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Author Topic: What did the beach boys do better than the beatles?  (Read 3318 times)
guitarfool2002
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« Reply #50 on: December 04, 2017, 09:04:07 AM »

I agree with everyone who posted about both bands being loved and revered and all else almost equally as peers. I also see validity in discussing the differences, specifically "why" The Beatles may be more revered than the Beach Boys, or what elements of the Beach Boys or Beatles catalog of songs and records stand out over the other.

But even if it hasn't come up as obviously here, yet, it is disappointing to see these discussions turn into Beach Boys fans lobbing grenades at the Beatles music as if (I'll say again) we were comparing the Beach Boys to some lesser group. Or comparing the Pepper or Revolver album to something by The Archies or whatever.

Both groups were in that upper echelon of 60's pop music, for a number of well-deserved reasons, namely that they were innovators and made great music, and wrote great songs consistently from year to year in the 60's. There was no outright crap or throwaway nonsense on Beatles albums, and apart from the filler tracks and the joke tracks on BB's albums, it was the same for their catalog. Quality and consistently, with innovation.

So I have to question why a lot of times these talks turn into people taking shots at The Beatles, rather than staying on point and discussing the tangible differences. Not that people are doing what has been done previously, like saying "Sgt Pepper is overrated crap" or whatever the variations might be, but there has to be some leveling of the two as peers or else it turns into mudslinging.

Maybe the more interesting comparison would be to put up The Who or The Stones next to The Beach Boys and run those through the discussion wringer, and weigh those. There are two artists considered "legends" as well, who put out very influential albums which are considered among the best of all time and alongside that, have a reputation for great live shows and some legendary tours...and have continued to tour into the 21st Century, which obviously the Beatles cannot do.
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« Reply #51 on: December 04, 2017, 09:22:56 AM »

Hopefully this can stay a frank and open and respectful conversation. I say that because I have to inevitably lob what some might see as a very mild generalized accusation.

To back up, I think it obviously makes sense if one band speaks to you personally more than another, if you like another band more than another, etc. Digging the BBs more than the Beatles is not surprising or in any way objectionable.

What I *do* think is odd is to LOOOOVE the Beach Boys top to bottom, front to back, and also say the Beatles *do nothing* for you whatsoever. I'm not saying it's impossible. But in my experience dealing with people talking about music and also interacting with a wide variety of "fandoms", if someone loves the Beach Boys' music more than anything on this Earth and professes that the Beatles do *zero* for them in any way, I find that sometimes that means there's some "fanboy/girl-ish" stuff going on, a little bit of "my team is better than yours" going on.

Look, I love the Beatles and therefore everybody I know thinks I must *love* the Rolling Stones. I dig enough of their stuff, but they've never been a huge deal to me. But I can't say that *nothing* they do does one iota to move me or make me enjoy something. And I'd argue frankly the BBs and Beatles, especially in the most prolific era, have more in common than even the Beatles and Stones as far as melody and ingenuity, etc.

As a HUGE fan and scholar of both the Beatles and BBs (its pretty equal for both all things considered), I've had plenty of interactions with both fan bases regarding the other band, and I find far more sort of catty, "my team is better than yours" stuff from BB fans regarding the Beatles than vice versa. There's probably more dismissiveness about the BBs among some Beatles fans, where the BBs don't even enter into the picture for them (and that puzzles me just as much and suggest a lot of musical tunnel vision). But, as a Beatles fan, I find that one of the go-to arguments *against* them is their popularity. "They may have more hits, but....." "They may be the bigger pop culture phenomenon, but....."

I've been neck-deep in the deepest analysis of the Beatles, and have also had times of pulling back and giving it some space. After all this time, every accolade and "best of all time" platitude ascribed to the Beatles is warranted. They truly were like no other. Their songs were better. Their albums were better. If they didn't "get there" first when it came to something, they still got there early and better. They made every song they covered theirs. Again, I submit that every BB barring *possibly* Mike (and maybe even Mike) would tell you, if asked, that, as Howie Edelson put it, "there's the Beatles, and then everything else."

The internet allows someone to get "into" a band very deep and in detailed fashion *very quickly*; someone can become "fanatical" more quickly and, despite the internet's ability to give us access to *more* music, can just as likely lead to that tunnel vision and becoming single-minded about one band. I've been guilty of this myself over the years; I probably *still* don't have as adventurous of a musical taste as I'd like. It branches out, but it's still into stuff like ELO, or Emitt Rhodes, the Zombies, Billy Joel, stuff that still in the same general big wheelhouse of melodic rock/pop.

But I also recognize that you like what you like, and I'm not going to waste a TON of time in my life listening to music that I have zero interest in.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2017, 09:25:15 AM by HeyJude » Logged

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« Reply #52 on: December 04, 2017, 09:35:57 AM »

No incredulous crying here, just mild disbelief at the lack of objectivity. Different schools of thought, though.

