County Fair, the 2nd song on the Beach Boys debut album Surfin’ Safari, is one that really stands out for me. It’s a quirky little number with quite a bit of narrative from non Beach Boys members as the girlfriend and the fair stall holder.
It’s actually quite a cynical in that all it takes is for the guy with bigger muscles to come along, prove his strength by winning the girl a teddy, and then steal her away from our boy telling the tale. It reminds me of the old advertising for self-improvement equipment that would show a guy getting sand kicked in his face on the beach, only to pump himself up and return to get the girl, and seek revenge on the bully. 46 years on and there are probably a lot of young people who still feel like this!
I wonder how Ten Little Indians would be received today? Such an innocent and funny little song, the emphasis being in little at just 86 seconds!
Interestingly Brian Wilson only sang lead vocals on one song on this album, Cuckoo Clock. I had always assumed that Brian was more of a lead vocalist but I have since learned that Mike Love was more so on the first couple of albums.
As much as I enjoyed Surfin U.S.A. more to begin with, title tracks aside, there are no songs that stick out for me as much as County Fair does on Surfin’ Safari. That said, when we do bring the title tracks into the picture Surfin’ U.S.A. is one of my absolute favourite Beach Boys songs, more so that Surfin’ Safari by quite a margin.
What is starting to become clear as I look at the albums, is that the albums contained one, maybe two hits but the rest exist as album tracks for the most part. For a band that gave us Pet Sounds, arguably the greatest album ever, the Beach Boys albums seem to be known for their title tracks and little else. I must admit that I, for a long time, thought Good Vibrations was a song from Pet Sounds and I’d bet money that most people outside of the hardcore fan base have never even heard of Smiley Smile, let alone know that this is the album that Good Vibrations was finally released on – some 11 months after it was released as a single. It’s for this reason that I am so glad that I am embarking on this project and discovering the largely unknown mass of superb Beach Boys album tracks.