile, an unfinished album by the Beach Boys that he abandoned in 1967. Revisiting Smile was an intense emotional undertaking for Wilson, as he had been deeply traumatized by the circumstances that had originally surrounded the project. Wilson initially agreed to revisit Smile in the form of a live concert performance as a follow-up to his 2000–2002 Pet Sounds tour. From October to November 2003, he worked with keyboardist Darian Sahanaja and original lyricist Van Dyke Parks in assembling a three-movement structure for BWPS while embellishing the material with newly written lyrics and melodies. Wilson and his band premiered it at the Royal Festival Hall in London on February 20, 2004. Motivated by the positive reception, he then adapted the performance as a studio-recorded solo album. None of the other Beach Boys were involved with BWPS, nor with the documentary that covered its making, Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of Smile. BWPS was universally acclaimed by critics and peaked at number 13 in the US and number 7 in the UK. It earned Wilson his first Grammy Award, winning in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance for "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow". In 2011, the album's sequencing served as a blueprint for The Smile Sessions, a compilation dedicated to the original Beach Boys recordings. In 2020, BWPS was ranked number 399 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". It has been certified platinum by the RIAA, indicating one hundred thousand units sold.Wikipedia
I waited all my life for this, there's no way it's getting a bad review. I loved Smiley Smile, the 'best effort' that was put out when the label realised it would never be finished. Any album that contains Heroes and Villains and Good Vibrations is a clear contender for best album ever. That it also contains the delightful Vegetables too is just gilding the lily. Is it better than Pet Sounds? It's genuinely a possibility. One was ambitious but still sounded traditional. This might be a step too far ambition wise (certainly it was for Brian Wilson's mental health), but it reaches for the stars and sometimes comes tantalisingly close to touching them.
This album is breathtaking. I nearly wrote a whole thing about separating art from its context. About how my appreciation of BWPS really has very little to do with the music itself. About how Smile plays more like a great documentary about the making of a great piece of art that was never actually made. About how it all feels a little nostalgic, a little "Disney." About how there's a quality to the mix and production of BWPS that I find unpleasantly nostalgic, stale, flat, over-produced. There's an element certainly that feels like a museum piece—the ornate stitching around the album art helps hit that home, as does the word "presents" in the album title. Not too mention the fact that there are far better recordings of many of these songs scattered across various post-Smile-sessions Beach Boys' albums, and that BWPS doesn't feature any other Beach Boys members. But—now that I've gotten those asides out of my system—I can reaffirm that this album is truly breathtaking. I think those struggles I have with BWPS are accurate, but the truth is listening to this album is an experience unlike any other I can think of in modern music. Recorded and released nearly 40 years after the 24-year-old originally sat down and attempted to record it, had a nervous breakdown, and ultimately abandoned the project, Smile is packed with so much emotional drama, so much story, so much humanity...it really makes me want to cry just thinking about Brian Wilson's personal struggle and ultimate success with this piece art. Sure, a part of me wonders constantly about the version of Smile that might have been recorded in 1967 as originally envisioned (and I can't help but miss the younger Brian Wilson's falsetto in these songs, either). But that doesn't take away from my thoroughly enjoying the version that the elder Brian Wilson released in 2004. In fact, it's an essential part of the experience of listening to BWPS. Listening to this album is to reflect on time, art, and age. To wonder about our younger selves and older selves, and if they're really the same person. To wonder if the art that we might have made in our youth could ever truly be re-created in our middle-to-old age. And to marvel specifically about the emotional journey Brian Wilson took in revisiting this material; reflecting on his younger self—a younger self in the throes of his traumatic, emotionally wrought, defining hours no less—and reclaiming a forgotten dream. I admire this album a great f***ing deal. This album is as great a champion of the human spirit as I can think of. And actually listening to the music, only heightens the emotional pull of that experience. Many moments on this album seriously make me want to cry in the same way I almost always cry listening to "God Only Knows." It's the music itself, but it's also the tragic, heartbroken figure of Brian Wilson inside of it. To hear him struggling through his music. Expressing his deepest feelings and personal anguish and doing it through the traditionally rigid confines of a 1960s pop format. Not to mention, there are some wonderful melodies and great pop experiments here. The whole album has a wonderfully cohesive, downriver flow to it. It's a very strange storybook sort of experience to actually sit down and listen to it. To unpack its movements, its textures, its characters, its geography, and musical histories. It's magical. But I'm also a Brian Wilson fanatic. In the liner notes for this album, author David Leaf asks, "Does Smile exist?" It's a legitimate question. And as an album that I think requires knowing some backstory to appreciate, it's hard to argue that this album really stands on its own in the way it might have in 1967. But does anything? BWPS is the realization of dream. It's music that soars well beyond the confines of music. It exists in our cultural unconscious; in our minds and in our hearts. Of course Smile exists. It always has. I was going to give them album a 4 but screw it, it's a 5.
