I am writing this as I download my newly purchased copy of the Beach Boys Smile LP on iTunes. I am not a huge audiophile; I realize that mp3s are compressed but I appreciate the instant delivery and availability of the music – given my druthers I would fire up vinyl as often as possible for the truest fidelity. You can catch up on the history of Smile here. Some thoughts on Smile…
-Smile has always been considered the greatest lost album of all time, partly due to the fact that Brian destroyed some of the tapes. However, it has been possible to put together a decent facsimile of what may have been intended as the final release due to the abundance of bonus CD tracks that have been released as well as the fact that many of the songs have been put out in various forms – singles, album tracks with modifications, etc. – through the years. I actually put together a mix earlier this year based on my calculations for what Smile would have sounded like.
-Brian put out a newly-recorded version of Smile a few years back which was pretty well received. This has become the model for how Smile would have been structured.
-Brian and the Beatles were, in a friendly fashion, inspired by each other and in friendly competition in the mid-sixties. Brian’s work has been a huge, huge influence on many indie, Americana and other alternative acts these days; the Beatles of course are in their own category for this sort of thing.
-I am, admittedly, a huge Beatles fan, so take the following with a grain of salt: I give the crown to the Beatles hands down. Smile is great but it does indeed sound very much a product of its time, as do many moments of Pet Sounds. The Beatles recordings from that period – Revolver especially and Sgt. Pepper – do not sound dated in the least, whether due to lack of reverb, less daring explorations, whatever.
And whatever. Smile is worth seeking out as a good listening experience and a huge piece of classic rock history.