• Record Label: Nonesuch
  • Release Date: Sep 28, 2004
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 475 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 78 out of 475

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  1. JackH
    Oct 23, 2006
    10
    Simply the best album since Abbey Road.
  2. PaulW
    May 19, 2006
    10
    With Pet Sounds, I think Brian Wilson already established that he is one of the very top musical minds who ever walked this earth- I mean, listen to 'Don't talk (put your head on my shoulder' and 'Let's go away for a while'- it's way above Lennon and McCartney. 'Smile' is too good for this world, its ideas and execution so quirky and With Pet Sounds, I think Brian Wilson already established that he is one of the very top musical minds who ever walked this earth- I mean, listen to 'Don't talk (put your head on my shoulder' and 'Let's go away for a while'- it's way above Lennon and McCartney. 'Smile' is too good for this world, its ideas and execution so quirky and accomplished (the old West, a Victorian childhood, the earth, fire, water elements) that it will probably always be a 'cult' rather than popular classic. Make no mistake, think of the most famous composers you can think of in history and Brian Wilson's musical mind will be sharper. It's an insult to him to compare his compostional and production genius with The Beatles. Expand
  3. IainS
    Jun 23, 2006
    10
    Saw this track by track in 2004, had the experience of Pet Sounds before that TWICE; Brian Wilson is THE living pop genius. If you can't appreciate the genius of Pet Sounds, Smile or Brian Wilson then there really is no hope for you :)
  4. JereW
    Jul 18, 2006
    0
    Brian Wilson's "Smile" is ridiculous. I laughed when I saw this score...
  5. JohnL
    Aug 19, 2006
    10
    It took me forever to finally get around to this, and I am absolutely blown away. It is BETTER than the raves. I honestly didn't know what to expect, with all the super hype, and I am just amazed. The last original thing he did that I loved was the self titled 1988 album. It would've been a wonder in 1967 to be certain, but I honestly can't imagine a better version than It took me forever to finally get around to this, and I am absolutely blown away. It is BETTER than the raves. I honestly didn't know what to expect, with all the super hype, and I am just amazed. The last original thing he did that I loved was the self titled 1988 album. It would've been a wonder in 1967 to be certain, but I honestly can't imagine a better version than this one. What a great ending to a great story !!! Expand
  6. Illiniq
    Aug 21, 2006
    6
    Belongs right next to Pet Sounds as one of the most critically overrated pieces of work in all Rock and Roll history...silly and in many moments intensely unlistenable... How I wish it had been release in it's own era so it could have been properly assessed as fitting into the Beach Boys body of work just as one thinks of Satanic Majesties for the Stones, Let it Be for the Beatles, Belongs right next to Pet Sounds as one of the most critically overrated pieces of work in all Rock and Roll history...silly and in many moments intensely unlistenable... How I wish it had been release in it's own era so it could have been properly assessed as fitting into the Beach Boys body of work just as one thinks of Satanic Majesties for the Stones, Let it Be for the Beatles, or Nashville Skyline for Bob Dylan. Other than the classics we've already known for forty years (Good Vibrations, Heroes and Villians, Vegetables) the rest of this is just lame, annoying pop pasiche completely unworthy of any "genius" label. Expand
  7. danh
    Jan 11, 2007
    10
    This album is better than pet sounds. It is amazing but would have been better if the other living beach boys were on it.
  8. MichaelT.
    Nov 3, 2007
    10
    This album more than lives up to its own hype. The only slight dissapointment is I don't think the vocal harmonies are as good as the original Beach Boys whould of been but I think his new group do a stella job anyway.
