When J.R. Jones calls the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds "the only mono record to be consistently ranked among the greatest of all time" (Rock, Etc., December 12), I wonder what he's talking about: the greatest what of all time, and ranked by whom?
If Jones means greatest rock albums, as voted on by critics for those "special" issues of Rolling Stone and Mojo, his observation is true enough but trivial. Almost every other critically acclaimed rock album was recorded in stereo, unless you want to count something like Elvis Presley's The Sun Sessions--and if you do, Jones's claim quickly falls apart.
But Jones actually appears to mean the greatest records, period. Robert Johnson, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, and Bessie Smith all recorded exclusively in mono. Jones's statement as printed implies that none of them, nor countless other early greats, made any records as widely and highly respected as Pet Sounds. Does that sound right?
Whether it's cultural chauvinism or just careless writing, flagging Jones's apparent ignorance to a general audience like the Reader's only encourages rock-crit stereotypes.