Surfin' U.S.A.

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Surfin' U.S.A.
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 25, 1963
RecordedJune 13, 1962; January 5 – February 12 1963
StudioCapitol Studios and United Western Recorders, Hollywood
GenreSurf rock[1]
ProducerNick Venet
The Beach Boys chronology
Surfin' Safari
Surfin' U.S.A.
Surfer Girl
The Beach Boys UK chronology
All Summer Long
Surfin' U.S.A.
Little Deuce Coupe
Singles from Surfin' U.S.A.
  1. "Surfin' U.S.A." / "Shut Down"
    Released: March 4, 1963

Surfin' U.S.A. is the second album by the American rock band the Beach Boys. It reached number two in the US, lasting 78 weeks on the Billboard album chart, eventually being certified gold by the RIAA, and brought the group newfound national success. It was led by one single, its title track with the B-side "Shut Down". In the United Kingdom, the album was belatedly released in late 1965, reaching number 17. It was recognized as one of the greatest songs ever released by the Beach Boys.

The majority of the album's recording commenced in the first week of 1963, three months after the release of Surfin' Safari. Like the group's debut album, production was credited ostensibly to Capitol's representative for Artists and Repertoire, Nick Venet, although bandleader Brian Wilson was heavily involved in the album's composition. The album marks the beginning of his practice to doubletrack vocals, resulting in a fuller sound.[2]


In 1990, Brian Wilson reflected on Surfin' U.S.A. in liner notes which accompanied its first CD issue:

By the time I got to the album, Surfin’ USA, I was more experienced at producing. The album Surfin' Safari was practice for me. ... This album showcased our voices. We were just kids, but we were serious about our craft. The point being that when you are given the chance, you do your best. ... I think that I was a good coach for the boys. I didn’t like second-rate vocals. It was either the best or nothin’, in my opinion. The boys picked up. We had a good understanding between us and I was their leader. We got it done relatively fast in the studio. ... On this album, we had gotten into a fast pace: almost athletic in nature. It was because "Surfin’ USA" was such a smash hit on the radio. It was the big time for us. ... Production-wise, this album was an early Brian Wilson production.[3]

Front cover artwork[edit]

The photograph that adorns the front sleeve was taken by artist/photographer/surfer John Severson during January 1960, showing California-based waverider Leslie Williams riding the winter swell at Sunset Beach (Oahu) in Hawaii. Intended for the front cover of Severson's Surfer magazine, the original negative was damaged during the color separation process and could not appear in print. When Capitol Records requested a suitable photograph for the new Beach Boys album Severson fixed the damaged image and sold it to them.


Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Blender3/5 stars[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[6]

In a retrospective review, Richie Unterberger wrote: "The album as a whole is the best they would make, prior to the late '60s, as a band that played most of their instruments, rather than as a vehicle for Brian Wilson's ideas. The LP was a huge hit, vital to launching surf music as a national craze, and one of the few truly strong records to be recorded by a self-contained American rock band prior to the British Invasion."[1] Author Luis Sanchez summarized the album's impact on culture and the image it established for the Beach Boys:

If Surfin' U.S.A. didn't literally transform America into an endless beach, it added vivid dimension to California mythos and took it further than anyone would have thought. You could call The Beach Boys’ version of Southern California cutesy or callow or whatever, but what matters is that it captured a lack of self-consciousness—a genuineness—that set them apart from their peers. And it was this quality that came to define Brian’s oeuvre as he moved beyond and into bigger pop productions that would culminate in Smile.[7]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead VocalsLength
1."Surfin' U.S.A."Brian Wilson/Chuck BerryMike Love2:27
2."Farmer's Daughter"B. Wilson/LoveB. Wilson1:49
3."Misirlou"Nick Roubanis/Fred Wise/Milton Leeds/Bob RussellInstrumental2:03
4."Stoked"B. WilsonInstrumental1:59
5."Lonely Sea"B. Wilson/Gary UsherB. Wilson2:21
6."Shut Down"B. Wilson/Roger ChristianLove1:49
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead VocalsLength
1."Noble Surfer"B. Wilson/LoveLove1:51
2."Honky Tonk"Bill Doggett/Shep Sheperd/Clifford Scott/Billy ButlerInstrumental2:01
3."Lana"B. WilsonB. Wilson1:39
4."Surf Jam"Carl WilsonInstrumental2:10
5."Let's Go Trippin'"Dick DaleInstrumental1:57
6."Finders Keepers"B. Wilson/LoveLove1:38

Sales chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
1963 US Billboard 200 Albums Chart 2[8]
1965 UK Top 40 Album Chart 17[9]
Year Single Chart Position
1963 "Surfin' U.S.A." US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 3
1963 "Shut Down" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 23


The Beach Boys

Additional personnel
  • Frank DeVito — drums on "Surfin' USA" [11]
  • Gary Usher – guitar intro on “Lonely Sea”[12]


  1. ^ a b c Allmusic review
  2. ^ Trynka & Bacon 1996, p. 126.
  3. ^ Leaf, David (1990). Surfin Safari / Surfin U.S.A. (CD Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records.
  4. ^ Wolk, Douglas (October 2004). "The Beach Boys Surfin Safari/Surfin U.S.A.". Blender. Archived from the original on June 30, 2006. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (2006). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). London: Oxford University Press. p. 479. ISBN 978-0-19-531373-4.
  6. ^ Brackett, Nathan; with Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York, NY: Fireside/Simon & Schuster. p. 46. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  7. ^ Sanchez 2014, p. 32.
  8. ^ "Surfin' U.S.A. - The Beach Boys: Awards". AllMusic.
  9. ^ "UK Top 40 Hit Database". EveryHit.
  10. ^,18130.msg471910.html#msg471910
  11. ^,19300.50.html
  12. ^,4120.300.html