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660410 Posts in 26460 Topics by 3765 Members - Latest Member: toddallangreen August 03, 2020, 09:58:44 PM
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Author Topic: Could Brian write music in the style of 'Pet Sounds' after Pet Sounds?  (Read 1377 times)
Rebel
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« on: June 26, 2020, 08:56:20 PM »

I know... After Pet Sounds a new era of Smile began which was drastically different. Then after the demise of Smile there were sporadic moments of Pet Sounds, to some degree, - Busy Doin' Nothin' all the way to Had To Phone Ya.... And on his solo albums at spots.

But the question is: was Brian 'reluctant' to write in the Pet Sounds style - either because it didn't do so well at the time, or because everyone wanted it, or it wouldn't have fit in with the 'times'... Or had so much time accumulated that he was incapable of making music in that style?

From Surfin' Safari to Pet Sounds you can hear and follow the growth and the accumulation of everything Brian had learned to the zenith that is Pet Sounds. Smile was, of course, a 'one-up' of Pet Sounds but totally different.

How come Brian didn't ever really try to write in the style of Pet Sounds again?
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juggler
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2020, 09:20:26 PM »

Great questions, worthy of discussion.

I don't completely 100% accept your premise that Brian went into something "drastically different" the Smile sessions.  Things certainly did get very avant-garde late in '66 and into '67, perhaps buoyed by the success of Good Vibrations.  But my gut feeling when listening to the early tracking sessions for some of the Smile songs like Wonderful, Wind Chimes, Holidays, Look and CIFOTM is that, with Tony Asher's lyrics, some or all of those wouldn't have been out of place on Pet Sounds.

Also, I still maintain that the 1996 Wilson-Asher collaboration "Everything I Need" is a hell of a great song... and it was (yet another heartbreaking) missed opportunity that Brian & Tony didn't do more together during that period.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRc_ao2NrIk
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phirnis
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2020, 11:07:43 PM »

Totally agree about "Everything I Need", brilliant song! That recording from the Paley sessions (?) definitely has a Pet Sounds vibe. Not a big fan of the sugar-coated official version on the Wilsons album.
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2020, 07:12:32 AM »

Define "music in the style of Pet Sounds".
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SBonilla
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2020, 07:19:58 AM »

After Smile, Brian no longer had the budgets to record/compose/arrange in the way he had before.  His creative environment changed, as well. And, the group became more democratic. Brian was no longer the Duke Ellington of the Beach Boys, in practice. In spirit, he remained that and more.
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2020, 08:01:04 AM »

I think one reason - maybe the main reason - why Brian never did "another Pet Sounds" can be found in what McCartney and Harrison have said about the Beatles music in the 60's. Once they did something new in their music or in the studio, they did it and moved on to try other new things. That is why we can trace the Beatles' recorded output year by year and they don't sound the same. Again, it was specifically Harrison and McCartney who have commented most about this, along with Emerick and Martin. That's why you don't hear much of the Rickenbacker 12-string after 1966, you don't hear backwards tape after 68, you don't hear other signature sounds all that much apart from a cameo appearance here and there after they used those sounds for one or two albums or singles. They'd have a sound or a technique for a year or two, then move on.

One of the answers similar to all that comes from Brian himself when he recorded his conversation with Murry after the Rhonda session. Brian asked Murry "So you think we should have the 409 sound on Help Me Rhonda?" dripping with sarcasm. And that's pretty much where Brian's production, arranging, and writing came from in the 1960's. Once he did Pet Sounds, he moved on. Once he did GV and Heroes, he moved on. Once he did Wild Honey and Darlin, he moved on. You can trace it back to the first batch of songs he recorded at Western with Chuck.

I think that's one element which set at least these two massively successful bands apart, and it's why we're still so invested in them over 50 years later. They remained themselves in their music, yet they continued to change and move forward. Unlike some who would have wanted it, perhaps, The Beatles did not have "the She Loves You sound" on Revolver, and The Beach Boys did not have "the 409 sound on Help Me Rhonda". They grew and moved forward. If they wanted to revisit those sounds, it was often done when they were solo artists and doing a blast of nostalgia or even self-parody. Or working with collaborators who may have had a fetish for those old sounds.

