So Brian Wilson has announced that he will be performing the legendary holy grail of rock and roll (or at least one of them), “Smile”, live in concert in 2004 in North America and Europe. What took so long? It’s only been 37 years since production on this unreleased “masterpiece” was halted in a haze of acid fueled paranoia as Brian Wilson descended into a quagmire of (a) eccentricity, (b) insanity, (c) paranoia or (d) all of the above.
If you are not familiar with the history of “Smile”, a thumbnail sketch is as follows:
1. Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys create “Pet Sounds” a monster of a pop masterpiece album.
2. Paul McCartney hears “Pet Sounds.” It blows him away. The Beatles go on to create “Sergeant Peppers” in response.
3. Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys follow up with their “pocket symphony” single “Good Vibrations.” Critics and fans go gaga.
4. Brian Wilson immediately jumps into the creation of “Smile” the follow up to “Pet Sounds” but cans production after hearing “Sergeant Peppers” and thinking that his arrangement of one tune destined for the album is causing outbursts of fire around Los Angeles.
5. Bits and pieces of “Smile” have been surfacing on various bootlegs and legit recordings for the last 37 years.
To say that these concerts will be “historic” is probably a bit much but seeing a performance of “Smile” using today’s modern technology should be amazing.
Can’t wait for next year? Check out Rocument’s “Smile Sessions” site for tips on how to create your own copy of “Smile.” For an even more in depth look at the creation of the album and the chaos surrounding it, I recommend trying to get a copy of the book “Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile!” by Domenic Priore (Last Gasp, P.O. Box 410067, San Francisco, CA 94141-0067 U.S.A.). Will it be worth the wait? I’m guessing a lot of fans are ready to pony up and find out. I just might be one of them.