Surf's Up (album)
|Studio album by The Beach Boys|
|Released||August 30, 1971|
|Studio||Sunset Sound Recorders, United Western Studios, CBS Columbia Square, and Brian Wilson's home studio, Los Angeles|
|Producer||The Beach Boys|
|The Beach Boys chronology|
|Singles from Surf's Up|
Surf's Up is the seventeenth studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released in 1971. It was met with a warm critical reception, and reached number 29 on US record charts, becoming their best performing album in years. In the UK the album peaked at number 15.
Both the album's title and cover artwork are an ironic, self-aware nod to the removedness from the band's surf rock roots. Its name was taken from the song of the same title written by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks five years earlier for the abandoned studio album Smile. Surf's Up's creative direction was largely influenced by newly employed band manager Jack Rieley, who strove to reinvent the group's image and reintegrate them back into music counter-culture. Two singles were issued in the US: "Long Promised Road" and "Surf's Up". Only the former charted, peaking at number 89.
In 2004, the album was voted 154 in Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" and ranked 61 on Pitchfork Media's "The Top 100 Albums Of The 1970s". It is listed in the musical reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
Sometime in 1969, erstwhile bandleader Brian Wilson opened a short-lived health food store called The Radiant Radish. While working there, he met journalist and radio presenter Jack Rieley. Rieley spoke with Brian for a radio interview, with the subject eventually turning to the unreleased song "Surf's Up", a track which had taken on almost mythical proportions in the underground press since the demise of the Smile album three years earlier. Brian rationalized: "It's just that it's too long. Instead of putting it on a record, I would rather just leave it as a song. It rambles. It's too long to make it for me as a record, unless it were an album cut, which I guess it would have to be anyway. It's so far from a singles sound. It could never be a single."
On August 8, 1970, Rieley offered a six-page memo ruminating on how to stimulate "increased record sales and popularity for The Beach Boys." In the fall of 1970, after the relative commercial failure of the Sunflower album, the Beach Boys hired Rieley as their manager. Rieley had impressed the band with his credentials (a supposed Peabody Award-winning stint as NBC bureau chief in Puerto Rico- later discovered to be false) and fresh ideas on how to regain respect from American music fans and critics. One of his initiatives was to encourage the band to record songs featuring more socially conscious lyrics. Rieley also insisted that the band officially appoint Carl Wilson "musical director" in recognition of the integral role he had played keeping the group together since 1967. He also requested the completion of "Surf's Up", and arranged a guest appearance at a Grateful Dead concert in April 1971 to push the Beach Boys' transition into the counter-culture.
The project was provisionally entitled Landlocked. While on a drive to meet Warner Bros. Records executive Mo Ostin, Brian suddenly remarked to Rieley: "Well, OK, if you're going to force me, I'll ... put 'Surf's Up' on the album." Rieley asked, "Are you really going to do it?" to which Brian repeated, "Well, if you're going to force me."
Music and lyrics
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2015)|
"Long Promised Road" and "Feel Flows" were Carl Wilson's first significant solo compositions; both songs were almost entirely recorded by him. "Student Demonstration Time" (essentially the R&B classic "Riot In Cell Block #9") and "Don't Go Near the Water" found Mike Love and Al Jardine eagerly embracing the group's new topical-oriented direction. Bruce Johnston's "Disney Girls (1957)" was praised by Brian for its harmonies and chords.
The Jardine/Brian composition "Take a Load Off Your Feet" was recorded in late 1969 during the Add Some Music sessions. Before being added to the record, its arrangement was altered to fit the atmosphere of the rest of the tracks.
"A Day in the Life of a Tree" was Brian's sole new contribution written for Surf's Up. The song was experimented upon for days with a harmonium, an antique pump organ, and a smaller pipe organ. Van Dyke Parks and Jardine join Rieley to sing the song's coda. According to Jardine, Rieley sang the song when "no one [else] would sing it because it was too depressing."
"Til I Die" was a song Brian had been working on since mid-1970 but initially rejected by group members. He spent weeks arranging the song, using an electronic drum machine and crafting a harmony-driven, vibraphone and organ-laden background.
Brian initially refused to work on "Surf's Up", now the eponymous track of the band's new album. In light of this, Carl overdubbed a new vocal in the song's first part, the original backing track dating from November 1966. The second movement was composed of a December 1966 solo piano demo recorded by Brian, augmented with vocal and Moog synthesizer overdubs. To the surprise and glee of his associates, Brian emerged near the end of the sessions to aid his brother and engineer Stephen Desper in the completion of the coda, and contributing the song's missing, final lyric. The newly recorded lead vocals—sung by Al Jardine over a choral backdrop featuring all the Beach Boys—were sped up by Desper for continuity purposes in an attempt to make them sound more like they did in 1966.
This LP was mixed for quadraphonic reproduction (also compatible for stereo). It was to be played back by using the long extinct Dynaco or EV Stereo-4 decoders. However, this recording (LP or CD) can be played back in Quad by most of today's audio-video receivers. The surround sound information can be extracted using the Dolby Pro Logic setting. The Carl and the Passions LP and some of the songs on the Sunflower LP were also mixed with this process.
