Family Day Vinyl (Part 3)

Wrapping up the Family Day festivities with one last album, a bit of a guilty pleasure no less but, hey, since I’ve already whipped out the ‘Pizza and Bongos‘ I may as well go full hog with this last album of the evening, ‘Surf’s Up‘  by The Beach Boys.


First up, for all you immediate naysayers – this album is a psychedelic masterpiece.

No shit.

The Beach Boys’ post-1966 catalog is littered with albums that barely scraped the charts upon release but matured into solid fan favorites despite – and occasionally, because of – their many and varied eccentricities. ‘Surf’s Up‘ could well be the definitive example, beginning with the cloying ‘Don’t Go Near the Water‘  and ending a bare half-hour later with the baroque majesty of the title track (originally written in 1966).

The album is a virtual laundry list of each uncommon intricacy that made the Beach Boys’ forgotten decade such a bittersweet thrill – the fluffy yet endearing pop (od)ditties of Brian Wilson, quasi-mystical white-boy soul from brother Carl, and the downright laughable songwriting on tracks charting Mike Love’s devotion to Buddhism and Al Jardine’s social/environmental concerns.

Those songs are enjoyable enough, but the last three tracks are what make this album such a masterpiece.  The first, ‘A Day in the Life of a Tree‘, is simultaneously one of Brian’s most deeply touching and bizarre compositions; he is the narrator and object of the song (though not the vocalist; co-writer Jack Rieley lends a hand), lamenting his long life amid the pollution and grime of a city park while the somber tones of a pipe organ build atmosphere.  The second, ‘‘Til I Die‘, isn’t the love song the title suggests; it’s a haunting, fatalistic piece of pop surrealism that appeared to signal Brian’s retirement from active life.  The album closer, ‘Surf’s Up‘, is a masterpiece of baroque psychedelia, probably the most compelling track from the ‘SMiLE‘ period. Carl gives a soulful performance despite the surreal wordplay, and Brian’s coda is one of the most stirring moments in his catalog.  Wrapped up in a mess of contradictions, this album defined the Beach Boys’ tumultuous career better than any other album.

Besides, it’s a Beach boys album with surfing in the title, has has what appears to be a dead guy on the back of a cowering horse on the front cover (actually based on the sculpture “End of the Trail” by James Earle Fraser).  If that doesn’t scream “this is fucked up!”  then I don’t know what does!


About crazytigerrabbitman

I am a fat guy and always will be in the same way they say that “once an alcoholic; always an alcoholic”. Eventually I got upset about my poor health and ballooning body frame so I decided to change things for the better. Some people sign up for Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, or whatever fad diet program it is that happens to be occupying the majority of air time on the boob tube. Other people prefer to run out and purchase the latest, fold away, piece of shit being hawked by some celebrity has-been. Me? I decided to take up triathlon. I had abused my body over the years with bacon cheeseburgers, pints of beer and double-dipped donuts, and the time had now come to abuse my body with physical exertion, perseverance and hard work instead; penitence in it's purest form. The time had come to kick my ass. I am Terry Nash and I am the “fat and the furious”.
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One Response to Family Day Vinyl (Part 3)

  1. zapple100 says:

    My favorite Beach Boy album.

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