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Author Topic: Pet Sounds: Billboard 1966... A Broader Picture  (Read 2759 times)
WonderBill
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« on: April 22, 2018, 10:59:52 PM »

First of all, I'd like to say hello to everyone on the board. Been a big fan of the boys for a better part of two years now and am looking forward to some great discussions.

It is well known that when Pet Sounds was released in 1966, it did not fare as well on the charts as the band's previous albums did; peaking at only #10. But I believe that the peak position isn't telling the whole story and there is a bigger picture that is often overlooked.

First, you must know that 1966 was sort of an odd year when it came to young people buying albums. In any given week of the year, you'd be hard pressed to find more than three "teen pop" albums in the top 20 on the charts. This seemed to be the year of adults buying albums; a stark contrast from the previous year, which saw young rock groups dominating the albums chart.

Let's take a look at the albums in the top 10 the week of July 2, 1966...

1. What Now My Love - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
2. If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears - The Mama's & The Papa's
3. The Sound of Music Soundtrack
4. Dr. Zhivago Soundtrack
5. Whipped Cream & Other Delights - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
6. The Shadow of Your Smile - Andy Williams
7. Lou Rawls Live
8. Going Places - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
9. Wonderfullness - Bill Cosby
10. Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys

As you can see, there is only one other teen pop album beating Pet Sounds, and it's at #2. Everything else is nothing that too many people under the age of 30 would have been buying. And like I said, the charts looked similar to this all year, particularly in the first half; dominated by albums like Ballads of The Green Berets, Frank Sinatra albums, Barbra Streisand albums, the aforementioned soundtracks, and Herb Alpert albums (five of which were in the top 20 on April 9).

Another thing to note is that, even though the album peaked at #10, it still remained in the top 20 for 12 weeks and in the top 30 for 16 non-consecutive weeks. It's not like it just sold a few copies the first month and then fell of the charts. It was a decent seller all summer long! Even though young people did not seem to be buying albums as much in 1966, Pet Sounds had pretty good run on the charts considering the circumstances.

I believe this pretty much dispels the myth that the album didn't sell well enough because of the "new direction" they were taking and it wasn't commercial enough. If this was the case, why did both of the singles from the album reach the top 10? And why did the follow-up, even more radical single, reach #1? That seems pretty commercial to me!

We're also forgetting that Pet Sounds reached a higher peak than the Shut Down, Vol. 2 album. That album peaked at #13, but nobody ever points that out...

Now... why Capitol released the Best of The Beach Boys so quickly is beyond me. The very week Pet Sounds hit its peak was the same week the compilation album was released. This means that Pet Sounds not selling well enough could not have been the reason for this quick cash grab. It's possible that Capitol had been planning for the compilation to be released at some point later in 1966, and it was rush-released after pre-orders were not as high, but past that, it doesn't seem likely that Capitol could have come up with the compilation after Pet Sounds had barely been on the charts for a month. It had to have been a pre-planned release.

Bottom line, plenty of stories get thrown around as to how Pet Sounds performed in 1966 and why, but the facts always tell the bigger story. I've just presented you with the evidence, and it does not lie!

Any thoughts? Anything to add or take away?
« Last Edit: April 22, 2018, 11:01:39 PM by WonderBill » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 03:57:51 AM »

Thank you for posting this, yes it is rather thought provoking and kind of paints a rather different picture in respect of the PS chart performance.
Herp certainly had a good week   Shocked
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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2018, 09:43:57 PM »

