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Dennis Wilson

  • Pacific Ocean Blue,

    Dennis Wilson

  • Brian Wilson,
  • Beach Boys,

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    Dennis Wilson

    Pacific Ocean Blue 9 ( 1977 )
    River Song / What's Wrong / Moonshine / Friday Night / Dreamer / Thoughts Of You / Time / You And I / Pacific Ocean Blues / Farewell My Friend / Rainbows / End Of The Road

    The solo career of Dennis was long overdue in arriving. He'd cut a couple of things in the early Seventies, but continuing hassles within The Beach Boys camp and blood-ties, kept him within the fold. His songs were removed from the boys 1971 album 'Surfs Up' after arguments with Carl concerning the running order. And this is after Dennis had been the main creative force on that most blissful of collaborative Beach Boys albums 'Sunflower' the previous year. Dennis threw his heart, soul and very being into his songs and loved getting a response to his music. Back in 1965 when thrust forwards to sing 'Do You Wanna Dance', a rare moment in the spotlight for Dennis - the girls would crowd to the front to catch a glimpse of the genuine Beach Boy, the one who really did live the life. A true heart-throb and a born star, although his talents were never really appreciated by the rest of the group. Audrey, the boys mother, had to beg Brian and Carl to even let the ( then ) non-singing 'drummer' join the group in the first place, back in 1961!

    As Dennis developed and began writing songs of his own, the first of which appeared on the 1968 'Friends' album, Brian for one took note. Fans of Brian also latched onto the music of Dennis, and saw this as a great development in the world of The Beach Boys to compensate for Brian's own declining involvement. Through the years Dennis had steadfastly supported his brother Brian. During the 'Smile' sessions, it was Dennis who had said to the press "It makes 'Pet Sounds stink, that's how good it is", whilst Mike reputedly put down the material as crazy demented shit. So forward to 1977, and a time when Dennis had pretty much been extricated from The Beach Boys by the Mike Love and Al Jardine camps in particular. The Beach Boys were signed to Warners and Dennis was allowed to finally make his solo record. Twelve Dennis Wilson songs, a cohesive mood and feel and at least a couple of genuine classics. Whilst The Beach Boys careered from disaster to disaster, with only the charming Brian return to form of 'Love You' receiving any real acclaim from the critics since 1973. Whilst '15 Big Ones' was a terrible nostalgia fest for the most part - Dennis produces an utterly commercial and contemporary sounding Rock album that deserved to be a far bigger seller than it was.

    Contemporary? Well, The Beach Boys seemed permanently rooted in the Sixties whilst here Dennis displays evidence that he actually knew what was going on! Both 'Friday Night' and 'Dreamer' are songs with funky bass-lines that recall mid to late Seventies Pink Floyd. The latter song is a great combination of things, actually. Midway through the track quietens to allow Dennis to play Piano and bare his soul before reverting to funk and brass parts. These types of songs are nice, but where Dennis really excelled was the ballads. Before I get to those however, 'River Song' deserves a extra special mention. God, 'River Song' is great! The voice of Dennis Wilson, a voice lacking the dexterity and grace of his brothers - yet able to reach for the heart - ploughs straight into a gospel choir. 'River Song' is undulating and absolutely glorious as the gospel choir rise to surround Dennis moaning and praying his way through the song. Very spiritual, very exciting Rock n Roll at the same time. The low backing vocals "rollin, rollin on, river" is an excellent touch and shows that Dennis had learnt well from his brother Brian. 'What's Wrong' is Dennis celebrating his love for Rock N Roll, and this track swings! Great brass parts form part of the musical track and the Piano line is reminiscent of Brian and very melodic.