The Dennis Wilson songs "4th of July" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice To Live Again" were excised from the final running order. The former was a protest song written about the Nixon administration's attempts to silence critics of the Vietnam war; the latter was a romantic ballad. Although "4th of July"'s elagaic tone and lyrical relevance made it a logical thematic choice, Rieley has claimed that it was met with a reception of "glaring envy" by Wilson's bandmates. In the case of "Wouldn't it Be Nice to Live Again", a disagreement between the middle and younger Wilson brothers resulted in the song being left off the album. Dennis wanted the song to be the final track on the album, segueing out of "'Til I Die", while Carl felt "Surf's Up" should have that place. As a consequence, Dennis took the song out of the album's final running order.
Another song which did not make the final cut for Surf's Up was the song "H.E.L.P. Is On The Way", a song composed by Brian Wilson that was a tribute to both an L.A. restaurant of the same name and his health food store, the Radiant Radish. This song was later included on the unreleased album Adult/Child.[better source needed]
|The A.V. Club||positive|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
Surf's Up was released that August to more public anticipation than the Beach Boys had had for several years. It outperformed Sunflower commercially, reaching 29 in the US charts, becoming their best selling album in years. It was their first Top 40 album since Wild Honey, and in the UK it peaked at 15. Like Sunflower, Surf's Up was released on EMI's Stateside label internationally.
It was met with warm critical reception compounded by some FM radio exposure. Rolling Stone wrote: "the Beach Boys stage[d] a remarkable comeback ... an LP that weds their choral harmonies to progressive pop and which shows youngest Wilson brother Carl stepping into the fore of the venerable outfit." Melody Maker reviewed: "Suddenly the Beach Boys are back in fashionable favour, and they've produced an album which fully backs up all that's recently been written and said about them."
In a retrospective review, John Bush wrote "[Most of the] songs are enjoyable enough, but the last three tracks are what make Surf's Up such a masterpiece. The first, 'A Day in the Life of a Tree', is simultaneously one of Brian's most deeply touching and bizarre compositions ... The second, ' 'Til I Die,' isn't the love song the title suggests; it's a haunting, fatalistic piece of pop surrealism that appeared to signal Brian's retirement from active life. The album closer, 'Surf's Up' is a masterpiece of baroque psychedelia, probably the most compelling track from the Smile period."
|NME||United Kingdom||New Musical Express Writers Top 100 Albums||1993||46|
|Pitchfork||United States||Top 100 Albums of the 1970s||2004||61|
|Rolling Stone||Germany||500 Greatest Albums of All Time||2004||154|
|Sunday Herald||United Kingdom||The 103 Best Albums Ever, Honest||2001||*|
|1.||"Don't Go Near the Water"||Mike Love/Al Jardine||Mike Love/Al Jardine/Brian Wilson||2:39|
|2.||"Long Promised Road"||Carl Wilson/Jack Rieley||Carl Wilson||3:30|
|3.||"Take a Load Off Your Feet"||Jardine/Brian Wilson/Gary Winfrey||Brian Wilson/Jardine||2:29|
|4.||"Disney Girls (1957)"||Bruce Johnston||Bruce Johnston||4:07|
|5.||"Student Demonstration Time"||Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller/Mike Love||Love||3:58|
|1.||"Feel Flows"||C. Wilson/Rieley||C. Wilson||4:44|
|2.||"Lookin' at Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)"||Jardine/Winfrey||Jardine||1:55|
|3.||"A Day in the Life of a Tree"||B. Wilson/Rieley||Jack Rieley/Van Dyke Parks/Jardine||3:07|
|4.||"'Til I Die"||B. Wilson||C. Wilson/B. Wilson/Love||2:41|
|5.||"Surf's Up"||B. Wilson/Van Dyke Parks||C. Wilson/B. Wilson/Jardine||4:12|
- The Beach Boys
- Al Jardine – vocals
- Bruce Johnston – vocals
- Mike Love – vocals
- Brian Wilson – vocals
- Carl Wilson – vocals
- Dennis Wilson – vocals
- Additional musicians and production staff
- The Beach Boys – producer
- Stephen Desper – chief engineer and mixer
- Van Dyke Parks – vocals on "A Day in the Life of a Tree"
- Jack Rieley – backing vocals in "Surf's Up" tag, lead vocals on "A Day in the Life of a Tree"
- Ed Thrasher – original art direction
|1971||UK Top 40 Album Chart||15|
|1971||US Billboard 200 Albums Chart||29|
- US Singles
|1971||"Long Promised Road"||US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart||89|
- US AOR Tracks
|1971||"Student Demonstration Time"||US Billboard Hot AOR Track Chart||1[not in citation given]|
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- The Playlist Special, Rolling Stone
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- Carlin 2006, p. 162.
- Carlin 2006, pp. 162–163.
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- Carlin, Peter Ames (2006). Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. Rodale. ISBN 978-1-59486-320-2.
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