The Beach Boys: The First Five Analogue Productions Reissues

Only one of them had actually ridden a surfboard. They weren’t hot rodders or drag racers and by the time the group formed in 1961 lead vocalist Mike Love was already 20 years old and arguably more a man than a “boy”. Al Jardine was 19 as was Brian Wilson. Brothers Dennis and Carl were, respectively, 17 and 15, so they qualified as “boys”.

The band was The Pendletones, a name that merged “Pendleton” for the plaid wool shirts favored by surfers back in the late 1950’s when the surfing craze first made waves in Southern California, and “tone”.

Dennis was the surfer who originated the idea of a song about surfing and while he’s often regarded as the group’s “jock”, Brian played football, baseball and ran cross-country track.

Under the direction of the Wilson Brothers’ father Murry, the Pendletones recorded two demos, “Surfin’” and “Surfin’ Safari”. Murry took them to Candix Records owner Herb Newman, who signed them in early December of 1961.

A single was quickly released featuring “Surfin’” as the “A” side and “Luau” on the “B” side. That throwaway was credited to music publisher Hite Morgan, who had turned the group down after an earlier audition.

To more directly capitalize on the surfing craze, and without first seeking permission, Candix Records changed the group’s name on the single to "The Beach Boys".

(However, it’s important to keep in mind that while The Beach Boys popularized and commercialized the “surf music sound”, “The King of the Surf Guitar” Dick Dale gets most if not all of the credit for originated it. “Let’s Go Trippin” by Dick Dale and the Del-tones released in September of 1961 [but played in public as early as 1960] is considered to be the first “surf music” song. Dale credits his Lebanese heritage and interest in Arabic music and middle eastern scales as being key to the “surf sound”, so put that in your pipe from Uncle Tonoose and smoke it!))

Thanks to airplay on the two teen-centric A.M. radio stations KRLA and KFWB, before the end of that same month The Pendletones had been signed to Candix, “Surfin” quickly sold 40,000 copies and reached #3 on the local charts and #75 on the national singles charts.

In the spring of 1962 the boys were back in the studio—this time at now legendary Western Studios—to record “Lonely Sea”, “409” and a remake of “Surfin’ Safari”. The 45rpm single “Surfin’ Safari”/ “409” was issued in June of 1962.

That release brought them greater attention from the big labels. After being rejected by Sy Waronker’s Liberty Records and Dot Records, home of Pat Boone and Lawrence Welk, Nick Venet signed them to a seven year contract with Capitol Records.

Released in the fall of 1962 in monophonic only Surfin’ Safari (T 1808) was a modest success, reaching #32 on the Billboard charts. However, it should be noted that in 1962 LPs were mostly purchased by adults. “Teens” bought singles. So #32 was an impressive debut showing.

While all of this was happening for The Beach Boys—mostly in the recording studio—The Beatles were busy playing nightly in Liverpool’s The Cavern Club (and of course also in Hamburg, Germany), learning how to perform live on stage. As The Quarrymen, the group began performing at The Cavern in 1957. They made their first appearance there as The Beatles in the winter of 1961 nine months before The Pendletones signed with Candix. On August 16th 1962, a few months before the release of The Beach Boys’ debut album, Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best.

The Music

While the group’s cultural influences were based on the prevailing teen preoccupations of surfing and hot-rodding cars (and to a lesser degree objectivized girls), Brian Wilson’s musical influences were far more eclectic. The sophisticated vocal arrangements he created were drawn from 50’s mainstream pop groups like The Four Freshmen, whose harmonies Wilson carefully analyzed, though his influences are all over the musical map. It could easily be argued that the group really took off when Wilson, in a singular stroke of genius, produced "Surfin' USA" by melding white bread Four Freshman harmonies with lyrics advertising surfing generally and in Southern California locations specifically, set to Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” and arranged for the Stratocaster-centric “surf sound”.

Doo-Wop, ‘50’s rock, mainstream pop and The Four Seasons influenced Wilson as did the production techniques originated by Phil Spector.

It’s important to remember when listening to these early Beach Boys albums, that at a time when “suits” ran the studios, Wilson was one of the youngest members of a musical group to grab the production and arranging reins. It’s also interesting listening to these first five albums, to note how hesistant or perhaps unequipped at the time was Wilson to write deeply about relationships. The Beach Boys were addressing boys. Contrast that with how Lennon/McCartney approached song writing. They wrote directly to the teen-girl fan base and in the most personal of terms. As McCartney famously pointed out they (including George Harrison) wrote “From Me to YOU”, “She Loves YOU”, Do YOU Want to Know a Secret”, “I Want to Hold YOUR Hand”, etc.

You’ll find nothing remotely approaching that degree of intimacy (or pandering if you’re cynical) on any of these Beach Boy songs but you will find a lot of good old American corn.

The Albums


surfin’ safari ( Capitol T-1808)

Credit The Beach Boys and especially Brian Wilson for crafting a twelve-song debut album in which nine were originals, even though some were weak and cringe-inducing. The three covers were the oft-covered instrumental “Moon Dog” by Derry Weaver, Eddie Cochrane’s iconic “Summertime Blues” and “Little Miss America”, written by Herb Alpert and Vince Catalano and first recorded by Dante and His Friends (the same Dante as in Dante and the Evergreens best known for “Alley Oop” also covered by The Hollywood Argyles). It’s interesting to note that The Beatles fourteen song debut contained eight originals but a much more varied and adventurous selection of covers, almost all of which were written by Americans.

While Nick Vanet gets producing credit, Brian Wilson asserted control early on, though Mike Love sung almost every song (Dennis Wilson sang “Little Girl…..”).

“County Fair” is a humorous ditty with a decidedly “Leiber/Stoller” Coasters-like vibe and a melody that sticks despite the county fair barker stuff that’s almost unbearable, but “Ten Little Indians” is a 100% throwaway and “Chug-A-Lug”, about the boys’ individual interests, with lead singer Love being the chugger of root beer isn’t much better. “Cuckoo Clock” is a clever novelty item about a mechanical clock interfering with a teenage make-out session.

“Little Miss America” is a ‘50’s era Doo Wop number that sounds heavily influenced by The Elegants’ “Little Star”. Dennis’s vocal is sweet.

