The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" Turns 50

Posted by Michael Mueller on May 16, 2016 at 11:29 AM

On May 16, 1966, the Beach Boys released their masterpiece recording, Pet Sounds. Much like their contemporaries (and rivals of sorts) the Beatles, the Beach Boys with this seminal release reinvented how albums were crafted, using the recording studio as an instrument itself, embracing and experimenting with the latest musical technology to continually push the boundaries of popular music.

"Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper never would have happened. Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds," Beatles producer George Martin wrote in the liner notes for the The Pet Sounds Sessions, released in 1997.

"If records had a director within a band, I sort of directed Pepper," Paul McCartney has stated in an interview, "and my influence was basically the Pet Sounds album."

Though Pet Sounds contains several tracks that have gone on to become timeless hits in the lexicon of pop music, including "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "Sloop John B," and the beloved "God Only Knows," it's the album's brilliance as a whole—the songwriting, the production, the innovative use of unusual instruments and objects as instruments (plastic bottles, Coke cans, bicycle horns, etc.)—that have made it one of the most important recordings in pop music history.

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