on 11 June 2016
The earliest CD I have is the Capital 1990 release. Actually mastered in December 1987 when the album was only a youthful 21 years old. David Leaf didn't know the future as in the liner notes he writes "For those of you already familiar with the emotional feat within, you will rejoice in the pristine CD audio that means we can stop buying copies of Pet Sounds to replace our worn-out disks.". Also the original CDs have Dr. Eugene Landy listed as the "Executive consultant of CD remastering". Also printed on the CD as Stereo. It wasn't - it was mono. I guess slip-ups occurred in the last millennium too.
Next up was the 30th anniversary in 1996 with the release of The Pet Sounds Sessions box set. Actually released in 1997. A 4 CD juggernaut of a box set. This included, for the first time, the 1996 Stereo Mix of Pet Sounds. Also about 90 minutes of Pet Sounds Sessions. A Stack O Vocals version of the album. Alternative versions of album tracks. And a remaster of Pet Sounds Mono (not for the last time !!). Though what sets this apart is a full-on book on the making of Pet Sounds (mini in size not content). If that wasn't enough there is also a 36 page booklet with details of singles, adverts, comments on the album, lyrics, etc.
Move forward to 2002 and DVD-Audio is touted as the next big thing offering, for the first time, hi-res audio (referred to as Advanced Resolution back then). For the first time we have a 5.1 mix of the album, along with. The booklet is a slimmed down version of the Pet Sounds Sessions notes.
In 2006 Pet Sounds reached it's 40th anniversary and a furry-covered CD/DVD set is issued. The CD has the mono and stereo version of Pet Sounds, with the re-introduction of Hang Onto Your Ego as a mono only bonus track. The DVD is the draw here as it has the 96kHz/24-bit stereo/mono/surround which was found on the DVD-Audio. Plus the DVD has some short documentaries and promo videos. The booklet is virtually a replica of that on the DVD-Audio.
It's 2012 and The Beach Boys are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a band. Brian is back touring with them, they even have a new studio album out.... the harmony doesn't last. Capitol go re-release mad. The early albums are re-mastered and issued with Stereo/Mono mixes (some of the albums for the first time in mono on CD, some for the first time in true stereo anywhere). Pet Sounds is released with Stereo/Mono on one CD. Apparently both mono/stereo are 2012 remasters. Packaging is a card sleeve with no details. Though I like those 12 re-issue CDs.
To the present. 2016. 50 years of Pet Sounds. We've got a mono vinyl re-issue. We've got a stereo vinyl for the first time. We've got a 2CD reissue. And we've got a 4CD/Bluray book. Well what to get ? I got the Book edition and the 2CD edition. The Book edition has all of the audio content from The Pet Sounds Sessions box, plus some live tracks (though the live tracks are on the much cheaper 2CD edition). Exclusively the Book Edition has a Bluray Audio Disc which will play on any Bluray player and has the Mono, Stereo, Instrumental in 192kHz/24bit and sounds awesome. The Surround mix is at 96kHz/24 bit again. The main draw for the Book is the Bluray. The contents of the book itself is well presented but does not have much information in it. If we hadn't had the excellent content in the 20-year old Sessions box I would be singing this sets virtues from the rooftops. But we did. So if you've got the Sessions box, and aren't interested in the Bluray, go for the 2CD set which has all the unreleased live tracks, and a handy in one place instrumental version of Pet Sounds. The only exclusive track to the Book is Good Vibrations (Master Track with Partial Vocal). Most of the text in the Book is found in the 2CD booklet.
However, there is a cardinal sin on the new mono master. NO !!!!!!!! There are 2 very audible clicks about a minute into Let's Go Away For Awhile. This is on the CD of the Book Edition (which has some bonus tracks) and that on the 2CD Edition.
Which version to get ? Of those I've got, I would get the 1996 Pet Sounds Sessions Box. Though the new Book Edition does have a furry-feel goat on it's front. Can't wait for the 60th edition, bound to get a fully interactive edition where you can mix your own version.
on 10 May 2002
I had heard reference to Pet Sounds many times over the years and knew it to be considered by many prominent modern artists to be a formative influence and perhaps the greatest popular music album of all time. However, I somehow never got round to actually finding this out for myself. Firstly, although I had heard and loved some of the well-known Beach Boys classic hits, I never considered them to be worthy of ‘all time greatest’ material (except perhaps ‘God Only Knows’ and ‘Good Vibrations’, one of which is actually on Pet Sounds and the other of which is from the same era). Secondly, the fact that it was mixed in mono also put me off. I would love to say I am sufficiently discerning to appreciate a mono mix for pure musical content alone. But the truth of the matter is I like the quick audio fix that stereo gives – I am very much into swirling vistas of moving sound.
