No. 42: Dennis Wilson, “Pacific Ocean Blue (Legacy Edition)”

By: Michaelangelo Matos / December 18, 2008

Let’s leave Pet Sounds alone for a while. Can we? Please? It’s been a good 20 years since Brian Wilson’s orchestral-pop opus of vanishing innocence became a de rigueur name drop for every self-identifying “music connoisseur.” Let’s move on to Pacific Ocean Blue, the 1977 solo album from Dennis Wilson, the only Beach Boy who surfed, a former Charles Manson pal, and a drunk of some note at the time of its recording.

On Pacific Ocean Blue, Wilson’s voice is wrecked—and yet more soulful than the brothers to whom he initially deferred, and he plays such beautiful chords on the piano. POB is kin to Robert Wyatt’s celestial Rock Bottom here, and to the Walker Brothers’ warped ’70s MOR albums there.

This reissue includes Bambu, a previously unreleased follow-up Wilson recorded shortly afterward, as well as a new vocal from fellow pretty-boy percussionist Taylor Hawkins on “Holy Man,” which lacked a master take from Wilson. This is the beach at 3 a.m., mid-December; you’re 45 and divorced, drank too much, and thus not sure why you came out here. Why’d you think that little girl you used to know would be here?

80 ’08 (and heartbreak)