Though I’m sure someone could make the case for either REVOLVER or SGT. PEPPER’s being the first prog album, I’ve always turned to PET SOUNDS by the Beach Boys. I’m sure there’s a bit of the American in me that desires this to be so, so I can’t completely claim to be unbiased. I know English proggers–understandably–think of Prog as one of their many national gifts to the world, somewhere above the Magna Carta. And, it is! Still, it’s conceivable that it came about in California but then was perfected by the English. Maybe. Maybe not.
As Brian Wilson has noted, he found his own inspiration for the album in RUBBER SOUL by the Beatles. Is it possible the influence went both directions across the Atlantic? Most certainly.
Regardless, PET SOUNDS is fifty years old. And, what an extraordinary achievement it is. Though one might regard it somewhat probably as a Brian Wilson solo album, it came out under the name of the Beach Boys, and it carries with it many of the trademark Beach Boy sounds and touches.