I think if you would go back and look at the Billboard album charts throughout the 60's, you would find a lot of adult oriented albums as top sellers - not just in 1966. Rock and roll was geared towards singles. Sure, a few acts, like the Beach Boys and the Beatles, had very strong album sales, but for most groups - the Lovin' Spoonful, the Byrds, Kinks, Turtles, etc - their biggest selling album was a greatest hits comp. When a band was at the absolute height of popularity, the mania phase, they might sell a lot of albums. Look at Herman's Hermits in 1965, Paul Revere and the Raiders in 66, or the Monkees in 67. They were the exceptions rather than the rule. I think the whole urban legend of Pet Sounds not selling got started because it didn't sell in Rubber Soul/Revolver numbers. Did it deserve to? Yes. But flop? I would hardly call a top 10 placing a failure, even for a masterwork like PS. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass were HUGE for a few years in the 60's. Later on, Glen Campbell would dominate the album charts in a similar way. And the major labels were still peddling albums by such MOR artists as Andy Williams, Dean Martin, Eddy Arnold, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como. Contrary to rumour, rock and roll did NOT kill off adult music. It just gave the kids something to call their own.
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2018, 07:23:41 PM »

Great first post!

It's along the lines of what I have learned, and therefore tried to pass on to other fans as well. I could write a book on this stuff lol. But I won't.

It's the idea of getting a more full and well-rounded view of the band and the music by putting some of the historical details into perspective within the times this music was new.

I got into searching for and listening to radio airchecks from the 60's. Those, right there, are the context in which a song like "Good Vibrations" appeared in Fall '66. The commercials, the news reports, the top hits lists, the whole ball of wax...that shaped the whole thing,. And it's firsthand history. Not told through the often myopic lenses of historians and scribes.

Same with radio station surveys sheets, fan magazines, teen magazines, music mags, trade papers, etc. They are the publications of record from that time and for this business, such as the Billboard listings cited in post #1.   You read through those sources, and quickly realize that a lot of what has been chiseled in stone as far as the band's "official" history isn't quite what it actually is or was.

Like I said, I could go on and on but I'll spare everyone from that. However, just consider one very, very small example as far as chart positions and "success" tied into what Bill was saying in the first post.

The history reads that "Wild Honey" was something of a "miss", a single that didn't do much in Fall '67. One of those lukewarm kind of things that was barely cracking the Top 40, and sank without much success. Right? That's kind of the assumption, I'd say, thanks to a lot of history being reported based on those big books of Billboard chart listings and other broad references.

However, what isn't mentioned is how the single actually did on the main vehicle of that era for a single release, AM radio. AM radio was still very regional, where a single could be huge in one market and barely dent another. Some DJ's (when DJ's were human could still play the records they wanted to play and were not robotically programmed) would push a certain record in a certain market in the US, and it would be a hit in that area. Sometimes, such activity led other markets and DJ's to follow suit, and there are many, many cases of one regional DJ "breaking" a record nationally from this.

So "Wild Honey", the single...How many sources make note of the fact that this single went Top-5 (yes, Top-5) in markets that leaned more heavily on R&B and soul? It did. It was a Top-5 record in regions more tuned into R&B as a whole. Was it a nationwide smash hit like Good Vibrations? No...but it wasn't a stiff either. And these were R&B cities and R&B stations driving it to Top-5.

It's all listed in the surveys, playlists, airchecks, etc. from that era. It's not as often listed in the official histories.

Just one example.

PS - And yes...again kudos to a terrific first post...SSGT Barry Sadler and Herb Alpert were *massive* in 1966. Those records were everywhere. 1966 into 67 was not the rock and roll orgy some might think it was. Radio and the biz in general was much less segmented than is commonly assumed, and various sometimes radically different styles and genres coexisted on the same charts and lists.

And I speculate they also coexisted as influences on those making music at the time, everyone from Brian Wilson to Love to Frank Sinatra to whoever else. It was a beautiful time for music. But it wasn't what many histories have led people to believe through the decades.
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2018, 07:43:53 PM »

Great first post!

It's along the lines of what I have learned, and therefore tried to pass on to other fans as well. I could write a book on this stuff lol. But I won't.

It's the idea of getting a more full and well-rounded view of the band and the music by putting some of the historical details into perspective within the times this music was new.

I got into searching for and listening to radio airchecks from the 60's. Those, right there, are the context in which a song like "Good Vibrations" appeared in Fall '66. The commercials, the news reports, the top hits lists, the whole ball of wax...that shaped the whole thing,. And it's firsthand history. Not told through the often myopic lenses of historians and scribes.

