The idea behind this ‘series’ is that once every two weeks another year will be brought into attention, starting with 1963 and moving onward chronologically. One and only one album will be selected and written about from each year, the criteria being a mix of personal preference and historical relevance. If you stumble upon this article by any chance and end up not clicking the ‘x’ button in disgust, keep in mind that I would love to hear your choice for the respective year – from a simple comment stating the album’s name, to detailed analysis that will destroy my argument and make me reconsider my reasoning. Remember, one of the main reasons I’m doing this is to get a better perspective of what albums I’ve missed out on, from each period of time.
Today’s Pick: The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
Had ‘Pet Sounds’ been released as a completely instrumental album, it’d still be hailed for the incredibly creative melodies and the diversity of instruments arranged in such a head-spinning manner. Had the Beach Boys suddenly became so bankrupt that they had to sell all of their instruments and equipment and ended up recording a garage-quality album of nothing but their voices singing and harmonizing these songs, it would still be better than what most bands had accomplished in their entire career. But when you take them both together and add the lyrics you get an album that’s just…
…just too much. And I know my 16-year old self, listening to it for the very first time around 6 o’clock A.M. after a sleepless summer night, would agree with that if it wasn’t for the fact that he was completely speechless throughout those 36 minutes. But that’s not really it – I have such great memories with dozens of other albums. What truly makes ‘Pet Sounds’ such a special record is that it always stays with me – with each new listen I experience the same amazement, the same overwhelming sense of wonder, the feeling that this sounds unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. Just yesterday I played it and I still couldn’t tell whether it was the 100th listen or the 1st. Maybe the place and time are not the same, maybe I see the things from a different perspective, but the emotional impact is always undisputable.
And Paul McCartney seems to share my feelings. It has become a well-known fact by now that he cited the album as one of the biggest influences on both Sgt. Pepper and himself on repeated accounts. While it is great to find out that your heroes are fans of each other’s work, I’ve always felt that this record’s importance goes way beyond just inspiring The Beatles to create Pepper (which is no mean feat in itself). I can’t even begin imagining what it would feel like hearing it when it came out. To witness a pop/rock album taking the shape of a journey that starts with the couple longing for the idea of growing old together and ends with the boy running into the girl long after the relationship is over and realizing how much she’s changed. To hear all these little emotional, teen-angst episodes riding on a wave of hypnotic harpsichords, flutes, theremins and whatnot playing gorgeous melodies and clashing into each other.
And finally, to realize that holding the wheel is a musical genius reaching his peak in terms of both creativity and craft, with the rest of the passengers always ready to give him a hand in doing so. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and respect the work of the rest of the band, as well as the hired players’, but this is Brian Wilson’s show and the reason he’s my all-time favourite artist. Likewise, I enjoy and respect many albums released in 1966, but none can really compete with The Beach Boys at their absolute best.
Do you agree? What’s your favourite album from 1966?
Categories: Album of the Year