The Beach Boys’ surviving members – Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks – joined L.A. sister station K-EARTH 101’s Morning Show with Gary Bryan last week on-air to talk about their new album, That’s Why God Made The Radio, their big reunion tour, and their evolution as a band after 50 years. In the second installment of this multi-part video interview, the Beach Boys address the early years of balancing both touring and recording some of its biggest albums, including 1966’s ground-breaking Pet Sounds.
On top of globe-trekking on tour and chronicling it in songs like “California Girls,” The Beach Boys were recording new albums simultaneously. Bruce Johnston explained that his first year in the band, they churned out three albums – some of the most critically acclaimed of the group’s career.
“Think about this: I joined the band accidentally just to fill in for a weekend,” Johnston said. “It gets extended, it’s fabulous, but in my first 12 months – Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) album, the Party! album and Pet Sounds. Three albums in one year plus touring.”
Mike Love explained that the amount of albums produced in such a condensed period of time was all due to pressure from the record label. Capitol Records was itching to release a new album, but Brian didn’t feel the production was ready for Pet Sounds, so the group got together in the studio, and in just days recorded Beach Boys’ Party!. Soon after its release, the Beach Boys put out what is widely considered the most pivotal album of their career, Pet Sounds, in 1966.
“Phil Spector’s ‘The Wrecking Crew’ played [on it],” Brian Wilson said. “It took us about three months to make it and each song was a different kind of song. Absolutely one of my favorite albums I ever produced.”
Known as the “stone of the studio,” Brian perfected the harmonies and vocal arrangements on Pet Sounds, which meant sometimes having to do multiple retakes of each song until every pitch, note and tone was precise. What resulted was an album that has stood the test of time. There’s even a box set of outtakes, The Pet Sounds Sessions, featuring just the vocal recordings on Pet Sounds that shows the supreme recording process of the group.
“When you listen to that [the sessions box set], you can see the masterful vocal arrangements that Brian did and the great accomplishment of all of us together,” Love said. “It really shows the strength of the Beach Boys right there – the harmonies.”
– Britt Bickel, K-EARTH 101