Same with radio station surveys sheets, fan magazines, teen magazines, music mags, trade papers, etc. They are the publications of record from that time and for this business, such as the Billboard listings cited in post #1.   You read through those sources, and quickly realize that a lot of what has been chiseled in stone as far as the band's "official" history isn't quite what it actually is or was.

Like I said, I could go on and on but I'll spare everyone from that. However, just consider one very, very small example as far as chart positions and "success" tied into what Bill was saying in the first post.

The history reads that "Wild Honey" was something of a "miss", a single that didn't do much in Fall '67. One of those lukewarm kind of things that was barely cracking the Top 40, and sank without much success. Right? That's kind of the assumption, I'd say, thanks to a lot of history being reported based on those big books of Billboard chart listings and other broad references.

However, what isn't mentioned is how the single actually did on the main vehicle of that era for a single release, AM radio. AM radio was still very regional, where a single could be huge in one market and barely dent another. Some DJ's (when DJ's were human could still play the records they wanted to play and were not robotically programmed) would push a certain record in a certain market in the US, and it would be a hit in that area. Sometimes, such activity led other markets and DJ's to follow suit, and there are many, many cases of one regional DJ "breaking" a record nationally from this.

So "Wild Honey", the single...How many sources make note of the fact that this single went Top-5 (yes, Top-5) in markets that leaned more heavily on R&B and soul? It did. It was a Top-5 record in regions more tuned into R&B as a whole. Was it a nationwide smash hit like Good Vibrations? No...but it wasn't a stiff either. And these were R&B cities and R&B stations driving it to Top-5.

It's all listed in the surveys, playlists, airchecks, etc. from that era. It's not as often listed in the official histories.

Just one example.

PS - And yes...again kudos to a terrific first post...SSGT Barry Sadler and Herb Alpert were *massive* in 1966. Those records were everywhere. 1966 into 67 was not the rock and roll orgy some might think it was. Radio and the biz in general was much less segmented than is commonly assumed, and various sometimes radically different styles and genres coexisted on the same charts and lists.

And I speculate they also coexisted as influences on those making music at the time, everyone from Brian Wilson to Love to Frank Sinatra to whoever else. It was a beautiful time for music. But it wasn't what many histories have led people to believe through the decades.
I'm glad that someone else "gets it". If you read any of the rock histories, or watch the documentaries on the subject, they'd have you think everything "soft" or "pop" was out by 1967, being replaced by non stop heavy rock and psycadelia.
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2018, 09:15:09 PM »

However, what isn't mentioned is how the single actually did on the main vehicle of that era for a single release, AM radio. AM radio was still very regional, where a single could be huge in one market and barely dent another. Some DJ's (when DJ's were human could still play the records they wanted to play and were not robotically programmed) would push a certain record in a certain market in the US, and it would be a hit in that area. Sometimes, such activity led other markets and DJ's to follow suit, and there are many, many cases of one regional DJ "breaking" a record nationally from this.

It's all listed in the surveys, playlists, airchecks, etc. from that era. It's not as often listed in the official histories.

This, right here, is exactly right.

This might be a good time to mention that I have a degree in radio. I often study and archive little tidbits of history. One of the subjects I have archived is the #1 singles of the most popular AM Pop station in the biggest markets in the country (WABC in New York, KHJ in Los Angeles, ect). Right now I only have most of the '60s and '70s written down but I don't really plan to go further than that at this point.

Anyway, for each week, I have an indicator to mark if the #1 song matched the Billboard national charts for the same week. More often than not, the answer is no, particularly in the '60s. The '70s, though, showed more consistency throughout the charts. Now, just because the weeks didn't usually match does not mean the same songs did not reach #1 in the respective markets. They usually did, but at different times than they did nationally.

