Surfer Girl/Shut Down, Vol. 2

The Beach Boys

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Surfer Girl/Shut Down, Vol. 2 Review

by Bruce Eder

The Beach Boys' third and fifth albums make a good pairing on one CD, different as they are in content and origins. Surfer Girl was the album on which the group's and Brian Wilson's sound blossomed, and it did so on several levels. The title track was the first song that Brian ever wrote, and it's lucky that he saved it for this stage in their history, for it features surprising elegant and lush harmonies. The usual assumption is that, because of Wilson's hearing loss in one ear, the group's records work best in mono, but on this, their second album in stereo, the mixing makes inventive use of the two-channel separation, even on "Surfer Girl" (which, as a single in those days, would have been conceived in mono from the get-go). The voices mix in a more subtle and complex fashion than ever before, and the range of instruments used by the group (who were still playing on their own records at this point) includes Hammond organ, as well as some light orchestral embellishment. The songwriting also shows advancement, including "Your Summer Dream," another ethereal ballad by Wilson (featuring his double-tracked lead vocal) that was the distant predecessor to pieces like "The Nearest Faraway Place"; even the seeming throwaway numbers like "Boogie Woodie," a piano-driven instrumental, were above average on the original LP and hold lots of interest here. Shut Down, Vol. 2 was the group's second album built around car songs and the material shows a surprising range of sounds and textures. The requisite rock & roll songs are present, displaying gorgeous harmonies -- the hit "Fun, Fun, Fun" and fine album tracks like "In the Parkin' Lot" -- but so are elegant ballads like "Don't Worry Baby" and "The Warmth of the Sun"; in between are some humorous musical digressions, and two very fine covers, "Louie, Louie" and "Why Do Fools Fall in Love." The bonus cuts, rounding out the CD, are the punchier single mix of "Fun, Fun, Fun," the German-language rendition of "In My Room," and one previously lost cut, "I Do," which shows Brian moving in the direction of Phil Spector's grander productions. [The 2001 remastering features much crisper sound than the 1990 version, and is definitely to be preferred.]

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 The Beach Boys 02:28
2 The Beach Boys 02:10
3 The Beach Boys 02:14
4 The Beach Boys 01:48
5 The Beach Boys 02:02
6 The Beach Boys 01:40
7 The Beach Boys 02:14
8 The Beach Boys 02:02 Amazon
9 The Beach Boys 01:56
10 The Beach Boys 02:24
11 The Beach Boys 02:29
12 The Beach Boys 02:00
13 The Beach Boys 02:05
14 The Beach Boys 02:49
15 The Beach Boys 02:03
16 The Beach Boys 03:31
17 The Beach Boys 02:53
18 The Beach Boys 01:37
19 The Beach Boys 02:09
20 The Beach Boys 01:32
21 The Beach Boys 02:23
22 The Beach Boys 02:09
23 The Beach Boys 02:19
24 The Beach Boys 01:59
25 The Beach Boys 02:22
26 The Beach Boys 02:19
27 The Beach Boys 03:08
blue highlight denotes track pick