The SMiLE Sessions

  • Record Label: Capitol
  • Release Date: Nov 1, 2011
Metascore
96

Universal acclaim - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Mojo
    Jan 31, 2012
    100
    Even though it'll never be fully completed, Smile is a welcome time capsule from an unrepeatable moment in popular culture. [Dec 2011, p.106]
  2. Dec 16, 2011
    100
    This release reorients us around familiar material, but outdoes all previously existing versions in the scope of its execution and comparative completeness.
  3. Nov 28, 2011
    100
    The SMiLE Sessions is a superior version, its sound undeniably belonging to its era and the true brilliance of Wilson's compositions seeming to shine a tad truer.
  4. Nov 18, 2011
    100
    The word "cinematic" gets thrown around a lot in describing densely orchestrated music these days, but "Smile" was among the first albums to achieve that distinction in the rock era, conjuring movie-like images in the listener's mind with its vivid blend of instruments and sound effects (the crunch of vegetables, the tapping of nails, the riotous conversation of barnyard animals).
  5. Somehow, allowing it its true moment on the shelves has solidified the record's historical importance.
  6. Nov 8, 2011
    100
    Wilson has always said he wanted to make a "teenage symphony to God." This Smile is so wonderfully close. Hallelujah.
  7. 100
    It's easy to lose yourself in the countless studio takes. Little gasps of pure genius here and there. The slow dissolution to it all. The echoes of things to come. It's a history lesson come to life, and that's part of the reason the collection here works so well.
  8. Nov 2, 2011
    100
    What's here is brilliant, beautiful, and, most importantly, finally able to stand tall on its own.
  9. Uncut
    Nov 1, 2011
    100
    The Smile Sessions fits into no present-day category, context or franchise. [Nov 2011, p.105]
  10. Oct 28, 2011
    100
    What's beyond doubt is the quality of the music he made.
  11. Oct 28, 2011
    94
    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.
  12. Nov 30, 2011
    90
    The five-disc set breaks down the album to its building blocks, while the two-CD version provides outtakes and an edit of what the original final product might have been: part tribute, part cartoon, part dream.
  13. Nov 7, 2011
    90
    Every bit as riveting as the groundbreaking music is the ever-present studio chatter.
  14. Nov 1, 2011
    90
    The Sessions are a great listen when you have time to sift through it all, and the package gives hardcore fans more than enough material to immerse themselves in.
  15. Nov 1, 2011
    90
    There is a moment in this five-CD ocean of music when you agree with its creator, the Beach Boys composer-producer Brian Wilson, that the greatest pop album ever made is still within reach.
  16. Oct 31, 2011
    90
    Quibbles aside, everything about this package is richly detailed, immensely pleasing, and overall a wonderful experience.
  17. Oct 28, 2011
    90
    Memories are fuzzy, but the music now it's here is pure and gorgeous, the familiar mesh of brotherly voices exquisite as ever.
  18. Under The Radar
    Nov 2, 2011
    80
    The quantum leap that SMiLE represented in 1967 is impossible to recreate or access in 2011. [Oct 2011, p.110]
  19. 80
    Proving that it is possible to have too much of a good thing, the five discs of this outtakes-and-all edition take the (let's be honest) rather meager delights of Brian Wilson's unfinished "masterwork" and wring the life out of them.
  20. Dec 8, 2011
    78
    Despite the box set's girth and groovy 3-D cover, anyone who's not a hardcore completist or David Leaf understudy will be sated by the 2-CD version.
  21. 63
    He [Brian Wilson] more skillfully balanced inspiration and aspiration elsewhere.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 13
  2. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Nov 1, 2011
    10
    Hard to return to '67 but had this been released then, we could have heard The Beatles pushed beyond Sgt. Pepper. If only...
    Any negative
    Hard to return to '67 but had this been released then, we could have heard The Beatles pushed beyond Sgt. Pepper. If only...
    Any negative reviews based on an excess of material, for example, the overload of extras on the box set, should be considered as a critique of a marketing effort and not a review of the music contained herein. There are some that just won't get it...aren't there always?
    Full Review »
  2. Nov 18, 2011
    10
    As a serious fan of music I strongly recommend this album. If you have listened to Brian Wilson's 2004 SMiLE or Pet Sounds you are still inAs a serious fan of music I strongly recommend this album. If you have listened to Brian Wilson's 2004 SMiLE or Pet Sounds you are still in for a real treat. Having heard many of these songs previously on separate releases or on internet radio, hearing them all in one complete package as originally intended is extremely satisfying. We finally get to hear what the greatest all-American album that never was, really is (or as close as we will probably ever get). Many of the out-takes have some of the more memorable moments of the collection and serve to enrich the actual "album" of songs as intended. As an American in his 20's I am much too young to truly appreciate what the release of this album represents for American pop music and the Beach Boys catalog in general. Still, the music contained within stirs my emotions and inspires me more than any recent musical release possibly could. The Beach Boys, I feel, are under-appreciated in this day and age and are regarded more as a pop staple of the 60's than as a truly innovative musical group (IMO). If you are even a little bit impressed with the musical capabilities of these guys, then please listen to this album and absorb it. This is what music can be. Full Review »
  3. Dec 21, 2011
    10
    Quite possibly one of the best albums I have ever heard in my entire life. And it's unfinished. If this had came out in '67 it would'veQuite possibly one of the best albums I have ever heard in my entire life. And it's unfinished. If this had came out in '67 it would've drastically had changed music, no doubt. Full Review »