For example, let's take a song we're all familiar with... Good Vibrations. The song hit #1 on December 10, 1966. It also reached #1 in the markets of Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington... to name a few. However, in every single one of these markets, the song hit its peak in early November and remained throughout most of the month. I know that the date of Billboard magazines is not usually a very accurate one. Typically the data within each issue is from a week or two previously... but still, there is a big difference between national and local.

By the way, Darlin' reached #2 in Los Angeles on KHJ, but Barbara Ann did not receive any airplay from the same station. Go figure.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 09:18:27 PM by WonderBill » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2018, 08:18:19 AM »

However, what isn't mentioned is how the single actually did on the main vehicle of that era for a single release, AM radio. AM radio was still very regional, where a single could be huge in one market and barely dent another. Some DJ's (when DJ's were human could still play the records they wanted to play and were not robotically programmed) would push a certain record in a certain market in the US, and it would be a hit in that area. Sometimes, such activity led other markets and DJ's to follow suit, and there are many, many cases of one regional DJ "breaking" a record nationally from this.

It's all listed in the surveys, playlists, airchecks, etc. from that era. It's not as often listed in the official histories.

This, right here, is exactly right.

This might be a good time to mention that I have a degree in radio. I often study and archive little tidbits of history. One of the subjects I have archived is the #1 singles of the most popular AM Pop station in the biggest markets in the country (WABC in New York, KHJ in Los Angeles, ect). Right now I only have most of the '60s and '70s written down but I don't really plan to go further than that at this point.

Anyway, for each week, I have an indicator to mark if the #1 song matched the Billboard national charts for the same week. More often than not, the answer is no, particularly in the '60s. The '70s, though, showed more consistency throughout the charts. Now, just because the weeks didn't usually match does not mean the same songs did not reach #1 in the respective markets. They usually did, but at different times than they did nationally.

For example, let's take a song we're all familiar with... Good Vibrations. The song hit #1 on December 10, 1966. It also reached #1 in the markets of Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington... to name a few. However, in every single one of these markets, the song hit its peak in early November and remained throughout most of the month. I know that the date of Billboard magazines is not usually a very accurate one. Typically the data within each issue is from a week or two previously... but still, there is a big difference between national and local.

By the way, Darlin' reached #2 in Los Angeles on KHJ, but Barbara Ann did not receive any airplay from the same station. Go figure.

Welcome to the board! I hope we can generate more discussions on these topics. There was a time when I also was archiving and charting out the performances of Beach Boys singles in different major markets, but I had more time to do that back then and kind of gave up haha. But I still go back to the well for discussions like this. Absolutely fascinating stuff to look through.

I'm glad you brought up "Barbara Ann". That is a terrific example of just how regional radio was at that time. And it also comes at a time when radio itself, AM radio, was soon to change too thanks to what was happening in LA with Ron Jacobs, Drake-Chenault, and "Boss Radio" as a format that would rule several major markets.

Barbara Ann didn't appear on a single KHJ survey (as far as I remember) as you mentioned. Yet here in Philly, it was #1 on "Wibbage" WIBG. Rival WFIL had not transitioned to their own hit format when the single came out so there's no comparison.

In Chicago, Barbara Ann hit #1. In New York it didn't reach #1 but both WABC and the WMCA "Good Guys" had it making top 10 for a solid few weeks. Other regions, similar results.

But KHJ roughly 8 months into the Jacobs Boss format didn't chart it at all. Rival KRLA had it barely cracking the top 30 for two weeks then dropping off.

If people read into just the LA charts, they'd think the single stiffed horribly. If they read the Billboard archives, they'd think it was a nationwide smash hit. People who listened to Wibbage in Philly or WLS in Chicago remember it as a #1 in early '66.

I think the takeaway is to keep in mind just how regional all of this really was, and how even in Los Angeles for a short period of time when "Boss Radio" started up to when they finally succeeded in destroying the former powerhouse KRLA (who was one of the 'official' stations of Beatlemania haha...) , the performance of a single could be radically different even in the same market. Philly had that too, WFIL vs. WIBG. It was a different universe back then, and even different in that one short period of 65-68.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2018, 08:19:06 AM by guitarfool2002 » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2018, 09:28:05 AM »

Yes I wish I could find more local radio charts. The only one I saw recently from the 60s was for towards the end of 1966 showing GV. Shoot we used to get those things all the time back then, tossed them not realizing how valuable they would be for me later.

