By Chris Moore:
This year, I didn’t listen to all that many remasters or reissues. Pink Floyd re-released all their albums in one intimidating batch. Had it been one at a time, I might have tried one. Nearly every week, there have been remasters or reissues on the new release rack at Newbury Comics. And yet, at year’s end, I am left with only one in mind that carries any weight with me: The Beach Boys’ SMiLE Sessions box set.
This is – finally, officially – the closest we’ll ever come to hearing what SMiLE would have sounded like, had it been released in context over four decades ago. Brian Wilson’s 2004 take on SMiLE turns out to be, as expected, a close approximation and, in some ways, a more complete version. That is the most heartbreaking aspect of this box set: there are parts missing, instrumentation with unfinished vocals, and a general sense of genius abandoned. This being said, The SMiLE Sessions present a gorgeous, expansive vision that may well have been yet another game changer in a series of re-visionings then taking place, led largely by the Beatles.
We’ll never know how much of an impact this album would have had, or how great a success it would (or wouldn’t) have been. What we can do is marvel at the beauty of Brian Wilson’s vision and the Beach Boys’ remarkable vocal soundscapes. (The deluxe box set may only be for the diehard fan, but believe me, it’s well worth it if you consider yourself to be anything approaching diehard!)
1) The SMiLE Sessions – The Beach Boys