David Marks says the Beach Boys' sound was always 'something special'

From the very first, David Marks knew the Beach Boys were on to something. And he says he feels it all over again, now that the founding members have reunited for a much-anticipated concert tour and new studio album.

“I think it was evident pretty early on that we were onto something special because our sound was unique,” said Marks, a member of the Beach Boys over their initial four albums. “Brian Wilson was the first one to combine rock and roll surf guitar, complex jazz harmonies and culturally trendy lyrics and people loved it no matter where they were from. Early on, our surf hits were bigger in the Midwest than in L.A.”

Marks, who played guitar with the Beach Boys from 1962-63, is performing with Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love for the first time since briefly rejoining the band for some 300 shows between 1997-99. He helped create the Beach Boys’ foundational sound as part of the original line up, having already helped produce master versions of “Surfin’ Safari” and “409” before the group secured a deal with Capitol Records. Marks also played on “Surfer Girl,” “In My Room” and “Be True To Your School,” among others, before leaving over a dispute with management. His departure in 1999 followed a series of health problems.

Now appearing with later edition band member Bruce Johnston, as well, the surviving Beach Boys are celebrating the 50th anniversary of what would become a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career. While he always knew the music was special, Marks says that 13-year-old writing songs with Brian and the late Carl Wilson at their childhood home couldn’t have imagined how that work would resonate across the culture.

“I don’t think, at our age, we could really anticipate the full impact the band would have, not just on generations of players and fans, but also the cultural impact,” Marks told The Daily New Rochelle. “After 50 years, the Beach Boys sound is ingrained in our culture.”

Marks went on to form The Marksmen, one of the first acts to be signed by Herb Alpert’s A&M Records in 1964. He also later worked as a sideman with Casey Kasem’s Band Without a Name, Delaney and Bonnie, Jim Keltner, Carl Radle, Leon Russell, Delbert McClinton and Warren Zevon. But, for many, he will always be known as a Beach Boy — something that’s just fine with Marks.

“There is something about the energy and attitude captured on those records that appeals to everyone,” he said. “There are not a lot of things that really entertain the full range of four, even five generations, so when families find that common ground, whether it be a favorite sports team, playing the Beach Boys Sounds of Summer CD during barbecues, or a favorite holiday movie that gets watched every year — these things become family traditions that get passed down, and their legacy continues.”

That legacy gains a new chapter with the Beach Boys’ ongoing recording sessions, and Marks says the reunited group has lost none of its age-old magic: “There is a song off the new Beach Boys studio album that we are currently working on that is right up there with my all-time favorite Brian Wilson collaborations.”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on the Beach Boys. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

THE BEACH BOYS – THE SMILE SESSIONS (2011): Wilson’s long-awaited mythical masterpiece was issued in expanded form as The SMiLE Sessions, nearly 45 years after its conception. Be warned, though: While the original album has been referred to as the Beach Boys’ Holy Grail, this massive collection of studio recordings will probably be more well received by musicians and the serious music fan. Novice passersby need not apply. That said, despite the newly recorded version of this project released by Wilson in 2004, no one could have expected what depth and quality Sessions would bring to the table.

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: THE BEACH BOYS: As the Beach Boys prepared to celebrate their 50th anniversary with the 2011 release of The SMiLE Sessions, an updated version of the 1968 track “Do It Again” and a proposed world tour, we took a look back at some fun, fun, fun old favorites — including tracks from Surfer Girl, Pet Sounds, Holland, Smiley Smile and Sunflower.

BRIAN WILSON – MIDNIGHT’S ANOTHER DAY (One Track Mind, 2008): While completing his own version of SMiLE in 2004, Wilson at long last regained his foothold on feel-good popcraft, a sturdy piece of ground he’d largely conquered by the mid-1960s. Unfortunately, Wilson doesn’t advance that notion over the balance of The Lucky Old Sun, so much as confirm that SMiLE was his own personal vista. Sun is, really, a grand-sounding yet somehow empty album — from the staid “Forever She’ll Be My Surfer Girl” to the outdated linking narratives by SMiLE co-writer Van Dyke Parks. Still, “Midnight’s Another Day,” with its gospel-tinged piano signature, can’t be denied. It’s a direct link between “In My Room” and the modern-day Wilson.

THE SOUND OF SUMMER: CELEBRATING THE BEACH BOYS’ LASTING JOYS: Think Beach Boys, and many remember a group perhaps irrevocably reduced by its tragicomic storyline. Admittedly distracting plot points, beyond the 36 Top 40 hits (most of any U.S. rock band), include shocking revelations involving drugs and mental breakdowns, one never-finished Musical Statement, a slow decline into moldy oldies caricature, several different touring ensembles trying to lay claim to the franchise, various resulting suits and countersuits, and a remarkable moment of jackassery at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fifty years later, too, there is the unironic visage of old men still playing the part of fun shirt-wearing purveyors of a long-gone California surfer lifestyle. Forget all of that. They remain, at least on the 1960s records, the very sound of summer.

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.