“409” points the way towards future Beach Boys muscle car songs, while the final song “The Shift” is about a tight dress, not a Hurst “4 on the floor”.

This reissue sounds far superior to the original in every way. The original suffers from serious bass attenuation and dynamic compression. However, any way you listen to this one, it was clearly recorded in haste and the production values are not high. Not a serious issue considering the less than memorable, often juvenile songs.

Unless you are a Beach Boy “completist” and want to hear these songs sounding better than you’ve ever heard them, this debut is not exactly essential. On the other hand, if you can overlook the songwriting you will hear a young band that is getting together its playing chops and getting ready to take its act on the road and hit the really big time. That alone can help make the listening exciting or at least interesting. (Short Notice: the album runs but 24:53).

Surfin’USA (Capitol T-1890/ST-1890)

The group’s sophomore effort, recorded starting in January of 1963, is altogether a big bump upward for The Beach Boys, musically, sonically and compositionally, compared to the hastily and haphazardly produced and recorded debut.

Again Nick Vanet gets producing credit but this one was a Brian and Murry Wilson production with the great Chuck Britz engineering at Bill Putnam’s Western Studios, which was a block from his United Studios (the two studios were later purchased by Allen Sides who renamed them Ocean Way).

From the first “Sweet Little Sixteen” Chuck Berry lick of the title track, you’ll hear a big sonic difference from the lackluster debut. The Beatles would later recycle The Beach Boys’ Berry recycle for “Back in the USSR”. Chuck Berry’s publisher ARC has always had publishing credits though Wilson was initially credited as the songwriter. That was later changed to Chuck Berry, who now holds the copyright to the music and lyrics, which contain terms related to surfing culture and a long list of SoCal surfing spots, at the time exotic to young ears.

The first side is strong with the somewhat salacious unintentionally comical “Farmer’s Daughter” about a drifter who offers his labor in exchange for a place to stay. It’s comical because of the lyrical juxtaposition wherein the drifter sings “glad to help you plow your fields/farmer’s daughter” (which is the“plowing” he’s really interested in). The short song has a strong melody and a gorgeous, haunting, memorable vocal performance by Brian Wilson.

The “Miserlou” cover is very good—and demonstrates that these guys could really play— but not up to Dick Dale’s manic original that Quentin Tarrantino used in “Pulp Fiction”. Speaking of which, this is a good place to quash the rumor that Dennis Wilson doesn’t play drums on these albums because for the most part he does, though not on this one but only because he was injured at the time and another drummer filled in. The great "Wrecking Crew" drummer Hal Blaine does play drums on songs like “Good Vibrations”, “California Girls” and a few other hits as well as on Pet Sounds, but Dennis was a good drummer who played on most of the songs.

“Stoked” is a decent “surf” instrumental that’s followed by Brian’s absolutely mesmerizing “Lonely Sea” that still produces chills. That alone is worth the price of admission not just to this record but into Brian’s psyche. The side ends with “Shut Down”—another great Beach Boys classic. That’s one fine side of vinyl!

The pressures to quickly produce a debut follow-up show on side two. “Noble Surfer” is formulaic lyrically and melodically, while the Bill Doggett instrumental “Honky Tonk” is just pleasant filler with Carl Wilson’s guitar lines a highlight. That the time keeping on the song is less than 100% correct and less than mechanically perfect is among the charms of a performance that’s human and real.

“Lana” is a short, tuneful Wilson composition that features vocal performances and harmonies reminiscent of The Four Seasons. A short, live, “Surf Jam” follows that again shows off the band’s tight groove, Carl’s surf guitar proficiency, and Dennis’s deft touch on the drums. A cover of “Let’s Go Trippin’” does likewise as much as it shows that idea exhaustion had set in. “Finders Keepers”, the set’s final song, probably got Bob Gaudio’s and Bob Crewe’s attention because it goes further than does “Lana” into The Four Seasons territory with a chorus and harmonies seemingly lifted from “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, which went to Number One on the Billboard Charts in November of 1962! A good song nonetheless!

Here you have a choice between mono and stereo versions. I think the mono version has it all over the stereo version, which, while not hard left/right like early Beatles albums, still sounds as if the intent was to combine the elements to create a mono mix. The mono mix holds together far better in every way—particularly the way in which Dennis’s drums are mixed and in the vocal integrity.

I didn’t have originals, though I did wear out my original stereo edition back in the mid-sixties when I confused ultra-light tracking with record preservation. In fact, tracking too light does more damage than tracking on the heavy side (within the cartridge manufacturer’s recommended tracking force)—as I found out too late.

Both the mono and stereo reissues sound open, transparent and full frequency. This was a well-recorded album, which given who engineered and where, is hardly surprising (Short Notice: the album runs but 24:15)

End Part 1
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
jags79's picture

That was interesting and a pleasure to read.

Michael Fremer's picture
I appreciate the feedback.
Billf's picture

The album came out in Duophonic as well as mono. I bought it!

bdp24's picture

I bought all of these albums upon their initial 62-4 release, but don't really want them now. I do hope they sell well enough that the albums that followed them will get done by Analogue Productions---especially Smiley Smile, Wild Honey, 20/20, Friends, and Sunflower.

Paul Boudreau's picture

I didn't know that about Dick Dale & surf music. Amazing.

The only early Fabs song that might rank with Brian's best is "There's A Place," although it has always seemed a little underdeveloped to me.

Michael Fremer's picture
Is thematically like "In My Room".
foxhall's picture

So great to see the restored cover art. Really augments the article.

Superfuzz's picture

I won't state that any one person or group invented surf music, but.... The Ventures had 3 or 4 full albums and a handful of singles out before Dick Dale released "Let's Go Trippin"... and alot of that definitely sounds like surf music. Some of the tunes even had sounds of waves on a beach...
Of course, if you listen to Dick Dale in an interview, he'll say that Dick Dale invented this, and Dick Dale invented that...

