[60] The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

30 May

Basking in a glorious early summer California evening, The Beach Boys should be the perfect musical accompaniment.  And if I’m honest, anything recorded before the seminal Pet Sounds would truly hit the spot.  But for the most part I’m just not feeling this 1966 classic.

Pet Sounds

I grew up listening to and inevitably loving any number of budget Beach Boys compilations full of unabashed summer fun –  what teen wouldn’t love beaches full of cars, girls and close harmonies?

Much as I found with ABBA way back at the start of this blog, I wouldn’t have blinked twice to find a Greatest Hits set included in the list.

I would never claim for a moment that tracks like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows” aren’t among the very best Pop tracks ever recorded.  Along with “Good Vibrations” I believe they are the Beach Boys’ three best songs.

And Pet Sounds has probably the most definitive (and certainly the most subversive) version of the old sea shanty, “Sloop John B”.

It’s just that most of the rest of the album is far more “grown up” than I want to deal with in my surf rock.  I don’t want to hear the Boys grow self aware, don’t need to know that they had experienced any but the most superficial heartaches and setbacks.

I don’t enjoy knowing that Brian Wilson “Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”.

I miss the upbeat simplicity of “Help Me Rhonda” and “Barbara Ann”, the unapologetic feelgood naivety of “I Get Around” and “Surfin’ USA”.

I am clearly in a minority, since Pet Sounds is included in every “Best Of” list and regarded as both a touchstone and a masterpiece that inspired much of the Pop and Rock music that followed into the Summer of Love and far beyond.

In theory I can hear that musically, there is plenty going on at any moment that should be engaging me.  In practice I’d rather be belting “Fun, Fun, Fun”.

It’s not clear to me that I’m going to be allowed to leave California . . .

Next Week:  Billy Bean – The Trio

Owned before blogging? No. (3 of 60 = 5%)
Heard before blogging? No. (5 of 60 = 8%)
Recommend? No. (47 of 60 = 78%)

4 Responses to “[60] The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds”

  1. Joe Gola May 30, 2014 at 4:42 PM #

    Yeah, I’m in the same camp on this one. Lots of people whose opinion I respect think it’s one of the greatest things ever, and as a whole it just doesn’t grab me. It does have two completely phenomenal songs, though, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Sloop John B.”


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    […] There And Everywhere” is pure pop perfection – this might be what I wanted grown up Beach Boys music to sound like . . […]

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    […] I get to remain friends with those few people who are still with me after failing to recommend Pet Sounds and Heartbreaker . . […]

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