Brian Wilson Presents Smile
|Brian Wilson Presents Smile|
|Studio album by Brian Wilson|
|Released||September 28, 2004|
|Recorded||April 13–17, 2004
Overdubs: May–June 2004
|Genre||Psychedelic rock, baroque pop, psychedelic pop, art rock|
|Brian Wilson chronology|
Brian Wilson Presents Smile (also referred to as Smile) is a solo album by Brian Wilson, with lyrics largely by Van Dyke Parks, released on September 28, 2004, on CD and two-disc vinyl LP. Wilson, Parks and Darian Sahanaja completed the unfinished Smile album project started in 1966 for Wilson's band, the Beach Boys. Wilson's album was released in September 2004 with back-up from members of his touring band, including three members of Wondermints. The archival material from the original Beach Boy sessions was later released as The Smile Sessions in 2011.
History of Smile 
Work on what would have been the original Beach Boys version of Smile began in 1966, following the release of their album Pet Sounds, and based on the engineering methods of their single "Good Vibrations". Wilson and Parks were chiefly motivated to create something explicitly American in style and subject as a direct reaction to the overwhelming British dominance of pop culture at the time.
The original failure to complete Smile has been attributed to several factors: Brian's escalating drug use and mental health issues, Carl Wilson's draft battle, internal resistance towards the project, legal battles with Capitol Records, technical recording difficulties, and Wilson's growing dissatisfaction with the project and increasing paranoia. The album had been intended by Brian to be a "teenage symphony to God."
After many years of being asked about possibly completing the album (or even performing any of the songs from it) to mostly negative responses, Wilson began to perform a few songs solo at his home studio. He decided in late 2003 to not only revisit and complete the album from memory, he shocked many of his peers and even his bandmates by deciding to perform it live in concert. The new version of the album and its performance was made whole by the addition of either lost or newly composed lyrics by Parks that filled the gaps left open by the original 1966-67 Beach Boys sessions.
A live performance of the newly-completed version of Smile was performed by Wilson along with his backing band, which included former Beach Boys guitarist Jeff Foskett, members of Wondermints and percussionist Nelson Bragg, in a live performance at the Royal Festival Hall in London on February 20, 2004. Among those in attendance that first night were Paul McCartney and Beatles producer George Martin. Wilson received a five-minute standing ovation, who also invited a tearful Parks onstage.
As a majority of the original master tapes were only one- and two-minute fragments, Brian decided to re-record the entire Smile album using the original scoring. Recording began in April 2004 with his ten-piece touring band, augmented by a ten-piece string section and an acoustic bassist. The basic tracks were recorded at Sunset Sound in four days, with overdubbing and mixing continuing through June.
The album follows a musical journey across America from east to west, beginning at Plymouth Rock and ending in Hawaii, as well as traversing some of the great themes of American history and culture. It seems chronological, moving from early America through the Victorian era and ending with Hawaii, which in terms of American statehood was still a very new state for 1966.
In subsequent interviews to promote the album, Brian has concentrated on the happy, humorous qualities of the music, which are evident. Lyricist Parks has said that Brian has a "cartoon consciousness."
Smile is presented in the form of three movements. The first section represents early Americana, from Plymouth Rock to the Old West, farmlands, the building of the railroad and new housing; it begins with "Our Prayer" which is coupled with a 1950s doo-wop song "Gee", including the lyrics "how I love my girl." This segues into "Heroes and Villains", with the lyric "My children were raised, you know they suddenly rise, they started slow long ago, head to toe, healthy, wealthy and wise" tying in with the childhood/fatherhood theme of the second suite.
"Roll Plymouth Rock" partly reprises the "Heroes and Villains" theme and features Hawaiian-sounding nonsense lyrics in a theme that is returned to in the third suite. The easy-going "Barnyard" features band members mimicking farmyard animals. The clanging sound of metal evident on "Cabin Essence" is echoed in "Workshop" in the third suite.
Some of the themes of the second section are childhood and fatherhood. Of this section the most obvious are "Song For Children" and "Child is Father of the Man".
The third movement represents "The Elements Suite" that Brian had also mentioned. It begins with the partly waltz-like "I'm In Great Shape", which then features an upbeat vocal and gradually grows darker.
"I Wanna Be Around" suggests the literal physical repair of a broken heart. "Vega-Tables" epitomizes an interest in health and fitness that Brian had at the time. The song, like several on the album, has a carefree, humorous quality. "Vega-Tables" also represents the 'Earth' theme of "The Elements", which is part of the third suite.
