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Smile - The Masterpiece,
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
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.