How can it be objective?

Define 'better'

Were the Beatles better instrumentalists than the Beach Boys? To answer that objectively you'd first need to define a sytem of judging rock playing in a way that eveyone hearing it agrees on. It would need to be a consistent, cross-genre scale of judging. Would it be purely technical? A big problem would be that rock is generally not written down, so there would be no score to consult. At least in a classical performance you could judge a players expressive capabilities by seeing how they interpret a score.  How is that possible with rock? You have no frame of reference.

Conversely with harmony, unless you are familiar with  different styles of harmony, for example, close part jazz harmony and doo wop, and unless you can judge which of those is better in a way that everyone accepts, then how can you possibly say which band is better at harmonizing.

You can use as many technical terms as you want, ultimately it's subjective.  

I think Baroque music is better than Hip Hop. I could give 100 reasons why. Why am I right and some kid in New York wrong? Unless we have a frame of reference we can agree on, it is subjective.

Sorry to give you aestetics 101, I'm sure you know all this already. And I would defend your right to love the Beatles to the death.

What I don't like though, is having my opinion met with any sort of shock or disbelief.

Or judgement.

It's snobbery of the worst kind.

Rant over, you know I love you guys.......

I think there's enough commonalities between the BBs and Beatles to do some comparison/analysis of their musicianship. Namely, as a self-contained musical performing group.

And on that basis, the Beatles were far better musicians across the board. As Howie Edelson once put it, given the proper technology, Paul McCartney could have performed and sang every element of the "Sgt. Pepper" tracks barring orchestral overdubs. None of the BBs could have done the same for even the most stripped-down of their albums, not even Brian. (I suppose barring something like "Love You").

Apart from the '66 Beatles tour where they got sloppy and lazy and bored (I'd say the tightest '66 BB shows like Michigan *do* sound better than the worst '66 Beatles material like the Budokan shows), the Beatles were much better and tighter as an on-stage rock and roll band.

Compare "Wendy" from the Ed Sullivan show (or even "I Get Around", which does sound better) to the Beatles on Sullivan that same year. No comparison, and I still adore watching the BBs do "Wendy" live on that show.

Fast forward even to 1969, where the BBs were doing some pretty awesome shows. The Beatles once again were lazy and lacked motivation throughout the "Get Back" sessions, yet got their s**t together for the "Rooftop Concert", which blows away anything the BBs (or any other live band) were doing in 1969.

Was Brian a better piano player in his prime than McCartney? Maybe? I dunno. Same for Bruce. Other than that, I can't think of anywhere where the BBs match up to the Beatles in terms of musicianship. Harrison was doing amazing slide guitar work in the 70s and 80s while Carl was doing "Fun Fun Fun" on autopilot. The solo on "Keepin' the Summer Alive" was as *hot* as it ever got. Al, who is actually a very solid guitarist and much better than most think he is, was still only marginally a part of the musical bed at live shows as the years went on. Dennis could cook with raw power, but even in the 70s and 80s when Ringo was at times probably almost as wasted as Dennis was, he still was a technically more proficient drummer.
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« Reply #53 on: December 04, 2017, 09:48:36 AM »

The Beach Boys sang better than the Beatles.

John, Paul and George wrote better lyrics then any of The Beach Boys.

In 1965and 1966 when both Bands were at their creative peak The Beach Boys peak was higher than that of the Beatles.

"Rubber Soul" is front to back (US or UK version) stronger than any '65 BB album. I'd put "Help" up against either as well. The highs of the BB albums are right up there with the Beatles. But as *albums*, there's still more lows/fillers on BB albums. It's once again why I posit than PS is amazing more than anything not due to some unifying feeling or theme, but because they're simply *all* great songs. Though "Revolver" is its equal and I'd say probably better.

Not a dis against the Beatles. I agree that as an album Help is better in total than the B.B. albums in total, however, my point remains. The peaks of The Beach Boys we’re higher than that of Beatles. I would just point to, for example, the intro to “California Girls”.

With regard to PS versus Revolver or Rubber Soul it gets down to a matter of opinion. I believe that PS is a greater artistic achievement but that is me. I think to that one our must add Good Vibrations and even the unreleased SMiLE stuff - Brian was operating on a different plain than anybody else.
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« Reply #54 on: December 04, 2017, 09:51:03 AM »

The Beach Boys sang better than the Beatles.

John, Paul and George wrote better lyrics then any of The Beach Boys.

In 1965and 1966 when both Bands were at their creative peak The Beach Boys peak was higher than that of the Beatles.

The Beach Boys sang ballads and harmony better than Bech Boys.  But on the rockers both John and Paul out sang any and all of the Boys including Carl.

