Album no. 61/1001
The Beach Boys had two albums between this one and Today!. Have they developed their sound since then? Read on to find out! (spoiler alert: yes)
This album did worse than their previous albums in the US, but in the UK it blew the doors off, staying around the top ten for six months. It’s now considered among the most influential albums in music history, so if you want to make any judgements about the collective intelligence of American audiences be our guest.
This album has a couple of all-timers on it so strap yourselves in folks, we could be about to enjoy something.
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: I have definitely heard this before, there’s a CD of this at my parent’s house. I’m not sure which parent it belongs to, but I’ve definitely heard it a few times.
CL: Never the whole thing in one go.
NK: ‘Sloop John B’ is the best song on this album and I will hear no argument.
CL: Um. No. It’s definitely not.
NK: ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ is good as well, and ‘God Only Knows’ is really nice bordering on heartbreaking. But ‘Sloop John B’ is SO GOOD.
CL: ‘God Only Knows’ is a musical masterpiece and easily one of the best songs ever. The end. Thanks very much.
NK: I’m not sure what’s so good about it. I mean, it’s basically a guy singing about a disappointing holiday he went on with his grandad. It’s not even a Beach Boys original. But you know what? I bloody love it.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: Fun fact, the default ‘ding’ message tone on iPhones sounds almost exactly the same as the first note on ‘Sloop John B’, and any time I hear it chances are I will have the song in my head the rest of the day. I normally hear somebody’s phone go off in an otherwise silent office and have to stick my headphones in and dig it up on iTunes to shake it. So that’s my most common listening experience.
CL: That’s… that’s a cool story. Anyway. The first thing to say is to listen to a good quality version of the album. I started listening to some crappy old version and I stopped. When I then listened to a remastered version? DIFFERENT STORY. It’s important, guys.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: I think the hints at psychedelia and the lush production, as well as its influence on other artists have landed it on this list. HOWEVER, can we talk about the cover for a second? First of all, they’re feeding goats. Pretty weird, but the album is called Pet Sounds and even though goats are not known as a common pet, they’re a domesticated animal, so fair enough.
CL: Is it fair enough? I don’t know whether it is. Anyway, go on.
NK: Second, while they feed goats they’re wearing properly inappropriate clothing; vests, sports jackets, nice shirts, coats with big shiny buttons. Any self-respecting goat is going to have eaten those buttons and started on the shirts within five minutes at the most.
CL: … since when have you been an expert on goats?
NK: Third, Mike Love’s hair. In case you were not sure, he’s the one rocking a terrible combover and looking like everyone’s dad. Obviously you can’t help going bald, but you can damn sure not try to carry on denying reality for years and years. It must have been tough for him with the three Wilsons rocking their luscious locks, but he looks bloody silly here.
CL: I suppose on some level I agree with all of this. Back to the question at hand though, I can appreciate from a sound/mixing perspective it’s a pretty exciting leap.
Will you be listening again?
NK: I’ll tell you a little secret: I don’t like this album that much. I think it has three amazing songs on it, and eleven that are pretty forgettable. I might put it on to get those three, but I doubt I’ll sit through the whole thing.
CL: I don’t think it’s a super secret secret mate. I didn’t think it was that great either. I have a feeling we’re going to get crucified by certain members of our readership for this. Sorry.
NK: Come at me Brian Wilson fans.