Anyway, I remember rarely hearing H&V. But I Can Hear Music was very popular here in New Orleans, heard it all the time (and never tired of it!)
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2018, 10:38:14 AM »

I'm posting this one (credit to the original contributor) as a very small example of how radio really sounded in the context of The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, and in this case the week "God Only Knows" as a single first entered the charts as a KHJ Hitbound (new entry). But it's very telling, if not revealing, on how things really were in this case on the Beach Boys' hometown station of note.



Just look at the depth and variety of styles and genres. It's not all of one or any style being played, it's almost everything. Straight pop, instrumental, Sunset Strip proto-punk, Motown, R&B, dance, novelty, and note Guantanamera by The Sandpipers. That one stands out because I remember someone quoting a story from either Warren Beatty himself or someone connected to Arthur Penn's classic "Bonnie And Clyde" film saying that when they were in LA putting that film together, they remembered hearing that single all the time on the radio while they were working.

Guantanamera, a song sung in Spanish and about as far removed from what people might think was being played at the time...existing alongside Love's 7 And 7 Is and The Ray Conniff Singers? And Brian's masterpiece God Only Knows is making its debut the same week? And Bobby Hebb's classic "Sunny" jostling in the top 5 with Donovan, The Beatles (Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby double A-side of all things), and The Spoonful?

It's almost absurd if it were not exactly what the kids in LA in August '66 were hearing on an hourly basis.

*That* is the fascination, and the context-perspective to be considered.

I have more on these things relevant to the last gasp of this kind of radio, which happened in the 1980's alongside MTV's initial rise, but for a chart relevant to "Pet Sounds" and the original post, that one is a great summary.

And consider along these same lines, the same week "The Little Girl I Once Knew" was spending its last week in the Top 30 on KHJ in December 1965, the number one single that was about to chart the next week was "Flowers On The Wall" by The Statler Brothers, who would battle "Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out" for the top spot that month.

Yes, that same Statler Brothers song that Bruce Willis' character Butch is singing along to in the car in Pulp Fiction. A song that is stone-cold almost corny country with a prominent banjo part and sung by a straight-as-an-arrow Gospel harmony quartet...battling Day Tripper for #1.

That's how AM hit radio sounded in 65-66-67.  Smiley

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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2018, 11:20:20 AM »

Wow, that's some incredible music in the top 20 - Sunshine Superman, Summer in the City, Good Guys Don't Wear White, Eleanor Rigby, You Can't Hurry Love, Sunny Afternoon, 7 and 7 Is (you can tell this is an LA station right there), Land of 1000 Dances, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted, and Over Under Sideways Down!  And God only Knows on it's way up?
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2018, 07:46:12 PM »

Set my time machine for August 17th, 1966....
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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2018, 08:52:27 AM »

I recently read the Gaines book which states that Best of the Beach Boys was released by Capitol simply because they were desperate to capitalize on the success of Barbara Ann, and that the compilation was going to come out regardless of how Pet Sounds was received.
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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2018, 12:39:21 PM »

best of the beach boys vol. 1 came out in july '66 and did not contain Barbara Ann - that song was on Vol. 2 which was july '67 best of release

I believe brian really hated that capitol in effect made him compete directly with himself, new material album (pet sounds) vs. his old top 10 hits now altogether on one LP, which capitol decided to promote in ways that didn't happen w/ pet sounds.  After all, the old material was a proven success and as such didn't require extra promotional effort at all--the LP title says it all, whereas pet sounds might well benefit from such continued effort
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2018, 07:36:12 AM »

Sorry, what the Gaines book actually says is that there was supposed to be a new Beach Boys album finished by Christmas 1966, and I presume that that's when the compilation was prepared. Capitol decided to issue it after it seemed to them that Pet Sounds was never going to be finished.
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2018, 08:45:02 AM »

