Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time - Rated 399/500!Smile is inarguably the most long awaited album in modern pop history. It's been more than 37 years since the title first appeared on a label release schedule, intended as the January 1967 follow-up to the groundbreaking art-rock of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. 400,000 Smile record jackets and booklets were printed; ads were taken out in Billboard and teen magazines; admiring journalists allowed into the studio to observe what Wilson and his precocious lyricist-arranger, the 22 year-old Van Dyke Parks, were so fastidiously creating. "Good Vibrations" was a harbinger of this concept album to come, a stunningly arranged, spiritually uplifting, goose-bump inducing "pocket symphony," in Wilson's words, that became, in 1966 the Beach Boys' first million-selling single, topping the charts in both the US and the UK. After Leonard Bernstein heard Wilson perform a solo piano version of "Surf's Up," an elegant and impressionistic ballad, also destined for Smiel, he deemed the song 'an important contribution to 20th Century music' and hailed Wilson's gifts as a major composer.
But Smile never made its initial release date, delays mounted along with the pressure and the project as Wilson had originally envisioned it was finally abandoned. Until now, Smile was, as Newsweek declared, "the most famous pop music album never released." The complicated circumstances surrounding its withdrawal have inspired documentary films, book-length investigations and at least one critically acclaimed novel, Paul Quarrington's "Whale Music." Tantalizing bits and pieces of Smile have surfaced on subsequent Beach Boys albums; a global network of song swapping fans cobbled together their own wishful-thinking versions of this seemingly lost masterpiece.
In 2003, a rejuvenated Wilson, encouraged by performing Pet Sounds live, finally decided to revive Smile, at least in concert form, backed by the enthusiastic young musicians he'd been touring with and helped behind-the-scenes by Parks. Fans from around the world gathered at London's Royal Festival Hall on February 20, 2004 for this momentous event, fearing it might be the only opportunity to hear the completed piece. To call the performance a triumph might be an understatement, as a critic for London's Indecendent raved, "We knew we'd witnessed a miracle of sorts."
Buoyed by this reception, Wilson returned with his stage band to Sunset Sound in Hollywood, where he'd originally cut portions of "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes And Villians," to create a definitive studio recording of Smile. The resulting album is not a mere reconstruction of past performances, but something entirely new, a serious summation of a project that has been gestating for nearly four decades, by an artist who has surmounted years of personal and professional struggle. It' also an unexpected gift to all who kept the dream of Smile alive. The music and message couldn't have come at a better time. As the Los Angeles Times put it in a front-page review of its London premiere, Smile "makes perhaps the most persuasive argument for the 'hippie dream' of the '60s: that music and love really do have the power to transform the world."
1. Our Prayer/Gee
2. Heroes and Villains
3. Roll Plymouth Rock
5. Old Master Painter/You are My Sunshine
6. Cabin Essence
8. Song For Children
9. Child is Father of the Man
10. Surf's Up
11. I'm in Great Shape/I Wanna Be
Around/Workshop 12. Vega-Tables
13. On a Holiday
14. Wind Chimes
15. Mrs. O'Leary's Cow
16. In Blue Hawaii
17. Good Vibrations
Vinyl Bonus Tracks:
18. Heroes And Villains - instrumental
19. Cabin Essence - instrumental
20. On A Holiday - instrumental
21. Wind Chimes - instrumental