Surfer Girl is the third studio album by Americanrock band the Beach Boys and their second longplayer in 1963. This was the first album by the Beach Boys for which Brian Wilson was given full production credit, a position Wilson would maintain until the end of the sessions for Smile in 1967. Surfer Girl is also the title of an unrelated 1973 compilation album released by US budget label Pickwick Records, repackaging early 1960s Beach Boys tracks.
Surfer Girl reached number seven in the US during a chart stay of 56 weeks. In the UK, the album was released in spring 1967 and reached number 13.
Brian Wilson himself turns in, along with, variously, Mike Love, Gary Usher and Roger Christian's help, some of his most cherished songs. The title track, a number 7 US hit, was the first song Brian had ever composed, at the age of 19, using "When You Wish Upon a Star" as a guide while writing it. As a ballad, it was a risky move for a single, but its obvious quality overcame any potential commercial risks. Its flip-side, "Little Deuce Coupe", proved to be The Beach Boys' most successful B-side, reaching US number 15 and becoming a hot rod staple. It also continued the band's current trend of putting a surf-related song on the A-side of singles, and car songs on the B-side. "Catch a Wave" featured Mike Love's sister, Maureen, on harp, while "The Surfer Moon" was the first Beach Boys song to have a string arrangement. "In My Room" was perhaps Brian Wilson's first personal song, a reflection on having a place to go to feel a sense of security and safety from the stress of one's life. Despite some slight material ("South Bay Surfer", "Boogie Woodie"), it was clear that Surfer Girl was a significant step forward for The Beach Boys - and the first of many.
"South Bay Surfer" is co-credited to Al Jardine, who had rejoined The Beach Boys in the summer of 1963 in a limited capacity and does not appear on the album cover.
The instrumental track for "The Surfer Moon" (Brian's first known use of strings) was recorded (as "The Summer Moon") in early May for an extra-BB act he was recording, Bob & Vikki, but this version was never released, although an acetate exists. Bob was Bob Norberg, Brian's room mate in 1962.
The recording date of July 16 assigned the titles not previously released as a single is not so much questionable as almost certainly impossible. There is documentary proof (a tape box label) that "Surfers Rule", "South Bay Surfer" and "Boogie Woodie" were indeed recorded on that date at Western, and it's noticeable that whilst Mike Love's lead vocals for "Hawaii" and "Catch a Wave" are hampered by a heavy cold, his other leads on the album are fine. Further, Alan Jardine is known to have played or sung on four tracks - bass on "Boogie Woodie", "Surfer's Rule" & "Catch a Wave" and vocals on "In My Room" - but not the others, while Hal Blaine contributed to "Our Car Club" (originally recorded for The Honeys as "Rabbit's Foot") and "Hawaii". Thus there must have been at least four sessions for the album tracks, but as the AFM documentation is missing, confirmation is lacking
Coming after their breakthrough Surfin' U.S.A. album, Surfer Girl hit number seven in the US (where it went gold) and, later in 1967, number thirteen in the UK.
Catch a Wave and Hawaii have often been played together as a medley, while Little Deuce Coupe has been played as part of the car medley. When Brian Wilson was not touring with the group Bruce Johnston would sing his lead on In My Room, while Al Jardine would sing his vocals on Surfer Girl.