Pet Sounds

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Pet Sounds
Studio album by The Beach Boys
ReleasedMay 16, 1966 (1966-05-16)
RecordedJuly 12, 1965 (1965-07-12)–April 13, 1966 (1966-04-13),
United Western, Gold Star, Columbia, and Sunset Sound studios, California
GenrePsychedelic rock, baroque pop, psychedelic pop
Length35:57
LabelCapitol
ProducerBrian Wilson
The Beach Boys chronology
Beach Boys' Party!
(1965)
Pet Sounds
(1966)
Best of The Beach Boys
(1966)
Singles from Pet Sounds
  1. "Caroline, No"
    Released: March 7, 1966 (1966-03-07)
  2. "Sloop John B"
    Released: March 21, 1966 (1966-03-21)
  3. "Wouldn't It Be Nice"/"God Only Knows"
    Released: July 18, 1966 (1966-07-18)
 
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Pet Sounds
Studio album by The Beach Boys
ReleasedMay 16, 1966 (1966-05-16)
RecordedJuly 12, 1965 (1965-07-12)–April 13, 1966 (1966-04-13),
United Western, Gold Star, Columbia, and Sunset Sound studios, California
GenrePsychedelic rock, baroque pop, psychedelic pop
Length35:57
LabelCapitol
ProducerBrian Wilson
The Beach Boys chronology
Beach Boys' Party!
(1965)
Pet Sounds
(1966)
Best of The Beach Boys
(1966)
Singles from Pet Sounds
  1. "Caroline, No"
    Released: March 7, 1966 (1966-03-07)
  2. "Sloop John B"
    Released: March 21, 1966 (1966-03-21)
  3. "Wouldn't It Be Nice"/"God Only Knows"
    Released: July 18, 1966 (1966-07-18)

Pet Sounds is the eleventh studio album by the American rock band the Beach Boys, released May 16, 1966, on Capitol Records. It has since been recognized as one of the most influential records in the history of popular music and one of the best albums of the 1960s, including songs such as "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows". Pet Sounds was created several months after Brian Wilson had quit touring with the band in order to focus his attention on writing and recording. In it, he wove elaborate layers of vocal harmonies, coupled with sound effects and unconventional instruments such as bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Electro-Theremin, dog whistles, trains, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans and barking dogs, along with the more usual keyboards and guitars.[1][2][3]

Although Pet Sounds was met with strong sales abroad, reaching number two in the UK, it charted lower in the US than the majority of the band's preceding albums, peaking at number ten on the Billboard 200.[4] A heralding album in the emerging psychedelic rock style, Pet Sounds has been championed and emulated for its dramatic and revolutionary baroque pop instrumentation.[5][6] It has been ranked at number one in several music magazines' lists of greatest albums of all time, including NME, The Times and Mojo Magazine.[7][8][9] It was ranked number two in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.[10] It was preserved into the National Recording Registry in 2004 by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant."

Background[edit]

The track "Sloop John B" predated the recording of the rest of the LP by some months, but it proved to be a pivotal point in the album's development. It was a traditional Caribbean folk song that had been suggested to Wilson by group member Al Jardine. Al updated the chord progression by having the IV, D♭ major, move to its relative minor, B♭ minor before returning to the tonic, A♭. He expected to collaborate further with Wilson on the arrangement, but was pleasantly surprised by what Brian accomplished on his own.[11][12] Wilson recorded a backing track on July 12, 1965, but after laying down a rough lead vocal, he set the song aside for some time, concentrating on the recording of what became their next LP, the "live in the studio" album, Beach Boys' Party!, which was provided in response to their record company so the Beach Boys could have a new album ready for the Christmas 1965 market. What would become the Pet Sounds record could not be finished in time for Christmas 1965.

It felt like it all belonged together. Rubber Soul was a collection of songs…that somehow went together like no album ever made before, and I was very impressed. I said, "That's it. I really am challenged to do a great album."

