Imagine yourself sitting in your favorite chair, one lazy afternoon, you’ve just poured yourself a favorite drink, leaning back in the chair...closing your eyes...aaaahhh. Suddenly a familiar sound sneaks into the very room where you’re sitting...filling the air with soothing and fulfilling sounds...walls of breathtaking vocals and superb musical themes. The wallpaper crumples with joy and your ears are caressed with omnipresent beautiful sounds.
It seems that every bird in your garden sings along, trees and flowers have never seemed more beautiful.
So what could induce this wonder, other than god? Well, I’ll tell you......a smile can!
In this particular case the smile comes from Brian Wilson, yes he of Beach Boys fame, he has created a unique and brilliant epic, to go into music history!!
Smile is the appropriate title of this masterpiece!
If you can imagine the wonderful vocal arrangements and supreme musical compositions of Beach Boys and then add some operatic style (a blend of Zappa...soft edition and elaborate pop sequences...with a twist of modern cabaret and add to that some very very brilliant musical infectious compositions)....then you are almost there!
I’ve always been intrigued by the: Beatles vs. Beach Boys syndrome back in the sixties, as I thought (and still do) that Beatles were second to none, of course both groups have inspired many bands and still do. But you cannot compare those two groups!
However, this is a Brian Wilson album and as such it must be hailed as an absolute masterpiece! There’s no doubt as to his talent, when writing and arranging music/vocals, it certainly must count as a modern day classical epic.
This is how Wilson, originally wanted his music to be and after all these years, I can only say: wow...the brilliance, the sheer talent, the fantastic arrangements, the music and by god, the ever extraordinary vocals.
I can not even begin, to describe how much this American musician’s impact are on the music today, as it has influenced almost anyone (direct or indirect) that we hear!
I will not mention a special track on this superb album, as every track is excellent, but i will state this: no one in his right mind, be that a prog freak or a music freak in general..can do without this “historic piece of music”, well maybe with the exception of hard core prog metal freaks and avant garde/fusion fans.
I will rate this fine album as high as possible, as it is to me one of the rare wonders in this age and tide of our time! I’m stunned and amazed!
And the cover includes a nice thick booklet deluxe. So, go buy this beautiful epic. If that doesnt make you Smile I dunno what will?!
(All Album Reviews by Epilepticgibbon)
I don’t feel I really need to say a lot about this album, but despite that I find myself writing a lot. Surely everyone knows that Smile was a collaborative project, between Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and his then new lyricist Van Dyke Parks, which was started in the summer of 1966 but never finished. It was to have been the follow-up album to The Beach Boys’ classic Pet Sounds but the rest of the band had their doubts, Wilson had the beginnings of a nervous breakdown, and the original tapes were shelved, so instead Smiley Smile, an album of Smile bits and pieces, remnants and alternative versions was released in its place.
Smile has since become legendary as the greatest album never released. I shan’t chart what happened to Wilson and The Beach Boys between 1967 (when Smile was due to be released) and 2003 (when Wilson and Van Dyke Parks got back together to finish what they had started) but, needless to say, Wilson managed to conquer his demons and in 2004, 38 years after it was first conceived, Smile was finally released, albeit without The Beach Boys.
So how does the greatest album never released rate now that it’s actually spinning in the CD player? It’s almost impossible to say because the burden of history is so great. At one level, it’s a bit of a disappointment, particularly on the first listen, but then nothing could survive 38 years of hype without coming across as a little anti-climatic. But then, after you’ve had time to put things in perspective and listen to the album through a few times everything levels out.
It’s a concept album, one of the first concept albums, and like all such albums it takes a while to take in the album as a whole. As someone who has heard the versions of Smile tracks that ended up on assorted Beach Boys albums over the years (“Heroes And Villains”, “Vegetables”, “Good Vibrations”, “Wind Chimes”, and “Wonderful” on Smiley Smile, “Our Prayer” and “Cabin Essence” on 20/20, and “Surf’s Up”, on the album of the same name) it’s even harder because I know how and where those tracks fit into their ‘original’ albums and now I’m having to re-imagine them as part of this much broader musical tapestry. But with each listen it becomes easier, and with each listen it sounds like a better album, more and more worthy of the hype bestowed on it.
From the gorgeous opening of “Our Prayer/Gee”, the classic mini-epics “Heroes and Villains” and “Surf’s Up”, the incendiary “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” (which sounds experimental and scary now so what it must have sounded like to people in 1967 is anyone’s guess), through to the ultimate climax of “Good Vibrations”, it’s one grand and uplifting moment after another.
Van Dyke Parks’ bizarre words fit in perfectly with Wilson’s wonderful orchestrations, delightful melodies and his enthralling range of instrumental sounds.
On the downside, Wilson’s voice is not what it was – age, drugs, and mental scars have done irreparable damage, taking away, in the process, some of the sweetness and innocence that would have undoubtedly been there in the original 1967 recordings. However, none of those things have taken away the essential magic of the Smile project, which seems to be as strong now as its ever been.
Best tracks: “Our Prayer/Gee”, “Heroes And Villains”, “Roll Plymouth Rock”, “Wonderful”, “Surf’s Up”, “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow”, “Good Vibrations”