Wow. This is something. I'm glad I had the time to give it a focused listen. I think it might not be quite so great in the background but, as an activity all its own, this album's got layers galore to explore. It's symphonic with its movements and recurring motifs, one piece of music rather than a collection of songs. Tantalizing snippets of the familiar melody from Good Vibrations appear early in the album in Song for Children. Heroes and Villains and Surf's Up are similarly teased before those songs actually start. The instrumentation is incredible: strings, brass, woodwinds, a deep percussion bench, whistles (so many whistles!), power tools. So much to discover on repeated listens. (I appreciated the inclusion of the instrumental Heroes and Villains bonus track to hear some of the sounds I missed the first time through.) Lyrics are often child-like and nonsensical, often just repeated words, phrases and sounds, using the voices as more instruments as opposed to a means to tell a story. I'm so grateful that Brian Wilson found the strength to come back and finish this after a tough 40 years. It did indeed make me SMiLE.
I still feel like a Beach Boys/Brian Wilson novice - I haven’t even listened to PET SOUNDS yet for crying out loud - so I’m not sure I’m ready for SMiLE, but here goes… Talk about an aptly named album! The choir opening leads into “Heroes and Villains” and I couldn’t help but smile. It’s fun and inventive and I instantly loved it from beginning to end. Old favorites like “Surf’s Up” and “Good Vibrations.” Vegetables. Sea shanties. Barnyard animals. SMiLE is a genuine adventure! Despite the inevitable changes in Brian Wilson and the world in the nearly 40 years it took to complete SMiLE it feels like a vision fully realized. I’m stunned by this mythical creature that has appeared in my headphones. I love listening to this. I love that Brian Wilson created this. I love that this can exist. I love SMiLE.
“Lying in Bed Just like Brain Wilson Dead” I understand Brian Wilson covered this Bare Naked Ladies’ song on one of his tours. Why wasn’t there room on the 1001 for a Bare Naked Ladies’ LP? They could have left this Brian Wilson album off the list.
Utter rubbish, only managed to listen to a few tracks before giving up. Beachboys on an extremely off day.
Boomer nostalgia shit
I love Brian Wilson!
Amazing album! Brian Wilson is my hero
I have heard of this album and even had added it to my library a while back, as I was curious about it. Today was my first listen, however. I am glad I have finally taken the time to explore it! The album was not an assembly of singles, but rather a musical event meant to be experienced in it entirety. The recurring musical themes and deliberately designed transitions make the album more of a work of art...one that I can appreciate. I will say that for some of the tracks where I am already familiar with the versions from The Beach Boys, I was not always thrilled. However, as an overall album, I can totally dig it!
This is pretty amazing, a resurrected labor of love from decades previous. Rather than a collection of songs, it is a musical work in movements, full of interesting vignettes complete with sound effects. Although that sounds very high and mighty, it is still a lot of fun. Each listening reveals another gemstone. It is impossible to separate this work from its long, complicated history, but beyond that amazing achievement, it's a joy to listen to. "Heroes and Villains," "Surf's Up," and "Good Vibrations" were each amazing as Beach Boys recordings, but they sound absolutely incredible here. Each of them is composed of their own internal movements. This is an absolutely amazing experience!
