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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smile
The CD flopped through the letterbox, and got put to one side till later in the day. Busy lifestyle and all that! Later in the evening, I sneaked through to the kitchen to have a quick listen (mostly all I manage these days is a snatched few tracks in the car). Within 5 minutes I was sucked into a musical world I haven't experienced since, well I can't remember when, if...
Published on 29 Oct 2004 by Cheerio

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Smile ordinary compared to the originals
It was of course marvellous for Brian Wilson to have realised the legendary project after all, all these years later. Unfortunately, Smile is not a patch on the heavenly songs, sections and snippets to be found on the Smile sessions box set from the original recording sessions. Smile kicks the guts out of the songs and skims off the sensitivity with a dollop of syrup...
Published 11 months ago by Simon Turner


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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smile, 29 Oct 2004
By 
Cheerio (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Smile (Audio CD)
The CD flopped through the letterbox, and got put to one side till later in the day. Busy lifestyle and all that! Later in the evening, I sneaked through to the kitchen to have a quick listen (mostly all I manage these days is a snatched few tracks in the car). Within 5 minutes I was sucked into a musical world I haven't experienced since, well I can't remember when, if ever. I sat tranfixed right through the album. "Whats that rubbish you've been buying now?" asked the wife later on. Next day on a car jouney, she sat silent as it played right though, and agreed, this is an astonishing album. The objective stuff has been well said above, all I want to add is this - For me, this album lifts me up gently to a higher place, and holds me there for about half an hour, before gently bringing me down again. It is a timeless classic. You want to drop your blood pressure back to a level you never thought you'd see again? Try this, it works. Just keep it in your head thoughout the day.
Columnated Ruins Domino!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest thing I've ever heard, 21 Dec 2004
This review is from: Smile (Audio CD)
Smile is a truly wonderful album. It contains a mixture of the deep and meaningful with the fun and wacky, always presented through exquisite music. A fantastic variety of tracks and not a bad one amongst them. Obviously the more famous ones are Heroes and Villains and Good Vibrations but Wind Chimes is beautiful, Wonderful is haunting, In Blue Hawaii is uplifting, Cabin Essence and Surf's Up are superb. It also contains the best version of Vegatables I've come across, the incredibly harmonic Our Prayer and much more - even the wacky Mrs O'Leary's Cow is powerful stuff. Each of the three sections is very good. I think the least strong is the first one but, bearing in mind this contains Heroes and Villains and Cabin Essence, this just shows how good the other two are. A track like In Blue Hawaii would probably be the stand-out track on many albums but on Smile there are around 6 better tracks. I didn't expect to hear a better album than Pet Sounds but now I have. Thank you Brian Wilson!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is amazing!, 25 Feb 2006
By 
M. Mason (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Smile (Audio CD)
I only really got into the beach boys and Brian Wilson about a year ago, and being only 20, knew nothing of smile and the legend, but when i heard about it, i figured this is an album i needed to hear. I loved 'Pet Sounds' and was looking for more of the same. So i got 'Smile' and my first thought was, 'what the hell is this?'. I was totally behind Mike Love's "Don't *mess* with the formula" attitude, the lyrics seemed crazy, the music wierd. I even thought for a second that it may have been better off not released. Since then i've read a lot about the brian and the beach boys, and it's helped to appreciate what an amazing spectacle this album is. I guess for me it's one of those albums that grows on you the more you hear it.
I'm sure that other reviewers can describe this album a lot better than i can, brian's voice is damaged, and you wonder what it would have sounded like released in '67, but his voice now just adds to the whole thing making it more special. Songs such as 'Our Prayer', 'Heroes and Villians', 'Cabin Essence' and 'Wonderful' are all beautiful, but then so are all the other tracks! My personal favourite parts are 'You are my sunshine' and the 'cantina' segment of Heroes and Villians'. Give this album a chance, and you'll see just how magical it is.
I've heard people say 'imagine what the world would be like if Germany won the 2nd world war' and how different things would be. I think to myself 'imagine how different music would be if 'Smile' had been released in '67'.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After 37 years, Wilson�s masterpiece has finally arrived!, 24 Nov 2004
