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'Pet Sounds' At 50: It Never Gets Old

Brian Wilson and pet. (Courtesy of the artist)closemore
Brian Wilson and pet. (Courtesy of the artist)

The Beach Boys' 1966 album Pet Sounds marked a change in music that was barely noticed at the time. It began a revolution in rock as it transformed from simple entertainment to art. That change was even more dramatic because this introspective music came from a band famous for singing about surf, girls and cars; suddenly, they were singing songs like "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times."

The funny thing is that hardly anyone noticed, at least among the general population. Pet Sounds barely made a dent: Sure, there were the hit singles "Sloop John B" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice." But "Caroline No," not a ripple. Still, the album was well-received among certain listeners in England: The Beatles famously heard Pet Sounds, and you can hear its influence on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band a year later.

This is a good year to consider the impact of Pet Sounds: Capitol Records is marking a major milestone with its new 50th Anniversary Edition, which includes Blu-ray audio versions, as well as 180-gram vinyl editions in both mono and stereo. Brian Wilson and his band are touring to support it — first in Europe and Israel and then all over the U.S.

On this page, we have a exclusive little seven-minute documentary from Wilson and those involved in making Pet Sounds, as they reflect on their thoughts all these years later. It made me go back yet again and listen to this life-changing recording — loved now more than ever.

Copyright NPR 2016.

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