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Surf's Up

The Beach Boys

1971

Buy At Rough Trade
Surf's Up
Album Summary

Surf's Up is the 17th studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released August 30, 1971 on Brother/Reprise. It received largely favorable reviews and reached number 29 on the US record charts, becoming their highest-charting LP of new music in the US since 1967. In the UK, Surf's Up peaked at number 15, continuing a string of top 40 records that had not abated since 1965. The album's title and cover artwork (a painting based on the early 20th-century sculpture "End of the Trail") are an ironic, self-aware nod to the band's early surfing image. Originally titled Landlocked, the album took its name from the closing track "Surf's Up", a song originally intended for the group's unfinished album Smile. Most of Surf's Up was recorded from January to July 1971. In contrast to the previous LP Sunflower, Brian Wilson was not especially active in the production, which resulted in thinner vocal arrangements. Lyrically, Surf's Up addresses environmental, social, and health concerns more than the group's previous releases. This was at the behest of newly recruited co-manager Jack Rieley, who strove to revamp the group's image and restore their public reputation following the dismal reception to their recent albums and tours. His initiatives included a promotional campaign with the tagline "it's now safe to listen to the Beach Boys" and the appointment of Carl Wilson as the band's official leader. The record also included Carl's first major song contributions: "Long Promised Road" and "Feel Flows". Two singles were issued in the US: "Long Promised Road" and "Surf's Up". Only the former charted, when it was reissued with the B-side "Til I Die" later in the year, peaking at number 89. In 1993, Surf's Up was ranked number 46 in NME's list of the "Top 100 Albums" in history. In 2000, it ranked number 230 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums. As of 2021, it is ranked as the 761st highest rated album of all time on Acclaimed Music. Session highlights, outtakes, and alternate mixes from the album were collected for the 2021 compilation Feel Flows.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.25

Votes

10501
Genres
Pop
Rock
Psychedelic Rock

Reviews

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Thu May 13 2021
5

I must admit to have never even heard of this album. The tone of the album artwork seemed like such a departure from the beach boys I’m familiar with. I had to double check and see whether the website was using the right image. I can report this album is fantastic. How it’s been hidden from me for so long remains a mystery.

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Sat Feb 13 2021
5

Enjoyed a lot. Environmentalist, forward-thinking rock. I love the whole album top to bottom, only thing that I found weird was the song Take a Load Off Your Feet, but other than that everything was top notch. Disney Girls, Student Demonstration Time, and Long Promised Road are my favorite, Will revisit, and other than Take A load off your Feet I loved it top to bottom, even with weird songs like A Day in the life of a tree, 8/8.

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Sun Aug 14 2022
5

*deletes student demonstration time* Ahhh a perfect album

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Thu Apr 15 2021
5

This was not surfin USA. Man they were special.

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Wed Apr 05 2023
5

I know this isn’t a five star record. Logically, it can’t be. Student Demonstration Time is laughably bad, Disney Girls is schmaltzy and sounds dated (even by Beach Boys standards) and A Day in the Life of a Tree is legitimately bizarre. But also… This is a 5 star record. It’s dark, psychedelic, and weird. It’s all over the place and isn’t quite as finely polished as other Beach Boys records. Not to say it’s poorly produced, however. It’s a Beach Boys record, after all. It’s a very layered and lush record, it just has more of a DIY, home-y kind of feel to it: a little ramshackle, but in the best possible way. The highs they hit on songs like the absolutely amazing Surf’s Up and Feel Flows, ‘Til I Die, Long Promised Road, Don’t Go Near the Water and Lookin’ at Tomorrow more than make up for the lows on the songs I mentioned earlier. And honestly, Disney Girls and A Day in the Life of a Tree aren’t bad, the production on both is well done and I don’t always skip them. They’re just a little off by comparison to the rest of the record. “Student Demonstration Time” is the only real, true blue stinker - if you ever wondered what it would be like to watch Mike Love dance burlesque while giving an oral history of protests in the late sixties….go listen to Student Demonstration Time. It sucks and I think there’s a pretty good case for it as the worst Beach Boys song ever released. But enough about that doofus Mike Love, Surf’s Up is a classic Beach Boys record and, frankly, it’s my favorite of theirs.

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Fri Aug 13 2021
3

You see "Beach Boys," you see "Surf's Up," and you think you know what you're getting into, only for Brian Wilson to treat the title drop at the tail end of the record like some sort of cruel punchline playing on your expectations. On one hand, it feels like they're punching above their weight class with the heavier subject matter—a lot of the songs have a message, but lack nuance ("I know we're all fed up with useless wars and racial strife / but next time there's a riot, well, you best stay out of sight"). On the other, I kind of appreciate the effort, since it's a bit more interesting than the album I pictured in my head, and the sounds are often pleasant, even borderline beautiful on side two. I can definitely see why the Beach Boys have the reputation they do amongst music critics, but I had to push past cheesy environmentalism and songs about washing your feet to get there. Key Tracks: Disney Girls (1957), Feel Flows, 'Til I Die

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Tue May 10 2022
3

The kind of weird and soulful record you need to listen to hear once per annum to remind yourself the hippie dream wasn't always just another way to shill the consumer. Eccentric, blissful, goofy. And political as fuck.

