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Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue

July 20, 2021

I am a minor Beach Boys fan. I like the hits when I am hear them, but I wouldn’t deliberately play their music. I fully appreciate their genius and their influence on pop music. Despite my ambivalence about The Beach Boys, I am a fan of Dennis Wilson’s 1977 solo project Pacific Ocean Blue.

I became aware of Pacific Ocean Blue when it was reissued by Legacy Recordings as a special 30th anniversary 2-disc edition in 2008. It also included material from the Bambu sessions which was the intended follow up. Pacific Ocean Blue reissue got a lot of positive hype as a lost classic. Based on the reviews, I picked it up on CD and have enjoyed it ever since. I picked up a green vinyl version of Bambu on Record Store Day 2017.

I was recently crate digging and came across an attractively priced limited edition 180-gram blue vinyl version released on the Sundazed label (same tracks as CDs). I was not going to pass that up.

The album has a bit of a Beach Boys vibe, but it has its own vision. It has much more in common with the late 70s California singer songwriter movement than The Beach Boys. As Tom Jurek states, in his All Music review, “This album is a classic, blissed-out, coked-up slice of ’70s rock and pop that is as essential as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.” There is almost a Pink Floyd feel to the album. Also, there is a funkiness to Wilson’s music that doesn’t exist in The Beach Boys’ music. Wilson has a soulful gravelly voice that is more Dr. John than the Boys.

Unfortunately Dennis Wilson had many demons and died of drowning in 1983 so we are left with one great album and an unfinished album that is the Bambu sessions.

The bonus material from the Pacific Ocean Blue sessions is a nice addition and the Bambu sessions material shows Wilson still had some gas in the tank. But the original 12 songs from Pacific Ocean Blue are perfect and together they form an LP masterpiece.

From → Music Reviews

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