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639637 Posts in 25559 Topics by 3631 Members - Latest Member: LifeIsForTheLiving November 14, 2018, 08:12:34 PM
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Author Topic: Alternate Surf's Up LP  (Read 1341 times)
DonnyL
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« on: October 15, 2018, 12:16:49 PM »

Inspired by a thread on the other board:

I've always felt that Surf’s Up is just as disjointed as So Tough, yet the highs are very high. The album bridges the gap between two bands -- the Sunflower (last remnants of the '60s) group, and the Holland-era band. It's also an album that hangs loosely together conceptually.

We're familiar with the story of Dennis pulling his songs off the album as a result of a dispute with Carl regarding the running order. Why was this issue important enough to Dennis to remove his songs? Worth noting is they're two of his best, and they were not released in his lifetime.

Since the unreleased songs have come out over the years, I've often found myself thinking about Dennis and the potential running order. Some of the tracks seem almost designed to segue into others. As mentioned previously, I seem to recall reading somewhere long ago (can't place where) that “Fourth of July” was to segue into “Long Promised Road”. It also segues almost perfectly from “Don’t Go Near the Water”.

Dennis felt "'Til I Die" should be followed by "(Wouldn't It Be Nice) To Live Again”. In my opinion, these tracks could segue into one another seamlessly as well.

In the alternate series of events in which this running order became final, here's what happened:

Dennis held his ground and insisted on a meeting with Jack Rieley to hear him out, and compile a song cycle that fit with his vision for the album. Once the songs were presented in order, Rieley agreed Dennis was onto something. They presented the reel to Carl and Mike. Carl was blown away by the feel of the new sequence, except he didn't think "Disney Girls" fit. Mike felt he was not adequately represented, and suggested they record a version of "Riot in Cell Block #9" with new lyrics to replace "Disney Girls", but Dennis thought it would be too jarring. Carl and Rieley reviewed recent tapes, and decided "Big Sur" would be a better fit -- Dennis and Mike agreed.

They presented the revised lineup to rest of the group. Bruce agreed his song didn’t work in this context, and felt it would be more appropriate for another singer -- maybe someone like Cass Elliot or Art Garfunkel. Al thought the record was strong. Brian still objected to the title track being released, and went along with Dennis, as he preferred "To Live Again" as a closer.

At the last minute, however, Brian was still spooked out by the Smile-era track, and threatened to withdraw the title song unless the album title was changed. Rieley acted quickly to ensure the song remained, and reverted to the previous working title and already prepared cover art.

Without further ado, here it is — while the sequence may look odd upon first glance … listen, listen, listen:

soundcloud.com/user-545688973/land-locked-the-beach-boys-alternate-surfs-up
« Last Edit: October 15, 2018, 12:19:31 PM by DonnyL » Logged

MyDrKnowsItKeepsMeCalm
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2018, 01:55:50 PM »

As mentioned previously, I seem to recall reading somewhere long ago (can't place where) that “Fourth of July” was to segue into “Long Promised Road”. It also segues almost perfectly from “Don’t Go Near the Water”.

Nice! Listening now... I really like it. 

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Lee Marshall
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2018, 02:23:02 PM »

Not sure how to react to all of that Donny.  But what the heck...let's roll.  The actual running time for the album is low for that era as the new 'hip' were trying to give us more for our money.  And the idea of Dennis fighting with everyone over the placement of his 2 major 'contenders' sits in dispute as some claim that he pulled them because he didn't think that they were quite ready to be released.  I do prefer THIS version of A Day In the Life of a Tree.  So?  I think I would have included Take a Load off Your Feet...Pete.  Maybe before Big Sur.  I don't like the doo doo doo backing vocals on this version of Big Sur.  The official release has a little more oomph and swing to its 'thing'.  This one is just a tad too M.O.R. to fit with the rest of this specific album.  It lacks 'pills'. Wink

That said...Disney Girls would have to be included in order to get something from Bruce 'on'...and 'it' has turned out to be a rather appreciated wee tune here and there.  That would also help to pad out the length a little.  Glad to see Student Demonstration Time shelved though.  That song throbbed like a well hammered thumb.

