There’s always been something I can’t quite get right in my head about The Beach Boys. I’m not doubting their prowess by any means but, as The Beatles made their journey from scouse skiffling to seminal psychedelia, it always seemed a more logical path than the gap between “Surfin’ USA” to “Pet Sounds”. Maybe this album answers my question?
It’s a fine album, and it’s got reminiscences from their earlier days in tracks like “When I grow up” as well as proto-Pet Sounds tracks like “Please Let Me Wonder” on the B-side.
In fact, this album is split into an old-school first side and a progressive second side that maybe don’t gel together quite like they could – this truly is a crossroads album. That said, for a surfing teens album track, “When I Grow Up” is surprisingly mature and promising, and if this album consisted of just that first side, it would still be a landmark. As it is, it’s a great piece of history, and required listening if you’re really going to enjoy “Pet Sounds”.
Side note: The 1001 Albums book review of this album starts off saying “Despite containing what is easily the worst track in this entire book…” without elaborating, which puzzled me a bit. What track? “Don’t Hurt my Little Sister” is hardly A-List but that’s harsh – is this the track they’re referring to?