Surfin' Safari is the debut album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on October 1, 1962. The album peaked at number 32 in its 37-week run on the US charts. The official production credit went to Nick Venet, though it was Brian Wilson with his father Murry who contributed substantially to the album's production; Brian also wrote or co-wrote nine of its 12 tracks.
The album was preceded by two singles: "Surfin'" and "Surfin' Safari", which charted at numbers 75 and 14, respectively. The success of "Surfin' Safari" helped secure a full album for the group while an additional single, "Ten Little Indians", was issued, charting at number 49.
The group is mainly comprised of people from Hawthorne, California, named Wilson … there’s Brian, Dennis, Carl, and their Dad, Murry Wilson, a long-time songwriter who acts as manager for the outfit. Then there’s the boys' talented cousin, Mike Love … who sings both the lead tenor and deep bass parts in their unusual vocal arrangements. … [and] young David Marks, a neighbor of the Wilsons who plays a driving rhythm guitar. Brian, the oldest of the Wilson boys, is the group’s leader and vocal arranger. Carl is the very accomplished lead guitarist, while brother Dennis sings and plays the drums. None of them, incidentally, had any formal training, but they all grew up in an atmosphere where music was a regular part of their lives.
— excerpt taken from the album's original liner notes
In the autumn of 1961, cousins Brian Wilson and Mike Love composed a song on surfing, titled "Surfin'" at the behest of Brian's younger sibling, Dennis Wilson. They quickly formed a band, bringing in the youngest Wilson brother Carl on lead guitar and Brian's high school friend Al Jardine on rhythm guitar. Brian took up bass, Dennis the drums and Mike would be the frontman, while they all would harmonize vocals arranged by Brian. Released that December, produced by Hite Morgan, and backed by "Luau", "Surfin'" made number 75 in the US Top 100 in early 1962.
Father Murry Wilson became the band's manager. He submitted a professionally recorded demo tape to Capitol Records that spring. The Beach Boys were signed and "Surfin' Safari" b/w "409" (from the April 1962 demo tape) was released as a single that June. Al Jardine left the band after the recording of the song "Surfin'" but before the demo session and album session, replaced by Wilson-family friend David Marks— Jardine would rejoin to form a six-member band in the fall of 1963, appearing on the third studio album. With both "Surfin' Safari" and "409" becoming hits (the former reaching US number 14), Capitol Records approved a full album. Brian Wilson, who regularly collaborated with Mike Love and Gary Usher, contributed the songs that made up the bulk of the LP.
The second single, "Ten Little Indians", was less successful, reaching only number 49, with Brian feeling that "Chug-A-Lug" would have made a better follow-up. Though Mike and Brian are the most prominent singers, Dennis makes his first vocal appearance on "Little Girl (You're My Miss America)" (shown as "Little Miss America" on the album cover).
The album was released through Capitol on October 1, 1962 and peaked at number 32 in its 37-week run on the US charts. In the UK, the album was not released until April 1963, and failed to chart.
Richie Unterberger, in a retrospective review for AllMusic, feels that most of the songs are substandard, but that as the album was recorded by the Beach Boys themselves rather than session musicians it does offer an opportunity to hear what the band sounded like in the studio.
4 of the 12 songs on the album have been performed live in concert by the Beach Boys. "Surfin' Safari" and "409" are regulars in set lists while "Surfin'" and "Summertime Blues" have been played with varying frequency.