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Pet Sounds/On The Charts

Prior to the release of the Pet Sounds album, two singles were shipped to stores. The first "45" was "Caroline, No" [Capitol 5610], the one and only Capitol-era Brian Wilson solo single. It was released March 21 spent seven weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, three weeks in the top forty and peaked at #32.

The second single was "Sloop John B" [Capitol 5602]. It came out on March 21st, charted on April 2nd, spent six weeks in the top ten, reached a peak chart position of #3 the week of May 7th and remained on the charts for a total of eleven weeks. (NOTE: In the 1960s, all the biggest hits moved in and out of the top forty with amazing speed.)

On May 16, 1966, Capitol released Pet Sounds [T-2458]. It charted 5/28, peaked at number ten and remained on Billboard's album chart for thirty-nine weeks. It was the first album of new studio material since their first LP in 1962 that did not achieve gold record status.

In July, 1966, Capitol released Best Of The Beach Boys. It charted July 23rd, peaked at 8 and remained on Billboard's album chart for 78 weeks. With the exception of its sequel, 1967's Best Of The Beach Boys, Vol. 2 which also went gold, the Beach Boys did not earn another gold record until 1974, when another Capitol greatest hits compilation, 'Endless Summer', went to number one and became the biggest selling LP of their career,

On August 1, 1966, Capitol released "God Only Knows" backed with "Wouldn't It Be Nice" [Capitol 5706] as the third single from the album. "God Only Knows" was the "plug" side; perhaps the word "God" in the title caused programmers to flip the record over because "Wouldn't It Be Nice" became the much bigger hit spending eleven week in the Hot 100 and peaking in mid-September at #8. ''God Only Knows" briefly dented Top 40, reaching #39 the last week of September.

Timothy White

(Billboard Editor-In-Chief Timothy White is the author of The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys And The Southern California Experience [Henry Holt & Company]

TIMOTHY: "As Pet Sounds makes plain, the true brilliance of a musician is never better shown than in the unspoken aesthetic aura he brings into being. Although none of Pet Sounds' tracks explicitly state that a life without profound human connection would be intolerable, Brian Wilson is so effective in creating the fragile tone and texture of the acute loneliness that looms at the threshold of real love--or its genuine rejection--that he pinpoints that feeling like no one in popular music ever has.

"There are songs of longing in Pet Sounds, songs of anticipation, songs of anxiety, and songs of regret, and in between them are instrumentals that describe without words the ineffable transitions between the other tracks' distressed emotional states. Yet what shines brightest behind, within and above the peal of Brian's exquisite material is the presence of the thing not named: an unswayable belief in the enduring power of one's better self.

"Without this degree of candor and deep vulnerability--which combines to make palpable Brian's unconditional trust in the loving power of music--the listener could not be brought so close to the experience of heartbreak that resounds at Pet Sounds' core. There is no album in the popular canon that is more poetic in mood and intent than this one. And in sharing it with us, no artist was ever more generous with the universality of his secret self than Brian Wilson.

"Which makes it all the more shattering to realize that, when Capitol issued Best Of The Beach Boys in July 1966 as a marketing move to bypass the slow-building Pet Sounds, the sales strategy doomed any further commercial progress for Brian's masterpiece. A mere glance at the two albums' sudden shifts in fortunes on the Billboard Top LPs chart during the summer of 1966 shows the triumph of cold commercial expediency over unsuspecting creative faith.

"As Billboard's archives disclose, no projects were sacred in the plebeian pop and novelty-record dominated marketplace of the mid-60s. Let us be frank out of historical and artistic courtesy to Brian and concede that Capitol's obvious expectations as conveyed in trade circles at the time were that radio and retail would relish the proven saleability of a hits package by America's hottest rock 'n' roll act, with any less convenient product by the band duly relegated to back-of-the-bin status.

"That was then and this is now. All of us are still waiting for the day when the open heart is as valued in our culture as the open palm. Maybe now is that day when, as Brian once put it, those ravaged by disappointment 'can love again! So let us cast off the detachment or improvidence of a previous era, and celebrate the thoughtful and expansive reintroduction of this masterwork from a remarkable genius of the spirit."

"I think the British influence in American production has been stimulating... the Beatles' influence is so far-reaching that it's hard to say what their influence is to date. I think it'll show up even in the next five years."

- Brian Wilson,
October, 1965

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