The title of this post is a line from Little Deuce Coupe which was actually a B-Side to the title track of Surfer Girl, unsurprisingly called Surfer Girl! This particular line reminded me that my first car had just 4 gears, and at the tender age of 34, I feel like I’m getting old! Strangely enough I have a later Beach Boys album called Little Deuce Coupe – I’m guessing it was so popular as a B-Side they decided to release as the title track of a new album.
Compared to the first two albums, Surfin’ Safari/Surfin’ U.S.A. CD, Surfer Girl features a lot more lead vocals by Brian Wilson, and even one song where he shares lead vocals with his brother Dennis; Surfer’s Rule, which is a song I imagined to be about a rule of surfing, but is actually about surfers ruling – you follow me?
I really like this album – there’s a nice mix of ballads and faster tracks with the sublime In My Room sticking out as a favourite. There is a German version of this song included as a bonus track on this particular release and I’ve never hear the German language sounding so sweet. Though Surfer Girl is the title track I don’t think of it as anywhere as mainstream as In My Room and Little Deuce Coupe.
For a band that will always be linked with surfing, they outdo even themselves with the first 5 songs on the album being about surfing, only to be broken up by Little Deuce Coupe and in My Room before moving on to the funky Hawaii, which I really like.
The Rocking Surfer and Boogie Woodie are the two instrumentals of the album and are both really good, in fact this whole album is pretty damn great and top to bottom the best I have heard so far – remember I’m going chronologically for this project so don’t throw Pet Sounds at me yet!
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.