The Beach Boys – The SMiLE Sessions (2CD)

The Beach Boys

The SMiLE Sessions (2CD)

2011, Capitol Records

Rating: 4.5/5

SMiLE is considered by many as the Holy Grail of Rock music. Since it’s beginnings back in ’66 this release has been wished for by not only Beach Boys fans but music fans in general. Now some 40-odd years later we finally see a legitimate release. While some of these sessions have been released over the years on bootlegs it is here where we get a more focused glimpse into the SMiLE project.

There has never been a set track-list for SMiLE. The BRIAN WILSON PRESENTS SMiLE solo release from a few years back served as a sort of template for this set. While there were books printed (and later destroyed) along with promotional album flats by Capitol in ’67 there was no order confirmed. Now 40 plus years later we rely on Wilson’s memory and notes.

Some of the tracks on here are not 100% from the original sessions. Some were incomplete and vocals were added from other sessions at the time through the use of modern technology to ‘finish’ the songs and make them more listener friendly. While some purists may be turned off by this it is a somewhat small price to pay to finally have an official SMiLE disc in our hands.

Disc One contains the SMiLE album plus 8 ‘Bonus’ tracks. For those unfamiliar with the old boots that surfaced many, many years ago this music will be a new aural experience  for you and for the rest of us a new light is cast onto the familiar tracks. In a couple of instances the songs do not have the old fade out that I am accustomed to hearing instead end rather abruptly. Maybe it is a different take from my old cdr? Whatever way you want to look at it the songs sound better than they ever have. While I am not a die-hard Beach Boys fan, I do enjoy many of their songs. The late 60’s era (PET SOUNDS, SMiLE) are where Brian was at his creative peak. I cannot comment on which take is which so I will leave that to those in the know. I will say that hearing SMiLE in this form is a real treat. The songs “Surf’s Up” and “Vega-Tables” are personal favorites. The inclusion of the ‘Demo’ versions as bonus tracks make it even more special.

Disc Two is filled with goodies. From demos to backing tracks it’s all hear for you. It’s a ‘Best Of’ the box so to speak. We the listener get a glimpse into how the songs began from inception to completion. You get to hear Brian’s specific instructions as well as some goofing around during the sessions. A real treat for the listener that it is being included.

A near perfect double disc set. For myself personally I would have had just the ‘Album’ on Disc One and all the ‘Bonus’ material on the second disc. That’s my only complaint about this set which is very minor in the big picture of things. 44 years after it’s humble beginnings SMiLE has finally arrived. While it may never have been finished back in the day this is as complete and finished as it ever has or will be. Many will choose this 2CD set while others of us will go for the 5 CD Box complete with double LP. There is also a stand alone 2 LP set for the vinyl fans. If you are only interested in the SMiLE album with a few ‘Bonus’ tracks you may want to search out the single disc set being released in the UK. I know there are many of us that want and will buy this in all forms (Box, Single and Double CD and 2LP). With it’s release only a couple of weeks away there is no better time to pre-order this so that on November 1st you will be guaranteed to SMiLE.



1. Our Prayer (1:06)

2. Gee (0:51)

3. Heroes And Villains (4:53)

4. Do You Like Worms (Roll Plymouth Rock) (3:36)

5. I’m In Great Shape (0:29)

6. Barnyard (0:48)

7. My Only Sunshine (The Old Master Painter / You Are My Sunshine) (1:57)

8. Cabin Essence (3:32)

9. Wonderful (2:04)

10. Look (Song For Children) (2:31)

11. Child Is Father Of The Man (2:14)

12. Surf’s Up (4:12)

13. I Wanna Be Around / Workshop (1:23)

14. Vega-Tables (3:49)

15. Holidays (2:33)

16. Wind Chimes (3:06)

17. The Elements: Fire (Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow) (2:35)

18. Love To Say Dada (2:32)

19. Good Vibrations (4:13)

Bonus Tracks

20. You’re Welcome (1:08)

21. Heroes And Villains (Stereo Mix) (4:53)

22. Heroes And Villains Sections (Stereo Mix) (7:16)

23. Vega-Tables Demo (1:46)

24. He Gives Speeches (1:14)

25. Smile Backing Vocals Montage (8:30)

26. Surf’s Up 1967 (Solo Version) (4:09)

27. Psycodelic Sounds: Brian Falls Into A Piano (1:30)


1.    Our Prayer "Dialog" (9/19/66)   (3:02)

2.    Heroes And Villains: Part 1   (3:08)

3.    Heroes And Villains: Part 2   (4:18)

4.    Heroes And Villains: Children Were Raised (1/27/67)   (2:07)

5.    Heroes And Villains: Prelude To Fade (2/15/67)   (3:42)

6.    My Only Sunshine (11/14/66)   (6:52)

7.    Cabin Essence (10/3/66)   (5:19)

8.    Surf’s Up: 1st Movement (11/4/66)   (4:55)

9.    Surf’s Up: Piano Demo (12/15/66)   (3:53)

10.   Vega-Tables: Fade (4/12/67)   (5:25)

11.   The Elements: Fire session (11/28/66)   (8:27)

12.   Cool, Cool Water (Version 2) (10/26-10/29/67)   (3:32)

13.   Good Vibrations Session Highlights   (8:20)



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