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Wed Nov 25 2020
2

Yeah I mean it’s the fucking beach boys. You get what you pay for.

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Sat Jan 23 2021
2

What on earth is this album supposed to be

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Fri Jul 23 2021
2

A weirdly, subtly sinister Beach Boys record. The songs are, I hesitate to use the word but, solid, just weird in certain spots ("Student Demonstration Day" sticks out the most, super cheery but very, very dark). Not a record I plan on really revisiting. Favorite track: "Disney Girls"

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Sat Jan 16 2021
5

Nice, I really liked it. It sound so dark and sweet at the same time

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Sat Nov 13 2021
5

I’ve been waiting for some Beach Boys music, as I have only been exposed to their greatest hits and was pretty sure I was missing out on something. I had no idea how true that was... “Don’t Go Near The Water” seemed like a strange opening for an album entitled SURF’S UP by The Beach Boys. But I loved the song. It is heartbreaking how applicable it is 50 years later. I instantly loved “Long Promised Road” with its quiet verses and rocking choruses. The bridge was so beautiful. Couple that with the deep and complex lyrics... such an impressive song. “Take a Load Off Your Feet” is really wild! Strange as it starts off talking about wrinkly feet. “Take good care of your feet, Pete”. Bizarre sound effects abound in this song, including car horns, clanking plates. I loved it! I also loved this version of “Disney Girls (1957)”. Really like the three-syllable treatment of ‘Disney’. I have always loved this song but did a disservice to myself by not seeking out this original. There is so much more dimension in this performance than the covers I've heard. “Student Demonstration Time” has a unique feel but is very well done and catchy - a bit surprising since it is documenting student riots and police shootings. The synthesizer siren is pretty cool - quite a song. "Feel Flows" is so unique and beautiful. "Unfolding enveloping missiles of soul recall senses sadly". The complicated lyrics along with the sort of weird backward overdubbing makes for a really psychedelic while still unmistakably The Beach Boys. I love this song. "Lookin' At Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)" is so applicable today it disturbs me to think of how little progress our world has made despite the technical revolutions of the last 5 decades. Really incredible. "A Day in The Life of a Tree" contrasts dramatically to something like "Feel Flows." This elegiac song starts off an you might not suspect it was The Beach Boys. But as the organ swells those unmistakable harmonies join in and the song begins to soar. Another really incredible song. "'Til I Die" is really a beautiful and haunting song that is such a prime example of the happy/sad currents underlying the Beach Boys music. "Surf's Up" is an epic ending to the album that left me stunned. Haunting. The song craft on SURF'S UP is beyond belief. The songs' deep environmental, personal and sociological themes are still sharp and even more pertinent today. I've already listened to this 5 times and every time I get more out of each song. This is one incredible album that has completely changed how I think about The Beach Boys.

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Sat Nov 13 2021
5

Holy holy, what an absolute gem of an album. Can't believe I've never heard it. The album starts with The Beach Boys telling me NOT to go near the water. What? This was unexpected. To be honest, this song is a little cheeseball and a bit too on the nose. It could've been (maybe was) a TV ad for water conservation. But other than the surprising message, this sounds like a Beach Boys song. Long Promised Road is a beautiful, beautiful pop song. I just love it. Can't believe it wasn't a bigger hit. Take a Load Off Your Feet is catchy and ridiculous. I knew Captain & Tennille's cover of Disney Girls but had no idea it was a cover of a Beach Boys song. This is another really lovely pop song with an achingly exquisite melody sung so beautifully by Bruce Johnston. When he sings "oh" in the chorus, it goes straight to my heart. I love this one. From that we go straight to a heavy blues riff and some sirens for Student Demonstration Time. This has some of the best lyrics including, "The pen is mightier than the sword, but no match for a gun." Fuck. Feel Flows definitely sounds like the Beach Boys singing but doesn't sound like a Beach Boys song. The instrumental section is prog rock with flutes and all. This is another one that I love. I don't know what to say about Lookin' At Tomorrow. I just don't. A Day in the Life of a Tree is from the p.o.v. of said tree accompanied by a sad carnival calliope. Again, Til I Die and Surf's Up sure sound like the Beach Boys singing but they are eerie and haunting and the opposite of the carefree surfing songs I've come to expect from these guys. They're stunning. I am so grateful to have been introduced to this precious piece of work. We've only been together, this album and I, for about 24 hours but already we are in a pretty serious relationship that I think is going to last for quite some time.

