Monday, July 10, 2006

61. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)

Track Listing

1. Wouldn't It Be Nice
2. You Still Believe
3. That's Not Me
4. Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)
5. I'm Waiting for the Day
6. Let's Go Away for Awhile
7. Sloop John B.
8. God Only Knows
9. I Know There's an Answer
10. Here Today
11. I Just Wan't Made for Times Like These
12. Pet Sounds
13. Caroline, No


So, yesterday was Revolver and today is Pet Sounds. I am being spoiled here. Two of the best albums of the 60's in quick succession. Pet Sounds is the brain child of Brian "Crazy" Wilson. One of the most original and deranged minds to come out of the 60's. But the genius of Wilson in this album is that the crazyness is very well tempered by beauty. Therefore, in You Still Believe In Me you don't notice the bike bells or the car horns until the second or third play, or if you are looking for them. Wilson managed to take his "pet sounds", meaning sounds he particularly liked, and insert them in what might otherwise be typical Beach Boys songs.

Typical is something this album isn't. Not only are there a lot of strange "instruments" on the songs but it is melded into the tracks in a strangely unobtrusive way. As if these sounds were always meant to be there. This is something which could only have come from the same mind that created the amazing harmonics of the band. He takes these sounds and harmonises them with the tracks. It works.

Pet Sounds is never as surprising as Revolver precisely because of this. Yet, just like in Revolver there are the full orchestras in the back, the use of unusual sound effects, from dogs and trains to metal drums and even oboes and a lot of organ. The thing is these aren't obvious sounds and this is a great exercise in understatement by Wilson. He isn't flashy, he just does what he always wanted and creates beautiful, beautiful sounds.

Pet Sounds is at the same time immediately accessible but pays off in repeated listenings like very little albums do. Almost the same as Jazz albums but completely different... Stream it from Napster or buy it now from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. God Only Knows
2. Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)
3. Sloop John B.
4. Caroline, No

Final Grade



Baking some Stuffed Aubergines now.

Pet Sounds if the beautiful to Revolver's weird.

From Wiki:

By mid-April Pet Sounds was finished and had been submitted to Capitol. "Caroline, No," released as a solo single; interestingly, it was credited to Brian Wilson solo, leading to later speculation that Wilson was considering leaving the band.

The single reached #32 in the United States. "Sloop John B" was extremely successful, scoring a #3 hit in the U.S. and #2 in Great Britain. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" reached #8 in the U.S. Its flip side, "God Only Knows," was another #2 single in Britain, but reached only #39 in the States. The LP broke into the Top Ten in the U.S., belying its reputation as a commercial failure there.

Pet Sounds' greatest success was in the UK, where it reached #2 in the LP charts. 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 and Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham even went as far as placing unsolicited advertisements lauding the album in British music papers, at his own expense: or so it was claimed for many years. However, a trawl of the UK pop press for 1966 fails to uncover any such advert.

However, like Beach Boys' Party!, Pet Sounds failed to reach gold status on its initial release, which disappointed Brian deeply. Much of the blame for its lukewarm commercial fortunes has been laid with Capitol Records, which did not promote the album as heavily as earlier releases. Pet Sounds eventually went gold and platinum in 2000.

Although not a big seller for the band originally, Pet Sounds has been influential since the day it was released. Rapturously received in Britain, it was lauded in the music press and championed by many top pop stars. The Beatles, for example, have said that Pet Sounds was a major influence on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, and Paul McCartney has repeatedly named it as one of his favorite albums (with "God Only Knows" as his favorite song) — completing a circle begun by the Beatles' influence on Wilson.

Paul McCartney stated that "It was Pet Sounds that 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 ... I love the orchestra, the arrangements ... 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 ... it was the record of the time. The thing that really made me sit up and take notice was the bass lines ... and also, putting melodies in the bass line. That I think was probably the big influence that set me thinking when we recorded Pepper, it set me off on a period I had then for a couple of years of nearly always writing quite melodic bass lines. "God Only Knows" is a big favorite of mine ... very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one. On "You Still Believe In Me", I love that melody - that kills me ... that's my favorite, I think ... it's so beautiful right at the end ... comes surging back in these multi-colored harmonies ... sends shivers up my spine."

Other artists have also cited Pet Sounds as one of the all time classic albums. Eric Clapton stated that "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." Elton John thinks that "Pet Sounds is a landmark 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." George Martin, the Beatles producer, stated that "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds." Bob Dylan has said of Brian Wilson's talents, "That ear - I mean, Jesus, he's got to will that to the Smithsonian."


Anonymous said...

Hi, all these all years i don't understand the importance of this album.I read the most popoular lists with the best lp's ever and everyone has in it.ok beatiful arragements some wonderful melodies but i think it is not diachronic as revolver, sgt. peppers highway 61 and other albums. Maybe im'not young or old enough to understand it... i discover your blogs 2 days ago and they are very good, i try to follow you all the way.Thank you

Francisco Silva said...

Hey, thanks fo reading.

Well, it is as diachronic as Revolver but in a very different and not-obvious way. You actually need to listen very carefully to Pet Sounds to hear all the special effects, the Theramin etc.. stuff which was new and fresh at the time. If you listen to it as background music you just think that it's another Beach Boys album.