J'imagine pas la force d'esprit qu'il faut avoir pour terminer le plus gros échec de sa vie 40 ans plus tard. Prefs: Heroes and Villains, Roll Plymouth Rock, Cabin Essence, Surf's Up, Vega-Tables, In Blue Hawaii, Good Vibrations. Moins pref: Barnyard
This album was so good! It was about time I gave this a listen. The only song I didn't really like was Mrs O'Leary's Cow, but that's not enough to give this album less than a 5.
This is is, an album to make you smile. This is really fun.
Always got time for a bit of Brian.
This album has been a top five album for me for quite a while. Though I’m more partial to the 2011 release made with the original 1967 tapes, this release is more fleshed out and features lyrics that were never recorded by The Beach Boys. I won’t rehash the history of this album, but it was intended as The Beach Boys’ follow up to Pet Sounds. I firmly believe that if this album had been completed and released, it would have eclipsed Sgt. Pepper in its influence. Just its mystery alone, along with bootlegs cobbled together by fans as speculative releases gave credence to this album’s supposed genius. And genius is exactly what I would call this album. It is a kaleidoscope of Americana with ponderous and abstract lyrics by the great poet Van Dyke Parks told through Brian Wilson’s incredible and complex songwriting. Themes arise and are revisited and inverted to thread the album together to culminate in the emotional release of Good Vibrations in what is perhaps the most satisfying ending to an album ever. Surfs Up remains my favorite pop song and this album is always in heavy rotation.
Brian Wilson is a genius, I don't know if I need to say anything else. I honestly think I like SMiLE more than Pet Sounds. The fact that this was unable to be released in this manner in the 60s is a tragedy. This world has been so unkind to Brian and I am so glad that he found the strength to fulfill his dreams after so many years of abuse and adversity.
Необычная судьба у альбома. Но то, что он был доделан, меня радует. И по звучанию он здоровский. Необычный :)
9/10 Goofy ass album cover 💀 Really fun. Brian Wilson is a genius. I always have “Caroline, No” from petsounds in rotation bc it sounds like he’s talking to me and I like to talk back. I love the way that he keeps fluctuating with volume. I especially love the moments when it’s really big and loud. So childish but in such a good way. SO MUCH FUN. I love the recurring elements of this album and how things seem to tie together very often. So silly. Reminds me of an episode of Mickey Mouse clubhouse Reminds me of the circus. Glamorizes rural America in a way that could make anyone want to run away to Idaho or smthn. ++ Super beachy I just love how cinematic it is. I can feel the strings and harmonies from the depths of my SOUL. Standout tracks: Heroes and Villains, Child is Father of the Man
The fact that this album exists in a form that Wilson was happy to release it is just amazing Now that the Smile Sessions are out, it's hard not to compare the two and I don't think this recording holds up as well as the sessions from back in the day, but it's still just a delight to listen to
I’m so glad he finally finished this album.
I love this! I love Brian Wilson. It's like Pet Sounds lost prodigal sibling.
Well… that was a bloody brilliant, beautifully bonkers ride through Brian Wilson’s mind. A true creative maverick and songwriting genius.
Beach Boy floored by Sgt Pepper. Is it better than Pet Sounds? No. Is it great? Yes. It's hard to separate the album from the narrative - a lovely redemption story of a sad old man who lost his way and then found it again three decades later. And why would you? It's a heart warming slice of nostalgia that happily diverts from the shitty world right now.
