SURFER GIRL was the third studio album by The Beach Boys. It was produced by Brian Wilson and was released on Capitol Records on September 16, 1963. In the UK it wasn’t released until 1967. According to Wikipedia.org the cover photo “was taken by Capitol photographer Kenneth Veeder at Paradise Cove, north of Malibu”. Pictured from left to right are: Dennis Wilson, David Marks, Carl Wilson, Mike Love, and Brian Wilson. Al Jardine is not on the cover, but does appear on the album and co-wrote ‘South Bay Surfer’. SURFER GIRL reached #7 on the US Billboard 200 Albums Chart. In 1990 Brian Wilson wrote: “SURFER GIRL was a good step in the right direction. I was tired from touring and this album helped me to relax and be creative”.
First up is the title track, ‘Surfer Girl’, written by Brian Wilson in 1961. He sings lead on the song that was the highest charting of the album’s three singles, hitting #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. The liner notes of the album include the following: “This song is fast becoming the romantic ballad of the day, and it’s making thousands of new friends for the boys”. These lyrics are innocent ones of infatuation: “Little surfer, little one/Made my heart come all undone/Do you love me?/Do you surfer girl, surfer girl, my little surfer girl?/I have watched you on the shore/Standing by the ocean’s roar/Do you love me?/Do you surfer girl, surfer girl, surfer girl?/We could ride the surf together/While our love would grow/In my Woody I would take you everywhere I go/So I say from me to you/I will make your dreams come true”. Mike Love and Brian Wilson co-wrote the happy rock ‘n’ roll song ‘Catch A Wave’. Mike sings lead and his sister Maureen plays harp. The song sings the praises of surfing: “Not just a fad cause it’s been going on so long/All the surfers going strong/They said it wouldn’t last too long/They’ll eat their words with a fork and spoon/And watch ‘em they’ll hit the road/And all be surfin’ soon/And when they catch a wave/They’ll be sittin’ on top of the world”.
‘The Surfer Moon’ was the first Beach Boys song to feature a string arrangement. It includes these poetic words: “There’s a moon in the sky somewhere I know/Waiting for all the love to burn below/If you fall and it happens all too soon/Blame it all on the surfer moon.../Brings the tide in/Takes it all away/Helps us ride in/Brings us waves each day/I say”. Brian and Mike sing lead on ‘South Bay Surfer’ a fun rock ‘n’ roll number: “Oh, the boys are rough and ready to handle anything/They take the big one/They’ve got to be the best thing going/South Bay surfer’s really swing/Okay, rock out!/Oh Chicago, can’t you hear them?/Hear that shore pound slam/You’re gonna eat it!/Smash!”
‘The Rocking Surfer’ is a cheerful instrumental that uses the Hammond organ and includes a Carl Wilson electric guitar solo. ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ was penned by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian. Mike Love sings lead on this love song to one’s car: “She’s got a competition clutch with the four on the floor/And she purrs like a kitten till the lake pipes roar/And if that ain’t enough to make you flip your lid/There’s one more thing/I got the pink slip daddy/And comin’ off the line when the light turns green/Well, she blows ‘em outta the water like you never seen”.
Brian Wilson and Gary Usher co-wrote one of the best ballads the Beach Boys ever recorded, ‘In My Room’. Bring sings lead and Mike Love’s sister Maureen plays harp on this song about sanctuary: “There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to/In my room, in my room/In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears/In my room, in my room/Do my dreaming and my scheming/Lie awake and pray/Do my crying and my sighing/Laugh at yesterday”. ‘Hawaii’ is a peppy song of invitation: “I heard about all the pretty girls/With their grass skirts down to their knees/All my life I wanted to see/The island called Hawaii/Go to Hawaii, straight to Hawaii/Oh, do you wanna come along with me?.../Everyone that goes comes back with nothing but raves”.
‘Surfers Rule’ finds Dennis and Brian singing lead. All around, it’s a fun rock ‘n’ roll tune: “It’s plastered on the walls all around the school now/Surfers rule, surfers rule/Becoming just as common as a golden rule now/Surfers rule, surfers rule/Take it or leave it, but you better believe it/Surfers rule.../Surfers rule/Four Seasons, you better believe it!” Hal Blaine plays drums on ‘Our Car Club’, while Mike and Brian sing lead. The song uses saxophone and tells a story: “We got a Deuce Coupe, a Stingray, a rail job, and an XKE/We’ll start a car club/We’ll be the fastest at the drags/Man, we’ll really cut some low ET’s/We’ll start a car club/And wipe out the other clubs/We’ll set a meet and get a sponsor and collect some dues/And you can bet that we’ll have our jackets on wherever we cruise”.
Brian Wilson and Bob Norberg wrote ‘Your Summer Dream’, a nice love ballad: “Drive your car down to the sea/All the while you build a scheme/Take her hand and walk on with her/Make it real, your Summer dream/Smell the warm and salty air/See a wave reflect a beam/Stop and find a pretty shell for her/Make it real, your Summer dream”. ‘Boogie Woodie’ is an instrumental honky-tonkin’ good time! It should be noted that a German language version of ‘In My Room’ appeared on the album RARITIES and as one of three bonus cuts on the CD re-release entitled SURFER GIRL/SHUT DOWN VOLUME 2.
SURFER GIRL really is a wonderful album! There are eight fast rock ‘n’ roll songs and four ballads on it. Thematically the most common topic here is surfing, followed by an appreciation for girls and for cars. Two instrumentals are thrown in for good measure. The vocal harmonies on this 1963 project are terrific! This is a fun, mostly carefree album to listen to. I’m rating it 93%. For more info visit: www.thebeachboys.com.