Back in March, each of us set out to pick 100 of our favorite albums. The intention was simply to focus on personal favorites rather than trying to pick a list of the 100 greatest albums of all-time.
When we got done with those lists, we compared our choices, and 12 of our picks were the same. So we decided to rank those 12 picks in order and present them in descending order from No. 12 to No. 1. Today we present No. 9.
- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb
ALBUM OF THE DAY
The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds (1966)
"Wouldn't It Be Nice," "Sloop John B" "Caroline, No" and "God Only Knows"
It's funny how history works. Even as a kid growing up in California, I only knew — and loved — The Beach Boys for the massive surf hits that made them international superstars. It's one of the most definitive sounds in music history. But it wasn't until later that I knew much of anything about this special record. Sure, I knew "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows," but I wasn't aware that Brian Wilson changed the course of music history with pretty much everything about this album, including recording methods, lyrics, arrangements and introspective themes. It's almost hard to imagine the same band that gave the world "Little Deuce Coupe," "Surfin' Safari" and "Be True to Your School" is responsible for this masterpiece, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. It took me a while to come around to what I was hearing on this record, but once that lightbulb came on, it burned bright. When I think about this album coming out three years before I was born, I wish I could have seen the reaction of people listening to it for the first time. It's perhaps the ultimate example of an album about growing up and the loss of innocence, which was more than appropriate for the day and age of its release. Given The Beach Boys and their history, there aren't many bands that could have expressed those feelings more authentically.
One of my favorite songs by any band in any genre is "Sloop John B." Even more than their famous surf hits, I think that song puts the Beach Boys' gorgeous talents for harmony on display, and if their battle with The Beatles in the '60s to produce the greatest album in rock history had come down just to the vocals, I'd go with The Beach Boys. Both bands, however, were writing some of the best songs of their respective careers, and Brian Wilson has stated that The Beatles' Rubber Soul had an influence on this album. Pet Sounds, in turn, influenced The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Not surprisingly, all three of those albums are ranked in the Top 5 of Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time released in 2012. Pet Sounds is ranked No. 2 on that list behind Sgt. Pepper's which is your bonus pick of the day below. Check out Rubber Soul while you're at it, too.
BONUS ALBUM OF THE DAY
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Why I Love It
The greatest album of all-time? On a personal level, this is not even necessarily my favorite Beatles album. Chuck would tell you go with The Beatles better known as the "White Album," and on some days, I'd agree with him. But Rubber Soul and Revolver would steal my attention on any other given day.
But, in terms of rock music history, it's hard to argue with the impact this record has had through the decades since it was released. It reset the expectation of what an album could be establishing it as a piece of art on its own distinct from the individual songs yet entirely dependent on each of them as sequenced to establish the album's everlasting identity. Prior to Sgt. Pepper's, albums were often collections of songs that may or may not be connected in some way; it's impossible with this album, however, to separate the songs from the album without knowing where they came from and where they ultimately belong. For that reason, Sgt. Pepper's is the ultimate album experience designed to be listened to in its entirety every time you give it a spin.
"With A Little Help From My Friends," "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "A Day In The Life"