Michael Fremer's picture
I struggled with that one.... but of course "Walk, Don't Run" was on Chet Atkins' "Hi-Fi In Focus" (LPM-1577) released in 1961..
Superfuzz's picture

And of course it was originally done by the late great jazz guitarist Johnny Smith on his albums "Moods" in 1955... it sounded nothing like a surf tune of course. The Ventures heard the Chet version though, and based their cover on his. Incidentally, Chet's version was in 1957, and the Ventures' in 1960.

Lothar's picture

I have those Ventures albums and while they heavily influenced surf music, and they often get filed in record stores under 'surf', they aren't really surf...you can read about what is or isn't surf over on Phil Dirt's great website:

http://www.reverbcentral.com/

One of the earliest 'ground zero' surf records was The Belairs' "Mr. Moto" from 1961, released 5 or 6 months before Dale's "Let's Go Trippin'. The Beach Boys included Mr. Moto in live sets during 1962. That's why IMO anyway Ten Little Indians isn't a throwaway -- the instro break (admittedly only a few seconds long) seems cribbed right out of Mr Moto. Not the same melody, but to me it's clear Carl Wilson and David Marks were working on playing like that. If memory serves, Ten Little Indians was also released as an A-side bw County Fair. Amazing. I think these things have to be put into historical context. The song seems extra goofy now, but there was a lot of goofiness on the charts in 1962 and over the previous year or two there were lots of 'lost Indian love' tragic ballads and tunes recorded and released and some were even hits like Running Bear by Preston...Preston something. Forgot. I guess I should be ashamed, but for me Ten Little Indians isn't a throwaway, though I admit it's on the ridiculous side. But 'ridiculous' can also be put on a sliding scale. Lemme dig out my 4 Seasons records...

kleinbje's picture

No rating scale on these?

azmoon's picture

..for the great background info and reviews. I have enjoyed the Surfer Girl in mono and now will try out Surfing in the USA in stereo! That will be it for me until the mono Pet Sounds comes out.

sandyu's picture

Mikey, we realize you oversimplified on what an "album" is, but it's worth reminding younger listeners what the word "album" means.

Originally a record "album" was literally an album, a book, filled with bound sleeves, each one filled with a 78 rpm single. Then Columbia (now Sony) invented the 33.33 rpm "long playing" record,the new "album," and Columbia's rival, RCA Victor, invented the 45 rpm "big hole" record; Columbia-made record players could play only 33s and RCA players could play only 45s at first, but soon players were introduced that could handle both speeds, as well as 16 rpm and the rapidly-going-obsolete 78 rpm.

By this point RCA had introduced the 45 rpm "Extended Play," with two/three songs per side.

All these formats were monaural, of course.

The 45 rpm big-holes were for singles, with an A side and a B side. The A side was intended as the hit-record side. However, there were EPs with hits on them, as well.

The first million-seling rock'n'roll LP was "Elvis Presley," Elvis' first 33 LP released on RCA. As was typical of the time, there were no hit singles on it, just tracks from his Sun Records days and a few tracks done by Chet Atkins in Nashville, who'd earlier created "Heartbreak Hotel," the 45 hit single for Elvis. However, singles were released from the LP, and they became big hits for Elvis, as well -- e.g., "Tutti Frutti," "Blue Suede Shoes," etc.

After "Elvis Presley," the labels released three kinds of popular music albums, all on the 33 LP format: Greatest hits or collected gold records; collections of songs, some or all of which would be released later as singles intended to be hits; albums with songs intended to be heard only on that album, not as hit singles; for example, artists like Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis typically released only LP albums, not singles, while Elvis would release singles from albums that would go on to become hits, and it was the Elvis model that the Beatles were following, while groups like the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane followed the Sinatra/Davis model, mostly -- even though the Airplane was on the RCA Victor label, like Elvis.

In addition, RCA continued to release EPs. Some of those were mini-me versions of the LP albums, but with fewer songs per side, and some were never intended to be released as LP albums.

Apologies to fellow geezers, but there are youngsters among us who were born after the CD killed the LP and the big-hole 45!!

Only 33 rpm LPs were released in stereo, however.

And THAT is why today we have both mono and stereo versions of the Beatles songs, as well as Beach Boys songs.

Superfuzz's picture

"Only 33 rpm LPs were released in stereo, however."

I'm not an old geezer, but I know that is false. Plenty of 45RPM singles were released in stereo, for example, Elvis' "Stuck on You" from 1960.

sandyu's picture

First: Obviously, I wasn't discussing the Sixties. I thought I was pretty clearly discussing the era from the demise of the 78 until the dawn of the stereo LP, known generally as the Fifties. I thought this was pretty clear from my context, as Sinatra's Fifties popularity, to which I referred, antedated that of Elvis and the other rockers, generally, by a decade.

Therefore, as I may have been unclear, what I was trying to say I'll now state more clearly.

Three models for the 33 rpm LP "album" developed in the Fifties: The Elvis model, with no previous hit singles, but with songs that could be turned into hits; the Sinatra/Davis model, with songs suitable for "adult" listening, not intended to be released as singles for AM broadcasts or jukeboxes; and collections of hits and golden records, the most famous of which at the time was undoubtedly "50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong!" aka "Golden Hits, Vol. II" (the one with Elvis in the Nudie golden suit).

Second: "Stuck on You" is a very, very peculiar recording, indeed, and for three reasons beyond its stereo format: (1.) This was the first single released by Elvis after the Army, but from how it sounded it might as well have been from before he left for Germany; (2.) The song doesn't appear on the "Elvis Is Back!" LP that appeared almost simultaneously with that single; and (3.) The tune is a very, very close relative -- almost a clone -- of 1957's "All Shook Up," released a year before Elvis was drafted.

The whole point of "Stuck on You" was that Elvis hadn't been changed by the Army. Fact is, "Stuck on You" was proof to anyone who was listening carefully that current popular music had either passed Elvis by already -- well, maybe not Elvis himself, necessarily, but certainly The Colonel --or was just about to. The world had simply moved past "All Shook Up," so Elvis returned to movie soundtracks and the blues, with occasional forays into what he called "opera" and country. Indeed, Bob Dylan recorded his first album in 1961.

(... And speaking of the Fifties, the Beach Boys didn't invent "hot rod" music, either. One of the first rock songs was Ike Turner's "Rocket 88" about an Oldsmobile, though not the curved-dash model. And who can forget "Hot Rod Lincoln", subsequently done by so many?)