As for Dennis's 2 tunes...I can hear where he would have wanted to insert a little more drama into the 4th of July backing track.  He was good at doing that kind of thing and wasn't one for leaving 'hollows' in his music.  Live Again sounds good to me as is.

But you know artistes.  Sometimes things are never quite finished.  Pretty sure that there was some kind of a deal in terms of how much 'Brian involvement' was necessary as well...so using Surf's Up...especially as a legendary 'SMiLE' track...was likely damn close to a MUST.
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2018, 02:30:01 PM »

Your sequence is nearly identical to mine. Bravo.  Smiley w00t! Hug
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DonnyL
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2018, 02:43:45 PM »

Not sure how to react to all of that Donny.  But what the heck...let's roll.  The actual running time for the album is low for that era as the new 'hip' were trying to give us more for our money.  And the idea of Dennis fighting with everyone over the placement of his 2 major 'contenders' sits in dispute as some claim that he pulled them because he didn't think that they were quite ready to be released.  I do prefer THIS version of A Day In the Life of a Tree.  So?  I think I would have included Take a Load off Your Feet...Pete.  Maybe before Big Sur.  I don't like the doo doo doo backing vocals on this version of Big Sur.  The official release has a little more oomph and swing to its 'thing'.  This one is just a tad too M.O.R. to fit with the rest of this specific album.  It lacks 'pills'. Wink

That said...Disney Girls would have to be included in order to get something from Bruce 'on'...and 'it' has turned out to be a rather appreciated wee tune here and there.  That would also help to pad out the length a little.  Glad to see Student Demonstration Time shelved though.  That song throbbed like a well hammered thumb.

As for Dennis's 2 tunes...I can hear where he would have wanted to insert a little more drama into the 4th of July backing track.  He was good at doing that kind of thing and wasn't one for leaving 'hollows' in his music.  Live Again sounds good to me as is.

But you know artistes.  Sometimes things are never quite finished.  Pretty sure that there was some kind of a deal in terms of how much 'Brian involvement' was necessary as well...so using Surf's Up...especially as a legendary 'SMiLE' track...was likely damn close to a MUST.

Yep, we can definitely see why things happened they did ... because they did Smiley

Certainly feel you on these points above. It began as a "what if" ... and I went with it as a thought experiment. I've never really felt the Surf's Up LP was cohesive, and I've never cared for "Disney Girls" or "Student Demonstration Time". The main exercise for me was seeing if the flow from track to track would have been better with a sequence more like something Dennis would have done if he'd been so inclined. Not sure if it's better or worse, but the overall album feels more cohesive and dramatic this way I think.

I think the running order is about the same as the released album. Though records were getting longer in this period, there was also attention paid to making sure not to max out as the audio quality suffered. Word on the street is "Feet" and "SDT" were the replacements for Dennis' songs (not sure if this can be verified?) ... so the main liberties I took were substituting "Disney Girls" with "Big Sur". I wish I could remember where I got the idea of "Fourth of July" going into "Long Promised Road" though.

I do actually love "Take A Load Off Your Feet" ... but to me that fits in more with the "Friends, Part II" vibe of some of the tracks of the era ... "Games Two Can Play", "Loop De Loop", "I Just Got My Pay", "HELP Is On the Way", etc. ...
« Last Edit: October 15, 2018, 02:54:58 PM by DonnyL » Logged

DonnyL
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2018, 02:45:45 PM »

Your sequence is nearly identical to mine. Bravo.  Smiley w00t! Hug

What's your sequence?
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MyDrKnowsItKeepsMeCalm
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« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2018, 06:29:55 PM »

I do actually love "Take A Load Off Your Feet" ... but to me that fits in more with the "Friends, Part II" vibe of some of the tracks of the era ... "Games Two Can Play", "Loop De Loop", "I Just Got My Pay", "HELP Is On the Way", etc. ...

