Surfin Safari' - The Beach Boys
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"Surfin Safari'" - The Beach Boys (1962)
In the autumn of 1961 at the behest of Brian Wilson's younger sibling, Dennis Wilson, cousins Brian Wilson and Mike Love composed a song about surfing called "Surfin Safari'
The recording was also self-produced, and taken to Capitol complete with its B-side "409" which was a minor hit. This precedent made the Beach Boys the first total, self-contained artists of the rock era.
It was a huge hit- and not just in the US. Released in June 1962, it initially sold 900,000 copies and was a Top 5 song in Sweden, New Zealand, France and Italy. In Italy and France there were cover versions by local groups in their own language. This was all happening in June 1962- well before the "global media" of the late 60s and beyond.
In addition to being The Beach Boys' first major hit it was also their first recording to display the distinctive counterpoint harmonies for which the group became famous. The recording was also produced by them and this precedent crowned them (or at least Brian Wilson) the first complete, self-contained artists of the emerging late 60s rock era.
Brian Wilson opens the song with his high voice stacked on the top of harmonies "let's go surfin'now. An earlier version began with the phrase "some honeys will be makin' the scene" ... ". It was watered-down by Capitol as "some honeys will be coming along" to avoid controversy that would affect airplay and sales.
Mike Love credits Murray Wilson - father of Brian, Carl and Dennis- - with the distinctive trebely guitar sound on the track. When Brian Wilson would leave the control room to record his bass parts, Murray, who fancied himself a producer, would switch the sounds on the guitars to the treble he preferred. Love feels that guitar sound really cut through and helped "Surfin' Safari" sell.
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