—Brian Wilson, recalling his first impressions of the US version of Rubber Soul[13]

Halfway through the sessions for Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson was reportedly enthralled with the US version of the Beatles' album Rubber Soul, which was released that December in time for the Christmas market. The British version of Rubber Soul was edited prior to its release in the US to emphasise its folk rock feel that critics attributed to Bob Dylan and the Byrds. Because of its sequencing, Wilson found Rubber Soul to have been an album that lacked filler tracks, which was mostly unheard of at a time when 45 rpm singles were considered more noteworthy than full-length LPs. Many albums up until the late-1960s lacked a cohesive artistic goal and were largely pushed by record labels as a way to sell singles to the record buying public. In opposition to this, Wilson found Rubber Soul broke the mold with a consistent thread of greatness. Inspired, he rushed to his wife and proclaimed, "Marilyn, I'm gonna make the greatest album! The greatest rock album ever made!".[14]

Songwriting and themes[edit]

In early January 1966 Wilson contacted Tony Asher, a young lyricist and copywriter who had been working on advertising jingles, and whom Wilson had met in a Hollywood recording studio months earlier. Within ten days they were writing together. Wilson played him some of the music he had been recording, and gave him a cassette of the finished backing track for a piece with the working title "In My Childhood". It had lyrics, but Wilson refused to show them to Asher, who took the music away and wrote new lyrics. The result was eventually retitled "You Still Believe in Me" and the artistic success of the piece convinced Wilson that Tony Asher was the collaborator he was looking for.

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Lyrics in Pet Sounds are thematically-linked with introspective narratives centered around Wilson's personal experiences. Tony Asher has said of his contributions, "The general tenor of the lyrics was always his…and the actual choice of words was usually mine. I was really just his interpreter."[15]

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"God Only Knows" is reputed for its subtle complexity, and has been cited as an example of how lyrical meaning can be supported and enhanced by a chord progression.[16]

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Most of the songs on the album were written during December 1965 and January 1966. While most were composed with Tony Asher, "I Know There's an Answer" was co-written by another new associate, Terry Sachen.[17]

Mike Love is co-credited on the album's opening track, "Wouldn't It Be Nice", and on "I Know There's an Answer" but with the exception of his co-credit on "I'm Waiting for the Day",[17] his contributions are thought to have been minimal. The exact degree of Love's contribution to "Wouldn't It Be Nice" was never fully determined, but under oath in a court of law, Tony Asher stated it consisted of the tag "Good night my baby/Sleep tight, my baby" and possible minor vocal arrangement.[17]

Love's influence on "I Know There's an Answer" is reputed to have stemmed from his opposition to the song's original title, "Hang On to Your Ego", and his belief that it be partially rewritten and retitled. The original lyrics created a stir within the group. "I was aware that Brian was beginning to experiment with LSD and other psychedelics," explained Love. "The prevailing drug jargon at the time had it that doses of LSD would shatter your ego, as if that were a positive thing... I wasn't interested in taking acid or getting rid of my ego." Jardine recalled that the decision to change the lyrics was ultimately Wilson's. "Brian was very concerned. He wanted to know what we thought about it. To be honest, I don't think we even knew what an ego was... Finally Brian decided, 'Forget it. I'm changing the lyrics. There's too much controversy.'" Terry Sachen, who co-wrote the revised lyrics to this song, was the Beach Boys' road manager in 1966.[18][19]

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In addition to busy orchestrations layered underneath 5-part harmony vocals, Pet Sounds also features numerous instrumental breaks directly inspired by the works of classical composers such as J.S. Bach.[20]

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The album included two sophisticated instrumental tracks. One of them: the wistful "Let's Go Away for Awhile", with a working parenthetical title of "And Then We'll Have World Peace";[17][21] the other: the title track, "Pet Sounds".[nb 1] The subtitle of "Let's Go Away for Awhile" was a catchphrase from one of Wilson's favorite comedy recordings, John Brent and Del Close's How To Speak Hip (1959).[nb 2] Both titles had been recorded as backing tracks for existing songs, but by the time the album neared completion Wilson had decided that the tracks worked better without vocals and so left them as such.[22]

In the late 1960s, many rock releases were arguably concept albums in the sense that they presented a set of thematically-linked songs – and Pet Sounds also instigated other rock artists to consider using the album format in a similar fashion: Pet Sounds was a musical portrayal of Brian Wilson's state of mind at the time.[23] Although it has a unified theme in its emotional content, the chief writers Brian Wilson and Tony Asher have said repeatedly that it was not necessarily intended to be a narrative. However, Wilson has stated that the idea of the record being a concept album is mainly within the way the album was produced and structured as an interpretation of the Wall of Sound recording method as popularized by Phil Spector.[3][24]

Recording process[edit]

Carl Wilson in the recording studio, playing his Rickenbacker 360/12 with session guitarist Bill Pitman.