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Thu May 27 2021
4

4.5 | Sobre los Beach Boys se podría decir mucho, basta decir que son mucho más de lo que la gente piensa como música surf de fiesta playera y 5 monitos con camisas iguales cantando con sonrisota. Este disco al parecer es el último de ese periodo de muchísima creatividad y propuesta, tras la apatía de Brian Wilson la banda seguiría intentando lograr recuperar terreno pero es un hecho que la mente creativa y gran parte del talento siempre fue él. Así queda un disco medio raro pero bueno, muy bueno he de decir pero con puntos muy extraños. Puedo empezar por los puntos bajos, la canción Student Demonstration Time es, a mi parecer el punto más bajo del disco, un rocanrol realmente básico tal cual copiado y pegado de lo que ya para ese entonces era un estándar del género, sin cambiarle nada, metiendo unos ruidos mal hechos y una sirena que parece de patrulla de juguete, distorsión mal nivelada y una letra tremendamente patética que parece parodia de sí misma diciendo "muchachos estudiantes mejor no se rebelen no hagan demostraciones," pareciera que como en este disco todos tuvieron chance de hacer una canción el primo sin talento pues también debe de tener chance y aquí esta su contribución (no es exageración Mike Love es primo de sangre y la verdad es que su contribución normal era básicamente tocar el pandero y estar de bulto), quizá su mensaje era tratar de hablar sobre lo peligroso de la época para un estudiante, no se si se creía Neil Young pero falló catastróficamente en el intento, la letra es burda y nomas mal escribir letras sobre una canción de hace 15 años para mí no cuenta. Vamos al segundo tope, Al Jardin quien cree que tiene todo el sentido hacer una canción sobre los pies, musicalmente no es terrible, solo siento que para el disco termina sintiéndose como música infantil; si bien musicalmente no ofende, hasta podría decir a mí me suena como a algo de Dr. Demento que me gusta mucho, pero aquí cae como balde de agua sin sentido con su sonido tipo naif y su exageración en efectos graciosos que estorban, líricamente es... sobre pies, hizo una canción sobre los pies porque la canción Hair estaba de moda... Hair... que habla sobre todo un movimiento social y lo que fue volcar estructuras sociales a través de el estilo propio y romper estereotipos de género y actitud que tenían cientos de años... y Al Jardin lo que toma de eso es "Bueno... si hicieron sobre el cabello yo hago sobre... ¡los pies!." El resto del disco en general muchísimo mejor, se siente como si fuera sobre una nostalgia de algo que se te está escapando de entre los dedos, desde la ironía de variedad de lecturas que le puede dar uno al título, la manera en que la primera canción puede sonar medio chistosa y sin sentido pero cuando se reflexiona la letra de ella y la última canción se vuelve mucho más sombría. La dulzura y clásico de Disney Girls. La psicodelia y letra sin sentido de Feel Flows pero con una producción y orquestación espectacular termina como quizá de las mejores canciones de pop progresivo que he escuchado. El cierre del disco, es lo que lo eleva a clásico, esas tres canciones de Brian Wilson son espectaculares (incluso si una es sobre un arbolito), el órgano de iglesia, el melotrón y la caja de mono cilindrero, el fraseo simple y los coros punteados... nadie hacía música así, es de esas composiciones que equiparan y en varios sentidos superan cualquiera de los experimentos sonoros de los Beatles. Till I Die como si trajera de vuelta la base del sonido surf de inicios del grupo y la deshiciera por completo, reacomodara en algo totalmente depresivo añorante con una de sus mejores letras mostrando como el surf rock puede dar todas esas emociones y sensaciones extrañas que te puede dar el solo escuchar las olas y como si dijera "aquí ya acabó la fiesta solo está el mar pegando en las rocas." Surfs Up cerrando de nuevo con arreglos y música únicos en una canción que de cierto modo tardó cinco años en terminar. Nada más que decir, excelente disco con una canción mala y otra demasiado extraña, a ratos se nota demasiado la variedad de escritores y lo fragmentado de la banda, pero es bastante disfrutable y termina en un cierre grande. Parece que este fue el último "gran" disco de los Beach Boys y si así fuera, se fueron con un excelente destello antes de su decadencia.

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Mon Mar 29 2021
4

Very nice stuff from the boys, consistent theming and excellent sound, but whoever thought that "Take a Load Off Your Feet" should make the final cut needs to be fired lol

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Wed Mar 23 2022
4

Very much not what I was expecting from the Beach Boys, as somebody who knows almost nothing about them. Excellent, though.

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Fri Mar 17 2023
4

A famously patchy album. Some absolute dross here, along with some of the Beach Boys best, most astounding songs. Feel Flows, Surf's Up, Til I Die, all incredible. Til I Die especially incredible, find the longer version, everyone deserves to hear it, even Mike Love. Then there's Student Demonstration Time.

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Wed Nov 22 2023
4

The admonition not to go near the water is sadly even more powerful a damnation today than it was in 1971. Look how much we’ve learned and how little anyone gives a shit! That dude on the album cover is us. Surf’s up, and it’s plastic wrappers and bottles from a sea of garbage.

