whose response to whom with the stones-beatles-beach boys connection

Es­ti­mated reading time is 3 min­utes.

EARLIER THIS YEAR, I posted my first Amazon re­view, this one of the Rolling Stones’ album THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST. It had the over-long and gram­mat­i­cally cum­ber­some title of “Clearly their an­swer to PET SOUNDS—or at least Good Vibrations—SGT. PEPPER is ac­tu­ally as dis­parate an ar­ti­fact as REVOLVER.”

What the title was in­tended to mean is this: SGT. PEPPER was clearly the Bea­tles’ an­swer to the Beach Boys’ PET SOUNDS and/or Good Vi­bra­tions and as an album was as eclectic and wide-ranging as REVOLVER had been. 

My re­view was written in re­sponse to sev­eral re­views of the Stones’ album on Amazon but mainly at the fact that Amazon chose to se­lect one and high­light it in their Ed­i­to­rial Re­views sec­tion, giving it con­sid­er­ably more promi­nence than any other re­view sub­mitted by an Amazon customer.


RollingStones TSMR fullcover

“Why don’t we sing this song all to­gether, open our heads let the pic­tures come. And if we close all our eyes to­gether, then we will see where we all come from.”

Sing this altogether

And it per­pet­u­ates mis­un­der­stand­ings about the album, decades after most of them have been cleared up else­where. What fol­lows is that review—which is still (for­ever?) on Amazon—fleshed out a wee bit for your reading enjoyment:

“Why do SO many re­viewers, whether pro­fes­sional or am­a­teur, feel the need to say reiterate—and here I am using re­it­erate in its full meaning: ”to state or do over again or re­peat­edly some­times with wearying ef­fect that THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST is the Stones ‘an­swer’ to SGT. PEPPER?

And, while no Stone has ever said that REQUEST was a di­rect re­sponse to SGT. PEPPER, no less an au­thority than Paul Mc­Cartney has ALWAYS claimed that SGT. PEPPER was the Bea­tles’ re­sponse to PET SOUNDS! Now, how many re­viewers would be dumb enough to dis­miss SGT. PEPPER as an “ob­vious re­sponse to PET SOUNDS” in the first sen­tence of their review?

It needs to be un­der­stood that the second half of the ’60s was a heady, com­pet­i­tive time when artists bounced floated begged bor­rowed and stole ideas off one an­other! And seem­ingly any and every type of music ever cre­ated was grist for the mill: country, folk, jazz, In­dian, vaude­ville, baroque, clas­sical, even musique con­crète.

Rather than re­duce the re­la­tion­ship of REQUEST to PEPPER to a cliché, why not just as­sume and say that vir­tu­ally EVERY record by vir­tu­ally every artist was an answer/response to a pre­vious record! Then one can stick to re­viewing the ac­tual music on the record and forget the often un­nec­es­sary comparisons.


The second half of the ’60s was a heady, com­pet­i­tive time when artists bounced floated begged bor­rowed and stole ideas off one another!


By the way, while most critics and re­viewers tend to see THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST as a bit of a bummer vibes-wise, I find it an oh-so joyful a record (‘Why don’t we sing this song all to­gether, open our heads let the pic­tures come’) that it con­verted me from a Stones-hater to a Stones-lover upon first hearing in De­cember 1967. My opinion of it has only gone UP in the in­ter­vening years!

Fi­nally, the title of this piece refers to the fact that, yes, a loose ar­gu­ment can be made that REQUEST was a re­sponse to PEPPER which is was a re­sponse to PET SOUNDS which even Brian Wilson stated was his at­tempt to top to RUBBER SOUL which is was a re­sponse to MR. TAMBOURINE MAN und so weiter.”

And so we have our Stones-Beatles-BeachBoys-Byrds con­nec­tion. This was orig­i­nally pub­lished on my other site Neal Umphred Dot Com (Au­gust 30, 2013). It can be read with an­other piece I have posted on this blog: “From But­tons To Dan­de­lions,” which began life as an ar­ticle about We Love you / Dan­de­lion, the Stones’ single that pre­ceded THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST ear­lier in 1967.




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