DAVID MARKS

NOTE:  David Marks is often considered to be the "lost" Beach Boy.  Asked to join the band at just thirteen years old after Al Jardine had dropped out, it was David who was present when the group was signed by Capitol Records.  And he continued with the band for their initial successes, playing with them at concert and television performances, and appearing on the sleeves of their first five Capitol albums.  Although his actual contribution to the Beach Boys has been long debated, he has since carved out a distinctive niche for his own artistic talents, both as guitarist and songwriter, and deserves a second look - I have to personally thank Malcolm S. in the UK for his invaluable help in compiling this list.



David Marks & the Marksmen: The Sheriff Of Noddingham + Kustom Kar Show

Sundazed Records S 158 [LP 7" Single]; 

Released 19??


Marksmen 1. The Sheriff of Noddingham
2. Kustom Kar Show

REVIEW:  This 7" vinyl single, released through Sundazed Records, is, at present, the only officially released document of this short-lived band which Marks put together after leaving the Beach Boys - the side A song: "The Sheriff of Noddingham" is a jittery instrumental which Mark's himself called his "cheap imitation of Dick Dale" but I gotta give him more credit than that - his playing is stellar - clean and with enough reverb to set my teeth chattering.  The flip-side: "Kustom Kar Show" is a vocal track, with not much to recommend it melody-wise - it's about as forgettable as a lot of other, similar songs which Gary Usher was churning out at the same time.  But the production is tight, the playing is clean, and the vocals, although lacking the Beach Boys increasing sophistication, is strong.  The Marksmen toured with Jan and Dean for awhile, trying to build up an audience, but for whatever reason, the public never caught on, and Marks's group came to a fairly ignominious end.  There's more of the Marksmen floating around, including "Kustom Kar Show's" original flip side: "Cruisin'," and another song, "Travelin'" (which can be found on the Lost Legends of Surf Guitar II CD).  And according to David's own web site, a complete Marksmen CD is coming out soon, as well as a CD of unreleased tracks from the last 40 years.


David Marks & the Marksmen: The Ultimate Collectors Edition 1963-1965

Reverse Falcon Music ; 

Released January 20, 2009


Marksmen
1. Sheriff of Noddingham 2:14
2. Travelin' 2:43
3. Kustom Kar Show 2:54
4. Cruisin' 2:00
5. Let's Dance 2:17
6. Foor Fair 1:50
7. Do You Know What Lovers Say? 1:53
8. I Wanna Cry 2:35
9. I Could Make You Mine 1:51
10. I Heard You Cryin' 2:00
11. Don't Cry for Me 2:06
12. In My Lonely World 1:48
13. Lazy Sunday Morning 1:54
14. That's Why 2:19
15. Don't Weep 2:03
16. Cruisin' (Basic Track) 2:35
17. Cruisin' (Atl Track) 2:27

REVIEW:  After David Marks was so unceremoniously dumped from The Beach Boys, he quickly turned around and formed his own band, The Marksmen and proceeded to release a string of singles, all of which are collected on this excellent compilation.  The Marksmen took their cue from various rock instrumental groups which were popular in Southern California during this time.  While the rock instrumental fad was brief and fairly localized, it's influence was vast, and at least one group, The Ventures, continued their popularity and influence decades beyond their initial popularity.  Not so much for the Marksmen, though it's not for lack of talent - The Ultimate Collectors Edition 1963-1965 shows that The Marksmen were ferocious players, easily on par with other, similar bands.  Their early output mimics the surf/car themes that were all the rage in 1963, but they quickly branch out into other themes.  There are several vocals: "Kustom Kar Show" is a muscular, harmony-free rocker, while the odd, lopsided "Cruisin'" is more "far out" than most Beach Boys tracks.  "Let's Dance" takes a cue from early Dave Clark Five albums, rocking harder than Brian Wilson ever did, but "Fool Fair" is a clunker, lurching through the stiff lyrics with little to recommend it.  It becomes clear that after several bombs, the Marksmen begin to search for a different sound, because "In My Lonely World" sounds like an odd mutation of Phil Spector and Burt Bacharch, drowning the treacly sentiment in thick kettle drums, and "Lazy Sunday Morning" taking a blues approach, and hampered by a thick vocal.  "That's Why" starts to sound like Elvis Presley's sixties output, with an earnest lyric saddled with an over-produced track.  I wish I could say the sound was pristine, but it appears that some of the tracks here have degraded, but since this is likely the only collection of these rare tracks to ever become available, fans should count themselves fortunate.



