Wednesday, May 17, 2006

In the beginning...

By Andrew Doe

Pet Sounds was the very first Beach Boys album I ever bought, and I came late to it, in the summer of 1975 via Nick Kent's legendary New Musical Express three-part profile of Brian Wilson. I read it, was intrigued by what I had read and, being the addictive and questing personality that I am, resolved to explore further. Pet Sounds seemed the obvious place to start (but then, so little that seems obvious actually is). Of course, I was bowled over by the harmonies, and the composition (appreciation of the production came later), but there was some thing else, hovering behind the music, just out of my reach, some thing alluring, and yet curiously disconcerting. A few days (and many more listens) later, it struck me - underpinning the whole album, even the joyous opening number, was a sense of resigned melancholy, a sense of being slightly out of time and step with everyone else... an aura of hovering doom. That was enough - I had to know more about this man and his music, and so began the long, strange trip, one which has taken me to places and people way outside my previous experience, and in time, to Brian himself. And during this multi-decade spanning trip, Pet Sounds has been my guide, companion, sustenance and, in times of stress and discord, my saftey blanket. I may not listen to it daily (or even monthly), but the knowledge that it's there, within arm's length, is more often than not comfort enough. In truth, I don't really ever have to listen to it again: that it exists suffices. The best album of the rock era ? Very probably, but then I'm biased, and in any case, Pet Sounds is so much more than just music, however majestic that music may be. It's a safe place in time of uncertainty, a hug in time of pain, a smile from a friend, a kiss from a lover. Above all, it lets you know that you're not alone, that someone has trod this path before and marked the way for you - if you will, a light in the darkness. I cannot imagine a world (or my life) without Pet Sounds, and I am deeply envious of those hearing it for the very first time, for I recall my own initiation and 40 years on, it still brings a smile to my face. Time for another headlong dive into the pool. Join me, won't you ? The water's deep, but oh, so warm.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Welcome to the Pet Blog

By Michael deMartin

Today is May 16, 2006. Pet Sounds was released in the United States on May 16, 1966. Forty years to the day.

About 25 years ago, I read a review in "The Village Voice" for the Beach Boys' 1966 Pet Sounds album which had been reissued by Capitol Records. Up to that time I never took the Beach Boys seriously – I was just a kid and the Beach Boys were what my sister listened to.

The review I read was eye-opening: Even though Pet Sounds had been somewhat of a commercial disappointment in 1966, it was a favorite among a variety of influential musicians. Paul McCartney was awed by it and Leonard Bernstein praised it. Burt Bacharach and Philip Glass were equally impressed. The review described it as "a work sublime, beautiful, romantic, and introspective." I learned that the person responsible for this music was Brian Wilson.

I immediately went out and bought the album and haven't stopped listening to this day. Pet Sounds was the soundtrack of my life – the story of a young man's journey to adulthood. In a way, I was glad the album was never a big hit: selfishly, I wanted it all for myself. But like all great art, it's just a matter of time before it's acknowledged and accepted. And now Pet Sounds is regarded by many to be the greatest album of the past forty years. With that, every new generation of musicians continue to praise the Beach Boys' masterpiece.

I've been a lucky fan: through David Leaf, I met Brian and Melinda Wilson and ended up designing Brian's official website. Since getting to know Brian, I only have more respect for him as a person and his accomplishments. First and foremost, though, I'm a fan, and I thought a blog about this landmark album was in order. I also figured it would be great to include a few others known in Beach Boys land to blog as well, and you'll hear from them soon. I'll try and get some people that were there, and maybe even the big guy can contribute a blog. We welcome you to comment on what you read, see and hear on this "unofficial" blog. You can agree or agree to disagree with us - let's just have fun at the subject at hand: Pet Sounds. If you want to know which album "Little Deuce Coupe" was on, go to Brian's message board at

What I want to know now is what Capitol Records is planning for the Big 40. Seems like whenever they need an influx of cash, they release another greatest hits package like "Sounds of Summer" and it rockets up the charts and sells millions of copies. I would imagine when Brian calls, Capitol listens. So, I'm going to use whatever pull I have and get Capitol to fork over some information and find out what they have in store for Pet Sounds 40. Surely they've got to be doing something - I mean the same people that practically ignored the initial release can't still be there. Right?

I'm sure I've purchased Pet Sounds in every format – vinyl, cassette, 8-track, CD, CD box set, DVD-Audio – but let's have another one for this special anniversary! Just include something - anything new – and I'm there. What do I do with my old copies of Pet Sounds? Well, like any real fan of the album, I give away my old copies to deserving souls and more often than not, they "get it". And, sometimes, it changes their lives.

Anyway, Capitol Records, let's get with it: Here it is, May 16, 2006 - literally the fortieth anniversary of the release of the greatest album in the history of the world, and we don't know if you're doing anything! C'mon guys, give us fans a break. Give us anything, or else I'm going to have to tell Brian ...