Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue (Legacy Edition)

Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean BlueDennis WilsonPacific Ocean Blue (Legacy Edition) (Sony Legacy)

Sony Legacy has lovingly reissued an album that is considered by many to be a lost classic. The first solo release by a member of the Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson‘s Pacific Ocean Blue was originally released in 1977, and while it received positive reviews, it peaked at #96 on the album charts, spawned no hit singles, and quickly fell out of print. Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983 after years of struggling with substance abuse.

So is the album any good? To find out, GLONO founder Derek Phillips and I located ourselves at opposite wings of GLONO headquarters, pressed “play” at the same time, and instant messaged our reactions to each other.


[15:54] Phil: Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue

1. “River Song”

[15:55] Jake: lovely beach boys harmonies

[15:55] Phil: Well, it’s mighty clean, isn’t it?

[15:55] Phil: Sounds a lot like Brian’s remake of Pet Sounds from a couple years ago

[15:55] Jake: recorded in 1977. so you know.

[15:55] Phil: Dudes loved that smoove sound

[15:56] Phil: Dennis Wilson’s voice is throatier than I’d expected

[15:56] Phil: he had the best voice of those dudes

[15:56] Phil: such a stoner

[15:56] Jake: yeah, he sounds like he smoked a LOT

[15:56] Jake: he was the one who was friends with Charles Manson, right?

[15:57] Phil: yeah

[15:57] Phil: Isn’t that classic?

[15:57] Phil: smoking weed with Charlie and writing epic songs about the beach

[15:57] Phil: sounds like Will Farrell‘s next project

[15:57] Jake: i love that breakdown: “breaks my heart to see the city…”

[15:57] Phil: so epic!

[15:58] Jake: with the elegiac background vocals

[15:58] Jake: and then the doo-wop vocals.

[15:58] Jake: weird. but pretty awesome.

[15:58] Phil: I think Jason Pierce based his career around that first song

2. “What Wrong”

[15:59] Phil: Uh oh…

[15:59] Phil: 70s guys loved that 50s rock and roll

[15:59] Jake: “saved by rock and roll”

[15:59] Phil: ruined by weed

[15:59] Jake: ha.

[15:59] Phil: it’s so smooth and mellow

[15:59] Jake: those horns sound terrible.

[16:00] Phil: I picture bottles of Michelob everywhere and ashtrays full of roaches

[16:00] Phil: and that boogie woogie piano sounds so clinical

[16:00] Phil: this is the kind of music that made me hate the blues until Jon Spencer showed up

[16:01] Jake: at least it’s short.

[16:01] Phil: thank you, Dennis

[16:01] Phil: but everyone from Dennis Wilson to John Lennon was worked up for that sound

3. “Moonshine”

[16:01] Jake: now we’ve got a ballad

[16:01] Jake: synth strings?

[16:01] Phil: big drums

[16:02] Phil: I am waiting for Peter Cetera to show up

[16:02] Phil: “If you leave me now…”

[16:02] Jake: this song kinda sucks.

[16:03] Phil: not just kinda

[16:03] Phil: nice melodies, but a dopey song

[16:03] Jake: again: short though.

4. “Friday Night”

[16:03] Phil: Uh oh, there’s a storm rolling in

[16:03] Jake: yes.

[16:03] Phil: slide guitar?

[16:04] Phil: Charlie is pissed

[16:04] Jake: very stoney.

[16:04] Jake: not stonesy. stoney.

[16:04] Phil: and David Gilmore is with him!

[16:04] Jake: ha. totally gilmore!

[16:04] Phil: Well, Animals did come out in 1977…

[16:04] Jake: love his voice though

[16:05] Phil: so did Glenn Frey, it appears

[16:05] Phil: So, J Spaceman got a career from this album and so did Glenn Frey

[16:05] Phil: who says this was a lost gem?

[16:05] Jake: mojo. and buddyhead.

[16:06] Phil: wasn’t lost on Pierce and Frey

[16:06] Jake: what year did beach boys love you come out?

[16:06] Phil: also 77

[16:06] Jake: because that is a weird album

[16:06] Jake: did he borrow some of brian’s synths?

[16:06] Phil: Well, Brian wasn’t using them…

5. “Dreamer”

[16:06] Jake: OOO!OOO! Sanford and Son sounds.

[16:07] Phil: Oh yeah!

[16:07] Jake: what is that?

[16:07] Phil: Is he singing about a carpenter?

[16:07] Jake: Jesus?

[16:07] Phil: the only carpenter anyone ever sings about

[16:07] Phil: uh oh…horns

[16:07] Jake: yeah.

[16:07] Phil: Jesus and Harrison Ford

[16:08] Jake: “i know people who wanna go far / make big movies and become a star…”

[16:08] Phil: Robbie Robertson?

[16:08] Jake: Manson!

[16:08] Phil: what a douche

[16:08] Phil: Robbie (and I suppose Charlie)

[16:09] Jake: again, i love the breakdown.