At his best Brian and his collaborators wrote lyrics that matched or surpassed the best of the Beatles' lyrics.  But at his worst Brian and the other writers in The Beach Boys outstank any Beatles lyric by a wide margin.

I would further stipulate that as self contained units the Beatles were a better band than The Beach Boys.
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« Reply #55 on: December 04, 2017, 10:05:09 AM »

It can never be more than subjective. For some of us, the Beatles do nothing for us, despite repeated listens. Nothing to be shocked about.

I do find this disbelief common with Beatles fans though, no offense to you there GF.

This incredulous cry of "How can you not like the Beatles???"

It only serves to reinforce my opinion.

No incredulous crying here, just mild disbelief at the lack of objectivity. Different schools of thought, though.

How can it be objective?

Define 'better'

Were the Beatles better instrumentalists than the Beach Boys? To answer that objectively you'd first need to define a sytem of judging rock playing in a way that eveyone hearing it agrees on. It would need to be a consistent, cross-genre scale of judging. Would it be purely technical? A big problem would be that rock is generally not written down, so there would be no score to consult. At least in a classical performance you could judge a players expressive capabilities by seeing how they interpret a score.  How is that possible with rock? You have no frame of reference.

Conversely with harmony, unless you are familiar with  different styles of harmony, for example, close part jazz harmony and doo wop, and unless you can judge which of those is better in a way that everyone accepts, then how can you possibly say which band is better at harmonizing.

You can use as many technical terms as you want, ultimately it's subjective.  

I think Baroque music is better than Hip Hop. I could give 100 reasons why. Why am I right and some kid in New York wrong? Unless we have a frame of reference we can agree on, it is subjective.

Sorry to give you aestetics 101, I'm sure you know all this already. And I would defend your right to love the Beatles to the death.

What I don't like though, is having my opinion met with any sort of shock or disbelief.

Or judgement.

It's snobbery of the worst kind.

Rant over, you know I love you guys.......

Without whipping out my dictionary, thesaurus, philosophy textbook, and re-reading the thread a bunch of times (all of which I am prone to do Thud), I just want to clarify a few things...I have no problem at all with someone who doesn't like the Beatles (or any other group - unless it's a particularly hateful group or something). At most, if someone loves the BBs but the Beatles do absolutely nothing for them, I may be a bit surprised, but only because in the grand scheme of things the BBs and Beatles have far more in common than not (unlike Baroque and Hip Hop). My comment about 'lacking objectivity' was in reference to the discussion in the thread that I felt was lacking impartiality. I also objected to your post in that I didn't notice any "How can you not like the Beatles???" going on, but as a general statement I understand and have no problem with. I also understand where you are coming from when you say, "it can never be more than subjective", but ultimately I disagree. I just can't believe that Pet Sounds isn't better than anything I've ever done! For the reasons you illustrated, though, it seems rather impossible for us to crack and it's rather unimportant. You like what you like. That's what matters. My problem is when people confuse what they like for what's better (not that I know what is...).

I agree with everyone who posted about both bands being loved and revered and all else almost equally as peers. I also see validity in discussing the differences, specifically "why" The Beatles may be more revered than the Beach Boys, or what elements of the Beach Boys or Beatles catalog of songs and records stand out over the other.

Agreed!
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« Reply #56 on: December 04, 2017, 10:06:24 AM »

The Beach Boys sang better than the Beatles.

John, Paul and George wrote better lyrics then any of The Beach Boys.

In 1965and 1966 when both Bands were at their creative peak The Beach Boys peak was higher than that of the Beatles.

"Rubber Soul" is front to back (US or UK version) stronger than any '65 BB album. I'd put "Help" up against either as well. The highs of the BB albums are right up there with the Beatles. But as *albums*, there's still more lows/fillers on BB albums. It's once again why I posit than PS is amazing more than anything not due to some unifying feeling or theme, but because they're simply *all* great songs. Though "Revolver" is its equal and I'd say probably better.

Not a dis against the Beatles. I agree that as an album Help is better in total than the B.B. albums in total, however, my point remains. The peaks of The Beach Boys we’re higher than that of Beatles. I would just point to, for example, the intro to “California Girls”.

With regard to PS versus Revolver or Rubber Soul it gets down to a matter of opinion. I believe that PS is a greater artistic achievement but that is me. I think to that one our must add Good Vibrations and even the unreleased SMiLE stuff - Brian was operating on a different plain than anybody else.

"California Girls" is amazing. But the Beatles did a dozen songs or more in 1965 that are just as good if not better. (The BBs did too; I don't even think CG is the best of Brian or the BBs that year).

"Smile" is awesome stuff, and to me, when we're comparing to other bands/artists, the asterisk that goes next to "Smile" is not that that it went unreleased, but that Brian and the BBs were singing mostly some other guy's lyrics. VDP's lyrics are great on multiple levels, but as with the majority of PS, it's Brian and the band singing words that a guy outside the band wrote.

