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Author Topic: The extent of Brian Wilson's contribution to Jan and Dean songs  (Read 10197 times)
Mitchell
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« on: March 20, 2006, 12:56:12 PM »

I'm interested if anyone knows much about how much Brian wrote for Jan and Dean. I know Surf City was mostly done by Brian but he didn't want to finish it, so he gave it to Jan and Dean to finish. I was just noting to myself that I generally like the Brian Wilson co-written Jan and Dean songs more than I like the rest (on this hits comp I have). Did Brian do the bulk of the music (chord progressions)/melodies/vocal arrangements for the songs he cowrote, or was it just a line or two?
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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2006, 02:08:43 PM »

That's a really good question.  I'd also like to know more about the collaborative modus operandi of the Berry/Wilson braintrust.

However, I have to say that while I love those collaborations, I think I like it better when Jan got a chance to run the whole show, musically, at least.
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2006, 03:47:08 AM »

Very interesting topic. Unfortunately I have no answer.... Roll Eyes
But anyone got any pictures of Jan and Brian together? Don't believe I ever saw one...
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2006, 05:43:33 AM »

However, I have to say that while I love those collaborations, I think I like it better when Jan got a chance to run the whole show, musically, at least.

Examples? Maybe I need a push in the right direction...
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2006, 05:45:33 AM »

Surf City - one of my favourite records ever!  I do wish The Beach Boys had recorded this song.
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2006, 05:51:02 AM »





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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2006, 10:04:55 AM »

Wow, thank you !!!!!
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To sum it up, they blew it, they blew it consistently, they continue to blow it, it is tragic and this pathological problem caused The Beach Boys' greatest music to be so underrated by the general public.

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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2006, 10:34:35 AM »


That one's hilarious - beer and cigarettes.
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2006, 12:23:20 PM »

Quote
Examples? Maybe I need a push in the right direction...

AACSCBRTA, Batman, and You really Know How to Hurt a Guy for three.  Sewing Circle in particular is pure Jan.  There's a certain studied comic brilliance to that one, that Brian was not really capable of.  The thing may share some similarities to I Get Around, but the melody, backing track, and backing vocals are Jan at his best, imo.

Are there any pictures of Bri and Jan together say, pre 1965?
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« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2006, 12:41:04 PM »

Those three are good ones, for sure. I can agree with that.
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« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2006, 01:05:55 PM »

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Are there any pictures of Bri and Jan together say, pre 1965?

Now you're making things difficult! Smiley
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Mitchell
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« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2006, 01:39:37 PM »

allmusic says this about Dead Man's Curve:

The track is introduced by fanfare trumpets, as if announcing the entry of gladiators into an arena, but quickly fattened out with more standard mid-'60s Southern Californian rock production. The verses are very much in the mold of Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys' early hits: a Chuck Berry-derived narrative structure, though with more melodic flexibility, telling the story of a devastating hot rod crash with just a touch of sardonic wit. The parts that really grabbed your attention, though, were the choruses in which the grandiosity of co-songwriter Brian Wilson's melodies asserted themselves against more trumpet blares and swirling harmonies. These resolved on (one would guess Wilson-originated) unexpected but memorable melodic jumps as the voices came together to warn against dead man's curve.

Of course, this is not definitive, but it makes the point that much of the music is probably Brian's contribution.
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« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2006, 01:44:57 PM »

The chorus, especially the last line, is the best part of the song.
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« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2006, 02:00:15 PM »

One of the all-time greatest songs imho
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a diseased bunch of mo'fos if there ever was one… their beauty is so awesome that listening to them at their best is like being in some vast dream cathedral decorated with a thousand gleaming American pop culture icons.

- Lester Bangs on The Beach Boys


PRO SHOT BEACH BOYS CONCERTS - LIST


To sum it up, they blew it, they blew it consistently, they continue to blow it, it is tragic and this pathological problem caused The Beach Boys' greatest music to be so underrated by the general public.

- Jack Rieley
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« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2006, 02:00:49 PM »

Even if Brian had flat out 100% written the music to Dead Man's Curve, Jan would have ended up, imo, putting more of his stamp on it than Brian simply by the backing track.

It's just not the way Brian would have arranged the song.  I could see Brian coming up with something resembling the opening horn riff (not trumpet, btw, mr. allmusic) but Brian never really used THAT large of a Brass/Woodwind section.  How many was it, Mark?  13 or something.  And of course Brian never had a drum part or sound like that.  Brian kept Hal in reserve, whereas it seems that Jan encouraged Hal and Earl to let loose with the fills.  The guitars, piano, and basses are pretty typical stuff, but aren't they always?  Haha.  This isn't to put down Jan or Brian.  Or even to say anything, other than for me, it's the production of most of the Jan Berry catalog that attracts me to it, rather than the pure songwriting elements.
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Mark A. Moore
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« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2006, 02:06:15 PM »

There's a great picture of Jan & Brian together in 1965 . . . from the Capitol archives. It was published with my Jan Berry article in the new DUMB ANGEL #4: ALL SUMMER LONG.