  9. AbrahamR.
    Nov 8, 2007
    9
    It's really a hard to listen album, although it is not so good compared with some albums from the 60's, it's still very good, if someone doesn't like it maybe you should listen to it more times, or maybe just listen to more music, maybe the problem is that you haven't learned how to appreciate it, I had to listen to it 14 times before understanding completely what It's really a hard to listen album, although it is not so good compared with some albums from the 60's, it's still very good, if someone doesn't like it maybe you should listen to it more times, or maybe just listen to more music, maybe the problem is that you haven't learned how to appreciate it, I had to listen to it 14 times before understanding completely what was so wonderful about this album. Expand
  10. Rick
    Feb 19, 2007
    10
    After reading the majority of comments, I have come to this conclusion. The negative reviews are from young dead-eared rap-damaged musically retarded people who wouldnt recognize a good melody if it bit them and collegiate musical zipperheads w/ their heads so far up there own butts they judge music by how complex it may look on a score instead of by their ears,heart and soul! So sad for After reading the majority of comments, I have come to this conclusion. The negative reviews are from young dead-eared rap-damaged musically retarded people who wouldnt recognize a good melody if it bit them and collegiate musical zipperheads w/ their heads so far up there own butts they judge music by how complex it may look on a score instead of by their ears,heart and soul! So sad for you and the future of music and humanity. If you love melody,harmony and muisc as an artform this album is for you! Ignore these sad sad people and SMiLE instead. Expand
  11. BenC
    Apr 28, 2007
    3
    The original is incredible, this is mediocre at best. It has so many stops and starts in the middle of songs that it gets annoying. Tedious is the one word i would use to describe this new album
  12. EliE
    May 29, 2007
    10
    Any flaws you could point out in Brian's vocals compared to the original tapes are drastically outweighed by the faithful attempt at reconstructing this greatest of lost pop albums.
  13. EvanW
    Jun 16, 2007
    8
    This album was truly one of the most unique listening experiences I've ever had. I'll admit to not exactly "understanding" everything I heard, but that's a good thing. Although I can recognize that a lot of critics writing up this album may be writing a lot out of nostalgia, the musical merits hold true. I think a lot of what people are missing in this album is its This album was truly one of the most unique listening experiences I've ever had. I'll admit to not exactly "understanding" everything I heard, but that's a good thing. Although I can recognize that a lot of critics writing up this album may be writing a lot out of nostalgia, the musical merits hold true. I think a lot of what people are missing in this album is its intention. It's supposed to be silly! The title is "Smile" for a reason. Perhaps some are a bit too jaded to appreciate this. Expand
  14. kevink
    Jun 22, 2007
    10
    all of to say is pretty much what the last three people have said except the exact opposite. in the world of pop music brian wilson is god SMiLE is the bible
  15. liors
    Jul 13, 2007
    10
    it's really wonderful , buy this album if you have listened to "pet sounds" before, buy this album if you are willing to give "smile" a chance to be finished and not stay an inflated myth. do not buy this album only because it got a good rating on metacritic , music is a matter of taste not grades.
  16. JoséLuisS
    Jul 28, 2007
    10
    The best of the best... Brian Wilson is a true genius!!!
  17. LeeC.
    Sep 23, 2007
    10
    i think, this is better than 'pet sounds'.
  18. CarlP
    Nov 7, 2008
    10
    In 2004 when his 60's peers had long been spent forces creatively, Brian Wilson gave us SMiLE. If anyone tells you they have ever heard a record quite like this before they are lying because there isn't one. The most simple but remarkable achievement of SMiLE is that is it perhaps the first complete rock/pop "album'. It is not a collection of 3 minute songs recorded In 2004 when his 60's peers had long been spent forces creatively, Brian Wilson gave us SMiLE. If anyone tells you they have ever heard a record quite like this before they are lying because there isn't one. The most simple but remarkable achievement of SMiLE is that is it perhaps the first complete rock/pop "album'. It is not a collection of 3 minute songs recorded together where the sum of the parts is exactly the same as the whole. It is one song composed of many sounds and themes of simple but awe-inspiring scale. Melodies and orchestration that Burt Bacharach or Mozart could only dream of combine with the harmonies invented by Brian Wilson and which for nearly half a century have made his songs the most distinctive and inimitable in contemporary music. Not many artists do Beach Boys covers, because, quite simply, the techical skill and God-given voices required make them unmatchable and mean most mortals could only offer a pale parody of the real thing. But if another artist could never get near improving on "I Get Around" or "Fun,Fun, Fun" then SMilLE makes us all feel even more imperfect in comparison. To offer up Sgt Pepper or any of Brian's rivals best lp's to compare is pointless because they are not complete albums but collections of songs. Great though some of these may be, the likes of "When I'm 64" or "With a Little Help from my Friends" are songs that are not improved or given added significance by being juxtaposed on a long-playing record. "Surf's Up", however is truly magifnicent in its context and and "Heroes and Villains" is not the peak, but just the start of a musical journey we will all feel richer for taking, even if we do want to cry at the end SMiLE. The " man too tough to cry" or, for that matter, laugh, at and with this record really is "beyond belief". Some people might even claim that "Lovely RIta" and the songs recorded with it by The Beatles are better than SMiLE. But surely not with a straight face!! Expand
  19. CG
    Jan 23, 2008
    0
    Completely overrated, unless it is placed in the children's section. By the way, I still think "Pet Sounds" is as charming as ever. I would normally give this a 4 or so, but it seems my duty to help average out all of the Wilson worship. The only musical "genuis" more overrated is Frank Black and that whole Pixies mess.
