In today’s release, we can hear the dramatic growth in roughly one year’s time as Brian Wilson full asserts himself as the leader and dominant creative force within the Beach Boys. The album “Surfer Girl”, released in September of 1963, is the third studio album for the band, and the first completely produced by Wilson.
The title track remains as one of my single most favorite ballads, harmonies, and songs ever released. The beauty of Brian’s falsetto, backed by the rich and unequaled harmony vocals of the band is simply spectacular. This was the perfect song and perfect album for a cold day in February, looking ahead to warmer days and rich ocean breezes. It’s hard to believe how much more evolved this album is in production and song quality from their initial release just one year before, but it underscores how gifted Brian Wilson was as a songwriter, singer and producer.
Several other Beach Boy classics are also on this album. “Catch a Wave” is another beautiful Wilson lead, and “Little Deuce Coupe” features Mike Love with Wilson on the chorus lead. The song formulas are simple and still draw from the 50s rock roots, with most of the songs about some mix of surfing and cars. The other absolute vocal masterpiece on this album is “In My Room”. Not only is this a stunning and haunting melody with even more harmony magic, it sheds some initial light on the highly introverted and painful struggle Wilson wrestled with, even while on top of the musical world.
I know there will be more Beach Boys greatness ahead, but it will be difficult to find a single album, even with some of the less inspired filler content elsewhere on this album, that hits as many high points as this album does. Their recurring delivery of hits through this period is unprecedented, at least on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.