May 16, 2016

50 years ago today: The albums "Blonde on Blonde" and "Pet Sounds" were released.

An amazing day!

From Rolling Stone: "'Blonde on Blonde' at 50: Celebrating Bob Dylan's Greatest Masterpiece":
Recorded fast with Nashville session cats who were used to grinding out country hits, Blonde on Blonde has a slick studio polish that makes it sound totally unlike any of his other albums, with sparkling piano frills and a soulful shitkicker groove. Yet the glossy surface just makes the songs more haunting.... [H]e never sounded lonelier than in "Visions of Johanna," funnier than in "I Want You," more desperate than in "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again." It's his most expansive music, with nothing that resembles a folk song – just the rock & roll laments of a vanishing American, the doomed outsider who's given up on ever belonging anywhere. "I don't consider myself outside of anything," Dylan said when the album came out. "I just consider myself not around."
"Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds': 15 Things You Didn't Know":
When the group reconvened in the studio... to record vocal parts for what they assumed would be another sunny Brian Wilson anthem, one of the first things they heard was a track called "Hang on to Your Ego." Written with the band's road manager Terry Sachen, the lyrics were inspired by Wilson's experience using LSD. The whole band was taken aback by this jarring new direction, but Mike Love reportedly took particular offense to the piece, which he rejected as "a doper song." "The prevailing drug jargon at the time had it that doses of LSD would shatter your ego, as if that were a positive thing," explained Love in 1996. "I wasn't interested in taking acid or getting rid of my ego." During outtakes from the sessions, Love can be heard belching in the background, singing the lyrics in the manner of Jimmy Durante and James Cagney, and generally clowning around... Ultimately, Wilson let Love alter the title to a less inflammatory "I Know There's an Answer"....


Will Cate said...

Two of my favorite albums in the world.

readering said...

Meanwhile, in the PRC, the start of the Cultural Revolution.

victoria said...

Pet Sounds orchestrations were performed exclusively by the studio musicians known as "the Wrecking Crew", the greatest studio musicians ever. Glen Campbell played guitar on the record as part of the crew. Watch the documentary that was released last year on these seminal musicians. They spend part of the documentary talking about recording with Brian Wilson for the album.

Yes 2 of the best records, ever.

Vicki from Pasadena

HoodlumDoodlum said...

victoria said... Watch the documentary that was released last year on these seminal musicians. They spend part of the documentary talking about recording with Brian Wilson for the album.

Amazon Video Rental: The Wrecking Crew [$3.99 HD rental]

Saint Croix said...

Pet Sounds is amazing.

It's a high price to pay, though. I don't know if all that LSD caused Wilson's schizophrenia. Probably didn't help.

Bleach Drinkers Curing Coronavirus Together said...

Brian Wilson made the world a more beautiful place.

Alex said...

LSD claimed 2 causalities in the 60s who were musical geniuses - Brian Wilson and Syd Barrett.

khematite said...

While it may have been an intended official release date at some point, it's almost certain that the actual release of "Blonde on Blonde" didn't occur until sometime in late June or early July. There's a lot of contemporaneous evidence suggesting that and the Wikipedia entry on "Blonde on Blonde" has a discussion of this issue.

Bleach Drinkers Curing Coronavirus Together said...

Brian Wilson made the world a more beautiful place but Mike Love's record is a bit sloppier, and funnier. While being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the 1980s, he let loose an angry rant about all the bands that weren't on good terms with each other, or were broken up, or refusing to perform with certain others.

In referring to all this acrimony, he at least twice used a likely neologism, "inter-sistine."

Apparently this must have been his way of saying, "internecine."

Malesch Morocco said...

I saw the "Wrecking Crew" documentary.. It was pretty good. But give me the "Swampers" at Muscle Shoals any day..

Diamondhead said...

I've never thought of I Want You as a particularly funny song, or Memphis Blues as a desperate song. He's certainly been funnier and more desperate, anyway. Is Blonde on Blonde his best album? I could quibble with that, too, but it's definitely worth celebrating.

etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob R said...

Blood on the Tracks and Highway 61 both mean more to me than Blonde on Blonde, but I'm certainly not going to argue with anyone that they are "better." Sounds like a good idea to put both Pet Sounds and Blonde on Blonde on.

David Begley said...

Will a future Althouse be writing about the 50th of some Smashing Pumpkins album?

I think not.

Guildofcannonballs said...

And to whom were they first leased?

Why lease in the first place for that matter?

Tank said...

Just saw BW last year. Remarkably good, fun show. If you're interested, better get out to we him soon.

steve uhr said...

Cary Grant took LSD over 100 times. He said it transformed his life and the key to "a second youth."

