Friday, November 21, 2008

When a classic, shouldn't be-The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds"

I like Pet Sounds, it's a good album. Its reputation, however, is that it's one of the best albums ever made. When Rolling Stone magazine made a list of its 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time, Pet Sounds came in 2nd only to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Brian Wilson, as the creative force behind the group, had been inspired to push himself to the limit by the release of The Beatles' Rubber Soul in 1965, saying of his first listen:

"I really wasn't quite ready for the unity. It felt like it all belonged together. Rubber Soul was a collection of songs ... that somehow went together like no album ever made before, and I was very impressed. I said, 'That's it. I really am challenged to do a great album.'"

Most people think he did make a great album with Pet Sounds, but I don't. It's a nice little album, it's enjoyable, but it's not great. I can appreciate the influence it has had on a production level, but the fact is (fact in my mind anyway) that there are only 2 great songs on it. Only "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows" are truly great songs. Not that that's a bad thing, most groups would kill to have 2 all-time great songs on an album. But the thing is, there are at least 2 great songs on the worst Beatles albums. So what makes Pet Sounds a classic on the level of The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers, Stevie Wonder's Innervisions, or Led Zeppelin II?

Obviously, since I don't believe it's true I won't be able to answer the question. Still, I go back and listen to it every few months to see if one day something in it hits me the right way and I suddenly see why everyone likes it so much. But honestly, if it were a Beatles album, it wouldn't even scratch my top 5 from them, much less an all-time great list.


Cataract Moon said...

I still love their version of Sloop John B.

steven 559 said...

God Only Knows is a great song but the rest = meh.