I have to say I'm confused about things you say in your response above

perhaps you'd actually meant "seems that SMiLE would never be finished"  (which certainly was the case because it wasn't in the end).  the first compilation was of course released a couple months after pet sounds and titled volume 1 inferring that capitol had a volume 2 up their corporate sleeves also at the time (wonder if the track line-up was settled on that early) even though release came later (7/'67) two months before smiley smile

perhaps what's really confused is what's exactly said, or meant, in the old steven gaines book

stepping back for a moment now it seems to me the actual 66-67-68 album releases are 'falling all over themselves' to use an expression, and logic may be hard to apply (Capitol records & brian Wilson now working cross-purposes in effect)
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« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2018, 12:02:32 PM »

p. 143, presumably Tony Asher quoting what Brian told him

"We were supposed to have done it [the Pet Sounds album] months ago, and I haven't even started it. I've done only one or two tunes and I hate them."

p.150, quote from Nick Venet

"You've got to understand that Brian was so impulsive, compulsive, you never knew what was coming next. The 'best of' package was put together while Brian was working on Pet Sounds. There was a great love at the time of Beach Boys product ... There were [salesmen] out there that could sell Beach Boys product and the [customers]  were asking for it. The Pet Sounds album was supposed to be ready a long time before, and it wasn't going to be ready. The whole company was geared up to the 'best of' package. Everything had been locked in, magazine advertising, the separations for the cover had been printed and stacked in a warehouse."
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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2018, 02:24:03 PM »

"You've got to understand that Brian was so impulsive, compulsive, you never knew what was coming next. The 'best of' package was put together while Brian was working on Pet Sounds. There was a great love at the time of Beach Boys product ... There were [salesmen] out there that could sell Beach Boys product and the [customers]  were asking for it. The Pet Sounds album was supposed to be ready a long time before, and it wasn't going to be ready. The whole company was geared up to the 'best of' package. Everything had been locked in, magazine advertising, the separations for the cover had been printed and stacked in a warehouse."

Ah ha. There you have it. It was planned long before it was released.

I actually have not read the Heroes and Villains book, but it sounds like a must-read so I ordered it and it will be in the mail tomorrow. Can't wait!
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2018, 11:31:43 AM »

when Brian says "I've done only one or two tunes and I hate them" undoubtedly he's referring to In My Childhood, and about the other I wonder if it was what we now refer to as Trombone Dixieland

Right or wrong (or somewhere in between) the Wikepaedia site speaks of Best of BB Vol. 2  as being released in July '67 because the SMiLE album failed to materialize.  If the Best Of BB vol. 1 was planned even while pet sounds was being recorded (as Nick Venet seems to say above) then it stands to reason Vol. 2 was LP 'ammunition' capitol prepared similarly early-on (certainly before the SMiLE collapse it seems)

makes me wonder how much Brian was informed while he was recording pet sounds (of Vol. 1), and recording SMiLE (of Vol. 2).  Did capitol keep their compilation plans totally secret--that's a helluva thing

I know it's been written that their Party! album was a time-buying concoction for Brian to prepare pet sounds.  Ironically it also furnished the lead track to Best Of BB Vol. 2 later (Barbara Ann)

My conclusion, for the time being, is things stink as regards the you're-only-as-good-as-your-last-record confidence and album subterfuge capitol displayed during that timeframe
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« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2018, 12:53:58 PM »

I love the historical perspective on these types of things.  Just because something charted doesn't mean it was that big of a smash hit or the other way around.  Fun to see lots of summer and sun songs on this August chart.
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« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2018, 08:40:07 PM »

when Brian says "I've done only one or two tunes and I hate them" undoubtedly he's referring to In My Childhood, and about the other I wonder if it was what we now refer to as Trombone Dixieland

