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Seeking to Capitalize on their local L.A. indie-label novelty hit, "Surfin'," the Beach Boys and their nascent sound (tales of innocent SoCal hedonism set to equal parts doo-wop vocal influences and Chuck Berry licks) were produced on these initial releases by the A&R exec who signed them, Nik Venet. But if Brian Wilson's production genius was yet untapped, his songwriting knack, trademark arrangements, and soaring falsetto were already coming to the fore, even on Surfin' Safari, the band's hastily recorded, low-budget debut album--"Surfin'," "Surfin' Safari," and "409" are ample testament to his hitmeister potential. Released just five months later, Surfin' USA both insured the band's national appeal and testified to the rapid development of their harmonies on cuts such as "Farmer's Daughter" and "Lana." The band sounds more confident throughout, and Wilson hints at the greatness to come with the moody ballad "The Lonely Sea." The flip side to Wilson's fragile emotionalism is, of course, Mike Love's nasal, fun-seeking twang; those voices revolving--often tensely--around a hub of incomparable harmony became one of rock's most indelible archetypes. These are the humble, charmingly awkward beginnings of that legend. Three unreleased bonus cuts are also featured: "Cindy, Oh Cindy," "The Baker Man" (a nursery rhyme take on the Olympics' "Hully Gully"), and the nautical "Land Ahoy." The latter two tracks are notable as Brian's official producing debut. This twofer edition features comments by Brian and the astute liner notes of music historian David Leaf. --Jerry McCulley

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