As for Jan & Brian's collaborations . . . they were compositional (plus Brian's few vocal appearances).

Brian never co-produced any Jan & Dean material . . . and Jan Berry was the arranger.

My interview with Artie Kornfeld (who co-wrote "Dead Man's Curve") revealed that he had a pretty good view of Jan and Brian's working arrangement. After initial ideas got rolling, Jan was always eager to play the latest drafts for Brian. Brian would stop by and listen, and they'd exchange ideas. Brian might say say, "let's do this," or "let's try that," and vice versa. (Dean Torrence remembers that the "slippin'-slidin'" vocal background part in DMC knocked Brian out).

The eleven-part brass and woodwind arrangement for DMC was all Jan Berry.

Jan also wrote a lot at home, so I'm sure Brian was at a few writing sessions at Jan's penthouse apartment on Occidental Avenue (for example). Jan's piano was in the living room.

In writing for Jan & Dean, Jan Berry primarily wrote the melody and the arrangement, while others wrote the lyrics. There were a few exceptions, but this was the general rule (and that means that Jan and Brian, when they collaborated, worked on the melody, chord, and harmony level).

Generally, you can think of Jan Berry's core creative team in this way:

Jan Berry — melody, chords, arrangement, and production (fully scored on paper)

Brian Wilson — primarily melody, chords, general input.

Jill Gibson — primarily melody

Roger Christian — lyrics only

Don Altfeld — primarily lyrics


It's also important to remember that Jan's name has now been officialy restored to a number of his best compositions  (including "Little Old Lady from Pasadena").

Jan & Dean had seven top 10 singles. Jan Berry co-wrote all of them except "Baby Talk." Brian Wilson only co-wrote three of them.


Compositions Co-written by Jan Berry and Brian Wilson — All arranged and produced by Jan Berry (charts positions are Billboard, Cash Box, R&B):


Surf City (#1, #1, #3) (album #32, #21)

She's My Summer Girl (B-Side of "Surf City)

Gonna Hustle You (Get A Chance With You)

Drag City (#10, #10) (album #22, #17)

Surf Route 101 (album #22, #17)

Dead Man's Curve (#8, #9) (album #22, #17) (album #80, #42)

The New Girl In School (#37, #26) (album #80, #42)

Ride the Wild Surf (#16, #23) (album #66, #26)

Surfin' Wild (album #66, #26)

Move Out Little Mustang (album #40, #40)

Sidewalk Surfin' (#25, #28) (Jan did not co-write - lyrics by Roger Christian)

------------------------------------------


There are a lot of fantastic Jan Berry compositions that Brian Wilson had nothing to do with. All arranged and produced by Jan. Here are a few (chart positions are Billboard, Cash Box, R&B):


Jennie Lee (#8, #3, #4) (produced by Joe Lubin)

Gas Money (#81) — a car song in 1958 (produced by Joe Lubin)

Little Old Lady from Pasadena (#3, #5)

Honolulu Lulu (#11, #10) (quote from Brian Wilson: "Honolulu Lulu blew me out.")

Surfin' Hearse (album #22, #17)

Hot Stocker (album #22, #17)

Drag Strip Girl (album #22, #17)

Three Window Coupe (album #80, #42)

Bucket T (album #80, #42)

Rockin' Little Roadster (album #80, #42)

B Gas Rickshaw (jnstrumental) (album #80, #42)

My Mighty G.T.O. (album #80, #42)

Barons West L.A.  (jnstrumental) (album #80, #42)

Hey Little Freshman (album #80, #42)

Waimea Bay (album #66, #26)

Skateboarding Part 1 (jnstrumental) (album #66, #26)

Walk on the Wet Side (jnstrumental) (album #66, #26)

Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift (jnstrumental) (album #40, #40)

Anaheim, Azusa (#77, #50) (album #40, #40)

Skateboardng Part 2 (instrumental) (album #40, #40)

You Really Know How to Hurt A Guy (#27, #42)

I Can't Wait to Love You (album #145, #87)

The Universal Coward (album #145, #87)

A Beginning from An End (album #145, #87)

Folk City (album #145, #87)

Batman (#66, #60)

Robin the Boy Wonder

The Joker Is Wild

------------------------------------------



Stellar Jan Berry Arrangements and Productions (not co-written by Jan):


Linda (#28, #26) (album #71)

I Found A Girl (#30, #39) (album #145, #87)

Popsicle (#21, #24) (album #17, #22)

I Gotta Drive (album #17, #22)

It's As Easy As 1, 2, 3 (album #80, #42) (album #66, #26)

A Surfer's Dream (album #66, #26)

Horace, the Swingin' School-Bus Driver (album #40, #40)

Summer Means Fun (album #40, #40)

One-Piece Topless Bathing Suit (album #40, #40)

It's A Shame to Say Goodbye (B-Side of I Found A Girl)

It Aint me Babe

Where Were You When I Needed You

Turn, Turn, Turn,

Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (B-Side of Popsicle in '66)


------------------------------------------

This is some of the best stuff . . . but it dosn't include all of Jan & Dean's 26 chart singles (or all their albums) . . . nor does this list include any of the songs that Jan Berry co-wrote and produced for other artists.

