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Smiley Smile Stuff => General On Topic Discussions => Topic started by: thr33 on November 18, 2020, 10:53:50 AM



Title: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: thr33 on November 18, 2020, 10:53:50 AM
From some of the discussion in the thread on the live band from 76 and the years following, I am curious about this topic.

I'm wondering how skilled an instrumentalist each Beach Boy is?

Brian on piano/keyboard and bass?

Carl on piano/keyboard, guitar and bass?

Al on guitar and bass?

Dennis on piano/keyboard and drums?

Bruce on piano/keyboard and bass?

Did they play anything else? I guess Brian and Carl did play drum on some tracks. Al played some standing bass. Mike didn't really play anything other than bit parts on the tambourine, theremin and saxophone so I guess he's not important here. Can also chime in about Blondie, Rickie and Dennis if you want.

Were any of these guys as good at any point as session musicians/backing band members? Maybe Carl on guitar since he would play with the wrecking crew on some tracks?


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: UEF on November 18, 2020, 11:39:53 AM
For bass or guitar as appropriate:

Carl: 5/10
Al: 4/10
Bruce: 6/10
Brian:5/10


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: juggler on November 18, 2020, 12:24:34 PM
Brian: harpsichord (6/10).



Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: Joshilyn Hoisington on November 18, 2020, 01:48:13 PM
I think that in their world, the musicianship of the Beach Boys (or any pop/rock musician) is so specialized that it's not really fair to rate them against the wrong scale.

You get really good at playing your repertoire, but unless you are actively pursuing technique and growth, it's not really a scalable skill.  I think Brian was probably the worst at playing instruments -- he's a natural but I don't think he ever really worked at it.  He can play the things he wants to play but I'm not sure he could handle playing an unknown piece of music from a chart.

Carl and Al are great at playing Beach Boys music.  Dennis was a bit like Brian in that he had natural ability that was enough to do what he needed and nothing more.

Bruce was probably good enough to hack it as a pro, at least in the 60s.  Not sure if he kept up his skills.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: NateRuvin on November 18, 2020, 03:50:34 PM
I think Carl is a guitar legend, hands down. Those leads are so iconic. Surfin USA, Fun Fun Fun, I Get Around, Surfin Safari, Barbara Ann, Shut Down, etc all have great surf guitar work from Carl.

Al is impressive in that he can play such a variety of string instruments. Electric/Acoustic Guitar, Fender Bass, String Bass, Banjo, Uke, etc... In my opinion Al is a very good guitarist too. His recent Postcards storytelling tour, as well as general solo touring before C50, showed that he can play all those leads just like Carl, and with more accuracy to the original parts than David, who's great but doesn't "stick to the script" that much. Al plays those solos note for note like the recordings. Just different takes on what the solo should be.

I think in a context of rock and roll, where it's more about feel and less about technique, Brian and Bruce are criminally underrated bassists. There are some tricky lines that each guy pulled off onstage and in the studio respectively.

I love Dennis' drumming. He had incredible energy. The Rock And Roll Music 45, In The Still of The Night, Knebworth album , and first live album show off Dennis' great powerful drumming.

Bruce is an insanely good pianist. Classically trained type of thing. He's almost as good a pianist as he is a hand-clappeer/mic adjuster





Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: c-man on November 18, 2020, 07:01:45 PM
Not to mention Bruce's talent on the organ. Hal Blaine raved about that in his book.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: Kid Presentable on November 18, 2020, 07:04:05 PM
David is an elite guitar player.  Carl was WELL above average at the guitar, but he considered himself a vocalist rather than a guitarist. 


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: adamghost on November 18, 2020, 09:50:12 PM
For technical ability, Bruce and Dave would have to top the list. Dave's a brilliant guitarist; Bruce's skills are more focused, but the Wrecking Crew guys sung the praises of his keyboard playing.

Ed Roach once told me that the Wilson brothers all had the ability to pick up any instrument and get it to make the sound they wanted (Dennis somewhat less so than Brian or Carl).

