Tuesday, August 30, 2011

surf's up

The Beach Boys got serious with this somber and soulful socially conscious concept album with diverse tracks that reflected the vexations within the band. Torn between commercial and artistic impulses, they brought in Jack Rieley to negotiate the rival factions. The squeaky-clean Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston were more inclined toward making a hit record while the Wilson brothers were more interested in experimentation in the studio (and their heads). It was Rieley who suggested the theme of environmental awareness and who insisted on using the song for which the album would eventually be named. He also elected Carl Wilson as band leader. Dennis Wilson had two songs that were not included on the album due to disagreements between the brothers. Everyone else in the band would make compositional contributions to the album: Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, and even Jack Reiely. 'Surf's Up' reached number twenty nine in the US and number fifteen in the UK.

The title track is the centerpiece for the album and was originally written by Brian Wilson with Van Dyke Parks for the 'Smile' sessions. Brian was apprehensive about the project and didn't want to participate; so Carl took over Brian's original recordings and added new instrumentation and vocals with Al Jardine.
"The glass was raised, the fired rose
The fullness of the wine, the dim last toasting
While at port adieu or die
A choke of grief heart hardened I
Beyond belief a broken man too tough to cry"

''Til I Die' was composed solely by Brian Wilson: "Lately, I'd been depressed and preoccupied with death...Looking out toward the ocean, my mind, as it did almost every hour of every day, worked to explain the inconsistencies that dominated my life; the pain, torment, and confusion and the beautiful music I was able to make. Was there an answer? Did I have no control? Had I ever? Feeling shipwrecked on an existential island, I lost myself in the balance of darkness that stretched beyond the breaking waves to the other side of the earth. The ocean was so incredibly vast, the universe was so large, and suddenly I saw myself in proportion to that, a little pebble of sand, a jellyfish floating on top of the water; traveling with the current I felt dwarfed, temporary. The next day I began writing "'Til I Die", perhaps the most personal song I ever wrote for The Beach Boys...In doing so, I wanted to re-create the swell of emotions that I'd felt at the beach the previous night." Carl and Mike sing on the song as well as Brian.
"I'm a cork on the ocean
Floating over the raging sea
How deep is the ocean?
How deep is the ocean?
I lost my way"

'Feel Flows' was written by Carl Wilson with Jack Rieley and sung by Carl Wilson
"Whether wholly heartened life fades away
Whether wondrous will stands tall at my side
Whether whiteness whisks soft shadows away
Feel goes (White puff glisteny shadowy flow)
Feel flows (Black puff glisteny shadowy flow)"

Carl Wilson with Jack Rieley also composed 'Long Promised Road' and, again, Carl Wilson did the vocal. The single (with ''Til I Die' as the flipside) peaked at number eighty nine on the Billboard Hot 100.
"But I hit hard at the battle that's confronting me, yeah
Knock down all the roaddblocks a-stumbling me
Throw off all the shackles that are binding me down"

'Surf's Up'
full album:

Don't Go Near The Water 00:02
Long Promised Road 2:43
Take A Load Off Your Feet 6:16
Disney Girls (1957) 8:47
Student Demonstration Time 12:58

Feel Flows 16:57
Lookin' At Tommorrow (A Welfare Song) 21:46
A Day In The Life Of A Tree 23:45
Till' I Die 26:54
Surf's Up 29:31

Side one
1. "Don't Go Near the Water"   (Mike Love/Al Jardine) Lead vocals:  Mike Love/Al Jardine/Brian Wilson 2:39
2. "Long Promised Road"   (Carl Wilson/Jack Rieley) lead vocal:  Carl Wilson 3:30
3. "Take a Load Off Your Feet"   (Jardine/Brian Wilson/Gary Winfrey)   lead vocals:  Brian Wilson/Jardine 2:29
4. "Disney Girls (1957)"   (Bruce Johnston) lead vocal: Bruce Johnston 4:07
5. "Student Demonstration Time"   (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller/Mike Love) lead vocal:  Love 3:58
Side two
1. "Feel Flows"   (C. Wilson/Rieley)  lead vocal:  C. Wilson 4:44
2. "Lookin' at Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)"   (Jardine/Winfrey) lead vocal:  Jardine 1:55
3. "A Day in the Life of a Tree"   (B. Wilson/Rieley) lead vocals:  Jack Rieley/Van Dyke Parks/Jardine 3:07
4. "'Til I Die"   (B. Wilson) lead vocals:  C. Wilson/B. Wilson/Love 2:41

5. "Surf's Up"   (B. Wilson/Van Dyke Parks) lead vocals:  C. Wilson/B. Wilson/Jardine 4:12

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