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May 3, 2012 / jhsaeger

Mojo’s Pet Project

    Aside from being an outstanding music publication, the U.K. music magazine Mojo is known for the CD samplers that come attached with each issue, where a wide array of musicians cover a particular artist or theme. For its most recent issue, the magazine enlisted an eclectic bunch to reinterpret one of contemporary music’s true masterpieces, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, to record Pet Sounds: Revisited.
    Originally released on May 16, 1966, Pet Sounds was Brian Wilson’s self-imposed response to one of The Beatles’ own fine artistic moments, Rubber Soul. Strangely enough, the record never slid into the number one slot on the record charts, peaking at number two in the U.K. and topping out at number ten on record charts in the United States.
     As is usually the case in these sorts of cover projects, there were some interesting interpretations – some bold, some safe, some hits, and some misses. The best of the cover on the record was The Sand Band’s very enjoyable take on “That’s Not Me,” although I  do find it ironic that a band from Liverpool would place such a terrific cover on Pet Soundsdecades after the Beatles-Beach Boys rivalry.
    One of the most interesting covers came from the Neil Cowley Trio’s approach to the instrumental “Let’s Go Away for Awhile.” The group’s piano-dominated cover gave the song a bit of a jazzier approach that served as a well-played change of pace from the remaining tracks on the project. Other well-done songs include: Les Liminanas’ “I Know There’s An Answer” and The Superimposers’ “Trombone Dixie,” which was originally left off of the record in 1966, but was included on a reissue of the record in 1990.
     The biggest disappointment on Pet Sounds: Revisited came from American band The Flaming Lips, who butchered one of Brian Wilson’s finest songs, “God Only Knows.” Long After Dark is all for taking bold, ambitious takes on a song, as when they are construed well enough they can lead to some of the most interesting covers. To put it lightly, the band put the track through a sonic meat grinder that could only make sense after copious amounts of LSD, an approach that would have been more appropriate in 1966.
     Another odd moment is the Jeffrey Lewis/Wooden Wand/Janet Simpson cut of “I’m Waiting for the Day,” which was backtracked by a monologue on the history of Pet Sounds. I failed to get it as a good idea. 

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