Concert Preview

Hitting the Wall (of Sound)

Seattle Rock Orchestra pays tribute to Phil Spector and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds on Nov 13.

By Clancey Denis November 11, 2010

The last time we heard from Scott Teske and his all-volunteer Seattle Rock Orchestra they were channeling David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. These days they’re paying homage to two other rock Hall of Famers— Phil Spector and the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson —in a performance of Wall of Sound hits and the entirety of Wilson’s 1966 Pet Sounds at the Moore on Saturday.

So…why Pet Sounds? Why now? For one thing, Teske likes it, and he’s in charge. “Pet Sounds is such a gorgeous album, it’s so orchestral,” he says. “It seemed like a really fun and fitting show to do.” Teske tries not to stray too far from the original material—songs like “Sloop John B,” “God Only Knows,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”—and Pet Sounds is a perfect fit for his 100+-member ensemble to cover.

It’s also easy to forget that before the two murder trials, grizzly mug shots and larger-than-life hairstyles, Spector was the producer of the 1960s. He worked with everyone from Ike and Tina to the Ramones to John Lennon, and his Wall of Sound production technique—using many musicians to create dense, layered recordings reminiscent of orchestral arrangements—influenced some of biggest musical names of the era.

Cue Brian Wilson, an artist also remembered for all the wrong reasons. While he spent most of the early 1970s in bed famously overindulging in food and drugs, Pet Sounds, greatly influenced by Spector’s lush technique, is widely regarded as one of the best pop recordings of all time. “[Spector] really sets the stage for Pet Sounds; Brian Wilson was so inspired by Phil,” Teske says. “You can hear the continuity of the orchestration and rhythms; you can hear where Brian Wilson took that style and added more complexity and subtlety. It’s like the evolution of his technique.”

Seattle Rock Orchestra plays the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds at the Moore Theatre on Saturday, November 13. Tickets are $18-$20. They’ll play Radiohead on February 19, and Queen on May 21.

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