DENNIS WILSON: PACIFIC OCEAN BLUE
BRADLEY MASON HAMLIN
JULY 10, 2008
For those of us who have followed Dennis Wilson’s career for decades … no surprises. We bought Pacific Ocean Blue when it came out in 1977, and although some may say they were surprised back then, astonished at the heartfelt complexity of POB, well, those of us who saw Dennis live with The Beach Boys always knew he had more soul than anyone he shared a stage with—including his brother, Brian.
Dennis Wilson, singing “You Are So Beautiful” at the end of many-a-Beach Boys concert ... some of my very favorite memories of experiencing The Beach Boys during a time when the whole band still performed together, but giving Dennis that closing moment to connect with the crowd. Like a straight shot of high grade vodka a little after midnight.
And if you had been listening to Dennis’s Beach Boys offerings before POB—you knew he was laying out the best cuts per album—in Brian’s troubled post-Pet Sounds period.
So, when POB seemingly came out of nowhere—it was a very pleasant surprise indeed, not in terms of the talent offered, but for the simple fact that we were receiving a totally unexpected treat of having Dennis Wilson let loose on his own for a whole album of raw creativity.
That raw, open wound, moaning explosive heart is what we all loved so much about Dennis Wilson, and truly, it is the very thing that killed him.
Pacific Ocean Blue is about as personal of an album as you can get. Every song is delivered directly from soul—without all that overproducing that modern record-makers like to push on the buying public.
My favorite songs on POB are the most heart-wrenching: “Moonshine,” “Thoughts of You,” “Time,” and “Farewell My Friend,” are in a class all their own. You simply can’t go deeper into the ocean blue.
However, with this re-release of Pacific Ocean Blue you get an extra album of Dennis Wilson music to extend the voyage. Bambu is the most anticipated unreleased Beach Boy project next to the almighty Smile.
Now we have both. Well, it’s about damn time.
My first CD of Pacific Ocean Blue, purchased in the early 90s, is missing its cover and completely scratched, yet we were still playing it on a regular basis on Mystery Island. I had almost given up hope that we could buy a fresh copy and put that poor old disc to rest with its vinyl brother in the garage.
Well, like many people I’m still waiting for “Lady/Sound of Free” to show up on compact disc, but I don’t want to sound greedy. We have been given much, a real treat. You really can’t make a better/wiser/hipper purchase right now than Pacific Ocean Blue by Dennis Wilson.
And you get Bambu! Holy shit—I cannot emphasis enough how right that is, how overdue.
The Beach Boys themselves well knew of the gems lying in the ruins of the Bambu sessions. A re-recorded version of “Love Surrounds Me” made it onto the L.A. Light album and the Carli Munoz song “All Alone” ended up being the best previously unreleased song of The Beach Boys Endless Harmony soundtrack album, truly crazy it took that long to surface, because it’s one of Dennis’s best vocals, but now—finally—you get to hear Dennis sing another piece of Munoz-penned-greatness: “Constant Companion.”
Add to that, the obvious high level of care in bringing the best sound quality to this project and you have a thing of ultimate beauty.
Well, if you’re still reading and not busy driving your hot rod to the local record store, some final thoughts …
Pacific Ocean Blue … is the perfect mix of sorrow, passion, and emotional creativity. If this music doesn’t move you, you’re just not listening. It is angels falling, slowly, with burning wings and reaching out to you. It is the first time you saw your soul mate without his or her clothes. It is a bar fight with beer mugs crashing, an angry dog on the street that loves you, a walk on the beach under moonlight when you’re stumbling drunk. It is Dennis Wilson, truly.
"Pacific Ocean Blue Review" by Bradley Mason Hamlin © 2008 Mystery Island Publications. Published July 10, 2008.
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