One of the things that spoke to fans of the Beatles back then was that, whether it was the story-telling of McCartney (though sometimes still imbued with personal experiences, just in a more veiled fashion) or the confessional nature of Lennon, those were THEIR words. The one (or two or three) guys singing those songs also, for the most part, wrote those words.

Similar thing with musicianship; once they hit PS and Smile and session musicians were playing on a lot of the stuff, there was something about dudes were already in their 30s and 40s in 1966/67 playing on those sessions that ever-so-slightly arguably undercut the "hipness" and cutting edge nature of the material. Carol Kaye reading Brian's charts on a PS or Smile session wasn't the same "vibe" as McCartney drooling at the prospect of getting to add bass to a great Lennon song, or carrying tape loops in to add to "Tomorrow Never Knows."

As another aside, I also think we're well past the stage where we can say "The Beatles had George Martin, Brian had nobody." Not only did Brian have great engineers just as the Beatles did, I also think what Howie posted here some time back in another Beatles-Beach Boys discussion is apt: McCartney, especially once they reached a certain point, was essentially the band's producer and/or co-producer. George Martin was integral for 27 reasons, but again, McCartney was producing that stuff after a couple of years as much as Martin was. And McCartney was giving "arrangers" a lot of the melodies that they wrote their arrangements with.
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« Reply #57 on: December 04, 2017, 10:17:04 AM »

I remember making a drôle remark a few years ago (here on Smiley) that The Beatles threw in the towel in 1970 because they had "no stamina". Ye gods did I get a bollocking for my pains. Maybe Beatles fans are more sensitive about such things...
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« Reply #58 on: December 04, 2017, 10:39:19 AM »

I guess it's natural that the most loyal fans of any major artist will take that artist above all others and have a list of reasons why they're better than others or simply the best - I've talked personally with fans who put everyone from Bruce Springsteen to the Dead to Santana to Pearl Jam on that pedestal, and each had those near religious experiences either in concert or just listening to specific songs where they've been brought to tears or have been convinced on almost a near-messianic level that this is the greatest musical experience they've ever seen or that ever will be. It's personal and as mentioned, purely subjective. But as I listened years ago to a Springsteen fan describe one of those concerts almost 40 years ago describe how Bruce was leading the crowd almost like leading them as a Moses figure or something, there is no way to refute or argue what that person felt. But it wasn't a case where they were downing Bruce's peers or trying to knock those other artists down, it was just a case of expressing what it was about Bruce's performance at that show that really touched them or led them to have such strong feelings about it. And in return, I wouldn't try to argue that by saying what I felt from another artist or suggest my artist on that level was any better. It's just sharing feelings as fans.

I actually enjoy hearing fans describe what it was about a certain artist that generates such strong emotions, and most times it doesn't have to include a negative or a feeling of dismissing another artist in order to say what made that experience so deep and personal.
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« Reply #59 on: December 04, 2017, 12:13:24 PM »

I remember making a drôle remark a few years ago (here on Smiley) that The Beatles threw in the towel in 1970 because they had "no stamina". Ye gods did I get a bollocking for my pains. Maybe Beatles fans are more sensitive about such things...

The 27 solo albums that came out in the early-mid 70s would tend to belie such a theory.

I think if you suggest, even if très drôle, that stamina was a problem with the Beatles and their careers in 1970, you're just going to be pegged as unfamiliar with their history. 1970 saw "Let It Be", "McCartney", "All Things Must Pass", "Plastic Ono Band", "Beaucoups of Blues", and "Sentimental Journey" all hit the market. That's EIGHT LPs worth of material. Plus singles.

The Beatles had the luxury of not having to stay together to remain successful (or at least keep a record deal and stay a viable, going concern) in 1970. The Beach Boys didn't.
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« Reply #60 on: December 04, 2017, 03:44:38 PM »

The Beach Boys are my favorite group but The Beatles are right next to them and were better in many respects. It's easier to list things that The Beatles did better than The Beach Boys to be honest, but...

As wonderful, groundbreaking and beloved as their songs are (and they were far more consistent in their songwriting than Brian ever was because they had several brilliant minds involved), I always feel that there's a bit TOO much craftsmanship in their music, whereas Brian at his best is achingly honest with no filter at all. Even the songs that are generally held up as example as of The Beatles writing and recording deeply personal music ("Julia" and "Let It Be" for example) seem somehow removed from any genuine emotion by virtue of the way they were composed, performed and produced. Brian on the other hand could have french horns and a theremin and a lyricist writing it all and STILL cause "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" to sound like a man who's utterly alone in the darkness. The Beatles could never match that.

