The Beach Boys

The Trader

Composed by Carl Wilson / Jack Rieley

Song Review by

Carl Wilson’s immensely underrated and overshadowed song writing skills are exquisitely displayed on “Trader”, which is unquestionably an artistic centrepiece of the Beach Boys’ Holland (1973). The album version commences with a surprise spoken introductory “Hi!” featuring the youthful and innocent optimism of Wilson’s son Justyn. The song is split into two distinct parts. The first is a mid-tempo narrative dealing with Yankee supremacy and so-called ‘Divine Providence’. The second effortlessly shifts into a much more affective love song and is driven by a mellower churning rhythm. It likewise highlights some of the band’s most achingly beautiful vocal arrangements and harmonies. Musically, one of the more interesting facets of “Trader” is Carl’s incorporation of a synthesizer to fill out the bass guitar line -- much in the same way brother Brian Wilson would use a string as well as an electric bass to complement each other sonically a decade earlier. The lyrics come courtesy at least in part by Jack Rieley who was concurrently handling some of the Beach Boys business affairs. The song did moderately well on rock FM radio stations and was extracted from the album as the b-side to the “Sail On Sailor” 7” single. In addition to Holland, the Beach Boys also featured the track on their only live platter from the’70s -- imaginatively titled Beach Boys in Concert (1973). ‘60s vocal diva Jackie DeShannon also included “Trader” on her highly recommended release You Know Me (2000).

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Holland 1973 EMI Music Distribution 5:08
In Concert 1973 Capitol 4:46
Ten Years of Harmony 1981 Caribou Records
Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys 1993 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 5:04
Greatest Hits, Vol. 3: Best of the Brother Years 2000 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 5:06
Carl and the Passions - So Tough/Holland 2000 Capitol 5:02
Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 2000 EMI Music Distribution
I Can Hear Music 2002 Capitol 5:06
Made in California 2013 Capitol 5:04
blue highlight denotes editor's pick