So, it was with great anticipation, and some apprehension at being let down, that I first listened to this Pet Sounds release. I skipped the mono tracks and jumped straight to the stereo re-mixes. I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing, so I played it back again… and again. It is now two weeks on and I haven’t stopped playing it, back to back, time after time. And although I will no doubt listen to other music again at some point soon, I know I will be able to revisit Pet Sounds any time at all for the rest of my life. It really is eternal.
There will be classical purists who will snort with derision at comparisons between Brian Wilson and the great classical composers such as Mozart and Beethoven. I love classical music too, especially getting to know a new symphony or concerto properly, understanding more with each listen until I almost feel as though I am inside the composer’s head. And I can honestly say that I feel the same way about Pet Sounds too. Although there are many other pop albums which I have taken a while to get into, there are none which I have got into immediately, and then again, and again in so many different, progressively deeper ways. There is just so much going on in these songs! How did he do this with the tools available at the time? In fact, how could anyone do anything like this ever again, even with all the wizardry which can happen in a modern studio?
I could never before appreciate how bands such as The Beatles, Screamadelica and REM cited the Beach Boys as a major influence. Listening to Pet Sounds, it is now so clear. It seems like a distillation of the best bits of many different modern classic albums. And then I have to remind myself that actually this was the pre-cursor to them all. I’m still trying to get to grips with the fact that Brian Wilson did this in 1966!
And this brings me on to the mono mixes. I have seen reviews of this release slating the stereo remixes as being nothing like the original and being a trashing of Brian Wilson’s legacy. However, although I do appreciate that there are differences they are quite clearly the same songs, drawn from the same cuts. And on the contrary, I have found both the stereo and mono mixes to be very complimentary. There are so many moving, flowing melodies in there that often a part which is obscured in one mix jumps out in the other. And then you can appreciate the part in the context of either mix. (So much for me thinking I was not able to appreciate a mono mix – I now know that I could have bought and loved Pet Sounds in mono many years ago.)
So, what more can I say? You might buy and not like it, but if you’re curious and are reading Amazon reviews of Pet Sounds because you’ve heard about it like I did and think it’s your kind of thing, then you’re already on the right track and buy it, buy it, buy it! And even if you’ve stumbled upon this by complete chance, buy it anyway, because although it might not click with you, if it does, then truly you will have found something rarely, profoundly, achingly, joyfully moving.
Surely one of the great albums of all time, Brian Wilson used his troubled genius to unsurpassed effect, pouring heart and soul into this collection of 13 masterpieces. In the Beach Boys he had at his disposal an incredibly skilled vocal group whose voices could blend and mix in the empathetic way that only comes from a family group who have grown up singing, and who were also perfectly capable of recreating the core of the album's sound in live performance.
Brian Wilson had worked hard for the group for several years, composing many of the songs, singing lead, arranging the harmony vocals, playing bass guitar and piano and honing his production skills, which were greatly inspired by the work of Phil Spector. He used the same pool of musicians and occasionally the same studio in Hollywood, and like Spector he was an innovator and pioneer who could brilliantly combine unusual pairs or multiples of instruments to create a unique single sound.
It all came together on this album, by which time he had retired from the touring group to concentrate on his composing and record-making. The beautiful melodies and the "pet sounds" he created were matched by some exquisite lyrics that were written in collaboration with Tony Asher and other writers. Brian Wilson had been inspired by hearing Rubber Soul and was fuelled by an ambition to match it in which he was wholly successful. In turn, Pet Sounds inspired the Beatles to go on to create Sgt Pepper. It was this spirit of competitive creativity that led to his unfortunate burn out during the creation of Smile, his response to Sgt Pepper.
Although not exactly a concept album, everything was recorded specifically for the album apart from the traditional song Sloop John B, which had already been released as a single and was included on the insistence of the record company. It does not sound too out of place. The first single from the album was the heartfelt God Only Knows (What I'd Do Without You). This got to number 2 in the UK, but suffered in America from lack of radio exposure by nervous radio stations, who began playing the flipside instead. This resulted in Wouldn't It Be Nice, surely an A-side in its own right anyway, reaching the US Top Ten.
