The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds


I have been enjoying the summer sun so I decided I needed a summer feel for this months record.  The Beach Boys are the epitome of summer music or so you thought until you listen to Pet Sounds?

Purchase and Packaging

Viewed by many as the start of the modern album and one of the first concept albums.  I started listening to The Beach Boys when I was a kid, but didn’t really know Pet Sounds until well into my 20s.  I think it must have been while watching a documentary about The Beatles in which they discussed how Rubber Soul influenced Pet Sounds, which in turn influenced Sgt Peppers (Revolver was made at the same time as Pet Sounds).  So after reviewing Sgt Peppers a few months ago I decided to stream Pet Sounds and was amazing by it.  So this month on my lunch hour I walked to Reflex Records in Newcastle, basking in the summer sun and picked up a copy of Pet Sounds.

This is the 50th anniversary remaster edition, in stereo (some say these are better in mono, that’s up to your own personal preference) on 180 gram vinyl.  It’s another basic package recreating the original with the single cover and slip case.  I have to say the front cover in my opinion is rubbish, come on the band members feeding goats at a zoo, its just crap.  It’s a shame the record company didn’t put more into creating an iconic cover like many of The Beatles covers.  They might have sold more copies of the album on release if they had believed in it a bit more.


First Listen

Boom straight into it with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, the so called “Wall of Sound” Brian Wilson was looking for hits you on that first track like a hammer.  The way it starts with a little psychedelic tune and then bam the music kicks in.  This is heightened on vinyl and you can hear so much more depth in each track.  He was pushing the studio sound to the limit of the time, adding lots of different instruments and sounds that didn’t always have a structure to them but mixed together created something very unique.  Each song is different but somehow has the same feel to it?  This could be because of the great harmonies by The Beach Boys singers, no one has really copied this style since so you instantly recognise a Beach Boys track.

After a few tracks you will realise that these aren’t the surf, girls, car songs that The Beach Boys are well know for.  You can see that Brian was reaching for something more.  It’s a happy and a sad album all in one.  Just listen to the lyrics on “That’s Not Me” and “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”, deep songs about leaving your home town and living in the wrong era in time, but sang by happy sounding vocals to give it a happy feeling.

If there is a downside it’s the amount of hiss within the recording, I guess this is in the master tapes.  I have to cut it some slack though it is 50 years old!!!

Another bug of mine is that all the tracks just fade out and are very short, this I feel comes from the era the album was made and that’s just how songs ended in the 60s.  But just think if they had finished “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” with a huge bang like its opening?

I really enjoy the structure of the album, each side starts with a strong catchy track then proceeds with some slower deeper tracks.  Each side has an instrumental as the second to last track, both of which have a great 60s feel.  Both tracks feel like they have no structure but sound amazing.

The stand out tracks have to be “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “Sloop John B” – love the way this is arranged with the build up of different sounds as the track progresses, and “God Only Knows” – an absolute masterpiece and worth the price of the album all on its own, just sit down relax, close your eyes and listen to it.

Final Thoughts

An essential record for any collection.  Beach Boys fans should love the pinnacle of Brian Wilson’s song writing and musical arrangements. None Beach Boys fans should just buy it for the music and unique quality the whole album has, there really is nothing like it.

Discogs Link

Wikipedia Link

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