The Moon: Without Earth

Imperial Records 9381/12381 [LP]; Released 1968; 

Rev-Ola Records CDREV9 [CD]; Released April 1, 2004


Or Purchase from Amazon.co.uk: Without Earth and the Moon
1. Mothers & Fathers (Matthew Moore)
2. Pleasure (Matthew Moore)
3. I Should Be Dreaming (Matthew Moore)
4. Brother Lou’s Love Colony (Gary Montgomery / Jack Dalton)
5. Got To Be On My Way (Daniel Moore)
6. Someday Girl (Matthew Moore)
7. Papers (Matthew Moore)
8. Faces (Matthew Moore)
9. Never Mind  (Matthew Moore)
10. Give Me More (Matthew Moore)
11. She’s On My Mind (Gary Montgomery / Jack Dalton)
12. Walking Around (Matthew Moore)

 

REVIEW:  It's true, I'm a sucker for pop music of the 1960s, and this album, which is chock-full of brilliant moments that echo other artists, such as the Bee Gees and prog-rockers The Moody Blues is aces in all the things that turn me on - melodic, but not twee; thunderous psychedelic touches that hint of more adventurous things than your average California garage band, tied with stellar, multi-phased harmonies drenching everything; along with glittering guitars, barely penetrable lyrics, and gleefully self-conscious song titles, such as "Pleasure," "Someday Girl," "Papers," and "Faces."  For years I was unaware that David Marks had survived musically to dip his toes into this kind of rich, aural stew, and was blown away when I heard it.  David Marks was mostly here for lead guitar work, and by all measures, it's stellar, but he also takes the lead vocal on two songs: "Brother Lou's Love Colony" (another great Sixties-era title), and "She's On My Mind."   The other three members of The Moon included Matthew Moore, main songwriter and singer, Andrew Bennett on Bass, and Larry Brown on Drums AND Keyboard for the studio sessions, and their sound on record is thick and expertly produced by Larry Brown (who drummed with surf bands Davie Allan and the Arrows and The Challengers).  For those who love melodic 60s psychedelia, you'll be happy to know that the UK's Rev-Ola label has put out a nicely-priced CD of EVERYTHING The Moon put out called Without Earth and the Moon, and you should definitely consider running out and buying it - this is good stuff; it's too bad that The Moon didn't last as long as some of their contemporaries, since their sound is easily on par with what other groups, (including the Beach Boys) were doing at this time.


The Moon: The Moon

Imperial Records 12444 [LP]; Released 1969

Rev-Ola Records CDREV9 [CD]; Released April 1, 2004

The Moon

Or Purchase from Amazon.co.uk
Without Earth and the Moon
1. Pirate [Moore] 2:56
2. Lebanon [Moore, Morse] 1:43
3. Transporting Machine [Moore] 1:37
4. Mary Jane [Klimes, Witcraft]  2:10
5. Softly [Moore]  2:56
6. Not to Know [Moore]  2:40
7. Good Side [Moore]  2:55
8. Life Is a Season [Moore]  2:19
9. John Automation [Moore]  2:15
10. Come Out Tonight [Moore]  2:45
11. Mr. Duffy [Brown, Moore]  2:52

REVIEW:  The Moon's second, and final album, due to the internal reorganization at Imperial Records, is just as whimsical and melodic as their debut, with the album starting out with the wonderful honky-tonk piano of "Pirate" before swooping into the odd, angular baroque "Lebanon" which mixes the sound of early Bee Gees with the band's trademark psychedelic touches.  The wonderfully quirky song titles are present again on this album, with "Transporting Machine" and "John  Automation" jarring elbows with name songs "Mr. Duffy" and "Mary Jane".  The latter song is a masterpiece of gentle renaissance instrumentation, while "Transporting Machine", like the somewhat mis-named "Softly" rock harder, but each song contains shifts in key signature and melody that keeps the listener guessing as to where each song will eventually land.  Musical inventiveness like this, which was pioneered by the Beatles, is ably carried on by The Moon's hyper-inventive Matthew Moore, who takes the bulk of songwriting duties.  But there's explosive experimentation going on throughout the album, and David Marks' playing is stunningly adept, showing off just how much he had embraced the new sounds of the late sixties - something which the Beach Boys struggled with, especially as the decade drew to a close.  You can even hear some early blues music on "Good Side" which David would more fully explore in subsequent decades.  Listening to the album, it hard to pick out a favorite, since it's all melodic, unusual, expertly crafted, and compelling - this is one of those lost groups that deserved a better handling than they received, and one of my favorite discoveries of the year.  Again, this album has been paired with the previous release on a single CD by Rev-Ola Without The Earth and The Moon, and is highly recommended.


