Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been covering The Beach Boys’ solo careers – albeit only two of them. Brian Wilson’s solo albums of new material, starting with 1988’s self-titled record, show flashes of brilliance, although they often suffer from unflattering production jobs. His most vital solo release is his 2004 version of Smile, although it’s also rendered a little unnecessary by the 2011 archival release of The Beach Boys’ original sessions.
The other Beach Boy with a strong solo career is drummer Dennis Wilson, whose 1977 Pacific Ocean Blue is included on 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. While he was the least impressive vocalist in The Beach Boys, he was a talented songwriter, able to convey emotion in his grizzled voice.
While compiling a page, it occurred to me that there’s a song about each of The Beach Boys. It’s perhaps the first list ever made to feature The Fall and Barry Manilow in close proximity.
John Cale, of The Velvet Underground, was a fan of The Beach Boys, and penned a tribute to Wilson on his 1975 solo album Slow Dazzle.
The Beach Boys’ rhythm guitarist, and lead singer on ‘Sloop John B’ was the hardest to find a song for, so I resorted to this mention of all five group members.
I love my Carl
I love my Brian my Dennis and my Al
I could even find it in my heart to love Mike Love
From ‘I Love My Car’, by Belle and Sebastian
Lead singer Mike Love is easily the most polarising figure in The Beach Boys. The late Mark E Smith spouted his bile at many different targets; on ‘Mike’s Love Xexagon’ he refers to Love as “the worm in the bacon of BBs.”
The Beach Boys’ lead guitarist and most beautiful voice – that’s him on ‘God Only Knows’ – passed away in 1998, and Brian’s solo album Imagination features a song dedicated to his late brother. While the album’s patchy, ‘Lay Down Burden’ is heartfelt and gorgeous.
The Beach Boys’ drummer had a string of romances and marriages – at the time of his drowning he was married to Mike Love’s daughter. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he was in a relationship with Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, and the Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham wrote this multi-part suite about him.
Johnston wasn’t an original member of The Beach Boys, but joined the band in 1965 to cover Brian’s parts live. He contributed to the band’s records until he left in 1972, and he’s been a member of the band since rejoining in 1978. While on hiatus from the band, he wrote this Grammy song of the year winner for Barry Manilow – so it’s in fact Bruce Johnston who writes the songs.
Am I missing any notable songs about The Beach Boys?