Best Album That Almost Never Was?
I picked up Brian Wilson's long unfinished work, SMiLE on the Saturday, and sat down and listened to the entire thing before going out that evening. It's not The Beach Boys proper (and despite what critics will tell you the greatest Beach Boys album is Sunflower, even though Pet Sounds is close), but it's still a wonderful wonderful listen and brought a smile to my face while listening.
It's interesting hearing what Wilson was trying to acomplish with the album. It's not a pop-rock album proper, but rather an attempt to put together that 20th Century Americana into musical form. There is the trademark Beach Boys harmonies, but also some folk music ("You Are My Sunshine") and even elements of Gershwyn and other classic American music in there. The reworked versions of some old favorites ("Heroes and Villians", "Surf's Up" and "Good Vibrations") are initially a little distracting, but in the end they feel right, as if only Brian could rightfully tweak things and still maintain the integrity of the song.
All in all, this is a great listen and one of the best albums of 2004 (or is that 1967?). Grade: A