Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Beach Boys: Surf's Up [Brother/Reprise, 1971]
Their worst since Friends, which just goes to show that making like a great group is as bad for your music as making like a buncha mystics. Except for the sophomoric "Student Demonstration Time," the songs on the first side are all right--"Take a Load Off Your Feet" is worthy of Wild Honey and "Disney Girls (1957)" is worthy of Jack Jones's Greatest Hits--but the pop impressionism of side two drags hither and yon. The dying words of a tree are delivered in an apt, gentle croak, but the legendary title opus is an utter failure even on its own woozy terms and there are several disasters from the guest lyricists--Van Dyke Parks's wacked-out meandering is no better than Jack Rieley's. I'll trade you my copy for Surfin' Safari even up, and you'll be sorry. B-