The title song Pet Sounds is an instrumental that was originally called Run James Run, inspired by James Bond, and when heard with this in mind takes on a whole new meaning for the listener. The closing track, Caroline No, ends with more pet sounds: Brian's puppies Banana and Louie barking as the song fades. This had also come out on a single before the release of Pet Sounds, but under the name Brian Wilson, and without the beagle and weimaraner or other sound effects.
Of course, the original album already resides on everyone's CD shelf in mono. Brian Wilson was deaf in one ear and so preferred to work monaurally, again like Phil Spector. He also felt that he could present the sound to the listener in exactly the way he wished, without interference from any stereophonically knob-twiddling listener.
However, a stereo edition was produced and engineered by Mark Linett in 1997 for the Pet Sounds box set, created under the close supervision of Brian Wilson himself, and this edition follows the original album with this scrupulously remixed true stereo version. Not only are these versions often slightly longer, the additional clarity afforded by the sound separation adds a whole new dimension to hearing them, and takes away absolutely nothing. Technological improvements since 1997 have meant that the new stereo mix of Wouldn't It Be Nice on this edition is less different from the original mono mix than on the box set.
on 7 May 2004
Just before Christmas I turned on the radio and, quite by coincedence, heard they were going to play God Only Knows by The Beach Boys. I was intrigued; The Beach Boys on Virgin? Then I heard the song. I can actually say that song changed my life, and will probably remain my favourite song ever. So, soon I...acquired it..., and listened again, and again, and again. Finally I decided to get the album for Christmas.
My first impression was of VAST disappointment. I mean, I felt so gutted. The masterpiece I had heard so much about, and anticipated for so long, had about 3 good songs and the rest were just filler. However, since I had heard it was one of the best albums ever, I persevered. Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. Words cannot describe how incredible this album is. The sweeping harmonies of Still Believe In Me, the joyously up-tempo Wouldn't It Be Nice, the mind-bogglingly heartfelt Don't Talk, and of course, God Only Knows. And do you know what. My parents STILL think that it's "Christmas music". And all my friends think that it's a load of tripe (while they listen to Kings of Leon and Blink-182).
Now, only 5 months on, I've already bought my ticket to see Brian Wilson in July, to see SMiLE. Wish me luck!
on 11 February 2001
Upon first hearing this album, I have to honestly say I couldn't relate to the album as a whole. I liked the hits (God Only Knows, Sloop John B, and Wouldn't It Be Nice?), but that was it. Over twenty years later and it is now in my top 10 desert island albums, and will always remain there.
Brian Wilson took a HUGE gamble in writing music from his soul, and while Pet Sounds has become a bandwagon classic among music fans world-wide, it is a personal listening experience that improves over time. You simply cannot get it the first time around.
The Beach Boys vocals are stunning. At the time of its creation Brian Wilson used the latest 8-track recorders to expand the groups vocal dynamics. This is an important aspect of the band...that is, they were a vocal group rather than a rock group.
Pet Sounds is a shining gem waiting to be discovered. Given that the Beach Boys haven't attracted the most favourable reviews for most of their later careers, this album is a rare example of praise given where praise is due.
on 22 August 2003
I was never one of those who thought Pet Sounds was as great as everyone used to say. I prefered Smiley Smile and Surf's Up but I still had Pet Sounds on CD and even bought the excellent Pet Sounds Sessions boxed-set.
However on receiving this DVD-A release from across the Big Pond this week I must say that I am blown away! You have the hi-res 2 and 5 channel mixes as well as a hi-res mono mix. On the other side of the disc there are DD and DTS versions for those with only DVD-V machines.
My fav mix has to be the hi-res 2 channel one. It is absolutely wonderful and shows off the format really well especially as it was recorded in 1966
on 15 May 2004
Pet Sounds remains one of the most music changing albums of our time along with The Beatles-Sgt Peppers. Brian, as ever influenced by Lennon and McCartney spent 2 months on and off with Tony Asher on this project laying down the instrumental tracks in the first 2 weeks.
The album starts off with the pleasing Wouldn't It Be Nice, then moves into the moody You Still Believe In Me, the up-tempo That's Not Me jars uncomfortably with Brian's epic melancholy Don't Talk (Put your head on my shoulder).
I'm Waiting For The Day and Lets Go Away For Awhile finds Brian in reflective mood while Sloop John B and God Only Knows show that Brian can appeal to the masses , both being top 5 hits. I Know There's an Answer and Here Today are both very clever pop songs showing off the classic Beach Boys harmony but the real masterpiece of the album is the almost suicidal I Just Wasn't Made For These Times which ironically shows Brian totally unaware of his genius.
