Brian Wilson; Smile
If Smile had been released in 1967 as originally intended, it would have devastated the musical-landscape like a hammer to Paul McCartney's gurning face. It would have revolutionised sound and changed our mundane, unenlightened lives forever. Well, in Brian Wilson's head, anyway.
In reality, it probably would have been considered Beatles-wannabe nonesense and ignored. Because, unfortunately, Smile isn't the creative brother to Pet Sounds' pop-genius; it's the deranged mutant forced to live in the shed, where it should have remained.
For those unaware of the story, Brian retired from touring with The Beach Boys in the mid-1960s to create a "teenage symphony to God" and surpass The Beatles’ latest output, the over-rated and quite rubbish ‘Sgt Peppers…’. However, Smile was abandoned after several intense months of work and a near mental-breakdown. The best songs (including Good Vibrations) eventually appeared elsewhere.
But during a worldwide tour in 2002, a rejuvenated Brian announced to an uninterested world that he intended to re-record Smile. This new interpretation would lack the influences of the original; the cultures, places and people of the 1960s. Which for hardcore Beach Boys fans is like re-writing The Bible in jive-talk.
Smile feels like an awkward attempt to sound 'wacky'. The sporadic highlights, such as the complex harmonies of Heroes And Villains and the sheer beauty of Wind Chimes, are gradually oppressed by aimless, self-indulgent drivel. The ideal soundtrack to the pub-bore telling you about his weird dreams.
There’s moments of Hawaiian chanting, barbershop singing, animal noises and pieces of wood being banged together (Barnyard, Workshop). It’s inventive, but increasingly tedious.
Predictably, Smile has been championed by the Mojo/Uncut brigade, as if to prove their generation 'did it best'. Yet recent efforts by genuine creatives Bjork, Radiohead and Sonic Youth prove the album should have remained an Ebay exclusive, where it's reputation could have remained untarnished.
02 / 10