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.
On this day in music history: May 15, 1972 – “Carl & The Passions – So Tough”, the eighteenth studio album by The Beach Boys is released. Produced by The Beach Boys, it is recorded at Brother Studios in Los Angeles, CA from December 4, 1971 – April 13, 1972. The album is recorded during a period of transition with the band in flux. During this time frame, Carl Wilson takes over the duties of leading the band, with older brother Brian Wilson struggling with various personal issues, his musical contributions are minimal to the project. Brother Dennis Wilson, sidelined with a hand injury is unable to play drums at the time of the sessions, primarily contributing keyboards and vocals. In spite of being sidelined from playing his main instrument, Dennis’ previously untapped talents as a songwriter are brought to the fore on the two tracks “Cuddle Up” and “Make It Good”, both co-written by him and keyboardist Daryl Dragon (later of The Captain & Tennille). Early in the sessions, bassist Bruce Johnston abruptly quits after an argument with the band’s manager. Carl recruit guitarists Blondie Chaplin and drummer Ricky Fataar to fill in the vacant spots in the band. Originally issued as a double LP set with the second disc being a reissue of their 1966 masterpiece “Pet Sounds”, fan and critical response to the album is largely indifferent and it sells poorly. Over time the album has become a cult classic and a favorite among hardcore Beach Boys fans. “Carl & The Passions – So Tough” peaks at number fifty on the Billboard Top 200, and number twenty five on the UK album chart.
On this day in music history: March 25, 1963 – “Surfin’ USA”, the second album by The Beach Boys is released. Produced by Nick Venet, it is recorded at the Capitol Tower and Western Recorders in Hollywood, CA from June 13, 1962, January 5 – February 12, 1963. Issued as the follow up to their debut “Surfin’ Surfari”, it demonstrates Brian Wilson becoming a considerable force creatively as he writes or co-writes eight of the albums twelve songs. He is also responsible for most of the actual production on the album, though the credit is given to the band’s A&R man Nick Venet. It spins off two singles including “Shut Down” (#23 Pop) and the title track (#3 Pop). The title track is the subject of a lawsuit between Brian Wilson’s publisher Sea Of Tunes and Arc Music, the publisher of Chuck Berry’s song “Sweet Little Sixteen”. The suit claims that The Beach Boys song plagiarizes Berry’s song almost note for note. The matter is settled with Berry receiving a writing credit and royalties for the song. Originally issued on CD in 1989 (stereo only), it is remastered and reissued in 2001. The mono version of the album, out of print since the late 60’s, is remastered and issued on CD for the first time (along with the stereo mix) with HDCD encoding in 2012. In 2014, Analogue Productions reissues the classic title as a hybrid SACD with the mono and stereo mixes. AP also releases 180 gram vinyl pressings of the stereo and mono versions (separately). “Surfin’ USA” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by RIAA.
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On this day in music history: March 8, 1965 – “Beach Boys Today!”, the eighth album by The Beach Boys is released. Produced by Brian Wilson, it is recorded at Western Recorders and Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, CA from June 1964 – January 1965. The Beach Boys eighth full length release in only two and a half years, it comes after the band releases four albums in 1964 alone. Compounded by non-stop touring the stress becomes too much for Brian Wilson who retires from the road to concentrate on writing and producing. The album marks a significant turning point in Brian Wilson’s evolution as a songwriter and producer. With more time to focus on writing and arranging, The Beach Boys music begins to grow in sophistication and complexity, taking major leaps forward in the next two years. “Today!” spins off four singles including “Help Me Rhonda” (#1 Pop) (listed on the LP with the alternate spelling “Help Me Ronda”), "When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)“ (#9 Pop), "Dance, Dance, Dance” (#8 Pop) and “Do You Wanna Dance” (#12 Pop), though a different take of “Rhonda” is released as a mono single in April of 1965. The album is originally released on CD in 1989 using the mono mix, and is reissued in 1994 along with the vinyl LP. It is remastered in 2008 on CD, and as a 180 gram LP following in 2009. The title is reissued by Analogue Productions in 2015 as a hybrid SACD and as a limited edition 200 gram LP in 2016. “Beach Boys Today!” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 7, 1966 – “Caroline, No”, by Brian Wilson is released. Written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher, it is the first solo single by the leader of The Beach Boys. The song is originally written as “Carol, I Know”, but the title is changed after Wilson mistakenly hears it as “Caroline, No”, preferring the latter.The track is recorded on January 31, 1966 at United/Western Recorders in Hollywood, CA with members of The Wrecking Crew. Though it is a released as a solo single, the song is also included on The Beach Boys next album “Pet Sounds” which is being recorded at the same time. “Caroline, No” peaks at #32 on the Hot 100 on April 30, 1966.
On this day in music history: January 1, 1964 – The Beach Boys record the single “Fun, Fun, Fun” at Western Recorders in Hollywood, CA. Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, it is the seventh single release for the pop/rock band from Hawthorne, CA. The song is written about a girl named Shirley Johnson, the daughter of Howard D. Johnson, the owner of radio station KNAK in Salt Lake City, UT. While The Beach Boys are making a visit to the station, the teenager is overheard by Wilson and Love complaining to station staff about her father taking away the keys to his Ford Thunderbird after he lets her borrow the car to go to library, but then finds out she went out cruising with her friends, and then to the drive-in instead. The bands’ manager and the Wilson brothers father Murry Wilson doesn’t like the song calling it “immoral” and tries to dissuade them from recording it, but they ignore him. After the basic tracks are recorded at Western Recorders Studio 3 in Hollywood, CA on New Years Day, the vocals and other overdubs are recorded on January 8 – 9, 1964. Backed with a cover of Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers’ doo wop classic “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”, it is released as a single on February 3, 1964. “Fun, Fun, Fun” enters the Hot 100 at #69 on February 15, 1964, peaking at #5 five weeks later on March 21, 1964. Initially released as a stand alone single, the song is included on The Beach Boys’ fifth album “Shut Down Volume 2”, a month later on March 2, 1964. Mixed in both mono and stereo, “Fun” is given a new stereo remix in 2001 for the compilation “Hawthorne, CA”, more closely resembling the original mono 45 mix.
