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Surf's Up

4.3 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 20, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

"I'd read the things people may know/ The stories they fit me into," David Thomas sings with his usual cryptic, mordant wit. For such a large man, he has a delicate voice, one that evokes desolate vistas and surreal places. He's been creating his own punk American gothic since the mid-1970s with Pere Ubu and more recently with trumpeter Andy Diagram and guitarist Keith Moline (the Two Pale Boys). Surf's Up, the follow-up to their 1996 studio album Erewhon, sounds like deranged Midwestern surf music. Guitars are fed through echo machines and radio receivers, while Thomas's voice weaves around atmospheric beats. The title track in particular, a cover from Brian Wilson's lost Smile album, has an off-kilter tonal beauty--like Miles Davis meets a mad Beach Boys. It, like the entire album, is highly recommended. --Lucy O'Brien
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 20, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Thirsty Ear
  • ASIN: B0000589GO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #516,181 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I live in Huntington Beach, California, also known as "Surf City, USA" Home of Gordie's and Jack's surf shops, home of famous surfers and skaters, home of the long lamented Golden Bear (where I had seen all the boys except Brian play at one time or another) I lived in Huntington Beach back then--in fact I lived in Huntington Beach most of my life and I am OLD.

There was a record store in HB (on Warner) called Jeremiah McCain's that was very influential in making me the rabid rock and roll fan that I am today. In 1974 I was into Genesis, Gentle Giant, Van de Graaf Generator--stuff like that. What we used to call progressive. I was in this store one day and the craaazy hippie (who was neither crazy nor a hippie as it turned out, he was just playing his part with alacrity and verve, but that's a story for another day.) Handed me a sealed copy of this out of the cutout bin.

"This is a progressive record" he said. "Get outta town" I rejoindered in my best hipcat cool. It was a cutout, (for those of you not acquainted with vinyl, record companies would reduce excess inventory by slicing the corner off the cover, or punching a notch or sometimes drilling a hole in the cover--cutouts were dirt cheap, remaindered albums, and the last stop before being reground into budget release Vic Damone retrospectives. The price was 88 cents. What did I have to lose?)

Now I knew all about the Boys, and the Gremmies and the HoDads and all that stuff, although not a surfer personally (no talent for it at all) I am solidly a product of the surf culture. I hung at the Magic Mushroom and ordered my strips and cheese cooked soft.
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By A Customer on January 23, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I found this album in a discount bin on Hollywood Boulevard when I was going to collage. Frank Zappa was my musical ideal at the time. The Beach Boys were already considered an oldies band. I had always liked a lot of their songs and some of their songs I liked a lot but considered them guilty pleasures. Certainly not in the league of Zappa or Hendrix, my musical heroes.
It was a long slow process but this is the album that started to turn the depth of my appreciation for the Beach Boys around. Like most all of their albums there are a few songs on Surf's Up I don't care for but there are more that are as good as any. One, "Surf's Up" is a masterpiece. The album is worth buying for that song alone. Brian Wilson's much deserved fame as a composer, arranger and producer aside, listen to his voice on the song "Surf's Up" as he sings the phrase that starts "I heard the word, wonderful thing". There is nothing in music more beautiful.
Carl Wilson is a significant contributor to the Beach Boys genius and his Feel Flow is one of my favorite Beach Boys songs. Cameron Crow used it to good effect in his movie "Almost Famous" but mysteriously left it off of the soundtrack. "Long Promised Road" is another good song. "Until I Die" is almost too painful to listen to knowing the emotional pain Brian was going through when he wrote it.
As my musical tastes expanded to include more Classical and Jazz the fact I was always on the look out for good Beach Boys compilations finally forced me to acknowledge what my heart and soul had known for so long, The Beach Boys may well be the music looked back on by future generations as some of, if not the best of the late 20th Century, or any other century for that matter.
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Format: Audio CD
Nowhere on the packaging or in the liner notes (or in Amazon's description) is there any indication that these tracks are anything but the original 1960s hits, but even a cursory listening will tell you otherwise. These tracks, a straight reissue of 1985's "Silver Summer" LP, are well-produced and listenable copies, but shame on Fuel 2000 for this deliberate deception. Avoid this CD while the originals are still available.
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Format: Audio CD
... It would appear that someone is either about to be very confused, enlightened, or both.
I've listened to this latest David Thomas postcard three times through now and find myself enjoying it more with each listen; a truly good sign and an experience well known to all fans of Thomas, from solo projex to all things Ubu. Faves so far include the first track, "Runaway," "River," and the beyond-sublime rendition of "Surf's Up." To be able to walk up to the cd player and cue that up when the mood strikes is g-d gift. Thank you.
To top it all off, there's a new Ubu on the way in September.
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Format: Audio CD
This album was originally released in 1971. Although the Beach Boys had lost a lot of their popularity at the time, they were continuing to grow artistically. While Brian was having his well documented mental problems, the rest of the group was forced to step up and write more songs. But Brian did manage to contribute three songs to this album, two of which are excellent ("Til I Die" and "Surf's Up). Carl's two songs here are also great. Oddly, there are no songs by Dennis here. "Disney Girls", by sixth Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, is a bit more "MOR" than the usual Beach Boys song, but I still like it. The rest of the songs, by Alan and Mike, aren't all that special. And I know it was the early '70s and all, but did the album really need TWO anti-pollution songs? But this is still a very good album that Beach Boys fans should enjoy. Give a hoot, don't pollute!
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