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Thu Jul 29 2021
2

You gotta feel sorry for these guys. They had that snappy, surfy early sixties sound that defined them and brought California to the world. Then the music scene changed and they tried to be more experimental and serious, but I think their original fans wanted to hear Surfin' US and other fans in the 70s, like me, refused to listen to this because it's the Beach Boys and are asking "what's the point?"

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Thu May 27 2021
5

Qué buen disco. Sabía poco o casi nada acerca de los Beach Boys; ubicaba las rolas obvias con tono surf y sus tristes intentos en épocas más recientes de explotar esa nostalgia, pero no tenía noción de todo lo que pasó en medio y de todos los cambios musicales que tuvieron. De este disco en especial me gusta que ahondan de hecho casi nada en esa onda surf (sin dejarla de lado) y tampoco sobreproducen sus vocales. Por lo que leí, esto viene por la ausencia de Brian Wilson en la producción, y de hecho veo que las rolas que más me gustaron (Long Promised Road y Student Demonstration) no son de él.

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Thu Jan 14 2021
5

I really enjoyed listening to this album. It was very moving. Besides Surf's Up, the best realized song on this album is Disney Girls (1957).

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Fri Jan 15 2021
5

Awesome mix, some of the best of the beach boys

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Mon Feb 22 2021
5

Concept album? Not yet! But soon...

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Fri Mar 26 2021
5

No i plazowe chlopaki sie wylosowaly, dosc troche ich albumikow przesluchalem i sa dla mnie jak hamerykanski brat blizniak beatelsow, ktory caly czas pozostaje w ich cieniu, podobna ewolucja bojsbendowego grania popowego do powazniejszych plyt juz bardziej typowo rokowych, ciekawa sprawa jest takze to, ze banda byla zalozona przez 3 braci Wilsonowych, ich kuzyna Mika i niepowiazanych krwia Ala i Brucea, wiec dosc rodzinne granie, surfs up, siedemnasty albumik studyjny, jest juz jednym z tego okresu tworczosci, gdzie cukrowe tracki ustepuja temata majacym na celu uswiadomienie sluchacza w konkretnej sprawie, a nie tylko cieszyc ucho, wiec uslyszymy tutaj songi z perspektywy fabryki tlenu, o akwenach, dziury w ziemi, biedaka bezdrobtnego, a to wszystko w rozbudowanych kompozycjach lirycznych, ktore potrafia zamienic song o drzewie w prawdziwy dramat, drwic z wlasnych korzeni surfowego popu, prawiac o poszanowaniu wody, czy o tak prozaicznych rzeczach jak zeby nie byc grubasem i dbac o zdrowie, ale nie sama strona liryczna stoi albumik, bo jednak beach boye sa znane przedewszystkim z tego co jak wygladala produkcja ich materialu, bo sami byli sobie panami produkcji, wiec albumiki wygladly tak jaki mieli koncept, wiec pisanie tutaj o instrumentalach nie ma calkowicie sensu, gdzie tak jak w tracku long promised road cala kompozycja zostala stworzona w calosci przez Carla Wilsona, liryka, instrumenty produkcja, az ciezko w to wierzyc, ze w taki sposob moglby powstawac tak zlozone kawalki, kolejnym punktem wartym uwagi jest uzycie syntezatorow w dosc innowacyjny sposob na feel flows, ostatnim elementem ktory stanowi o tym ze chlopaki z plazy to chlopaki z plazy jest wykorzystanie chorkowania i overduba do tworzenia melodii, taki poziom zgrania bandowego, to cos rzadkiego do uslyszenia, ciezko wybrac cos na dodanie plejkowe, bo takie albumy staram sie sluchac od poczatku do konca, ale gdybym mial cos dodac to chyba tytulowy surfs up, ktory swoja kompozycja przypomina mini opere z tymi ultra wysokimi wokalami i podzialem na trzy czesci 4 minutowego kawalka, bo sam albumik ma tylko 33 minuty, to ciezko znalezc tam jakiekolwiek miejsce ktore mialoby byc zapychaczem, wiec zakonczyc epicka operowa ballada jest jak najbardziej na miejscu, zazwyczaj taki kawalek bylby raczej openingiem

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Thu Aug 19 2021
5

My fav Beach Boys album, I know this is a controvercial take but something about these batch of songs just resonate so hard with me.

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Thu Nov 25 2021
5

tender, ecological, elegies for kindness and gentleness

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Thu Nov 18 2021
5

Probably the nearest the Beach Boys came to making a truly psychedelic album, this is simply masterful. The lyrics are more thoughtful than previously expected and cover some ecological and political themes. The usual vocal harmonies are there of course, plus there are some interesting musical textures. It's disappointing that no Dennis Wilson tracks were included as his songs were to the highlights on the previous Sunflower album. The mood is generally quite mellow with the raucous 'Student Demonstration Time' placed at the end of side one to wake you up after the gently nostalgic 'Disney Girls'. Highlights include 'Don't Go Near The Water', 'Feel Flows', 'Til I Die and the masterful title track. I also have soft spot for the humorous 'Take Good Care of Your Feet'.