On this day in music history: December 18, 1967 – “Wild Honey”, the thirteenth studio album by The Beach Boys is released. Produced by The Beach Boys, it is recorded at Wally Heider Studios in Hollywood, CA and Brian Wilson’s Home Studio in Los Angeles, CA from September 26 – November 15, 1967. Following the abandonment of the “Smile” album earlier in the year, Brian Wilson continues to write material for The Beach Boys, but is less active in the studio than in years past. Originally, the band plan to release a “live” album titled “Lei’d in Hawaii” consisting of actual live recordings from a two night stand at the Honolulu International Center, recorded on August 25-26, 1967. When the band feel their performances are sub par, they attempt to re-create the show in-studio, recording at Wally Heider Studios in Hollywood, then dubbing crowd noise on to the tracks. After recording six songs, the idea is dropped in favor of recording a new studio album, the parts of the aborted recordings surface on Beach Boys compilations years later. Looking to avoid the long and tedious recording processes of “Pet Sounds” and “Smile”, the band decide to make a more “R&B influenced” album in a more laid back atmosphere. Recorded at a time when psychedelic rock and hard rock are dominating the musical landscape, The Beach Boys willfully go against the grain. Released only weeks after contemporaries like The Beatles (“Magical Mystery Tour”) and The Rolling Stones (“Their Satanic Majesties Request”) have new albums high in the charts, “Wild Honey” is greeted largely with indifference from critics and fans. In spite of spinning off a hit single with the Carl Wilson sung “Darlin’” (written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love) (#19 Pop), it is the lowest selling Beach Boys album at the time. In later years, the album is re-assessed more favorably. The track “Here Comes The Night” is re-recorded by the band in the late 70’s as a disco song. “Honey” is also the last Beach Boys album to be released with separate mono and stereo mixes, though the stereo is actually murky sounding re-channeled mono. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001 with the original mono mixes. To commemorate its 50th anniversary, “Honey” is reissued on vinyl as a 180 gram LP issued in true stereo for the first time with new mixes (except “Mama Says” which is the mono mix) by Mark Linett and Alan Boyd in July of 2017. The new mixes first appear on CD on the compilation “Sunshine Tomorrow” in June of 2017, including session outtakes and alternate versions from the recording sessions. “Wild Honey” peaks at number twenty four on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: December 10, 1966 – “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, it is the third chart topping single for the Southern California based band. The song has its genesis in a conversation that Brian Wilson has with his mother Audree during his childhood. She tells him that dogs would bark at people depending on the “vibrations” they sensed from them. Telling this to his band mate Mike Love, Love comes up with the title “Good Vibrations”. Initially, Wilson collaborates with lyricist Tony Asher (“Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “God Only Knows”) on the song. Not entirely pleased with the lyrics, Love completely re-writes them. “Vibrations” is recorded in seventeen sessions over a period of six months in four different studios. The song incorporates a number of instruments not typical for a pop song including cellos and a electro-theremin. At an approximated cost of over $50,000, at the time it is the most expensive single record ever produced, with the final version being edited together from various sections recorded over the lengthy sessions. The songs’ innovative production and structure make it an immediate smash on both sides of the Atlantic, stoking demand for the band’s next album “Smile” which was in the works at the time. Entering the Hot 100 at #81 on October 22, 1966, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. “Smile” does not surface in its intended form until nearly forty five years later in 2011 when it is meticulously pieced together from all of the existing multi-tracks and unreleased master recordings. An alternate version of “Good Vibrations” is also included on that set. Regarded as a landmark record of Beach Boys career and of the 1960’s, it is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1994. In October of 2016, “Vibrations” is reissued as a limited edition six track 12" EP. It features the original mono 45 mix, as well as session outtakes, an alternate take, the instrumental mix, a live concert performance from August of 1967, and the original single B-side “Let’s Go Away For Awhile”. The US edition is pressed on yellow and orange swirled vinyl and the Europe edition on red and orange swirled vinyl, both using the 60’s era Capitol yellow and orange swirl labels. Both releases are packaged in an LP sized reproduction of the original US picture sleeve, along with an insert reproducing the Japanese picture from its 1966 release. “Good Vibrations” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 16, 1964 – “The Beach Boys Christmas Album” by The Beach Boys is released. Produced by Brian Wilson, it is recorded at Capitol Studios and Western Recorders in Hollywood,CA from October 20, 1963 and June 18 – 30, 1964. The only holiday album by the Southern California based surf band contains five original songs and covers of seven holiday standards including “Little Saint Nick”, which had been previously released as a stand alone single during the 1963 holiday season. Dick Reynolds, arranger for The Four Freshman is hired to write arrangements for several tracks on the album. Released in both mono and stereo (the latter being mixed by engineer Chuck Britz), it is the last Beach Boys album issued in true stereo until “Friends” in 1968. The reason being that Brian Wilson prefers the band’s music in mono, due in part to being deaf in his right ear, and is unable to perceive stereo sound. “The Beach Boys Christmas Album” peaks at number six on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.