With writing well under way, Brian Wilson worked rapidly through January and early February 1966, recording six backing tracks for the new material.[nb 3] When the other Beach Boys returned from a three-week tour of Japan and Hawaii, they were presented with a substantial portion of a new album, with music that was in many ways a radical departure from their earlier attempts.[26] Both Asher and Wilson state that there was resistance to the project from within the group, but on this occasion, Wilson's belief in his new work convinced the other members of the group.[15] The backing tracks for Pet Sounds were recorded over a four-month period, using major Los Angeles studios[nb 4] and an ensemble that included some highly regarded session musicians, including jazz guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Carol Kaye, and session drummer Hal Blaine. The tracks were produced and arranged by Brian Wilson. He also wrote or co-wrote every track on the album.

Wilson had developed his production methods over several years, bringing them to their zenith with the recording of Pet Sounds during late 1965 and early 1966. Wilson's approach was in some respects a refined interpretation of the famous "Wall of Sound" technique created by his former mentor and now rival Phil Spector. Equipped with newest state-of-the-art Ampex 8-track recorders, Wilson produced tracks of great complexity using his regular team of 'first call' players, sometimes known collectively as "the Wrecking Crew".[27]

Wilson's typical production method on Pet Sounds was to record the instrumental backing tracks for each song as a live ensemble performance direct onto 4-track recorders. His engineer Larry Levine has reported that Wilson also typically mixed these backing tracks live, as they were being taped, subsequently transferring the sounds onto 8-track machines.[28] Like Spector, Wilson was a pioneer of the 'studio as instrument' concept, exploiting novel combinations of sounds that sprang from the use of multiple electric instruments and voices in an ensemble and combining them with echo and reverberation. He often doubled bass, guitar and keyboard parts, blending them with reverberation and adding other unusual instruments.[29]

Although the self-taught Wilson often had entire arrangements worked out in his head,[nb 5] surviving tapes of his recording sessions show that he was remarkably open to input from his musicians, often taking advice and suggestions from them and even incorporating apparent 'mistakes' if they provided a useful or interesting alternative.[citation needed]

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Pet Sounds tracks are noted for its wall of sound arranging and mixing, wherein numerous instruments playing the same parts were layered on top of each other to give them a unique timbre.

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Brian Wilson often experimented with many recording techniques during the 1960s, including the method of filtering sound input through a Leslie speaker. He recycled this method for the use of lead guitar on the title track "Pet Sounds". Other quirks from this recording also include Coca-cola cans as percussion.

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In spite of the availability of complex multitrack recording, Wilson always mixed the final version of his recordings in mono, as did Phil Spector. He did this for several reasons; one of which was that he felt that mono mastering provided more sonic control over the final result that the listener heard, regardless of the vagaries of speaker placement and sound system quality. It was also motivated by the knowledge that, back then, radio and TV were broadcast in mono, and most domestic and automotive radios and record players were monophonic. Another and more personal reason for Wilson's preference of recording in mono was due to his being almost totally deaf in his right ear, rumored to be the result of childhood injury to his eardrum caused by a blow from his violent father Murry Wilson, although Wilson has claimed that he was born deaf in one ear.[30]

These backing tracks were then dubbed down onto one track of an 8-track recorder,[nb 6] and, although much of the fine detail in the arrangements was often covered by the group's rich vocal harmonies, they interacted effectively with the vocal tracks. This mono recording meant that a stereo mixdown could not be achieved. Wilson's partial deafness made him indifferent to stereo and it was not until the advent of digital recording that it was possible to combine the instrumental and vocal session-tapes to achieve a true stereo release.[31] Six of the remaining seven tracks were usually dedicated to each of the Beach Boys' vocals.[nb 7] The last track was usually reserved for additional vocals and/or instruments and other 'sweetening' elements.

Further recording[edit]

By February 1966, Wilson was in the studio with his session band laying down the first takes for a new composition, "Good Vibrations".[15] During that month, Wilson gave Capitol a provisional track listing for the new LP, which included both "Sloop John B" and "Good Vibrations." This contradicts the long held misconception that "Sloop John B" was a forced inclusion as the hit single at Capitol's insistence: in late February, the song was weeks away from release.[15][32]

Wilson worked through February and into March fine-tuning the backing tracks. To the group's surprise he also dropped "Good Vibrations" from the running order, telling them that he wanted to spend more time on it. Al Jardine remembers:

At the time, we all had assumed that "Good Vibrations" was going to be on the album, but Brian decided to hold it out. It was a judgment call on his part; we felt otherwise but left the ultimate decision up to him.[15]

Most of March and early April was devoted to recording the remaining backing tracks and to the crucial recording of vocals, a process which proved to be the most exacting work the group had hitherto undertaken, as Mike Love later recalled:

We worked and worked on the harmonies and, if there was the slightest little hint of a sharp or a flat, it wouldn't go on. We would do it over again until it was right. [Brian] was going for every subtle nuance that you could conceivably think of. Every voice had to be right, every voice and its resonance and tonality had to be right. The timing had to be right. The timbre of the voices just had to be correct, according to how he felt. And then he might, the next day, completely throw that out and we might have to do it over again.[15]

A third instrumental, called "Trombone Dixie", had been fully recorded, but it remained in the vaults until its inclusion on the album's 1990 remastered CD release. On October 15, 1965, Wilson went to the studio to record an instrumental piece entitled "Three Blind Mice", bearing no musical connection to the nursery rhyme of the same name. It's not known what the piece's purpose was to be, but it was inexplicably included as part of the Beach Boys' 2011 release of The Smile Sessions.

According to various people, during sessions there was conflict in the group over the radical direction Brian had presented with Pet Sounds.[33] Reportedly, one of the biggest issues was its complexity, and how the touring Beach Boys would be able to perform the music live.[34] Such claims were denied by Dennis Wilson in later years.[35]

Cover photo and title meaning[edit]

Brian Wilson at San Diego Zoo.

On February 15, the group traveled to the San Diego Zoo to shoot the photographs for the cover, which had already been titled Pet Sounds.[15][26] George Jerman has been credited for taking the cover photo.[36] According to the Pet Sounds' liner notes, "The photos of The Beach Boys feeding an assortment of goats was a play on the album's chosen title, Pet Sounds."

Both the origin and meaning of the album title Pet Sounds are uncertain. Brian Wilson has claimed at one point that the title was "a tribute" to Phil Spector by naming the album using his initials.[37] Carl Wilson later spoke about the album title: "The idea he had was that everybody has these sounds that they love, and this was a collection of his 'pet sounds.' It was hard to think of a name for the album, because you sure couldn't call it Shut Down Vol. 3."

Mike Love also has laid claim to coming up with the title. "We were standing in the hallway in one of the recording studios, either Western or Columbia, and we didn't have a title," he recounted. "We had taken pictures at the zoo and ... there were animal sounds on the record, and we were thinking, well, it's our favorite music of that time, so I said, 'Why don't we call it Pet Sounds?'"[15]

Initial release[edit]

By mid-April Pet Sounds was finished and had been submitted to Capitol. "Caroline, No" was released as a solo single; it was credited to Brian Wilson alone, leading to speculation that he was considering leaving the band. The single reached number 32 in the US.[38]

"Sloop John B" was extremely successful, scoring a number three chart placement in the US[38] and number two in Great Britain.[39] "Wouldn't It Be Nice" reached number eight in the US where it was treated as the A-side.[38] Its flip side, "God Only Knows," was featured as the A-side in Europe, peaking at number two in Britain,[39] as a B-side in the US, it reached number 39.[38] The LP broke into the top 10 in the US, belying its reputation as a commercial failure there. In Australia, the album was only released under the title The Fabulous Beach Boys on the Music for Pleasure label.

Pet Sounds' greatest success was in the UK, where it reached number two in the LP charts.[39] Its success there was aided by considerable support from the British music industry, who embraced the record warmly; Paul McCartney spoke often about the album's influence on the Beatles. Bruce Johnston has often stated that he flew to London in May 1966 and played the album for John Lennon and Paul McCartney.[40] But although it's been claimed that the Rolling Stones manager Andrew Oldham helped Derek Taylor publicize unsolicited advertisements lauding the album in British music papers, a search of the UK pop press for 1966 fails to uncover any such advert.[41][42]

However, unlike Beach Boys' Party!, Pet Sounds did not enjoy commercial success. Its initial release in the US peaked at number ten, reportedly disappointing Wilson.[citation needed] Much of the blame for its lukewarm commercial fortune has been placed with Capitol Records, which did not promote the album as heavily as the band's previous releases. Its initial release was not awarded gold certification by the RIAA despite eligibility since mid–1967.[43] Pet Sounds eventually was presented with gold and platinum awards in 2000.[44]

Reception and influence[edit]

Critical reaction[edit]

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic5/5 stars[45]
Blender5/5 stars[46]
Chicago Tribune4/4 stars[47]
Entertainment WeeklyA+[48]
Q5/5 stars[49]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[50]
Slant Magazine5/5 stars[51]
Sputnikmusic5/5[52]

