Best Mono "Pet Sounds"?

The stereo mix of Pet Sounds issued on SACD by Mobile Fidelity and on vinyl by Capitol a few years ago is interesting and was well done, but Brian mixed it and intended it to be listened to in mono, which is how it was originally released back in 1966.

Finding a clean, quiet original isn't easy and the prices for sealed originals are up there well into triple and even four digits. But Capitol's vinyl back then wasn't exceptional so I'd rather have a play graded one than take a chance on a "sealed" copy—as if shrink wrapping machines aren't easily employed on opened copies!

However, back in 1972, Warner Brothers released So Tough(2MS 2083) by Carl and the Passions on The Beach Boys' Brother Records. It was the Beach Boys' eighteenth studio album. The group was minus Brian for most of the sessions and included South Africans Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar. It didn't chart well and was poorly received by the rock press. It was recorded in "ambient stereo" like Sunflower, the first Beach Boys album on Brother Records. Play either back through a surround sound system set to Dolby Pro Logic and you'll have a good time!

However, Warner Brothers decided to issue it as a double LP set, with the second LP being a mono version of Pet Sounds! For my money, it's the best Pet Sounds. It was mastered at Artisan in Los Angeles and while the 1995 DCC Compact Classics version cut by Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman and pressed on 180g RTI vinyl is very good, I think the version accompanying So Tough cut back in 1972 sounds more transparent and wide open than the one done when the tape was twenty three years older.

Copies of the twofer go for well under $50!

deckeda's picture

Although not the mono mix, I really like the 24/192 version is now selling, for the very reasons you mention. There's a smoothness both the DCC LP and CD have but they aren't necessarily my favorites anymore.

I always keep an eye out for the 2-fer but haven't actively sought it out.

Paul Boudreau's picture

It was once my only version of PS, after my original copy from close to when it came out  went missing.  I must have nearly a dozen different versions now, mono and stereo, vinyl and digital, but I think I'll go back to the two-fer for a listen.  One version I don't have is the brown-cover one, which I believe came out near the same time that the two-fer did.

Here's one on eBay:

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes I forgot to mention the brown cover edition issued by WB/Brother around the same time as the twofer. It's the same pressing and equally good. I've got one of those too...

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes I forgot to mention the brown cover edition issued by WB/Brother around the same time as the twofer. It's the same pressing and equally good. I've got one of those too...

Paul Boudreau's picture

to the two-fer edition again, after a scrub on the Nitty Gritty 1.5 (probably its first cleaning since the mid-'80s).  It does sound great and it was an emotional experience as it always is, esp. with a decent system. 

Come to think of it, it's the only LP I've listened to continuously since I was 13 or 14 - whew.  I can't really compare it sonically to the DCC, the original copy I have, the Japanese red-vinyl reissue and all the rest since that would mean listening to the music over and over, which I try not to do for fear of "wearing it out" in my mind.

I remember in the early days wondering, once I was past the total-junk "clamshell" days, why it sounded so murky.  With my gear getting better and better over the years plus some additional information on the recording, the dual nature of it, if I could put it that way, became clear:  Musicians in a big room with singers in a (presumably) smaller space added later.  Brian's brain...

mauidj's picture

How does it compare to the 1996 CD box set which has a stereo and mono version?

Michael Fremer's picture

That set is very, very well done.... but IMO nothing beats AAA vinyl....

mauidj's picture

I'm with you there Michael...but nice to know I've got a good alternative until I can find a really good condition vinyl version.

nogan's picture

I love these best sounding version articles. I found a NM- copy of this twofer on discogs for under $20. It's on its way can't wait to hear it. 

John G's picture

Have you heard the recent Capitol Vaults mono Pet Sounds?  It's not as good as the twofer, but it's not bad for the money and includes the original inner sleeve and artwork. 

rl1856's picture

Boy  does it sound nice!   MUCH better than the premium gold cd version I have listened to for years.   I can pick out individual voices in the harmonies, unique instrumental flourishes I never heard before or were buried in the mix, and I can follow the bass line in many tracks.   And best of all only $15 bucks via EBay and in NM condition!    Yes I'm happy.   

HiFiMark's picture

Bought a VG++ copy of the twofer for $40... impulsive and in hindsight dumb.

Just found a sealed copy at Amoeba Hollywood for, wait for it...


Play the mint copy, feel lucky.  It's really good.

Look at VG++ copy and feel dumb.

Perhaps the big brother gets some BB vinyl for Christmas this year.

Kurt's picture

Thanks for this tip. I just picked up a "NM" copy on eBay for $13.50. Looking forward to hearing it.

ginnieworld's picture

amazing it is and enjoyed the entire read, thanks for sharing the information.