- Cullman, Alabama

April 17, 2011

PLAYBACK:The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds a great summer album

Album review

By David Palmer
The Cullman Times

— No one could make a more pleasing sound for memorable summers than The Beach Boys.

Long etched into the minds of Americans and many abroad with their songs about surfing, cars and beautiful sunny thoughts, The Beach Boys topped all their efforts with the landmark recording and release of “Pet Sounds” on May 16, 1966. The record was mostly a reflection of the eccentric but brilliant mind of band member Brian Wilson.

“Pet Sounds” was in many ways an answer to The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” album, with its flawless vocals and tightly crafted instruments. Wilson and The Beach Boys were certainly masters of harmony and, in their own right, excellent musicians.

Work on “Pet Sounds” began in the summer of 1965 and was recorded at three different studios. Critics loved it. The public bought it, thanks largely to the monster hit single, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” which presented classic Beach Boys harmony and feel-good sounds. But it was the rest of the album that revealed a heartfelt, down-to-earth symphony of love, revelation and innocence. Brian Wilson’s place among great writers and composers was forever secure. The remainder of the band contributed warmly to the project and proved that they were far above average.

There’s not a bad track on “Pet Sounds,” but for starters check out “God Only Knows” and “I’m Waiting for the Day,” which features some great vocals. “Caroline, No” and “Sloop John B” are also timeless favorites.

A long lineup of session musicians assisted on this record, including Glen Campbell, who would soon become a star in the country music scene. Instruments ranging from guitars and various horns to cello and ukulele can be heard.

Somehow, in this elaborately crafted recording, The Beach Boys maintain their youthful, sunny sound that fans loved before “Pet Sounds.”

Like all great records that employ some amount of complexity in the recording session, give this record more than one listen. Let it play, over and over. The hooks are memorable and the words and rhythms will stay with you forever.