I went through a phase a few years ago when I had Pet Sounds on very heavy rotation, so it’s fair to say I love the songs by the Beach boys that I’ve already heard. Google says this is Brian Wilson’s version on an unreleased Beach Boys album from many moons ago. I’m excited to listen! Songs I already knew: Good Vibrations Favourites: Heroes and Villains, Cabin Essence I know this is a bold thing to say, but this was an actual perfect album. I’ve never been a believer of there being no such thing as perfection and this is a prime example of this. Brian’s composing is far beyond anything I’ve heard before. The opening track Our Prayer is comparable to a symphony, but with only voice. Heroes and Villains is much the same, but with a typical orchestra thrown into the mix too. There is so much going on with this music, and yet it manages to never sound too busy or overwhelming. It’s common knowledge that Brian Wilson isn’t the most mentally well man in the world, and being able to write something as beautiful as this in the midst of ongoing hallucinations should inspire people everywhere to never let anything stop you from doing what you love.
I can't believe I never listened to this album! What an emotional conclusion to Smile. The first two songs made me tear up, thinking of what this must have been like to actually finish after so many years. I'd listened to the Smile sessions dozens of times before, but I would always come away confused its overall direction. It felt beautiful and far advanced from Pet Sounds, but incomplete. This really feels like all the pieces of the puzzle are in their place. And what a treatment! Brian's writing is incomparable... wide-eyed and childlike, but always with some complexity lurking. Now that everything is arranged the way it was intended to be, it makes so much sense. The album plays out like a film or musical... very strong arcs. I could gush about this more, but I mean... it's one of my favorite and most cherished songwriters, finally realizing a vision that was a dream for 40 years. Emotional and captivating. 5 absolutely deserved stars. As an album, it feels completely realized, in a way that I never appreciated before
This album is nearly perfect and just absolutely incredible. Particularly for how good it sounds after so much time and history and gestation. What an accomplishment for Brian Wilson--a true masterpiece. We should consider ourselves lucky and fortunate that this even exists.
Exaltação da qualidade do pop e rock em simbiose.
It's not better than Pet Sounds, but it's just as special
This was fantastic. 5 stars.
Incredible. If Brian was able to record this at the Beach Boys’ prime as intended, this would have undeniable GOAT status, but even now it’s unbelievably gorgeous music. A
Originally drafted after “Pet Sounds” as a “teenage symphony to god”, SMiLE was abandoned by Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson after numerous setbacks and mental breakdowns, as well as the release of Sgt. Pepper. Now, nearly 40 years later, Brian finally brought a fully matured version of SMiLE to listeners, presenting what is probably the greatest pop album in the 2000s. The album lives up to its title and then some. It’s just so… fun. Are there better performances of the songs on other existing Beach Boys albums? Yes. But this album’s flow between them all is unmatched. Infectious pop hooks framed with an orchestra and packed vocal section, glazed with witty lyrics by original SMiLE collaborator Van Dyke Parks, all come together with the trademark Beach Boys harmonisation to dazzle the listener. And not a dull moment is heard on this album. Truly one for the ages, and a worthy fulfilment of Brian’s promise all those years ago. Standout Songs: “Heroes and Villains” “Roll Plymouth Rock” “Surf’s Up” “Vege-Tables” “In Blue Hawaii” “Good Vibrations”
Love those Brian Wilson harmonies!
The sound of one acid casualty revisiting losing his mind. It's curious to wonder what would've happened to music if he'd managed to complete it during the first attempt. Best Tracks: Heroes and Villains; Surf's Up; Good Vibrations
It's a beautiful album, and I appreciate it so much for what it represents: Brian's triumph over past traumas and a return to his best creative self. A lot of songs and arrangements remind me of They Might Be Giants. He's such an impressive and influential artist. I love to see him being fun, quirky, and oddball in his lyricism, it pairs so perfectly with all of the playful instrumentation.
