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Released: August 30, 1971

Rating: 4.014 (average of 13 ratings)

Genre: pop > surf music

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. Don’t Go Near the Water
  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


sales in U.S. only --
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated --


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 29
peak on U.K. album chart 15

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Long Promised Road (10/30/71) #89 US

Notes: In 2000, this album was paired with the Beach Boys’ 1970 Sunflower on CD.


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more. NME Magazine’s 100 Greatest Albums

Surf’s Up
The Beach Boys
“The Beach Boys’ catalog is littered with forgotten 1970s LPs that barely scraped the charts upon release but matured into solid fan favorites despite – and occasionally, because of – their many and varied eccentricities. Surf’s Up could well be the most definitive, beginning with the cloying Don’t Go Near the Water and ending a bare half-hour later with the baroque majesty of the title track (originally written in 1966). The LP is a virtual laundry list of each uncommon intricacy that made the Beach Boys’ forgotten decade such a bittersweet thrill – the fluffy yet endearing pop (od)ditties of Brian Wilson, quasi-mystical white-boy soul from brother Carl, and the downright laughable songwriting on tracks charting Mike Love’s devotion to Buddhism and Al Jardine’s social/environmental concerns” (Bush).

“Those songs are enjoyable enough, but 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” (Bush).

“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” (Bush).

“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” (Bush).

“Wrapped up in a mess of contradictions, Surf’s Up defined the Beach Boys’ tumultuous career better than any other album” (Bush).

Review Source(s):

Last updated February 11, 2010.