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Sat Jan 08 2022
5

it was so cool hearing beach boys' political side! i loved it!

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Tue Jan 11 2022
5

One of the better no-Brian albums, in part because it uses so much Smile material. But it also has one of my favourite Beach Boys tracks ever, Disney Girls, evokes a great sense of nostalgia while also critiquing the very same feeling. It does also have Student Demonstration March which is fucking awful sooooo

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Thu Jan 20 2022
5

This is fun and makes me smile one big smile!!

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Fri Feb 04 2022
5

This album was so good! I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, even if some of the tracks were a bit strange.

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Sat Feb 12 2022
5

I didn’t know this album at all. My knowledge of the Beach Boys begins and ends with Pet Sounds. I really liked this album- it seemed so familiar. I can totally hear where Belle and Sebastian get their sound. Those Harmonies…

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Sun Mar 13 2022
5

not a bad song on this album. didn't think i'd enjoy it but i loved it Long Promised Road #1 Disney Girls and Surf's Up #2 Take A Load Off Your Feet #3 A Day In The Life Of A Tree i know my #2 and #3 are controversial but they're great lol

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Wed Jun 22 2022
5

Great tunes! My favourite is the Long Promised Road, but all of the songs was a great surprise and experience. A bit Beatles-ish, but in a good amount. Saved to favourites.

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Sun Jul 10 2022
5

Beach Boys are really hit and miss for me. I love them, or I hate them. This was a good one.

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Wed Aug 03 2022
5

I thought the Beach Boys were little more than just singing about the ocean and relaxing on the beach, not that there's anything wrong with that, but boy did this album prove me wrong. There's an actual message behind these lyrics, and, without being too preachy, it nails the balance between message and good music. The vocals might be a bit different than usual when one thinks of the Beach Boys, but they are still bright and wonderful. This album shows that the Beach Boys aren't just a one-note band, and that they can branch out and make meaningful music.

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Sun Aug 14 2022
5

Love this album, probably the last great beach boys album. Don’t go near the water and long promised road are great, take a load off your feet is fun. Disney girls is nice and sweet. Student demonstration time was probably my least favorite, just felt nothing like the rest of the album and was pretty bland. A day in the life of a tree and ‘til I die are wonderful. My favorite song is probably surfs up, the lyrics and feel of it are mystical.

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Sat Aug 20 2022
5

This was so cool and way ahead of its time. I listen to indie music now that has an eerily similar sound.

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Tue Aug 30 2022
5

Given what I have heard from the Beach Boys and the title of the album, this was not what I expected.

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Sun Sep 25 2022
5

I hear some of my favorite bands in here (MGMT, Foxygen, Beach House). I've always gravitated to Pet Sounds, but this album is spectacular with its psychedelic beachy sounds. This is when this 1001 challenge pays off - I'll be listening to this on repeat.

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Wed Sep 28 2022
5

Last beach boys album was last week also on tuesday

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Mon Oct 31 2022
5

This is a bit of a weird album. It feels like classic Beach Boys, but it has a rock and prog twist. It still has that emphasis on the voice backing track that comes with many Beach Boys songs. The songs in this album all feel fun or dreamy, but they have interesting lyrics that hold your attention. The album has some mixing problems, but it doesn’t impact the feelings at all. Overall it was an interesting listen-through when I expected a normal Beach Boys album. Favorite track: Long Promised Road

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Tue Nov 15 2022
5

Song highlights: Don't Go Near The Water, Long Promised Road, Feel Flows, Surf's Up

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Thu Nov 17 2022
5

OK, I was so wrong to think the beach boys as a not as good version of the beatles. I absolutely love this album.

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Wed Dec 07 2022
5

Its a very imperfect album. BUT, straight up, has some of my favorite songs of all time.

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Wed Feb 08 2023
5

Fav songs: - Take A Load Off Your Feet - Student Demonstration Time - 'Til I Die

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Wed Feb 08 2023
5

Absolutely great songs on first listen.Deserves a Relisten

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Thu Jun 02 2022
5

I think I’ve gotta go 5 here. Never listened to this before but I loved it. So much more heft than I’m used to with The Beach Boys. A Fay in the Life of a Tree was my favorite but everything was good.

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Sat Mar 11 2023
5

A beautiful album, I'm glad to have heard it. So many great songs and they were well ahead of their time with their songs that were environmentally conscious! The songs on this album are very meaningful and a few of them really spoke to me. They all have such a great soundscape, too, often with layered melodies or unique sounds. The Beach Boys are just amazing. It's a shame that I only knew their "beachy" songs, which was admittedly all I'd heard of them, myself, before listening to this album. I think that's probably all most people know of their music, but I can't say for sure. Either way, these songs are timeless and I feel more enlightened after hearing this album. Bravo.

