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Thread: Surfer Boy

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    Surfer Boy

    Nomis brought up "Surfer Boy" in another thread. I thought to myself, this isn't a cut that gets talked about much around here. I've always loved it, since getting it on the 25th Anniversary set. Love everything about it: the track, the lyrics, Diana's lead, Flo and Mary's harmonies. It's a cute little cut. I don't play it often, however. Interesting how some songs I love get less play than even some of the ones I'm not over the moon about. Anyway, thoughts on this one? Love it? Hate it?



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    For me there's something magical and special about the 25th anniversary set..we've been so blessed to be given so much unreleased songs..this set paved the way it made the Supremes exciting all over again ...the standard of the material blew my mind "this was kept in the vaults for decades?"..I like surfer boys energy..it's fun and is like a snapshot of the surfing craze when people mention Diana's nasal tone it's on display here

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    Quote Originally Posted by nomis View Post
    For me there's something magical and special about the 25th anniversary set..we've been so blessed to be given so much unreleased songs..this set paved the way it made the Supremes exciting all over again ...the standard of the material blew my mind "this was kept in the vaults for decades?"..I like surfer boys energy..it's fun and is like a snapshot of the surfing craze when people mention Diana's nasal tone it's on display here
    The 25th Anniversary set was about six or seven years old when I bought it. I remember being in such bliss listening to the unreleased tracks, nearly all of them head scratchers regarding why they didn't see release back in the day. Matter of fact, thinking of the tracklist off the top of my head, I don't think there was a song on the set that I didn't like. Certainly some I liked more than others, but I don't think there was one that I was willing to break my finger on to skip.

    "Surfer Boy" is fun. I prefer it to "Beach Ball", mostly because I find Diana's lead to be almost child like. I prefer her vocal approach to "Surfer". But Flo and Mary sound great on both.

    Guess we're the only ones with thoughts on this song. No wonder it never gets a mention [[except for the mention you gave it in the other thread).

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    contrived personified. definitely vault material.

    pretty HEATWAVE in sound...


    what the heck is BEACH BALL... I'm almost afraid to ask ...

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    both Surfer and Beach Ball are what they are - silly songs used in then-popular teen beach romps. The movies were mostly devoid of substance so why would any songs used in them be any different

    musically surfer boy has a bit more going for it. you could potentially take some of its elements and repurpose into a basic motown-ish song. not a great one. maybe one that would have been passed onto groups in Tier B or C below the Sups and Four Tops.

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    When I first heard "Surfer Boy", I thought it was strong enough to have been considered for a single. It's much stronger than "Beach Ball" or even [while we're talking about movies] "The Happening", where I much prefer the demo version.

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    Hey and don’t forget “ Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine!” A forgotten gem! Okay I’m kidding!

    But actually you have to admit Diane still gives it a good performance and puts her heart into it in spite of the silliness of the lyric and the fact that I’m sure she wasn’t crazy about recording it!

    Last edited by kenneth; 05-12-2021 at 02:57 PM.

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    I picked up The Supremes 25th Anniversary set when it first came out in 1986. While "Surfer Boy" & "Beach Ball" are just okay songs [IMHO], both of them have just enough of The Motown Sound [and good performances from The Supremes] to make them work. And as another poster said, they're remnants of the 'teen beach movies' from the '60s.
    Last edited by Motown Eddie; 05-13-2021 at 10:54 AM.

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    The Happening is much stronger than Surfer, Beach or Dr. the latter three are all novelty tunes. the Happening, while a movie theme, at least is referring to a more standard topic of love. The lyric have SOME similarities to The Boss - someone that's sure and secure in life and love but then OOOPS love shows them who's boss with the happening.

    The style of Happening is certainly light hearted. and while it isn't the masterpiece of You Can't Hurry Love, it's still IMO a very good song

    Surfer, Beach and Dr are not

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    I enjoyed Surfer Boy from the first time I heard it, when attending the movie at the time it was released. It was great to hear again, first in mono and then in stereo. Thank you, Motown, for this treat.

    Some years ago, I put together several mix CDs of summer songs, including Lesley Gore's Diana Ross imitation in California Nights, among many others, and friends who heard these CDs were surprised and pleased to hear Surfer Boy and The Beach Boys' Surfer Girl back to back.

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    Beach Ball is pretty lame..the chorus is dire - "cOmE oN cOmE oN tO tHe BeAcH bAlL wItH mE..!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by 144man View Post
    When I first heard "Surfer Boy", I thought it was strong enough to have been considered for a single. It's much stronger than "Beach Ball" or even [while we're talking about movies] "The Happening", where I much prefer the demo version.
    Wow, me too 144!! I'm not a fan of "The Happening" at all, but the demo version is more appealing to me than the hit version. I'll take "Surfer" and "Beach Ball" over "The Happening" any day. [[Weird that I kind of like the live versions of "The Happening" though.) "The Happening" is the one #1 song of the Supremes that I never would have bet on going to the top. In fact, at the QC meeting I would've thumbs it down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    Hey and don’t forget “ Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine!” A forgotten gem! Okay I’m kidding!