Right or wrong (or somewhere in between) the Wikepaedia site speaks of Best of BB Vol. 2  as being released in July '67 because the SMiLE album failed to materialize.  If the Best Of BB vol. 1 was planned even while pet sounds was being recorded (as Nick Venet seems to say above) then it stands to reason Vol. 2 was LP 'ammunition' capitol prepared similarly early-on (certainly before the SMiLE collapse it seems)

makes me wonder how much Brian was informed while he was recording pet sounds (of Vol. 1), and recording SMiLE (of Vol. 2).  Did capitol keep their compilation plans totally secret--that's a helluva thing

I know it's been written that their Party! album was a time-buying concoction for Brian to prepare pet sounds.  Ironically it also furnished the lead track to Best Of BB Vol. 2 later (Barbara Ann)

My conclusion, for the time being, is things stink as regards the you're-only-as-good-as-your-last-record confidence and album subterfuge capitol displayed during that timeframe

Volume 2 may have been prepared for release as early as January since that was supposed to be the original release date of Smile.

That's a pretty good question as to if Brian and crew were informed that the compilations were being prepared. I doubt they were a complete secret, but you never know.

Of course, the back cover of Vol. 1 clearly states that the selections were picked by the Beach Boys themselves, so we have to believe that right?  Grin

But seriously, I'd like to know who really picked the songs for the "best of" compilations, because while a majority of the tracks are good choices, there were some real head-scratchers too. Vol. 1 doesn't contain any real stinkers, but Vol. 2 has Long Tall Texan and Little Saint Nick. The latter isn't a bad song, but a Christmas song tacked in with regular songs is not usually a good choice. Vol. 3 takes it a step further with Frosty The Snowman (are you sh**ting me??), 409 is repeated, and Surfin' is included (not a good choice in 1968).
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« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2018, 03:28:24 PM »

I don't have a problem with Capitol releasing a "best of" compilation in 1966 nor do I think it significantly affected sales of Pet Sounds. It's true that Pet Sounds peaked the same week Best Of The Beach Boys was released, but it took 3 weeks for BotBB to chart (#113) during which time PS dropped 4 spots, then over the next 3 weeks BotBB climbs to #20 and PS only drops 2 spots. If you look at the peak positions (#10 and #8) and the number of weeks in top 20 and top 40 you'll find them quite comparable. Bottom line, I'm far more inclined to believe that a lack of promotion significantly hindered PS sales than the release date of BotBB. Still, PS was a success and included FOUR top 40 songs. It's also worth noting that the US version of BotBB didn't include any PS material. This is probably partially a result of being planned prior to the release of PS, but it also would have hurt PS to include the highlights of the album on the comp (not to mention the BBs had plenty of hits pre-66 to choose from). A far greater head-scratcher for me is Little Deuce Coupe being released 3 WEEKS after Surfer Girl. Even more surprising is that the trajectories and peaks are quite similar - seemingly unaffected by each other. Ultimately, I think the July release of Best Of The Beach Boys was more a function of Capitol not wanting to miss the summer market than anything else. Vol 2 and 3 were also released in July/August. My problem with these compilations is that there are more than one of them. 1966 was actually an ideal year to document the best of their surf/cars/girls material as they transitioned into a new era. The Beatles were in a very similar position in '66 (post-Revolver, pre-PL/SFF and Sgt Peppers). In the UK, A Collection Of Beatles Oldies (But Goldies) was released. The difference between the releases is that the Beatles comp included all thirteen UK #1 songs to date (and two other #1's and an unreleased song), whereas the Beach Boys comp didn't include either of their #1's (IGA, HMR) or five other top 10 songs. One incredible "best of" (that Brian Wilson should have been endlessly proud of) was watered down to three. And, yes, including 409 on Vol 2 AND 3 is utterly indefensible.
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« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2018, 04:48:38 PM »

Excellent observations all around!

Youíre right about the Little Deuce Coupe album. It kind of had a slow burn with sales, but ultimately charted higher than Surfer Girl. I like most of the songs on the album, and I like the car-themed concept, but ultimately I think it was a pointless release. Some songs on it could have been held over and reduced filler on the next album.

