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The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

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  • play_circle_outlineWouldn't It Be Nice
  • play_circle_outlineYou Still Believe in Me
  • play_circle_outlineThat's Not Me
  • play_circle_outlineDon't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)
  • play_circle_outlineI'm Waiting for the Day
  • play_circle_outlineLet's Go Away for Awhile
  • play_circle_outlineSloop John B
  • play_circle_outlineGod Only Knows
  • play_circle_outlineI Know There's an Answer
  • play_circle_outlineHere Today
  • play_circle_outlineI Just Wasn't Made for These Times
  • play_circle_outlinePet Sounds
  • play_circle_outlineCaroline No

Pet Sounds is the eleventh studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on May 16, 1966. It initially met with a lukewarm critical and commercial response in the United States, peaking at number 10 in the Billboard 200, a somewhat lower placement than the band’s preceding albums. In the United Kingdom, the album was hailed by the music press and was an immediate commercial success, peaking at number 2 in the UK Top 40 Albums Chart and remaining among the top ten positions for six months. Promoted as “the most progressive pop album ever”, Pet Sounds attracted recognition for its ambitious recording and uniquely sophisticated music, and is widely considered to be among the most influential albums in the history of music.

The album was produced, arranged, and almost entirely composed by Brian Wilson with lyrics by Tony Asher. Most of the recording sessions were conducted between January and April 1966, a year after Wilson had quit touring with the Beach Boys to focus on writing and recording. For Pet Sounds, his goal was to create “the greatest rock album ever made”—a personalized work with no filler tracks. It is sometimes considered a Wilson solo album, repeating the themes and ideas he had introduced with The Beach Boys Today! one year earlier. The album’s lead single, “Caroline, No”, was issued as his official solo debut. It was followed by two singles credited to the group: “Sloop John B” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (backed with “God Only Knows”).

Wilson’s orchestrations mixed conventional rock set-ups with elaborate layers of vocal harmonies, found sounds, and instruments never before associated with rock, such as bicycle bells, French horn, flutes, Electro-Theremin, string sections, and Coca-Cola cans. It consisted mainly of introspective songs like “You Still Believe in Me” about faithfulness, “I Know There’s an Answer”, a critique of LSD users, and “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”, an autobiographical statement on social alienation (as well as the first use of a theremin-like instrument on a rock record). Unified by a Wall of Sound-style production, the album comprised Wilson’s “pet” sounds. Recording was completed on April 13, 1966, with an unprecedented total production cost that exceeded $70,000 (equivalent to $530,000 in 2017). A follow-up album, Smile, was immediately planned but left unfinished. In 1997, a “making-of” version of Pet Sounds was overseen by Wilson and released as The Pet Sounds Sessions, containing the album’s first true stereo mix.

Pet Sounds is regarded by musicologists as an early concept album that advanced the field of music production, introducing non-standard harmonies and timbres and incorporating elements of pop, jazz, exotica, classical, and the avant-garde. The album could not be replicated live and was the first time a group departed from the usual small-ensemble electric rock band format for a whole LP. Combined with its innovative music, which was perceived as a wholly self-conscious artistic statement (or “concept”), the album was crucial to the development of progressive/art rock, bringing more attention to psychedelic music in the mainstream, and helping to elevate rock as a genre for listening, rather than dancing. In 2004, Pet Sounds was preserved in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” One year earlier, Rolling Stone ranked it second on its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.

The Beach Boys are an American rock band formed in Hawthorne, California, in 1961. The group's original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson; their cousin Mike Love; and their friend Al Jardine. Distinguished by their vocal more...

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