Smile was originally intended to be the follow-up project to Pet Sounds. Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks worked on the Smile album for months. The project was never finished as Brian Wilson’s increasing health problems forced its abandonment. Various songs from Smile appeared on Beach Boys albums during the next decade. The complete Smile album took on legendary status as the holy grail of lost music.
We now move forward in time over thirty years. Brian was no longer involved with the Beach Boys but more importantly his health was good. He had been presenting Pet Sounds live in concert. These performances turned Brian Wilson’s thoughts back to Smile.
Brian Wilson contacted Van Dyke Parks and began to work on a resurrected Smile. It was no longer a Beach Boys project but rather was now a solo effort.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Brian Wilson being able to rid himself of 37 years worth of demons and not only return to the project that was a part of his health issues but to complete it as well.
The completed Smile was released in 2004. It would reach number 13 on the Billboard charts and eventually sold over one million copies.
We will never know what a late 1960’s Beach Boys Smile would have been like but we do know that the 2004 Brian Wilson Smile certifies him as a genius.
Smile explores textures and melodies that are at the edge of the listening experience. Brian Wilson has created some of the best harmonies of his career and molded them in and throughout his melodies.
We also finally have Smile in its original form. The randomly released songs of the late sixties and seventies now make sense as they become part of a complete listening experience. And Smile is above all a listening experience. No matter how many times you may play this album new delights await.