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Wed Mar 29 2023
5

Love this - had it for years!

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Mon May 08 2023
5

This album is fantastic. The only meh song is the one about feet. Otherwise a beautiful, near perfect experience. Great lyrics with soft, smooth vocals. I think I enjoyed it even more than Pet Sounds overall.

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Mon May 08 2023
5

Great lyrics and vocals. Student Demonstrations Time, A Day in the Life of a Tree, Til I Die were amazing. Love this kind of music. Reminds me of the Beatles in some songs.

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Wed May 10 2023
5

10/10 easily one of the Beach Boys best albums a lot darker and more mature than their previous stuff

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Sun May 21 2023
5

Gotta stick up for The Beach Boys here. Yes, this has some downright embarrassing material on it, with things like "Take A Load Off Your Feet" and "Student Demonstration Time," but it also contains some of their most significant post-Pet Sounds output with songs like "A Day In The Life of A Tree" and "'Til I Die." Those songs really capture Brian Wilson's depressed, and almost completely defeated mindset at the time of the recording, and they are things of devastating beauty. Not to mention the title track, which is one of the most exquisite leftovers from the SMiLE sessions. I always interpreted it as Brian's way of saying goodbye to the surf music of their youth. Carl's two contributions "Long Promised Road" and "Feel Flows" hold up really well, even alongside Brian's material. Their last truly great album. A mixed bag for sure, but ultimately I think the power of the strong tracks outweigh the weaker ones.

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Tue Jun 06 2023
5

Surf's Up and its predecessor Sunflower are the two best BB albums and together with Holland probably the only three BB 5-star albums. Most songs on Surf's Up require a couple of listens and then become better and better. Favourite tracks: Surf's Up, one of the best album closers ever, and 'Til I Die.

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Thu Jun 15 2023
5

Doesn’t sound like the Beach Boys at times, but it was still a great collection of songs

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Sun Jun 25 2023
5

I’m blown away. I already knew and accepted Brian Wilson as a precious musical genius unlike any other, but as a lyrics first listener I’m finding so much previously discovered poignancy and magic here. I’ve never heard this album before, and the idea of socially conscious Beach Boys had me worried I’d be experiencing some bizarre cognizant dissonance with it, but instead I am utterly surprised and delighted! I love this sound, I love the lyricism, and I love this point of view for the Beach Boys. It suits them and they wear it well. I’m in awe. This is an amazing fucking album and an instant new favourite for me. Very well done, laser focused execution, and the album cover is breathtaking too. High point for them in my books, and a crown jewel of their discography for sure.

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Tue Jul 11 2023
5

No album documents the end of the sixties better than this. We can herald the start as the hope of Kennedy’s election. His assassination. Beatlemania. MLK. Rfk. the hippie movement. Vietnam. Freedom rides Rosa parks. Selma. Woodstock. Altamont. And it’s all here. The hope is watered down. The seventies have started. Dylan has gone small. The Beatles are breaking up. Only Brian Wilson remains at a creative peak. The beach boys were outsiders of course. And the outsider has a special perspective sometimes. Clean cut, nice boys, gorgeous pop more suited to the fifties but their transition to bearded bloated hippies mirrored the sixties. That they could come up with this as has beens- a nostalgia act for a nostalgia that didn’t yet exist - is astounding. My third favourite beach boys album. 4.8 stars. Rounded up.

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Sun Jul 30 2023
5

Genius from a melodic point of view, while some of the lyrics (ex. A day in the life of a tree) are of a simplicity that makes me cringe and love it at the same time. I'll give it 5 because it doesn't happen every day that an album makes you question your own judgement as to how you feel about it.

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Thu Aug 10 2023
5

This is simply brilliant! It takes you on a journey of joy and darkness like few others can do. But that's just an aperitif for the title track and Carl's vocal tour de force. Must be heard with headphones.

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Fri Aug 18 2023
5

This record is profoundly strange: a bit hokey, splashed with psychedelia and dark in ways no other beach boys release had ever been. The masterful ending couplet of Til I Die and the title track are some of Brian Wilson’s best ever work.