    Moving through the album, we reach 'Moonshine' a gorgeous Dennis ballad utilising his technique of producing very full orchestral sounding tracks through both strings and keyboard lines. Dennis pleading for love, and the harmonies are truly beautiful here. Dennis's voice shows signs of strain in the loud sections of 'Thoughts Of You', but the opening and close of this song is beautiful indeed. Dennis could sing, and play Piano - that's all he really needed. The songs stand-up on their own. Not that 'Pacific Ocean Blue' is overproduced, I don't want you to draw that conclusion, because it isn't overproduced at all. Dennis did like surrounding his voice in orchestration, romantic orchestration to help draw out or reinforce the message of his songs. In this vein is the heartbreaking 'Time'. Dennis sounds weary and his vocal here is effective in particular. "I love you" sings Dennis, and that phrase pops up a few times across the album. Where some singers can sing "I love you" and it sounds like a commercial ploy and nothing more, Dennis sings "I love you", and it sounds like he really loves you. And, that's something special. The song 'You And I' is a delight, a charming mid-tempo ballad, with sweet guitar parts nice in particular. The title song reverts to the funky Rock n Roll of 'Friday Night' and 'Dreamer' also adding in very "wilsonian" production touches. "Water, water" backing parts, a texture and depth to the entire song, a great production from start to finish. The closing song is a classic Dennis Wilson ballad, 'End Of The Road', and you worry and believe him. You want to hold him. 'End Of The Road' is a shared grief out of which ultimately arises light and triumph as the song reaches it's conclusion.

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    Readers Comments

    Doug Warren doug@hughlandrum.com
    Don't forget "Rainbows" and "Farewell My Friend", they are great DW songs. I wish that POB was available from Sony on CD! And people wonder why there is so much bootlegging in the music business! Hell, they don't make the music available! Do you realize that Denny has over an hour's worth of ballads and love songs that need to go to CD(not to mention his unreleased songs)! --Doug in Houston

    terence terence@repton.eclipse.co.uk
    does anybody know WHY it is that this album cannot be obtained on CD at present?! when e.g. virtually all other BB stuff is easy to locate.

    John whosyermon@aol.com
    Dennis had several songs that would pop up on albums. A couple that haven't been mentioned "Angel" and then the two ballads on the "Carl and the Passions'" album. Not to mention how he opened so many encores with "You Are So Beautiful"... somethimes he got your state right, sometimes he said "Ohio".

    Conor Cullen conorc@ivenus.com
    Just heard this album for the first time and how good is that. i heard so much hype i thought id be disappointed but not by a long shot. Im recording bamboo now. Anyone know what i should expect?

    paul spectorsound@aol.com
    what a sad state of affairs, when a record as beautiful as pob is unavailable. sort it out someone!!!!!!!!!

    con conorwalsh2@hotmail.com
    this may have been sugested alreadt but if enough people write/email sony and tell them that there is a huge demand for dennis wilson's work they may see a chance at making more money and release it.

    john, county kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    is it any wonder the mike love faction, and to a certain degree al's faction were so intimidated by dennis wilson come the late 1970s? a real good looking boy, no longer a "bimbo" [bet that hurt soooo much mikey baby....] a fantastic collection of songs, a wonderful supply of charisma and energy, yea, its easy to see why. of course at this stage who could back him up? brian was completely fucked, carl was trying too hard to be the diplomat, and bruce was immidiately reeled in by mike the split second he rejoined. who knows how fantastic 15 big ones, m.i.u., or keeping the summer alive could have been, if harmony had existed outside the beach boys corporate persona. anyhow..... the only dissapointment here is what's wrong, which still sounds a billion light years ahead of sumahama, winds of change and others too woeful to mention. you and i is... well it's just otherworldly. the drum production on moonshine sounds like 1986 bon jovi, except with dennis you know it's there to ! convey an emotion, as opposed to being a commercial tag. a wonderful song. rainbows is his most underrated song.just so damn excellent.the fact that his voice is so raw and weather beaten compared to carl and pre 1971 brian, adds to the general classiness. definitely 10/10. the sooner we get bamboo, the better. j'ai guru dev.

    trevor myers trevormyers@fsmail.net
    owning "pacific ocean blue" on both L.p. and cd i can honestly say this is one of my faverout albums of all time (and I am baised when it comes to dennis wilson) i am dumfounded though when it comes to Bamboo not ever released (it must be in the vaults somwhere) the thoughts of dennis wilsons track "sounds of free" being released on CD is something i keep longing for.(even thugh i`ve got it bootlegged)

    Batdanhenry smurfdannymets@yahoo.com
    Did any of you know that Dennis contributed to " You are so beautiful"? And Bamboo cannot be released because it was never finished. Brian Wilson loved this album, and despite their arguments, Mike Love and Dennis Wilson made a beautiful collaboration on "Pacific Ocean Blues".

    this page last updated 26/5/07

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