As for the compilations, like I said, I think Vol. 1 has mostly good selections, but the other two could have been better. A lot of bigger hits, like you said, were absent in favor a bunch of other tracks that were seemingly drawn out of a hat.

I know there are a lot of things that we look at with 21st century viewpoints and scratch our heads, but The Beach Boys are the only band I can think of (other than perhaps Elvis) in which you have to wonder if anyone thought they were being mis-managed even then
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« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2018, 09:18:16 AM »

"I don't have a problem with Capitol releasing a "best of" compilation in 1966"

the point is I'd be certain Brian certainly did have a big problem with it while recording pet sounds.  He should definitely not have been forced by the label to compete with himself that way.

the more I think on it I'd say capitol records did in fact tell brian and the guys they were preparing such best ofs, just enough to hold it over brians head if he didn't finish PS or SMiLE real soon then that these were going to be there chosen releases
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« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2018, 06:30:00 PM »

I'm glad that someone else "gets it". If you read any of the rock histories, or watch the documentaries on the subject, they'd have you think everything "soft" or "pop" was out by 1967, being replaced by non stop heavy rock and psycadelia.

Perfect case in point: The Seekers were still hugely, hugely successful in the UK and Australia when they disbanded in 1968, and their farewell concert on the BBC drew almost a quarter of the country's population. (Keith Potger even cracked a psychedelia joke during this show, as if to show they were "on the way out", but not really.) Starched suits, long dresses, a double bass - you'd think they'd have been run out of London for being square, but no, they could have gone on for years. The charts in the original post show that the same was true in the US - it simply wasn't the case that everyone had flowers in their hair or a rip in their amplifier by New Year's Day in 1967.

Thanks so much to the original poster for providing some much-needed context.
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« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2018, 06:43:25 PM »

I don't have a problem with Capitol releasing a "best of" compilation in 1966 nor do I think it significantly affected sales of Pet Sounds. It's true that Pet Sounds peaked the same week Best Of The Beach Boys was released, but it took 3 weeks for BotBB to chart (#113) during which time PS dropped 4 spots, then over the next 3 weeks BotBB climbs to #20 and PS only drops 2 spots. If you look at the peak positions (#10 and #8) and the number of weeks in top 20 and top 40 you'll find them quite comparable. Bottom line, I'm far more inclined to believe that a lack of promotion significantly hindered PS sales than the release date of BotBB. Still, PS was a success and included FOUR top 40 songs. It's also worth noting that the US version of BotBB didn't include any PS material. This is probably partially a result of being planned prior to the release of PS, but it also would have hurt PS to include the highlights of the album on the comp (not to mention the BBs had plenty of hits pre-66 to choose from). A far greater head-scratcher for me is Little Deuce Coupe being released 3 WEEKS after Surfer Girl. Even more surprising is that the trajectories and peaks are quite similar - seemingly unaffected by each other. Ultimately, I think the July release of Best Of The Beach Boys was more a function of Capitol not wanting to miss the summer market than anything else. Vol 2 and 3 were also released in July/August. My problem with these compilations is that there are more than one of them. 1966 was actually an ideal year to document the best of their surf/cars/girls material as they transitioned into a new era. The Beatles were in a very similar position in '66 (post-Revolver, pre-PL/SFF and Sgt Peppers). In the UK, A Collection Of Beatles Oldies (But Goldies) was released. The difference between the releases is that the Beatles comp included all thirteen UK #1 songs to date (and two other #1's and an unreleased song), whereas the Beach Boys comp didn't include either of their #1's (IGA, HMR) or five other top 10 songs. One incredible "best of" (that Brian Wilson should have been endlessly proud of) was watered down to three. And, yes, including 409 on Vol 2 AND 3 is utterly indefensible.
One very strong 12 track comp in 66 would have sufficed. Instead, Capitol beat the idea into the ground with 3 separate albums. I'll bet the person at Capitol in charge of Beach Boy releases was working on Elvis albums for RCA in the 70's.  Grin
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