Surfin’ Safari (Capitol-1962)
- 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.
- County Fair – This “Palisades Park” rip-off has a hilarious twist ending. Nice sound effects.
- Ten Little Indians – Way uncool.
- Chug-a-Lug – Ridiculous doo-wop vocals about root beer. “Here a mug, there a mug, everybody chug a lug.” Fun!
- Little Girl (You’re My Miss America) – A touch of sweetness and hints at falsetto treats to come.
- 409 – An icky car song I don’t think I really ever need to hear again.
- 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.
- Heads You Win, Tails I Lose – Sort of a catchy melancholy melody is a good fit with the silly lyrics.
- Summertime Blues – A mediocre cover of a mediocre song.
- Cuckoo Clock – Unmemorable.
- Moon Dawg – Fun.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Misirlou – I wouldn’t have done that great tackling any Dick Dale songs when I was a teenager either. This is respectable though.
- 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.”
- 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.
- Shut Down – Like a slightly catchier “409.”
- Noble Surfer – This one’s unique harmonies are almost barbershop. Hip stuff.
- Honky Tonk – Another instrumental.
- 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.
- Surf Jam – Another instrumental, with a “1-2-a-1-2-3-jam!” count off. More hip stuff.
- Let’s Go Trippin’ – Another Dick Dale cover sure beats a Mike Love lead vocal.
- 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!