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The Smile Sessions [9 CD Box Set] Box set

257 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, November 1, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

The long awaited release of the Brian Wilson and Beach Boys masterpiece, Smile Sessions. With the full participation of original Beach Boys Al Jardine, Mike

Love, and Brian Wilson, Capitol/EMI has, for the first time, collected and compiled the band's legendary 1966-'67 sessions for the never-completed SMiLE

album. Rolling Stone magazine recently called SMiLE "the most famous unfinished album in rock & roll history."

In several sessions between the summer of 1966 and early 1967, The Beach Boys recorded a bounty of songs and drafts for an album, SMiLE, that was intended to

follow the band's 1966 album, Pet Sounds. The master tapes were ultimately shelved, and The Beach Boys' SMiLE has never been released. Drawn from the

original masters, SMiLE Sessions presents an in-depth overview of The Beach Boys' recording sessions for the enigmatic album, which has achieved legendary,

mythical status for music fans around the world.

SMiLE Sessions' physical and digital configurations include an assembled collection of core session tracks, while the box set delves much deeper into the

sessions, adding early song drafts, alternate takes, instrumental and vocals-only mixes, and studio chatter. SMiLE Sessions invites the listener into the

studio to experience the album's creation, with producer, singer and bassist Brian Wilson's vision leading the way as he guides his fellow Beach Boys, singer

Mike Love, drummer Dennis Wilson, lead guitarist Carl Wilson, rhythm guitarist Al Jardine, and newest member Bruce Johnston (who'd replaced Brian Wilson in

the touring group during 1965), through the legendary sessions.

Artwork for all of the SMiLE Sessions' physical and digital configurations has been created with and inspired by Beat-Pop artist Frank Holmes' original 1967

LP sleeve art and booklet designs intended for the SMiLE album. With its three-dimensional shadowbox lid, The SMiLE Sessions box set offers a whimsical peek

inside the storied SMiLE Shop.'

Box Set Content

- 5 CDs / 2LPs / 2 7" singles

- Three-dimensional shadow box lid featuring the original artwork of Frank Holmes.

- The Box Set measures 13" x 13" x 2.5"

- 60 page case bound book features liner notes by:

- Brian Wilson

- Mike Love

- Al Jardine

- Bruce Johnston

- Frank Holmes

- Peter Reum

- Tom Nolan

- Domenic Priore

- Anecdotes by:

- Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford

- Diane Rovell

- Dean Torrence

- Mark Volman

- Michael Vosse

- David Anderle

- Danny Hutton

- Timeline

- Sessionography

- Lyrics

- Frank Holmes drawings

- Producer's Notes

- More than 60 previously unreleased photos

- Box also contains:

- 6 panel folder holding 5 CDs and singles. Features photos of original session tape boxes.

- 7" vinyl singles

- "Heroes and Villains" in sleeve art

- "Vega-Tables" in sleeve art

- Gatefold 2 LPs

- Features full tracklisting of proposed unfinished album +

- Stereo mixes and session highlights (not available on CDs)

- 12" x 12" booklet created for original release features:

- Photos by Guy Webster

- Drawings by Frank Holmes

- 24" x 36" poster of Frank Holmes cover art

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 1, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 9
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Capitol
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (257 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,593 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

202 of 206 people found the following review helpful By Justin Cole on November 1, 2011
Format: Audio CD
It is difficult to accurately judge this set, simply because I am so shocked it actually has been released. While much of this material was leaked out on bootlegs over the past few decades (as well as the first official release of material on the band's box set in the early 90's), we finally have a legitimate release of a deluge of music from the aborted album's sessions.

First, the album itself. Using Wilson's 2004 solo release as its template, this does not entirely work as a stand-alone piece as many of the sections used here were not completed at the time of the original album sessions. That said, it is still astonishing to hear a straight runthrough of the closest "SMiLE" came to completion. And the vast majority of what is finished, and even most of what was not finished, is deeply awe-inspiring. That it was so close to potentially being finalized it its own time just makes the album's history that much more bittersweet.