The album finishes with the instrumental Pet Sounds, a thoroughly adept piece of lift muzak never bettered and Caroline No, a song written for and about his then wife Marilyn.
Pet Sounds changed the way I myself looked at music and certainly changed the progression of modern conceptual music forever.
Brian was and still remains one of the very few artists deserving of the label "genius".
This package, nice as the fuzzy packaging is, compiles a lot of already released stuff. So basically, if you already own the original album, the DVD-A version, and the Endless Harmony and Pet Sounds Live DVDS, you already have everything on this set except for a brief George Martin interview and a "Good Vibrations" video. For a complete roundup of Pet Sounds in one hit it's excellent. If you're a big fan you already have the stuff that's worth having. If you're a completist though, it'll be an essential buy!
on 20 November 2007
Only a medium sized hit on its release, this album has gained in popularity (and sales!!) for thirty five years. Many of those in the business, still consider it, one of the greatest ever albums made.
35 years affter its release, Brian Wilson completed a 'sold out' one year tour, performing the album live.
The tracks sound fresh and undated to this day. There are the obvious classics like 'wouldn't it be nice', 'god only knows' and 'sloop john b'. However checkout 'don't talk (put your head on my shoulder)' and 'here today' and you will understand why many consider Brian Wilson a genius. The catchy tracks 'i just was't made for these times' and 'caroline no', were of course, Brian Wilson writing about himself.
Lennon, McCartney and Sir George Martin all loved this one, and they should know.
on 15 June 2016
THE BEACH BOYS - PET SOUNDS: 5Oth ANNIVERSARY DELUXE EDITION
I have been waiting for this release for a long time and when it finally arrived yesterday, I stayed up most of the night to give it a listen. This release is mostly aimed at the die-hard fan, who (probably) owns most of the previous releases as well. Most of us will undoubtedly be buying this set, but if you haven't quite decided, let me tell you what you will be getting, and what you won't be getting.
The set measures 31x25 cm and is awesome. The goat on the cover is even 'fluffy', which adds a nice touch. The quality is durable and the pictures inside are very cool. It even contains pictures of tape boxes. The track listing is located on the back. It has a nice foreword by David Fricke (whoever that may be) and the lyrics to the 11 songs are printed inside. You'll also find a (very brief) Sessionography and an even shorter Producer's Note from Mark Linett. Three pages of Song Lists and one page of Credits.
What I was missing personally, is a foreword from Brian Wilson, an essay on the album; the production, the release, and the way the album and the songs have gained momentum over the years. None of the other Beach Boys participate in any way. This is meant to be a definitive release to mark an incredible anniversary and this is what we get. Or don't get. Come on, Capitol Records. You could have included something. The (very, very) few comments you get are from the 1996 box set.
I would have loved to learn more about how the 5.1 mixes were created. I would have loved to know about the reason for the Carl Wilson mono mix that was created in 1972. I would have loved to know if we're getting new remixes or if it's the same 1996 and 2001 remixes that are used.
AUDIO QUALITY and AUDIO CONTENTS
This release is terrific. How could it be anything but. To my ear it sounds as if the stereo version is the same 1996 and 2001 remixes that have been released several times before. I haven't listened to the mono version since 1996, as I much prefer the fullness of the stereo version. The mixes in 5.1 are superb. Apparently, Mike Love's vocal on the bridge of "Wouldn't It Be Nice" couldn't be isolated and included in the 5.1 and stack-o-track mixes. Why that is, I don't know. One had hoped that the advances in audio technology these last 15-20 years would have enabled the Producers to add Mike's vocal, but no. Also, the Brian's vocal on "You Still Believe In Me" is not double-tracked. If you have one of the previous stereo releases, you'll know what I mean.
The tracking date tracks sounds like the exact same ones that are included on the 1996 box set.
I love the LIVE recordings and hope that Capitol Records decide to release the 1993 Paramount Theatre concert in its entirety at some point (soon, please) and I would also love to see the releases of Lei'd in Hawaii from 1967 and the Live-in-the-Studio tracks that the group cut when they came back from Hawaii in the fall of 1967.
Lastly, there is a Good Vibrations Master Track with Partial Vocal that I don't quite understand. I reckon it's been included to wet the fans' appetite for the Good Vibrations release later this year.
Great release that could have been better, per my comments above. I'm particularly disappointed with the lack of liner notes and comments from the members of the band. Maybe they weren't available for comments, but it sounds unlikely that they wouldn't be.
Lastly, I'm just curious as to why every single anniversary release of this album over the years has been released too late.