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The Beach Boys:: Pet Sounds (40th Anniversary Edition)(CD/DVD & Double Vinyl LP)

As a Beach Boys’ fanatic, what could be more serendipitous than sharing your 40th birthday with their greatest achievement? I mean “Pet Sounds” is arguably the best album ever to be released, and Capitol is once again dusting it off and parading it around. And why not? I’m sure you fellow fans already own this album many times over. The gorgeous box set that was released a few years back is probably the cornerstone of your collection. But hear me out. If not for your own good, then for the good of all the kids who don’t yet own this gem.
To bring everyone up to speed, Brian Wilson wrote this album as an answer to The Beatles “Rubber Soul”. It was a massive shift in direction for the Beach Boys, who everyone had written off as the best in a slew of surf bands. With the rest of the Boys on tour, Brian, alongside lyricist Tony Asher, composed a masterpiece that altered the parameters of pop music. It also created an irreparable divide in the Beach Boys camp, as some of them feared the shift from songs about cars and girls to what they deemed was nonsense. The record company felt the very same. Regardless, “Pet Sounds” has not only stood the test of time, but influences musicians to this day. What would our world sound like without this gem? Could we survive in a world without R.E.M., The Teenage Fanclub, The Flaming Lips, The Pixies, heck, even The Posies? Well sure we could. But what a better place this planet has been with them. And all of them have been influenced by this album in some way.
What other album features a song that can be played at both your wedding and your funeral (“God Only Knows”)? What better modern misfit anthem than “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”? “Pet Sounds” is timeless and perfect. And yes, it needs to be heard again. And again.
This anniversary edition is a great way to introduce, or reintroduce yourself to Brian’s masterpiece. The two disc CD/DVD version features all 13 original tracks in both mono and stereo, with “Hang On To Your Ego” as a bonus. The DVD has a behind the scenes documentary on the making of the album. This is worth the price of admission alone just to see Mike Love (BOO! HISS!) speak through gritted teeth about his “Pet Sounds” experience. You also get such pop luminaries as Elvis Costello, Pete Townshend, Hal Blaine, and Carol Kaye waxing lyrical about it. The excerpt of Sir George Martin, taken from an old BBC documentary, is a little sad, as he sounds about a hundred years old. How did The Beatles ever get anywhere with this square in their corner? Also included are the priceless original 1966 promotional films for a handful of tracks.
The real excitement for longtime fans will be the vinyl version of this release. Double gatefold! Colored vinyl! Stereo and mono! Limited and numbered edition! And even a sessionography! Oh, the sweet sound of thousands of swooning fans as I write this!
So people, buy this record. Maybe for the first time, maybe for the umpteenth. But buy it. Marvel in the fact that Brian was able to convey his vision not only to a handful of brilliant studio musicians, but also to his doubtful bretheren. Listen to the most beautiful harmonies and melodies known to man. And hear something perhaps only Brian was aware of. He inadvertently captured the death of innocence, not only for himself, but for his band and his country. That it still has all the magical, wide-eyed, teenage splendor after 40 years? Well that’s just the icing on the cake.
(Review by: Lisa Matson)