Posts Tagged ‘Pet Sounds’

1960s music recording studio

LISTEN_April 6 to 16_1966_Beatles-Velvet Und-Etc_6:30

April  6 through 16, 1966.

New chief engineer Geoff Emerick  puts John Lennon’s microphone through a rotating Leslie speaker designed for Hammond organ, to give it a distant, swirling effect to make him sound like “the Dalai Lama on a mountaintop,” and George’s tamboura and Paul’s tape-loop experimentation combine to create Tomorrow Never Knows. Brian Wilson  finishes vocals for three songs on Pet SoundsGod On Knows, Wouldn’t Be Nice, and I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times, and the album is complete.  Paul McCartney toys with Got to Get You Into My Life.

In New York, Lou Reed has his guitar strings all tuned to the same pitch, and John Cale is bowing a harsh viola he has strung with guitar and mandolin strings, on the song Venus in Furs as the Velvet Underground record tracks for their first album with Nico.

Introspection, mysticism, sex, drugs and rock and roll…hear the highlights in this audio episode.


March 9th and 10th, 1966

1960s music recording studio


It was fun discovering that Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention were recording their outrageous first album, Freak Out, at the corner of Sunset Blvd and Highland in Hollywood during the same couple of days that Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys were recording God Only Knows, acknowledged by some (including Paul McCartney) as the best song ever written. Less than a mile away at Sunset and Gower.  Brian had just shelved his first sessions for Good Vibrations (late February), and turned back to finishing tracks he knew he wanted on Pet Sounds.

So we have Brian Wilson at the apex of his songwriting career, and Frank Zappa at the beginning of his eclectic journey. Help I’m a Rock, and God Only Knows. I decided to do an audio  juxtaposition of these works. WARNING: this may constitute punishable sacrilege to some aficionados.  Take a listen.


My 60-second version of Bob Dylan’s quick evolution, leads us to February 1966 with Bob recording cuts for Blonde on Blonde in Nashville, after giving up in NYC.  James Brown has gone the other way, recording in New York the same day. You gotta love lyrics like:  “It’s a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl.”  (you have to be careful to cover all age groups and demographics obviously).

And Brian Wilson finally lets his bandmates actually play on a backing track for Pet Sounds. Hear it here.

February 7 – 16, 1966

Work on Brian Wilson’s ground-breaking Pet Sounds album continues, despite a cool reception from Beach Boy Mike Love.  Bass harmonica, tight woodwind harmonies, and the continuity of guitar arpeggios and other percussive strings throughout the tracks, all work to set this project apart.  And then there’s those stunning melodies (Don’t Talk, Put Your Head on my Shoulder).

The Turtles try to get psychedelic with Grim Reaper of Love; the Yardbirds already are.  The Blues Project from Greenwich Village juice up Chuck Berry’s You Can’t Catch Me. Hear the music and my commentary here:

1960s music recording studio LISTEN_Early-February-1966_Brian-Wilson_Turtles_Others_7:29

Note: many of the Pet Sounds studio rehearsal recordings heard in this audioblog are available in the The Pet Sounds Sessions box set.

Tuesday, January 18th, 1966…and subsequent January recording sessions.

1960s music recording studioLISTEN_January 18-31 1966-Pet Sounds Session Highlights   5:05

Brian Wilson is back in the studio after the holidays to accelerate sessions for the Pet Sounds project. He departs even further from typical pop-rock instrumentation on “Wouldn’t it be Nice,” employing two accordion players, two guitarists,  both acoustic and electric bass, two pianos, low baritone sax, and timpani.  Veteran session drummer Hal Blaine has trouble with the intro.

Brian uses plucked piano strings on “You Still Believe in Me.”  And the month ends with Brian’s personal “Caroline No” being built in the studio.  Listen to highlights of it all, here.

First two weeks of November, 1965

On Monday, November 1st, Brian Wilson officially begins recording tracks for what would become his most influential album, Pet Sounds. You’ll hear some of the first fully-fleshed-out backing track for a song that never made it onto the original album.  A half day later,  the Beatles are recording Michelle in London, in the final stages of Rubber Soul work.

Later, Brian starts constructing a “James Bond movie soundtrack” idea that would become the instrumental title track of Pet Sounds.

1960s music recording studio