Music

A mini intro to Pet Sounds by Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson, co-founder of the Beach Boys, is headed to Australia shortly to perform the songs from his acclaimed album, Pet Sounds.

Wilson is set to perform his ground-breaking album at solo shows as well as Byron Bay Bluesfest. Melbourne audiences are in for a treat on April 3 when Brian Wilson performs at the Palais Theatre. To celebrate the upcoming performance, our friends at the Palais Theatre put together a mini intro to Pet Sounds. Have a look below for an excellent insight into Brian Wilson and Pet Sounds written by Palais Theatre staffer, Aimee Chapman. 

A mini intro to Pet Sounds (AKA why you need to see Brian Wilson play this album live in April)

Pet Sounds, the 1966 Beach Boys album widely acknowledged as changing the face of Pop music with its innovative and complex musical arrangements and raw, personal lyrics, constantly tops the desert island discs of a great many. With Brian Wilson, the creative genius behind this seminal album visiting St Kilda’s Palais Theatre on April 3 to perform the album in its entirety along with other Beach Boys hits, let’s look at a few Pet Sounds facts to get you in the mood for what is destined to be an unforgettable concert experience.

Brian Wilson almost single-handedly wrote the entire album!

While the album may be attributed to the Beach Boys, it was essentially conceived, written, performed and produced by Wilson, a musical prodigy with no formal music training who took a backseat from touring with the Beach Boys in 1964 to concentrate on writing and studio recording.  The resulting sessions produced songs that not only broke the mould of pop music, creating songs that were made to be listened to rather than simply for dancing, but utilised sophisticated musical techniques described by music writer James E. Perrone as tempo changes, metrical ambiguity, and unusual tone colours that remove the music from “just about anything else that was going on in 1966 pop music”. But for the vast majority of critics and fans alike it is the incredibly complex vocal harmonies throughout the album that really made this album a game changer.

The Beatles inspired Brian Wilson who then returned the favour.

In 1964, The Beatles released their album Rubber Soul and Brian Wilson listened to a copy with friends just before its release in the US.  Wilson said of the experience, “I’d never heard a collection of songs that were all that good before. It’s like a collection of folk songs, and they’re all just really, really great songs. And not just about love. They’re about a lot of different things, but they all go together, somehow. Listening to Rubber Soul didn’t clarify my ideas for Pet Sounds, exactly. But it inspired me. When we were listening to it that night I said to myself, ‘Now I’m gonna make an album just as good as Rubber Soul.’ Not the same album. Obviously there can only be one album that’s Rubber Soul, just like there can only be one Pet Sounds. But it inspired me to do my own thing, and so the next morning I went to the piano and wrote God Only Knows with Tony Asher”.

Upon its release in 1966 Pet Sounds was a critical and commercial success in the UK. One of its biggest fans was Keith Moon of The Who – he, along with Brian Wilson’s tour fill-in Bruce Johnston, played Pet Sounds in a hotel room for John Lennon and Paul McCartney. All four members of the Beatles have been quoted as saying Pet Sounds had a profound influence on the making of their 1967 album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with Paul McCartney in particular naming God Only Knows as his favorite song of all-time, and crediting his ubiquitous bass playing to the album. George Martin, Producer of Sgt Peppers has said “Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper never would have happened… Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds”

Brian Wilson opened up the door for unusual instruments in commercial pop music.

Not merely settling for complex orchestral arrangements, Wilson used highly unusual sounds to realise his vision.  He utilised everything from bicycle bells, water jugs, dog whistles, harpsichords, flutes, finger cymbals, mandolins, Electro-Theremin, the plucking of the strings inside pianos and Coca-Cola cans.  Wilson even enlisted the services of his dogs Banana and Louie who can be heard on the track Caroline, No.

Brian Wilson will perform Pet Sounds and other Beach Boys hits at the Palais Theatre on April 3. He will also perform the concert in Sydney on March 29 and 30 at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. Click here to purchase tickets for Brian Wilson’s solo shows.

In addition, Brian Wilson is one of the headline acts at Byron Bay Bluesfest, which runs from March 24 until 28. Click here to purchase tickets for Byron Bay Bluesfest.

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