Third: "Stuck on You" was intended for AM station playlists, not stereo FM, because the hit singles were played in mono on AM. To hear "Stuck on You" in stereo on your own record player, you'd have require a stereo stylus/cartridge. Yet, sixty years on, I remain unaware of stereo cartridges marketed for use on on 45 rpm big-hole recordings; indeed, I seriously doubt any existed then, though maybe you could prove me wrong.

Superfuzz's picture

"First: Obviously, I wasn't discussing the Sixties. I thought I was pretty clearly discussing the era from the demise of the 78 until the dawn of the stereo LP, known generally as the Fifties. I thought this was pretty clear from my context"

No, it really wasn't clear, but it could be that I'm just too dumb to understand your smart words (or any smart words).
The stereo LP came out in 1958... by 1960 there were stereo 45RPM singles. (Possibly earlier? Could be... I don't know.)
So your statement "Only 33 rpm LPs were released in stereo, however" was true for only 2 years, maybe less. Hardly even seems worth mentioning in the grand scheme of recorded music history. But I'm not an expert on anything.

sandyu's picture

First, I'm not trying to put you down, or correct you. You seem to imply that I am. So let me be clear: I just don't happen to agree with your point of view because I'm old enough to remember how it really was back then, during the Eisenhower administration.

Second, since I was around back then, and avidly buying records, and lots of them, I can tell you certainly that if there really were any actual stereo 45 big-hole records around during the Fifties I never saw one, not even any EPs. In fact, Elvis (on Sun) back then was still on 78s as well as the new big-hole 45s, and everything Phil Spector ever did was mono. I don't believe I even saw a Ray Charles LP in stereo -- when he was on Atlantic -- until the mid-60s.

Now, I'm not claiming no stereo 45s existed, just that I never saw one, and every penny I came across back then that wasn't spent on hotrodding was spent on buying records, mostly 45s. (BTW: My own copy of "Stuck on You" was mono; you might have something rare there, my friend, worth real money.)

Third: Yes, stereo arrived around 1958, but for LP fans only, and I seem to remember that part fairly well, as it was before LSD.

Even so, until around 1960, and later, most LP albums we would actually buy had to be in mono.

Why?

(1.) Because most "needles" back then still weren't stereo, and you could ruin a perfectly good LP by using a mono cartridge on a stereo LP. Also, even some "stereo" cartridges weren't diamond. (Remember, typically VTF in the Fifties was regulated using dimes, pennies, nickels, and quarters, plus a certain amount of Scotch tape.

(2.) Most stereo back then was either awful-sounding reprocessed mono (this was typically how RCA treated Elvis!) or a strange-sounding ping-pong effect nobody could enjoy, except on recordings of steam locomotives or racecars going around a track -- and yes, such oddities proved quite popular back then. Indeed, I myself still own the 2-LP album of the 1957 Sebring race that Fangio and Behra won in a 450S Maserati. (C'mon over, man, I'll play some real 1950s stereo for you. How about "Talking Rolls-Royces"?)

Finally, let me just say this: I was an early convert to stereo. I chose stereo over mono every chance I got, because I'd converted to a stereo cartridge long before all my friends. But, fact is, an awful lot of my music LPs from that late period, 58-64, and even into the middle Sixties, was in mono.

Agreed, stereo arrived in 1958, but often in name, only. And, typically, only for LPs, with certain limited exceptions.

sandyu's picture

In rereading your comment: You appear to believe "stereo" originally meant "two channels," L and R. Well, that's not what was really going on back then, though it's now common to hear the term "stereo" abused.

In fact, "stereo" from the very began -- i.e., around 1957, when a visionary Canadian magazine using "stereo" in its name was started, even though most of us were still playing 78s -- referred to a 360 degree image, or at least a semi-3-D image -- what we now call "soundstage" in audio and "holographic" in video. ("Stereo" in audio comes from "stereopticon," a popular device used to view 3-D photos; actually, stereo cameras used to be quite popular.)

Incidentally, in the mid-70s, we got the word "quadraphonic," though that was just a marketing term, not a technical description; "quadraphonic" really meant the same thing as "stereo."

Today we use descriptors like "7.2," and so on, but it's still only "stereo" that we're talking about.

__________________

Here's what "stereo" originally meant, though, in practice as opposed to the theory: For mono, audiophiles had bought (or built) their own massive horn-loaded speakers, which required corner placement; think (or, better, google!!) the noun "Klipschorn" if you can't name President Eisenhower's Vice-Preident's dog.

When stereo first came out, TWO (not one) more speakers were required, one for the other corner on the same side of the room, and one center channel speaker (L + R), placed against the wall between the two corner speakers; therefore, "stereo" originally meant three channels, L, L+R, and R speakers, not just a pair of L and R speakers.

Eventually, of course, stereo became L and R only, just the two channels, not three, because small-scale, sealed AR-type speakers entered the picture, and they could be placed closer together on the same bookshelf.

______________________

If you examine some high-end vintage "stereo" preamp/control centers from the Fifties and early Sixties, you'll discover three pre-amp output channels: L, R, and Center. Each channel, ideally, went to a single mono amp, but you could accomplish your own "stereo" effect in another way, using tricky wiring schemes, one of which yielded a channel behind the listener, for that you-are-there feeling.

(Try it yourself: In the front, array three speakers, wired like so: L, L+R, and R. Then, in the rear, one channel, wired L-R. Wow, talk about soundstage!! But we also had this one: For the rear we had two channels: Corner (or wall-mounted) speakers, one wired L-R on the left, the other wired R-L on the right.)

In addition, for "control center"-type preamps (e.g., Marantz) the wiring had to return input signals from the L and R speakers back to your control center/preamp to feed the headphone output, which was referred to as "binaural."

___________________

By now you can see why it's become so easy to confuse/conflate "binaural" with "stereo," as "two-channel" (L + R) sounds really like it ought to be the opposite of "monaural." Tragically, though, that's not how the term "stereo" was used half a century ago, and what it really means today.

PS -- The dog's name was Checkers. And he saved then-Vice-President Nixon's career.

