|The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds|
|Release: 1966 / Label: Capitol - EMI / Collection: - / AMG Rating:|
|1||Wouldn't It Be Nice||8||God Only Knows|
|2||You Still Believe In Me||9||I Know There's An Answer|
|3||That's Not Me||10||Here Today|
|4||Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)||11||I Just Wasn't Made For These Times|
|5||I'm Waiting For The Day||12||Pet Sounds|
|6||Let's Go Away For Awhile||13||Caroline, No|
|7||Sloop John B.||14||Hang On To Your Ego|
Richie Unterberger (All Music Guide)
The best Beach Boys album, and one of the best of the 1960s. The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound. Conventional keyboards and guitars were combined with exotic touches of orchestrated strings, bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, the theremin, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans, barking dogs, and more. It wouldn't have been a classic without great songs, and this has some of the group's most stunning melodies, as well as lyrical themes that evoke both the intensity of newly born love affairs and the disappointment of failed romance (add in some general statements about loss of innocence and modern-day confusion as well). The spiritual quality of the material is enhanced by some of the most gorgeous upper-register male vocals (especially by Brian and Carl Wilson) ever heard on a rock record. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows," "Caroline No," and "Sloop John B" are the well-known hits, but equally worthy are such cuts as "You Still Believe in Me," "Don't Talk," "I Know There's an Answer," and "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times." It's often said that this is more of a Brian Wilson album than a Beach Boys recording (session musicians played most of the parts), but it should be noted that the harmonies are pure Beach Boys (and some of their best). Massively influential upon its release (although it was a relatively low seller compared to their previous LPs), it immediately vaunted the band into the top level of rock innovators among the intelligentsia. The 1990 CD reissue added a few interesting but inessential outtakes, and a 1999 reissue added a new stereo version of the entire album to the original mono program.
Jerry McCully (Amazon.com)
If you need some pointy-headed pundit to sell you on the merits of Pet Sounds, your money might be better spent on an ear specialist. Brian Wilson's gift to 20th-century music elevated this pop album into a beguiling musical and emotional cogency that still operates outside pop culture's fickle space-time continuum--and limited critical lexicon. There's never been another record to compare (Rubber Soul, its inspiration, is close; Sgt. Pepper's, its response, misses the point), and certainly no album has been as dissected, overanalyzed, and predigested for public consumption. In 1997 Capitol Records devoted an entire four-disc box set, The Pet Sounds Sessions, to its thorough deconstruction. The techno-marvel centerpiece of that project--the album's first true stereo mix, painstakingly conjured out of multitape session sources by producer-engineer Mark Linett (under Wilson's supervision)--was at once heresy and revelation. Now the label has gratifyingly seen fit to offer both mixes on a single disc (along with alternate versions of "Hang On to Your Ego," the original title of "I Know There's An Answer"), an idea that should please the orthodox and heretics alike. And while the album has always clearly been The Brian Wilson Show featuring the Beach Boys, David Leaf's concise new notes attempt to be more inclusive of a wider band perspective. The result (three of the five band members claim credit for the album title) sometimes resembles Rashomon. If Pet Sounds forever crystallized the band's various creative (in)differences, it also became Wilson's grand karmic joke on his band mates; its burgeoning reputation (Mojo magazine's panel of pop experts once elected it greatest album of all time) guaranteed they would sing its songs--and praises--until the end. And if putting two different versions of the same album on one disc seems like overkill, look at the bright side: it's a perfect excuse to listen to the glorious Pet Sounds twice.
Andrew Mueller (Amazon.co.uk)
This was pretty much the only occasion on which Brian Wilson managed to articulate his extraordinary musical vision over the length of an album. As such, Pet Sounds is not merely one of the greatest records ever made, but also one of the towering masterpieces of 20th-century art. Every song here, from the exuberant introduction of "Wouldn't It Be Nice" to the concluding, wistful lament of "Caroline No", is definitive pop music. Wilson's fantastical orchestrations and harmonies support a collection of lyrics which are childishly innocent almost to the point of appearing sinister--no album has ever started with a less traditionally rock & roll sentiment than "Wouldn't it be nice if we were married?". When delivered in Wilson's anguished whine, the effect is gloriously heartbreaking--as statements of naked vulnerability go, "I Know There's An Answer" and "I Just \ Wasn't Made For These Times" remain difficult to top. Popular legend has it that when the fiercely insecure and competitive Wilson, a year on from Pet Sounds, heard the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, he was devastated. He needn't have worried. Pet Sounds wasn't trumped then, and it won't be anytime in the future.
Steve Simels (Barnes & Noble)
The Beatles adored it, and the Rolling Stones took out an ad in the British music papers urging everybody to buy it: Pet Sounds is not only the Beach Boys' best album but also one of the undisputed classics of the '60s. Written (save for an adaptation of the old folk song "Sloop John B.") by head Beach Boy Brian Wilson and a young advertising copywriter named Tony Asher, the album is a melancholy meditation on adulthood, desire, and failed romance. Featuring stunning melodies ("God Only Knows"), intricate vocal arrangements ("Wouldn't It Be Nice"), and innovative instrumentals ("Let's Go Away for Awhile"), Pet Sounds was, in 1966, also a staggering technical accomplishment. Working the old-fashioned way -- that is, without the benefit of synthesizers and samplers -- Wilson created a rich, symphonic sound by blending multiple vocal tracks and conventional keyboards and guitars with harpsichords, flutes, and Hawaiian-tinged strings, then added a panoply of sound effects: bicycle bells, Coca-Cola cans, a Theremin, barking dogs. Although only a moderate hit upon its release, Pet Sounds has proved hugely influential over the years. In 1997 it was rereleased as a four-CD box set, including one disc of a never-before-heard stereo mix. The 1999 reissue marks the first release of the stereo version (plus the mono original) on a single CD. Bottom line: A masterpiece.
The Beach Boys: Brian Wilson, Carl
Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine.
This is more than just an album by a great American band; it's THE great
American pop album, an ambitious foray into the intricacies of harmony and
melody. Masterminded by Brian Wilson, it changed the rules of rock & roll.
Wilson's production brought record-making to a new level. He perfected
Phil Spector's wall-of-sound into a more complex, stunning approach. He
was inspired by the Beatles'
RUBBER SOUL, and PET SOUNDS was, in turn, an
(CMJ New Music Report, issue 548, December 1, 1997)
Simply put, Pet Sounds is probably the most brilliant album anybody will ever make. In the words of Brian Wilson himself, "I was in a loving mood for a while, and that love found its way onto tape." It's the kind of record to reach for either when things are really good or when the going gets tough. Conceived and written while composer/songwriter/genius Wilson remained at home and the Beach Boys were out on tour, it was born of and created in a situation that will probably never happen again. For one of the last times in pop music, the recordings were made by a bunch of musicians playing live in a room together. It was the last days before true multi-track recording, and Wislon would rehearse up to 20 musicians at a time, running them through take after take until he got what he wanted. Knowing only self-taught music theory, Wilson would simply translate the sounds he heard in his head to the small orchestra sitting in the room one instrument at a time, which is actually pretty incredible. The Pet Sounds Sessions gives us four CDs' worth of instrumental sessions, backing tracks and vocals. You can eavesdrop and hear the album taking shape either instrumentally without the vocals, or the vocals without the music, and more. Although the title song itself was originally known as "Run James Run," these are clearly Wislon's pet sounds - specifically, his adventures trying to find sounds that make the listener feel loved; the toy piano notes that open "You Still Believe In Me," the incredibly deep, wandering bass lines, the infamous "big-bongo" beats - these are the strangely affecting sounds that make Pet Sounds its own little world. It's an area that not even the Beatles explored consciously - quite often their string arrangements and sound effects weren't there for specific, explainable reasons other than the fact that they sounded neat ("A Day In The Life," "I Am The Walrus"). Hearing Brian Wilson's own "pet sounds," it's hard not to be bowled over.
Dave Feitch (JAM! Music / Calgary Sun, August 15, 1999)
Finally, every home should have a copy of the new Pet
Sounds disc, Brian Wilson's breathtaking 1966 pop masterpiece (and,
frankly, one of the best records ever made).
Ryan Schreiber (Pitchfork Media)
The Beatles claim it inspired
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band. Some critics say it's better than anything the Beatles
ever released. NME even called it "The Best Album of All Time." I guess I
can see how someone might think that... but I don't.
Peter Kane (Q Magazine, February 2001)
Pet Sounds is always there or thereabouts on the list of all-time greatest albums. Rightly so. This is the jewel in Brian Wilson's considerable crown and a landmark for pop music on its way from gangling adolescence to something approaching maturity. He may have only had one good ear, but he put it to impossibly good use on creating a cycle of songs that was the polar opposite of the Fun, Fun, Fun mentality that The Beach Boys had previously espoused. Amid lustrous harmonies and sculpted arrangements, here was a voice that was instead riven by a sense of isolation and self-doubt as youth's bloom inexorably began to fade. God Only Knows is the obvious centrepiece, but I Just Wasn't Made For These Times and Caroline No are equally exquisite examples of Wilson's timeless art. About as good as it gets.
Recorded and released in 1966, not long after the
sunny, textural experiments of "California Girls", "Pet Sounds", aside
from its importance as Brian Wilson's evolutionary compositional master
piece, was the first rock record that can be considered a "concept album";
from first cut to last we were treated to an intense, linear personal
vision of the vagaries of a love affair and the painful, introverted
anxieties that are the wrenching precipitates of the unstable chemistry of
any love relationship. This trenchant cycle of love songs has the
emotional impact of a shatteringly evocative novel, and by God if this
little record didn't change only the course of popular music, but the
course of a few lives in the bargain. It sure as hell changed its creator,
Brian, who by 1966 had been cruising along at the forefront of American
popular music for four years, doling out a constant river of hit songs and
producing that tough yet mellifluouis sound that was the only intelligent
innovation in pop music between Chuck Berry and the Beatles.