The Beach Boys, Surf’s Up

Lenny Kaye

By Lenny Kaye

on 02.21.12 in Reviews

Surf's Up

Beach Boys

The dawning of the 1970s promised fresh beginnings for the Beach Boys, with the reemergence of their own Brothers Records label and a new parent company at Warner Bros. With Sunflower, an auspicious debut, the band found themselves out of sync with their potential audience. Surf’s Up attempted to rectify that, with input from new manager Jack Rieley who urged them to write more socially aware lyrics (resulting in the dire “Student Demonstration Time”), add more modern instrumentation (the synthesizer squiggles in “Don’t Go Near The Water”) and most importantly, insisted that Brian return to the glory that is “Surf’s Up.” Though Van Dyke Park’s lyrics are still abstruse to the point of obfuscation, under Carl’s supervision (Brian still had problems confronting his unfinished masterwork) the song was stitched together from demo versions and original backing tracks, with a new ending based on “Child Is Father to the Man” from the Smile sessions. When set against the goofiness of such as “Take A Load Off Your Feet” and “A Day In The Life of a Tree,” and the rarified beauty of Bruce Johnston’s “Disney Girls (1957),” the album resonates on as many levels as the complex intra-personalities of the Beach Boys themselves.