“I figure no one is educated musically ‘til they’ve heard [Pet Sounds],” Paul McCartney once said of The Beach Boys’ classic, released 45 years and one week ago on May 16, 1966. George Martin concurred: “Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn’t have happened.” Brian Wilson poured his musical heart into the album’s thirteen tracks; in less than thirty-five minutes, he delivered an entire spectrum of emotions in a song cycle of striking beauty and sensitivity. Pet Sounds may initially have been conceived by Wilson as an answer to The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, but it functions as an elegy to lost innocence (“Caroline, No”), a hope for the promise of brighter days ahead (“Wouldn’t It Be Nice”) and an expression of one young man’s innermost soul laid bare (“I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times,” “That’s Not Me,” “You Still Believe in Me”) in such a way that it was universal. Oh yeah, and it just might have the greatest pop love song ever written (“God Only Knows”) which begins with a shocking lyrical conceit: “I may not always love you…” Wilson and lyricist Tony Asher captured the zeitgeist on Pet Sounds, and every few years has brought another reissue of the album which initially was ahead of its time. (It wasn’t certified platinum until early 2000, and only rose as far as No. 10 on the Billboard album chart at the time of its initial release.)
Now, following recent reissues from Capitol (as part of The Beach Boys’ 2012 reissue campaign), Mobile Fidelity (a 2011 stereo SACD) and Capitol Japan (a mono SHM-SACD) – and in advance of Analogue Productions’ upcoming SACD and 200-gram vinyl releases due this May – Capitol/UMe has announced a new edition to the ever-growing shelf of Pet Sounds reissues: a Blu-ray High Fidelity Pure Audio edition of Pet Sounds coming on April 28.
As producer, Brian Wilson intended Pet Sounds for mono release in 1966. In engineer Mark Linett’s words, “Brian felt that making records in mono allowed the producer to present the record exactly as he wanted it heard, without any interference from the listener’s stereo which could be set up in many different ways that might affect the sound…producers deliberately mixed for their main market [mono car radios].” Capitol did issue the LP in “Duophonic” in 1966, an electronic process that simulated stereo.
Following a 1987 Japanese release, Pet Sounds made its first appearance on American CD in 1990 in mono with three bonus tracks (“Unreleased Backgrounds,” “Hang On to Your Ego” and “Trombone Dixie”). This was followed by a DCC Compact Classics audiophile gold edition in 1993, and then in 1997 by the lavish The Pet Sounds Sessions, which included the mono album, the first-ever true stereo mix and three discs of session material. The stereo mix reappeared on CD in 1999 and again in 2001 with the mono mix and “Hang On to Your Ego” added. It was also in 2001 that a DVD-Audio disc arrived with the album playable in advanced resolution surround, mono and stereo plus seven bonuses. 2006 brought the CD/DVD 40th Anniversary edition, which in subsequent years was followed by Audio Fidelity’s mono audiophile gold disc, the Mobile Fidelity and Capitol Japan SACDs as well as the 2012 mono/stereo single-CD Capitol reissue.
The upcoming Blu-ray Audio edition promises to feature high-resolution presentations of the album in stereo, mono and 5.1 surround, much as the previous DVD-Audio edition did. Further details haven’t yet been released, although Amazon currently is showing a track listing with the three 1990 bonus tracks. This may be a placeholder track listing; we will update as soon as the actual program is confirmed. In the meantime, you can order the latest (definitive?) iteration of Pet Sounds at the links below!
The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds: Blu-Ray High Fidelity Pure Audio (Capitol T 2548, 1966 – reissued Capitol/UMe, 2015) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. Link TBD)
- Wouldn't It Be Nice
- You Still Believe in Me
- That's Not Me
- Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)
- I'm Waiting for the Day
- Let's Go Away for Awhile
- Sloop John B
- God Only Knows
- I Know There's an Answer
- Here Today
- I Just Wasn't Made for These Times
- Pet Sounds
- Caroline, No
The above reflects only the original track listing. Program will be available in high resolution mono, stereo and 5.1 surround.