I definitely get where you're going with this. I quite like both 'Feet' and Disney Girls on the official Side 1, but the mood and the narrative viewpoint really jump all over the place. The mood to Side 1 of your compilation is much more cohesive. Nice flow to it. 

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Watamushi(Polly Poller)
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2018, 06:47:25 AM »

To me the likes of Feet were pre-Love You, rather than Friends, Part II.

Friends Part II for me are Forever, All I Wanna Do, Our Sweet Love and Deirdre.

I really love both, though. Sunflower-Surf's Up era is easily the best years for the Beach Boys musically after SMiLE's collapse.
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pixletwin
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2018, 06:59:15 AM »

Your sequence is nearly identical to mine. Bravo.  Smiley w00t! Hug

What's your sequence?

I find the early version of Big Sur starts to drag and gets a bit repetitive, so I keep Disney Girls in the sequence. I do like how you end side A with Surf's Up. It works.

Don't Go Near The Water
4th of July
Long Promised Road
Disney Girls
Feel Flows

Lookin' At Tomorrow
A Day in the Life of a Tree
'Til I Die
Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Live Again)
Surf's Up
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DonnyL
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2018, 09:08:30 AM »

Your sequence is nearly identical to mine. Bravo.  Smiley w00t! Hug

What's your sequence?

I find the early version of Big Sur starts to drag and gets a bit repetitive, so I keep Disney Girls in the sequence. I do like how you end side A with Surf's Up. It works.

Don't Go Near The Water
4th of July
Long Promised Road
Disney Girls
Feel Flows

Lookin' At Tomorrow
A Day in the Life of a Tree
'Til I Die
Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Live Again)
Surf's Up


Ah very similar ... though in mine above, "Surf's Up" begins "Side 2".
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SydBarrett
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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2018, 09:17:58 AM »

TBH, I see Surf's Up going on SMiLE.
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shangaijoeBB
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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2018, 09:43:35 AM »

Great mix, DonnyL!

My prefered lineup is this one:

Don't Go Near The Water
Long Promised Road
Sound Of Free
Disney Girls
Big Sur (4/4 version)
4th of July

Feel Flows
Lookin' At Tomorrow
Lady (Fallin' In Love)
A Day in the Life of a Tree
'Til I Die (Desper remix)
Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Live Again)
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Don Malcolm
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« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2018, 12:47:01 PM »

I think the internecine struggles waxed and waned throughout this time frame, and we still don't have the best chronological picture of the songs that were in the running for a place on the SURF'S UP album. Stephen Desper's descriptions of Dennis' work are captivating, but they are longer on personality and descriptions of working methods than they are on telling us what was worked on when. Our best surmise seems to be that WIBNTLA was in the form we've heard it in by the spring of '71, but that "4th of July" was incomplete. When exactly was Dennis' hand injury sustained? Did it happen after the release of SURF'S UP? (Some years ago, ADG suggested that it happened in May or June: if so, that could have affected production on these two songs.)

Since Donny's alternate version seems to have disappeared from Soundcloud, it's now not possible to comment on it directly, but I do think that any alternate LP should be limited to songs that were far enough along in July '71 to be seriously considered--which probably leaves out "4th of July." And while Bruce steadfastly sang "Reality, it's not for me...," we need to get real about the politics that swirled around this LP like no other BBs record--one where the stakes on the inside (the battle over the future of the band) and the outside (the need to get up off the floor after SUNFLOWER's spectacular commercial failure) were at an all-time high.

Clearly that meant that "Surf's Up" was going on the LP, come hell or high water. Jack and Carl were clearly adamant about that. And I suspect that Jack came up with the idea that Brian's material should be placed at the end, thus building anticipation while giving the rest of the band an initial showcase for their creative efforts. Probably the sticking point came down to WIBNTLA vs. SDT. Hard to say if the stories are accurate--Steve Desper suggests that Dennis just bowed out as opposed to having a fight about sequencing--but it's possible that SDT won out as a sop to Mike and was then rationalized as a way to do something that was more "resonant" with "the times."

