(Capitol Records)


Back in 1967, when the teenybopper fans of The Beach Boys found out there was a new album called Smiley Smile on the way, they were overjoyed. With their 1967 single “Heroes And Villains”—the bands' crowning glory in the studio—The Beach Boys were on a roll. Turns out the teenyboppers had no idea of all the in fighting and turmoil that was going on between Brian Wilson and the ‘Boys. Turned out Smiley Smile was just the tip of the iceberg of a much bigger conceptual project Brian had planned called SMiLE—the album that never was. So, just why did it take 45 years (1966-2011) for Brian Wilson and his inner circle to finally assemble a multitude of original tracks from 1966 and ‘67 into what very may well be the conclusive album—a newly compiled 19 track mono version of the original SMiLE album? Just seven years ago Brian Wilson, Darian Sahanaja and The Wondermints recorded and released a new studio version of SMiLE in 2004. So it’s really strange and totally ironic to hear this mono version of the original 1967 SMiLE album written and produced by Brian Wilson and his lyricist back then Van Dyke Parks. Of course Brian’s studio geniuses who worked with him on compiling this 2011 SMiLE collection—Alan Boyd and Mark Linett along with Dennis Wolfe—have done an amazing job. Devoted fans of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys will recall that the original SMiLE album conceived by Brian and Van Dyke had three killer hit singles—“Good Vibrations”, “Heroes And Villains” and the centerpiece of the original SMiLE, “Surf’s Up”, a song referred to as Brian Wilson’s greatest compositional achievement. There was the original Brian only at the piano version of the late 1966 “Surf’s Up” that has appeared on various collections starting with the 1993 Beach Boys box set. That said, on the 2011 SMiLE it is truly amazing to hear the first ever band version of “Surf’s Up” featuring Brian’s lead vocals. It’s either that or by mixing and matching all the studio tapes Brian made of “Surf’s Up”, Boyd and Linett have assembled what is truly the first ever definitive Beach Boys’ band version of the song “Surf’s Up”. Just for that revelation alone it's worth picking up the 2011 Capitol CD set of SMiLE, which also goes by the name here The SMiLE Sessions. The sound of this first ever mono SMiLE is another amazing thing as are the array of bonus cuts—following the 19 track reassembled SMiLE topped off by truly amazing CD packaging and a host of souvenirs including a second CD of more out takes and, (wait for it...) a SMiLE button! In his three pages of liner notes, Brian Wilson speaks of missing brothers Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson, and you really feel he means it. One of the stumbling blocks behind the downfall of the original SMiLE, and erstwhile Brian Wilson cohort / antagonist, Mike Love will probably never understand the song “Surf’s Up” or probably even the perfect compositional beauty of what Brian and Van Dyke Parks had set out to do with the original SMiLE but even those teenybopper fans knew deep inside what SMiLE was all about and this is what they’ve been waiting for since 1966. In 2011 the original 1966 SMiLE album has finally been restored and preserved for future generations to enjoy.


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