This review is from: Smile [VINYL] (Vinyl)
The most famous unfinished album of the rock era, SMiLe has long haunted rock fans with those unanswerable "What ifs?" Often thought of as the ultimate answer to the OTHER record of 1967, The Beatles' SGT PEPPER, SMiLe never quite made it to the store shelves. Wilson had a nervous breakdown, he was on too many drugs, the Beach Boys (in particular Mike Love) didn't want to do the record, and he was growing progressively paranoid. The collapse of the SMiLe sessions is well documented, and the record has entered into the rock canon as one of the most illusive albums ever.
Brian Wilson had developed some astonishing production techniques, and constructed the landmark single "Good Vibrations" out of an idealogy he called modular recording. He planned to follow up "Good Vibrations" with an entire album of suite songs in similar style, using Americana as its foundation. His plan was to construct a 'teenage symphony to God."
Do to drugs, pressure from Capitol, his own quickly deteriorating mental condition, and the antagonism the Beach Boys directed to the project, by the summer of 1967 Brian Wilson abandoned SMiLe, seemingly permanently. Whenever asked about it in ensuing years, Wilson would have nothing to do with it, saying SMiLe was inapproriate music.
As the years passed, SMiLe's fame grew to mythic proportions, becoming the Holy Grail of the rock canon. Many of the sessions leaked out over the years, and several SMiLe songs found their way onto Beach Boy LPs during the late 1960s and 1970s. Wilson became increasingly withdrawn, and from what I've read of him became very bizarre. SMiLe was written off as the greatest album never released, and Wilson's ultimate masterpiece. The 1966-67 sessions have been heavily bootlegged, and there have been several bootleg and fan reconstructions of the project.
The myth of SMiLe embodied the fragile creative spirit. As long as SMiLe stayed in the vaults as an unfinished album, it would always remain as an perfect record. So it came as quite a shock when, after a successful tour of PET SOUNDS, in 2004 Brian Wilson decided to reconstruct the project and release it. Understandably, many people were filled with trepidation. After all, Wilson is 62, and his voice isn't what it use to be. And, ultimately, what if the album just isn't that good?
Thankfully, these fears can be laid to rest. Not only does SMiLe come off as a wonderfully brilliant album, the project now has cohesion that the 66-67 sessions were lacking. Now SMiLe sounds like a completed work.
I haven't listened to a lot of the 66-67 sessions, but what I have heard sounds remarkably mimicked here. There are some questions the official SMiLe just begs, going back to the earlier tapes: judging from Wilson's intent here, you can only assume, listening to the old sessions, that SMiLe was never that far from completion when Wilson abandoned it. The music sounds remarkably close to the original sessions.
But for all that can be said of the original sessions, the fact remains Wilson completed the album in 2004. There is no 1967 SMiLe. This is the only official SMiLe we have.
And what a wonderful set of music. Fulfilling all the promises set out in the landmark single "Good Vibrations," SMiLe builds on Wilson's modular techniques and creates an astonishingly original, daring, and beautiful artistic breakthrough. Though impossible to know, had SMiLe been released in 1967, I think it would have been as critically praised as SGT PEPPER. SMiLe is a lot messier, and almost operatic in its three suites.
While SGT PEPPER was quasi-concept at best (I believe PEPPER's concept was more psychological than having to do with the music itself), SMiLe is fully enchanted with Americana, and builds its core around America. SMiLe is very much an American artistic statement. While PEPPER covered more of a musical history, SMiLe takes America and its history as its principal inspiration. The Elemental Suite is great. ("Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" gave me chills the first time I heard it; if there's a song giving off incredibly strange vibrations that one definitely is). The inclusion of "Good Vibrations" on the end doesn't really fit in the elemental Suite. I feel there are two ends to this album. "Blue Hawaii," the end to the Suite. Then "Good Vibrations" is like a bonus cut. Originally, Capitol wanted "Good Vibrations" on the album in the 1960s and Wilson wanted to leave it off, but he caved (which is why the original cover art prominently displays the song). It is little surprise he included a new rendition here (with the original Asher lyrics!)
Ultimately, has it been worth the wait? Undoubtedly. SMiLe is ultimately more eclectic and satisfying than PET SOUNDS, or even SGT PEPPER for that matter. While you're listening to SMiLe, it's like you're listening to an entirely different, more ruthlessly inventive musical era, and in many ways the album sounds like a time capsule. In many ways it's much more startling in 2004 than it would have been in 1967. Popular music was evolving incredibly fast in those days. Now, in a market dominated by bland, faceless pop, SMiLe is all the more revelatory in its pure genius, illustrating what artists can accomplish when they don't bend to commercial woes.