[16:09] Jake: so why do you think people love this/consider a lost classic?

[16:10] Phil: because Dennis Wilson is dead

[16:11] Phil: I mean, this sounds like run of the mill 70s pap to me, and I love both 70s rock and the Beach Boys!

[16:11] Phil: But Dennis Wilson is a tragic figure, so some folks have attached some drama to this album that really isn’t there

[16:11] Jake: and he’s got a great voice and a great beard.

[16:12] Phil: yes, extra effort points for the beard

6. “Thoughts of You”

[16:12] Jake: his voice is ragged, but the music is anything but.

[16:12] Phil: “Thoughts of You” is lovely

[16:12] Jake: was that a piece of the theme from mash as it builds up?

[16:12] Phil: oh shit, did Mike Love just crash this party?

[16:13] Jake: ha

[16:13] Phil: that is a heavy middle bit

[16:13] Phil: scary, even

[16:13] Phil: no wonder Charlie liked him

[16:13] Jake: yeah. it freaks me out.

[16:14] Phil: guy had some dark corners, man

[16:14] Jake: there is a weirdness that i don’t think is typical of 70s lite rock though.

[16:14] Phil: yes

[16:14] Phil: and that same weirdness pops up on Surf’s Up and Sunflower

[16:14] Phil: all these Beach Boys were spooky guys deep down

[16:15] Jake: yeah.

[16:15] Phil: Even when he’s singing “I love you” it sounds stalker-ish

[16:15] Phil: Like you can’t convince him otherwise

[16:16] Jake: totally

[16:16] Phil: “No, bitch. I LOVE you.”

[16:16] Jake: “don’t walk away from me.”

[16:16] Phil: you better not

7. “Time”

[16:16] Jake: more freaky horns.

[16:16] Phil: uh, and then he busts into this funky weirdness

[16:16] Phil: Who invited Chicago to this session?

[16:16] Phil: what is this!?!?!

[16:17] Jake: the part where he chases her down and strangles her on the beach?

[16:17] Phil: yes

[16:17] Phil: creepy fade out

[16:17] Phil: like the light going out of her eyes

[16:17] Jake: ha. right.

[16:18] Phil: revelation: Dennis Wilson killed Sharon Tate

8. “You and I”

[16:18] Jake: and directly into some electric piano.

[16:18] Jake: ha!

[16:18] Phil: Jazzy

[16:18] Phil: smooth jazz almost killed rock and roll

[16:18] Phil: it was very close for a while there

[16:18] Phil: we almost lost it

[16:18] Jake: steely dan?

[16:18] Phil: bastards

[16:18] Jake: when did they peak? 77?

[16:19] Phil: peak?

[16:19] Phil: how does mediocrity peak?

[16:19] Phil: *snap*

[16:19] Jake: in popularity i mean?

[16:19] Phil: I was hiding in a cave with Steve Dahl waiting for it all to be over

[16:19] Jake: there was a time when i was buying shitloads of used vinyl, when i’d pick up almost anything recorded in 1973. i decided that was a perfect year for music.

[16:20] Jake: by 77, it was clearly over.

[16:20] Phil: oh man, yes it was

[16:20] Phil: but what was stewing in the Bowery…?

[16:20] Phil: look out!

[16:21] Phil: Well, we glossed right over that tune

[16:21] Phil: Readers, hit SKIP

9. “Pacific Ocean Blues”

[16:21] Phil: but now it’s funky again!

[16:21] Phil: oh now we’re talking

[16:21] Phil: Joe Walsh in the HOUSE!

[16:21] Jake: totally

[16:22] Phil: I dig this

[16:22] Jake: word.

[16:22] Phil: great vocals, freaky deaky guitar part, backing vocals and some weirdo shouting “water” in my ear

[16:23] Phil: Pacific Ocean Blues indeed!

10. “Farewell My Friend”

[16:24] Phil: Farewell my friend…I am going to kill you

[16:25] Jake: ha.

[16:25] Jake: wait, was that just bubbling i heard?

[16:25] Jake: like he was drowning?

[16:25] Phil: of course

[16:25] Jake: spooky.

[16:25] Phil: it’s called foreshadowing!

[16:25] Jake: do you think the synths ruin this?

[16:26] Phil: I think synths ruin most things

11. “Rainbows”

[16:26] Phil: BANJO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[16:26] Phil: Finally!

[16:27] Phil: Totally Spiritualized

[16:27] Jake: upright bass.

[16:27] Phil: Ladies and gentleman, we are (not) floating

[16:27] Phil: bad joke

[16:27] Jake: hey oh!

[16:28] Phil: I am embarrassed of myself

[16:28] Phil: but it was RIGHT THERE

12. “End of the Show”

[16:30] Jake: I’m struggling with figuring out if this is good or just depressing.

[16:30] Phil: Wait, there are TWO disks to this???

[16:30] Phil: I don’t have enough ludes to do two disks

[16:30] Jake: i like a lot of the sounds.

