I just got my hot little hands on an advance copy of Brian Wilson's new recording of the long-lost SMiLE album. Some quick impressions: The Music Phenomenal. I am blown away by the melodies that are at once singable and complex. These songs were written by Brian at the hight of his creative muse and it shows. It's a shame that we had to wait so long to hear them all together. The Production Surprisingly and thankfully restrained. I had a fear after hearing Brian's last album that SMiLE would be overproduced and glossy. Not at all. It's as if modern equipment were transported back to 1966. The arrangements sound almost identical to those found on the original session tapes. There are, of course, some minor changes and the album is in stereo instead of mono, but I can't tell you how pleased I am with the results. Bravo to Brian and his band! Gripes As wonderful as the album is (and it is) I still find myself longing for the voices of the Beach Boys. The harmonies are tight and well-balanced but there was a tonal quality to the BB that will never be replicated. Also, Brian's voice ain't what it used to be. Not even close. Instead of effortlessly hitting notes that would put most people to shame I was always wondering if he would be able to stay in tune at all. He does, thankfully, but seems to strain to do so. Life has not been easy for Brian and it shows. Minor quibbles aside, anyone who ever questioned Brian's genius for music need only to listen to SMiLE to see what all the fuss is about. It is a staggering work and well worth the nearly forty year wait.