Sponge-Headed Scienceman has a post about Pet Sounds that I can't improve on. It does provide a good example of my stupidity, however.
I was not especially a Beach Boys fan to begin with - the surfin' and singin' about vehicles and general pop-ness put me off the brand. I mean "Barabara Ann?" "Be True To Your School?" Really, now. Yet I did love harmony, and liked "Warmth of the Sun" and "I Get Around" in spite of myself.
Okay, here's the stupid part. When Pet Sounds came out, I thought they were doing an album backing up Petula Clark - God Only Knows why - (heh) who I also disliked for her pop-ness and unseriousness. (Though if you slow "Downtown" way down, like James Taylor did with "Up On The Roof," it becomes a whole different piece.) Friends whose judgment I ordinarily trusted told me This is different. You gotta hear it. But I ignored them. I was a serious, achey, Simon & Garfunkel sorta guy. A very intellectual 7th grader, well above these merely popular, toothy, cheerful groups.
I didn't know any of the story of the influence/competition with McCartney. Not until the single from the next album came out - Good Vibrations - did I suddenly get it. I was stunned with what they did vocally on that song. I loved "Heroes And Villains," another song from that album. Yet did I now go back and give Pet Sounds a try? I did not. I wasn't listening to Pet Clark for anything. I am trying to find a defense for myself here. Petula Clark released 2 albums in 66 and 67. Maybe they were on a display stand at Manchester Music together.
I have no idea when it finally dawned on me that Pet Sounds had nothing to do with Petula Clark. It was definitely a decade, and it may have been - I am not making this up - over 30 years, when I was browsing through Sponge's books and thumbing his copy of The Making Of Pet Sounds, or whatever it's called, and my second son taking some temporary interest in "Rolling Stone" and mentioning that it had made #2 under most influential rock albums.
Which strongly suggested there was no Petula Clark in there. People who sing with Harry Belafonte don't suddenly gain rock credibility by recording "It's A Sign Of The Times."
I still hate those surfin' things, though. And the striped shirts.