If you're talking the main five I think Carl wins it hands down. He's the best guitarist, bassist, and he can hold his own on keyboards and even drummed on quite a few tracks.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: Lonely Summer on November 19, 2020, 12:19:07 AM
David is an elite guitar player.  Carl was WELL above average at the guitar, but he considered himself a vocalist rather than a guitarist. 
I think that's the key to understanding Carl after the 60's. He worked hard at improving as a singer - even to the point of seeing a voice specialist in the late 80's/early 90's. But he sure knew his way around on guitar - after Dennis died, Carl seemed to be the only one of the core group contributing much instrumentally onstage.
Brian's greatest talent was to play a song, and give each musician an idea of what they should be doing - even to the point of demonstrating it on their instrument; and then sitting back and letting the masters do their thing.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: Tom on November 19, 2020, 03:35:30 AM
Bruce was a more talented pianist than given credit for here imo. More technically skilled than contemporaries like McCartney and Elton I'd be willing to bet (and def better than Billy Joel, not that that counts for much).

Brian was ultimately a songwriter, so his structural and theoretical knowledge of music far outweighed his physical facility on instruments - but that's pretty normal for writers. Clearly, when you look at his chord progressions, he was a very talented musician, and an innately musical guy - but his craft was much more important to him than the instrumental side was.

Al seems like a lovely man but golly he's not a great guitar player - I guess he just doesn't have the interest to become one. His playing is legitimately shoddy at times, even when playing simple chords - I think of the recent vid where he plays a bit of 'Postcard from California' - proof that a Martin D45 can sound average in the right (wrong?) hands. Sorry Al! He makes up for it by probably being the most consistent and professional sounding vocalist over time, apart from Carl.




Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: WillJC on November 19, 2020, 06:28:08 AM
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Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: c-man on November 19, 2020, 06:31:12 AM
Let's not forget Dennis' ability on piano - gosh, listen to "Piano Variations on Thoughts Of You"...or his piano and synth work on "Holy Man". Sure, these are pieces that he wrote, so it's easy to assume he just composed within his own ability to play, and it's a bit different from him sitting down and playing a similar piece composed by someone else - but reports from the time are that he sat at the piano and practiced, practiced, practiced. Hal Blaine praised his piano ability multiple times over the years!

As for Al - one impressive piece of guitar work from him, if you can find it, is when he sang and played an acoustic version of "Sloop John B." on a WNEW radio interview in 1983. Nice!


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: WillJC on November 19, 2020, 07:20:12 AM
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Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: Sam_BFC on November 19, 2020, 09:04:51 AM
Piano Variations on Thoughts of You is great, and beautifully executed, but I am not sure how taxing it is from a technical point of view.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: Bill M on November 19, 2020, 09:20:12 AM
Let's not forget Dennis' ability on piano - gosh, listen to "Piano Variations on Thoughts Of You"...or his piano and synth work on "Holy Man". Sure, these are pieces that he wrote, so it's easy to assume he just composed within his own ability to play, and it's a bit different from him sitting down and playing a similar piece composed by someone else - but reports from the time are that he sat at the piano and practiced, practiced, practiced. Hal Blaine praised his piano ability multiple times over the years!

As for Al - one impressive piece of guitar work from him, if you can find it, is when he sang and played an acoustic version of "Sloop John B." on a WNEW radio interview in 1983. Nice!

I recorded that off air at the time & still have it somewhere.  I even digitized it at some point.  But frankly, I didn't really find it all that impressive.  As I recall, he didn't finish the song, or any of the other songs he tried at that interview.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: RubberSoul13 on November 19, 2020, 09:39:01 AM
Aside from Bruce, NONE of them are versatile...and we haven't seen proof of Bruce's chops in DECADES. If you don't use it, you do indeed lose it. This is NOT like riding a bike...

However, in their "Beach Boys" idiom of music, they were all delightfully competent at what they do. Drop another group's chart in front of them or God-forbid, REAL sheet music? I'm not sure how long that would last. Brian and Carl had to have learned to read to some degree over the years, maybe Alan too.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: BeachBoysCovers on November 19, 2020, 10:16:06 AM
I think Brian had the best 'feel' on bass of them all during his prime, but quickly went out of practice off the road and was all over the place doing Sloop John B in 1967. I'm not too familiar with how he was in the 70s. Bruce doesn't impress me on bass during the Michigan concerts - he hits the right notes (improvement from Brian on Sloop I guess) but doesn't propel the band along or fall into a solid groove with Dennis. By his own admission it just wasn't really his area, not that matters considering his excellent keyboard ability (I'll disagree that he was a 'songwriter' first, the guy hardly writes!).

