Back in 2004, Beach Boys principal songwriter Brian Wilson closed the door on a very troubling part of his life. That would be his long gestating project, SMiLE. Surprising music fans everywhere, Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, and Darian Sahanaja fleshed out the necessary holes, completing what many rock enthusiasts consider to be a legendary record. Now, some seven years later, Wilson plans to open that door again with what Capitol Records is titling, The Smile Sessions.
Due for release later this year, Capitol plans on using the original recording sessions of the band, in an effort to unearth what many purists still consider a “lost album”, regardless of the 2004 inclusion. Amongst its fans pushing for the release is Wilson himself, who via a statement from Capitol Records says, “I’m thrilled that the Beach Boys’ original studio sessions for ‘Smile’ will be released for the first time, after all these years. I’m looking forward to this collection of the original recordings and having fans hear the beautiful angelic voices of the boys in a proper studio release.” Wilson won’t be the only one involved, either, as the remaining band members all support its release, too.
According to Billboard, The Smile Sessions will be separated into three editions: “a two-CD set, an iTunes LP digital album and a limited-edition boxed set containing four CDs, two vinyl LPs, two vinyl singles and a 60-page hardbound book written by Beach Boys historian Dominic Priore.”
For most Beach Boys fans, this piece of news will be seen as a relief, as this particular set dates back to 1988, when engineer Mark Linett, popular for working on previous Beach Boys reissues, started sorting through the group’s Smile tapes. In 1995, a three-CD release, then tentatively titled, The Smile Era, was originally scheduled to hit stores in August of that year, but as history has it, that never came to fruition.
Linett, who also worked with Wilson on 2004’s SMiLE, insists he wants, “the whole piece as close to as it was envisioned, or as is envisioned, as possible . . . and obviously with input from Brian and from everybody else.” Currently, the acclaimed engineer is using SMiLE as a blueprint, which Billboard reports “will be mixed in mono because that’s how Wilson, who’s deaf in his right ear, intended it.” Linett adds, “The main thing I am getting from everybody, after waiting 40 years to have it officially released, is, ‘We want to make sure it is right.’ ”
Incredibly exciting for the Beach Boys camp. Here’s hoping these sessions spark enough love to get the original boys out on the road again, even for a few one-offs. Coachella, we’re looking at you?
The Smile Sessions currently doesn’t have a street date, but we’ll keep you informed as this unfolds. For more information on the original recording sessions, as its an incredible story, check out its Wikipedia entry.