It could be as simple as that.
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« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2020, 08:07:27 AM »

I think there are dozens of Brian songs written after 1966 that could've fit into Pet Sounds if they were recorded back then and had similar lyrical themes. This is an album that goes from Sloop John B to God Only Knows to I Know There's an Answer. If by 'the style of Pet Sounds' you mean 'moody, introspective and emotional' there are lots of those, although he did have a few repeating melodic quirks and favourite chord patterns at the time. I'm sure he could've arranged in that idiom again if he wanted but it no longer interested him.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2020, 08:08:53 AM by SaltyMarshmallow » Logged
rab2591
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2020, 08:19:54 AM »

Define "music in the style of Pet Sounds".

My opinion: wall-of-sound meets Martin Denny/classical/rock (which Brian had seemed to be building up to for many albums prior to Pet Sounds). The sessionography for every Pet Sounds song is off the charts...Whereas so many Smile songs (and albums after) had less and less personnel working on them (and you can hear this in the sparse instrumentals of 'Wonderful', 'Song For Children', 'Do You Like Worms', etc). Also, after Pet Sounds Brian really started his "puzzle piece"/"Cut-and paste" style of recording. Even into Wild Honey there were songs where the verse was recorded as one section, then he'd splice in a chorus. It was just so different than the recording style of Pet Sounds.

I know you probably asked that question rhetorically...but I myself see Pet Sounds being this natural climax in a culmination of musical experiments. Then Smile comes and Brian's style suddenly and completely jumps the rails.

As for the initial question that started the thread: I think the answer lies in how emotionally attached he was to Pet Sounds. Pet Sounds was the only album that I'm aware of where Brian went home to the wife, put the record on, and they cried at how beautiful it was. It was a pinnacle moment that he probably knew he couldn't top again (at least in that same style).

He had to walk away from it because it was completed. There was nothing more to add to that style that would ever compare again. He has since recorded many songs similar to the Pet Sounds style (as has been discussed above), but it still doesn't compare. I mean, when the Gershwin album was done in some Pet Sounds style some people called it "paint by numbers" because of how it seemed to be completely lifted from Brian's previous styles. I think Brian had tried everything to shift away from being tethered to one style post-Pet Sounds.
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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2020, 08:56:42 AM »

I'm with Craig here -- Brian "couldn't" keep writing music in the style of Pet Sounds (whatever that means) because, well, why would he?  And my point about defining it is that, it's sometimes less about "writing in the style of" and more about following arrangement and production trends.  As soon as Friends, Brian was back to hiring a dozen Studio musicians to come realise his productions.  And until the 70s, he continued to work that way.  The same musicians that are on Wouldn't It Be Nice (not entirely literally) are on Sunflower.  You can take a Sunflower track and arrange it to sound like a Pet Sounds track.

But again, why do that when, not only you've evolved, but also, the recording industry was totally different, having entered the multi-track-style recording era?

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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2020, 10:14:33 AM »

I see what you mean there. I was looking at things from a production side, but I now see that's not what OP was referring to.

In my mind, I see Pet Sounds, Friends, and Love You as a trilogy - because they are all very similar in theme and writing, however each has tremendously different production reflecting their different eras. So yeah, from a writing perspective I see what you all are saying.
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2020, 10:24:15 AM »


Brian in his solo career has gone back to a “Pet Sounds” production style multiple times, evident in What I Really Want for Christmas on.  Bass harmonicas, horns and strings, percussion all reminiscent of Pet Sounds.  I think he went back to that well because he no longer had new ideas for a new “sound” and he knew his band was expert at recreating his original PS production style. 
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« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2020, 11:46:27 AM »

Our Sweet Love.

I agree that by the time an artist has achieved something and moved on, it can seem like self-parody to revisit it later. It's forgivable on the way up (building towards the peak) but lamentable on the way down (rehashing old ideas, etc.). Then you get fans who want the same thing over and over, so they're happy with the "return to form" but reject other directions.