4.5 - It seems like every one of his records post-Pet Sounds comes with a litany of caveats and disclaimers about the record's originality and authenticity. I'm going to assume I'm listening to a finished record as the artist intended it to be released because I can't be bothered to dive into Brian Wilson's messy backstory. So all that aside, I loved this record! I hear the labor of a tortured artists trying to create something multi-layered and inspired. The flow on this record is top-notch - it leads me on a pleasant journey both between songs but also within songs that often unfold into separate sections. There's so much playfulness, some good and some goofy. On the good side are tracks like "Old Master Painter / You Are My Sunshine" that incorporates an old spiritual into the mix. On the goofy side there's "Cabin Essence" that has some weird vocal back-up ("doing doing...").
Such a fantastic album. It's funny that this is our 1001 albums of the day, on the same day when Godspeed You! Black Emperor's famous lost album officially released. Love both of them.
Heavy on the slide whistle, but definitely the spiritual successor to Pet Sounds. I said it about that album: “Brian Wilson has a time machine.” Enjoyable.
Un bon album de wilson, je dois reecoute car jai bien aime ce que j’ai ente du 4
I prefer the smile sessions version of this, but it's still very good. Gotta commend the fact this got made in the first place. Favourites: "Heroes and Villains", "Cabin Essence", "Surf's Up"
Weird, but good. Pretty sure it works best as a whole piece, given the songs all meld together. I would love to have more time to listen a few more times through
Brian Wilson is a universal treasure xxx
Rock muy a lo Beach Boys. Un 4.
there was some good vibrations in this one
Love Brian wilson. Not quite as good as pet sounds
I like beach boys but I’ve only herd a best of album and pet sounds before so I’am looking forward to seeing what they ( well Brian Wilson) took so long working on… Our prayer starts off the the album just as a little bit of humming prayer like music makes sense as an intro. Gee is a very short bit at the end of prayer ,as it should, sounds very beach boys. Hero’s and villains us really enjoyable with how sonically distinctive each part is other than multi part song I’ve never herd such variety. But i do vaguely remember this one. I love the drumming at the start at roll Plymouth Rock also I like the change for the chorus and the bridge bit is good. Barnyard is alright for what it is but it’s just super short. But it works into the small small instrumental old master then the depressing cover of you are my sunshine. Cabin essence is another one without such great verity between the different parts which I love and it’s great for ending the first ( of 3) parts. The backing vocals are great and the that subtle trumpet makes wonderful a good listen if its not one of their best. It flows perfectly into song for children actually quite a childish sounding in the verses then the chorus just sounds depressed ( which isn’t a problem). Then child is the father of the man is fairly weird in the chorus but i like it especially the piano work and the trumpet at the end. Surfs up is truly a favourite of mine now it’s just so fascinating and I like it’s one of the slowest beach boys songs. I’m in great shape starts off the final part it’s alright its just a lead into the slow cover of I wanna be around and then the short workshop to end this three piece mini tracks. Then workshop leads into a separate track vega-tables quite an odd one probably my least favourite “full track” as i don’t like the “ wa, ha’s” in the background and the lyrics are very filler. On a holiday is a nice piano track with some filler but still good lyrics and the closing moment is great flowing into… Wind chimes has these great orchestral moment and the piano bit bridging these parts, but i’am not huge on most of the song. Mrs o Leary’s cow is a great piano led instrumental which has a good intro then it spirals off into this stranger part being intriguing but not a re listen for me. The downtempo start of in blue Hawaii swoops in then builds up to a piano section which is cool then it gets much happier only to be met with great strings and horns near the end. What hasn’t been said about good vibrations? It’s definitely the top track and a solid closer to this album i can’t say what hasn’t said before so i’am not gonna say anything. Overall I enjoyed the album but with that many tracks it felt a bit too long and without good vibrations the final part would be a really huge quality drop.
A fast-paced, epic record from music icon, Brian Wilson. This concept record's tracks seem to blend into one another, there are some great songs on here, though it's a bit of a jumble at times. Not really a big fan of the Beach Boys, but enjoyed it and glad this finally got a real release!
sonic genius on this lost gem... not sure it is masterpiece on a pet sounds level
7/10. Like Pet Sounds, except this album actually has some pet sounds in it.
