All the talk over the course of Beach Boy Brian Wilson's career that he was a genius still carries a lot of weight. The man was and still is one of the brightest and creative musical minds in the universe.
Smile took Pet Sounds to another level of creativity and production that were unmatched for its time, changing the landscape of recorded music forever. Along with Pet Sounds, it is one of the most incredible achievements in recorded music.
Wilson's lifelong struggle with drug use and depression has stunted his growth personally and creatively over the years. Many of the difficulties are behind him now although he still fights with emotional problems that he is recovering from with each passing day. He finally faced his life long demons and it gave him the ability to finally finish Smile (started in 1967) and bring it home to the stage after nearly four decades of hibernation.
This two DVD set will mesmerize you. The first disc delves into Wilson's career, the making of the legendary recording, and all the personal triumphs and tragedies the man experienced along the way, which I found more than fascinating. Watching Brian and his crackerjack band perform Smile in its entirety before an audience that waited seemingly forever to see it was an amazing event to witness. The history alone behind this musical masterpiece was heartrending enough to feel the anticipation of completion as much as the people involved. Brian is such a good person, a sensitive and brilliant artist that really cares about the product he brings to his public. This becomes evident through a series of interviews with him, people in the band, and others close in his circle of family and friends. People thought he was a freak but he was actually far ahead of his time, truly epitomizing the term musical genius.
What Brian Wilson did with Smile was create one of the first progressive art rock albums. We realize this now of course but when it was in process, the people around him, mainly the Beach Boys, were unsupportive, and this crushed his spirit. Wilson had a very real fear of failure and what his audience and peers would say about the music he recorded, these feelings froze Wilson in time with Smile for what seems now like an eternity. Everyone believed, along with the creator, that it would never see the light of day. Collaborator Van Dyke Parks came back to Brian's camp to help him finish the project and it was as if he never left. Their chemistry is undeniable and the fires of creativity started to burn again-and now we finally have a complete musical opera to enjoy. Smile is a three-part rock opera beyond musical definition. It is now what Wilson intended it to be all along.
This was and is a spiritual sojourn for Wilson, his band, and all of his fans. Now that the project is finally complete, we can enjoy the CD and the performance on DVD. He is on tour this year promoting his latest album Gettin' in Over My Head and will be playing songs from Smile as well. The music is incredible and the story behind it just as mind-boggling. This will be one of the very best music DVDs that you experience this year, it is necessary addition to your collection. In two DVDs you will witness the true to life story of a star that almost died but found the courage to face his fears and renew his commitment to his art form, it is the stuff that legends are made of. We are all better for it in the end, as Brian Wilson has pure magic to give us, if we believe in him.
Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
is a veteran syndicated music critic, his reviews appear in over 35 publications
world-wide. To read more of Keiths work visit muzikreviews.com