I think that's the only likely change that would have occurred in album sequence at the time (which is different than the after-the-fact "aesthetic speculation" that is, admittedly, hard to resist). And there's no question that SURF'S UP would have been significantly stronger simply by replacing SDT with WIBNTLA as the closing cut on Side 1.
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c-man
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« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2018, 03:36:22 PM »

Hmm, I've never heard of there being a decision to be made between including "SDT" or "WIBNTLA" (one versus the other). But to answer the timeline question, it appears that "SDT" was one of the earliest of the songs included on the Surf's Up LP to be recorded, whereas "WIBNTLA" was recorded in the middle of the sessions. My sources indicate the following timeline for production and Dennis' hand injury:

TAKE A LOAD OFF YOUR FEET - Sunflower outtake, recorded January 17, 1970 - strings added January 26, 1970
LOOKIN' AT TOMORROW - recorded August 14, 1970
'TIL I DIE - recorded August 15, 1970, with possible new lead vocal added later
STUDENT DEMONSTRATION TIME - recorded October 28, 1970, final mix is dated November 3, 1970
FOURTH OF JULY - track recorded beginning April 3, 1971
DON'T GO NEAR THE WATER - recorded beginning April 3, 1971
LONG PROMISED ROAD - recorded April 3-April 4, 1971
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TREE - recorded beginning circa mid-April 1971, finished mid-June 1971
WOULDN'T IT BE NICE TO LIVE AGAIN - recorded beginning May 23, 1971
FEEL FLOWS - recorded circa June 1971
DISNEY GIRLS - recorded beginning June 3, 1971
* Dennis hand injury occurred June 11, 1971 *
SURF'S UP (new track recorded at Sunset Sound, but not used) - June 18, 1971
FOURTH OF JULY - Carl's existing vocal recorded June 20, 1971 (in the absence of Dennis)
SURF'S UP - 1966 recording transferred to 16-track, and additions recorded in late June/early July 1971

 
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Don Malcolm
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« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2018, 04:36:15 PM »

That's all good stuff, Craig, and I found more detail from a thread back in 2009 where you identified who did what for the SURF'S UP songs.

What follows here is rank speculation...but looking at the "leaders" for the tracks, it's clear that Mike's primary contribution is SDT--correct me if I'm wrong, but he was the impetus behind reviving "Riot in Cell Block 9" and this was his baby. "Don't Go Near the Water," while having lyrics from Mike, is Al's song, and he's the "leader" in producing it.

There are no other tracks in the list of potential songs for SURF'S UP that have any real showcase for Mike--and certainly not one that would create "currency" in the increasingly hard-edged rock environment that had developed in 1969-70. (Recall how Mike pushed to be the lead singer on "All I Want To Do," asserting his rights as the lead singer for the uptempo stuff, even though Carl or Dennis could very likely have delivered a more satisfying lead vocal--Mike's just OK.) "Don't Go Near the Water" was not THAT type of song, and it's probably one that Jack really encouraged due to its subject matter--and then it was taken into a kind of faux-Brian arrangement...not really Mike's thing.

All that might explain Mike's famous hostility and antipathy as reported by Jack at H.E.L.P. (or a place like it) which ended in the purported "I AM the Beach Boys" rant. Now, of course, we don't know if it really happened...but if it suddenly became a scramble to get all the tracks onto the new LP and WIBNTLA had come up out of nowhere (having been written and recorded after SDT, and possessing sufficient uptempo dynamism and a whole lot more in a way that could make it a more attractive track for inclusion on the LP), then we might well expect Mike to assume "attack display" and register a series of bitter rejoinders. If that incident happened, it had to be about SOMETHING--and while Mike could have possibly been pontificating about the various excesses of the Wilson brothers' lifestyles, remember that Carl and Dennis were exceptionally productive in this time frame and were showing signs of being able to cover the waterfront in the increasing absence of their big brother. If WIBNTLA was suddenly threatening SDT's existence on SURF'S UP, that could explain that entire altercation.