Paul Boudreau's picture

It has occurred to me that multiple-78 sets were called "albums" because of their resemblance to photo albums, which I assume had been around for decades at that point. What do you think?

sandyu's picture

Yes, of course. In fact, some LP albums had booklets of photos bound into the covers. Check out "Elvis Christmas Album" from 1958 sometime.

Michael Fremer's picture
For adding all of that useful information!
sandyu's picture

As we all know you're into cars, Mikey, a small gift, just for you!!

The full photo of owner Chili Catallo with his three-window deuce, a cropped version of which appears on the front cover of the "Little Deuce Coupe" album, appeared on the front cover of the July '61 edition of Hot Rod. (Yes, I still have my copy!)

Obviously, the engine isn't a flathead, as in the song lyrics, but an OHV Oldsmobile with three deuces. (In those days, such a setup was typically "progressive," meaning the more you punched it the more carbs kicked in; normally, you just ran on a single two-barrel.)

BTW, unlike Norm Grabowski's famous fad-T "Kookie car" of the TV show "77 Sunset Strip" and "Life Magazine," or his "High School Confidential" movie hotrod, Catallo's Model B wasn't originally a California car at all, but hailed from Detroit, built there by the Alexander Brothers; because of the horizontal fins, the car certainly looks channeled, but I can't tell if it is or not.

After Catallo moved to Southern California, he had the coupe chopped at Kustom City, George Barris's shop in North Hollywood. (Barris painted my own 1962 1/2 Maserati 3500 2+2 there a few years later.) Catallo later sold his coupe, then bought it back in the late 1990s to restore it once again to its 1961 glory.

Hope you enjoyed it!!

saronian's picture

Every feeling of growing up in California was captured in your descriptions. I paused throughout the historical references to reflect on my own memories of the music.

malco49's picture

just like there is no british bob dylan.....a more apt comparison in my mind would be the beatles and bob dylan as they both had cultural as well as musical implications......just never thought the beach boys were worth all the fuss.....

SimonH's picture

thankfully we are all different otherwise it would be boring - growing up in the UK I had the opposite opinion - all the time in the world for the Beach Boys and well Dylan and the Beatles were good but.....

sandyu's picture

Mikey is referring to the fact that the Beatles and the Beach Boys famously considered themselves rivals, competing against one another. Each group was trying to outdo the other with their latest LP. (Sorta like The Snake vs. The Mongoose, if you wanna stick with the drag racing motif.) Personally, I was more into Dylan myself....

Lothar's picture

I remember reading that David Lee Roth remembered early teen or pre teen discussions with his buds about who was better -- The Beatles or The Beach Boys -- at the time California Girls was on the radio in 1965. Before rock music's 'serious' phase had begun...

I think I read that around the time Roth had covered California Girls. Can't remember where...

sandyu's picture

The Roth cover was also a video on MTV. Does that help?

Lothar's picture

I think it was in some Rolling Stone snippet or something. I still perused RS on rare occasion in the 80s.

sandyu's picture

You can search back issues of Rolling Stone articles online. But the date of the video might tell you what year to search.

Bob Levin's picture

If The Beatles & The Beach Boys were 'rivals' as sandyu suggested, it was certainly conducted in a very friendly manner.
Brian and Paul were very good friends and liked to see if they could outdo each other, but it was not exactly knives out. Wasn't that Paul crunching a carrot on "Vegetables" from "Smiley Smile"? It was.

sandyu's picture

It was Paul who, in an interview, first publicly suggested they were friendly rivals. After all, they were on the same label (in the US), so it’d be only natural to compete. Plus, they were inspired by the same sources: “Classic” rock (Chuck Berry, etc.), modern classical music, love songs from the past, pop harmonies from the 50s, music hall standards, etc.

On the other hand, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones came from other traditions, and remain close even today. (Not that Dylan and the Beatles, especially John and George, weren’t close, as well, but they were never friendly rivals the way the Beach Boys and the Beatles were -- there was no competition to outdo one another on the next album.)

Compare Smiley Smile of September 1967 to Sgt. Pepper of June 1967 sometime, not so much in terms of theme, but of recording techniques. There’s the evidence of what I’m saying.

sandyu's picture

Maybe you don’t remember Donovan Leitch, but he was the British Dylan in his day. (Kinda!) He also went from acoustic to electric, though he tended more to jazz instrumentation than to rock.

SpinMark3313's picture

Michael: terrific write ups, particularly the thoughtful and insightful comparisons between the Beach Boys and Beatles. I love 'em both, both are a deep part of the soundtrack of my youth, and both are still enjoyed immensely in my household. It all depends on the mood, the day, and the musical need of the moment!
And thank God you released me from the obsessive thoughts on whether I need to get all the stereos in addition to the monos… though a stereo SG seems in order :-)

rakalm's picture

Kind of a like High Tides and Green Grass, but I think this is a collection that would lend itself well to a best of collection. Maybe a double LP or a triple with Mono and Stereo versions? A book with some history and reproductions of the original covers. This is not my usual point of view but until you get to the later LP's, they are fairly weak as a whole. Oddly enough, I love Wild Honey, one of the least popular of the later LP's. But this is great for real fans of the early stuff. Surfer Girl, Don't Worry Baby and In My Room rank as my early favorites.

soundman45's picture

I was curious Michael, was the Surfer Girl album from the original mixes with drums up the center or was it remixed that way?

Michael Fremer's picture
As far as I know....
Michael Fremer's picture
A really well-curated multi-LP set would make a great deal of sense, but it would have to be sourced either from copies made from the tapes used for these releases or from 192/24 bit careful digitizations and then cut with full sides being either stereo or mono depending on what the "curator" felt was best. I think this would be a really great project but of course "Pet Sounds" would be left whole and not included.
Lothar's picture

60s Capitol originals, whether mono or stereo are nothing to write home about so I'm really interested in your SQ assessment. I'm a fan (not quite fanatic, but fan none the less) and I have all the originals of these and the cheapo early 80s abridged Capitol reissues. Though I write 'cheapo', some of those presses (those with true stereo mixes or true mono -- no 'duos') have the best analog SQ I've ever heard, beating US/UK/German and Japanese presses.

