Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pacific Ocean Blue - Dennis Wilson

In the summer of 1977 Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue came out, it was the first solo album by any of the Beach Boys. Despite its title this is not an album of sun sea and surf it’s much more redolent of the rock times in which it was created. By the mid seventies Dennis was showing the effects of a life led hard. His voice was gravelly, but despite this it perfectly suits this self penned material – much of it written with his co-producer Greg Jakobson.

The album opens with River Song, one of the standouts. It always sounds to me like it should have appeared on the Beach Boys Holland album, which came out at the beginning of the decade when Dennis apparently started work on a solo album. Other favourites are Farewell My Friend, Rainbow, Thoughts of You and Moonshine. The most Beach Boys sounding song is the beautiful You and I, you can hear the vocals of fellow BB, Bruce Johnston on this track. Bruce also plays keyboards on the album and is the only Beach Boy on the album, although Ricky Fataar who was in the band for a while plays drums and long time Beach Boy band players Ed Carter and Bobby Figueroa are featured. If you approach the album with an open mind rather than with the anticipation of hearing California and sunshine you’ll not be disappointed. A reissue with bonus tracks is due out in a couple of months

Dennis died in 1983 aged thirty-nine. He drowned in Marina Del Ray where his boat was moored. It was a tragedy that many said was inevitable given Dennis’ long-term battle with drink and drugs. On the day he died he apparently said. "I'm lonesome. I'm lonesome all the time."

His legacy as a member of one of the two or three greatest bands of all times will live forever - this album enhances that reputation.

2 comments:

Richard Evans said...

Richard, an excellent choice for Album of the Week. I still have my old vinyl of this aand luckily, in the early 90s when I lived in LA I managed to find a CD copy of it - in the discount bin of all places, so I've been able to hear this. Over the years countless people have said 'make me a copy!' including a London taxi driver who I got into conversation with once.

Glad to hear it's finally being re-released and I understand the bonus tracks are from the un-released second album 'Bamboo'.

Also, on a personal note, one of my favourite album covers. Great photo of Dennis. I think Dean Torrance (he of jan & Dean) designed the cover with photos by Guy Webster (of Surfer magazine).

Richard Havers said...

As usual Mr. E a mine of!

The original CDs from 1990 are going for around $200 apparently. I agree with you on the cover shot, they were a talented lot those surfer boys.