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Comments by Al Jardine

(Since he and Brian literally ran into each other on the football field in their days together at Hawthorne High in the late 1950s, Alan Jardine, one of the five original Beach Boys, has been singing with the Wilson clan for thirty-five years, from before "Surfin" back in 1961 all the way to today. In fact, another family member is now part of the act, because a second-generation Jardine is with the group. Alan's son Matt plays with the Beach Boys, singing the high parts and sharing the stage with his Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famer father. Alan, who has always been an integral part of the band's vocal blend, sang lead on "Help Me Rhonda," a #1 hit for the group in late spring of 1965. It topped the charts just a few weeks before the recording of "Sloop John B," which is where he begins his Pet Sounds recollections.)

ALAN: "The first thing I remember from Pet Sounds was 'Sloop John B.’ I think we were in the middle of a session at Western, it might have been for 'Let Him Run Wild' and I had some time alone with Brian. I had been studying the song 'Sloop John B' at home, and from my early experiences as a fan of the Kingston Trio, I thought that it would be a great song for us to do.

"Brian was at the piano. I asked him if I could sit down and show him something. I laid out the chord pattern for 'Sloop John B.' I said, 'Remember this song?' I played it. He said, 'I'm not a big fan of the Kingston Trio.' He wasn't into folk music. But I didn't give up on the idea. So what I did was to sit down and play it for him in the Beach Boys idiom. I figured if I gave it to him in the right light, he might end up believing in it. So I modified the chord changes so it would be a little more interesting. The original song is basically a three-chord song, and I knew that wouldn't fly. So I put some minor changes in there, and it stretched out the possibilities from a vocal point of view. Anyway, I played it, walked away from the piano and we went back to work.

The very next day, I got a phone call to come down to the studio. Brian played the song for me, and I was blown away. The idea stage to the completed track took less than 24 hours. He then lined as up one at a time to try out for the lead vocal. I had naturally assumed I would sing the lead, since I had brought in the arrangement. It was like interviewing for a job. Pretty funny. He didn't like any of us. My vocal had a much more mellow approach because I was bringing it from the folk idiom. For the radio, we needed a more rock approach. Brian and Mike ended up singing it. But I had a lot of fun bringing the idea to the band. It was very rewarding in every way but one; I was never given label credit for my contribution.

“1965 was the first year Brian wasn't on the road with us. It's almost impossible to write on the road, and he wasn't being productive. Murry had always told him it was his responsibility to be on the road, but there was no way he could tour and then come back and write and produce the records. So we split the responsibilities. His job was to produce and ours was to tour and be goodwill ambassadors to the world. Brian would literally be waiting for us to come back, and upon our return, we would rush back into the studio and learn our parts for the next record.

"In terms of the musical direction Brian was going, I always thought that 'Let Him Run Wild' was the turning point, the beginning of that phase when things began to get more complicated. Up to that point, we were still doing some of the basic tracks ourselves, but because we were hardly around, Brian was leaning more and more on 'The Wrecking Crew.’

"So anyway, back in early 1966, we were on tour. In fact, we were in Japan for most of the recording. By the time we got back, I think most of the tracks for Pet Sounds had been cut. It was time for us to do the vocals.

"The way it worked was that Brian would call each one of us, and we would report to work. I would get in the car, drive in from Manhattan Beach to the studio. I took La Brea or La Cienega Boulevard. Those were my big choices. (laughs) Usually, the vocal sessions were in the evening. We never heard the songs in advance; we didn't have a clue what was going on until we got there. I don't remember ever hearing any of the tracks until we got to the studio. Brian bounced stuff off of Carl and Dennis. He invited them up to the house. I wasn't invited to those playback 'tea' parties in the tent, I guess, because I was too normal, a goody-goody and I wouldn't smoke with them. Actually, what little time I did have, I was spending with my family.

