Smile was the Pop/Rock masterpiece that never was. It was meant to be a true picture of its time, way back in 1967. However, for some unusual reasons and the fact that Brian Wilson was in a rapid mental health decline at the time, he shelved the original Smile album and instead released a botched and watered down version of the album in late 1967, Smiley Smile. Obviously Brian Wilson regretted doing so and although he released the critically acclaimed Brian Wilson Presents Smile in 2004, this album is seen to be the closest thing to the original Smile album that never was. In any case, this album should be covered here, yet for proper listening purposes, only the original album here will be covered, not the bonus extra tracks (although true fans of The Beach Boys may like them). So, let’s hear it.
We begin this album with Our Prayer which is an excellent set of harmonies. It’s not specifically religious, just blissful wordless harmonies that sound awesome. Only a minute long, but awesome, this is a great beginning to this album. Great to hear.
Next along is Gee which is a very 1960s and glorious set of harmony based singing, but this time with some lyrics and harpsichord. Less than a minute long, but a must listen, this is really fantastic to hear. It finishes with an awesomely treated trumpet part. Really great so far.
Heroes and Villains comes next, which is an excellent song from the start. It has been put on other records by The Beach Boys, but is a classic tale of small town issues with said heroes and villains. It quickly goes into a sublime piece of instrumentation and harmonies with more harpsichord that is really cool. It changes sections and structure as it goes on, and really sounds like a lost piece of underrated music, particularly on this album. The second half of the song is very interesting, as one of the villains goes dancing with a lovely lady, before being put under arrest. Great stuff, this is almost like a children’s story tale which is cool. There is a great twist to it, and this song is indescribably good. Nice piece of music and although more textural than song based, it is perfectly fitting. Some violin and harmonica finish this off, with the horn concluding this piece from the previous track. Excellent.
Do You Like Worms (Roll Plymouth Rock) is another really great piece of music which has some marching drums to begin with, before going into some more excellent singing. It has some glorious harmony based singing, 1960s styled keyboard and some different sounds that actually sound a lot better and more listenable than Pet Sounds ever did. More excellent harmonies enter, and the chanted singing continues. Everything here is very much perfect, and more harpsichord plays along, with some strange and impressionistic lyrics to go. A very fantastic piece of music. It has some prominent bass guitar, before going into multitracked keyboard sounds to finish up with, before having some great harmonies to finish. Awesome stuff.
Next along is I’m In Great Shape which is a nice piece with saxophone that goes less than 30 seconds long. Some great singing and lyrics is in the background here, and fades out in a very psychedelic way at the end. Nice.
Another short piece (less than a minute long) called Barnyard comes along next, with some crafty instrumentation and lyrics, which is really interesting and cool. Perfect music for the beach or a trip with friends on a summer day, this is also really great, with animal sounds sampled in the background. Once again, really great.
My Only Sunshine/The Old Master Painter/You Are My Sunshine is a short piece that begins with gorgeous violin, some pounding drums and some lullaby style singing that is really excellent, and has some heavily treated vocals here. There is a touch of excellent saxophone, before the violin descends melodically, and the next section begins. The music here is really fantastic and just sounds like interesting and decent ear candy, another great listen from The Beach Boys.
Cabin Essence is a proper song here with some interesting lyrics about rural life complete with banjo, harmonica and other beautiful pieces of instrumentation and singing here. It quickly goes into a gorgeous piece of music with harmonic chanting that just sounds really brilliant, before going back in the first part of the music. Once again, the music here is absolutely brilliant and sounds really fine and timeless. If this had been released properly, no doubt The Beatles would have been up with some heavy competition here with their own Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. A great song about the simple life, this is really excellent listening, and will definitely put a smile on your face. After some time, some gorgeous and excellently structured symphonic sounds enter your ears. Another really brilliant song here, all the way to the fade out.
Next along is Wonderful which is a harpsichord and beautiful love ballad, which also has some great Pop/Rock structure and melodic beauty on it. Who needs loud, overdriven Rock guitars when you have this amazing music? This is absolutely amazing, and sadly underrated these days. Still, one can appreciate the awesome and grand beauty of this song and the album as well. Short, sweet and simple with many layers of instrumentation, this is a fine listening experience unlike any other. Great.
Following is Look (Song For Children) which has a mixture of keyboard, piano, trumpet and some punchy instrumentation and occasional singing here. Some gorgeous and unforgettable melodies then enter, followed by drum rolls. This continues to marvelous effect, and just sounds really awesome and interesting. Another well crafted and decent semi-instrumental piece, this sounds totally amazing to this day. Fine music, once again.
