“Dogs were barking, cops were lurking, and my dancing was about to start!”…Eugene Hutz

So maybe I have been living under a rock for the past 36 years, but I had never heard of this album until recently, nor did I realize there was an eternal debate over this album and “Sgt. Pepper’s”.  So I bought this album for $7.83 on Amazon and gave it a listen.  This particular version has both the mono and stereo mixes of the album, and I decided to listen to the stereo mixes first without realizing that the album was originally mixed in mono.  Apparently Brian Wilson was deaf in one ear, and he preferred to mix everything in mono even though stereo technology was available at the time.  Who knew?  Anyway, the stereo mixes do not sound nearly as good as the mono mixes.  There were done fairly recently and they sound sort of fuzzy.  So the mono mixes are the way to go…they have a much more present sound and are probably more authentic to Brian Wilson’s artistic vision.

So I listened to the album again in mono, and as I write this I have probably listened to it 10 or 11 times, and to be honest, I just don’t get the debate between it and “Sgt. Pepper’s”.  Don’t get me wrong…I think “Pet Sounds” is a really good album, and I was surprised to hear that the Beach Boys, a group I had written off long ago as writing superficial radio candy, actually had an introspective side.  Well, at least Brian Wilson had an introspective side…apparently the rest of the group was not thrilled with this material.  Or maybe Brian Wilson’s lyricist Tony Asher had an introspective side, but I digress.  The point is it’s a good album with several interesting songs.  But I just don’t feel that it is a great album, at least not in the same way that “Sgt. Pepper’s” and the rest of the top 5 albums are great.

But still, it is a good album, and it does create an interesting dichotomy between the Beach Boys clean, wholesome image and psychedelic rock.  Actually, the lyrics seem to suggest that Brian Wilson is trying to hold on to his 1950s era moral values, despite the cultural change of the 1960s.  Furthermore, the songs seem to express a level of guilt and dissatisfaction with the experimentation of the 1960s and seem to express a longing for a return to the simpler life of the 1950s.

Musically, these guys could really harmonize.  In fact, that is the one place where they have got the Beatles beaten.  But most of the instrumental parts on the tracks were played by studio musicians and were designed to be “backing tracks” for the vocals.

At any rate, it is a good album, but it’s #2 ranking on the list is too high.

Other lists: “God Only Knows” appears at #25 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Also on the list are “Caroline, No” at #214 and “Sloop John B” at #276.  Brian Wilson is #52 on Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 100 Singers, and the Beach Boys are #12 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists.

My favorite track: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”…the only song I recognized from the radio from this album.  And a song that reminds me of Eddie’s Grill back home.

Honorable Mention: “Sloop John B”

A word from the princess: It’s fun, fun, fun!

Quote: “I know perfectly well I’m not where I should be”

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