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Author Topic: Who was the second best songwriter in the Beach Boys?  (Read 1966 times)
GoogaMooga
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« on: July 11, 2018, 02:10:54 AM »

I don't know how meaningful this topic is, and you may have discussed it before, but I'd like to know what you think of the other songwriters in the band. I mean, Brian is so far ahead of the others, in a league of his own, that perhaps it's a moot point to even consider who is second best. The others are good for a few classics and Dennis certainly showed potential for a solo career, but really it has to be Dennis or Carl, isn't it?

Dennis:

Forever
Little Bird
Fallin' in Love

Carl:

Feel Flows
Trader
Good Timin' (co-write)
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 02:14:09 AM by GoogaMooga » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2018, 02:30:29 AM »

Al is 2nd best. I like his songs - "Susie Cincinnati", "Lookin' At Tomorrow", you name it. Cool songs. 3D
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2018, 02:32:05 AM »

Denny, no contest.
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« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2018, 03:50:09 AM »

In my opinion clearly Dennis. At least the most adult type songwriter
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« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2018, 04:11:47 AM »

Dennis, potentially could have been a lot closer to Brian if he didn't go off the rails
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Emdeeh
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« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2018, 05:39:29 AM »

Dennis, definitely.
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« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2018, 05:45:54 AM »

Dennis, definitely.
Wha'? You, huge Carl fan, say Dennis? Tongue
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2018, 07:15:32 AM »

I'm a huge Carl fan too...and although he wrote some GREAT songs...I'd have to say that Dennis edges him out.  He just wrote more...or at least seemed to.  POB [and to a far lesser extent when coupled in...Bamboo] topples both of Carl's solo records as well.  I'd tie them for the best songs though.  I'm talkin' bout the whole body of work.  Hard to beat River Song...or Feel Flows.  Or The Trader/Forever...Long Promised Road/Slip on Through-It's About Time.  And there's more...but I'm sure others have their favorites as well.  And yes GM...Al certainly deserves some consideration and honorable mention at the very least.  Bruce?  Keep trying pal.  Yes ... YOU wrote the songs...but not frequently and not always with as much of a successful outcome.

And Mike?  through his sheer body of work/words...is at least the 3rd or maybe the 4th best lyricist.  Hard to beat Tony...or Van Dyke...Jack, Roger, Gary and, of course, Brian also compete but not quite with the same input/output
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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2018, 07:37:49 AM »

Dennis, no contest.

While some of his songs may not be as well-structured or constructed as his best examples, at his best he tapped into a unique emotional vibe that his older brother was a master at doing in songwriting (and performance). But above all, when you hear a Dennis song, you know it's a Dennis song. His songs and songwriting had a unique sonic identity, whether it's the chord progressions or the flow of his melodies, and that's something which (as good as Carl's songs could be) Carl didn't have to the same degree.
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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2018, 08:11:17 AM »

Dennis, potentially could have been a lot closer to Brian if he didn't go off the rails

Agreed. Dennis didn't have the same discipline as peak-era Brian, and look what he still managed to do.
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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2018, 08:54:43 AM »


Agree with all those who chose Dennis. Had Carl done more things like "Feel Flows", "Trader", and "Long Promised Road", I think it would be more difficult to choose between the two. And, I'm sure Dennis' success hopefully rankled ol' Mike Love to no end.  Smokin
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« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2018, 05:43:12 PM »


Agree with all those who chose Dennis. Had Carl done more things like "Feel Flows", "Trader", and "Long Promised Road", I think it would be more difficult to choose between the two. And, I'm sure Dennis' success hopefully rankled ol' Mike Love to no end.  Smokin

independent of this thread I was thinking about this yesterday.  Those three Carl songs were highlights of the Rieley resurgence era.  Different, reaching, musically stimulating and compelling and still being the Beach Boys.  Great tracks that seemed to open up great possibilities for the band and Carl himself.  And then...basically nothing.  A head scratcher.
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« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2018, 09:24:32 PM »

The Carl songs are the ones I go back to over and over on the later albums. Full Sail, Livin' With a Heartache, Where I Belong, Angel Come Home, It's Gettin' Late, Keep the Summer Alive,  the solo stuff. Of course Carl's songs have the advantage of usually being sung by Carl!
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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2018, 08:46:21 AM »

Of course Carl's songs have the advantage of usually being sung by Carl!
Agree. Carl sings better than Dennis.
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2018, 10:29:13 AM »

If only he were more prolific - I would vote for Al. His songs have more of a Beach Boy vibe than Dennis or Carl’s did.

