Tuesday, May 31, 2005

SMILE again

Last October, I wrote about Brian Wilson’s Smile, which was definitely the pop music event of 2004, maybe of the past ten years. Now there’s a complementary DVD, and if you liked the CD, you’ve gotta have this.

Brian Wilson Presents SMILE (Rhino Home Video) is two discs. The first is a documentary of almost two hours by David Leaf called Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson & the Story of SMILE. It’s fascinating. Almost everybody is interviewed, including Smile lyricist Van Dyke Parks, Brian, and most of the members of his touring band. My only complaint is that it doesn’t address how the Beach Boys salvaged bits of the “lost album” for other projects in the 1970s and how, for 38 years, the game for Wilson fans was figuring out how all those pieces would have fit together had Smile been released as intended in January 1967. Bonuses on the disc include highlights of the world premiere of Smile at London’s Royal Festival Hall in February 2004, plus several interviews with Brian.

Disc Two is the real gem. It’s a live, 50-minute performance of Smile in Los Angeles, as exciting a concert as I’ve seen in a long time. It’s interesting to see Brian’s band (including strings and horns) perform this complex series of suites so perfectly on stage, complete with sound effects (power drills, whistles, mallets, etc.). And when was the last time you saw Brian Wilson really smile? He looks like he’s having the time of his life. Wonderful. Extras on the second disc include a photo gallery, a featurette about the recording of the Smile CD, several videos of Brian at the piano, and lots of other stuff.

Like last fall’s CD, this DVD is a keeper.


At 4:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Smile" is the greatest album of all time. A few years ago, I borrowed a friend's 3-LP bootleg of the sessions and compiled my own version of the darn thing. When the real deal finally came out last fall, the first thing I noticed was that I already owned the Beach Boys' version of every song except "I'm in Great Shape," so I whipped together a CD putting all the pieces in their proper order. I made sure to buy the DVD last week and sat with my headphones on, completely choked up for three hours watching the documentary and then the performance. When I saw a real smile on Brian's face I completely lost it ... the first few times I saw him perform on TV he looked like a zombie, and the way he smiles now is like the sweetest, sappiest happy ending of any movie you've ever seen.


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