Mike might well have seen his role as the front man crumbling before his eyes at such a moment, and in such a context a "big snarl" doesn't seem all that far-fetched.

In the wake of that, Jack probably found himself forced to backtrack, and maybe at that moment they still weren't quite sure they were going to pull off "Surf's Up," so they briefly thought about WIBNTLA as the album closer behind "Til I Die." It's possible that Dennis' injury came about in part as a reaction to the developing news that "Surf's Up" was going to need to be on the LP--a drunken accident fueled by the anguish of being caught in the vise of egos and still being stuck with that vestigial image as the "sexy lunkhead" despite his development as a songwriter/producer. His response was withdrawal, and perhaps he turned the other cheek and put the song away in deference to the escalating need to bring "Surf's Up" back for the sake of the SMiLE legend and as a boost to sales (VDP is quoted in Nolan's essay as saying, "If they call the LP SURF'S UP we can pre-sell 150,000 units"...but exactly when did he say that to Nolan? Maybe he said it in June, sometime shortly after Dennis' injury, when the final decision about which way to go was apparently being made).

So, that way, Jack kept Mike from blowing everything up...but Dennis' injury forced them to get a drummer, and Carl and Jack pushed for the recruitment of Blondie and Ricky, which was a red flag for Bruce, who left rock behind when he gave up doing surf music; seeing the handwriting on the wall, he jumped/was pushed when he heard the direction that things were going for SO TOUGH (and that, ironically, DENNIS had taken over the "romantic" side of the BBs oeuvre!).

As I said: rank speculation. But the timing of the tracks and the timing of Dennis' injury, plus Jack's colorful recollection of Mike's rant (which seems too specific to be something that he just made up...though there are some who will still take his words with a box of salt...) paint a possible path through the interior interactions that might have been the steps involved in bringing us the SURF'S UP LP as we know it...
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« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2018, 12:46:34 PM »

I'm of the opinion that nothing needed to be dropped from Surf's Up to make it a better album...the LP as it stands is just under 35 minutes, while Abbey Road clocks in at over 47 minutes, so I don't think space should be an issue. This album would have been ten times better had they finished and added "Wouldn't It Be Nice To Live Again", and "Fourth Of July" (with group background vocals). Placement doesn't matter so much to me, but probably "Fourth" either right before or right after "STD", and "WIBNTLA" either right before or right after "SU" (yes, I know that ruins the effect of three back-to-back BW tunes at the very end, but so what - I'd vote to put it after "SU" as a kind of coda). And, if they could squeeze it in, put "Lady (Fallin' In Love)" early on side two, either before or immediately after "Lookin' At Tomorrow".

This lineup (either with our without "Lady") would have made Surf's Up a stone-cold early '70s classic in pretty much anyone's opinion.
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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2018, 02:30:21 PM »

Your sequence is nearly identical to mine. Bravo.  Smiley w00t! Hug

What's your sequence?

I find the early version of Big Sur starts to drag and gets a bit repetitive, so I keep Disney Girls in the sequence. I do like how you end side A with Surf's Up. It works.

Don't Go Near The Water
4th of July
Long Promised Road
Disney Girls
Feel Flows

Lookin' At Tomorrow
A Day in the Life of a Tree
'Til I Die
Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Live Again)
Surf's Up


Ah very similar ... though in mine above, "Surf's Up" begins "Side 2".
Donny, your track seems to have been taken down.  Can you at least post your running order?
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DonnyL
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« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2018, 04:05:33 PM »

Your sequence is nearly identical to mine. Bravo.  Smiley w00t! Hug

What's your sequence?