Take any artist with a storied career and a definitive peak and I'm sure you could ask the same questions.
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« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2020, 12:41:04 PM »


Brian in his solo career has gone back to a “Pet Sounds” production style multiple times, evident in What I Really Want for Christmas on.  Bass harmonicas, horns and strings, percussion all reminiscent of Pet Sounds.  I think he went back to that well because he no longer had new ideas for a new “sound” and he knew his band was expert at recreating his original PS production style. 
Exactly.
There are many songs from Brian's solo career that have a PS writing and production style to them.
Melt Away is a PS song for the 80's.
Rio Grande is Smile for the 80's.
Too Much Sugar is Beach Boys Love Your for the 80's.
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Jay
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2020, 05:30:41 PM »

I think the MIU outtake "Why?" comes closest to the Pet Sounds style. I don't know who wrote or produced it though.
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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2020, 07:54:12 PM »

Pet Sounds was the pinnacle of a sound that Brian had been building since "Today" (and arguably select examples earlier). To try and continue in a style that he'd already 'done' to the best of his ability would probably have seemed redundant at the time. The Beatles comparison is apt - once they'd done Rubber Soul they'd more or less 'done' that sound and were ready to do something new.
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« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2020, 12:44:24 AM »

Pet Sounds was the pinnacle of a sound that Brian had been building since "Today" (and arguably select examples earlier). To try and continue in a style that he'd already 'done' to the best of his ability would probably have seemed redundant at the time. The Beatles comparison is apt - once they'd done Rubber Soul they'd more or less 'done' that sound and were ready to do something new.

Exactly
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« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2020, 06:54:35 AM »

I think the MIU outtake "Why?" comes closest to the Pet Sounds style. I don't know who wrote or produced it though.

According to the MiC box set credits it was written and produced by Brian. It really reminds me of That's Why God Made the Radio.
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« Reply #17 on: Today at 06:21:39 AM »

I am a conflicted person.  Part of me wishes my favorite artists would put out more music exactly like the songs that made me fall in love with them.  The other part of me wants to see them grow and mature.  Brian’s progress from the surf/car songs up through Pet Sounds is glorious to hear.  There is a feeling captured in those early songs that culminates in Pet Sounds.  That feeling, for me, is gone in the Smile material and beyond.  I can appreciate some of tbe later material, but rarely does it capture that feeling again.

This is probably why I thoroughly enjoy artists such as The Explorer’s Club.  Jason Brewer’s music sounds as if he has unearthed hidden Brian Wilson gems, he captures that Today-Summer Days-Pet Sounds feeling almost as well as Brian did!

With that said, if you like the Pet Sounds sound, give this a listen:

http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,27256.0.html

Brilliant stuff by this guy who has posted on this board here and there.

EoL
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« Reply #18 on: Today at 07:23:24 AM »

That feeling, for me, is gone in the Smile material and beyond.  I can appreciate some of tbe later material, but rarely does it capture that feeling again.

It's odd, because the '66/'67 Smile Sessions sound so sparse to me, void of that ethereal/magical sound that each Pet Sounds track has. IMO, 'Cabinessense' and 'Surf's Up' are the closest things in those original SMiLE recordings that invoke the magic of Pet Sounds.

The entirety of BWPS, on the other hand, somehow recaptures that magic (to my ears). I am very much in the minority, but I will take BWPS any day over the original Smile recordings...and I don't know what it is! Because they are literally playing the same exact music in the same exact way, but it's something to do with the mix, recording process (Also all of the vocals are complete on BWPS). The best way I can explain it is that BWPS sounds happy. The original recordings (as brilliant as they are) sound sometimes dreary, void of a spark. It's like you can feel Brian's anxiety in some of those recordings (maybe I'm the only one who feels this way).

Anyways, back to your point, EOL, I agree that through the rest of Brian's career he didn't really re-capture that Pet Sounds feeling for whatever reason. I think the closest he ever came to that feeling again (with The Beach Boys) was with Friends. The songwriting on Love You definitely has that vibe, but the synths kinda distract you from that feeling.
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Tom
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« Reply #19 on: Today at 08:10:43 AM »

It's pretty clear to me that he decided he wanted to focus on making commercial music at some point in '67. They never recreated the 'feeling' of Pet Sounds, but I find the feeling on an album like Wild Honey is just as exciting, albeit in a very different way. Aren't You Glad and Here Comes the Night are such a joy - just a snare drum on both yet they groove along impeccably.

I like a few Explorers Club tracks but overall I'm not as hyped as many. The production is too sterile and the vocals are just okay imo.
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