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Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece Paperback – November 1, 2007
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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Most annoyingly, Priore makes a habit of delving into repeated jabs anything conservative, Republican, or "red state" that he can work in. He's self-righteous, yet clueless enough to moan about "brainwashing of the red states" without realizing he's up to the same underhanded behavior. This shallow process leads to a disappointing book. I've read several Beach Boys books, this is the only one I can't recommend.
One reviewer was complaining about Priore's book, saying that "Priore seems to be a good, devoted fan but not the guy to write a proper, journalistic book." Another review says that Priore "doesn't use factual information" - to both of these claims I will ask why would Brian Wilson AND Van Dyke Parks give their recommendation for this book if it is full of false information? I will also point out that the first paragraph in the 'Acknowledgements' section is FULL of the names of the people who DIRECTLY contributed to this book...this list includes Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Tony Asher, David Leaf, Chuck Britz, and many others.
As a consumer it irritates me when I see a blatant lie in an amazon review: 'Joe Shmo' writes "I'm not exaggerating by saying that most of the book has nothing to do with SMiLE itself." I respond by saying that the entire book is about SMiLE (hence the title). Sure, Priore gives background information on the Beach Boys and of the music scene in LA at the time, but this is VERY necessary for people not familiar with the starting of Psychedelia/Folk-Rock in LA. I'd say that 95% of the book deals directly with SMiLE.
If you actually read the book you will see how jaded many of these negative reviews are. I will say again that if you are even remotely interested in SMiLE ignore the majority of the negative reviews and check out this book.
On to my review:
Priore gives convincing arguments about the reasons for the non-release of SMiLE and Brian's mental breakdown. The book was a quick read for me: This was due to my interest in the subject matter, Priore's writing style, and the length of the book (it is a perfect length for a book on one album, at 190+ pages). As for Priore's writing style: he doesn't just lay out boring statistics and details, rather he tells a story. He covers both the 66/67 SMiLE as well as 'Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE' of 2004. The majority of the emphasis on 66/67 SMiLE.
Another great aspect about this book is Priore's multi-dimensional look at the entire SMiLE project: from the music, to the artwork, to the lyrics, Priore shows most sides of this project.
Now, I have some issues with this book: One, Priore doesn't seem to pay any mind to Brian's drug addictions (or just drug use period) and how this could have (or did) effect his work. I have listened to and read several interviews of Van Dyke Parks, and many others associated with SMiLE that say drugs had a great deal to do with this project. However, I can imagine that Priore saw that the majority of Brian Wilson Bio's and television features already covered this aspect of his life thoroughly, and it didn't need any more coverage - this is understandable. My second issue is that Priore doesn't pay much attention to the musicians who played the music in the original sessions. This is one thing I LOVED about 'Catch A Wave' by Peter Carlin was that he spent many-a-chapter talking about the importance of the wrecking crew. That seemed to be lacking in this book. However, none of these negative aspects (for me) really ruined the book.
If you are remotely interested in psychedelia music and/or the Brian Wilson's "teenage symphony to God" I 100% recommend getting this book.
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