  20. AlexT
    Feb 12, 2008
    10
    Quite simply one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. It evokes a feeling of happiness and makes you appreciate the musical genius that is Brian Wilson. The arrangements, harmonies, melodies - everything about this album is perfect. While I can understand why some may find this album to be "childish", it is important to understand that it is not only intentional, but characteristic Quite simply one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. It evokes a feeling of happiness and makes you appreciate the musical genius that is Brian Wilson. The arrangements, harmonies, melodies - everything about this album is perfect. While I can understand why some may find this album to be "childish", it is important to understand that it is not only intentional, but characteristic of this particular genre. Created in a different fashion it would lose much of it's effect. A bonafide pop triumph! Expand
  21. MarkS.
    Apr 26, 2008
    4
    I've always found Wilson annoying, sorry. Probably the most overrated album in history
  22. TimothyM.
    May 28, 2008
    10
    The best American album ever.
  23. ChrisS
    Jan 12, 2009
    10
    It's tough to figure out which i'm rating here, this album, or the music. Cause i have a bootleg that follows exactly what this release did with pretty much the same arrangements. and not surprisingly, i like that one better. His voice is amazing, and there's something about those old recordings that sound brilliant. The music is obviously great now, but i'm so happy It's tough to figure out which i'm rating here, this album, or the music. Cause i have a bootleg that follows exactly what this release did with pretty much the same arrangements. and not surprisingly, i like that one better. His voice is amazing, and there's something about those old recordings that sound brilliant. The music is obviously great now, but i'm so happy this got a release. i'm sure Brian feels so much better, he deserves all the accolades he gets. it isn't Pet Sounds (nothing is in my opinion). but SMiLE is a beautiful. and a triumph. Expand
  24. ConnorM
    Nov 4, 2009
    0
    Looking at the comments I think either nostalgia has taken this website by storm, or a company was hired to vote positively, comment positively, etc. this album on websites.
  25. DenisL
    Mar 17, 2009
    1
    Absolutely useless.
  26. JoeS.
    Jul 18, 2009
    10
    'Tis very good, yeah!
  27. BenjaminBunny
    Dec 13, 2004
    5
    I just discovered the Beach Boys last year, so I'm no authority, but "Pet Sounds" has become one of my favorite records--an album that I think many would agree has transcended time and still sounds appealingly fresh and accessible. This, on the other hand, sounds about as fresh as a Laurence Welk rerun. On a certain level I can see its "genius"--all the complex vocal lines, I just discovered the Beach Boys last year, so I'm no authority, but "Pet Sounds" has become one of my favorite records--an album that I think many would agree has transcended time and still sounds appealingly fresh and accessible. This, on the other hand, sounds about as fresh as a Laurence Welk rerun. On a certain level I can see its "genius"--all the complex vocal lines, that's why it's a so-called masterpiece right? Because the songs really aren't that great, and frankly, the endless shoo-be-doo-wop woo vocals are just plain cheesy, despite their "brilliant" complexity. Whenever I put this on, I just find myself wanting to listen to The High Llamas' "Hawaii" instead. Sean O'Hagan captured the essence of "Smile" way more listenably than poor aging Brian Wilson has. Even if this had been released 37 years ago, people would still prefer "Pet Sounds," easy. Ugh. Expand
  28. LuCindiM
    Dec 26, 2004
    10
    The world is finally ready for Brian Wilson-the complex Brian. He gave us his joy, his sadness, his dreams, his hopes, his fears, his dismay and we are all lucky to finally be able to thank Brian..thank you for your (audio/visual) "Smile".
