The chart date of October 30, 1971 marked the appearance of a single from the album that became a new landmark in the already fabled career of the Beach Boys. The group’s 17th studio LP Surf’s Up had been released at the end of August to some of the best reviews they had had in years. Rolling Stone talked about their “remarkable comeback,” while Melody Maker observed how they were “back in fashionable favor.”
The entire line-up had composer credits on Surf’s Up, and one of the highlights was “Long Promised Road,” written by new manager Jack Rieley and Carl Wilson, with Carl taking the lead vocal. The album is rightly lauded for the majesty of Brian Wilson’s title track collaboration with Van Dyke Parks and for Brian’s magnificent “‘Til I Die.” But with Rieley on board, the Beach Boys now showed their hand as an outfit with multiple songwriting talents.
In the aforementioned review of Surf’s Up in Melody Maker, writer Richard Williams had particular praise for “Long Promised Road” and Carl Wilson and Jack Rieley’s other collaboration “Feel Flows.” Williams wrote that they were “quite simply the best ‘inner quest’ songs I’ve ever heard, and they lack nothing in terms of jewelled arrangements.”
“Long Promised Road” was first released as a single in May 1971, ahead of the album, but failed to make the US chart, and missed the UK listing when issued almost simultaneously. Second time around, in the slipstream of the positive reaction to Surf’s Up, it entered the Hot 100 at No.93 in the week that the LP achieved its No.29 peak in America. “Long Promised Road” only reached No.89. But even then, it was the group’s first single to make the US chart for 19 months, and the Beach Boys were critical favorites once again.
“Long Promised Road” is on Surf’s Up, which can be bought here.
Follow the official Beach Boys Best Of playlist.