September 28th, 2004


In 1966 Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson were in a race to produce the first high concept pop album. Macca got there first with Sergeant Pepper and Wilson's project fell by the wayside.

Now, nearly 40 years later, Wilson's project- Smile- has been completed and issued as a CD.

Smile is a tighter package than Sergeant Pepper. It feels through-composed, less bitty. Also the individual songs are stronger. Sergeant Pepper lost its two best songs- Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields- to a double "A" side . None of the songs that are left, with the possible exception of Day In The Life, belong in the first division. By contrast Smile contains some of Wilson's best work- and concludes with Good Vibrations- which is arguably the greatest pop song ever.

Smile is curiously un-rock'n'roll. There are no guitars. For much of its length it sounds like the 1920s on acid.