  29. JohnF
    Dec 31, 2004
    9
    The finest collection of gumball jamz this side of the Baltic Ocean, hands down.
  30. ZapR
    Dec 13, 2005
    10
    Simply the greatest album ever released -- it transcends pop music to create something both new and old -- part Americana, part whimsical escapism, part pure pop, part symphony. The lyrics are both non-sensical and lucid, and Wilson's compositions are breathtakingly, beautiful, such as "Wonderful." This is music to make us smile.
  31. EvaB
    Nov 29, 2006
    10
    The smallness of vision of the touring Beach Boys for rejecting Brian's SMiLE is staggering. The good thing about this album taking so long to be released is that I am now old enough to savor it. I was a small child when the Beach Boys were at their hieght so their music was "standard" to me. I didn't see the inovation in any of it because I was too young and since it was the The smallness of vision of the touring Beach Boys for rejecting Brian's SMiLE is staggering. The good thing about this album taking so long to be released is that I am now old enough to savor it. I was a small child when the Beach Boys were at their hieght so their music was "standard" to me. I didn't see the inovation in any of it because I was too young and since it was the music that I was growing up to there was nothing remarkable about it to me. Listening to SMiLE now makes me want to go back and actually listen to the other Beach Boys music as albums rather than just singles. Wilson and Van Dyke Parks made majic. Expand
  32. JustinB
    Dec 29, 2007
    10
    Wondrous!
  33. ruggeroruggero
    Nov 16, 2009
    10
    A trip in the inner life of a person and, in the end, the discovery, with GOOD VIBRATIONS, that the most important thing in the life of a person is LOVE. Sgt. Pepper can't compete with SMILE, this one is better than the first one for the musical compositions, the songs, the meanings that it develops and presents. The Beatles were lucky because they didn't search for the A trip in the inner life of a person and, in the end, the discovery, with GOOD VIBRATIONS, that the most important thing in the life of a person is LOVE. Sgt. Pepper can't compete with SMILE, this one is better than the first one for the musical compositions, the songs, the meanings that it develops and presents. The Beatles were lucky because they didn't search for the complexity like Brian in the production of SMILE but Brian wnated the perfection and his label and his bandmates didn't understand. It's a true progressive album. Expand
  34. Jan 24, 2011
    10
    It's not for everyone. It never was really. One reason it wasn't released in 1967 is Brian didn't think anyone would understand it. And, just looking at the "user" scores, that hasn't changed. It's music that goes a lot deeper than some people are worth going when listening. I think it's perfect. It took me a couple years, when it first came out, i didn't really listen. I thought itIt's not for everyone. It never was really. One reason it wasn't released in 1967 is Brian didn't think anyone would understand it. And, just looking at the "user" scores, that hasn't changed. It's music that goes a lot deeper than some people are worth going when listening. I think it's perfect. It took me a couple years, when it first came out, i didn't really listen. I thought it was odd. Then I got into Pet Sounds, and i listened to original SMiLE recordings, and it all clicked. It's music that Wilson was doing because that's what he wanted. There's no pretentious in it at all. Pure genuine, amazing, emotional music. We don't get enough anymore, and because of that, not everyone is attuned to this perfection. Also, the coda to "surf's up" might be the most moving thing ever. Expand
  35. Feb 24, 2012
    10
    Smile was and is a landmark in pop music. Building on his masterful work on Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson creates a complex, moving and bewildering flow of music.
  36. Mar 21, 2011
    10
    The greatest album of all time. Without a doubt. Despite being 37 years old, and with Brian's voice not being anywhere near what it used to be... it's is still astonishing. A tapestry of sounds, imagery, words, ideas and spiritual energies. You have to be fairly bright to "get it".. but my god, if you do.
