November 5, 2011 by Amy Gold
After 44 years. the official version of the Beach Boys' highly acclaimed "lost" album, "SMiLE," has finally been released this week on Capitol/EMI. In 1966, the Beach Boys first began recording this album, but the project was abandoned in 1967. Over the years, some of this album's tracks gradually made their way onto other Beach Boys albums, including a number of bootlegs. During the years "SMiLE" was officially unavailable, it acquired a certain mystique and came to be regarded as the most famous unreleased album of all time. (Note: the uppercase M, L and E in this enigmatic album title are not typos.)
In 2003, the "SMiLE" project was resurrected, and in the following year, Brian Wilson released a newly-recorded version. This year, Wilson and other surviving Beach Boys members re-resurrected the project and reconstructed another version of the album from the original "SMiLE" recordings. The finished product, entitled "The SMiLE Sessions," is available as both a 2-CD and box set.
A concept album considered to be ahead of its time, "SMiLE" is a stylistic departure from the types of songs that made the Beach Boys famous in the 1960s and 1970s. The album's tracks consist mostly of songs co-written by Brian Wilson and composer-lyricist Van Dyke Parks, with some session outtakes and a version of the group's "Good Vibrations" also included in the mix. The end result is a unique fusion of the signature Beach Boys' surf pop sound with psychedelia, baroque rock, a rich assortment of special instrumental effects, and a sprinking of humor.