Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE

Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE


First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2005, Volume 12, #7

Written by John Metzger


Prior to its release in 2004, SMiLE undoubtedly was the most anticipated album in history, and while its contents weren’t nearly as groundbreaking as they would have been in 1967, the fact remains that it is one of the finest artistic works ever to be crafted. Over the years, its story has been told countless times, but its improbable completion combined with its happy ending is enough to transform the epic tale into a quintessential examination of one man’s ability to triumph over adversity.

The centerpiece of the first disc in the two-DVD set Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE is David Leaf’s loving documentary Beautiful Dreamer, which chronicles Brian Wilson’s life story as much as it does the making of a masterpiece. In telling the saga — which, over the course of nearly two hours, tracks a linear progression from Wilson’s early infatuation with George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue to SMiLE’s debut before an audience in London — Leaf tends to brush aside the controversy that typically has surrounded the outing. As a result, he leans, at times, a tad too heavily towards worshiping his subject. There also is little in the way of new insight to augment the already well-known facts regarding the project. Nevertheless, the end result remains a rather engrossing endeavor, and one is left in awe of both the fragility of the human mind as well as the power of music to heal a broken spirit.

The latter half of Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE features a complete performance of the song cycle at a homecoming concert held in Los Angeles. Presented with a 5.1 surround sound mix, the set begins by replicating the ambience of the venue, but by the time that Wilson and his band launch into the familiar strains of Good Vibrations, the sonic textures become far more expansive. Also included in the package is a plethora of bonus footage, most notable of which is a discussion between Wilson and his collaborator Van Dyke Parks and post-show moments from SMiLE’s debut in London. All in all, none of the material is nearly as relevant as the album itself, but as a whole, Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE fully documents an extraordinary slice of American music history. starstarstar ½


Of Further Interest...

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Sean Lennon - Friendly Fire

Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue: Legacy Edition


Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2005 The Music Box