  37. Sep 29, 2011
    9
    This is an incredible album--the arrangements are interesting and tasteful as **** the songs are awesome, and all of the leitmotifs in the music/lyrics make for a very cohesive album that rewards repeated listens. Emphasis on that last bit--this is a much more "dense" album than Pet Sounds or anything else The Beach Boys/Brian Wilson have created. I didn't like this album too much my firstThis is an incredible album--the arrangements are interesting and tasteful as **** the songs are awesome, and all of the leitmotifs in the music/lyrics make for a very cohesive album that rewards repeated listens. Emphasis on that last bit--this is a much more "dense" album than Pet Sounds or anything else The Beach Boys/Brian Wilson have created. I didn't like this album too much my first time through; a few listens later, though, it started to grow on me, and now it's one of my favorite albums of all time. The only reason this doesn't have a 10/10 is because Brian Wilson's voice, while good for his age, detracts a bit from the whole thing. The backing vocalists are all very good, but nothing is better than 60s Beach Boys harmonies. Oh well...in any case, this album is really worth checking out if you aren't put off by having to take some time to "explore" it fully. Expand
  38. Nov 10, 2011
    8
    This has to be admired for what it is and the time it came from. Pretty revolutionary stuff it has to be said, at the same time, I'm not so sure it's all as good as the critics make out. There are some enjoyable moments but it can be hard work and some parts of this record are just plain bizarre. It reminds me of Sgt Pepper and parts of The White Album, and those types of records was whatThis has to be admired for what it is and the time it came from. Pretty revolutionary stuff it has to be said, at the same time, I'm not so sure it's all as good as the critics make out. There are some enjoyable moments but it can be hard work and some parts of this record are just plain bizarre. It reminds me of Sgt Pepper and parts of The White Album, and those types of records was what Wilson was trying to emulate when it was originally written, but the Fab 4 had classic tracks in with the experimentation. There are very few in comparison found here. It's music history though and really has to be given a lot of time and attention to be appreciated. Expand
  39. Apr 9, 2012
    10
    Surf's up is possibly the best song ever made and Smile is possibly one of the best albums ever made/not made. 2nd only to Pet Sounds, Smile in its newest most complete incarnation is ecstasy.
  40. Sep 17, 2014
    7
    Smile is bitter sweet because it promises to deliver the album we waited so long to hear, but unfortunately it doesn't quite provide us with that fulfillment.

    Don't get me wrong, Brian Wilson Presents Smile is a great album, but it isn't SMiLE by The Beach Boys. The music is all there, the songs are great, the instrumentation is brilliant, but when you listen to it (which I have several
    Smile is bitter sweet because it promises to deliver the album we waited so long to hear, but unfortunately it doesn't quite provide us with that fulfillment.

    Don't get me wrong, Brian Wilson Presents Smile is a great album, but it isn't SMiLE by The Beach Boys. The music is all there, the songs are great, the instrumentation is brilliant, but when you listen to it (which I have several times) you cannot help but wish you were hearing the real thing. It is of course blatantly obvious that the lifestyle of Wilson's during the seventies and eighties affected his voice considerably, and it is evident even more so in his old age. The vocals are just not good enough to do his original vision justice, which in many ways is sad. This is by no means a detriment to Brian, who of course cannot control the quality of his voice, but it does impact upon the experience when that falsetto is missing or the control is off. Hearing what the originals sounded like, these new versions just cannot compare.

    While listening to the album it just seems like Brian is confronting his demons, but that he is now too old and too burnt out to fulfill his vision as he wanted to when he was in his twenties. The magic which he brought to the original album had dissappeared in March 1967, and it now sounds like he is forcibly revisiting material purely for the purpose of finishing it, and not because he is in that inspired moment like he was back in 1967.

    Furthermore, although you can't really fault the band or the supporting singers, they aren't the beach boys, and thus the album suffers from losing that beautiful, harmonic "blend." As Brian said in an interview for the album, when he originally wrote SMiLE he could compose all the music, but at the end of the day he needed the guy's voices to complete it. They are sorely missed on BWPS.

    All in all this is a strong album, and the music is fantastic as previously said. If this album had been released by the Beach Boys in 1967 it could have changed the world of music - but in 2004 it just seems to reignite the sadness of all music fans that it was cruely locked away for 37 years. If you want to hear the definitive version of SMiLE, check 2012's The Smile Sessions disc one.