So what I'm looking for is direction on whether to get these yet again...beating originals for SQ probably isn't hard, but ... my wallet needs reassurance.

Cheers!

Michael Fremer's picture
The only original I have is "surfin' safari" and the reissue is far better in every way possible. I don't have any other originals so I really can't give you an answer. I'd buy "Surfer Girl" in stereo and regardless of how it compares to the original it is spectacular sounding and then you can tell us!
Overboard's picture

I bought most of my 1960's Beach Boys albums in early 1968, then bought "Friends" & "20/20" at the time of release. "Surfin' U.S.A." is the only 1960's Beach Boys album (excepting "Best of" compilations) that i didn't have on vinyl, and so, to check out the quality of the Analogue Productions Beach Boys vinyl series, I bought the stereo edition of "Surfin' U.S.A.". I'm pleased to report that the pressing quality is far better than anything that Capitol Records was capable of in the 1960's. The quality of the vinyl & the materials used to fabricate the albums covers are superb, better than Capitol's 1960's efforts. The vinyl was quiet where it mattered(during the songs), though there were visible and audible scratches in the run-out groove area(AKA "Dead Wax Area"). I'll certainly buy more of these L.P.'s, and buy some of the SACD's too.

One thing is worth noting about the "Surfer Girl" album: Brian Wilson was under a time deadline to complete enough songs and recordings for the album, and so The Beach Boys(with both David Marks & Al Jardine) went out on tour without Brian, leaving Brian behind at the studio to complete the album. The reason that studio musicians play the instruments on "The Surfer Moon" & "Our Car Club", is that these Brian Wilson-produced backing tracks were originally intended for other artists, but Brian reworked them into Beach Boys songs in order to have enough songs for the album. "The Surfer Moon" originally had lyrics titled "The Summer Moon" and a vocal by a singer named Vicki Korcher. All that now exists of Korcher's version is a very noisy, badly deteriorated acetate. This appears on a various artists Capitol Records Beach Boys-related "copyright extension" download-only release "The Big Beat 1963"(available from iTunes). "Our Car Club" began as "Rabbit's Foot" by the female surf music group "The Honeys"[featuring Brian's first wife, Marilyn], and their unfinished version(the instruments and some background vocals) also appears on "The Big Beat 1963"

Michael Fremer's picture
For that info. It's obvious that Brian was under serious time constraints throughout this period. He more than made up for it on "Pet Sounds" and Capitol paid for it!
readargos's picture

It's interesting that the Muscle Beach of this era capitalized on some of the same memes. Canadian emigree Joe Weider moved his publishing operations from the East Coast to the West and, with stars like the Blond Bomber Dave Draper (who made a film appearance in "Don't Make Waves") created a publishing empire selling images of health, and fun in the sun in the '60s. Schwarzenegger dominated the '70s, and you can see some vestiges of the changing Muscle Beach scene in the docudrama "Pumping Iron" that showcased a charismatic young star-to-be. How much of the image sold by the Beach Boys and Muscle Beach was real, and how much was manufactured? It is a fascinating moment, and fascinating movement in American pop culture. I am too young to remember, and I didn't grow up on the West Coast, but when I hear the Beach Boys, I feel transported to an era that may have existed in equal parts in fact and fantasy. The music is richly evocative. I am a relatively new convert to vinyl, as well (but I've fallen hard), and two of the first LPs I bought were Capitol reissues of Sinatra and the Beach Boys.

Overboard's picture

Undoubtedly, young people in California in the early 1960's did like cars and surfing, though for many young people from other parts of the country traveling to California to experience that semi-mythical Californian paradise (especially after 1967, "the summer of love"), the unfriendly reality that many of these young newcomers encountered may have been more akin to the scenario that the group "The Doors" described in their song "People are Strange".

pconley2's picture

Mike, have you been able to compare the new Stereo Surfer Girl to the older Mobile Fidelity Stereo Surfer girl? I would be curious as to your thougths.
I am a Beach Boy completest such as you mentioned and I have bought all of the new Mono albums, except for SG, since I have the Mofi version.
I agree with your assessments of these albums, too much crap amid the extraordinary gems but the gems are amazing.
I look forward to the meat of the catalogue coming soon I hope.
Phil

Lothar's picture

I used to have this and finally couldn't take the goosed up high end EQ on that MFSL issue. On a forward / bright or analytical system it just fatigued the hell out of me.

Interestingly, the much later MFSL Surfin' USA / Surfer Girl CD tamed the EQ some and was a much easier listen.

Like you, I'm really interested in the new AP stereo issue of this as well. For me, I'd guess it'll beat the MFSL vinyl by default. What I'm interested in is whether it beats the abridged US early 80's green label Capitol reissue, which is the best I've heard and beats (by a slim but audible margin) the original stereo press.

Overboard's picture

The Beach Boys were required to deliver 3 albums per year to Capitol, hence, there were "Best of" albums, and entire albums of contractual filler such as "The Beach Boys Christmas Album" & "Beach Boys Party". How many of today's artists could deliver three albums per year, and for five years show obvious creative progress with almost every release(at least up through "Pet Sounds")? No wonder the combination of contractual pressure, competition from The Beatles, and dissent from the other group members caused Brian Wilson a mental breakdown. He wasn't entirely mentally well to begin with.

Overboard's picture

However "bland" The Beach Boys' cover version of "Louie Louie" may seem, It is the only one of the many cover versions of the song, which is an exact copy of the arrangement in Richard Berry's original record. Yes, the famous "riff" is SUNG in Berry's original recording. We should be thankful that groups such as "The Kingsmen" & "Paul Revere & The Raiders" opted to rearrange and improve the song, by letting an instrument play the riff.

Lothar's picture

I've never thought that cover was so bad it deserved all the hate it's garnered over the years. In the right mood, I kind of like it, despite it falling into the fodder column of the BBs output. But what I've always been impressed with is they used the original Richard Berry arrangement -- showing they'd heard the record. The 60s Louie Louie template came out of 1961 Seattle with The Wailers cover, which The Kingsmen copied note for note right down to the guitar break. It makes me think someone in The Beach Boys had some kind of record collection going -- including some fairly rare ones.

alholio71's picture

Great reviews, I've been waiting to read your impressions.

