Rock 'N Roll Case Study: REMEMBER THE ZOO? – Rare Beach Boys album or hoax?
Whilst reading the book, SMiLE, SUN, SAND & PET SOUNDS for review in this issue, I came across two articles which mentioned a “rare” Beach Boys album which was never issued. No, I’m not talking about SMiLE, but rather REMEMBER THE ZOO? which supposedly evolved into the PET SOUNDS album. I was curious; why had I NEVER heard this title mentioned in any of the many Beach Boys biographies that adorn my shelf? Especially with the release of the Pet Sounds box set and the renewed interest in the album, REMEMBER THE ZOO? get NO mention. I searched the internet, only finding two references to this “album”. One was in the article MEMOIRS OF A 3-YEAR OLD ROCK AND ROLL WRITER-HOW I CAME TO MEET BRIAN WILSON AND WHAT HAPPENED by Robert S. Levinson. The other was in a description of the PET SOUNDS album at, which pretty much rehashed everything in the SMiLE, SUN, SAND & PET SOUNDS article, but curiously added that an album cover was designed for REMEMBER THE ZOO? showing Brian’s two dogs Banana and Louie.

Stephen J. McParland graciously granted me permission to reprint the REMEMBER THE ZOO? article in its entirety. I’ve followed the original article by an analysis by me.

An excerpt from the book "SMiLE, SUN, SAND & PET SOUNDS"
compiled by Stephen J. McParland © 1998

Right: NO, this is not the cover of the so-called "lost" REMEMBER THE ZOO? It is just a parody.

I must admit that I was very impressed by the treatise on the PET SOUNDS project by Dwight Cavanaugh. All those great musicians and friends. However, the use of the title REMEMBER THE ZOO caught me a little unawares because I understood that to be the title of another project of Brian’s that I was privy to.

The fact is, Brian actually recorded the basic backing tracks that surfaced on PET SOUNDS for an album that WAS to be called REMEMBER THE ZOO? Many of the songs scheduled for inclusion on this album did not appear on PET SOUNDS at all, and those that did were changed so drastically that they were hardly recognisable.

Before I go into details concerning some of the songs I remember, I must mention that Tony Asher had absolutely no involvement at all with REMEMBER THE ZOO?

What happened was that after Brian finished the tracks and vocals (all his), he became unhappy with the lyrics (all his). Therefore, he reworked the backing tracks, altering them constantly until he was satisfied and happy with the “adult” feel of the music. Then he called upon Tony to help him lyrically. Some of those altered songs resurfaced on PET SOUNDS, some were utilised in the lead up to Brian’s SMiLE project, and some remain to this day unused.

The concept that became REMEMBER THE ZOO? surfaced as early as late 1964 during the TODAY sessions; particularly the ballads that fleshed out side two. In fact, the song In The Back Of My Mind that found its way onto the TODAY album, was not intended to appear on that album at all. It was going to be shelved and utilised (in a very much altered form) for REMEMBER THE ZOO? Similarly, Let Him Run Wild (off SUMMER DAYS), The Little Girl I Once Knew, Trombone Dixie, Pet Sounds and I’m Waiting For The Day were all scheduled for inclusion on REMEMBER THE ZOO?

Actually, I’m Waiting For The Day was first conceived during the TODAY sessions and kept by Brian. It was then altered for REMEMBER THE ZOO? and changed again for PET SOUNDS.

Right: The real deal- the one and ONLY Beach Boys classic, PET SOUNDS!

The same was true with the song In My Childhood that eventually became You Still Believe In Me. It was originally earmarked to appear on REMEMBER THE ZOO?, as was the tune I’m In Great Shape, which Brian also called Friday Night. An early version was recorded late in 1965 with Little Girl I Once Knew. Both songs were similarly uptempo and featured a carnival organ accompaniment. Neither recording has seen the light of day since, although part of I’m in Great Shape did finally evolve into an almost completely different song that was used as the B-side of Brian’s Love And Mercy solo single of some years ago. Lindsey Buckingham provided the new lyrics.

Another REMEMBER THE ZOO? song was a crazy thing called Teeter-Totter Love that Brian later re-recorded with some elderly gent called Jasper. I can’t remember his last name. I only met him once. I think he was a photographer.

The majority of the material for REMEMBER THE ZOO? was recorded during and just after the PARTY album sessions. For those of you who thought that PET SOUNDS was the “link” album to SMiLE; I’m sorry, because you have been mislead. To my knowledge, REMEMBER THE ZOO? was to be issued on the heels of the PARTY set, with the first single being The Little Girl I Once Knew. IT was really the link album to PET SOUNDS.

I still believe that if Brian had released REMEMBER THE ZOO? in between the PARTY album and PET SOUNDS, PET SOUNDS would have been accepted more readily by the public and fans alike as a natural musical progression.

Because REMEMBER THE ZOO? had a commercial feel to it halfway between SUMMER DAYS and PET SOUNDS, in my opinion (and Brian’s at the time) it would have been a high chart album. The Little Girl I Once Knew was a great example of the type of musical energy the album contained.

