'Smile': Greatest Record Never Heard In the late 1960s, Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson began work on an ambitious album called Smile. It was never released. Now Wilson is touring Europe, playing a 45-minute concert version of the music to high praise from critics. Hear "Surf's Up," a song originally recorded for Smile.

'Smile': Greatest Record Never Heard

'Smile': Greatest Record Never Heard

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In late 1966, Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson created what some consider his most glorious single ever, "Good Vibrations." For a long time thereafter, all was silence and rumors. In fact, Wilson was working quietly with lyricist Van Dyke Parks on what he hoped would be his magnum opus, a vast, abstracted suite called Smile.

Brian Wilson performs his long-awaited album Smile in Paris. PIERRE ANDRIEU/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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But some of his fellow Beach Boys were vehemently opposed to any deviation from what had become their lucrative signature sound. Wilson — depressed, drugged out and increasingly out of touch with reality — scrapped the project and became a recluse.

Still, fragments from Smile sessions surfaced on Beach Boys albums and a raft of bootlegs. Over the years, those in the know have hailed the work as an imaginative breakthrough. Now, nearly four decades later, the public is finally getting a chance to hear the most celebrated album never released. Wilson is taking a 45-minute concert version of Smile on a European tour. Reviewing the London premiere, a critic for The Guardian called it "the grandest of American symphonies." Tim Page reports on the history of Smile.