Album Review: The Beach Boys, 'The SMiLE Sessions

94 Billboard Rating

"The SMiLE Sessions"
Producers: Brian Wilson, Mark Linett, Alan Boyd, Dennis Wolfe
Release Date: Nov. 1

The Beach Boys' "SMiLE," the first 19 tracks of this five-CD set, is an essential pop music album. The version Brian Wilson released in 2004 for Nonesuch was more polished than this collection of music from the initial 1966-'67 sessions. "The SMiLE Sessions" captures Wilson, session musicians and the Beach Boys in moments that are chaotic, loopy and remarkably in synch. It's a consistently brilliant album. With four CDs reliving Wilson's hours spent shaping "SMiLE," the song "Heroes and Villains" is limned at an extraordinary level, placed under the microscope and ultimately on a throne. Hands down one of Wilson's finest melodies, "Heroes and Villains" is Gershwin-esque in its sweeping moments, hauntingly still at times and cosmically choral in others. Set early on "SMiLE," a healthy amount of listening separates the song from its epic brethren "Surf's Up" and "Good Vibrations," heard here in a more rustic version than the hit single. Those better-known tracks feel perfect in length and structure; "Heroes and Villains" lingers-were SMiLE a Broadway show, theater-goers would hum it while exiting the venue. "SMiLE Sessions" showcases Wilson's production style and temperament, which is oddly calm and precise.

Return To Reviews Main Page

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard