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Thread: Revisiting BB's Pet Sounds

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    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    Revisiting BB's Pet Sounds

    I bought Pet Sounds about 12-14 years ago, I think. Not sure if I was a member here yet but I got it because It was supposed to be this masterpiece on the same level as Sgt. Pepper's. I've never been a Beach Boys fan to begin with but I seem to recall hearing their records right before those four guys from Liverpool invaded our lives, and saved our souls. So, yeah there's a bit of nostalgia there when it comes to the BBs. I only have 2 BBs albums, Pet Sounds (it's the CD that comes with the Mono and Stereo versions) and Endless Summer. I also have a bootleg of SMiLE that I downloaded many years ago.

    Not sure how I got on this kick but in the last few months I've been watching a lot of rock documentaries (mostly BBC rockumentaries) on Youtube. I recently saw one called "Beautiful Dreamer, The Story of Brian Wilson and Smile." Very, very interesting, even though I'm not a Brian/BBs fanatic. So last night I dug out my Pet Sounds CD and played it for the first time in a lot of years. Eh, I'm still not sure what to think about this. You hear and read comments that Paul McCartney makes about Pet Sounds, that if it wasn't for that album there'd be no Sgt. Pepper's, and all that. I think I'm starting to "get it" a little more though. Yeah, it's well crafted, the vocal harmonies are beautiful, the orchestration is very good, etc. For me the whole thing is just too laid back. I'd say I like a good 4-5 songs (Wouldn't It Be Nice, Don't Talk, Caroline No, God Only Knows). Don't care for Sloop John B. I don't get all the raving over it. And there's that intro on Wouldn't It Be Nice that I can't tell if it's an acoustic or electric guitar, or an out of tune piano. Is it me, or is that intro cringe-inducingly out of tune?

    I really want to like it though, but I just find it mostly boring. Thoughts?

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    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
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    I heard Pet Sounds in it's entirety once on the radio. I couldn't understand what all the hype was about. It sounded rather boring to me too. Maybe it's one of those records that grows on you. I still plan on buying it at some point though.

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    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    Like that other "greatest album of all time," Sgt. Pepper, I think it contains too many weak songs to warrant that status. What's good is good, though.

    Maybe it's one of those records that grows on you.
    Perhaps, but I've had it since it's initial release and my view hasn't changed particularly.
    Hell, they ain't even old-timey ! - Homer Stokes

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    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
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    Imo, the only song that could be considered weak on "Pepper" is "the Benefit of Mr. Kite." I think all the other songs are either good or very good. YMMV of course.

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    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    Imo, the only song that could be considered weak on "Pepper" is "the Benefit of Mr. Kite." I think all the other songs are either good or very good. YMMV of course.
    I dig " Mr. Kite" but had in mind "Lovely Rita," WI64," "Getting Better," "Good Morning'". But, as you say, one's mmv.

    But we digress....
    Hell, they ain't even old-timey ! - Homer Stokes

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    PS is a great album, but it's not perfect. There are a couple of songs that I find a bit of a yawn, but none that I skip. As a matter of fact, my copy consists of the entire album in mono followed by the whole thing again in stereo, with a bonus track "Hang on To Your Ego" sandwiched in between, and I nearly always play the whole thing right through.

    The album has to be seen in context. Pet Sounds was a massive leap forward from the previous BB album - but SMiLE, had it been released, was as far beyond Pet Sounds as Pet Sounds was beyond "Summer Days...".

    If I had to choose between Pet Sounds and Sgt Pepper, I'd choose the latter, I listen to it more often... but I listen to both Sunflower and Surf's Up more than either of them. If you are not acquainted with those albums, you need to check them out - THEN you are entitled to dismiss the Beach Boys as overhyped if you still feel that way.

    I am also very fond of their final album, That's Why God Made the Radio, though it's not "progressive" in the same way that Pet Sounds and Sunflower are progressive.
    Last edited by bob_32_116; 03-28-2015 at 01:19 PM.

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    No, it's not an 'instant' album, but I consider it to be one of my favourites. It's the beauty of the chord progressions and the haunting lyricism that gets me. There are so many layers in this music. One of the first things that grabbed me (beyond the hits which I knew for years) was how gorgeous 'Don't Talk' was.

    It's clearly the first Beach Boys album which more or less works as a complete statement. The second side of 'Today' is moving towards it but remember their albums featured throwaway filler including dialogue 'joke' tracks and the like before this.

    The only real flaw with it for me is 'Sloop John B' being on it. It simply doesn't belong there. I like it on its own merits but it doesn't fit in lyrically at all.

    'Hang On To Your Ego' is basically 'I Know There's An Answer' with the original lyrics that Mike Love demanded were changed.

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    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    I tried but couldn't get into it. My only BB album.

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    The other thing to remember is that Pet Sounds was basically a Brian Wilson album in all but name - hence many of the songs have a very similar feel. On later albums such as Sunflower there was more input from the others, Carl and Dennis and even bruce Johnston. While Brian was still the best songwriter among them, some of the others' songs are not half bad and they lend the album a bit more variety than Pet Sounds has.

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    That 1970-2 run has some wonderful material. They found their feet as a band again after a post 'Smile' malaise, only to lose it again after that. I can't say I'm especially fond of any of the mid-late 70s albums, beyond selected tracks ('Good Timin', 'My Diane', 'The Night Was So Young').

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Vic2012 View Post
    I really want to like it though, but I just find it mostly boring. Thoughts?
    That's my experience with both Pet Sounds and Sarge Pepper fwiw. Neither sounds like the big masterpiece for the ages they're often made out as. They've both got some beautiful strong material and some moments that are dumb or just awful.

    The ongoing popularity isn't just based on the strength of the songs, though. I think they both made a splash because they were cultural touchstones, because they were doing new things in the realm of recording & production, and just because the bands were already so popular that anything they spit out would be huge no matter what.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spiral View Post
    and just because the bands were already so popular that anything they spit out would be huge no matter what.
    ... except that Pet Sounds did not sell particularly well at the time; it took quite some time for its reputation to grow. It wasn't what the market was expecting, which I guess is another way of saying they were ahead of their time.

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    It was a very popular album in the UK upon release. In one of the music papers of the time, there was an article featuring numerous stars of the time singing its praises and recognising it as a landmark. In fact the UK became one of their best markets from that point onwards.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by bob_32_116 View Post
    Pet Sounds did not sell particularly well at the time; it took quite some time for its reputation to grow.
    Really? I didn't know that. Maybe it'd be safer to say that anything those bands put out would have automatically gotten a lot of attention.

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    Member Lopez's Avatar
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    I dismissed all the hype when the album first came out, especially from a friend of mine who thought it was miraculous. Heck, I was only 13 and in the summer of '66 there were more fun things to listen to like "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha." And I thought the Beach Boys were not serious music, but the Rolling Stones were. I bought Pet Sounds in 1997 and for the first time really listened to it. And have played it a lot since then. It's a mighty fine record.
    Lou

    Awarded the Krusty Brand Seal of Approval. It's not just good, it's good enough.

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    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    NP: Good Vibrations

    Probably my favorite proggy BBs song.

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    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
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    Its a good album....Im not going to say its a great album (although "God Only Knows" is a great song). Perhaps it was hyped so much because Paul Mcartney public-ally acknowledged it and we all know the depth and scope of his influence. A year later, I can think of three albums that came out that were easily its contemporaries: The Beatles "Sgt Pepper", The Moody Blues "Days Of Future Passed", and The Bee Gees "First"......all are great albums and all but one are heralded as so: The Bee Gees "First" still goes rather unnoticed by a lot of people, and I personally think that album is far superior than "Pet Sounds"

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    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    I really like Endless Summer. Hell of a compilation. I like the pre Pet Sounds BBs more. Like the Beatles, I like the pre Rubber Soul albums the most.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by klothos View Post
    all are great albums and all but one are heralded as so: The Bee Gees "First" still goes rather unnoticed by a lot of people, and I personally think that album is far superior than "Pet Sounds"
    I believe you are right... Although God Only Knows is perhaps the single best song of the bunch.

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    NP: Little Deuce Coup

    Next up: Don't Worry Baby

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    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trurl View Post
    I believe you are right... Although God Only Knows is perhaps the single best song of the bunch.

    Yeah, I'll give you that................. but "To Love Somebody" and "Holiday" are right behind it

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob_32_116 View Post
    The album has to be seen in context. Pet Sounds was a massive leap forward from the previous BB album - but SMiLE, had it been released, was as far beyond Pet Sounds as Pet Sounds was beyond "Summer Days...".

    If I had to choose between Pet Sounds and Sgt Pepper, I'd choose the latter, I listen to it more often.
    This is exactly right. The language of Pet Sounds has become so much a part of our daily musical landscape that it's easy to forget, listening with 2015 ears, just how revolutionary it was in 1967. There are several songs that are just ACHINGLY gorgeous -- "Caroline No," "God Only Knows," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "You Still Believe In Me," "Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder),""I Know There's An Answer" -- and any one of these songs would have made a career for a lesser songwriter than Brian. Even the worst songs on PS are way above almost anything else being released in that "Summer of Love."

    I can see how someone who wasn't alive in 1967, and isn't familiar with the era, would have a hard time understanding the importance of this album.

  23. #23
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    Count me among the "tad underwhelmed." Not only do most of the songs have an overt sentimentality that permiated much of earlier-60s pop, most of the songs have an instrument that made some sort of weirdass honking, blatting sound that I find a bit offputting.

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    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    This is exactly right. The language of Pet Sounds has become so much a part of our daily musical landscape that it's easy to forget, listening with 2015 ears, just how revolutionary it was in 1967.... I can see how someone who wasn't alive in 1967, and isn't familiar with the era, would have a hard time understanding the importance of this album.
    I understand the importance of many a artist, such as Bob Dylan, who's influence can be traced to this very moment in time and I can honestly say I have little desire to listen to any of his work.

    That's not to say I don't listen to the Beach Boys. I recently as last year went on a late '60s/early '70s bender. I consider Feel Flow their best song ever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    It was a very popular album in the UK upon release. In one of the music papers of the time, there was an article featuring numerous stars of the time singing its praises and recognising it as a landmark. In fact the UK became one of their best markets from that point onwards.
    True, I should have said it sold comparatively poorly in the U.S. (and in Australia and elsewhere).

    Quote Originally Posted by 3LockBox View Post
    That's not to say I don't listen to the Beach Boys. I recently as last year went on a late '60s/early '70s bender. I consider Feel Flow their best song ever.
    If not THE best, it's certainly one of their best, and proves that Brian wasn't the only capable songwriter in the Wilson family (trying hard to avoid the word "genius").
    Last edited by bob_32_116; 03-29-2015 at 01:01 AM.

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