ARTIST: The Beach Boys
TITLE: Surfer Girl
YEAR RELEASED: 1963
CHART ACTION: #7 US, #13 UK
SINGLES: Surfer Girl (#7), Little Deuce Coupe (#15) (actually the B-side to Surfer Girl)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Catch a Wave, In My Room (the B-side to a single off the next album, and it hit #23 as a B-side)
LINEUP: Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson. Hal Blaine played on some tracks, and you can definitely hear that it’s him and not Dennis on “Our Car Club”.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A big leap and bound from their first two albums. There’s still a lot of filler but there’s a lot more care and thought here and only two instrumentals.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Surfer Girl” as you know, is an absolutely gorgeous ballad. The construction and recording of that so much more sophisticated than “Surfin’ USA” or any other of their early tracks. Unlike their first two albums, it wasn’t just that track that they put care into, either.
While their first two albums had filler almost from the word go after the single, the next two tracks on this album, “Catch a Wave” and “Surfer Moon” are also exquisite productions. They are well sung and well-played given the limitations of the Beach Boys as musicians.
Then there’s “In My Room”, a stunner of longing and loneliness that was incredibly sophisticated. Any songwriter would be glad to have that in their arsenal, much less a band that was known for surfing and car ditties. That track may be among the Beach Boys best ever, including the sophisticated productions later in their career. The magic on that track starts immediately, with Brian solo, then adding Carl and Dennis one after the other until the whole group sings the chorus.
Yeah, there’s some dross here. Two instrumentals and a song based on “Old Folks at Home” Those can be exiled. This is still the best of any pre-Beatles Beach Boys album.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Mike Love had a head cold during some of the vocal sessions. You can tell during “Catch a Wave” and “Hawaii”.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some oddities, including “In My Room” sung in German, of all things.
GRADE: B: I’ve exiled three songs out of 12, but dang there’s some great stuff here.