The Marks-Clifford Band: Live @ The Blue Dolphin '77
DJM Records 0603 [CD];
Released 2006

Marks-Clifford Band 1. Have Love Will Travel (John Cale)
2. Call Me The Breeze (Richard Berry)
3. Something Funny Goin’ On (Buzz Clifford)
4. Tutti Frutti (Lubin, Penniman, LaBostrie)
5. Raindrops (Dee Clark)
6. Since I Don’t Have You (Joe Rock, James Beaumont, The Skyliners)
7. Ocean Liner (Buzz Clifford)
8. Steppin’ Out (David Marks)
9. Room Full Of Gloom (Buzz Clifford)
10. Nothing Takes The Place Of You (Buzz Clifford)
11. Creation (Buzz Clifford)
12. Dr Of Love (David Marks)
13. Hot Flashes At Midnight (Buzz Clifford)
14. Early In The Morning (David Marks)
15. You Can’t Talk To Me (David Marks)
16. Light Of The Spirit (David Marks)
17. Hollywood Joe (Daniel Moore)

REVIEW:  Much like Peter Tork of The Monkees, David Marks has been contented to walk a ways apart from mainstream music, and his talent, like Tork's has always leaned somewhat more towards his dexterous instrumental playing than his vocal chops, and here, in a 1977 gig that he played with the thickly-peopled "Marks-Clifford Band" (Guitars: David Marks, Buzz Clifford, Greg Beck; Drums: ‘Frosty’, Matt Betton; Bass: David Jackson, Colin Cameron; Piano: David Marks, Glenn Crocker, David Jackson; Organ: Gary Montgomery, Jim Gordon; Percussion: Rick Cantu, M.L. Benoit; Horns: Daryl Leornard, Jerry Peterson, ‘Stomach’) the group presents a blues-heavy jam-cycle of songs penned by Clifford and Marks, and a sprinkling of R&B Rockers.  It's a tight set, with rough-hewn vocals sawing in front of competently-played backing, and the occasional woman's backup singers chiming in.  It's all very rough-and-ready, but for all that, the set list rushes by with little that makes much of a lasting impression.  It's the equivalent of a very competent bar band who never made it past their humble beginnings.  David makes no musical references to his past associations with either The Beach Boys or The Moon, and the set passes somewhat forgettably.  There are some painful moments as well: the sloppy, perfunctory take on the classic "Since I Don't Have You"; a slow, laconic take on Clifford's most recognizable song: "Ocean Liner" which sounds like it could've benefited from a more aggressive tempo, and Mark's own weak vocal work on his songs.  But I enjoyed other moments: Clifford's "Room Full Of Gloom" feels just right with some great trumpet licks inserted, and the same can be said for "Nothing Takes The Place Of You", and I also dig the slinky wah-wah found in "Creation".   While Marks's "You Can't Talk To Me" is the best of his contributions.  In sum, it's pretty clear that these two talents worked well together, and this disc highlights both of their respective strengths and weaknesses.  Don't think I'll be listening to this one very often.



David Marks: Work Tapes
Compiled in 1992; Re-issued in 2000 via davidleemarks.com

work tapes 1.Siren Song (Buzz Clifford)
2. Ocean Liner (Buzz Clifford)
3. I Wanna Be Your Driver (Chuck Berry)
4. Fool’s Guarantee (David Marks)
5. Over My Head (Buzz Clifford/David Marks)
6. Doctor Of Love (David Marks)
7. Bamboo Shack (David Marks/Buzz Clifford)
8. Early In The Morning (David Marks)
9. Have Love Will Travel (Richard Berry)
10. Hollywood Joe (Daniel Moore/Buzz Clifford)

REVIEW:  I think that any Beach Boys fan who listens to David Marks' solo work will find a lot to like, especially if you have a soft spot for Dennis's or Al's solo works; David's voice, an unassuming baritone, has a soft rasp not unlike Dennis's later vocal works (though much better than the coarse roar Dennis's voice deteriorated into), and more importantly, contains a heart and bluesy vibe to his singing and songwriting which is as easy and smooth as a Carribean sunset.  While listening to this, I was reminded a bit of fellow beachcomber Jimmy Buffet, with a laid-back attitude present from song to song that never shakes things up too much.  There's no dire melodrama or stand-out songs, but for those who know Mark's past, it's easy to hear Beach Boys touch points, with lots of thick harmonies on the sing-along choruses, occasional island timbres among the percussion, with "Bamboo Shack" a proto-typical track, catchy, with backing vocals that take their place along similarly summery Beach Boys songs.  But unlike the Beach Boys, David Marks is more than happy to delve into the blues, and "Doctor Of Love" is a stellar example of his latent passion for sinewy jams, with stinging guitar work punctuating the vocal line, while "Have Love Will Travel" is even better, with Dave showing off his own impressive falsetto leaps.  I also really liked the snake-y back-and-forth vocals found in "Early In The Morning" as well as the popping arrangement that sparkles on "Fools Guarantee".  In short, the more I've listened to these songs, the more I've found to enjoy.  David may never have the vocal distinctiveness to break into the big time, but he shows amply here that he's got far more talented chops than The Beach Boys ever credited him for.

