On this day in music history: May 16, 1966 – &…

On this day in music history: May 16, 1966 – “Pet Sounds”, the eleventh studio album by The Beach Boys is released. Produced by Brian Wilson, it is recorded at United/Western Recorders, Gold Star and Sunset Sound Recorders from July 12, 1965, November 1, 1965 – April 13, 1966. Following his retirement from the road, Brian Wilson begins crafting an album more musically and lyrically sophisticated than anything the band has previously attempted. Working with members of The Wrecking Crew on the instrumental tracks and mostly with lyricist Tony Asher, Wilson spends much of the next nine months working on the album. The instrumental tracks are recorded on either a three or four track tape machine, with the master takes being mixed down to one track of an eight track multi-track tape. After this pre-mixdown, the remaining seven open tracks used for overdubbing vocals. From there, they are mixed down to a single track (mono). In spite of it spinning off a total of four hits including “Sloop John B” (#3 Pop), “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (#8 Pop), and “God Only Knows” (#39 Pop), public response to the album in the US is lukewarm. In the UK, it receives major critical acclaim, becoming a huge commercial success there. Paul McCartney states that “Pet Sounds” was the inspiration for The Beatles to make the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. Over time, “Pet Sounds” grows in stature to become one of the most influential and highly regarded albums ever made. Initially released in mono and “Duophonic” re-channelled stereo in 1966, “Pet Sounds” receives its first true stereo mix in 1997 when an extensive four CD box set of the recording sessions is released. Reissue producer Mark Linett along with Brian Wilson, go through the painstaking task of remixing the album into true stereo. The process involves locating all of the original three and four track instrumental multi-tracks, and eight track composite reels, then syncing the instrumental and vocal tracks to digital multi-track for the final mixdown to stereo on analog tape. In the cases of the new mixes of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “God Only Knows” and “You Still Believe In Me” are missing alternate vocals that only exist on the original mono mix, and could not be located on any other tapes. The album is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998. “Pet Sounds” peaks at number ten on the Billboard Top 200, number two on the UK album chart, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.