I've always heard comparisons between the evolution of the Beach Boys to that of the Beatles, but never really dove into their discography to find out why since the singles I knew I wasn't super into. This album really illuminated those comparisons, and taking those hits and really building on the musicality of it while making each song flow into the next shows how strong Brian Wilson is with crafting a piece of music. Really enjoyed this and opened my eyes to the band, can't wait for more of their albums to show up on this project.
Holy cow, I don't even know how to talk about this album. You'll never catch me driving down the road, Smile blaring from my windows, but it's really cool. It feels a little like a hodgepodge mess initially, but every inch of this is deliberate and kind of wonderful. Beautiful arrangements, wild sonic experiments, and a sense of humor on top. The symphonic elements are gorgeous, and I love the musical threads that wind through multiple songs, which is really brilliant. This actually did make me smile. Fave Songs: Heroes and Villains, Good Vibrations, In Blue Hawaii, Vega-Tables, On a Holiday, Wind Chimes, Child Is Father of the Man
Rock muy a lo Beach Boys. Un 4.
That wonderful period of pet sounds
Complex and ambitious. Lovely layers and motifs connecting the album. Maybe a touch bloated/overbearing but the ambitious vision and good vibrations makes this a strong 4.
Solid studio sorcery with a wacky back story! Fave track - "Good Vibrations" is obviously iconic. "Vege-tables" is another fave!
It can't get a 5 because I feel it is lacking the magic and fun of the original recordings. It's brilliant and beautiful but original flavour is always the best.
It is how I expect the Beach Boys sound. It is not bad, but a little tired and not surprising in any way.
I love the history (damn near mythology) around SMiLE, and this is probably the closest we will ever get to having the original vision be realized. And it's good! But still, in some places it does feel unfinished or inadequately realized. However, it also feels like a final breath of relief to settle the whole thing, as well. Cathartic, I imagine.
There was a lot of Beach Boys on in my house growing up so I'm probably a little partial here. Though never any solo Brian Wilson. I really enjoyed the opening from Our Prayer / Gee to Heroes and Villains and I think that kind of hooked me. It's a little strange of an album, but in a good way. If you listen to it a few times, you really appreciate how it all blends together. Pull out a song here or there and yeah, it's going to be meh, especially because the lyrics can get pretty childish. But stay in any one of the three movements and it's pretty cool (and really try to ignore the lyrics in movement three - downright silly except for In Blue Hawaii and Good Vibrations). Not a classic, but neat concept and all the moving parts are executed pretty well.
Amongst some of the great "what could have been" musical events of the 20th Century, Smile exceeds its expectations simply by finally being created. One can wonder what would have happened had Brian Wilson been given the encouragement and the proper support needed to see Smile through and gave the world its "teenage homage to God" in the year of Sgt. Pepper and Surrealistic Pillow. Instead, all that was showcased was blueprints and scattered songs across their later discography and visions of the supposed masterpiece that never came. Good thing Brian finally found the courage, support and care necessary to finally bring this monument to it's most complete structure; for its existence does bring about a smile amongst this listener. Favorites: Heroes and Villains, Roll Plymouth Rock, Cabin Essence, Wonderful, Song for Children, Child is the Father of the Man, Surf's Up, Vega-Tables, Mrs. O'Leary's Cow, In Blue Hawaii, Good Vibrations.
Stuck it on repeat all day and listened to the original sessions and Smiley Smile. I like the grandiose scope of the project but don't feel like it achieved what it set out to do at all. The modules seemed to break up the quality rather than add texture. For me, part of the joy of the forms that he's working in is their simplicity so this treatment just feels fussy. Great orchestration and 'Good Vibrations' is near perfect. These recordings sound every bit as rich and warm as the originals to my ears despite the presence of no original Beach Boys beyond Brian, so this version to me is a success. Finally, if you're trying to stake a claim as a genius, move away from the siren whistle.
