matedog wrote:Hey Flex, what is the general fan take (and your take) on all members in terms of influence on the band's music as well as personal influence on the band? Beyond the obvious -
Brian - tortured genius
Mike Love - satan, but sings some important leads
Dennis - ?
Carl - ?
Al "Human Gnome" Jardine -
David Marks -
Those two randos in the 70's -
Brian - As you say, tortured genius. Super creative and innovative through the 60s, etc. His work up through Pet Sounds is the driving force of the band, becoming more creative with every album, etc. I would say that even after he stepped away, his influence was huge in part by the gaping hole he left in the band that they were never able to quite successfully fill. Subsequent albums post-Pet Sounds are all about the band trying to figure out how to cohere with Brian absent as the lead creative force in the group (something they arguably figured out only for the Sunflower LP) and basically giving him the flexibility to come in and take charge whenever he wanted. Which led to some weird songs and albums and, frankly, probably kept the band from ever truly cohering around a successful post-Brian band identity.
Mike - I actually agree with Mike when he says he's probably the guy who kept the band commercially relevant. Which, whatever, as a music listener I don't necessarily care about how many of a band's albums go gold or what have you, but it's probably the biggest reason the band has kept on in some form or another all the years (fallow as some of those years have been). His burning desire to prove he's not just a sideman to Brian led to Kokomo, so ugh. Had most control of the band on the Still Cruisin'/Summer in Paradise years. I do think that Do It Again probably doesn't get written without his vision of the band in the mix.
Carl - I think he's generally credited for taking lead creative control for those first post-Smile albums. Wild Honey, particularly, has his fingerprints all over it. Helped inject blue eyed soul into the band repertoire and was the band leader for the live shows (for better and worse). As the Last Wilson Standing (literally or figuratively) for a lot of the mid 60s-90s with the band, think he was credited for keeping the family as a creative force in the band. Sad to see his decline in influence with Still Cruisin' and Summer in Paradise, but he was probably also partly responsible for embracing the limp soft rock shit that was the band's late 70s and early 80s output (which Dennis hated).
Dennis - His primitive drumming style was a big part of the early band sound, and he was the group's sex symbol during their Teen Idol years. Sort of a late bloomer creatively, songs like Forever are obviously held to high esteem in the band's canon but his body of work is a bit scattershot. Brought in songwriter Charles Manson to provide material for the group, which was obviously a big get. Was ardently pro-Brian. Him getting less involved with the band, and then dying, pretty much locked in the band's trajectory into soft rock and then... whatever Still Cruisin and SiP were.
Al - Passion for folk music, it's probably reductive but I think of him as partly responsible for picking some choice covers - Sloop John B in particular. I think over the years, as his voice has aged the best out of all the remaining musicians, he sort of keeps that authentic classic sound of the Beach Boys going even now. He contributed some pretty good vocals on the some of the band's big songs - Help Me, Rhonda most obviously - and wrote or co-wrote some material that I particularly like, especially off the Carl and the Passions and Holland LPs.
Bruce Johnston - Basically always given one track to contribute on albums when he's with the band. My personal sense is that his stuff is basically Bruce Johnston with the Beach Boys Backing Band. I actually love a few of his tracks - Disney Girls, Dierdre and Tears in the Morning - but he's all-in on the Mike Love vision of the band.
David Marks - Until the reunion, only played on the first few albums. His guitar style, especially coupled with Dennis' drumming, helped give the band a little bit of that proto-punk garage edge that other bands at that time played more to the hilt. Occasionally will/would come out and do a tour with the band prior to the 50th, but I don't think he had much creative influence after 1963. I don't think he ever got any writing credits with the band.
Ricky Fataar/Blondie Chaplin - Helped write some material for the band during their brief stint (including the excellent "Hold on, Dear Brother") and I think their presence gave the band a bit of a heavier, rock sound during the 70s. They played on the band's best live album (1973's The Beach Boys in Concert
), and Chaplin still performs with Brian (saw them last year and his guitar work was definitely rock and roll). Sort of a what-could-have-been scenario, if the Beach Boys had embraced the roots rock stuff they toyed with during the early/mid 70s.