Surfin’ Safari is the debut album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on October 1, 1962 on Capitol Records. The official production credit went to Nick Venet, though it was Brian Wilson with his father Murry who contributed substantially to the album’s production; Brian also wrote or co-wrote nine of its 12 tracks. The album peaked at No. 32 in its 37-week run on the US charts.
The album was preceded by two singles: “Surfin'” and “Surfin’ Safari”, which charted at Nos. 75 and 14, respectively. The success of “Surfin’ Safari” helped secure a full album for the group while an additional single, “Ten Little Indians”, was issued, charting at No. 49.
The group is mainly comprised of people from Hawthorne, California, named Wilson … there’s Brian, Dennis, Carl, and their Dad, Murry Wilson, a long-time songwriter who acts as manager for the outfit. Then there’s the boys’ talented cousin, Mike Love … who sings both the lead tenor and deep bass parts in their unusual vocal arrangements. … [and] young David Marks, a neighbor of the Wilsons who plays a driving rhythm guitar. Brian, the oldest of the Wilson boys, is the group’s leader and vocal arranger. Carl is the very accomplished lead guitarist, while brother Dennis sings and plays the drums. None of them, incidentally, had any formal training, but they all grew up in an atmosphere where music was a regular part of their lives. (excerpt taken from the album’s original liner notes)
In the autumn of 1961, cousins Brian Wilson and Mike Love composed a song on surfing, titled “Surfin'” at the behest of Brian’s younger sibling, Dennis Wilson. They quickly formed a band, bringing in the youngest Wilson brother Carl on lead guitar and Brian’s high school friend Al Jardine on rhythm guitar. Brian took up bass, Dennis the drums and Mike would be the frontman, while they all would harmonize vocals arranged by Brian. Released that December, produced by Hite Morgan, and backed by “Luau”, “Surfin'” made No. 75 in the US Top 100 in early 1962.
Father Murry Wilson became the band’s manager. He submitted a professionally recorded demo tape to Capitol Records that spring. The Beach Boys were signed and “Surfin’ Safari” b/w “409” (from the April 1962 demo tape) was released as a single that June. Al Jardine left the band after the recording of the song “Surfin'” but before the demo session and album session, replaced by Wilson-family friend David Marks— Jardine would rejoin to form a six-member band in the fall of 1963, appearing on the third studio album. With both “Surfin’ Safari” and “409” becoming hits (the former reaching US No. 14), Capitol Records approved a full album. Brian Wilson, who regularly collaborated with Mike Love and Gary Usher, contributed the songs that made up the bulk of the LP.
The second single, “Ten Little Indians”, was less successful, reaching only No. 49, with Brian feeling that “Chug-A-Lug” would have made a better follow-up. Though Mike and Brian are the most prominent singers, Dennis makes his first vocal appearance on “Little Girl (You’re My Miss America)” (shown as “Little Miss America” on the album cover). (by wikipedia
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, is mostly thin and awkward in both the songwriting and production departments. 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. Unfortunately, most of the other cuts (most of which are group originals) are substandard ditties, as Brian Wilson had a way to go before honing his compositional genius. 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.” (by Richie Unterberger )
Mike Love (vocals)
David Marks (guitar, vocals)
Brian Wilson (bass vocals, organ; snare drum on 07.)
Carl Wilson (guitar, vocals, drums on 11.)
Dennis Wilson (drums, background vocals)
Al Jardine (bass, background vocals on 07.)
Nick Venet (guitar, background vocals)
01. Surfin’ Safari (B.Wilson/Love) 2.08
02. County Fair (B.Wilson/Usher) 2.17
03. Ten Little Indians (Wilson/Usher) 1.29
04. Chug-A-Lug (Wilson/Usher/Love) 2.02
05. Little Girl (You’re My Miss America) (Alpert/Catalano) 2.07
06. 409 (Wilson/Usher) 2.02
07. Surfin’ (Wilson/Love) 2.13
08. Heads You Win–Tails I Lose (Wilson/Usher/Love) 2:17
09. Summertime Blues (Cochran/Capehart) 2.11
10. Cuckoo Clock (Wilson/Usher) 2.12
11. Moon Dawg (Weaver) 2.03
12. The Shift (Wilson/Love) 1.55*