He claims (most recently on Billy Hinsche the other day) that he is always writing, he just doesn't care about getting it released. Make of that what you will.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: WillJC on November 19, 2020, 10:19:39 AM
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Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: Rob Dean on November 19, 2020, 11:39:29 AM
Drop another group's chart in front of them or God-forbid, REAL sheet music? I'm not sure how long that would last. Brian and Carl had to have learned to read to some degree over the years, maybe Alan too.

How many in rock or pop groups can actually read sheet music? McCartney and Stevie Wonder never did, and both are considered master multi-instrumentalists. Not that any of the Beach Boys were that, but being able to formally read music doesn't equate to being a better musician, nor does not being able to make you worse. The context does matter. No genre is more or less 'real'.


FFS , Just how can Stevie Wonder READ sheet music  :lol


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: WillJC on November 19, 2020, 11:41:32 AM
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Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: juggler on November 19, 2020, 12:18:47 PM
I've heard in various places that Audree was a natural on piano, able to play almost anything by ear. 


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: Tom on November 19, 2020, 12:57:34 PM
(I'll disagree that he was a 'songwriter' first, the guy hardly writes!).

I was talking about Brian in this part of my post (transition could've been clearer though). Overall I think it's a truism that applies to most well-regarded writers in popular music - you only really need to be intermediate on your instrument, with some extra thought given to learning chords and rhythms, in order to compose pop/rock music. Obviously there are big exceptions like those mentioned earlier in the thread - people live Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney are miraculous individuals who defy categorisation.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: WillJC on November 19, 2020, 01:22:56 PM
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Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: HeyJude on November 19, 2020, 03:15:33 PM
The Beach Boys collectively and individually have always been more about vocals and songwriting than musicianship. I don't think any of the guys are virtuosos on many instruments. David Marks is a great guitarist, but that never mattered on any BB material after 1963 (and a bit on the reunion album). Carl and Al were/are both solid guitarists, and actually better than most people think. Al can actually do those Carl/Dave lead parts in some cases, I've seen him do it live at solo shows.

Bruce's piano playing skills are almost irrelevant, especially at this stage. I don't buy that he was ever nearly as good as Billy Joel, and if he was or is, it doesn't matter because he's never shown it or used it. McCartney, Elton, Joel, Brian Wilson, all those guys put out a bunch of albums and played prominent parts in live shows. Bruce barely put any material on BB albums back when they were active in the studio. Bruce's musicianship hasn't mattered much in live settings since his 1978 return. And his solo (and other band project) albums are pretty weak overall.

Maybe Bruce is writing dozens of albums and playing classical piano concertos all in his living room. I doubt it, but even if he is, if he's not putting anything out there, it doesn't matter. I don't think we have enough information to even start to guess how good of a musician he is, especially now.

I think everybody in the band saw their musical skills atrophy due to the rote nature of live touring (and eventual scant writing and studio recording).

I think all these guys have music in their bones and blood, it never fully goes away. I think they could all be tapped to add interesting bits to new music. But they've chosen not to. They have time and money to do as many "passion projects" as they want, and they mostly don't.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: adamghost on November 20, 2020, 10:12:07 AM
Slightly different question, but I have always loved how well the Wilson brothers worked as a band in the studio. All three of them really focused hard on being basic and solid. I love the mid '70s tracks where all three of them were cutting the basic track.  Just thick as a slab of poundcake, and you can pile almost anything on with an overdub and it's gonna work because of how simple but solid the foundation is.

Dennis had his limitations as a drummer but for a 2/4 beat, there's just about no one better. You really notice the difference when Fataar was in the band. Ricky just sounds bored doing the simple stuff - he comes alive on the live album. Dennis made being a metronome sound apocalyptic.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: HeyJude on November 20, 2020, 01:56:07 PM
I always go back to a quote I remember from Clapton from some years back talking about George Harrison. I'm of course paraphrasing, but he basically said that Harrison *could have* been as good (or I suppose more skilled/busy, whatever you want to call it) as Clapton or Hendrix or others if he had wanted. The idea being, some people are so musical that they can probably achieve some pretty great things on a musical instrument if they take the time or want to. Clapton was saying that George had no interest in going that route.