Pet Sounds has often been cited by both critics and musicians as the greatest rock album of all time, including by Mojo magazine and by Paul McCartney, who acknowledges that it was the primary source for the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[53] Although not originally a big seller for the band, Pet Sounds has been influential since the day it was released.[54] According to music journalist Stephen Davis, it was the first rock album that could have been considered a concept album. In his 1972 review for Rolling Stone, Davis called it "by far" Brian Wilson's best album and said that its "trenchant cycle of love songs has the emotional impact of a shatteringly evocative novel".[55] Yahoo! Music's Bill Holdship later called it "the masterpiece" and "perhaps rock's first example of self-conscious art ... a beautiful reflection of romanticism in the modern world by an artist who probably wasn't made for these times."[53] By contrast, Robert Christgau felt that Pet Sounds was a "good record, but a totem."[56]

Carl Wilson later reflected, "It was just so much more than a record; it had such a spiritual quality. It wasn't going in and doing another top ten. It had so much more meaning than that."[57]

Acknowledgements by other musicians[edit]

[Pet Sounds] blew me out of the water. I love the album so much. I've just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life…I figure no one is educated musically 'til they've heard that album…it may be going overboard to say it's the classic of the century…but to me, it certainly is a total, classic record that is unbeatable in many ways…I've often played Pet Sounds and cried. I played it to John [Lennon] so much that it would be difficult for him to escape the influence.

Paul McCartney, recalling his first impressions of Pet Sounds[58]

A great number of artists and musicians have revered Pet Sounds as a remarkable milestone in the history of popular music. These have included Tom Petty,[nb 8] Elton John,[nb 9] Elvis Costello,[nb 10] and members of Pink Floyd,[nb 11] Cream[nb 12], The Who,[nb 13], and The Beatles.[nb 14] Paul McCartney has frequently stated his affinity with the album, citing "God Only Knows" as his favorite song of all-time, and accrediting his uniquely melodic bass-playing style to the album.[58] Simon Neil of Scottish band Biffy Clyro has the lyrics "God only knows what I'd be without you" tattooed across his chest in reference to the song's lyric and to his wife Francesca, being the first song they danced to.[69][70] Seattle-based folk band, the Fleet Foxes have often been seen paying tribute to the album.[71] In the 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, it was reported that the singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston was enraptured with Pet Sounds, and immediately lead him to buy the rest of the Beach Boys discography. He later recorded his own version of "God Only Knows".[72]

According to Thom Yorke, portions of the album OK Computer were based on the atmosphere of Pet Sounds.[73] The album strongly influenced not only the Beatles' Sgt Pepper, but also their 1966 album Revolver.[74] References to song titles in Pet Sounds are present in countless albums, some of which include Louis Philippe's I Still Believe In You, Cornelius's Fantasma, Kaiser Chiefs' Employment,[75] Pizzicato Five's Pizzicatomania!, Coma Cinema's Blue Suicide, and Yann Tomita's Doopee Time.

Pet Sounds has inspired a number of tribute albums such as Do It Again: A Tribute To Pet Sounds, The String Quartet Tribute to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, and Mojo Presents: Pet Sounds Revisited. Many songs from Pet Sounds have also appeared on general-themed Beach Boy and Brian Wilson tribute albums like Making God Smile and Smiling Pets, which feature cover versions by various artists including Sixpence None the Richer, Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her, and Thurston Moore.[76] Other notable artists who have covered tracks from Pet Sounds include They Might Be Giants, David Bowie, Black Francis, Peter Thomas, Sonic Youth, Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wolf, Tim Burgess, Saint Etienne, and the Flaming Lips.

There are many Pet Sounds tribute parodies including Punk Sounds by the Huntingtons.[77] There have also been track-for-track mash-ups such as Sgt. Petsound's Lonely Hearts Club Band which is a blend of Pet Sounds with the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was released under the pseudonym "The Beachles".[78]

Heralding the psychedelic era[edit]

Brian Wilson's response when asked about acid and the song "Hang On To Your Ego":

Yeah. I had taken a few drugs, and I had gotten into that kind of thing. I guess it just came up naturally.

—Brian Wilson, Out-Of-Sight!: The Smile Timeline[79]

Brian appeared to become interested in Eastern philosophy and the psychedelic experience, in particular; often pointing to ego loss, or ego-death, as the key to a better way of living:

Studying metaphysics was also crucial, but Koestler's book [The Act of Creation] really was the big one for me.

—Brian Wilson, Out-Of-Sight!: The Smile Timeline[79][80]

During the 1960s, Wilson spoke extensively of the dramatic effects LSD had on his psyche.

