The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

Silly name aside, this album is one of the greatest pop/rock albums of all time.

Brian Wilson, the genius and main creative force in The Beach Boys took a break from touring due to mental health issues. Whilst the other members of The Beach Boys were touring, he was inspired by The Beatles Rubber Soul album to create this, the best album by the group, and a standout of its time. Let’s listen on and hear what it is like.

We start with Wouldn’t It Be Nice which is a nice whimsical song about loving someone forever. It has some interesting sounds here as well. This is what great music is about, the perfect quest of rhythm and melody into a great song. It’s mint. Just a really great song here.

The next song You Still Believe In Me is a melancholy sort of piece about self-doubt in a relationship. It’s actually better than expected, with some great keyboard songs, and bicycle bells and bicycle horns to boot. This is a really great listen, right here. The harmonies at the end are delicious.

That’s Not Me is about being yourself to a lover. It sounds so brilliantly wonderful and colourful. Is it any surprise the hippie movement dug these sorts of tunes? Everything on this album is done to perfection, no question about it. Even though there is an air of melancholy in the song, it’s great to hear.

Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) is a classic tune by The Beach Boys. It’s slow, yet reassuring. It is such a beautiful piece to hear, and it is devoted to a lover. Nowadays, this sort of romanticism is lost on the postmodern music scene. This is great regardless of this fact. Some nice string sections are in the background here as well.

The next song I’m Waiting For The Day is a reflective piece. The sounds on this album are unconventional, with a great variation and structure of the music at hand. It’s good to hear if you are still in love with someone you have not been with for a long time. The song is great as well.

The instrumental piece Let’s Go Away For Awhile is brief, yet beautiful. It has a huge variety of tasty instrumentation here to listen to. It does follow a structure as well. It has sounds you never have really heard before, and that is what makes it seem so wonderful and fresh, even today.

Sloop John B was adapted from a Caribbean song from pre-Great Depression times. It’s a great listen, but the subject matter is very depressing. The song otherwise is fantastic to hear regardless though. It’s a good piece about homesickness and a series of unfortunate events.

God Only Knows is similar thematically to the other songs on the album. It is also one of the most famous and well-known songs by The Beach Boys. It is so beautiful and lush sounding that it is very hard to hear anything that would match this song elsewhere from other groups. A great pop song.

The keyboard and saxophone driven piece I Know There’s An Answer is a plea for being strong in turbulent times. The keyboard drives this one along very well. Brian Wilson is obviously a top notch genius at making music, as on here and other recordings by The Beach Boys will show. It never gets boring at all this record, not for one minute.

The next song is about having an affair. Here Today makes caution about being this way. It’s a really enjoyable listen. Considering that divorce rates are as common as Facebook accounts these days, this is a must listen for those who are cautious about these things. It had some interesting intertwined melodies here as well.

I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times is a sort of reflection about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again, despite the misery of the lyrics, we hear a varied, well-structured and lush musical backdrop to hear. It sounds audibly delicious, a nice sounding song, and album for the matter. There are some theremin sounds in it as well, now that is rare.

Pet Sounds, the title track, is another awesome sounding instrumental. It sounds sonically great. There are some weird and wacky sounds that are beautiful in this album to hear. A nice break from the other songs, and it is definitely worth a listen.

The last song Caroline, No was actually about a high school crush of Brian Wilson’s when he was younger. It has harpsichord, saxophone, tom-tom percussion and other wonderful instruments here. It sounds deep and meaningful, for this great piece of music. As it fades out, we hear a train rushing past us and dogs barking as we finish this truly great album.

This is a stone cold classic album. There is nothing like this in the history of music. Everything about this is very much near perfection. It was critically acclaimed and directly inspired The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. You should listen to this if you haven’t already, it’s funtastic.

9/10

Cream – Fresh Cream (1966)

Cream was the original rock supergroup. In retrospect, a rock supergroup is not always desirable. But the trio consisting of Jack Bruce (bass and vocals), Eric Clapton (guitar) and Ginger Baker (drums) would show the world what they were made of.

This album is their first, and in some ways, their best. It has a fusion of styles such as blues, jazz, rock and other genres in the recording as well.

The album begins with I Feel Free. Wow – this is good! It shows off Jack Bruce’s great voice and the other parts of the song are just as good. It’s a great song and still a great listen, even today. Cream sound wonderful in their approach musically, and the song sounds soulful.

The next piece, N.S.U. is a glorious 1960’s style comment on living life to the fullest. It’s a great song to hear. Eric Clapton via his Gibson Les Paul has some amazing playing on this one. Mind you, this album is very consistent so far.

Sleepy Time Time follows and sounds like modern poetry set to music. It’s a great piece about taking one’s time in life, not a bad sentiment at all. It’s a good cut here. Plenty of 1960s sentiments are here, making the song the great piece it is. Cool.

Dreaming follows, and it is a good and relaxed sounding piece. It is a nice thought about life in general, and about the concept of dreams. A great topic to address, and a great song as well.

Following up is Sweet Wine. This is merely a continuation of the concept of the songs before it. Eric Clapton’s guitar solo sings and will leave many rock fans in awe upon listening to this piece. It also seems to have quiet-loud dynamics, a great idea for a rock group to take up at the time.

The next song is Spoonful. It’s a great bluesy style piece about desire. One can only imagine the simple pleasures of the time that would have inspired the song. In many ways, the 1960s was a great era for music. Period. It is a rather extended piece, but still very very good. The ending is great too.

Cat’s Squirrel is another extended piece with some likely drug-based influences in the sound at this point. It’s mostly an instrumental, but very effective in its approach. A nice listen.

Four Until Late is an old blues cover originally from Robert Johnson, but it works so well here that it demands repeated listens. It’s a great interpretation of a good original. Mint.

Next up is a call and response sort of piece called Rollin’ and Tumblin’. It’s a concise piece which is almost like an instrumental. It’s very listenable and very enjoyable. The drums, in particular, are very paced here, a great song. It goes on for a while, so listen patiently.

The cover of Skip James’s I’m So Glad is a great cover of an original blues piece. The band sounds so relaxed throughout it all, until towards the end. The price of a supergroup may be distrust, but Cream does a great job here. Good stuff.

Toad is a great drum solo to finish off this recording. The years of Ginger Baker having a background in jazz music pays off here, he just rocks. Unlikely that one can hear any drummer do this sort of thing today.

Fresh Cream got the ball rolling for these three men, in particular, Eric Clapton. It’s a great album, without a doubt. It’s also likely Cream’s best album and one of the definitive albums of the 1960s. It is very listenable. More great music was to follow after this album by Cream as well, only making this album more reputable.

9/10