This is obviously an oversimplification, but I think I would easily say this is largely true. Whether Harrison could have been literally as good as a given other play or not, he could have been much "better" (again, more about being busy/higher skill level) if he had wanted to.

I think this is true of most of the Beach Boys as well. I think the Wilson brothers and also Dave and Al Jardine had so much music running through them, through their souls, that Al or Carl could have picked up a guitar and made themselves play at a higher skill level if they had wanted to and put their mind to it. I'd even include Bruce; if he hadn't been going after very specific, often not ideal career/commercial goals, he could have been even better as well. I think Dennis could have done the same. Brian even as well.

I think because it was their choice in life, and also because they were, again, all *song* people and *vocal* people more than musicians, they chose to channel themselves into those things. Sure, boredom and laziness and complacency were factors to varying degrees as well.

But, while I'm a realist about their expressed talents, I also have no problem believing they could have been even more skilled musicians if they had cared to. Maybe it was supposed to happen the way it was. Maybe Carl Wilson was always meant to be singing and arranging rather than spending years trying to sound like Hendrix or whatever.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: patsy6 on November 20, 2020, 06:33:53 PM
Okay, now take everything that everyone here has said about each Beach Boy's musicianship, and then add to it the fact that when they were on tour (especially in the early years) they not only played their instruments at least competently, but they sang infinitely intricate four part or sometimes even five part harmony...at the same time.  As a musician myself, that is astonishing.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: Lonely Summer on November 20, 2020, 09:30:58 PM
I think George Harrison is one of the best guitarists ever - so I assume people saying things like "he could have been better" refers to playing fast. In the early days of the Fabs, he was a great Carl Perkins style guitarist; then he became obsessed with sitar for a couple years and lost interest in guitar. When he got back to guitar in 68, he improved greatly, especially playing slide. I don't know of anyone before him playing slide guitar that played melodic, beautiful stuff - anyone else picking up a slide wanted to play blues. I've heard one other guy that played a similar style in the 70's, a British guy named Bryn Haworth. His own records never sold much, but some people may have heard him playing on records by Cliff Richard and Gerry Rafferty.
I don't think Carl played particularly fast, either, but watch him playing God Only Knows - what are those chord inversions? That is really complex stuff that requires just the right touch on guitar, otherwise it sounds messy or sloppy. IIRC, he played bass on a couple songs on his first solo album, too; and organ.
But do I wish Carl had spent more time improving as a guitar player, at the expense of his vocals? No way.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: Tom on November 20, 2020, 10:26:17 PM
Apart from writing and vocals, I also think sonic exploration was very important to them. Brian didn't care if a part was simple or complex - he just wanted it to sound new and exciting in some way. The piano parts on the Wild Honey album are very simple to play, but sonically completely unique and immersive.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: All Summer Long on November 22, 2020, 11:06:03 AM
I think Carlís guitar playing is underrated, and I think he underestimated his ability to play lead on later recordings. He did it well on Itís About Time, LPR, FF, Marcella (I assume), Sail On Sailor, Roller Skating Child (most likely), some of Dennisí solo stuff (I havenít really listened to a lot of it yet), and Itís A Beautiful Day (I probably still missed some, too).


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: c-man on November 22, 2020, 05:37:39 PM
I think Carlís guitar playing is underrated, and I think he underestimated his ability to play lead on later recordings. He did it well on Itís About Time, LPR, FF, Marcella (I assume), Sail On Sailor, Roller Skating Child (most likely), some of Dennisí solo stuff (I havenít really listened to a lot of it yet), and Itís A Beautiful Day (I probably still missed some, too).

The steel guitar solo on "Marcella" is Tony Martin (the studio version, that is - live it was done by Ricky Fataar). But Carl still played a lot of great, fuzzy guitar lines on that record! And yeah, I think you nailed the other ones. "Holy Man" is one of Dennis' with Carl on lead guitar.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: adamghost on November 23, 2020, 08:14:08 PM
I'll tell you what will make you appreciate Carl's talents: get in a tribute band and try playing the "Sloop John B" figure while holding down a vocal part.

It's not shredding, but most musicians can't do that. Clapton probably couldn't (though maybe he could).