    Expand
  41. Oct 22, 2014
    10
    The last thing these circle-jerky boys will ever care about is music. After properly absorbing this album with nothing else in my mind but the tunes, following the songs wherever they went, like a good, unpretending, non-dense music listener, and getting all that elation into my life, I made the mistake to go look for reviews to see if anyone else understood why this is the greatest popThe last thing these circle-jerky boys will ever care about is music. After properly absorbing this album with nothing else in my mind but the tunes, following the songs wherever they went, like a good, unpretending, non-dense music listener, and getting all that elation into my life, I made the mistake to go look for reviews to see if anyone else understood why this is the greatest pop music album ever made. I'm very stoic and rational about this, it's just there, bros. All the reviews I saw were all about Brian this, acid that, Mike Love that, or they would talk about the damn packaging, the bonus discs, anything but the music. It's bizarre. It's like they're deliberately avoiding to talk about the music. My conspiracy theorist side yells "The powers that be won't let this sh*t fly!" but the truth is that they're simply forgetting to talk about the music. Because they're stupid. These little internet writers, man. These little writers and career "music fans" all have their little agenda that they simply cannot take some time from. All the talk about it being incomplete. It's not all incomplete. A little imagination will take care of that for you. Noise about being disappointed about it coming out now because they'd rather have the mystery. Laughing my ass off. That's like screaming F*ck music! I'll have celebrity drama over it anyday lol! C'mon and think about the pettiness of thinking like that. I read somewhere that this album is "no musical watershed on Sergeant Pepper"... Son... please... Surf's Up alone destroys that whole thing. What's better than Surf's Up or Cabin Essence in there? A Day In The Life? That lazy songwriting that goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing? Is Wonderful not the spiritual better to Lucy In The Sky? What about the structure of Smile man, has anybody taken time to assimilate the structure, the master flow of the beginning with americana, the intensity of those four songs that make the middle section - it is really a deep and introspective trip all by itself, and I personally never heard anything more intense, getting real at Child Is Father of the Man then going ever deeper down on Surf's Up, what is that song emotionally?! - Then Workshop as a little moment to let things breathe as you realize how great it's all been so far (even that is part of the nonstop flow of this album) and then that string of gems: Vegetables being the happiest thing ever, with that sassy and godlike instrumental fade out that literally no one has ever talked about, the badass classical flourish in the Holidays verses, going into that part with the marimbas that is the apex of the childlike quality throughout this piece, (cantata, so many words for it), that heavenly chant at the end that exemplifies how spiritual and holy are actually keywords for this thing, the benediction at the end of Love to Say Dada, loveable even though aggressively incomplete, then the final lightning bolt of divine with Good Vibrations. But oh wowzers, There's a reprise of the opening track right before the last song in Sgt. Pepper's!! Amazeballs!! Full circle you f*cking plebs!! Got to keep sucking John Lennon's ghost dick I guess lmao. I'm a Beatles fan too but relax... Then there's the ones that say Pet Sounds is better than Smile. Look, you might have some history with that album... Maybe it helped you get over a girl that kicked your little heart in the balls or whatever but other than that it's all status quo and hot air and I'ma need y'all to sit down as well. Don't get me wrong, I know it's heavenly too but see, that's just how good Smile is! Either that or Brian and Carl Wilson are wrong and you're right, by all means man, f*ck me in the ass... It's all sad but also very routine; it's almost obvious to anyone with a realistic view of what this world is that something that good will not be embraced by the general populace. This album is extra-world. It's spiritual, it's a notch up, it is Next Level. People in the way they operate, living their lil' lives and all, are simply not gonna get it or even care really. I get it, and I forgive you. You weren't raised right. In another world maybe. But hey, man, you're missing out on the real deal. For quick summary: Holy Grail of Pop, Next level holy vibes, not for the basic. Expand
  42. Aug 9, 2016
    9
    9.0
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Metascore
97

Universal acclaim - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 29
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 29
  3. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Smile is quite simply the greatest triumph in the history of pop music.
  2. Smile's post-adolescent utopia isn't disfigured by Brian's thickened, soured 62-year-old voice. It's ennobled--the material limitations of its sunny artifice and pretentious tomfoolery acknowledged and joyfully engaged.
  3. Los Angeles Times
    100
    "Smile" emerges as a beautiful and cohesive work, at times deeply moving, at others oddly whimsical, at still others eerily disturbing but celebratory. [27 Sep 2004]