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Fri Oct 20 2023
5

By 1971, the Beach Boys were so far matured beyond their earlier sun in the fun aesthetic that their tragically-titled Surf’s Up LP could open up with a track called ‘Don’t Go Near the Water’. Such a song starts off with scary paranoid piano and some bubbly bursts of wah-wah guitar. Lines like “don’t you think it’s sad … our water’s going bad” imply problems of pollution; such socio-conscious stuff shows that the Beach Boys had suddenly become Beach Men concerned for their world. Nevertheless, the whole tune is couched in a classic Beach Boys vocal arrangement, a simple and stately melody clothed in the well-sewn easy-breathing garments of harmony. After a few very fun verses (complete with squirly synth bass and underwater banjo), the song turns into a heavenly jam session: harmonica wistfully whistling and church-boy choir crooning over mandolin-style madness enrapturing. Slow soulful song ‘Long Promised Road’ comes cruising at a peaceful pace, delicate electro-piano playing over cymbal shimmers and soft-n-wet whip-n-snap percussion. Hippy trippy self-reflection leads to utter triumph in rousing chorus. The beat doubles down and a ghastly choir comes from nothing to sing along: “throw off all the shackles that are binding me down!” Victory. When comes the time to cross the bridge, everything softens in tender trepidation: vocals sing a little unsurely and an unfathomable church-organ unleashes flowing rhapsodic flourishes. O, but another uncertain verse, another convinced chorus. A solo for brassy synth and badass guitar offers a break for breath. Still, the sense of success and ascendancy over oneself returns in catchy catchy catchy chorus. ‘Take a Load Off Your Feet’ is a tune about two feet. Bumble-bee synth accompanies acoustic sharp guitar and childlike voice. Clatter in the background. Glitchy ghost-vox cut in and out (almost accidentally it seems). Earnest electrified voices chime in come chorus to tell you to “take good care of your feet, Pete.” Kettle-pot percussion. Pizzicato pluck-o-strings. Mellow bridge ends with a loud exclamation of “ouch!” All in all, this song strolls by in light and merry mood. Then ‘Disney Girls (1957)’ moves right along with mandolins and gospely progress of piano. A tuneful and gracious peace envelops the piece. With the warm way it’s played and the sugary choice of words, the track is nothing but nostalgia, the singer’s dream for “fantasy worlds and Disney girls”. It’s easy to understand and to get lost in its ear-pleasing loveliness. Perhaps it’s equally easy to consider it all a little too cloying! No matter, the music encounters a change of key via a challenging chain of sudden jazzy dissonant spacious vocal chamber theatrics that’s quite exciting. There’s also whistling! Chuck Berry must have snuck into the studio for ‘Student Demonstration Time’. From the crunchy chug-a-lug intro to the form of chords and standard structure of the song, it sounds exactly like any old blues-based tune. There’s the essential stomping pace and the trademark tickle of tack-piano. What’s new to the tried-n-true are some sirens screaming out from police vehicles and a megaphone used as microphone. Gritty be the distorted delivery of lines about civil unrest and really-bad riots. Overall, it’s an odd anthem that doesn’t fit in with the others on the album. ‘Feel Flows’ swims in psychedelia. With its splish-splash beat and phantom whispers, the song’s a little ominous despite the cheery melody. The unusual sound well serves the general uncertainty of human feelings. In short, the production suits the variable teeter-totter of emotions implied by the title line “feel flows”. Mystical words like “unbending never ending tablets of time / record all the yearning” preach spiritual self-help or some such nugget of New Age language. A cultish council of volunteer vocalists contributes background lines: “white hot glistening shadowy flows / black hot glistening shadowy flows”. Are you enlightened yet? Meditate awhile as an untamed oscillating flute freaks out and a grimy guitar cuts through the chug. Acoustic guitars come back for ‘Lookin’ At Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)’, a disturbed ditty about a poor worker living day-to-day. The chords continue descending despairingly. Singer be-bops as if it’s the only thing he can do anymore besides slave away “sweeping up some floors”. He knows he “…could be doing so much more”; but considering the way his words warp and cut in-n-out of phase, he doesn’t seem so sure to me. Heartbreaking ballad ‘A Day in the Life of a Tree’ describes exactly that. An elegy for the environment, this tune takes the perspective of an old dying oak-tree. Scored for solemn church-organ, the slow song features a cycle of giant chords revolving around a single musical root (furthering the tree theme). Birds chirp as the tree pines on the past: “one day I was full of life / my sap was rich and I was strong / from seed to tree I grew so tall / through wind and rain I could not fall”. But its tired vocals also reflect “but now my branches suffer / and my leaves don’t bear the glow / they did so long ago”. It all culminates in big catharsis. ‘’Til I Die’ carries the mournful mood of the previous piece. Blinding organ flashes out a plucky pattern accompanied by beat-o-drums and bristling bass. Huge cosmic harmonies express sorrowful otherworldly worries with words comparing oneself to “a cork on an ocean”, “a rock in a landslide”, “a leaf on a windy day”; in other words, insignificant matter surrounded by impossible space! It’s accepted with conviction, words of confirmation repeating over-n-over again in mantra: “these things I’ll be until I die”. Gloomy tune! Last track ‘Surf’s Up’ makes for a most mysterious epic. The baroque ball-room-style song of part one features an impatient bass, chittering trumpet, skittering xylo, spooky whispers, and all such unsettling stuff plus obscure oddball lyrics about “columnated ruins domino”-ing (matched to the highest of high-notes). Suddenly: “are you sleeping, Brother John?”. Part two’s for piano. Couple of sunny chords accompany solo singing. There’s almost too many words tumbling out of the mouth; they rise quickly, emotionally, all in a desolate, desperate delivery. The structure resets and the words “surf’s up” are sung. Nevertheless, this ain’t no surf song! Those days are long dead-n-done. This is frightful enlightenment. Part three explodes with energy, vast harmonies enriching the scene with tragic expressions of “child is the father of man” maybe meaning that innocence is ended and that the surf is up and over forever. Surf’s Up teems with mellow and mournful music about reality and existence. Despite its little quirks and ostensibly lightweight look, Surf’s Up sinks deep in your soul if you allow it. I sure did.

