The SMiLE Sessions - The Beach Boys
The SMiLE Sessions Image

Universal acclaim - based on 22 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 45 Ratings

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  • Summary: The collection of sessions from the never-released SMiLe album are finally released together after many years of parts of the collection being released through bootlegs or legally on other album collections.
  • Record Label: Capitol
  • Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Psychedelic/Garage, AM Pop, Psychedelic Pop, Sunshine Pop
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. 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]
  2. Somehow, allowing it its true moment on the shelves has solidified the record's historical importance.
  3. 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.
  4. Oct 31, 2011
    Quibbles aside, everything about this package is richly detailed, immensely pleasing, and overall a wonderful experience.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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]

See all 22 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 13
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 13
  3. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Dec 21, 2011
    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've drastically had changed music, no doubt. Expand
  2. Nov 5, 2011
    This is Beethoven's 10th or Schubert's Finished;-it is what we 60's survivors were missing when we were scandalously offered left-over scraps on Smiley Smile and Friends.Brian's 2004 version was the prelude. This is the Real Thing! With the youthful energy and the original sounds. An incredible labour of re-assembly of the atomised parts of that crashed and derided folly of Brian Wilson.This puts Cabinessence,Surf's Up and Good Vibrations up on their fallen pedestal,and re-unites them with the other lost jewels in the crown;-Wonderful,Child of Man,Wind Chimes.And all of this Symphony is now Complete.
    Ludwig van,Franz and now,Brian.
  3. 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? Expand
  4. Feb 11, 2013
  5. 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. Expand
  6. 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. Expand
  7. Nov 1, 2011
    Having listened to countless bootleg versions of SMiLE over the years, I am convinced that the love this album gets isn't due to the music itself, but is due to the fact that it was never released nor completed. A few things should be pointed out: First, in its now-official form, the album runs the length of an LP-and-a-half. Had it been released in 1967, it would have been cut by a third, or else the band would have had to press on and add even more material--highly unlikely, and which may have made it a better or worse album, but would have assuredly pushed the release date into 1968. Two LPs or one LP, the album would not have been released until the end of 1967 at the earliest, by which point there was a big backlash against the psychedelic scene (see: "Their Satanic Majesties Request"). If it had come out then, it almost inevitably would have been called overlong, pretentious, meandering, and a letdown compared to "Pet Sounds"--which, really, it is. There's some good tracks here and there--Heroes and Villains, Vega-tables, and, of course, Good Vibrations are all standouts. Surf's Up is a nice ballad, Wind Chimes is quite charming, and the opening prayer is a nice touch. But the rest is middling, tossed-off, and forgettable. Tracks like Child Is Father of the Man, Love To Say Dada, and Cabin Essence really don't hold up and, frankly, are kind of annoying. Unfinished(?) tracks like Holidays and Mrs. O'Leary's Cow are pointless filler that don't go anywhere. As much as many reviewers want it to be, SMiLE is no Sgt. Pepper, Are You Experienced, or Piper At The Gates of Dawn. Even Country Joe & The Fish's "Electric Music For The Mind and Body", as much of a period piece as it is, stands head and shoulders above SMiLE. Not to say SMiLE is a totally worthless album. Its highlights merit repeat listening, and the link tracks are weirdly endearing, although, as mentioned before, much of this material would have been cut had it come out as a single LP back in 1967. So, it is what it is. The official SMiLE isn't much different from all the bootlegs we've heard over the years, and like most of them, it's even mixed in mono. And, like those bootlegs, the official version is a lot more hype than it is substance. But it is weird, and I like weird pop music. As far as Beach Boys albums go, it's one of the best. But that's not saying much. Whatever your take on it, one thing is for sure: its unofficial status made this weird but underwhelming album into a legend. And after all these years, it's nice to have it on the shelves instead of behind the counter Expand

See all 13 User Reviews