By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Surf’s out

I’ve never heard of Luke Pritchard or his band, the Kooks, but I’ve got to agree with him: the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds,” despite the presence of a few great songs, like “God Only Knows” and “Caroline, No,” is hugely overrated.

A feature on “Pet Sounds” and other overrated albums appears in today’s Globe, but it’s not online. It turns out to be a reprint from the Guardian — you’ll find it here.

Recently I’ve been trying really hard to fall in love with “Smile,” Brian Wilson’s follow-up to “Pet Sounds,” which he finally finished in 2004. Uh, I don’t think so — although I like “Surf’s Up,” even if it doesn’t sound quite as weirdly compelling as the original late-’60s version.

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5 Comments

  1. Tony

    I love “Pet Sounds” and must agree that it is a brilliant record. Beyond the two you mentioned, I think “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “I Know There’s An Answer” are two of my faves. I think what confuses people who aren’t that impressed with the album is that they think it came out AFTER “Sgt. Pepper’s …” which isn’t true. “Pet Sounds” came out before that album, and some speculate that the barn animals on the Beatles record may have been a tip of the hat to Wilson [Personally, I prefer “Revolver” to “Sgt. Pepper’s …” but that’s just me].The influence for “Pet Sounds” came from “Rubber Soul,” an albums Wilson obsessed about, according to a number of sources. For its day, before the Beatles groundbreaking “Sgt. Pepper’s …”, “Pet Sounds” is pretty impressive.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Tony: Yes, “Pet Sounds” is Brian’s response to “Revolver,” and to some extent “Sgt. Pepper” is Paul’s response to “Pet Sounds.” Supposedly “Sgt. Pepper” is one of the factors that pushed Brian over the edge so that he was unable to finish “Smile” — he figured he could never match it.I think if you look at the “greatest” lists in recent years, most now rank “Revolver” ahead of “Sgt. Pepper.” I know I do. “Revolver” rocks, and it’s a really strong album for John. (“She Said She Said” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” are better than anything on “Sgt. Pepper.”) “Sgt. Pepper” was more Paul’s album, and even then it doesn’t feature him at his best.Heck, John’s best song for “Sgt. Pepper” — “Strawberry Fields Forever” — didn’t even make it onto the album.

  3. Anonymous

    Came across “I just wasn’t made for these times” at the library. The film makes clear that Brian is as nutty as a fruitcake and is very fortunate to be the last of the brothers still remaining. I’ve always admired Brian for his accomplishments and even more so because he’s crackers. The BB’s were Brian’s garage band fantacy come true.

  4. endangered coffee

    I also agree with Wayne Coyne that Nirvana’s Nevermind is vastly overrated. The whole grunge thing has not aged well at all, and while I can appreciate Nevermind, I never want to listen to it.

  5. Doug Haslam

    Been there, done that with the revisionist taste-making that has put the highly-experimental Revolver over the more polished pop masterpiece– yet still experimental– “Sgt. Pepper”. I have already come full circle there, and I actually prefer listening to “Rubber Soul” over either of the following albums, so there. We all go through hearing too much about certain albums and get sick of them. Any album labeled “best ever” is by definition overrated, but we can only judge them from our personal standpoints.”Pet Sounds?” I can’t agree with the article, or you, there. That is an album that I appreciate more with each listen. Perhaps I shouldn’t over-listen to it, lest I become burnt out on it as I did with “Pepper” for awhile. As for “Smile”– well, the finished version is perhaps watered down from what it was supposed to be, and Wilson sounds old in spots, but I do appreciate that he finished it, much the same way I appreciated Pete Townshend being able to give birth to certain elements of “Lifehouse” after all these years.

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