The longest incubation period for a pop album in music history ended last year with Brian Wilson's long-overdue delivery of his mythic Smile. Even more shocking than its appearance was that it was better than even the most optimistic Beach Boys fan could've imagined. Thankfully, those around Wilson had the foresight to let David Leaf and his crew film the Smile- making process right up to and including Smile's stage debut in London. Leaf's wonderfully engaging documentary, Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson And The Story Of Smile, puts the whole unbelievable tale into proper perspective with blow-by-blow commentary from Wilson, lyricist Van Dyke Parks and other participants along with intriguing insights from Wilson's wife, Melinda Wilson, his music biz contemporaries, collaborators, friends and competitors.
But that's just the first disc of the Brian Wilson Presents Smile two-DVD set. The second is a complete performance of Smile recorded months after the London debut in Los Angeles. By then, Wilson and his band had a chance to work out all the kinks, and the multi-camera shoot looks and sounds flawless. But historically speaking, it would've been much more worthwhile to include that first shaky London show - gaffes and all - with Paul McCartney's and George Martin's standing ovation as a fitting closing scene. In any case, it's very heartening to see that sometimes even outlandish dreams can come true.