    But actually you have to admit Diane still gives it a good performance and puts her heart into it in spite of the silliness of the lyric and the fact that I’m sure she wasn’t crazy about recording it!
    I actually think "Dr. Goldfoot" was good enough for single release. Would it have gone #1? I don't know, but I think it could've gone top 10. Everything about it is great: Diana's lead, Flo and Mary's backup, Flo is killing it, the Funks are tearing it up. The lyrics are obviously very novelty but that should be expected with the subject matter of the movie. I love this song.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    The Happening is much stronger than Surfer, Beach or Dr. the latter three are all novelty tunes. the Happening, while a movie theme, at least is referring to a more standard topic of love. The lyric have SOME similarities to The Boss - someone that's sure and secure in life and love but then OOOPS love shows them who's boss with the happening.

    The style of Happening is certainly light hearted. and while it isn't the masterpiece of You Can't Hurry Love, it's still IMO a very good song

    Surfer, Beach and Dr are not
    "The Happening" is a stupid song. I'll take all three of those others over it. I do admit that Diana, Flo and Mary do a good job with it. It's way too pop for my taste.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Wow, me too 144!! I'm not a fan of "The Happening" at all, but the demo version is more appealing to me than the hit version. I'll take "Surfer" and "Beach Ball" over "The Happening" any day. [[Weird that I kind of like the live versions of "The Happening" though.) "The Happening" is the one #1 song of the Supremes that I never would have bet on going to the top. In fact, at the QC meeting I would've thumbs it down.
    the only versions i like of "The Happening" is the fabulous rendition on Ed Sullivan..thou the surviving footage of the 67 Tonight Show looks good as well..i think i get a kick out of watching Diana perform it..

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    Hey and don’t forget “ Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine!” A forgotten gem! Okay I’m kidding!

    But actually you have to admit Diane still gives it a good performance and puts her heart into it in spite of the silliness of the lyric and the fact that I’m sure she wasn’t crazy about recording it!



    what the hell??

    do I have food poisoning...am I hallucinating??

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    both Surfer and Beach Ball are what they are - silly songs used in then-popular teen beach romps. The movies were mostly devoid of substance so why would any songs used in them be any different

    musically surfer boy has a bit more going for it. you could potentially take some of its elements and repurpose into a basic motown-ish song. not a great one. maybe one that would have been passed onto groups in Tier B or C below the Sups and Four Tops.

    ah , thanks for explaining that. I had no idea that was a song from a surfer movie. in that context its perfectly OK , just some light weight filler for a light weight teen movie. It wasn't a platform to overly invest in and it needed to fit the context.

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    When I first got the 25th anniversary set, I was younger and either I paid no attention to the “unreleased” tracks, paying attention to the hits, or played this track and didn’t think twice about it. Whatever the case, my first recollection of this song was when it was featured on VH1 in the nineties when they played this movie. I liked it instantly. Here is the clip from the movie where they performed the song.


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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    "The Happening" is a stupid song. I'll take all three of those others over it. I do admit that Diana, Flo and Mary do a good job with it. It's way too pop for my taste.
    That's why I agree with you. The three other film songs actually sound like Motown. Apart fom the break in the middle, "The Happening" doesn't.

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    Surfer Boy was always a favorite of mine. They also sound great on Beach Ball and Dr. Goldfoot. Funny that they put effort into these goofy novelty songs and sound great yet put in a half assed effort on half the A Go Go album.

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    Quote Originally Posted by floyjoy678 View Post
    Surfer Boy was always a favorite of mine. They also sound great on Beach Ball and Dr. Goldfoot. Funny that they put effort into these goofy novelty songs and sound great yet put in a half assed effort on half the A Go Go album.
    i really love most of A Go Go album !

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    Quote Originally Posted by floyjoy678 View Post
    Surfer Boy was always a favorite of mine. They also sound great on Beach Ball and Dr. Goldfoot. Funny that they put effort into these goofy novelty songs and sound great yet put in a half assed effort on half the A Go Go album.
    I guess that's just your opinion regarding the lack of full effort placed into the recordings of the "A Go Go" album which I feel demonstrates lots of effort by the session musicians at Motown/LA and the singers. There was work put into the production of those tunes such as Surfer Boy because Motown was broadening its main market, recordings, to avenues such as the movies. Great strategy, in my opinion. We can also hear excellent production work in the Coke commercials recordings.

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    I like the idea of these girls from Detroit dreaming about a surfer boy/life...very sweet!