The sound quality is fab, although the photo artwork is a bit DIY - do you know why Chad's team were unable to secure original (non-existent or not in budget)

Overboard's picture

And Venet is to be pronounced to rhyme with Bennett. Venet was apparently a Greek name.

alholio71's picture

Full birth name: Nikolas Kostantinos Venetoulis...

Wikipedia says he also went by the name Tony Cost!

RIP

alholio71's picture

Thought one or two of y'all might like to know a fade or two are longer on the mono releases:

eg, Lana on Surfin' USA (late key change)
Little Deuce Coupe (an excitable Brian really knows what he's got

Also listen out for the track tape glitch at the end of Surfer Moon (also exists on the Summer Moon acetate). Someone must have threaded up that baby real bad.

Overboard's picture

"The Surfer Moon" was recorded on 3-track: two tracks of vocals & one track of instruments. The mix that appears on the stereo "Surfer Girl" album has the instruments spread in fake stereo, and all of the vocals in the center. It is basically NOT in stereo, yet, on a bootleg CD ("Unsurpassed Masters Vol.3:1963" on the "Sea of Tunes" label), there is a full-fidelity true stereo mix, which has the backing track in the center, and the two tracks of vocals spread in wide stereo. Considering that "Sea of Tunes" mixes had to be made clandestinely in one pass of the tape, many of them are quite good. It has been speculated that people involved in The Beach Boys documentary film "The Beach Boys:An American Band" briefly had access to most of the group's 3-track & 4-track tapes (that is, all that had been located up to that point in the 1990's) and rapidly mixed them. Their efforts also reveal that at least four songs from the group's debut album could be presented in stereo. They are "Cuckoo Clock", "Summertime Blues", "County Fair" & "Heads You Win, Tails I Lose". Their efforts also produced stereo mixes of "Cindy Oh Cindy" & "The Baker Man"; songs that Capitol has only release in mono. And one more thing: when Capitol released a true stereo remix of "The Beach Boys Today" in 2012, it was an "artistic decision"( a dubious one, I would say) to create a stereo mix of "In The Back of My Mind" with a single tracked lead vocal. The unofficial "Sea of Tunes" stereo mix has the double-tracked lead vocal(as on the original mono mix). Undoubtedly, the stereo mix with the single-tracked lead vocal is what we'll get when Analogue Productions releases the 2012 stereo remix of "The Beach Boys Today" on vinyl and SACD.(I should explain, if you didn't know, that the albums "The Beach Boys Today", "Summer Days...and Summer Nights", "Beach Boys Party" & "Smiley Smile" were released officially in stereo for the first time in 2012, though many of the songs had already been released either officially or unofficially in stereo on compilations or bootlegs). There are now only two 1960's Beach Boys albums still not offered in stereo: "Surfin' Safari" & "Wild Honey". The problem with the "Surfin' Safari" album is that the three hits (all from pre-Capitol sessions) were actual 1-track recordings. And there may be between one and three songs from "Wild Honey", that due to the techniques used to construct them, can't be remixed for stereo. Certainly, this is true for "I Was Made to Love Her". During that album sessions, the group had a technique used on at least two songs, where the group would record one verse backing track & one chorus backing track, then record vocals, mix them down, then wipe the vocals from the multitrack, record the vocals for the second verse and second chorus etc. The multitracks would then have only the vocals for the final verse and chorus. This is why, when the "Wild Honey" outtake "Lonely Days" appeared on the rarities compilation "Hawthorne, Ca.", it is a brief, incomplete recording(one verse and one chorus only). Barring the possible future discovery of a finished mono mix, what we heard on "Hawthorne, Ca." is all that now exists......that is, IF the group ever recorded vocals for additional verses and choruses.

Jenn's picture

Pretty much unlistenable. Yuck.

Overboard's picture

Any update on when the next phase of Beach Boys titles will be released by Analog Productions? So far, I've bought the "Surfin' U.S.A." stereo vinyl, and the SACD's of "Surfin' U.S.A.", "Surfer Girl","Little Deuce Coupe" & "Shut Down Vol.2" .

"Surfin' U.S.A." was the only 1960's Beach Boys album that I didn't have on 1960's vinyl, but in the next phase of titles, I definitely plan to pick up the stereo vinyl editions of "The Beach Boys Today" & "Summer Days...and Summer Nights". Though those albums will obviously be sourced from 21st century 88.2Khz/24-bit digital mixes, these will be the first ever stereo vinyl editions for these album(I have "Today" on 1960's mono vinyl, and "Summer Days" on 1960's fake stereo "Duophonic" vinyl)

Overboard's picture

News has reached me that the "All Summer Long" L.P. & SACD will be released in July, but that the remaining "Analogue Productions" Beach Boys SACD's & L.P.'s have been postponed until September & December. Why is Analogue Productions playing games with the Beach Boys fans? If Analogue Productions postpones these L.P.'s and SACD's too long, it will eventually be too little, too late. Their license is non-exclusive, so there is nothing to stop Capitol from offering their own vinyl L.P.'s . And as far as high resolution digital editions are concerned, there is nothing to stop Capitol from offering the albums on SACD, Blu-Ray audio or high resolution download.
By the time that Analogue Productions finally releases the "Pet Sounds" L.P. & SACD(in December), these will be products without a market. There have already been audiophile vinyl & SACD "Pet Sounds" releases from Mobile Fidelity, And there is no doubt that Capitol's June 2015 Blu-Ray Audio release will satisfy the surround sound market. It will contain the original mono mix, the 1996 stereo mix, and an all-new surround sound mix(different to the one released some years ago on DVD-Audio).
I bought 4 of the 5 "Analogue Productions" Beach Boys SACD's and one of the stereo vinyl releases, but I've become dismayed at the bizarre marketing strategies of "Analogue Productions". Keep on playing postponement games, and someday, nobody will care anymore.

SpinMark3313's picture

Acoustic Sounds website says July shipping for Surf's Up and Sunflower LP's.

Where did your info come from?

