Brian Wilson’s ‘Smile’ long overdue

  The genius behind the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, has recently released “Smile,” an album that has been 37 years in the making.

 In December 1965, the Beach Boys and The Beatleswere the most popular and successful bands of the moment. Wilson was inspired by The Beatles’ album “RubberSoul.” 

  Up to that point, all of The Beach Boys’ musichad been pretty simplistic and very  radio-friendly, dealingwith topics such as surfing, cars and girls. 

  Wilson believed they were on the verge of a musicalrevolution, and he wanted to dive right in.  His instinctswere right on.  The result was The Beach Boys’ most renowned work, “Pet Sounds.” Everyone took notice, including The Beatles themselves. The Beatles had wrapped up “Revolver” and were intent on responding to The Beach Boys’ apparentartistic challenge.

  Wilson also felt as if he was in a race to follow-up”Pet Sounds” first.  He became obsessed with hisnext project , “Smile.” 

  Wilson did not simply want to remake “PetSounds;” rather, he wanted to take popular music to an evenhigher plane. 

  Wilson had a vision of melding rock with orchestraand coming up with a kind of pop-symphonic sound. 

  While he was trying to bend and break the boundariesof music, he was also delving deeper and deeper into drugs, including the popular drug and sometime artistic influence, LSD. Capital Records began hyping Wilson’s project in late 1966. Fans, the music industry, and even The Beatles were awaiting the arrival of “Smile.”

  After working on the album for more than a year, Wilson heard the Beatles’ single “Strawberry FieldsForever.”    Wilson felt the Beatles had beaten himto the punch. 

  The “Smile” project became a mass ofunfinished studio recordings that were eventually shelved andabandoned. 

  Only a few of the tracks that were salvaged appearedon The Beach Boys’ half-hearted follow-up to “PetSounds,” titled “Smiley Smile.” 

  By 1968 the Beach Boys were irrelevant, as far asthe music scene was concerned.  They would never again attainthe fame and mystique they achieved with “PetSounds.” In December 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked “PetSounds” second, behind “Sgt. Pepper’s LonelyHearts Club Band,” among the greatest albums of all time.

Who knows where “Smile” might have ranked if the project had not been aborted.

  At 62,  Wilson has finally delivered “Smile.”