Now let's get to the four additional CDs of sessions. Simply put, these are a godsend. It is fascinating to be a fly on the wall of these sessions, and the roughly 5 hours of material here was well chosen and carefully culled from the overwhelming amount of material on the master tapes. There is enough material on this set to intimidate even the most ardent Beach Boys fans, and yet it is incredibly well-organized, with multiple takes and disparate elements grouped by song (in album order) and then in roughly chronological order.

It is fascinating to hear tracks mutate over the course of multiple takes--sometimes into different songs.
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful By steve_manassas on November 7, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Note: This review also applies to The Smile Sessions Box Set.

Other than The Beatles' GET BACK album, which still has not been released in its original form (the Spectorized Let It Be (Remastered) and the remixed, de-Spectorized Let It Be... Naked notwithstanding), The Beach Boys' SMiLE project is the most famous (and maybe infamous) unreleased album in rock history. Originally planned as a follow-up to 1966's Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson scrapped the project in mid-1967 after months of work, believing he had lost his competition with The Beatles, and the pressures from the other Beach Boys, plus legal problems with Capitol Records, finally wore him down.

A replacement album, Smiley Smile, cobbled together by the group using only the "Good Vibrations" single and fragments from the original sessions - the rest of the album was rerecorded - was a critical and commercial flop. Fragments of SMiLE were issued on later Beach Boys albums such as 20/20 and Surf's Up.
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122 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Record Producer on November 5, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Beautiful, inspirational, wacky, avante garde, often accessible, sometimes inaccessible, incredibly creative, like nothing you've ever heard, and even for a long-time Smile fanatic, there were endless sessions and material I had never heard before. I feel I finally understand SMILE thoroughly, and I offer four basic conclusions:

1) Brian was not only way before his time, he was way before technology's time. His modular approach to songwriting was an entirely new form of composition in pop music, and while he had SMILE in his head -- and probably multiple versions of SMILE in there at the same time -- the llimited technology of the day (small number of tracks on tape recorders, editing done by razor and tape, etc.) quite simply made his task IMPOSSIBLE. That he was able to piece together "Good Vibrations," "Cabinessence," the released version of "Heroes and Villains," and some other snippets is amazing enough. But to have expected him to release a 50- to 60-minute album with literally thousands of musical fragments and overdubs all managing to hold together as a musical whole would have been beyond the capability of ANYBODY in the decades before computers, digital editing, and other technological advances. Especially when all the time Capitol wanted more hit singles. SMILE was not about hit singles -- it was about a brilliant conceptual whole unlike any recording ever made in history.

2) There was never a SMILE that Brian's 2004 version can be compared to. It was a work-in-progress whose very nature allowed it to be shuffled and rearranged into an infinite variety of presentations. Had Brian finished SMILE in 1967, that would have been just one possible version of his music.
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Topic From this Discussion
What's a "Villian"?
Actually they're authentic repros of 66/67 typos! Seriously!
Aug 26, 2011 by John Manning |  See all 5 posts
Will the ORIGINAL "SMiLE" affect your enjoyment of the 2004 "SMiLE?"
Since Smile never came out back then, the BW version would be considered the official Smile I think. BUT, since they were working off what was done in the 60s, the original sessions are considered the map/groundwork for BW version. BW version is very clean and crisp too much for the haunting... Read More
Sep 8, 2011 by Spikor |  See all 114 posts
Cost of the deluxe set.
Amazon has the policy that if you pre-order you will automatically get the lowest price as of the date of release. The cost may come down in the days after the Nov. 1 release date, but you may want to think about how limited the deluxe version is going to be. There may be a situation where the... Read More
Oct 13, 2011 by Steven Miller |  See all 14 posts
Many vocals are missing!
The box wasn't really intended to include everything ... it was more to give people a good picture of all the work and effort and artistry and genius involved, without bogging people down with too much of the nitty gritty. Many sessions were repetitive, sketchy, or involved the occasional... Read More
Nov 7, 2011 by C. Shields |  See all 22 posts
SMiLE vinyl pressing quality
You're right Christopher, the 3D Smile Shop Cover makes up for the wrinkles, dents or tears...though I'd rather cause the imperfections myself on my goodie since I paid the $$$.
Nov 2, 2011 by Andy Peters |  See all 20 posts
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The Smile Sessions [9 CD Box Set]
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