Overboard's picture

All that Acoustic Sounds' website says is "coming in 2015". One of the Hoffman board participants(who contacted Acoustic Sounds) reported the lengthy postponements. My guess is that it is artist permission issues within the ever-feuding Beach Boys. Look what happened to the "Pet Sounds" blu-ray audio release. Now postponed for more than a year, with the latest postponement until late August. My guess is that it is the group's arch-villain Mike Love who is to blame. The 18 months of postponements of the "Pet Sounds Sessions" CD box and the 22 months ordeal to bring the "Made in California" 6-CD box to the marketplace were all due to problems getting Love to "sign off" to permit the releases. It's Love's way of being a constant thorn in the side, not only to Brian Wilson, but also to Beach Boys fans.

Overboard's picture

Obviously, it was easiest for Analog Productions to offer those two 1970's albums next. They've already had access to the masters, and have been offering high resolution downloads of those albums for a long time. If those two 1970's titles fail to appear, it raises the question of whether the continuation of Analog Productions' Beach Boys vinyl & SACD series has halted because of artist and/or label(Capitol) permission issues. Though I have the 2012 stereo remixes of "Today", "Summer Days and Summer Nights', "Party" & "Smiley Smile" on Capitol's mono + stereo CD's, I had wanted very much to have first-time-ever vinyl releases of those stereo versions.(remember, all previous "stereo" vinyl releases of those albums were "Duophonic" fake stereo). Perhaps, if the Analog Productions reissues don't happen, Capitol themselves could offer those 2012 stereo mixes on vinyl. And why shouldn't they? Capitol owns the recordings.
If Analog Productions postpones things for too long, it will eventually be too little, too late. I would have bought Analog Productions' proposed mono + stereo SACD of "All Summer Long", but, by now I've found a free download of the limited edition Japanese stereo SACD of the album.
I supported Analog Productions efforts, buying 4 of the 5 Beach Boys SACD's that they've released so far(all of them except "Surfin' Safari"), plus I bought the stereo vinyl reissue of "Surfin' U.S.A."(the only 1960's Beach Boys album that I didn't have on original 1960's Capitol vinyl). Now the ball is in Analog Productions' court, If they want us to buy more Beach Boys "Product"(I've been denounced on the internet for using the term "Product", but it is a Music Biz term)

Overboard's picture

I decided to replace my vintage mediocre 1969 L.P. of "The Beach Boys-20/20" with Capitol's brand new vinyl edition. Excepting a somewhat muffled mastering of the album's second song "I Can Hear Music", Capitol's new vinyl L.P. is excellent. The grooves are on-center, the vinyl quality is every bit as quiet as the Analog Productions L.P. that I bought("Surfin' U.S.A."), the font is identical to my 1969 "20/20" L.P.
Alas, somethings never change. My "side one" label was printed (or attached) off-center, but, of course that has no effect on play. It's still Capitol Records, whether in 1969 or 2015, right?
But the excellent overall quality of the Capitol vinyl & pressing is encouraging. If Analog Productions never actually releases their vinyl editions of "Today", "Summer Days and Summer Nights", "Party" & "Smiley Smile" (which would have marked the vinyl debut of the 2012 stereo remixes of those albums), I'd be totally O.K. with Capitol doing the stereo vinyl editions themselves. and why not? Capitol owns the recordings.

Overboard's picture

Apparently, Analogue Productions plans to release three more Beach Boys albums("All Summer Long", "Sunflower" & "Surf's Up") on vinyl & SACD in July are not to be. Analogue Productions has now backpedaled from the previously announced July release date. Hopefully, Capitol themselves will offer vinyl editions of the remaining albums that Analogue Productions had planned to release.
As for those who wanted Hi-Rez digital, HD Tracks has just released "The Beach Boys Today", "Smiley Smile" & "Beach Boys Party", offering stereo, mono or Stereo + Mono for each of those 3 albums, and at 96Khz/24-bit or 192Khz/24-bit. Obviously you can either play those on a music server, or, with appropriate software, burn them to disc as DVD-Audio. They should sound every bit as good as Analogue Productions' proposed SACD's would have sounded. Maybe now, Analogue Productions, well-known for delays that drag on for years(for example "Roger Waters-Amused To Death"), will learn the meaning of the expression, "If You Snooze, you Lose".

Silver dot e's picture

Hey Mike....has Pet Sounds been reissued by AP and have you had a chance to listen/review? What's your recommendation for the best available vinyl copy? 'Tis the season!

Lothar's picture

Simply ... The. Best. Ever. Played on a VPI Classic with a Lyra Atlas at 1.72 grams and (unfortunately) through a pair of Sennheiser 580s (it's late) these beat: US originals, UK originals, GER originals and I'm pretty sure they will beat the early '80s Capitol green label budget reissues (which are SQ sleepers on the true stereo and true mono cuts).

With the benefit of headphones I've heard the kinds of things that let you know care was taken on these above and beyond previous editions. Details -- discrete separation of instruments, muffled studio shouts and talk unheard before -- become apparent that just aren't there on other presses.

So far...fantastic. Ditto the AP The Beach Boys Today! and Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) mono reissues.

Opening and playing these is like being a kid on Christmas again. Just first rate. I cannot say enough. Can't wait to get to the stereo APs of Shut Down Vol. 2, All Summer Long, "...Today!" and "Summer Days..." and "Pet Sounds" I have. Yes, I know the last 3 are modern remixes, but I have a feeling I'm going to like them if Surfin' USA and Surfer Girl are any indication.

Get 'em while you can.

Paulo Batista Gomes's picture

Well, when you review the The Beatles MONO I understood that Ortofon SE (Shibata) is the appropriate needle to perform these re-released albums with more proximity to the original albums.
So please allow me to do some questions to you: will be the same Ortofon SE also suitable for these Reissued MONO Beach Boys?
What ideal needle type (geometry) to best play the stereo Reissued versions of the Beach Boys albums?
And to complete my doubts, what kind of needle will play more faithfully Reissued "microgroove Albums"?
Please excuse me for so many questions.

Paulo Batista Gomes's picture

Dear Mr. Michael Fremer - Well, let's see if I understand. Almost all reissues MONO vinyl are cut into stereo machines, which means that they playback best with needle .7mil, and a conical needle 1mil are appropriate to playback the vintage MONO release, which were cut into MONO machines. That's right Mr Fremer???

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