The Beach Boys – Surfin’ Safari

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  • The band’s debut album finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • A copy like this is a rare audiophile treat – here are The Beach Boys’ marvelous harmonies from 1962, sounding as rich, warm, clear, natural and lively as you could ever hope to hear them 
  • We have to admit we were wrong about the early Beach Boys pressings sounding like the bad Capitol Beatles LPs we know all too well – some of them can sound great, and this mono early pressing is proof!
  • “… afford[s] a glimpse of the group as they sounded when they were a true band in the studio, before most of their parts were played by session musicians.”

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the band front and center. (It’s a mono pressing of a mono recording so the band had better be in the center or something is definitely amiss.) The highs are extended and sweet. The bass is tight and full-bodied. And this copy has more life and energy than others by a long shot. Very few early Beach Boys records offer the kind of sound you will hear on this pressing, and on both sides no less.

This early Capitol LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s no doubt missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 58 year old tapes. As good as that pressing may be, we guarantee that this one is dramatically more REAL SOUNDING. It gives you the sense that The Beach Boys are right in the room with you.

They’re no longer a representation — they’re living, breathing persons. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. Their voices are so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

Capitol pressings are all over the map. When you find a good one, you can be pretty sure it’s the exception, not the rule. That’s been true to our experience during the thirty plus years we’ve been in the audiophile record business anyway.

What the best sides of Surfin’ Safari have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1962
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Surfin’ Safari

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Surfin’ Safari
County Fair
Ten Little Indians
Little Miss America
409

Side Two

Chug-a-Lug
Heads You Win – Tails I Lose
Summertime Blues
Moon Dawg
The Shift

AMG  Review

The Beach Boys’ debut album, recorded in an era in which little was expected of rock groups in the way of strong LP-length statements… The title track, their first true smash, is great, as is its flip side (“409”), which was not only a hit in its own right, but was the first vocal hot rod classic. “Surfin’,” their debut single (and small national hit), is also good, and one of the few Beach Boys tracks that could be said to have a garage-like quality… It does, however, afford a glimpse of the group as they sounded when they were a true band in the studio, before most of their parts were played by session musicians. Two of the better cuts, “The Shift” and the instrumental “Moon Dawg,” have a grittier-than-usual surf rock base that would flower on 1963 hits like “Surfin’ U.S.A.”

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