The Beach Boys – Surfin’ USA

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  • An excellent reissue pressing of this Beach Boys classic from 1963 – this one earned Double Plus (A++) grades for sound or BETTER – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is big, open, rich, full-bodied and spacious, with the performers front and center (as well as left and right)
  • 4 stars: “The real breakthrough… The LP was a huge hit, vital to launching surf music as a national craze, and one of the few truly strong records to be recorded by a self-contained American rock band prior to the British Invasion.”

NOTE: Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.

It’s hard to find great sounding Beach Boys records, so when we first heard a Hot Stamper of this title we were blown away. The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the performers front and center (as well as left and right). The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than others by a long shot

This vintage Capitol pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What Amazing Sides Such as These 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 1963
  • 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 studio space

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’ USA

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Surfin’ U.S.A.
Farmer’s Daughter
Misirlou
Stoked
Lonely Sea
Shut Down

Side Two

Noble Surfer
Honky Tonk
Lana
Surf Jam
Let’s Go Trippin’
Finders Keepers

AMG 4 Star Review

The real breakthrough, as Brian Wilson asserts himself in the studio as both songwriter and arranger on a set of material that was much stronger than Surfin’ Safari. Besides the hit title track and its popular drag-racing flip side (“Shut Down”), this has a lovely, heartbreaking ballad (“Lonely Sea”) and a couple of strong Brian Wilson originals (“The Noble Surfer” and “Farmer’s Daughter”).

There are also a surprisingly high quotient of instrumentals (five) that demonstrate that, before session musicians took over most of the parts, the Beach Boys could play respectably gutsy surf rock as a self-contained unit. Indeed, the album as a whole is the best they would make, prior to the late ’60s, as a band that played most of their instruments, rather than as a vehicle for Brian Wilson’s ideas. The LP was a huge hit, vital to launching surf music as a national craze, and one of the few truly strong records to be recorded by a self-contained American rock band prior to the British Invasion.

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