The holy grail of classic rock, the Beach Boys' SMiLE album was worked on tirelessly by Brian Wilson, his chosen studio musicians, and the rest of the group during late 1966 and early 1967, but most of the completed tracks were scrapped and lay in disarray for decades while an assortment of sources -- both legal and extra-legal -- gradually began piecing out elements of the whole. (Aside from the numerous bootleg releases, several Beach Boys' albums of the late '60s and early '70s included some material, while the Good Vibrations box set of 1993 featured 30 minutes of SMiLE sessions.) Now, for the first time, Capitol is releasing hours and hours of SMiLE sessions, resulting in one of the most long-awaited releases in modern music history. [The SMiLE Sessions is available in several different editions, all of which include one disc that re-creates what a mono release of SMiLE could've sounded like. A two-CD package adds one disc of sessions tracks, while a Deluxe Edition includes a total of five CDs, two LPs, and two 7" singles -- including the one disc of SMiLE, three discs of SMiLE sessions, and one disc of assorted sessions from the making of the "Good Vibrations" single throughout 1966. The Deluxe Edition also features a 2' x 3' poster, gatefold double LP with accompanying booklet, and a 12" by 12" photo and essay hardcover book.]
Rolling Stone (p.78) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "Think of this SMILE as Wilson's first solo album, with those voices as golden brush strokes....There is delight and confidence in Wilson's exchanges with his studio crew."
Rolling Stone (p.75) - Ranked #1 in Rolling Stone's '10 Best Reissues Of 2011' -- "The outtakes take you into Wilson's imagination before it shut down in disappointment."
Spin (p.82) - "Brian Wilson's vision always was more aligned with America's myth than its reality....He sees it end to end, from pilgrim hymnals and banjo-led frontier songs to Hollywood's version of the Wild West..."
Spin (p.51) - Ranked #1 in Spin's 'The Top 10 Reissues Of 2011' -- "[M]ore of a dazzling masterpiece than the original might've been -- America through a prism before rock'n'roll deflowered it."
Billboard (p.40) - "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."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.89) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "There's clarity and dynamism here....There are surprises which have, until now, been hidden away on bootlegs, such as the discarded, jazzed-up version of 'Wonderland'..."