It's the beach boys
I liked the soap opera style of the album. It benefits from not knowing the back story and listening as a standalone piece of work. Heroes and Villains is the standout track. I was left feeling happy that something positive came out of what sounds like a very negative creative process going back over the years. Smile...
Well produced album
I bought this one when it came out, mainly because of the hype around it. This was an album rescued from oblivion - a hell of a backstory. And there are some great moments on this for sure. But I've never successfully listened to this all the way through. It's just a smidge over 45 minutes - not that long a stretch. But it feels like twice that to me. Maybe that's because it has so much to live up to? Still, Heroes and Villains, Roll Plymouth Rock, Surf's Up, Child is Father of the Man... all good stuff. Good Vibrations strikes me as a tug of war between Wilson and Mike Love. Those verses are hauntingly beautiful. Then the chorus busts in and "She's giving me excitations" - jesus that's bad. It's always been bad. I can't stand it. So this is better than background, but it always ends up in the background for me. 3.5 stars.
Classic Beach Boys vibes, stoner rockish fun.
Really interesting, especially reading the history. Like a symphony at times, but bouncing between rich harmonies, complex songs, and goofy, childish tunes. Only a few that can really be called songs. A huge range of instruments.
Dacht al klinkt oud, blijkbaar al in 1966 opgenomen. Wel lekker vrolijk en best goed, maar wel klinkt ook wel wat oud. 4*
Really interesting album. At times inane (for me), but I listened a little more closely as I read about Brian Wilson (didn't know a lick about him before) and Mrs. O'Leary's Cow was really unexpected. Ended up liking the album and learning from it. Not sure I'd listen to it again.
After the first couple songs I was ready to hate on this album. Oddly, I loved it. I feel like it was lighthearted, whacky, but also pleasing to listen to.
First time I've heard this and it's great.
I would very likely have rated this perfect had this album been made 4 decades earlier. Smile is the best album that's never been made, and here we have the closest piece of art to Brian's vision. Compared to what I've heard in Smiley Smile, tracks like "Heroes and Villains" are much better put together and less chaotic. "Vega-Tables" and "Wind Chimes" are the two really enhanced by this. And as a whole, the album is perfectly coherent, with one track flowing smoothly to the next. It all comes together beautifully, with wonderful harmonies and full to the brim with countless creative and mindblowing ideas in every song. It pulls your attention in how amazing it all sounds. The production is clean, and this is essential to understand how Brian aimed to put together all of his hard work. I love the goofy imagery that evokes a sense of childlike playfulness and curiosity in the classical-inspired soft and warm melodies. Every song is great and stands out one way or another, and many of their masterpieces like "Cabin Essence" and "Surf's Up" are here. I noticed a shift in the silliness of the songs starting with "I'm in Great Shape", with more attention on the strange instrumental techniques compared to the baroque harmonies, but it does feel a little disordered here, especially with the sudden conclusion with "Good Vibrations." That being said, I can't fall in love with this. It doesn't have the charisma of their 60s production style, and although this might sound better, it lacks the character from their 60s albums. The tracks smoothly flow, but sometimes it feels a little too fast for me, not as patient and warm as their 60s records. The harmonies are there, but they merge too closely together and feel mostly supplementary and a bit artificial at times... I much prefer the voices of the Beach Boys. But for most of all, Brian just has a rusty aging voice. This is mostly noticeable on tracks like "Surf's Up" where he can't hit as high as he could in the 1971 version, but really I just don't like his voice overall too much here.