There was much concern over Wilson's voice. Many people feared his voice just couldn't handle the material anymore. You can certainly tell Wilson's voice has changed from his angelic highs, but that makes SMiLe all the more endearing. Even though Wilson's 62, and his voice has become rather earth-bound, the 2004 SMiLe is an amazing tribute to the restless, creative spirit of man. His determination shines through in his voice. Even though age has gotten to Brian Wilson, he still sounds fantastic. His voice always reminds us that, despite all his personal demons, Brian Wilson made the music of a lifetime.
And that's all we can ask, and much more than we deserve, of anyone.
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238 of 286 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smile - The Masterpiece, 26 Aug 2004
This review is from: Smile (Audio CD)
Those of us fortunate enough to see Brian Wilson perform smile at the Royal
Festival Hall will already know and no doubt agree with most of what I'm
about to say.
Smile, originally supposed to be released in 1967 is probably the most
famous
of all unreleased albums. Composed and produced by Brian Wilson, the sole
genius behind all of the Beach Boys music before 1967, Smile was intended as
the big follow up to Pet Sounds which at the time didn't do so well in the
States but picked up a huge following here in the UK where the Beach Boys
over took the Beatles in popularity for a time.
The Beatles then struck back with Sgt Pepper, heralded as the greatest album
of all time, shifting the Beatles into even higher stardom and creating an
enormous amount of pressure for an already seriously troubled Brian.
Most people at the time heard that Smile's failure was a result of Brian's
breakdown after hearing Sgt Pepper. It's true he had a breakdown (more a
slow retreat from reality over the previous years as oppose to a sudden
cracking!) but it wasn't a result of hearing Sgt Pepper that caused it.
The Culmination of writing music for nearly 12 albums in 5 or 6 years, an
incredibly abusive father, and Brian's inability to cope with the pressure
of dealing with the record company and the other Beach Boys jealousy and
demands drove him into paranoid schizophrenia and an eventual total retreat
from the world for nearly 20 years.
Those few lucky enough to hear the original tapes of Smile have always
described it as an incredible musical journey exploring areas of music that
no other musician had come close to creating. And most would agree after
hearing it performed live that this music really is something special.
Brian's voice isn't what it used to be, but the fact this man is still alive
after everything he went through, still relatively coherent is enough to
impress most Beach Boys fans.
The new version of the album has been recorded with Brian's current backing
band, The Wondermints. A group of incredibly talented singers and musicians
who give Brian the support and confidence that he would've needed at the
time he wrote Smile but never received from the Beach Boys.
Brian himself mentioned to his wife after first hearing the Wondermints
perform the Smile song 'Surfs Up' in '96, that if he had them as his backing
band at the time he wrote it, it would have gotten released then and there.
So, 37 years later Brian finally decided it was time for the world to hear
smile as he originally intended it. Having gone through the original Smile
tapes with his companion lyricist Van Dyke Parks, who wrote the Smile
lyrics. Brian and Van Dyke organised the songs into an arrangement that
could be performed successfully live, unleashing this truly wonderful
arrangement on the world (well, the UK at least) earlier this year.
Brian on a number of occasions, even recently said that he would never
release Smile as an album but the incredible success the Smile Tour
generated coupled no doubt with the support he's received from his family,
the band and us fans has convinced the time is right for Smile.
I have no doubt in my mind about how brilliant this album will be, Brian's
already proved with 3 successful solo albums that he still has the gift.
Now, he has the chance to really prove it to us..........My only sadness
with this release is that if only he had released it back then, it most
likely would have rightfully overtaken anything the Beatles were producing
at the time and beyond and given Brian the musical credit that he deserves
far more then any other artist in history.
Surfs Up................
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One One Wonderful!, 24 Jun 2006
By 
Morten Vindberg (Denmark) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Smile (Audio CD)
"Smile" was the album that was intended to be the Beach Boys' follow-up to their highly regarded 1966 album "Pet Sounds". Personally I've always felt that "Pet Sounds" was somewhat over-rated, and that several of the songs were quite dull.

