THE BARGAIN BUY: The Beach Boys; Surfin' Safari/Surfin' USA

 |   |  1 min read

Beach Boys: Lonely Sea
THE BARGAIN BUY: The Beach Boys; Surfin' Safari/Surfin' USA

While sensible folk agree that Brian Wilson was a song craftsman and produced work of genius in the mid Sixties -- the period which is one of the focal points of the current film Love and Mercy -- everyone has to begin somewhere, although it's fashionable to dismiss their surf albums at the start of their career.

Critics don't surf, huh?

And the clothes didn't ever look cool, and haven't dated well.

But on these two albums from '62 and '63 respectively you can hear why, soon enough, Wilson would be able to work so well with the Wrecking Crew studio musicians who would realise his greatest work like Pet Sounds and so on.

The Wilson originals -- some co-written with BBoy Mike Love and others with Gary Usher -- show just how adeptly he incorporated Fifties doo-wop and Chuck Berry guitar-driven rock'n'roll into the same musical space. It was only right that Chuck should get co-credit with With Wilson for Surfin' USA because it is a rewrite of Sweet Little Sixteen.

They would also cover Eddie Cochran's Summertime Blues, Dick Dale's Miserlou and Let's Go Trippin', and Bill Doggett's Honky Tonk. None of them match the originals, but the band was -- even at that early stage -- stretching themselves.

Wilson's songs like Cuckoo Clock sound inane these days but they are clever constructions. 

beachboysNo one is going to praise the lyrics across these two albums which are simply boy/girl, cars, surfing and fun in the sun, but the way the voices meld and move apart, the smart lead guitar parts (shared by Brian and brother Carl) and brother Dennis' tight drumming made for songs which were almost the emblem of Southern Californian pop perfection.

And on songs like Farmer's Daughter, the delicate Lonely Sea, the falsetto Lana and even the tight Noble Surfer, Brian Wilson reaches into other areas which would provide him with a path away from the beach and into the studio.

Little wonder these songs were so often copied and mimicked by other surf bands at the time, both in the USA and abroad.

JB_logoThese two albums as a set are just $15 at JB Hi-Fi stores here and -- because of that film -- we thought we'd bring them to your attention.

Yes, they are naff in places . . . but genius doesn't just emerge overnight. Here was where it got its first workout, and if you listen without prejudice you can sense it coming on.  

Share It

Your Comments

con fowler - Jun 29, 2015

My son, at his wedding in the weekend, started the rocking with: "Wouldn't it be Nice."
A well brought up lad.
And this is a funny watch if you havent seen it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-0CS-T1HUQ

MickJ - Jun 29, 2015

These first two Beach Boys albums have their moments and by albums 3 (Surfer Girl) and 4 (Little Duece Coupe) they were hitting it out of the park. Better than the Beatles at the comparable stage...and the Beatles are my favourite band.

Graham Dunster - Jun 30, 2015

Looking forward to the film. The Beach Boys' music developed incredibly quickly, obvious parallels with the Beatles, growing up in public. These early tunes are often simple but to we non-songwriters they remain minor works of art. Great harmonies too.

post a comment

More from this section   The Bargain Buy articles index

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Beatles; The Ed Sullivan Shows (DVD)

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Beatles; The Ed Sullivan Shows (DVD)

By now most people would concede February 9, 1964 was a turning point in global culture. That was the night the Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show and 73 million Americans (out of a population... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: Margie Joseph; Original Album Series (Atlantic/Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Margie Joseph; Original Album Series (Atlantic/Rhino)

The point of the on-going weekly Bargain Buy suggestion is not just to direct readers to fine music going cheap, but to also encourage you to take a chance on an unknown or only vaguely familiar... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Princess Chelsea: Aftertouch (Lil' Chief)

Princess Chelsea: Aftertouch (Lil' Chief)

The longtime joke about rock bands was they had three years to write their first album and three months to write their second (which would have some new songs and the left-overs from the first).... > Read more

CHARLES LLOYD; ARROWS INTO INFINITY, a doco by DOROTHY BARR and JEFFREY MORSE

CHARLES LLOYD; ARROWS INTO INFINITY, a doco by DOROTHY BARR and JEFFREY MORSE

A very odd thing happened a few years ago when I was offered an interview with the great jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd in advance of a New Zealand concert. I agreed immediately because after... > Read more