However, I do think The Beatles pass them in nearly every other category except their harmony vocals ("Because" is impressive for them but not for The Beach Boys).    
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« Reply #61 on: December 04, 2017, 04:35:50 PM »

The Beatles were a 'better band' than The Beach Boys, but as mentioned, they didn't have Brian Wilson (or Dennis and Carl). and nothing, NOTHING else has lifted my spirits from my worst periods of depression like Pet Sounds. I love The Beatles, but their music as brilliant as it is, never felt truly mine. Does that make sense?

I'm a pale British introverted guy, don't care about surfing, bla bla bla, but in Brian, Carl, Dennis, Al, even Mike I see people who I can relate too on a personal level. It's hard to see that in The Beatles because they've always been viewed in a god like sort of way. Nothing new can be said about them. The Beach Boys is a rollercoaster saga, that continues today, through the good times and the bad.

 I can look back on all the beautiful music they gave us in the 60s and 70s, and in some respects that Brian still continues to give into the 21st century. I feel a strong emotional connection to the man and his music. The Beatles may have songs like For No One, Here There and Everywhere and Strawberry Fields which are ridiculously well crafted songs. They may have a clearly more consistent catalog. But it was still God Only Knows I chose to walk down the aisle to when I married my wife on August 26th of this year. Nothing pulls at my heartstrings like Til' I Die or Midnight's Another Day or Only With You.

For better or worse, they are more honest in their music than almost any other band ever. Pacific Ocean Blue and Love You are perfect examples of that.

Compile the best 200 something Beach Boys songs from 1961-1974 or whatever and I couldn't tell you if they are better than The Beatles catalog, but for me they are equally satisfying. Listening to material from Wild Honey or Friends or SMiLE or Surf's Up is like climbing into a musical universe all of its own. Their music is sometimes quirky, sometimes offbeat, sometimes just lyrically clunky.. but it's most often genuine. Because Brian was/is the real deal, and that translates into all of their best material. Even with his use of outside collaborators, his music is unmistakably Brian. He's a musical painter, with an artistic palette of his choosing. Those melodies will stick with me forever.
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« Reply #62 on: December 04, 2017, 06:34:22 PM »

Beach Boys had/ have a longer career.  Granted the BB put out a few dreadful albums, but maybe the Beatles would have as well if they stayed together another 10-15 years.

Beach Boys were a better longevity as a touring band. Beatles hung it up in 1966 as a live performing act.

And of course they didn't have Brian.

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« Reply #63 on: December 12, 2017, 07:34:16 AM »

I personally like 'Tell Me Why' and 'I Should Have Known Better' on the Party! album. I always felt, although shortened, that those versions were better than the Beatles' own versions.

Everything else, the Beatles sorta mopped (no pun intended) the floor with the Beach Boys. I guess it really is better to burn out, than fade away.
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« Reply #64 on: December 12, 2017, 09:10:30 AM »

It's a pretty hard comparison, and I actually had this discussion with my family last night. Bruce could play circles around Paul McCartney on keys, and I think Carl was just as good as George Harrison, they just played different styles. Ringo and Dennis both created their own styles that have been imitated ever since their music came out. Ringo with his heavy "Ringo Swing" as Taylor Hawkins calls it, and Dennis with that Beach Boys shuffle. I think instrumentally, McCartney's bass lines are one of a kind, and in a league of their own. No one could play like McCartney in my opinion. Not Carol Kaye, Jamerson, Sting, etc...

As far as songwriting goes The Beach Boys are far superior in my mind. Good Vibrations, God Only Knows, Surf's Up, All I Wanna Do, Forever, All This Is That, California Girls... I could go on and on.
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« Reply #65 on: December 12, 2017, 09:59:56 AM »

and I think Carl was just as good as George Harrison, they just played different styles.

I read in Emmerick's book on recording the Beatles that Harrison had major anxiety about playing the guitar solo for the 'All You Need Is Love' live television performance - like he was jittery for weeks up until he had to play it if I recall correctly. Just a small anecdote that shows how much more confidence Carl had as a musician...and, imo, Carl did a lot more intricate guitar playing. Nothing that Harrison did in the Beatles ever completely wow'd me - whereas Carl was playing hit records when he was 16-17 years old and sounded just like Chuck Berry in certain songs at that time.

Anywho, agreed with the rest of your post. McCartney's bass playing is out of this world and its one of the main reasons I like the Beatles so much.

I had a discussion about this with my fiancé the other night - she thinks the Beatles are the best band in the world and, from a musical point of view, I couldn't disagree. They had so many hits and they were just consistently knocking it out of the park. But I counter that by saying that where the Beatles had hits the Beach Boys had spirituality...Their songs sound heavenly, where the Beatles sound like they come straight out of Liverpool.

