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  • Rolling Stone: Among Decade's Best Are Wilco, The Black Keys, Amadou & Mariam, Brian Wilson Albums; Wilco, Randy Newman Songs

    Rolling Stone has announced its 100 Best Albums of the Decade, and five Nonesuch releases have made the list, including two albums from Wilco and one each from The Black Keys, Amadou & Mariam, and Brian Wilson. Wilco is also on the magazine's list of the decade's Top 100 Songs, for "Jesus, Etc.," joined by Randy Newman, for his Harps and Angels track "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country." OMM includes the Amadou & Mariam album and Ali Farka Touré's Savane on its list of the decade's Top 50.

  • The Times (UK) Names Nonesuch Albums Among the Decade's Best in Classical, Jazz, World, and Pop

    The Times (UK) has had its say on the best albums of the decade, covering the best in classical, jazz, world music, and pop, and Nonesuch artists are represented in every one: John Adams at No. 1 on the classical list with Doctor Atomic Symphony; Brad Mehldau and Bill Frisell in jazz; Youssou N'Dour, Orchestra Baobab, "Cachaíto" Lopez, and Amadou & Mariam in world; the Malian duo in pop as well, along with Brian Wilson and Wilco.

About this Album

2004 Grammy Award Winner

Brian Wilson’s SMiLE debuts this week on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart at number thirteen with more than 65,000 units sold, according to Soundscan. The album has been met with overwhelming critical enthusiasm—it has been called Wilson’s “masterpiece” by Newsweek and received a five-star review from Rolling Stone, among many other accolades. The record is now enjoying commercial success on a scale last seen by Wilson or the Beach Boys almost thirty years ago.

SMiLE’s number thirteen position on the Billboard chart is the highest for a new Brian Wilson / Beach Boys’ studio recording (non-compilation) since 15 Big Ones reached number eight in July 1976. Previous to that, the last new studio recording to reach the top fifteen was the now-legendary Pet Sounds, which was number ten on the chart in May 1966.

An all-new studio recording of SMiLE—often called the most famous unfinished and unreleased album in pop music history—was released worldwide by Nonesuch Records on September 28, 2004, more than thirty-seven years after its anticipated release date. SMiLE is produced and arranged by Brian Wilson and features the ten-member band that has supported him on tour over the past five years, augmented by an eight-piece string and horn section.

SMiLE, which was written by Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson in collaboration with lyricist Van Dyke Parks, was intended as the follow-up to the band’s groundbreaking Pet Sounds. Record jackets and booklets had been printed and ads had been taken out heralding the record’s January 1967 release date. One of the album’s songs, “Good Vibrations”—which Wilson called a “pocket symphony”—became the band’s first million-selling single, topping the charts in both the U.S. and the U.K. After Leonard Bernstein heard Wilson perform a solo piano version of “Surf’s Up”—an impressionistic ballad also intended for SMiLE—he deemed the song “an important contribution to 20th century music” and hailed Wilson’s gifts as a composer.

But SMiLE never made its initial release date; delays mounted along with the pressure and the project as Wilson had originally envisioned it was finally abandoned. Until now, SMiLE was, as The New York Times says, “the most famous unheard album in pop history.” The circumstances surrounding its withdrawal have inspired documentary films, book-length investigations, and at least one novel. Bits and pieces of SMiLE have surfaced on subsequent Beach Boys albums; a global network of song-swapping fans cobbled together their own wishful-thinking versions of this seemingly lost masterpiece.

Then, in November 2003, Wilson and Parks got together and listened to the thirty-seven-year-old tapes, following Wilson’s announcement of his intention to complete and perform SMiLE in a series of concerts in London. Acting as Wilson’s and Parks’s musical secretary, Darian Sahanaja (a member of Wilson’s touring band), began preparing the music for performance. Wilson and Parks created new material to make the concerts possible.

The public premiere of the newly finished SMiLE took place at the Royal Festival Hall in London on February 20, 2004 to overwhelming response. The Los Angeles Times said, “What we do know now is that Wilson and Parks created a glorious piece of music whose grand ambition is outstripped only by its inherent beauty and cumulative power.” In London, The Guardian referred to SMiLE’s “groundbreaking complexity and sophistication” and wrote that it seemed “the grandest of American symphonies.” The Independent summarized the feeling in the hall: “We knew we’d witnessed a miracle of sorts.”

Buoyed by this reception, Wilson returned with his stage band to Sunset Sound in Hollywood—where he had originally cut portions of “Good Vibrations” and “Heroes and Villains”—to create a definitive studio recording of SMiLE. The resulting album—which Nonesuch releases on September 28—is the summation of a project that had been gestating for nearly four decades, by an artist who has surmounted years of personal and professional struggle.

Beginning in October, Showtime presents the world premiere of Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of SMiLE, a feature-length documentary chronicling the most famous unreleased album in history. Directed by award-winning writer David Leaf and produced by LSL Productions (David Leaf, John Scheinfeld, and Steve Ligerman) in association with Richard Waltzer’s Chautauqua Entertainment, the film features dozens of candid interviews, including an unprecedented one with Wilson himself; exclusive “behind-the-scenes” footage of this past winter’s tour rehearsals; and the excerpts from the first London SMiLE concert.

Credits

MUSICIANS
Brian Wilson, music, vocals, keyboards
Jeffrey Foskett, vocals, guitar, hammer
Probyn Gregory, vocals, guitar, brass, tannerin, whistles
Nelson Bragg, vocals, percussion, whistles, celery
Bob Lizik, bass guitar, beret
Scott Bennett, vocals, keyboards, mallets, guitar
Darian Sahanaja, vocals, keyboards, mallets, drill, secretary
Nick Walusko, vocals, guitar, eye-patch, carrots
Jim Hines, drums, mallets, saw, sound fx
Paul Mertens, woodwinds, sax, harmonica, semi-conductor
Taylor Mills, vocals, power drill, leg-slap
Stockholm Strings ‘n’ Horns:
Björn Samuelsson, trombone
Viktor Sand, saxophone, flute, clarinet
Malin-My Nilsson, violin
Anna Landberg, cello
Staffan Findin, bass trombone
Erik Holm, viola
Andreas Forsman, violin
Markus Sandlund, cello
Dave Stone, acoustic bass

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced and arranged by Brian Wilson
Recorded and mixed by Mark Linett
Mix produced by Brian Wilson and Darian Shanaja
Orchestrations by Darian Sahanaja & Paul Mertens
Basic tracks recorded at Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA, April 10 through April 17, 2004
Overdubs and mix at Your Place Or Mine Recording, Glendale, CA, April, May & June 2004
Assistant Engineers: Kevin Deane, Daniel S. McCoy, Pete Magdaleno
Mastered by Bob Ludwig in HDCD at Gateway Mastering

All song written by Brian Wilson / Van Dyke Parks except for tracks 1, 15 by Brian Wilson; track 5 by Haven Gillespie / Beasley Smith, Jimmie Davis; track 17 by Brian Wilson / Michael Love / Tony Asher.

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