The Beach Boys Track-by-Track in Chronological Order

Surfin’ Safari (Capitol-1962)

  1. Surfin’ Safari – Although it does a fine job at introducing rudimentary version of the Beach Boys’ unique sensibility, “Surfin’ Safari” isn’t a particularly great song.
  2. County Fair – This “Palisades Park” rip-off has a hilarious twist ending. Nice sound effects.
  3. Ten Little Indians – Way uncool.
  4. Chug-a-Lug – Ridiculous doo-wop vocals about root beer. “Here a mug, there a mug, everybody chug a lug.” Fun!
  5. Little Girl (You’re My Miss America) – A touch of sweetness and hints at falsetto treats to come.
  6. 409 – An icky car song I don’t think I really ever need to hear again.
  7. Surfin’ – The Beach Boys’ first hit may be rotten, but it’s a good kind of rotten. It has heart. “Baw daw dip di dip di dip” indeed.
  8. Heads You Win, Tails I Lose – Sort of a catchy melancholy melody is a good fit with the silly lyrics.
  9. Summertime Blues – A mediocre cover of a mediocre song.
  10. Cuckoo Clock – Unmemorable.
  11. Moon Dawg – Fun.
  12. The Shift – Mike Love sings about women’s fashion.

Overall, a garagey, rotten debut from a band that became great. Then again, I like garagey and rotten as much as the next guy. B-

Surfin’ USA (Capitol-1963)

  1. Surfin’ USA – Songs that name a bunch of places are always hits. A note-for-note ripoff of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” with sweet harmonies. Notably better recorded and performed than anything on the previous album.
  2. Farmer’s Daughter – Here is where things start to get good. After a couple measures Brian busts out his signature falsetto and sings an absolutely gorgeous melody.
  3. Misirlou – I wouldn’t have done that great tackling any Dick Dale songs when I was a teenager either. This is respectable though.
  4. Stoked – If your idea of a good song is an early 60s guitar instrumental punctuated by brief periods of silence with the word “stoked” spoken, you are going to be “stoked” about “Stoked.”
  5. Lonely Sea – A spooky ballad with a great Brian Wilson lead vocal. Hey, five songs into the album and only one Mike Love vocal lead isn’t bad at all.
  6. Shut Down – Like a slightly catchier “409.”
  7. Noble Surfer – This one’s unique harmonies are almost barbershop. Hip stuff.
  8. Honky Tonk – Another instrumental.
  9. Lana – There’s nothing like Brian Wilson crooning a woman’s name in that falsetto. It’s remarkable how much better this album is than the previous one.
  10. Surf Jam – Another instrumental, with a “1-2-a-1-2-3-jam!” count off. More hip stuff.
  11. Let’s Go Trippin’ – Another Dick Dale cover sure beats a Mike Love lead vocal.
  12. Finder’s Keepers – A silly, catchy album-closer with tempo changes and Four Freshmen-like harmonies.

Quite a remarkable improvement over the debut. No sophomore slump for the Beach Boys!

A-

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