Guildofcannonballs said...

Roger Moore is the best Bond.

That there middle-wiggle is The Star One too, err, Too?

Guildofcannonballs said...

Look, Steyn hung out with Frank.

What the Christ can I say? I ain't ever hung around much less out with Sinatra. And watching the short-lived "Vegas" by Bezos makes me thank God.

Again I applaud Althouse for the environs.


Commitment to open dialogue whether sober or not depends entirely on what the benefits are and most importantly the simple definitions.

Simply. So even the really dumb like me can do what we dumb do.

Achilles said...

100 years ago Picot-Sykes accord was settled.

The modern middle east we know and love today was created.

I know I am always a downer.

Carol said...

It was pretty good. But give me the "Swampers" at Muscle Shoals any day..

I finally realized how slick and tired the Wrecking Crew sounded (on everything listened to) when groups like the Doors and the SF bands released recordings of their own actual bands. Yeah it was amateurish, but I loved the raw energy. It was almost as different and truly odd as the Beatles sounded in 1964.

Carol said...

Oh, and for some reason I totally missed Blond on Blond, but loved John Wesley Harding (also used Nashville session guys). Missed Pet Sounds, but loved Surf's Up. "Long Promised Road"! Oh man.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I am quite sure I heard the phrase repeatedly "Crews on gantry, crews on gantry."

Christopher said...

Cannot recommend The Wrecking Crew documentary too much--if you have any interest in pop music of the period, it's fascinating. Those guys were incredible pros, handling everything and everyone from Sinatra to the Beach Boys. And one of those guys was Carol Kaye, who among other claims to fame came up with the signature bass line in The Beat Goes On.

If the documentary has any flaw, it probably focuses a little too much on the life and times of guitarist Tommy Tedesco, since the documentary was a labor of love by his son. But without him, it wouldn't have been made so thanks!

I've been rebuilding my music collection and filling in gaps, so this was a good post for me. I'm way overdue on adding to my Dylan collection (got Pet Sounds).

Christopher said...

So.... Imagine my surprise when I came across a review of a book on Amazon about the Wrecking Crew with a 174-comment thread started by Carol Kaye! And none too complimentary as well. I haven't had time to read more than a few at the top, but it starts in 2012. Kaye hated the Wrecking Crew name as a made-up 90's thing, but I'll leave all that to the thread. here it is.

Anonymous said...

Here's great rocking version of Hang on to Your Ego:

Bix Cvvv said...

I enjoy listening to Dylan - nice guy, if a little too scholarly and a little too full of himself - and to Brian Wilson - nice chord changes, good use of instruments. It has been years, though, since I have thought of them as potentially "amazing": they just seem too keyed in, in a not-good Proustian way, to following the trends of their youth and do not seem to ever have had (as artists, I am not talking about the real people, whom I do not know) the humility and complete awe for God's world that real artists have.
I have heard they both have reached a level of happiness in their elderly years, so I guess they probably agree with my reasonable opinion, as, in my experience, only reasonable people grow happier as they grow older (and not all of them either). That being said, the cover of that album where Dylan looks so happy with that beautiful young woman on that street in Greenwich Village is a really good depiction of what heaven on earth might have seemed like to a lot of people his and her age. So there's that (and I can't even begin to think what the Blonde on Blonde cover would have looked like if it wasn't some existentialish Teen Beat boring portrait cover but were instead as good a cover as the Greenwich Village cover).

chickelit said...

There's also a Freudian angle: He let go of his ego and id emerged.

chickelit said...

Rhythm and Balls said...Brian Wilson made the world a more beautiful place. <-- This

fbsakamoto said...

Oh My! Visions of Johanna ... kept me up...past....dawn.

Thx for reminding me.


Churchy LaFemme: said...

People like to rag on Mike Love because they feel the Beach Boys story needs a villain. They forget that he actually sang all the parts Brian wanted him to on Smile even when he didn't like them. If Brian could have decided how Smile actually fit together the other Beach Boys would have sung it, no problem.

And of course the way Capitol handled Pet Sounds contributed to Brian's downward spiral. It was criminal to issue "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows" as the A & B sides of one single rather than as separate singles, and not printing enough copies so that re-orders from stores were filled with a "Best of the Beach Boys" LP instead of Pet Sounds killed the longevity and chart potential of the album.

The Wrecking Crew were great (it's not hard to argue that Hal Blaine is the best drummer of the rock era: 40 #1s, 150 top ten..), but the Beach Boy vocal mix was where the magic was. Listen to Brian stop the backing track and run the guys through a chorus of "Wendy" live in the studio at 2:00 in..

Or listen to God Only Knows and Wouldn't It Be Nice? vocals only..