About a year ago I had what I consider to be a very religious experience. I took LSD, a full dose of LSD, and later, another time, I took a smaller dose. And I learned a lot of things, like patience, understanding. I can't teach you, or tell you what I learned from taking it. But I consider it a very religious experience.

—Brian Wilson, c.1966[81]

According to music critic Jim DeRogatis:

Along with Revolver and The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, Pet Sounds is one of the first psychedelic rock masterpieces with its artful experiments, psychedelic lyrics, and new sounds on guitars, organs, pianos and other instruments. Pet Sounds created worlds that only existed on tape and which couldn't necessarily be duplicated on stage, even with the help of an orchestra. The resulting album is a touching plea for love and understanding. While psychedelic drugs inspired the Beatles to look at the problems in the world around them, they made Brian Wilson turn his attention inward and probe his emotional longings and his deep-seated self-doubts.

—J. DeRogatis, Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock[82]

Jim DeRogatis also stated:

Pet Sounds, Revolver and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, relics of the first era of psychedelic rock and shining testaments to what can be accomplished in the recording studio when folks are fueled on the potent drug of rampant imagination.

—J. DeRogatis, Milk it!: collected musings on the alternative music explosion of the 90s[83]

Music professors Paul Hegarty and Martin Halliwell have written:

On Pet Sounds, singer-songwriter Brian Wilson used an eclectic mixture of instruments, echo, reverb, and innovative mixing techniques learnt from Phil Spector to create a complex soundscape in which voice and music interweave tightly.…Whereas Sgt. Pepper explores the relationship between past and present, between metaphysical and material worlds, and between fantasy and reality, in a matter that foreshadows the temporal and narrative expansion of progressive bands from the late 1960s and 1970s, the personal intimacy of Pet Sounds set it at a slight remove from the psychedelic culture that informed the San Francisco sound of 1966—7. Nevertheless, the trippy feel of Pet Sounds related directly to Brian Wilson's experimentation with LSD.

—Paul Hegarty, Martin Halliwell, Beyond and Before: Progressive Rock Since the 1960s[84]

Legacy[edit]

Re-issues[edit]

In 1990, Pet Sounds was released in mono CD format with three bonus tracks: "Unreleased Backgrounds"[nb 15], "Hang On to Your Ego" and "Trombone Dixie" all of which were described as unreleased.[85]

In 1997, The Pet Sounds Sessions box set was released which included the original mono release, the first stereo release and three CDs of out-takes and rehearsals.[86] The stereo mix was released in 1999 on vinyl and on CD. The current CD release has the original mono version, followed by "Hang On to Your Ego" as a bonus track, and the album remixed in stereo.[86]

Recordings from Brian Wilson's 2002 concert tour, in which he reproduced the whole album live on stage, were released as Pet Sounds Live.[87]

On August 29, 2006, Capitol released the 40th Anniversary edition of Pet Sounds. The new compilation contains a new 2006 remaster of the original mono mix, DVD mixes (stereo and Surround Sound), and a "making of" documentary.[60] The discs were released in a regular jewel box and a deluxe edition was released in a green fuzzy box. A two disk colored gatefold vinyl set was released with green and yellow disks with the yellow one having the mono mix on it and the green disc having the stereo version.

On September 2, 2008, Capitol reissued a single LP version replicating the original artwork and the inner sleeve with the original mono mix on 180 gram vinyl.[88]

Accolades[edit]

In 1995, nearly thirty years after its release, a panel of top musicians, songwriters and producers assembled by MOJO magazine voted it "The Greatest Album Ever Made." It was number one in New Musical Express's list "The 100 Best Albums". In 1997, Pet Sounds was named the 33rd greatest album of all time in a poll conducted in the United Kingdom by HMV, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM.[89] In 2006 Q magazine readers voted it the 12th greatest album of all time; critics of German magazine Spex voted it the best album of the 20th century; in 2001 the TV channel VH1 placed it at number 3. The Times magazine ranked it the greatest album of all time.[90]

It also placed number two on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time behind only Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles.[10] In 2004, it was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. In 2006, the album was chosen by TIME as one of the 100 best albums of all time.[91] The album has inspired many progressive rock bands and was later named as one of Classic Rock magazine's "50 Albums That Built Prog Rock".[92][93]

