The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, and vinyl that plays about as quietly as any we can find
- The Beach Boys revolutionized the popular music of the Sixties with their genius for harmony, and this copy succeeds where others may fail - it gets their voices right
- Includes classics Long Promised Road, Till I Die, and of course the title smash hit, Surf's up
- 4 stars: "A masterpiece [which] defined the Beach Boys' tumultuous career better than any other album ... The album closer, 'Surf's Up,' is a masterpiece of baroque psychedelia, probably the most compelling track from the Smile period."
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When it works, boy can this album sound AMAZING. Full of tubey magic, not to mention analog warmth and sweetness, this is clearly one of the band's best albums of the 70s.
What's magical about The Beach Boys? Their voices of course, what else could it be? It's not a trick question. Any good pressing must sound correct on their voices or it has no practical value whatsoever. A Beach Boys record with bad sound in the midrange -- like most of them -- is to us a worthless record.
What the Best Sides of Surf's Up Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1971
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
When you drop the needle on a copy with gritty, spitty, harsh, shrill vocals, give up and move on. You have a bad one and no amount of cleaning or adjusting of the table can ever fix it.
What We're Listening For on Surf's Up
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Not only is it hard to find great copies of this album, it ain't easy to play 'em either. You're going to need a hi-res, super low distortion front end with careful adjustment of your arm in every area -- VTA, tracking weight, azimuth and anti-skate -- in order to play this album properly. If you've got the goods you're gonna love the way this copy sounds. Play it with a budget cart / table / arm and you're likely to hear a great deal less magic than we did.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- Don't Go Near the Water
- Long Promised Road
- Take a Load off Your Feet
- Disney Girls (1957)
- Student Demonstration Time
- Feel Flows
- Lookin' at Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)
- A Day in the Life of a Tree
- 'Til I Die
- Surf's Up
AMG 4 Star Review
... the last three tracks are what make Surf's Up such a masterpiece. The first, "A Day in the Life of a Tree," is simultaneously one of Brian's most deeply touching and bizarre 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.
The second, "'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.
The album closer, "Surf's Up," is a masterpiece of baroque psychedelia, probably the most compelling track from the Smile period. Carl gives a soulful performance despite the surreal wordplay, and Brian's coda is one of the most stirring moments in his catalog.
Wrapped up in a mess of contradictions, Surf's Up defined the Beach Boys' tumultuous career better than any other album.