Howard said...

Sorry, but Bub Nylon and Brian Pillson are posers (e.g. pans of estrus). On Tax day, 2016, the 50th anniversary of Aftermath, the best Stones Album of all time featured the best rock song (on the North American Release) ever recorded:
Paint it Black
Given the south Asia musical influence, not as sunny as the Lebanese Dick Dale (see below), Paint it Black should be the National Anthem of the Caliphate... or the anthem of the combined allied sons of Viking Raiding that ends it. Your Choice. (Call of Duty... never heard of it, but nice choice)
Another song that puts your dick in the dirt:
Ode to Achilles

Churchy LaFemme: said...

Oh please. "Paint It Black" is just a rip-of of the Supremes "My World Is Empty".

I saw Dick Dale sometime around the turn of the century. Still a great guitarist at that point at least, even if I couln'd decipher his onstage political rant..

tim in vermont said...

the best Stones Album of all time

Isn't that sort of like being the worlds tallest midget? I can only think that the Stones' popularity is about the persona of their front man, not the music. Arrowsmith is better.

tim in vermont said...

And I am not a giant Arrowsmith fan.

Pet sounds has a couple good songs on it. I listen to it via bluetooth in the car. I skip a lot of the crapola in it, but I always sing along to The Sloop John B.

tim in vermont said...

Brian Wilson snuck another one in on that album

"This is the worst trip I've ever been on." Sloop John B.

The incident that sort of sums up the musical acumen of Stones' fans is that when Prince opened for them, before he was a star, they booed and hooted. When I heard that story recently, my first thought was "it figures."

RMc said...

Isn't "greatest masterpiece" redundant? A masterpiece is the greatest by definition, right? (Next, you're going to tell me "Blonde on Blonde" is the most unique!)

MayBee said...

Kevin Love rocks the NBA.

Carol said...

The Wrecking Crew were great (it's not hard to argue that Hal Blaine is the best drummer of the rock era: 40 #1s

As noted above, Carol Kaye really went off on the Wrecking Crew bio and Blaine especially. She recommended the Earl Palmer book (he was the Other Drummer) and that was very good too. I don't need to take sides in the feud and the music history is fascinating.

But I think the boomers need to venture more into classical and jazz before they die, to keep it all in perspective. Not much time left.

PackerBronco said...

The only criticism I can make of Pet Sounds is that a lot of the lyrics are incredibly banal.

MarkW said...

"Will a future Althouse be writing about the 50th of some Smashing Pumpkins album?"

No, but maybe the 50th anniversary of 'London Calling'? I have to say that both 'Pet Sounds' and 'Blonde on Blonde' have long since fallen out of my personal rotation. 'Pet Sounds' borders on bubblegum, and the best known song on 'Blonde on Blonde' -- 'Just Like a Woman' sounds to my ears now like an embarrassing Dylan self parody. From that era, I'd MUCH rather listen to 'Beggar's Banquet'.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, the hours I’ve spent inside the Coliseum
Dodging lions and wastin’ time
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle, I could hardly stand to see ’em
Yes, it sure has been a long, hard climb
Train wheels runnin’ through the back of my memory
When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese
Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece...

mccullough said...

Nevermind and Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik were released on the same day in 1991. Those two albums have held up well.

Howard said...

Right-O Tim. Aerosmith, the lurid purveyors of stoner bubblegum:

There's a backstroke lover always hidin' 'neath the covers
When I talked to my dad he say
He said you ain't seen nothin till you're down on a muffin
Then you're sure to be a'changin' your ways
I met a cheerleader was a real young bleeder
All the times I could reminisce
Was the best things in lovin' with her sister and her cousin
So I gave her just a little kiss a'like this

In the attic lights
Voices scream
Nothing's seen
Real's a dream

Every time when I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by, like dusk to dawn
Isn't that the way
Everybody's got the dues in life to pay

Howard said...

Blogger mccullough said...
Nevermind and Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik were released on the same day in 1991. Those two albums have held up well.

Ten by Pearl Jam was released a month earlier.

jr565 said...

I never heard Pet Sounds when it was out (wasn't born yet) and didn't really get into the Beach Boys till only a decade or so when they rereleased pet sounds as a remastered version with bonus cuts. I had heard the hits from it prior, obviously, but hadn't known much about the album except that it was considered a classic. And was the Beatles favorite album of the Beach Boys and influenced Rbuber Soul, or Revolver, or whichever Beatles album they were working on at the time.
Then I finally heard it and it was....ok.
A few great songs, a few weaker songs, not much of a concept album. How was this a masterpiece.
I've since gone on to hear it a few more times and it has grown on me a lot. But it's still not Rubber Soul.