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Surfin' USA is the second album released by The Beach Boys and was released in early 1963. This was the group's second album to be credited with production from Capitol's Nick Venet, Capitol Records' representative for Artists and Repertoire.
Surfin' USA (Capitol (S) T 1890) reached #2 in the US, lasting 78 weeks in the charts. It reached #17 in the UK in late 1965. Surfin' USA is now paired on CD with Surfin' Safari, with bonus tracks from that period.
Surfin' USA is notable for giving The Beach Boys their first widespread success with its title track, and for Brian Wilson's increasing prowess in songwriting, as well as vocal arrangement. The fuller-sounding vocals were achieved using double tracking, creating The Beach Boys' own unique sound. As with Surfin' Safari, some have speculated that it was not Nick Venet, the officially-listed producer, but rather Brian, who produced Surfin' USA. The title track, "Surfin' USA", credited as composed by Brian Wilson, was a note-for-note cover of Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen". A lawsuit officially granted Berry writing credit and royalties from the record. Additionally, the lyrics seem inspired by the Bobby Rydell 1959 hit "Kissin' Time" (mentions various cities across the USA), which melodically also borrows liberally from Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen."
What is also interesting about this particular album is that five of its twelve tracks are surf instrumentals, "Stoked" being Brian Wilson's first of many instrumental songs he composed over the years for The Beach Boys. In addition, "Surf Jam" marks the first time Carl Wilson, aged 16 at the time, received a songwriting credit.
While the title track of the album was the center of attention (with its B-side "Shut Down" receiving some notice in the process), there were other highlights to be found. "Farmer's Daughter", the first of many Brian Wilson falsetto lead vocals, was affecting enough that Fleetwood Mac covered it live in 1980, while "Lonely Sea" (an outtake from the Surfin' Safari sessions and the first song Wilson wrote with Gary Usher) is the earliest glimpse of Brian Wilson's melancholic side. "Lana" and "Finders Keepers" (with its Four Seasons-esque hook) are also acclaimed tracks from Surfin' USA.
The title track, "Surfin' USA", became The Beach Boys' first big hit in the US and took its parent album into gold record status and the Top 10, peaking at #2. In 1965, upon re-release in the UK, Surfin' USA would reach #17.
The song "Surfin' USA" is part of the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list. [Wikipedia]
01. "Surfin' USA" Brian Wilson/Chuck Berry Mike Love 2:27
02. "Farmer's Daughter" B. Wilson/Love B. Wilson 1:49
03. "Misirlou" Roubanis/Wise/Leeds/Russell instrumental 2:03
04. "Stoked" B. Wilson instrumental 1:59
05. "Lonely Sea" B. Wilson/Gary Usher B. Wilson 2:21
06. "Shut Down" B. Wilson/Roger Christian Love 1:49
07. "Noble Surfer" B. Wilson/Love Love 1:51
08. "Honky Tonk" Doggett/Scott/Butler/Sheper/Glover instrumental 2:01
09. "Lana" B. Wilson B. Wilson 1:39
10. "Surf Jam" Carl Wilson instrumental 2:10
11. "Let's Go Trippin'" Dick Dale instrumental 1:57
12. "Finders Keepers" B. Wilson/Love Love 1:38