"On A Holiday", originally an instrumental, has a reprise of the "Roll Plymouth Rock" lyric and a distinctly jaunty pirate theme with some nursery rhyme-style lyrics. The song segues into "Wind Chimes," the "Air" part of the "Elements". This is followed by the "Fire" element, the Grammy-award winning "Mrs O'Leary's Cow". The song title refers to the suspected cause of the Great Chicago Fire, a cow that knocked over a lantern. The following song, "In Blue Hawaii" (the "Water" element), also makes reference to a cow, "Wholly Holy Cow!"
Smile's final track, "Good Vibrations" is undoubtedly the best known song on the album. However, the Smile version was recorded with the original lyrics penned by Pet Sounds lyricist Tony Asher, rather than the later lyrics written by Mike Love. It also includes the previously excluded "Humm-Be-Numm" harmony section prior to the final refrain. "Good Vibrations" broadly goes through three distinct phases, as the album does, and makes full use of sounds from an electro-theremin, which until 1967 had previously been used mainly in horror films.
On September 28, 2004, Brian Wilson released his newly recorded studio version of Brian Wilson Presents Smile, earning critical praise, and scoring 97 on critical aggregator website Metacritic, the fourth highest score awarded to an album. For the new version Brian, Wondermints leader Darian Sahanaja, woodwind player/string arranger Paul Mertens, and lyricist Parks based their arrangements on the original, unreleased Beach Boys tapes to give it a coherent and fresh, updated sound. Although Wilson originally included "Good Vibrations" as the closing song at Capitol Record's insistence, a new version of the song featuring Pet Sounds collaborator Tony Asher's original lyrics were used rather the better known version penned by Mike Love.
The was followed by two US tours, with its featured stop in New York's Carnegie Hall; a combination of the two shows were broadcasted on NPR's Creators at Carnegie series. The concert series also went to Australia and New Zealand, as well Europe.
The Showtime cable network released a documentary film called Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of Smile in the fall of 2004. A DVD of the concert performance Smile (shot in an L.A. studio) was released in May 2005./
Track listing 
- "Our Prayer/Gee" (Brian Wilson/William Davis and Morris Levy) – 2:09
- "Heroes and Villains" – 4:53
- "Roll Plymouth Rock" – 3:48
- "Barnyard" – 0:58
- "Old Master Painter/You Are My Sunshine" (Haven Gillespie and Beasley Smith/Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell) – 1:04
- "Cabin Essence" – 3:27
- "Wonderful" – 2:07
- "Song for Children" – 2:16
- "Child Is Father of the Man" – 2:18
- "Surf's Up" – 4:07
- "I'm in Great Shape/I Wanna Be Around/Workshop" (Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks/Johnny Mercer and Sadie Vimmerstedt/Brian Wilson) – 1:56
- "Vega-Tables" – 2:19
- "On a Holiday" – 2:36
- "Wind Chimes" – 2:54
- "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" (Brian Wilson) – 2:27
- "In Blue Hawaii" – 3:00
- "Good Vibrations" (Brian Wilson, Tony Asher and Mike Love) – 4:36
- Bonus tracks
- "Heroes and Villains" (Instrumental) – 4:46
- "Cabin Essence" (Instrumental) – 3:27
- "On a Holiday" (Instrumental) – 2:36
- "Wind Chimes" (Instrumental) – 2:54
The first of these tracks appeared on the second-edition CD release of Smile; all of them constitute side four of the vinyl release.
|Tiny Mix Tapes|
|Drowned in Sound|||
Smile received high critical acclaim from music critics, earning a 97 on Metacritic, making it tied as the fourth highest rated album on the website, behind Pinkerton by Weezer, London Calling by The Clash and Exile On Main Street by The Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone gave the album five out of five and said, "Smile is beautiful and funny, goofily grand." Robert Christgau, who was skeptical of the album back in the 1960s, was also impressed: "I considered the legend of Smile hot air back then, this re-creation proves he had plenty more to make of it." He went on to give the album his rare A+ grade. Cokemachineglow writer Scott Reid praised the album for surpassing hype, "Defying most all fan fears, not to mention several laws of logic and nature, Smile has arrived as incredible and ground-breaking a record as any of us could have hoped." Pitchfork Media awarded the album 9.0 out of 10 and later named it fifth best album of 2004 and the 25th best album released between 2000 and 2004. John Bush of Allmusic commented that Smile was "a remarkably unified, irresistible piece of pop music", yet decreed that it was "no musical watershed on par with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or Wilson's masterpiece, Pet Sounds".
