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(Credit: Mark Spowart / Alamy)


Why 'Pet Sounds' by The Beach Boys was Tom Petty's favourite album of all time


The late Tom Petty knew from experience precisely the ingredients required to become a top-tier songwriter. For him, there was nobody more talented than The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, an artist who he once called “the greatest” and said was responsible for the best album of all time.

Wilson’s songwriting credentials don’t need a great level of introduction, he drove The Beach Boys to heights that previously hadn’t seen before, and relentlessly pushed the boundaries of musical development. Additionally, if it wasn’t for The Beatles’ competitive relationship with the Californians, they’d never have fulfilled their full potential and changed the fabric of pop forever.

Petty was a fan of both groups, but, in his view, The Beach Boys’ work aged better than The Beatles and had a timeless element that the Fab Four lacked. Admittedly, he did make the remarks in 1982, and the Liverpudlians have proven him wrong by still sounding incredibly fresh today.

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During an interview with Playboy, Petty was tasked with comparing Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It’s an age-old question, which people are still debating today and one that continues to split music lovers. “Interesting question,” Petty replied. “Well, I like both. But these days, I’d probably play Pet Sounds. I can hear Sgt. Pepper without playing it. But frankly, I don’t think it wears that well into the ’80s.”

He continued: “Pet Sounds still sounds great to me. Hell, I once heard a radio interview with Paul McCartney in which he said that after hearing Pet Sounds, he had to do something like Sgt. Pepper. He was right. Brian Wilson is the greatest. The root of his personal problem was that he did genius work and never got recognition for it from the man in the street. So he took a real artistic risk. It’s a brilliant album.”

Furthermore, Brian Wilson’s website boasts a glowing quote from Petty, who said he rates him as highly as “any composer”. Unsurprisingly, the late singer also touched on his love of Pet Sounds and claimed he doesn’t think there’s “anything better than that”.

He added: “I don’t think you’d be out of line comparing him to Beethoven, to any composer. The word genius is used a lot with Brian. I don’t know if he’s a genius or not. But I know his music is probably as good as any music you can make.”

Most music aficionados will have Pet Sounds placed on their Mount Rushmore of records, and it deserves every ounce of praise it receives. It’s an album that will still be played for hundreds of years and is the zenith of Wilson’s career.