Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds

Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys elevated pop music to new artistic heights with the band's 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds. With its ingenious orchestrations and earnest lyrics, the album remains an enormous influence to this day. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Jim and Greg present a Classic Album Dissection of Pet Sounds.

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Jimmy Page & Robert Plant "Stairway to Heaven" is one of the most well-known songs in the history of rock and roll. The 8-minute track is perhaps Led Zeppelin's most iconic number, featuring an opening guitar riff that is legendary in its own right. However, people are now speculating that the band plagiarized the riff. The '60s-era rock group Spirit released a song with a suspiciously similar intro called "Taurus" in 1968, three years before“Stairway.” The late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe (otherwise known as Randy California) wrote the song, and two years ago his estate filed an initial federal lawsuit alleging that Zep had ripped him off. In April, a U.S. District Judge ruled that there is sufficient evidence to move forward with the trial later this spring. To get some perspective on the case, Jim and Greg talk with Jeffrey Brown, an intellectual property attorney at Michael Best & Friedrich and former concert promoter and producer.

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The Beach Boys Pet Sounds

On May 16, 1966, The Beach Boys released their 11th studio album, Pet Sounds. It was a relative commercial failure for what was the biggest American band of the '60s. However in the ensuing 50 years, the album's stature grew. Today, its influence pervades to the point that it is almost universally acknowledged as one of the greatest albums ever released in the rock era. With Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson taking the album on tour again this summer, Jim and Greg feel it's the perfect time to give Pet Sounds a Classic Album Dissection.

Due to a great deal of pressure, emotional turmoil, and mental health issues, Brian Wilson quit the Beach Boys as a touring entity at the end of 1964. While the rest of the band was on the road, Wilson spent ten months in the studio crafting one of the most intricate and expensive pop records ever made. Working with the famed session musicians of the Wrecking Crew, Wilson took a classical composer's approach, layering instrument upon instrument to create lush, unique timbres. He collaborated with Madison Avenue writer Tony Asher on heartbreakingly earnest lyrics about his struggles to find his place in the world. The audience, the label, and his own bandmates didn't quite know what to make of Pet Sounds when it came out. But artists from The Beatles to R.E.M. to Radiohead picked up on its brilliance and modeled their own music on Wilson's ingenious arrangements. God only knows what rock would be today without Pet Sounds.

Featured Songs

  1. Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin IV, Atlantic, 1971
  2. Spirit, Taurus, Spirit, CBS, 1968
  3. Stephen Stubbs, Sonata di Chitarra, e Violino, con il suo Basso Continuo (Giovanni Battista Granata), Teatro Lirico, ECM, 2006
  4. Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, Matthew Garber, Karen Dotrice, Chim Chim Cher-ee, Mary Poppins, Buena Vista, 1964
  5. The Beach Boys, Sloop John B, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  6. The Four Freshmen, I Remember You, Four Freshmen and 5 Trombones, Capitol, 1955
  7. The Gamblers, LSD-25, Moon Dawg! / LSD-25, World Pacific, 1960
  8. The Beach Boys, I'm Waiting for the Day, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  9. The Beach Boys, Here Today, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  10. The Beach Boys, When I Grow Up (To Be a Man), The Beach Boys Today!, Capitol, 1965
  11. The Beach Boys, Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  12. The Beach Boys, Wouldn't It Be Nice, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  13. The Beach Boys, Let's Go Away for Awhile, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  14. The Beach Boys, Caroline No, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  15. The Beach Boys, You Still Believe in Me, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  16. The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  17. The Beach Boys, Hang on to Your Ego, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  18. The Beach Boys, I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  19. The Beach Boys, Wouldn't It Be Nice, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  20. The Beach Boys, That's Not Me, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  21. The Beach Boys, God Only Knows, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  22. The Beach Boys, Little Deuce Coupe, Little Deuce Coupe, Capitol, 1963
  23. The Beatles, Nowhere Man, Rubber Soul, Parlophone, 1965
  24. The Beatles, She's Leaving Home, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Parlophone, 1967
  25. Nick Drake, Fly, Bryter Layter, Island, 1971
  26. The Olivia Tremor Control, Frosted Ambassador, Music from the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle, Flydaddy, 1996
  27. R.E.M., Near Wild Heaven, Out of Time, Warner Bros., 1991
  28. Animal Collective, Guys Eyes, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Domino, 2009
  29. The Beach Boys, Trombone Dixie (Highlights from Tracking Date), Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  30. ABBA, Ring Ring, Ring Ring, Polydor, 1973
  31. Brian Eno, The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch, Here Come the Warm Jets, Editions EG, 1973
  32. Prince and The Revolution, I Would Die 4 U, Purple Rain, Warner Bros., 1984
  33. Prince, The Ride (Live), Crystal Ball, NPG, 1998
  34. Prince, Uptown, Dirty Mind, Warner Bros., 1980
  35. Nine Inch Nails, Head Like a Hole, Pretty Hate Machine, TVT, 1989

Footnotes Led Zeppelin accused of plagiarism 17th century baroque composition sounds similar to“Stairway” Jeffrey Brown Brian Wilson's 50th anniversary Pet Sounds tour Hal Blaine on Sound Opinions