"Smile" was a very ambitious work that Brian Wilson worked on in the studios while the other Beach did the touring. Sadly he never succeeded in finishing the album, though most of the strongest tracks have appered on later Beach Boys albums such as "Smiley Smile" and Surf's Up".

Most Beach Boys fans have heard bootleg versions of the unreleased album, and there is no doubt that the album would have been a masterpiece.

Now Brian Wilson has re-recorded the whole album, as it was intended. He has used 1960's studio equipment to achieve the original sound. And the result is quite impressive. The songs and the music is great. The vocals are much better than I had dared hope for. Of course, the voices of the original Beach Boys, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love are missed. Brian's own voice has also lost some of its strength over the years, though it is still very good.

The result is a great album, which deserves all five stars, but I it really surprised how close these songs are to the bootleg version I have of the album. It seems that the album was actually very very close to be finished, when it was abandoned.

Maybe it's too much to hope/ask for, but I hope that Capitol eventually will release the original recordings, because even though these new recordings are great, they can never surpass the magic of the originals.

Besides the two hit-singles "Heroes and Villains" and "Good Vibrations" the highlights for me are the beautiful "Wonderful", "Wind Chimes" and "Surf's Up"
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly brilliant, should be essential listening, 8 Sep 2004
By 
A. Gulliver "absinthe_boy" (Luton, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Smile (Audio CD)
I am writing this having now heard about 2/3 of the actual CD and having attended the live concert tour.
SMiLE has a troubled, but well documented history. Let's just say that we are incredibly fortunate to live in the time when Brian Wilson finally feels ready to share his SMiLE with us.
Hearing the new recordings of the completed tracks, it is clear that Brian and his band have put a lot of care into this. The vocals are simply stunning for a 62 year old and far surpass any other recent efforts. The songs were recorded in the same manner as the original 60's tapes, so each segment has it's own atmosphere and feel. You can tell that everybody was having a fun time during "On A Holiday" and that they felt "Surf's Up" deserved reverence.
This isn't easy listening, it takes the listener on a journey across America from Plymouth Rock to Blue Hawaii and from colonial times up to modern days with some (apparently) whimsical interludes thrown in for good measure. Time signatures and keys and tempos change abruptly, strange instruments abound...this isn't something that you put on as background wallpaper music. It is serious listening, but the experience is totally rewarding. Quite possibly the best album ever, certainly way up there with anything else any "rock" or "pop" act has ever cared to record, SMiLE ought to be the musical highlight of the deaced.
With music this good, I can honestly say that SMiLE isn't 37 years late....like the finest wine it has matured and become something better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice tribute album, 17 Dec 2011
By 
I was so looking forward to the Brian Wilson band's redo of the Smile epic. It is amazing that 40 something years after the original Smile recordings, after all the advances made in recording technology, this still sounds like a budget album from a tribute band. Very nice, very clever but nowhere near as good as the "original" Beach Boys version released recently. Compare this to the songs from Smile that ended up on Surf's Up and you hear how far it falls short. I am a Brian Wilson/Beach Boys fan and i have every album they ever made. As Paul McCartney said,"The Brian Wilson band is the best touring band in the world. Period". That's maybe the problem; This band was a BW/BB tribute band for years before Brian decided to use them as his live band. They are a damn fine live band that does a great emulation of the BB sound. They don't have the warmth or class that the Beach Boys had when they sang together. They had a sound that still knocks me out today. A good album and all BW/BB fans should have it in their collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest musical creations ever, 6 Mar 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Smile (Audio CD)
It's beyond comprehension that 'Smile' has been brooding inside Brian Wilson's brain for like 40 years or something. Imagine if it was released somewhere late sixties, I think it could have changed the music scene in a drastic way. 'Smile' is a musical journey from the very haunting, beautiful beginning all the way up to Good Vibrations. You have to listen to it from start to finish, without skipping, otherwise you won't get the Smile experience. If you are looking for an album with some 3 minute hits, you might be disappointed. Smile is much much more than that. Many people have the need to compare this music to the Beatles stuff. I love the Beatles and I believe that Abbey Road is their true masterpiece. But Smile is just from outer space...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smileeeeeeeeeeee!, 5 Dec 2010
By 
This review is from: Smile (Audio CD)
Had this album been released in 1967 as intended there would be no question - The Beach Boys would have blown The Beatles out of the water. Anyone with just a passing interest in music would be advised to stay away from this record (or CD) because it is unlike anything you will have heard or are ever likely to hear. To appreciate 'Smile' you really need to know The Beach Boys, or more importantly Brian Wilsons history, then you start to realise why Wilson has often been termed a musical genius. Everybody should own a copy of 'Pet Sounds' but should also at the very least listen to 'Smile'. If after hearing 'Smile' you are still unsure, bear this in mind: 'Smile' was the 13th album written, produced and sung (with The Beach Boys) by Brian Wilson and he was still only 25! Genius? listen and judge for yourself
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Smile by Brian Wilson (Audio CD - 2004)
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