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    Quote Originally Posted by nomis View Post
    i really love most of A Go Go album !
    I love A Go Go too but I feel on half the album, they're just phoning it in.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by nomis View Post
    Beach Ball is pretty lame..the chorus is dire - "cOmE oN cOmE oN tO tHe BeAcH bAlL wItH mE..!"
    You ain’t lying about that!!!!

  26. #26
    My next door neighbor used to play and sing “Surfer Boy” so much that I learned to like it! Now, I think they do a poor job of lip syncing it in the movie, and audience spliced into the performance doesn’t help. Still, I love the song anyway.

  27. #27
    I have always enjoyed this one.

    I love the way they used just Flo on the ooohs and just Mary on the responses. Also notice how Flo is singing the lower parts with Mary slightly on top of her. A great production!

    My favorite version

    Last edited by CoolKatz; 07-15-2021 at 08:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoolKatz View Post
    I have always enjoyed this one.

    I love the way they used just Flo on the ooohs and just Mary on the responses. Also notice how Flo is singing the lower parts with Mary slightly on top of her. A great production!
    Great observation, CookKatz. Along with the examples you cited, we have to also give credit to the HDH songwriting/production team. Note that on this song you can feel the waves rise and fall during the sections where Diana is singing, "Surfer Boy" and Mary and Florence are providing the swelling background vocals and effects.

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    To my ears, Flo and Mary had a street sound to their voices. It was almost rough. They could have been Vandellas or Marvelettes. Diana had a very non-street sound. Diana’s voice is sophisticated and vulnerable with some delicacy thrown in. This contrast between the two sounds is heard here and loudly in Come See About Me. That contrast was muted with the Andantes.
    Last edited by Circa 1824; 07-15-2021 at 09:12 AM.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Circa 1824 View Post
    To my ears, Flo and Mary had a street sound to their voices. It was almost rough. They could have been Vandellas or Marvelettes. Diana had a very non-street sound. Diana’s voice is sophisticated and vulnerable with some delicacy thrown in. This contrast between the two sounds is heard here and loudly in Come See About Me. That contrast was muted with the Andantes.
    An interesting observation, of course we're all entitled to our own opinions.

    However one classifies their voices, we can all agree that it worked! It was the combination of the three voices, personalities and chemistry that pulled it all together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Circa 1824 View Post
    To my ears, Flo and Mary had a street sound to their voices. It was almost rough. They could have been Vandellas or Marvelettes. Diana had a very non-street sound. Diana’s voice is sophisticated and vulnerable with some delicacy thrown in. This contrast between the two sounds is heard here and loudly in Come See About Me. That contrast was muted with the Andantes.
    I agree. You've stated what I've thought before about DMF vocals. Come See About Me is a prime example. I love it because of that.

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    Although Diana could sound "street" when she needed to on songs like Going Down for the Third Time.

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    Is The Happening demo on any cd?

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    It can be found on the pink 2000 boxset, 2:50 ending with "etcetera".

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Nomis brought up "Surfer Boy" in another thread. I thought to myself, this isn't a cut that gets talked about much around here. I've always loved it, since getting it on the 25th Anniversary set. Love everything about it: the track, the lyrics, Diana's lead, Flo and Mary's harmonies. It's a cute little cut. I don't play it often, however. Interesting how some songs I love get less play than even some of the ones I'm not over the moon about. Anyway, thoughts on this one? Love it? Hate it?


    im not crazy about these, but they’re fun enough. I like Diana’s plaintivenosity on Surfer Boy, and the slight West Coast sound of Beach Ball’s melody line. Both are in an odd key for Missy, so I’m always taken aback at first.

    I adore Dr Goldfoot and agree with Ran that it had single potential, not huge hit for sure, but it could have been a quick flash hit. It has a much stronger West Coast beach movie sound than Beach Ball plus great production.

    The Happening is a great guilty pleasure of mine - I love it - really Love it.
    back in the day, I had favorites Supremes records. Baby love, then back in my arms again, then I hear a symphony, then almost you can’t hurry love but it was still I hear a symphony, and then the happening. I lost it when it came out I loved it so much. It was so bright and happy and a real change from the heaviness of love is here right now you’re gone. However, I was soon to learn that not everyone would share my exuberance. My friend, upon first hearing it, said dismissively, “white people will buy it quote and that was a pretty accurate read since it was a disaster on the soul chart.
    I think it is one of Diana‘s greatest performances, I love the sound of Mary and Flo on it, Love the track, those beach movie guitars, the flute all of it was so different, upbeat and yet still retained that Supremes sound. I know it is the ugly stepchild of the supreme’s number ones, but I still play the mono mix often enough. Eventually I hear a symphony took back the number one spot in my heart until sometime in the 90s when you can’t hurry love took it.

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