M.




« Last Edit: March 21, 2006, 02:13:08 PM by Mark A. Moore » Logged

Mark A. Moore
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« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2006, 03:08:33 PM »

Yeah, see . . . that allmusic thing just reflects the typical uniformed journalist phenomenon, coupled with the stereotypical approach of automatically assigning Brian all the credit. This kind of stuff has been allowed to perpetuate over the years, and it's really hurt Jan Berry's legacy.

Here's a more balanced way of looking at it:

There are only two songs where Jan and Brian share a 50-50 writing credit . . . "Surf City" and "Gonna Hustle You."

Brian was only one of four writers on "Dead Man's Curve." Christian wrote the lyrics . . . so that means that Jan & Brian were responsible for close to 100 percent of the music, with Kornfeld falling somewhere in the middle between words and music.

Compare this to "Three Window Coupe" — a Berry-Christian composition that became a hit for the Rip Chords . . . but which version is destroyed by the original Jan & Dean version. Christian wrote the lyrics, which means that 100 percent of the music and arrangement came from Jan Berry.

"Little Old Lady" is another example . . . Jan wrote the music and arrangement . . . while Altfeld and Christian wrote the lyrics. (And Jan's name has finally been restored to that song).

Again, take the classic "Berry-Christian-Wilson" compositions. All of those were musical collaborations between Jan & Brian, with lyrics from Roger.

After "Surf City" . . . Brian was never a primary writer for Jan & Dean . . . and his name usually comes last, after Christian's in the credits.

But there's no mistaking that Jan and Brian made a powerful musical team. Jan and Brian could have written some monster hits for the Beach Boys . . . if they had wanted to . . . and if it wouldn't have killed Murry.

What's so fascinating about Jan & Brian, is that they both excelled at melody and arrangement . . . while learning a great deal from each other, both technically and musically.

Jan was no slouch . . . and he scored all of his parts on paper.

Aeijtzsche, you've got a pretty good handle on it . . . and those drum fills you mentioned are also all written out, note-for-note . . . what you hear on the records.

Hal and Earl cut loose on Jan Berry's productions.

M.



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« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2006, 03:18:04 PM »

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Aeijtzsche, you've got a pretty good handle on it . . . and those drum fills you mentioned are also all written out, note-for-note . . . what you hear on the records.

Hal and Earl cut loose on Jan Berry's productions.

And I think that's a huge element in what seperates Jan and Brian.  Or unites them...haha.  Brian often had nothing written out, relied on the musicians to take dictation from his humming, etc.  Yet on record, it sounds as if it's all inticately scored on paper.

Jan had everything written out, but in my mind, his productions sound looser than Brian's for the most part.  Not technically, I don't mean lazy playing or whatever, but more off the cuff.  Strange how that worked out.

The two drums thing was such a cool idea.  I'm dying to try it myself, I've overdubbed myself playing the same thing, but it's not the same.  If anybody ever disputes Hal or Earl's chops, you have to point to their precision in playing together so perfectly on Jan's records.
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« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2006, 05:52:08 AM »

Thanks for those posts Mark. I read through your Jan 101 ESQ article. Neat stuff. Also, thanks for that list of songs. I see I have my work cut out for me in terms of getting a hold of those songs!

I also agree with you, Josh, about Jan's instrument selection being different from Brian's. The drum part of Dead Man's Curve is so awesome. I love that "track only" version on All the Hits. Are there any more good backing tracks available anywhere else?
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« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2006, 10:18:51 AM »

Here's an off-topic Earl Palmer story that might be interesting.  I can't vouch for it, because it's second hand, but a friend (who's a drummer and an animator, so I trust his accuracy) told me he'd seen an interview with Earl, in which it was mentioned that he had played on the "Flintstones" theme song (and, presumably, the show's score library as well).  He mentioned that he had also contributed the distinctive rhythmic sound of running feet that's always heard on the show by drumming on the padded seat of a folding chair just like the one he was in then- and turned the chair around to demonstrate by drumming on it.
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Mitchell
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« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2006, 10:27:12 AM »

hehe, neat.
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« Reply #21 on: March 22, 2006, 10:40:44 AM »

Earl the Pearl . . .

And let's not forget . . . it's Earl's drumming we hear on Jan & Arnie's Top 10 smash "Jennie Lee" from 1958. (i.e., the studio version after Arnie's garage high-chair percussion).

M.

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« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2006, 11:00:16 AM »

I may be wrong on this, noting in front of me to check with, but Earl Palmer is the drummer I tend to associate most with the Monkees.  Hal Blaine seems to appear on surprisingly few of their hits by comparison...is this accurate?
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« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2006, 06:01:08 AM »

He is the drummer featured on the TV themes for "M*A*S*H*" and "The Odd Couple", The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and "Lucille", etc.

http://www.drummerworld.com/Sound/earlpalmerLucille.mp3
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« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2006, 06:51:25 AM »

That drummer website doesn't have a listing for Dennis Wilson. Interesting.
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