The quality of Carl’s writing depended on his collaborator. Unfortunately, MYrna Smith Shilling was my least favorite of his collaborators although Carl dominates the ‘85 album.

When Dennis was great he was great but many of his ballads sound almost dirge like to me.

When they were at their best I have trouble choosing between Carl, Al and Dennis.
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2018, 05:06:52 PM »

Well said about Al, Bill30022. Dennis goes little ott when he writes ballads.
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« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2018, 06:11:30 PM »


    I dunno...... hard to top Santa’s Going To Kokomo.
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« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2018, 08:00:19 PM »

Al is 2nd best. I like his songs - "Susie Cincinnati", "Lookin' At Tomorrow", you name it. Cool songs. 3D


I totally agree.  Al would always be my pick.  "California Saga", "Lady Lynda", and "Santa Ana Winds" are some of Al's contributions worthy of consideration.  Friends, Sunflower, Holland, and MIU all have significant contributions from Al.
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« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2018, 05:03:02 PM »

The contrarian, and maybe not wrong, take would be Bruce!
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« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2018, 06:52:41 PM »

Dennis by a mile. No disrespect to the others but imo Dennis should merit the #2 spot just based on his contributions to Sunflower alone.
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« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2018, 07:03:18 PM »

Dennis by a mile. No disrespect to the others but imo Dennis should merit the #2 spot just based on his contributions to Sunflower alone.

Agreed. In some ways I’d call him 1a rather than 2 because he was on Brian’s level although in a different style.
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« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2018, 09:37:14 PM »

My ranking would be:

1 Brian
2 Dennis
3 Mike
4 Al
5 Carl
6 Bruce

... I think overall, Carl was the second best producer, and the best singer in the group. I just don't feel songwriting was really something he had a strong "voice" for. Or maybe he just wasn't prolific enough in the good years.
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« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2018, 09:39:27 PM »

Looking at solo albums, I think Pacific Ocean Blue is the best. Followed by That Lucky Old Sun and a few of Brian's other albums, then Al's Post Card from California is right there as well. Better than Carl's solo albums I think. Mike's solo albums are a tick ahead of Bruce's Going Public which isn't saying much. Blondie and Dave's are somewhere between. Al and Carl's. This is all just my opinion of course.
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« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2018, 03:07:50 AM »

Dennis by a mile. No disrespect to the others but imo Dennis should merit the #2 spot just based on his contributions to Sunflower alone.

Agreed. In some ways I’d call him 1a rather than 2 because he was on Brian’s level although in a different style.

There is no one on Brian's level. Sure, Dennis wrote a handful of excellent songs that are musically very interesting, but he is nowhere near Brian's level. Brian is arguably the best songwriter in all of pop/rock, so to suggest that Dennis is close to that is massively overstating Dennis' output.

I think the OP had it right in saying Brian is so wildly talented that anyone else in the band is a very, very very distant second. Everyone else wrote some great songs (Feel Flows, LPR, the River Song, lady Lynda, Disney Girls are ones I'd highlight), many of which I would argue are quite interesting in that they have unexpected elements like unusual chord progressions or great bridges or what have you - which was probably partially the result of being exposed to so much of Brian's style. Brian's songs are just so great that I suspect it pushed the others to really deliver when they wrote stuff.
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« Reply #24 on: July 14, 2018, 04:23:41 AM »

Dennis, without question. I would go as far as to say that in the 1970's, Dennis surpassed his brother in terms of quality of the material during that time frame(and by some distance, to be honest). With the possible exception of Still I Dream of It(and possibly "Why?" , depending on the author), everything Dennis did between 1975-1979 is better than what Brian did.
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