Child Is The Father Of Man comes next and has some chugging piano and invincible harmonies that sound truly great. The piece stops briefly, before going straight into some awesome sounding piano parts, followed by some cool bass playing and the song gets going with more chanted lyrics and a great melodic Pop/Rock structure here. Trumpet re-emerges in the background, whilst the beautiful melodies play away. Great music and very unforgettable.
Surf’s Up follows, which begins with some great sounds and brilliant singing here and this is one of the better known pieces from this era of music. A truly great listening experience with some very artistic lyrics at hand about music itself, this is a really excellent song that just sounds really clever and amazing. It goes into a different section here that is indescribably great music, this is no doubt the greatest work by the genius mind of Brian Wilson via The Beach Boys. We are extremely lucky to hear this today, and this is a very special album. This song is another brilliant effort of great instrumentation of keyboards, bass playing, trumpet and clean electric guitar playing. It quickly goes into a piano ballad that sounds really fine, and has a bit of lyrical heartbreak mixed with some surf based culture here. Some reprised sing from the previous song enters towards the end of the song, and this piece sounds really amazing, all the way through to the fade out. Excellent song.
The following piece is I Wanna Be Around/Workshop which begins with a beautiful guitar melody, xylophone and other thrilling instrumentation. It then launches into the second section with clanging workshop styled sounds that are really awesome and brilliant. Very crafty and inventive, even if it does seem somewhat random. A very good piece of intermission styled music.
After that is Vega-Tables which has clanging piano, some awesome harmony based singing and is a rather unusual piece, complete with carrot being crunched here as a sound effect. A very good and innocent sounding piece of music, and a great melodic Pop/Rock story. The chorus is instantly memorable and catchy, and this whole thing sounds really amazing with some grand singing and vocal sound effects, not too far away from Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd here. A really cool piece of music, this is a fine piece of music that sounds nothing but impressive. Cool and awesome 1960s music in a great format today, it has some glorious harmonies towards the end to finish it off. Brilliant.
Holidays begins with flute and xylophone, and is interesting. It quickly goes into an inventive and fresh sounding piece of great Pop music that is cool, and fits this album very nicely. No lyrics or singing here, just a really clever and interesting instrumental that suits the album perfectly. Nice to hear, it quickly has some electric piano enter and this piece gets very interesting towards the end. Some chanted singing enters in the background towards the end here, and is really beautiful, mixed very nicely indeed at the end.
Wind Chimes begins with more xylophone and bass playing that is excellent. This song is really amazing and gloriously good, and has strength in the beauty of this piece. The singing here is really great and infectious, and is a simple, melodic and effective piece of music here. It quickly goes into a song that sounds like an orchestral marching band piece, before bringing in a musical intermission with layered and textured instruments. Another great song, it is surprising that Brian Wilson scrapped this album, it is very near perfect. Great song and listen, all the same.
Next along is The Elements: Fire (Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow) which sounds different, and has some freaky and psychedelic sounds that are really interesting and different. It’s likely this piece was an evocation of fire itself. It quickly goes into a strange and unusual instrumental here that has some weird sonic equivalent of fire trucks here. Some harmonies float around in the background here, and this piece sounds definitely different. Great section, even if it sounds really weird.
Following is Love To Say Dada which begins with some harmonies singing about water and has some interesting and wonderfully created textures here that are excellent, especially in the vocals. There are multitracked and wonderfully layered with interesting variation, before going into an intelligent and lively instrumental section that sounds cool and clever. A song section then emerges, with wordless harmonies and a great sonic structure about it. This sounds great, with a brief pause before finishing up. It finishes with some excellent harmonies from earlier on in the album.
Good Vibrations comes next, and is the classic song by The Beach Boys that is a grand showcase for this album. It is a song about a girl that one desires. The chorus has Theremin in it, and some very, very good singing on it. It is a classic 1960s romanticism piece that sounds cool, clever and original. A really excellent song and well thought out, Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys made Pop/Rock that is infectious and lovable. In the middle is an organ sound with some nice, soft singing before some great bass guitar enters, along with distant harmonica. The singing bridge is really cool, before going back into the chorus base here. Some brilliant violin and the Theremin return, this is a Pop/Rock masterpiece from start to finish. Good song.
You’re Welcome should be the last track here which isn’t a bonus track of outtakes or recordings, and although isn’t listed as a proper album track, should be heard on the finish of the album. It has some beautiful and chanted lyrics to make one smile. Some pounding drums and more xylophone finish this piece off, and a truly great album is here for us to hear today. Thank goodness that is the case, a great listen.
This album is a real masterpiece from start to finish. It is an overlooked and underrated piece of music that is beautiful, expressive, artistic and wonderful for all to hear. If you ever wondered where Smile went, here it is in all its glory. Quite simply, the best listen by The Beach Boys. For those who have at least a passing interesting in Classic Pop/Rock music, give this a listen today. No regrets assured.
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