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Pacific Ocean Blue / Bambu (Deluxe Legacy Edition)

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Album Review

When Dennis Wilson's solo debut, Pacific Ocean Blue, was released on James Guercio's CBS-distributed Caribou Records in 1977, few had high expectations for it. Dennis' brother Brian Wilson was, after all, the acknowledged genius and mastermind of the Beach Boys sound and his other brother Carl Wilson had the voice, so little was expected of Dennis, the pretty boy drummer and near-professional party animal. But Pacific Ocean Blue was a gorgeous masterpiece, full of a naked and affirming spirit, romantic (in the best sense of the word), lush, wise, patient, and even panoramic, almost avant-garde, and worlds past and beyond what any of the other Beach Boys were doing at the time. It was also, perhaps not surprisingly, a resounding commercial flop, although the critical reaction to the album was strong and positive. Wilson began work on a follow-up, tentatively entitled Bambu, mixing in some new New Orleans and Caribbean elements, but the project was never finished and by the time of Wilson's death in 1983, Bambu had been sitting untouched and unfinished for nearly five years. Boots taken from LP copies of Pacific Ocean Blue and leaked tapes of the Bambu material have been bouncing around among collectors ever since and Wilson's solo work has taken on the allure and status of lost treasure. This wonderful two-disc set features a carefully restored and remastered version of the Pacific Ocean Blue LP and collects the remnants of Bambu along with other Wilson solo odds and ends to make a convincing case for Dennis Wilson as the other bona fide musical genius in the Beach Boys. It's difficult to describe Wilson's sound on these tracks, although "California gospel soul" might fit, since Wilson's raspy, wounded vocals carry more naked emotion and feeling than any of the other Beach Boys vocalists, even if Carl (and sometimes Brian) could sing like an angel. Dennis could sing like an angel, too, but an earthbound one who lost his wings yet never lost his love of the spiritual and romantic in the world. Highlights from this gorgeous, fascinating set include the majestic "River Song"; a chilling version of Carli Munoz's "It's Not Too Late"; the hauntingly tentative "Thoughts of You"; the personal, intimate, and self-autobiographical "He's a Bum"; and the two versions of "Holy Man," the first a beautiful, charming instrumental and the second, which closes things out here, featuring a newly recorded lead vocal from Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. Beautiful, sprawling, peaceful, wise, and as tenderly romantic as the world is round, these Dennis Wilson gems are as revelatory as they are stunning. Dennis Wilson was a man in love with life, a man in love with love, and as this essential package shows, he had an achingly personal vision for it all.

Customer Reviews


I have always been a Beach Boys fan but have just this year discovered the solo album from Dennis Wilson. I love every track on this album. Brian Wilson was not the only genius in the family.

A Late, Underused Genius

I originally bought this album (a real, honest-to-God LP, when those had become hard to find) from a used record store. I think I'd read an article about it in Rolling Stone, or someone on the radio had mentioned it. I was astounded to discover how much talent lurked in Dennis's tortured mind, how melodic, how dreamlike and original the work was. I know all the Wilson boys had miserable formative years, and yet somehow, their gift for music remained straight and as cleanly drawn as sparkling mountain snowmelt. Now I've downloaded it again, thrilIed to find it here on iTunes. I really recommend this.

Sunshine warmin' up my day.....

This is an amazing record. Amazing at the time it was released Dennis was overlooked as a contributing song writing member of the band. The writing, instrumentation, and arranging is better than anything Brian has done since the 60's. One of the best albums of the 70's and the bonus disc with Bamboo lets the listener on on what could have been had Denny cleaned himself up.


Born: December 4, 1944 in Hawthorne, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

The least talented Wilson brother at the beginning of the Beach Boys' career, Dennis Wilson later matured into an excellent songwriter, producer, and vocalist. Though he only released one LP before drowning at the age of 39, his assortment of heart-rending ballads and pop curios were major assets to the Beach Boys' late-'60s and early-'70s output. Born in Inglewood, California, in 1944, Dennis was the middle of the three Wilson brothers, also including Brian (b. 1942) and Carl (b. 1946). While growing...
Full Bio
Pacific Ocean Blue / Bambu (Deluxe Legacy Edition), Dennis Wilson
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  • $16.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Pop, Pop/Rock
  • Released: 1977

Customer Ratings