Same goes for the bass line on that track for that matter. I remember "being Brian" with some tribute band and reaching for that high F while holding that bass part down and I swear I teleported to Jupiter in so doing.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: guitarfool2002 on November 24, 2020, 10:12:43 AM
My opinions have been changing and morphing over the decades to where I think judging musicianship between individual musicians is such a relative thing, it's not possible to make a fair comparison when taking a specific musician out of their specific role either within a song or within a band. Everyone brings their own voice to the table, and everyone when given a role to play may very well be the only musician who could fill that role.

I also feel like if a musician created or played a part which millions heard, enjoyed, and are still singing along with or talking about decades later, that musician did something right and would qualify as a "good" musician, no matter what skill or ability they had beyond that specific role. If you are a musician who plays something that creates a sound which millions connect with, you're good...damn good...and you did something which a majority of musicians of all skill levels have not done. Anyone with musical skill can copy and adapt, while few can create something with longevity or lasting power that other musicians learn and copy.

I'll take it to the extreme for one of my favorites. Meg White. Could Meg White sit in any band or artist? Perhaps not, strictly on a skill and musicianship basis. But when you listen to "Seven Nation Army", or a killer groove like "Ball And Biscuit" especially when that one kicks into overdrive, consider how many top drummers would have that same feel and power for those songs. They might overplay, or put something in that would collapse the mood and groove. For those songs with Jack White, Meg was *the* drummer, and I can't hear White Stripes songs the same without that groove. That to me is a good drummer even if she doesn't play Billy Cobham or Jeff Porcaro grooves.

I feel the same about Ringo. One of my favorites if not my favorite. No one else could have filled the role Ringo did. What's interesting too is how in recent years Ringo has been getting a lot more praise and cred as a musician than he had in the 70's or 80's, outside the core musician circles who knew better. When Jim Keltner describes in detail how and why Ringo was an innovator and one of the greats, you have to listen to what that man says.

Bringing it back to the Beach Boys, there's Dennis Wilson. The way he played, especially live, was something not technical to where he could sit in with Zappa's band in the mid-70's, but he had a power and a drive in his playing that was brilliant coming from those stages.

Same with the other Beach Boys, like Carl on guitar. Could he play like Van Halen in his prime? No. But that wasn't his role. If Carl had to sit in with Van Halen, would he come up with a guitar part that worked for that scenario and fit the song or songs? Absolutely, no doubt. Would Eddie Van Halen sit in with the Beach Boys and do something great with them? Absolutely, no doubt. But there are two musicians who filled specific roles within their bands, and did what they did to where millions still listen and sing along to their parts. Yet, both as musicians are far apart in terms of their skill sets.

So after all that, I think it's a very relative thing to judge musicianship especially in the popular music bag, because unlike classical musicians it mostly involves musicians creating new parts and techniques rather than interpreting or copying existing works. Just for the record, some recent favorites and repeated listens in the past year have been John Frusciante, The White Stripes, Hank Garland, Tom Morello, the aformentioned Ringo, Steve Jordan, Zappa's 66-71 Mothers lineups, Van Halen in the Roth era, and my constant go-to The Monkees. Some virtuoso, some just musicians doing their own things and making  long-lasting, compelling music. It's impossible to judge any of them against the others in terms of musicianship unless you strip away the very things that made them unique and judge them on sight-reading or whether they could play a polyrhythmic groove in 7/8 on demand. Not my bag lol.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: c-man on November 24, 2020, 11:25:52 AM
I'll tell you what will make you appreciate Carl's talents: get in a tribute band and try playing the "Sloop John B" figure while holding down a vocal part.

It's not shredding, but most musicians can't do that. Clapton probably couldn't (though maybe he could).

Same goes for the bass line on that track for that matter. I remember "being Brian" with some tribute band and reaching for that high F while holding that bass part down and I swear I teleported to Jupiter in so doing.

That's what I mean when I mentioned Al's acoustic guitar/vocal performance of "SJB" on that radio program in '83. It's been years since I've heard it, and the part he was playing might not have been the exact part that Carl played live, but it was definitely a picked arpeggio part, and he sang it while playing it. Maybe it wasn't the entire song, but not having noticed much guitar-wise from Al previously, I was definitely impressed that he could do that. EDIT: the acoustic guitar arpeggio on "Lookin' At Tomorrow" is Al, and presumably that on the intro to "Santa Ana Winds" is as well. Obviously he added his vocal parts to those after first laying down the guitar parts, so a little bit different scenarios - but still impressive picking!