There's a kind of ethereal magic in songs like God Only Knows, Surf's Up, Cali Girls, etc that the Beatles just don't have in anything - even 'Here There And Everywhere' seems like its missing it (and that song is beautiful). I'm not the most religious person, but when Brian says that he and Carl prayed for God to help make Pet Sounds great, I can't help but think that a divine power did intervene.
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« Reply #66 on: December 12, 2017, 10:36:17 AM »

Beach Boys had/ have a longer career.  Granted the BB put out a few dreadful albums, but maybe the Beatles would have as well if they stayed together another 10-15 years.

Beach Boys were a better longevity as a touring band. Beatles hung it up in 1966 as a live performing act.

And of course they didn't have Brian.


With the exception of some of Ringo's late 70s output ("Ringo the 4th", etc.), I'd say the collective Beatles solo records outpace the BB albums from that same time period.

The BBs had a great, vastly underappreciated run from 1970-1973, but that was all during the same time that we also got "All Things Must Pass", "McCartney", "Plastic Ono Band", "Ram", "Wild Life", "Band on the Run", "Ringo", "Living in the Material World", "Mind Games", and even Lennon's sketchy "Sometime in NYC." And a couple more Ringo albums at the front end as well. Plus the "Concert for Bangla Desh."

I'd put the majority of those individual solo albums up against those BB albums, and certainly if you do a theoretical "Group" Beatles album from the best of each of those years, you'd have stunning albums as well.

I think the Beatles even as solo artists just had way more fuel in their tanks. I adore even the late 70s and early 80s BB stuff. I'll defend most of "Keepin' the Summer Alive" even, and hunks of MIU I love too. But objectively, that stuff isn't on par with Lennon's "Double Fantasy" and "Milk and Honey" tracks, or McCartney's "McCartney II" or "Tug of War" (or even "London Town" or "Back to the Egg"). Lost in the shuffle is a procession of surprisingly very strong Harrison albums in 1979's "George Harrison" and I'd argue even "Somewhere in England" and "Gone Troppo."

If you move later in time, there's really no contest. Harrison's "Cloud Nine" and McCartney's "Flowers in the Dirt" (and I'd argue even "Press to Play") are immensely more substantial than "Still Cruisin'", as is pretty much everything and anything the solo Beatles did in the 90s compared to "Summer in Paradise."
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« Reply #67 on: December 12, 2017, 10:43:26 AM »

It's a pretty hard comparison, and I actually had this discussion with my family last night. Bruce could play circles around Paul McCartney on keys, and I think Carl was just as good as George Harrison, they just played different styles. Ringo and Dennis both created their own styles that have been imitated ever since their music came out. Ringo with his heavy "Ringo Swing" as Taylor Hawkins calls it, and Dennis with that Beach Boys shuffle. I think instrumentally, McCartney's bass lines are one of a kind, and in a league of their own. No one could play like McCartney in my opinion. Not Carol Kaye, Jamerson, Sting, etc...

As far as songwriting goes The Beach Boys are far superior in my mind. Good Vibrations, God Only Knows, Surf's Up, All I Wanna Do, Forever, All This Is That, California Girls... I could go on and on.

Carl was apparently a very good guitarist, but he *so rarely* showed it after his early-mid 60s work that there's really no comparison to Harrison. Harrison went through his lazy/sloppy periods (which had less to do with his ability and more to do with simply being interested in other things; even Clapton has gone on record saying Harrison could have been as good as him (Clapton) if he had wanted to).

But then Harrison busted out great guitar solos on songs like "One After 909", "Let It Be" (especially the "album" version), "Something", and so on. Carl wasn't doing any work like that on record or on stage during that same time.

And certainly by the 70s and 80s Harrison developed an amazing and unique slide guitar sound while Carl pretty much just did the same old stuff in concert. Carl did some cool stuff on his solo tours. I think he certainly had more ability than he usually put on record (or on stage), but the BBs were (to their detriment at certain points in their career) so non-guitar-oriented that there's no contest really between Carl and George.

It's kinda the same thing for Bruce vs. McCartney. Maybe Bruce was a more polished, closer-to-virtuoso piano player, but he stopped using his ability in the 1970s.

I love Dennis's drumming, and he had power and sometimes some finesse as well. But he wasn't in the same league as Ringo. Ringo was never a virtuoso either, but the fills alone that he devised are genius. And he was a professional, working drummer for years while Dennis kind of just defaulted to drums in his family band. I would never have expected Dennis to be a virtuoso.
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« Reply #68 on: December 12, 2017, 10:53:31 AM »

and I think Carl was just as good as George Harrison, they just played different styles.

I read in Emmerick's book on recording the Beatles that Harrison had major anxiety about playing the guitar solo for the 'All You Need Is Love' live television performance - like he was jittery for weeks up until he had to play it if I recall correctly. Just a small anecdote that shows how much more confidence Carl had as a musician...and, imo, Carl did a lot more intricate guitar playing. Nothing that Harrison did in the Beatles ever completely wow'd me - whereas Carl was playing hit records when he was 16-17 years old and sounded just like Chuck Berry in certain songs at that time.