"Anyway, the first vocal session I remember was 'Hang On To Your Ego.' We had this discussion about the lyrics. Brian was very concerned. He wanted to know what we thought about it. To be honest, I don't think we even knew what an ego was. It wasn't as if we were prepared for what was to come. But that was the first discussion.

Finally Brian decided, 'Forget it. I'm changing the lyrics. There's too much controversy.' It's funny...Now, it seems like no big deal; it just seemed like it at the time. Actually, I ended up sharing the lead on both 'Ego' and 'I Know There's An Answer.’

"The way a vocal session would work is that Brian would invite you into the booth to hear the track; then we would work on the parts. We would just go to the piano and start working from there. Get a sense of where the parts were, share ideas, throw parts back and forth. Toss in an idea, Brian would say, 'Great, do that! We helped each other.

"Carl and I would generally be in the same vicinity. Usually, I sang the part above Carl; sometimes, we would switch. Brian would be on top, Mike on bottom. Dennis wasn't singing very much. Brian would give him cameo parts. Dennis probably felt he would like to sing more, but he was an extrovert and singing meant being indoors, 12-15 hours a day. Bruce Johnston began singing with us about this time and helped to form the quartet around which the vocals emerged.

"Getting five people around a microphone was in itself a challenge. We split up in groups of three or four around  one microphone, and put Mike on a separate microphone. That gave us separation of voices. Lead vocals would be added later. There was already a lot of instrumentation, and generally, only four background voices were needed with some notable exceptions like the dynamic vocal arrangement on 'Wouldn't It Be Nice,’ [Listen to the 'vocals only' version on this set, and you can hear the layer upon layer of vocal harmonies on the bridge section in five parts.]

"At the vocal sessions, there was so much good tension. At any one time, you would have four out of five of us get our parts just fine, and there would be one who would screw up. But it wouldn't be the same person each time. Then the next take, he would get it right, but somebody else would get it wrong. Kind of like the chaos theory at work. The more people you have in a given situation, the more chance there is for error. Then, there would be the magic moment when it all came together, and then you had your take.

"The felt and unspoken tension would well up inside of you, so if we lost concentration, anything would break us up. We laughed a lot...at nothing. Sometimes, Mike would get pissed off and leave. In terms of our vocals, while some were very simplistic, others were enormously complicated, and we would spend all night getting it right.

"At the time, I don't think we were worrying about doing those songs live, because just the doing of it in the studio was such an immense task that I think it precluded at least myself from wondering 'How are we going to do it on the road?’ It didn't occur to me; just getting it on tape was enough of an accomplishment. Then, when it came time to do the songs live, we just figured out how to do it, with the instruments available to us.

'At the time, we all had assumed 'Good Vibrations' was going to be on the album, but Brian decided to hold it out. It was a judgment call on his part; we felt otherwise but left the ultimate decision to him."


"One of my, pardon the expression, pet peeves is that album cover. Why the San Diego Zoo? It was too obvious. It looks like a bunch of people at the zoo. It doesn't do the music justice.

"Capitol wasn't happy with Pet Sounds. They didn't want to hear anything that departed from the formula! It's true the music and lyrics represented such a rapid spurt of growth for us. Up until then, it was just two or three minute 'love interest' 32-bar tunes about fun in the sun, girls and cars. Pet Sounds was just such a leap. At the time, though, it was hard for us, because Capitol treated it with indifference.

"Looking back now, I feel like one of those session musicians you've interviewed for this booklet who don't necessarily remember the names of the songs because when they cut 'em, they didn't even have titles or lyrics. For me, when I think about Pet Sounds, I have to stop and appreciate that body of work for what it is, because we were recording the Smile project within the same time-frame, and they all start to run together.

"When I listen to it now, I realize how incredible it is. We spent so much time perfecting the vocals that I think I got turned off of the album, just by the sheer volume of work we did on it, But I'm proud that it has it stood the test of time, and with this release, it will be spotlighted. Obviously, I'm quite honored at being involved in such a project. It feels great to be part of it."

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