So much music history lore in this one! Brian Wilson placing a flaming log in the middle of the studio for the recording of the song Mrs. O'Leary's Cow to evoke the Great Chicago Fire caused by the aforementioned cow, then a fire randomly starting in the building next door, causing Brian to freak out. Heroes and Villains being the most expensive single the band ever recorded, consuming months of the band's attention, then having a lackluster release and sending Brian into a nervous breakdown. The whole album being shelved for 35 years until Brian could finally return to it and see his vision through to the end. There are moments of true greatness on this album. The line "And sonny down scruff I'm alright" from Heroes and Villains; the mournful interpretation of You Are My Sunshine, some of the most beautiful use of the harpsichord in rock music, the unbelievably angelic harmonies on Surf's Up. And going back to Heroes and Villains, that is simply one of the most beautiful uses of the human voice I've ever heard in music. Much of the absurdism and goofiness is a little bit lost on me (Vega-Table). And there are moments when Brian's age shows in his voice, making me wonder just how good this might have sounded if it was released all those years ago when it was first written. Which begs another question- obviously this album would have been super revolutionary and cutting edge if it came out in 1967. But released in 2004, so much has changed in music that it feels like this weird relic that finally made it to the party long after the other guests left. It's an important album in the sense of it being this grand vision of this brilliant man that finally got its cathartic ending. There is a beautiful poetry in that. Is there more significance to it than that?
Strange that this s the first time I’ve heard of this album. Knowing the mythical status of the original ”Smile”, some might be disappointed by this rendition. I think it’s nice
Amazing album that shows Brian Wilson’s range and genius.
this album was originally written in 1967 - it's the follow-up to pet sounds, the greatest album ever, and a reply to sgt. pepper, another one of the greatest albums ever (but not the greatest. suck it, beatles). in 2004, this wasn't doing much, but in 1967 - yeesh. this would have blown it all wide open the first time i ever listened to this album was not on a beach boys binge, actually - it was after seeing its placement on rolling stone's 500 greatest albums ever. i had always heard that smile was a bit of letdown, so to see it ranked 399 was a surprise to me. i decided to try it out, risking the perfect image i had of brian wilson as a songwriter after listening to pet sounds countless times. not a letdown, not a blemish on wilson's record. a credit to his talent, even in 2004, a little less than 40 years than it was originally written. it's goofy, it's earnest, it's loving, and it's really really good. it's nowhere near pet sounds though, but that's not its fault. nothing can touch pet sounds. thanks again, brian, for this and for everything.
4.5/5. Never knew this even existed. It's rich in its instrumentation and definitely sounds like a record from the 60s, would've blown everyone's mind back then. Wilson is an incredibly talented musician and I'm just happy that he was able to move on from his past trauma enough to fully realize his vision from decades ago.
As I walk through the valley of a shadow of meth, I can't believe what I'm hearing from Brian Wilson. The sounds melt through my brain and tickle my soul with enough force to wake a walrus who's been in a coma for 6 month after being run over by a downbeat cyborg. The cyborg wasn't paying much attention to the road as it had recently found out that its wife had been sleeping with the local mayor.
there is a strong case to be made that this is better than pet sounds. and depending on the day, i just might think so. while i prefer the production and atmosphere of the smile sessions version over the solo brian wilson version, the overall cohesion is way better. but either way, good vibes.
I liked the album as a whole, I could see how it was close to a regular beach boys album. However, none of the songs stood out that much to me. The two songs I liked the most were Good Vibrations and Heroes and Villains
Interesting, I like this funny chaos
Lovely soundscapes and great writing
Like a lot of it’s ilk this is damn twee… I do like the beach boys, but this is too faux psychedelic.
So many harmonies
This is a concept album, so I think you either get it or you don't. Maybe I would appreciate it more if I paid closer attention to the lyrics. There are also too many vocal harmonies for my taste. Still, it is really impressive that this project was revived and brought to a complete form after so many years!
Good vibrations, but don't like most of it.
Lots of harmonies. Sounds like a compilation of nursery rhymes. Good vibrations.
Robert nous a pour ainsi dire bien baisé, choisissant parmi la maigre sélection d'albums des années 2000 un album préhistorique, composé dans les années 60 au Abbey Road studio.
Euh Brian t'as pas l'impression de te foutre de nous là ?