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Mon Oct 30 2023
5

I LOVED this album! It’s weird but the message illustrates through the album is still relevant today. Very forward-thinking message. A total deviation from what I expected a Beach Boys album called ‘Surf’s Up’ would be

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Wed Nov 01 2023
5

A classic from my first year in High School.

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Wed Nov 22 2023
5

Surf's Up by The Beach Boys. This was a real surprise, was expecting surfing USA got a lyrically hard hitting rock album. Student Demonstration Time has been added to my general rotation of songs as I think its brilliant, over all the entire album had me engaged and was such a surprise

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Tue Dec 26 2023
5

Album #489 (1001 challenge): "Surf's Up" by the Beach Boys (1971) "Surf's Up" is the 17th studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys. The album addresses environmental, social and health concerns at the behest of newly recruited co-manager Jack Rieley in an attempt to revitalize the Beach Boys' image and popularity after recent dismal album sales and tours. He also helped co-write a number of songs. The album also saw less involvement from Brian Wilson with brother Carl Wilson taking more of a lead. The album did fairly well reaching #29 in the US and #15 in the UK. It also received largely favorable reviews. The album opens with "Don't Go Near the Water," an environmental commentary on pollution. Piano and bouncey, wobbly guitars. Al Jardine and Mike Love on lead vocals. The song ends with group harmonies. Carl Wilson takes the lead vocals on "Long Promised Road." Impassioned singing. Soulful sounds with the piano and backing vocals. Tales of life and love as we go through different stages. "Disney Girls (1957)" continues the serious tone with Bruce Johnston on lead vocals as he reminisces about simpler, more innocent times. Slower with a piano and a moog. Nice Beach Boys' typical harmonies. We get theose Beach Boys' harmonies again on "Feel Flows." Carl Wilson sings lead as he reflects on the sensitive side of life. There's a pyschedelic edge (heck maybe even prog) to this song with a guitar jam, laser sounds and a flute. One of the best songs on the album. The last three songs were written by Brian Wilson, the last two being the best. "Til I Die" has multiple lead singers. Great harmonies, soft drums and soft drumming. Death and hopelessness. "Surf's Up" was meant to be on "Smile." Horns, piano with Brian and Carl on lead vocals. Lyrics are the focal point with a man, and maybe the band, experiencing a spiritual awakening. The song ends with harmonies and criss-cross vocals. One of Brian's best songs. This is a really good album maybe the Beach Boys' last one. There's involvement from multiple members. Some of the songs are reminiscent of the older Beach Boys and others show an older, more mature band. A darker edge in the music and lyrics. An album worth going back for a listen.

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Sun Jan 28 2024
5

They go beyond surf rock and push the boundaries by immersing us in their music with blues, balads and pop

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Wed Jan 31 2024
5

Wow Brian Wilson really went eco protestor mode on this one

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Wed Feb 14 2024
5

A flawed masterpiece — I somehow can't give less than five stars. This is some of Brian Wilson's weirdest, wonderful-est music, and a great document detailing the fractured structure of the Beach Boys at a pivotal moment in their storied career. One of my favorite Beach Boys records.

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Thu Feb 29 2024
5

heater album really neat album cover not a single bad track 4.5/5

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Fri Apr 02 2021
4

1971. Key Songs: Don't Go Near The Water, 'Til I Die, Lookin' At Tomorrow

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Thu Oct 08 2020
4

Relaxing listen. Feel Flows is definitely the stand out track here

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Mon May 10 2021
4

A tale of two sides. They stuck the experiments that didn't work on Side 1 and the ones that did on Side 2. It's almost as if you can hear them maturing as the album goes on. I doubt that was the intent, but it's my headcanon. Best track: Feel Flows

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Fri Oct 02 2020
4

01/10/2020 Sat in room listening in the morning, WiFi in the block was down. Excellent album and showed me a side of The Beach Boys I was unaware of. Grew up listening to them in the car but had no idea they had such a strong 'non-commercial' side to them. Almost a 5.

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Mon Jul 19 2021
4

very different fr9m their earlier works

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Fri Jan 15 2021
4

surprised me, interesting listen all the way through. Have never heard this side of the beach boys but i like it a lot.

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Thu Feb 04 2021
4

I was surprised how much I loved this album!

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Mon Feb 22 2021
4

good album, is it a concept album tho?

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Mon Jan 18 2021
4

Expected all the over played Beach Boy stuff. Got something that I would listen to again if I were in the mood. Very pleasant.

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