The Beach Boys: Surf's Up
Analogue Productions CAPP 070 SA
The Beach Boys
The ultimate pressings of the Beach Boys discography from Analogue Productions!
Produced by the Beach Boys
Audio production — Mark Linett / For Brother Records — Elliott Lott
Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, most from the original master tapes or best sources available
Hybrid Stereo SACD plays in both CD and SACD players, as well as all SACD-compatible DVD players
"These are the best sounding and best-looking versions of the Beach Boys records that have ever been produced. We want everything about these to be better than the original." — Chad Kassem, owner and CEO, Acoustic Sounds
A musical legacy that began in Hawthorne, California and went on to conquer the world. Analogue Productions presents the ultimate pressings of 14 essential Beach Boys albums! Mastered by Kevin Gray, most from the original master tapes, now presented here on Hybrid Stereo SACD, these are awesome recordings to experience.
Worth noting on Surf's Up is Stephen Desper's engineering work — the entire album was mixed to a center channel quad matrix that he was developing at the time.
Surf's Up hit the Top 30 on its first release, reaching No. 29 on the Billboard LP charts — the highest chart placement the group had had since 1967. At the time of its release, Surf's Up was hailed by many as a comeback for The Beach Boys, who were beginning to attract raves for their live performances, including highly acclaimed sets at New York's legendary Carnegie Hall.
Carl Wilson makes solid contributions on Surf's Up with "Long Promised Road" and "Feel Flows," but the album's twin jewels are both from Brian Wilson — "Til I Die" and the title track — one of the centerpieces of the then-unreleased Smile (cowritten by lyricist Van Dyke Parks and here given that album's "Child Is Father to the Man" as a glorious coda.)
Surf's Up track "A Day in the Life of a Tree" is the first in a series of Brian's songs that close the album. It's simultaneously one of Brian Wilson's most deeply touching and unusual compositions; he is the narrator and object of the song (though not the vocalist; co-writer Jack Rieley lends a hand), lamenting his long life amid the pollution and grime of a city park while the somber tones of a pipe organ build atmosphere. "Til I Die," isn't the love song the title suggests; it's a haunting, fatalistic piece of pop surrealism that appeared to signal Brian's retirement from active life.
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2. Long Promised Road
3. Take a Load Off Your Feet
4. Disney Girls (1957)
5. Student Demonstration Time
6. Feel Flows
7. Lookin' at Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)
8. A Day in the Life of a Tree
9. 'Til I Die
10. Surf's Up
Review by Rick Kosmick - October 5, 2016
“Surf’s Up“, the Beach Boys release from 1971, may not be quite a masterpiece but it comes close in realizing the group’s change in direction from their roots in the California saga of fun in the sun and surf music toward social consciousness and the environment. The content is abound with wonderful melodies, Beach Boys angelic vocals and harmonies plus strong arrangements from group guru Brian Wilson. To say the least, “Surf’s Up” is a welcome SACD release from Analogue Productions.
With the opening track “Don’t Go Near the Water”, you hear the Beach Boys 'choir' in the lead vocals exchange between Al Jardine and Mike Love with superb backing vocals and wonderful harmonies pushed up in the mix with precise clarity. A Moog synthesizer (Al Jardine) plays lightly as Brian Wilson’s intermittent and dissonant piano creates a striking atmospheric frame around the parameters of the sound field. But the bass (played by session man Daryl Dragon) is thick in tone and lacks clear definition which points to the source tapes of this album.
In my opinion, the original master tapes were not used for this SACD release. I checked the liner notes produced by Analogue Productions with no reference as to the source tapes. Although the fidelity is very good with first rate production on "Surf's Up", the audio appears to be produced from second generation tapes. Still, the mastering done by Kevin Gray is excellent providing a warm analogue sound that manages to imbue this SACD with a higher level of audio quality.
“Disney Girls (1957)” is a Bruce Johnston composition as he takes on lead vocals with lyrics harkening back to a bygone era and a simpler time. Johnston’s vocals are crisp and clear as typical in a Beach Boys arrangement. Johnston also play the mandolin as it reverberates with a light texture in the background. The soundstage is open and expansive capturing a carefree quality to the music.
The best realized song “Til I Die”, and one of the best Beach Boys songs in their vast catalogue, is set out by it’s great vocal arrangement from Brian Wilson. Three lead vocalists (Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson) intertwine on this ballad and credit goes to the audio engineer Stephen Desper who coalesced these vocals in an excellent mix by blending in the always great Beach Boys harmonies. The vocal tracks were subtly supported by vibraphone and organ (both from Daryl Dragon) played in soft tones that add a deft touch to the music. The spatial qualities are just superb!
A few comments about suggestions or confusion that “Surf’s Up” was created for quadraphonic sound. As per the internet site QuadraphonicQuad Forums and information posted by Stephen Desper, the Engineer on the original recordings, he created a ‘virtual format’ to be played in Stereo in devising a 3-D sound image. Warner Records apparently rejected Desper's 'virtual format' for “Surf’s Up” as originally released in 1971. A later printing of a Warner/Reprise LP contained erroneous information that an EV-4 decoder (quadraphonic matrix system) could be used to produce audio in rear channels. Based on this information, Analogue Productions, for this SACD release, probably used an EV-4 decoder to extract audio information to create 4-channel sound. As per Mr. Desper, EV-4 is the wrong decoder and the wrong format (album originally mixed and meant to be heard via a virtual matrix decoder over a 2 speaker system). Reference: QuadraphonicQuad Forums thread ‘Misconceptions about Sunflower so-called quad’.
It should be noted Analogue Productions does not state or claim the SACD is 4.0 Quad. It is stated as a SACD Stereo release.
The Beach Boys “Surf’s Up” is an accomplished set of songs and worthy of a high standing in the upper echelon of their album releases. The sonics may be a little short of the best in high quality audio but it is still embodies a level of excellence in production. A sterling SACD release.
Copyright © 2016 Rick Kosmick and HRAudio.net