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

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)

  • Marth

    Great packaging, too.

  • Lucas Jensen

    Glad to see Dennis getting recognition. His post-Pet Sounds contributions are mostly great, particularly “Be Still”, which is just him and an organ.

  • natepatrin

    My favorite Dennis Wilson-related experience of the year was the Criterion edition of Two-Lane Blacktop, but I still haven’t heard this. That embedded clip up there just put it at the top of my to-get list, though.

    (I also love how the person who originally posted that clip has the username “ChineseDemocracy06″.)

  • MayhemintheHood

    I have slept on this for someone reason. I’m a dummy.

  • scott pgwp

    I think this album is a little overrated, to tell you the truth. “River Song” is undisputable, but a lot of the rest of the record is a kind of meandering MOR morass. I haven’t heard Bambu so can’t comment on where Dennis was going, but I don’t quite get the adulation this record sparks, outside of the mythic figure Dennis turned out to be.

  • beta.rogan

    This is probably in my top 5 for the year personally. Sure, the lyrics are a bit sophomoric and shallow at times, but in terms of vibe, feeling, and sound, it’s a home-run. It’s cohesive, and there’s some real feeling in there. Sure it’s a bit overblown because of the tragedy of his death, but that’s the way it goes.