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: maggie on November 27, 2020, 10:11:02 AM
I'll tell you what will make you appreciate Carl's talents: get in a tribute band and try playing the "Sloop John B" figure while holding down a vocal part.

It's not shredding, but most musicians can't do that. Clapton probably couldn't (though maybe he could).

Same goes for the bass line on that track for that matter. I remember "being Brian" with some tribute band and reaching for that high F while holding that bass part down and I swear I teleported to Jupiter in so doing.

That's what I mean when I mentioned Al's acoustic guitar/vocal performance of "SJB" on that radio program in '83. It's been years since I've heard it, and the part he was playing might not have been the exact part that Carl played live, but it was definitely a picked arpeggio part, and he sang it while playing it. Maybe it wasn't the entire song, but not having noticed much guitar-wise from Al previously, I was definitely impressed that he could do that. EDIT: the acoustic guitar arpeggio on "Lookin' At Tomorrow" is Al, and presumably that on the intro to "Santa Ana Winds" is as well. Obviously he added his vocal parts to those after first laying down the guitar parts, so a little bit different scenarios - but still impressive picking!

That's all just the basic folk-revival fingerpicking stuff that was Al's musical foundation (Kingston Trio, etc.) There's not much technical challenge in it. For example, Leonard Cohen and Joan Baez played parts that are at least that intricate on their '60s recordings, and neither of them is considered a very impressive guitarist (though I think they are both underrated in that respect).

I think Al was a pretty damn good bassist, but his guitar playing is simply functional. True of most of the boys on most of their instruments, except for Carl (one of the greatest surf guitarists) and Dennis (no master, but one of the most exciting drummers of his era).

As for Bruce, I don't know that I buy that he was some kind of virtuoso, but his Old Grey Whistle Test solo performance of "Disney Girls" is more impressive than I had given him credit for. He reharmonizes the song in an interesting way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4m5SfdZ_n4


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: All Summer Long on November 27, 2020, 09:28:47 PM
Lately, because of Feel Flows, I wonder about Bruceís mandolin skills. Did Ed Carter or someone else teach him how to play the intro he wanted for Disney Girls and thatís all he knew? Or is something else hiding there?


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: adamghost on November 28, 2020, 10:46:13 AM
It's an interesting question about Bruce's musicianship.

Jerry Cole once went on and on to me about encountering Bruce in the early '60s and being blown away by his musicianship, and he actually mentioned his guitar playing which I raised a serious eyebrow at, to the point of confirming that "you're talking about Bruce Johnston, right?"

I highly doubt Jerry's recollection was 100% accurate but he went out of his way to talk about Bruce so obviously something struck him.  One thing about being a piano player is it does give you the technical understanding to do a whole lot of other things. It's perfectly possible that Bruce is a functional player on anything he likes to pick up, but it's not important to him to develop those skills. I'm always impressed that whenever Bruce mimes something on the bass, even songs that he must have had a very marginal acquaintance with, he pretty much nails the part as recorded. Obviously, he's not really playing, but just noting what the bass lines are and putting his fingers in the right place without making a huge effort requires a certain level of musicianship.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: maggie on November 28, 2020, 02:46:22 PM
Lately, because of Feel Flows, I wonder about Bruceís mandolin skills. Did Ed Carter or someone else teach him how to play the intro he wanted for Disney Girls and thatís all he knew? Or is something else hiding there?

The mandolin is not difficult to play on a functional level. Bruce obviously knows how to play guitar and since a mandolin is fifths-tuned, all you have to do is take the fingerings for the four lowest strings of a guitar (or bass) and reverse them.


Title: Re: Musicianship of each of the Beach Boys?
Post by: All Summer Long on December 04, 2020, 10:23:52 PM
Lately, because of Feel Flows, I wonder about Bruceís mandolin skills. Did Ed Carter or someone else teach him how to play the intro he wanted for Disney Girls and thatís all he knew? Or is something else hiding there?

The mandolin is not difficult to play on a functional level. Bruce obviously knows how to play guitar and since a mandolin is fifths-tuned, all you have to do is take the fingerings for the four lowest strings of a guitar (or bass) and reverse them.

Interesting point I hadnít thought of. I play guitar and bass, but havenít gotten around to the mandolin yet (someday, maybe) and didnít realize it was a ďreversedĒ tuning. Thanks!!