SURFIN' SAFARI (1962)
Ten Little Indians
Little Girl (You're My Miss America)
Heads You Win - Tails I Lose
The Beach Boys' debut album sounds very primitive now, especially compared to what main Beach Boy Brian Wilson would be doing in the studio only two or three short years later. Of course, one could say that's part of its charm. Sparse garage surf rock, Surfin' Safari may not be a great album, but the title track and '409' are early sixties classics, and Dennis Wilson imbues 'Little Girl' (You're My Miss America)' with simple teen longing. 'County Fair' and 'Chug-a-Lug' are silly, rough little ditties that I like to listen to every now and then. Not a bad start, but there'd be much, much better things to come.
Let's Go Trippin'
The Beach Boys' second album kicks off with
their first truly fantastic song, the title track, 'Surfin' USA', where Brian took Chuck Berry's
'Sweet Little Sixteen' and made into an anthem of surfing. Before, it was a safari, now, as Brian's falsetto wails on the chorus everybody's gone surfin'. The other big single on the album is also the band's first truly fantastic car song, 'Shut Down', a charging, exciting number. Even some of the lesser known album tracks are good, like 'Farmer's Daughter' and 'Lonely Sea', both lovely ballads featuring sweet Brian leads. The latter tune is the first time Brian departed from surf, fun and cars fare for a more serious, forlorn feel. It wouldn't be the last time. The rest of the album is, as with Surfin' Safari, packed with lightweight fun ditties and surf instrumentals. A step up from the first album.
Catch A Wave
The Surfer Moon
South Bay Surfer
The Rocking Surfer
Little Deuce Coupe
In My Room
Our Car Club
Your Summer Dream
The first Beach Boys album to have the credit,
'produced by Brian Wilson' (though he was probably the producer on the first two albums too), this is a good, good album. Only a couple filler tracks. The title track is a stone cold classic, featuring typically beautiful harmonies, Brian's falsetto lead vocal and a simple melody derived from 'When You Wish
Upon a Star'. One of the band's most loved ballads. 'Catch A Wave' is next, and it is, in my opinion, the band's greatest surfing song, with Mike and Brian goading the listener on to "try the greatest sport around" over a glistening harp and crashing cymbals that mimic the surf. 'Little Deuce Coupe' is also the band's best car song, where Mike sings praises over his '32 Ford Coupe over a shuffling track. Another classic tune. And then there's 'In My Room', a stunning ballad packed with harmonies where Brian continues his more insular themes from the previous album's 'Lonely Sea'. Easily the finest tune on the album. The lesser known material is very strong as well, with the underrated pair, 'The Surfer Moon' and 'Your Summer Dream', two lovely, romantic ballads sung by Brian. 'Our Car Club' shows Brian really learning the ropes of the studio, featuring a deceptively simple track.
Overall, Surfer Girl is the best album the Boys had delivered thus far. Brian was just getting started.