PublicationCountryAccoladeYearRank
The TimesUnited KingdomThe 100 Best Albums of All Time[94]19931
New Musical ExpressUnited KingdomNew Musical Express Writers Top 100 Albums[95]19931
MojoUnited KingdomMojo's 100 Greatest Albums of All Time[96]19951
The GuardianUnited Kingdom100 Best Albums Ever[97]19976
Channel 4United KingdomThe 100 Greatest Albums[98]199733
Grammy AwardsUnited StatesGrammy Hall of Fame Award[99]1998*
VirginUnited KingdomThe Virgin Top 100 Albums[100]200018
VH1United KingdomVH1's Greatest Albums Ever[101]20013
BBCUnited KingdomBBC 6 Music: Best Albums of All Time[102]200211
Rolling StoneUnited StatesThe 500 Greatest Albums of All Time[103]20032
Jim DeRogatisUnited StatesOne Hundred and Ninety Eight Albums You Can't Live Without[104]20032
Robert DimeryUnited States1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[105]2006*
Time MagazineUnited StatesThe All-TIME 100 Albums[106]2006*
QUnited KingdomQ Magazine's 100 Greatest Albums Ever[107]200612
The ObserverUnited KingdomThe 50 Albums That Changed Music[108]200610

(*) denotes an unordered list

Live Performances[edit]

The entire Pet Sounds album has been played live either by The Beach Boys or by Brian Wilson. Several of the songs from the album have become live staples for the group including Wouldn't It Be Nice, Sloop John B and God Only Knows.[109]

Brian Wilson performed the entire album live on three occasions on his 2002 Pet Sounds tour and his 2006 Pet Sounds tour which included fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine at several shows. He also performed it twice on his 2013 tour which again included Al Jardine as well as original Beach Boys guitarist David Marks.[110]

Wouldn't It Be Nice, Sloop John B and God Only Knows have been performed at most Beach Boys shows since the albums release. Wouldn't It Be Nice has had several lead vocalists over the years due to Brian Wilson's absence from touring, these have included Carl Wilson, Al Jardine and Jeff Foskett. Sloop John B has also been a live staple with Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston or Carl Wilson often covering Brian's part. God Only Knows was long considered Carl Wilson's signature song at live shows until his death in 1998, following his death Bruce Johnston began to sing the lead at live shows. During the band's 50th Anniversary Tour all three songs were played including God Only Knows featuring Carl Wilson's pre-recorded vocals and a tribute video.[109]

I Just Wasn't Made For These Times and Pet Sounds were both performed live by The Beach Boys for the first time on the band's 50th Anniversary Tour. Here Today has only been performed by the Mike Love led Beach Boys with he and Bruce Johnston alternating on the lead.[109]

Caroline, No and You Still Believe In Me have been played by the band at several times during their live history. Caroline, No was played infrequently throughout the 70's, 80's and 90's with Carl Wilson on lead vocals. You Still Believe In Me was also played infrequently during the early 70's and again in the early 90's with Al Jardine on Brian's original lead.[109]

That's Not Me, Let's Go Away For Awhile and I Know There's An Answer have only ever been performed by Brian Wilson during his Pet Sounds tours, The Beach Boys have never performed the songs live.[109][111]

Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) and I'm Waiting For The Day were both performed by Brian Wilson but also by The Beach Boys in the 70's.[109] With Brian absent from the group Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) was performed with Carl Wilson on lead vocals. I'm Waiting For The Day was performed with backing member Billy Hinsche on lead [112]

Close Beach Boys friend Scott Mathews planned a "Pet Sounds Live" world tour project that he designed and began spearheading in 1983 with full participation from Brian Wilson. However the tour never took flight due to one band member having creative difficulties in adjusting to changing the tour formula, even for such a special event and the much needed credibility the band would gain. When an unacceptable offer from the 'swing voter' was finally proposed in 1991, Mathews officially passed on pursuing the Pet Sounds performance project as he preferred to protect his relationship with one of his closest friends, Carl Wilson. Brian Wilson however would go on to tour the album as previously mentioned.[113][114][115][116]

Track listing[edit]

Pet Sounds has had many different re-issues since its release in 1966, including remastered mono and stereo versions. The first release of the album on CD came in 1990, when it was released with the addition of three bonus tracks. In 2001, Pet Sounds was re-released with "Hang on to Your Ego" as a bonus track.[86][117]

All songs written and composed by Brian Wilson/Tony Asher except where noted. 