David Marks: Something Funny Goin' On
Quiver Records DM5513 [CD]; Released December 2003

 

Or Purchase from Amazon.co.uk: Something Funny Goin' On
1. Second Wind
2. Stowaway
3. Put Yourself In My Place (‘live at Silvermine’)
4. Mixed Drinks & High Emotions
5. High Side Of Normal
6. Crenshaw Blvd.
7. You Can’t Talk To Me
8. The Legend
9. Put Yourself In My Place
10. Still Life In Motion
11. Land Of Opportunity

Produced and engineered by David Marks

All songs composed by David Marks

(except “Still Life In Motion” composed by David Marks and Terry Hand during 1979)

 David Marks: Lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass, piano and organ

REVIEW:  David Marks has publicly said that this album had to be rushed out due to pressure from his record label, and that he wasn't completely happy with the finished result, but even so, Something Funny Goin' On isn't an embarrassment, it contains much of the loose, easy atmosphere that Work Tapes provided, with a jazzy, combo feel to most of the tracks.  If anything, it feels perhaps a little too lazy, with not enough craft applied to the songwriting or vocals for anything to last long in the memory.  It also doesn't help that Marks sounds intoxicated while singing on "Mixed Drinks & High Emotions"; which may have been a conscious decision on his part to do a little "method acting" while singing about drinking, but the feeling persists throughout the album that David isn't putting his heart and soul into these songs.  Still there's a few gems, with the sharp "Put Yourself In My Place" alternating with the dreamlike "High Side of Normal"; and "Second Wind" has a sharp reggae vibe which makes it a compelling leap-off for the album.  But it's hard to ignore the sloppiness of tracks like "Crenshaw Blvd." and "You Can't Talk To Me", which could've been more compelling with tighter vocals and production.  The odd changes in tempo and husky singing on "Still Life In Motion" reminds me again of Dennis Wilson's late-period vocal stylings, while "Put Yourself In My Place" is a drowsy instrumental piece that drifts aimlessly from chord to chord.  The album closes with "Land of Opportunity" a forgettable saga of a loser living in the U.S.A., unable to make something more of his life, and a fitting closer for an album which should've been something more.  Currently out of print, and of course, going for outrageous prices at various online sites.



David Marks: I Think About You Often
Quiver Records 0602 [CD]; Released December 2006


I think of you often 1. Like 1969 (D. Marks)
2. Bamboo Shack (D. Marks & B. Clifford)
3. Light of the Spirit (D. Marks)
4. I Fall into the Grace (D. Marks)
5. Big Wave (D. Marks)
6. Stowaway (D. Marks)
7. I'm So Clever (D. Marks & B. Clifford)
8. Pretty Eyes (D. Marks)
9. Dancin' in the Mirror (D. Marks)
10. I Ain't Goin' Surfin' (D. Marks)
11. Have You Ever Been Duped (D. Marks & Buzz Clifford)
12. I Think About You Often (D. Marks)

REVIEW:   Easily Marks's most personal album to date, with every song penned, or co-penned by him and writing buddy Buzz Clifford, the songs touch on everything from the past ("Like 1969", "I Think About You Often") to a newly-professed spirituality ("Light Of the Spirit", "I Fall Into Grace") to bitterness over his association with The Beach Boys ("I Ain't Goin' Surfin'", "Have You Ever Been Duped").  David even stretches the Beach Boys connection by using Paradise Cove for the album cover and insert shots, (which is the same location which The Beach Boys' Surfin' Safari album cover was shot).  David's fluid guitar work is on ample display here, as well as his vocal limitations, sometimes he sounds eerily like Dennis Wilson's late period, especially on the haunting "Light of the Spirit" with it's swirling guitars and free-form construction, as well as it's mandolin-flavored follow up, "I Fall into the Grace".  Things pick up with the rollicking "Big Wave" with its rockabilly groove and ominous imagery, and continue with the ticking guitars and beguiling, sinuous slide lead.  Some songs come off as turgid, such as the interminable "Dancin' in the Mirror" and "Girl with the Pretty Eyes" dances dangerously close to "Hey Little Tomboy" territory, but the jazzy arrangment makes the song sound more achingly regretful than leering.  The most obvious attack at his Beach Boys past is the dark, bluesy "I Ain't Goin' Surfin'" which put me off with it's minor key progressions and negative mood, but "Have You Ever Been Duped" is much better, with harsh, biting lyrics and a brighter blues melody lifting it above the previous song.  The final song, "I Think About You Often" a duet with Anna Montgomery, is a sad, tortured lament to the passing of an unnamed friend.  The last several tracks contain a regretful aura that makes everything a little bleak and weary, but with such fine playing, and such heartfelt singing and writing, I Think About You Often is easily recommended.
  

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