I don't think that anecdote really tells the story of Harrison as a guitarist. It's well established that he never liked being an improvisational guitarist. He always liked planning his solos and guitar work in general. I'd say actually a better word was that he liked to *write* his solos in advance.

What Carl (and David Marks) did on those early records is in so many ways so far removed from what Harrison did in the 60s that it's hard to even compare.

I disagree that, across the board, Carl did more intricate playing that Harrison. As I mentioned in a previous post, by the late 60s, Harrison was doing work *far* beyond anything Carl was putting down on record or on stage (how much ability he had beyond what he put down is unknown I suppose).

Hell, listen to *McCartney's* lead guitar work on stuff like "Taxman" and "Good Morning Good Morning." In its own way, that was miles beyond anything the BBs or Carl were doing.

Harrison was a melody guy when it came to his solos. He dug Chuck Berry and even more so Carl Perkins and all of that. But I don't think he even ever aspired to be a guitarist like Perkins.

Harrison without question atrophied for a period of time around 1967-ish for a while. He himself mentioned in interviews that he was more into the sitar and Indian music and all of that, and described coming back to his guitar a few years later and discovering that guys like Clapton and Page were doing the virtuoso thing, and thus Harrison devised something different, which resulted in his morphing out of left field into a truly unique *melodic* slide guitar player.

Listen to his work in later years on "Cloud Nine" or even "Brainwashed" (or the "Threetles" tracks). All that stuff was done while Carl was on autopilot playing "Fun Fun Fun." Which is a bummer, because we could have heard him sing and play so much more, and play much more interesting stuff.

Not that I think Carl should have morphed into a "guitar" guy. I've long said Carl should have been cutting stuff like Petty's "Wildflowers" albums. Tasteful acoustic guitars and acoustic pianos underneath his true and actual gift, his voice.
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« Reply #69 on: December 12, 2017, 11:05:51 AM »

I think it's safe to say that George isn’t Geoff Emerick's favorite Beatle.
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« Reply #70 on: December 12, 2017, 11:32:16 AM »

Great post(s), HeyJude! I don’t know much about Harrison so that was an enlightening read. I’ll look into Cloud Nine tonight.
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« Reply #71 on: December 12, 2017, 11:57:06 AM »

Wish I could say more right now but time says I can't.

I'll just say Carl and George were in different situations using different skill sets as musicians and as men in general so it's hard to compare other than what were the end results which we can all see and hear.

But consider Carl was a teenager, basically high-school age or just beyond, and was playing high-stress sessions with some of the finest musicians in the country. There was young Carl playing lead guitar alongside professional musicians who were cutting records with Sinatra and for Hollywood soundtracks. Harrison wasn't that kind of player.

And there was Harrison learning the intricacies of Indian music to the point where he could lead ensembles of Indian players on instruments no one was familiar with, and could actually teach a schooled, trained musician like George martin on how the music worked and how the musicians played it. Indian music is based on cycles like the Tihai which Harrison used on Here Comes The Sun, "Badge", and others. very few if any "pop" songs were going this deep into incorporating such exotic concepts beyond the sounds and instruments and making a seamless transition to pop music and hit records.

Carl was nowhere near that level of musical understanding, just as Harrison may not have been comfortable in 65 and 66 in the pressure cooker studio situations Carl was in at age 17 or whatever.

More later.
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« Reply #72 on: December 12, 2017, 12:06:14 PM »

Wish I could say more right now but time says I can't.

I'll just say Carl and George were in different situations using different skill sets as musicians and as men in general so it's hard to compare other than what were the end results which we can all see and hear.

But consider Carl was a teenager, basically high-school age or just beyond, and was playing high-stress sessions with some of the finest musicians in the country. There was young Carl playing lead guitar alongside professional musicians who were cutting records with Sinatra and for Hollywood soundtracks. Harrison wasn't that kind of player.

And there was Harrison learning the intricacies of Indian music to the point where he could lead ensembles of Indian players on instruments no one was familiar with, and could actually teach a schooled, trained musician like George martin on how the music worked and how the musicians played it. Indian music is based on cycles like the Tihai which Harrison used on Here Comes The Sun, "Badge", and others. very few if any "pop" songs were going this deep into incorporating such exotic concepts beyond the sounds and instruments and making a seamless transition to pop music and hit records.

Carl was nowhere near that level of musical understanding, just as Harrison may not have been comfortable in 65 and 66 in the pressure cooker studio situations Carl was in at age 17 or whatever.

More later.

Good points. Also worth considering is that while Carl had pro, in-studio session work at an earlier age than George, George was at the same time a professional musician at a more or less equally early age and had been a pro for much longer by the time he was recording with the Beatles. The Beatles had been doing the 12-hours-per-night (or whatever it was) for several years by the time they were cutting their first records for EMI.