Side one
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Wouldn't It Be Nice" (B. Wilson/Asher/Love)B. Wilson and Love2:25
2."You Still Believe in Me"  B. Wilson2:31
3."That's Not Me"  Love with B. Wilson2:28
4."Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)"  B. Wilson2:53
5."I'm Waiting for the Day" (B. Wilson/Love)B. Wilson3:05
6."Let's Go Away for Awhile" (B. Wilson)instrumental2:18
7."Sloop John B" (trad. arr. B. Wilson/Jardine)B. Wilson and Love2:58
Side two
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."God Only Knows"  C. Wilson2:51
2."I Know There's an Answer" (B. Wilson/Sachen/Love)Love and Jardine with B. Wilson3:09
3."Here Today"  Love2:54
4."I Just Wasn't Made for These Times"  B. Wilson3:12
5."Pet Sounds" (B. Wilson)instrumental2:22
6."Caroline, No"  B. Wilson2:51
Notes

Personnel[edit]

The majority of the groups, session musicians and engineers information has derived largely from musician union contracts, web sources and books stating information about the record. This means that some of the information isn't certain or accurate. Furthermore, while contracts contain the session date, song title and hours booked, none was required to be precisely accurate. The date on the contracts were often changed to comply with union requirements.

According to Russ Waspensky,[119] Laura Tunbridge[3] and Brad Elliott,[17] except as noted.

The Beach Boys
Additional musicians and production staff

(*) denotes uncertainty where or if the musician plays the instrument on the album.

Sales chart positions[edit]

Albums
YearChartPosition
1966US Billboard 200 Albums Chart10
1966UK Top 40 Album Chart2
1972US Billboard 200 Albums Chart50
1990US Billboard 200 Albums Chart162
2001Top Internet Albums24
US Singles
YearSingleChartPosition
1966"Caroline, No"US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart32
1966"God Only Knows"US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart39
1966"Sloop John B"US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart3
1966"Wouldn't It Be Nice"US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart8
UK Singles
YearSingleChartPosition
1966"God Only Knows"UK Top 40 Single Chart2
1966"Sloop John B"UK Top 40 Single Chart2

Chart information courtesy of Allmusic and other music databases.[4][123]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Originally entitled "Run James, Run", the suggestion being that it would be offered for use in a James Bond movie).
  2. ^ Wilson can be heard talking about it in a session outtake included on The Pet Sounds Sessions boxed set).
  3. ^ Sessions begun on July 12, 1965 (1965-07-12) with "Sloop John B". After finishing the rushed Party! album, Wilson returned to the studio sporadically throughout November and December to finish "Sloop John B", and to begin work on "You Still Believe In Me". Fervent sessions devoted to the now-entitled Pet Sounds album were kicked off in January 1966, when Wilson began work on the instrumental tracks to "Let's Go Away for Awhile", "Wouldn't It Be Nice", and "Caroline, No".[25]
  4. ^ Gold Star Studios, United Western Recorders, Sunset Sound Recorders, and Columbia Studios.
  5. ^ Arrangements were usually written in a shorthand form for the other players by one of his session musicians.[citation needed]
  6. ^ This was done at Columbia Studios, because it was the only facility in LA with an 8-track
  7. ^ The five-piece group was by then being regularly augmented by singer Bruce Johnston, who later became a permanent member
  8. ^ Tom Petty stated "I think I would put him up there with any composer – especially Pet Sounds. I don't think there is anything better than that, necessarily. I don't think you'd be out of line comparing him to Beethoven – to any composer."[59]
  9. ^ Elton John has said of the album, "For me to say that I was enthralled would be an understatement. I had never heard such magical sounds, so amazingly recorded. It undoubtedly changed the way that I, and countless others, approached recording. It is a timeless and amazing recording of incredible genius and beauty."[60][61]
  10. ^ Elvis Costello stated "I heard 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head on my Shoulder)' played on the cello. It sounded beautiful and sad, just as it does on Pet Sounds."[62]
  11. ^ Roger Waters stated that along with Sgt. Pepper, Pet Sounds "completely changed everything about records for me."[63]
  12. ^ Eric Clapton stated that "All of us, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and I consider Pet Sounds to be one of the greatest pop LPs to ever be released. It encompasses everything that's ever knocked me out and rolled it all into one."[64]
  13. ^ Pete Townshend of The Who stated "'God Only Knows' is simple and elegant and was stunning when it first appeared; it still sounds perfect".[65] In May 1966, Bruce Johnston flew to London with copies of Pet Sounds and recalls Keith Moon loving the album.[42] Keith later stated "Pet Sounds was too far removed from the style he loved".[66]
  14. ^ Beatles producer George Martin stated that "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."[53][67][68]
  15. ^ An a cappela demo section of "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)" sung by Brian Wilson.

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Further reading[edit]