Saturday, March 05, 2011

4. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)

45 years, 45 LPs, 4 days...
Pet Sounds (1966)
It's hard to believe that 27 years have passed since I bought my first copy of Pet Sounds. I have always had a spiritual connection with this album. I bought Pet Sounds the summer before my freshman year in college, when I was dating my high school sweetheart. Naturally many of the songs still remind me of her. We would often listen to Pet Sounds in the car while making out.

70's Brother/Reprise 45 of "God Only Knows"
According to the liner notes in the first CD reissue of Pet Sounds, the instrumental backing tracks for "God Only Knows" were recorded on 3.9.66, the day I was born. I have since read accounts stating that recording commenced in the early hours of 3.10.66. Regardless, it is pretty damn cool to envision Brian leading his studio musicians through this incredible song right around the time that my mom was giving birth to me. When Carl Wilson was still alive, "God Only Knows" was always a blissful highlight of Beach Boys concerts. You would think that singing the song several hundred times a year would get a bit tiresome, but Carl had a gift for connecting with the tune in such a fashion that it would make grown men weep.
Since buying my first mono copy of Pet Sounds (which still sounds gorgeous), I've obtained multiple copies of the LP. One of the more curious copies is a Japanese "stereo" pressing that achieved fake stereo by creating a slight delay between the sound coming from the right and left speakers.  While I will always have a soft spot for my first copy of Pet Sounds, my favorite pressing is the limited numbered double LP version that includes a stunning mono copy (on green vinyl) alongside a stereo remix created from the original tapes (on yellow vinyl). 

In the fall of 2000 I saw Brian perform Pet Sounds in its entirety from the front row of Northrop auditorium on the U of M's campus. It was an amazing night, one which was topped only by his SMiLE concert at the Orpheum in 2004.

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