Pet Sounds

Highly Appreciated

Pet Sounds  is the 11th studio album by the American rock band the Beach Boys.  Released on May 16, 1966, it met a lukewarm critical and commercial reception in the United States, but received immediate success abroad, where British publications declared it “the most progressive pop album ever”.  It charted at number two in the UK but number ten in the US, a significantly lower placement than the band’s preceding albums.  In later years, Pet Sounds garnered enormous worldwide acclaim by critics and musicians alike, and is regarded as one of the most influential albums in the history of popular music.  (More from Wikipedia)

When the British Invasion came along and seemed to sweep away the surf music scene, Brian Wilson masterminded a response album in 1966 by the Beach Boys that matched the Brits in every way:  Pet Sounds.  The hit songs from the album – “Wouldn’t it be Nice”, God Only Knows and “Sloop John B” – don’t begin to convey how well Pet Sounds works as an album.  The record was hugely influential and (in a nice twist) was an even bigger hit in England than it was in the USA


On the heels of Pet Soundsthe Beach Boys released one of the most incredible singles by anybody in the mid-1960’s:  “Good Vibrations”.  The song was originally intended as one of the tracks on Pet Sounds, but Brian Wilson knew that he would never be able to complete the song to his satisfaction in time for the album’s release.   


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Brian Wilson was none too happy that Pet Sounds wasn’t a bigger hit; though the album peaked at #10 in the American album charts (and #2 in the U.K.), “Good Vibrations” was #1 with a bullet in the U.S. and U.K. alike.  Thus, in August 1966Wilson began working feverishly on another album that would be called SMiLE to prove beyond doubt that Americans could outdo the English


Terry Melcher put Van Dyke Parks in touch with Brian Wilson; Wilson needed a lyricist who could match his musical visions that he was struggling to get on tape.  Just imagine:  an album full of “Good Vibrations”-level music!  John Bush continues:  “[Brian Wilson] labored over every note and, more than that, every tone, often asking his musicians or the Beach Boys themselves to revise when the results didn’t match his conception of the music going on inside his head.  Such care and control produced music that was far beyond Pet Sounds, and when the impressionistic themes and lyrics of collaborator Van Dyke Parks were added, SMiLE began shaping up as the most unique LP ever produced by a pop group.”  


(June 2013/2)


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In addition to these two songs, Wouldn’t it be Nice and “God Only Knows”, Tony Asher also wrote lyrics for 6 additional songs on the Beach Boys’ landmark 1966 album, Pet Sounds.  (Asher also wrote the original lyrics for Good Vibrations that was intended to be included on that album also; his lyrics were not recorded until the 2004 release of “Good Vibrations” as part of the album, Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE).  Although sales in this country were slow initially, Pet Sounds had strong sales overseas and is now regarded as one of the most influential popular music albums ever recorded.  


To some extent, Pet Sounds was Brian Wilson’s answer to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album; and in turn, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album is in response to Pet Sounds Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds were voted #1 and #2, respectively, on the Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time


(October 2014)


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Superstar record producer Phil Spector used members of the Wrecking Crew to create his famed Wall of Sound; while Beach Boys bandleader Brian Wilson used these musicians on their acclaimed Pet Sounds album and their Number One hit Good Vibrations”.  


(February 2015)

Last edited: March 22, 2021