66 From '66 – The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds (Capitol, May 16 1966), Good Vibrations (Capitol single, October 10 1966)
Historically, Pet Sounds has never been taken quite as seriously as Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde or The Beatles’ Revolver. Perhaps this is down to the fact that The Beach Boys lacked the countercultural edge of Bob Dylan and The Beatles, or maybe it had something to do with its literal, artless front cover.
But that was then. In 2016, Pet Sounds is regarded not only as the equal of those records but, in some quarters, their superior. Certainly, together with the equally groundbreaking single Good Vibrations, which followed it five months later, it drew up an ambitious road map for rock’s future.
It may have been a quantum leap for its composer, fragile ‘man child’ Brian Wilson, but Pet Sounds wasn’t quite a bolt from the blue. Close scrutiny of the band’s catalogue will reveal intimations of the album’s lush, solipsist sorrow as far back as The Lonely Sea, from their 1963 second album Surfin’ USA, or early ballads such as The Warmth Of The Sun and In My Room, while 1965’s Today! featured a suite of songs on side two that evinced a harmonic sophistication and a desire to explore more mature themes than the usual surfing and hot rods.