Pacific Ocean Blue Extra tracks
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Long unavailable, many have never heard this record. Never being much of a Beach Boys fan growing up (simply too overrated); the more people eulogised about this and offered me a listen to a black-market copy of Dennis Wilson's lone solo outing, the more I shied away. Well, my smart-arsed loss. Pacific Ocean Blue is nearly as good as everyone has always said it was. And the poignancy of Wilson's life and death further enforces its status as a critical holy grail. It even may be worthy of the quantity of chin that has been stroked to it over the years.
What a pleasure to discover it now. Pacific Ocean Blue is the amusement arcade with the paint peeling, the carnie clown's cracked make-up fading as they pack away their act after another late September weekend of half-full applause and bitter tears. The other side of summer. Released in 1977, it was the first ever Beach Boy solo album, and much to the chagrin of Mike Love in particular, it became the sort of artistic success that the group themselves hadn't enjoyed for a long while.
Written and recorded in fits and starts since the mid-70s, Wilson took his brother Brian's painstaking approach, but came to the studio as a non-musician, with boundless possibilities that had to offer. The bass harmonicas and Dixie jazz of Dreamer; the layered vocals of River, Time with its flugelhorn, all dazzle in their understated way. Wilson's voice is the real revelation. It's barely there, sounds like its on the brink of collapse, and has a charm all of its own.
The accompanying Bambu sessions weren't designed to be a full album, and they lack the cohesive nature of the first disc. But for his duet with brother Carl, It's Not Too Late alone, and Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins' spirited vocal version of Holy Man, it completes a genuinely exciting package which will finally bring the recording to a new and much-deserved audience.
Only 200,000 people bought Pacific Ocean Blue. To paraphrase Brian Eno's quotation about the Velvet Underground, half went on to make records that sounded like it; half went on to be music critics. One listen makes you realise that the Flaming Lips, Midlake and Eric Matthews weren't that innovative after all. --Daryl Easlea
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Top Customer Reviews
The packaging is lavish - a fold-out digipak style slipcase which reproduces all the original artwork including inner pictures and lyric sheet. To this is added a substantial booklet including a great deal of information and many rare photographs. If that's not enough for you, there's a pdf file on one of the discs with more.
'Pacific Ocean Blue' comprises the first 12 tracks on the first disc - for my money it's up there with 'Astral Weeks' by Van Morrison as amongst the top 10 indispensable albums. A previous reviewer criticised the sound quality of this release: I don't believe such criticism is justified. An A-B comparison with the original (long deleted) CD release, whose quality was perfectly acceptable, reveals a very similar tonality. In places the new release is somewhat clearer and certainly offers greater dynamics - but overall the original feel has been respected and reproduced. As ever, those migrating from vinyl might take a few listens to readjust.
What of the 21 'bonus' tracks? I have always had the impression that the legendary 'lost' second solo album 'Bambu' was lost somewhere within Dennis Wilson rather than in the sense of a lost tape. There's nothing here to change my mind on that score. There are at most half a dozen tracks which hold a candle to Pacific Ocean Blue, of which about three are really magnificent. The remainder either deserve their status as out-takes, or are promising tracks so unfinished as to even, in several cases, lack all vocals.Read more ›
In simple terms, this album is brilliant. I think with regards to the reviewer below, and indeed perhaps many of you, if you purchase this album expecting another Beach Boys record, you will be solely disappointed. It's much more developed and mature in it's sound in many ways - think Nick Drake, if he'd discovered gospel choirs and written mainly on piano.
Simply heartbreaking in some places, and beautiful at the same time. Dennis was in a particularly bad place for much of his life, much in the same way that Brian was. Or any teenage kid who finds fame too young inevitably goes through. What sets Dennis apart from Brian, or indeed any of the other Beach Boys efforts, is that he perfectly documented his heartbreak and mental-state on this record.
I too watched the BBC documentary on him and found it very moving. Did you know that the Beach Boys record company owned the boat in which Dennis wrote many of his songs and spent a great deal of his time? When their company went bust later on, they were forced to sell what was, in many ways, Dennis's real home. He loved that boat. He threw many of his possessions out into the waters of the harbor where it was docked and years later when he was at a particularly rough patch of alcoholism dived under water to retrieve his lost items. Apparently he hit his head on a boat on coming back up to the surface, knocked himself unconscious and drowned.Read more ›
The first manifestations of his development arrived with two exceptional contributions ('Be Still' & the ever popular 'Little Bird') to the Beach Boys' Friends album in 1968. He then added his mark to the subsequent 20/20 & Sunflower albums and issued an impressive solo single that suggested the launch of a solo career. This activity was followed by a worrying silence. When Surf's Up was issued in 1971 Dennis was conspicuous by his absence and I have no doubt that this great album would have been elevated to classic status had it included work by Dennis.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After 50 years as a manic beach boys fan this was my first Dennis Wilson solo CD, I was very disappointed. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mr S R Smith
I've been a fan of the beachboys collectively for yrs, i saw a documentary about the making of this album and Dennis so it was easy for me to want a copy, an essential for any real... Read morePublished 14 months ago by michael george