Also worth considering is that George had his own high-pressure situations early on. He was doing multiple lead vocals alongside John and Paul at an early age/date. He has a TON of lead vocals at their Decca audition (and, many fans and scholars argue George does the best job and biffs it the least of the four Beatles at that audition, at least in terms of confident lead vocals).

George was also doing some impeccable guitar work even at an early age. His work on "Till There Was You" in 1963 is so spot-on that some fans over the years tried to claim someone else was playing it.

Carl and George indeed were not often at the same "place" musically throughout their careers. And there were times where they *should have* been. Carl would have sounded great cutting stuff in the general mold of something like George's "Cloud Nine" in the mid-late 80s.
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« Reply #73 on: December 12, 2017, 12:42:12 PM »

The Beatles were a 'better band' than The Beach Boys, but as mentioned, they didn't have Brian Wilson (or Dennis and Carl). and nothing, NOTHING else has lifted my spirits from my worst periods of depression like Pet Sounds. I love The Beatles, but their music as brilliant as it is, never felt truly mine. Does that make sense?

I'm a pale British introverted guy, don't care about surfing, bla bla bla, but in Brian, Carl, Dennis, Al, even Mike I see people who I can relate too on a personal level. It's hard to see that in The Beatles because they've always been viewed in a god like sort of way. Nothing new can be said about them. The Beach Boys is a rollercoaster saga, that continues today, through the good times and the bad.

 I can look back on all the beautiful music they gave us in the 60s and 70s, and in some respects that Brian still continues to give into the 21st century. I feel a strong emotional connection to the man and his music. The Beatles may have songs like For No One, Here There and Everywhere and Strawberry Fields which are ridiculously well crafted songs. They may have a clearly more consistent catalog. But it was still God Only Knows I chose to walk down the aisle to when I married my wife on August 26th of this year. Nothing pulls at my heartstrings like Til' I Die or Midnight's Another Day or Only With You.

For better or worse, they are more honest in their music than almost any other band ever. Pacific Ocean Blue and Love You are perfect examples of that.

Compile the best 200 something Beach Boys songs from 1961-1974 or whatever and I couldn't tell you if they are better than The Beatles catalog, but for me they are equally satisfying. Listening to material from Wild Honey or Friends or SMiLE or Surf's Up is like climbing into a musical universe all of its own. Their music is sometimes quirky, sometimes offbeat, sometimes just lyrically clunky.. but it's most often genuine. Because Brian was/is the real deal, and that translates into all of their best material. Even with his use of outside collaborators, his music is unmistakably Brian. He's a musical painter, with an artistic palette of his choosing. Those melodies will stick with me forever.
Great post!   Smiley
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« Reply #74 on: December 12, 2017, 02:10:21 PM »


Conversely with harmony, unless you are familiar with  different styles of harmony, for example, close part jazz harmony and doo wop, and unless you can judge which of those is better in a way that everyone accepts, then how can you possibly say which band is better at harmonizing.

You can use as many technical terms as you want, ultimately it's subjective. 

Well, subjectively, the Beach Boys were much better at harmonies than the Beatles. I am not knocking the Beatles, because they are an amazing band with a tremendous amount of talent, but the subject of the thread is what do the Beach Boys do Better than the Beatles. I can say that the Beach Boys harmonies have made me happy and they have made me sad. They have made me laugh and they have made me cry. They are stunningly beautiful. I am not familiar with all the different styles of harmonies, but I know the Beach Boys harmonies touch me on such a personal level that I should sue them for harassment. 

Other bands have harmonies that are very good at times, but they are good to the ear. The original Beach Boys harmonies (Brian, Carl, Dennis, Al, Mike and Bruce) reach beyond the ear, and poke into the soul sometimes getting tangled up there and absorbed. Their harmonies were so great that they cannot even be reproduced by any of the iterations of the band that have popped up throughout the years. They can sing the notes, but their harmonies always sound like a cover band doing a very good job at reproducing a sound rather than a group singing as if each note meant something special.

I have seen the term technically proficient thrown about in this subject - usually with respect to George Harrison's playing vs. Carl. But Carl had a very personal feel in his solos that I have never heard reproduced. I have heard Beatles cover bands that sound strikingly like the original Beatles, but I have never heard anyone play Carl's leads and sound exactly like Carl. Maybe it's just me.

But because Yngwie Malmsteen is more technically proficient than Eddie Van Halen, does that make him better? I don't think so. Music has feeling. Clapton has it. Page has it. Dave Davies has it. Berton Averre has it. The list is endless. Some are more technically proficient, but some just feel better and they feel better on a consistent basis. That is why I really like The Beach Boys. They consistently make me relate to the music on some level for some reason. No other band - no matter how much I like their music - has done that.
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