I find the early version of Big Sur starts to drag and gets a bit repetitive, so I keep Disney Girls in the sequence. I do like how you end side A with Surf's Up. It works.

Don't Go Near The Water
4th of July
Long Promised Road
Disney Girls
Feel Flows

Lookin' At Tomorrow
A Day in the Life of a Tree
'Til I Die
Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Live Again)
Surf's Up


Ah very similar ... though in mine above, "Surf's Up" begins "Side 2".
Donny, your track seems to have been taken down.  Can you at least post your running order?

Good idea --

1 Don't Go Near the Water
2 Fourth of July
3 Long Promised Road
4 Big Sur
5 Feel Flows

6 Surf's Up
7 Lookin At Tomorrow
8 A Day in the Life of a Tree
9 Till I Die
10 Wouldn't It Be Nice to Live Again
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Don Malcolm
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« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2018, 02:30:45 PM »

Well, sure, they didn't need to remove stuff. But they'd never made a record longer than about 36-37 minutes to that point. Perhaps they were influenced by the audiophile perspectives of Steve Desper. So that may have been part of their mindset.

More importantly (IMO), we should try to find out how the SURF'S UP LP wound up as it did. The narratives we have are clearly not definitive. The only indisputable things are these: at some point it became paramount to put "Surf's Up" on the LP; that fact changed a number of things about the contents of the LP.

And it's clear that there was a considerable amount of jockeying for position going on in terms of the factions (assuming we take Jack Rieley at his word).

Like many here and elsewhere, I've indulged in the idea that SURF'S UP didn't have the strongest possible set of songs. Now that we've all heard WIBNTLA, most of us will agree that it surely would have been a tremendous addition to the LP (or a sterling replacement for SDT at the end of Side One—but see my earlier speculative post for a scenario that explains, among other things, why that didn't happen).

And I've also indulged in the replacement/addition/reorder game, a pastime as hard to resist as it is ultimately pointless. Giving SURF'S UP another re-listen, I don't find the track order jarring—in fact, I rather admire certain mood switches: Side One, with somewhat slighter material, works better than expected, while Side Two is held together by the various keyboard sounds (a fortuitous afterthought for the conclusion of LAT) despite the wide range of styles.

That said, if you want to create more of a concept LP out of the SURF'S UP material, then you should go for the conceptual right from the start:

1--4th of July/Don't Go Near The Water/Long Promised Road/Wouldn't It Be Nice To Live Again/Student Demonstration Time
2--Disney Girls/Feel Flows/Lookin' At Tomorrow/A Day in the Life of A Tree/Til I Die/Surf's Up

"Feet" is consigned to being a B-side on any of three possible singles: WIBNTLA, SDT (not so far-fetched, given testimony at the time), or FF (remembering that LPR had already been released in May). I do like the song, but it’s very slight—as a B-side, however, it’s truly inspired.

Notes on the changes... Side 1: this way the slightness of DGNTW is slotted in as a contrast to the tone-poemy grandiosity of 4th, which makes a grand but humble statement for the LP right from the get-go. (Play them back to back one time, and see if this idea resonates or not—it works for me.) Then we have two strong tracks from Carl and Dennis that give us two takes on the BBs doing material connecting with what was au courant in ‘71, followed by SDT's updated oldies topicality (which makes latter-day revisionists of all stripes squirm in their seats, but f*** 'em if they can't take a joke).

Re Side 2: if "Tears" could open the second side of SUNFLOWER and not capsize it, then “Disney Girls,” a better song that benefits from a fuller, more satisfyingly Desperized production, is a good candidate to do the same here. The rest of the LP is as it was (is), so that dynamic remains intact; FF has the watery keyboard sounds analogous to DGNTW, and they're both placed as the "contrast" tune in the second position on each side of the LP.

I'm sure this looks to be completely loony on the face of it, but give it a spin just once for s***s and grins.

That said, I still want to know how the track order for the actual LP came into being. Too bad nobody asked Jack that question more specifically at the time.
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