The SMiLE Sessions - The Beach Boys

Universal acclaim - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Oct 31, 2011
    Quibbles aside, everything about this package is richly detailed, immensely pleasing, and overall a wonderful experience.
  2. Dec 16, 2011
    This release reorients us around familiar material, but outdoes all previously existing versions in the scope of its execution and comparative completeness.
  3. Nov 2, 2011
    What's here is brilliant, beautiful, and, most importantly, finally able to stand tall on its own.
  4. Dec 15, 2011
    Ultimately Smile is a case of what might have been, and after all this time that's probably only to be expected. [Dec. 2011 p. 140]
  5. Nov 1, 2011
    The Smile Sessions fits into no present-day category, context or franchise. [Nov 2011, p.105]
  6. Jan 31, 2012
    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]
  7. Nov 1, 2011
    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.
  8. Nov 8, 2011
    Wilson has always said he wanted to make a "teenage symphony to God." This Smile is so wonderfully close. Hallelujah.
  9. Nov 2, 2011
    The quantum leap that SMiLE represented in 1967 is impossible to recreate or access in 2011. [Oct 2011, p.110]
  10. Nov 30, 2011
    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.
  11. Oct 28, 2011
    What's beyond doubt is the quality of the music he made.
  12. 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.
  13. Nov 1, 2011
    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.
  14. Oct 28, 2011
    Memories are fuzzy, but the music now it's here is pure and gorgeous, the familiar mesh of brotherly voices exquisite as ever.
  15. Nov 28, 2011
    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.
  16. Dec 8, 2011
    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.
  17. 63
    He [Brian Wilson] more skillfully balanced inspiration and aspiration elsewhere.
  18. Nov 7, 2011
    Every bit as riveting as the groundbreaking music is the ever-present studio chatter.
  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. Somehow, allowing it its true moment on the shelves has solidified the record's historical importance.
  21. Oct 28, 2011
    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.
  22. Nov 18, 2011
    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).
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 45 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 13
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 13
  3. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Nov 1, 2011
    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
    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 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. Nov 12, 2011
    A masterful recording! The beach boys lay out beautifully eerie vocal harmonies on a canvass of complex instrumental arrangements, providing listeners with a magnificent piece of pop-psychedelia, who's beauty and sophistication would leave fans of "Pet Sounds" open-mouthed and astonished. However, the real triumph of smile is the drastic mood swings reflected in the sadness of a young man aching over lost-innocence ("Wonderful") to the cheerful drug-induced frivolity of candy-wrapper consumption ("Vegetables"), culminating in a complex display of intensity, anxiety, and finally a subdued calmness that underlies the elements suite. Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys capture sadness and laughter, pain and joy, hardship and humanity, and all the remaining contradictions that sum up the American Experience, from the conquest of American Indians to the shores of Blue Hawaii. That said, this is still an unfinished album. While, engineers Mark Linnett and Alan Boyd do an incredibly job making a piece of music that stands as a full album, this collection contains snippets and half-tracks, some of which stand on their own ("Do You Like Worms"? "Child is the "Father of the Man"), but others that ring hollow in the absence of completion ("Holidays", "Look"). At other times, the engineers try to create the appearance of completion through the inclusion of ill-advised fly-ins and other snippets that were probably never intended for conclusion on the final album. Thus, the myth of "Smile" still remains. Fans looking for a semblance of resolution, a glimpse as to what "Smile" would have been if finished and released in 1967, will stand disappointed. What we have is an unfinished work, but one who's breadth and beauty, merits a listen or a thousand. Full Review »