I don’t even have a cassette player anymore, but I have the cassettes. A half-dozen bootlegs from the late ’90s when the mp3 was still in its infancy. Exhaustively researched, compiled then recompiled, traded over long distances by mail and poured over for hours, these cassettes are filled with outtakes and session clips from The Beach Boys unreleased 1967 epic SMiLE, Brian Wilson’s progressively surreal and gorgeous “teenage symphony to God” that collapsed along with its genius creator into a pit of paranoia and self-doubt. The Icarus of sound.
A few re-worked tracks from the sessions trickled out on other late ’60s and early ’70s Beach Boys records, and Wilson even exorcised enough inner demons to record his own version of the entire record in 2004, a sweet but oddly dulled mirror’s reflection of a masterpiece. Now, the unbelievable is happening. The band will release the restored original sessions later this year. Billboard has the story. Look. Listen. Vibrate. Smile.
I don’t know if this official release makes my old cassettes obsolete or edified, but I think I’ll hang on to them either way.
Stream “SMiLE: A Reconstruction” by Purple Chick (scroll down the page).