As I mentioned earlier, the reason Brian shelved the album was not so much musically, but he wanted a more “adult” theme woven lyrically throughout the songs. As a result, he re-worked many of the tracks, adding new songs, and deleting others. Then he called in Tony Asher to transfer his thoughts to music for the final visualisation of PET SOUNDS.

The track listing of songs (to the best of my recollection) for REMEMBER THE ZOO? included In the Back Of My Mind; Let Him Run Wild; Summer Means New Love (aka Heartbeat); The Little Girl I Once Knew; Trombone Dixie (complete with Brian’s lyrics); In My Childhood (aka You Still Believe In Me); Pet Sounds (complete with Brian’s lyrics); I’m waiting For The Day; I’m In Great Shape (aka Friday Night); Teeter-Totter Love; Tones (the only instrumental of the set) and Remember the Zoo?

Originally, the title track was envisioned as the odd/strange song to end the album, and it was extremely weird for its time in much the same way as Tomorrow Never Knows was the weird closer on the Beatles’ REVOLVER album.

As a song, Remember the Zoo? had a very melancholy feeling to it and featured many different animal noises in the backing track. These had been tape-looped and played backwards. There was a version without any animal noises.

If REMEMBER THE ZOO? as a concept had been released as hoped in early 1966, PET SOUNDS, I am sure, would have been more easily accepted, because REMEMBER THE ZOO? rolled the commercial productions of SUMMER DAYS, the fun of PARTY, and the advanced production found on PET SOUNDS, all together into one unusual, but commercially sounding album. So there you have it.


My belief that REMEMBER THE ZOO? is a hoax, results from three questions:

1. Why the anonymous author?
The first thing that set off the hoax-warning alarms was the author of this piece. It is simply credited to “The Correct Perspective”. I asked Stephen McParland (the compiler of the book SMiLE, SUN, SAND & PET SOUNDS) about the identity of the author of this piece. He told me that the “The Correct Perspective” was an individual who used to send in articles and that the letters were postmarked Los Angeles, but he never did find out who it was.

SMiLE fanatics who frequent the Smile Shop Message Board might remember an anonymous poster who went by the moniker the “Bellagio Insider”. The “insider” knew enough facts to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes for a brief period, claiming to have been part of Brian Wilson’s entourage during the recording of SMiLE. He was very convincing and spread bogus information about the SMiLE album.

2. Why is there NO mention of this “lost” album in any of the hardcopy books on the Beach Boys?
Sure, I found a couple of mentions of this album on the internet, but we all know how reliable the internet is?! However, other than a mention in SMiLE, SUN, SAND & PET SOUNDS, I found NO other mention of this title in any of the Brian Wilson/Beach Boys books in my collection. My personal opinion is that “The Correct Perspective” read about REMEMBER THE ZOO? in the article: MEMOIRS OF A 3-YEAR OLD ROCK AND ROLL WRITER-HOW I CAME TO MEET BRIAN WILSON AND WHAT HAPPENED by Robert S. Levinson. He/she then used an active imagination to “create” a “lost” album of the Beach Boys.

Rumors of this kind were once rampant in the Beatles bootleg circles. At one time the 1967 parody song, “The L.S. Bumblebee” was erroneously credited to John Lennon, the rumor went on to claim that it was a “lost” Sgt. Pepper out-take. Another rumor had the last song that the Beatles recorded as being the 1970 tune, “Have You Heard The Word?” with the Beatles and the Bee Gees (no less) collaborating on this song! Both of these show how a little rumor can spread to being a so-called “fact”.

3. Why do the recording dates of the songs not match up with the claims?
Although I’m a novice when it comes to Beach Boys session logs, it is not too hard to see that the claims of this article do not stand up to a simple timeline. It is a documented fact that Peter Asher joined the PET SOUNDS project in mid-autumn of 1965. However, the session logs say that basically only Sloop John B had been recorded (instrumentally in July of 1965) before Asher came on board. Trombone Dixie and Pet Sounds (aka Run James Run) were first recorded in November of 1965. In My Childhood (aka You Still Believe In Me) wasn’t recorded until January of 1966. Additionally, three of the songs in the so-called album lineup were SMiLE era recordings, dating from late 1966 to early 1967. [I’m In Great Shape (Oct 17, 1966); I’m In Great Shape/Friday Night (Nov 29, 1966); Teeter-Totter Love (Jan 25, 1967; Feb 12, 1967); Tones (Mar 13 & 15, 1967)] If these were all re-recordings, where are the session logs for the originals? The anonymous author simply states that Brian, “re-worked many of the tracks, adding new songs, and deleting others.” How convenient, but where are the facts? Also, what about the claimed song, Remember the Zoo? Again, there seems to be NO hard evidence to support any of these claims.

With these three questions in mind, this article about REMEMBER THE ZOO? can only be regarded as a fictional flight of fancy. Sure, it is interesting in a "fan-fiction" sort of way, but it should not be passed off as FACT!

Credits and Sources:

A special thanks to Stephen McParland for granting us permission to reprint excerpts from his book, SMiLE, SUN, SAND & PET SOUNDS!

For more information on SMiLE, SUN, SAND & PET SOUNDS:
Click here to go to the CM Music web page

Click here to read the text on the web