Smile also received multiple nominations for the 2004 Grammy Awards, including Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical (for Mark Linett). The album won one Grammy, in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance (for "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow," the same track which had caused Wilson such mental anguish at the end of the original recording sessions).
In December 2009, Rolling Stone placed Smile at number 88 on their list of the decade's 100 best albums.
In 2005, Beach Boy Mike Love sued Brian Wilson over Smile, claiming that Wilson's re-recording of songs originally recorded by the Beach Boys caused millions of dollars in damages to a partnership between himself and Wilson. However, Love's lawsuit was thrown out of court in 2007 by a federal judge, who determined that no such partnership existed between Love and Wilson at the time of the re-recordings and that none had existed for decades.
Charts and sales 
Smile opened at #13 in the US for a chart stay of 17 weeks. It reached #7 in the UK, going gold (100,000).
Three singles were released to promote the album:
- "Good Vibrations" was released on CD and 7" vinyl prior to the album's release and included live versions of "Our Prayer" and "Good Vibrations" from the live debut of Smile recorded at Royal Festival Hall, in London on February 20, 2004.
- "Our Prayer" was released in the United Kingdom as a one-sided 10" single on clear vinyl. The track was remixed as the Freeform Reform Version by the London band Freeform.
- "Wonderful" had a limited release of 5,000 on blue, green, and yellow vinyl backed with "Wind Chimes". The vinyl only release charted at number 29 in the UK singles chart in its first week of release.
- Brian Wilson – writer (music), vocals, and keyboards
- Van Dyke Parks – writer (except "Good Vibrations") (lyrics)
- Tony Asher – lyricist on "Good Vibrations"
- Mike Love – lyricist on "Good Vibrations"
- Brian Wilson Band
- Scott Bennett – vocals, keyboards, mallets, guitar
- Nelson Bragg – vocals, percussion, whistles, celery
- Jeffrey Foskett – vocals, guitar, hammer
- Probyn Gregory – vocals, guitar, brass, tannerin, whistles
- Jim Hines – drums, mallets, saw, sound fx
- Bob Lizik – bass guitar, guitar, beret
- Paul Mertens – woodwinds, sax, harmonica, semi-conductor
- Taylor Mills – vocals, power drill, leg-slap
- Darian Sahanaja – vocals, keyboards, mallets, drill
- Nick Walusko – vocals, guitar
- Stockholm Strings 'n' Horns
- Staffan Findin – bass trombone
- Andreas Forsman – violin
- Erik Holm – viola
- Anna Landberg – cello
- Malin-My Nilsson – violin
- Björn Samuelsson – trombone
- Victor Sand – saxophone, flute, clarinet
- Markus Sandlund – cello
- J. DeRogatis, Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock (Milwaukie, Michigan: Hal Leonard, 2003), ISBN 978-0-634-05548-5, p. 39.
- Smile [Not Released] - The Beach Boys | AllMusic
- http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2006/jan/12/smile/ ‘Smile’, JANUARY 12, 2006 IN RESPONSE TO: A Lost Pop Symphony from the September 22, 2005 issue
- Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of Smile, 2004
- Smile at Metacritic Retrieved 2011-10-07.
- "Pitchfork Media Review". Pitchforkmedia.com. September 28, 2004. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- Bennett, Ross (September 29, 2004). "Drowned in Sound Review". Drownedinsound.com. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- Allmusic Review
- "Robert Christgau Review". Robertchristgau.com. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- "Rolling Stone Review". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- "Smile : Brian Wilson : Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- "CG: Brian Wilson". Robert Christgau. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- [dead link]
- "Smile | Pitchfork". Pitchforkmedia.com. September 28, 2004. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- "Top 50 Albums of 2004 | Pitchfork". Pitchforkmedia.com. December 31, 2004. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- The Top 100 Albums of 2000-04, Part Two | Pitchfork[dead link]
- allmusic ((( Smile > Overview )))
- CNN.com - Kanye West leads Grammy nominations - Dec 7, 2004[dead link]
- "Grammy Award nominees in top categories". Usatoday.Com. February 7, 2005. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- "CNN.com - List: Major Grammy nominations - Dec 7, 2004". Edition.cnn.com. December 7, 2004. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- "2004 Grammy Awards - Grammy Nominations - Grammy Winners 2005". Links2love.com. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- "Mike Love Sues Brian Wilson Over 'Smile'", Billboard, November 4, 2005.
- "Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson Finally Defeats One of Mike Love’s Dubious Lawsuits", Rolling Stone, May 14, 2007.