[16:30] Phil: yes

[16:30] Phil: and his voice

[16:30] Phil: and his beard

[16:30] Jake: yeah, the 2nd disc is all unreleased stuff from the sessions for his next album

[16:31] Phil: I won’t be able to make that journey today

[16:31] Phil: I mean, disk one is 55 mins!

[16:31] Jake: no.

[16:31] Phil: what song are we on?

[16:31] Phil: I am lost

[16:32] Phil: crowd noises…everyone loved crowd noises on records back then

[16:32] Phil: it reminded the listener that you were listening to a rock star

[16:32] Jake: that was end of the show

[16:32] Jake: get it?

[16:32] Jake: crowd noise

[16:32] Phil: clever

13. “Tug of Love” (previously unreleased)

[16:32] Jake: now we’re on tug of love

[16:32] Phil: so weird

[16:33] Phil: synths

[16:33] Phil: why?

[16:33] Phil: who is to blame?

[16:33] Jake: why synths? because it’s 1977.

[16:33] Phil: I blame Garth Hudson then

[16:33] Jake: so what is that Sanford and Son noise? a bass harmonica?

[16:33] Phil: dude, I have no idea what makes that sound

[16:33] Phil: I fucking HATE the Last Waltz and this is a prime example of why

[16:33] Jake: THIS?

[16:34] Jake: what does Dennis Wilson have to do with that?

[16:34] Phil: awful synths…awful guitar tones…it’s all wrapped up together

[16:34] Jake: the guitar is not awful on this.

[16:34] Phil: everyone got all juiced over the Last Waltz and then started buying terrible synths

[16:34] Phil: and Robbie Robertson is a TWAT!

[16:34] Jake: everyone was buying synths because they were brand new

[16:34] Jake: a new sound.

[16:35] Jake: you can’t blame the Band for that!

[16:35] Phil: yeah, well could people not HEAR???

[16:35] Jake: blame the Japanese!

[16:35] Phil: I will!

14. “Only with You” (previously unreleased)

[16:36] Phil: So, 55 minutes is a long record by any measure but this feels longer

[16:36] Jake: it originally ended with end of the show

[16:36] Jake: and these are bonus tracks

[16:37] Phil: ah

[16:38] Phil: there’s a real latter day Pink Floyd thing going on here

15. “Holy Man” (instrumental, previously unreleased)

[16:41] Phil: Oh boy, more weird synth

[16:41] Jake: right.

[16:42] Phil: instrumental?

[16:42] Jake: yeah, on disc 2 there’s a version of this with a foo fighter‘s vocals.

[16:42] Phil: wha wha what!?!?!

16. “Mexico” (previously unreleased)

[16:45] Phil: So, are all of these instrumental tracks?

[16:45] Jake: ?

[16:45] Phil: not much of a bonus, eh?

[16:46] Phil: sounds like the soundtrack to a Tatum O’Neal movie

[16:46] Jake: ha

[16:47] Jake: people treat the beach boys way too preciously.

[16:47] Phil: Jesus, yes

[16:47] Jake: i mean come on.

[16:47] Jake: this is not genius.

[16:47] Phil: um…no

[16:48] Phil: not by a stretch

[16:48] Jake: it’s a tv soundtrack

[16:48] Jake: you hit the nail on the head.

[16:48] Phil: “Meredith Baxter Birney in the role she was born to play”

[16:49] Jake: based on a true story.

[16:49] Phil: with special guest appearances by Joe Namath and Mickey Rooney as “Max”

[16:49] Jake: and that’s it for disc one.

[16:49] Phil: whew!

Final thoughts

[16:49] Jake: huh.

[16:49] Jake: stay tuned for disc 2…

[16:49] Jake: (or maybe not)

[16:50] Phil: Ok, so here’s the rundown: Dennis Wilson had a great voice and a better beard; we now see why Charlie Manson liked him; 70s guys loved 50s rock and roll; and the Beach Boys are handled with kid gloves

[16:50] Phil: anything else?

[16:51] Jake: um: in 1977, synthesizers sounded awful.

[16:51] Phil: yes

[16:51] Jake: horns were not very funky in Los Angeles.

[16:51] Phil: God no

[16:51] Jake: and David Gilmore and Steely Dan were very highly regarded.

[16:52] Phil: vanguards

[16:52] Jake: that’s all I’ve got.

[16:52] Phil: OK, let’s post it!

If you’re a Beach Boys fan/apologist, you will undoubtedly enjoy this. It sounds a lot like all of the Brother Records-era Beach Boys stuff. But with tougher vocals. And the packaging of the reissue is top notch. Gatefold sleeve, lyrics, essays, photos, everything you could ask for.

But the uninitiated might want to take advantage of the full album stream that’s available through Sunday, June 22, before they hand over their cash…

Previously: Dennis Wilson’s “Pacific Ocean Blue” finally reissued

9 thoughts on “Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue (Legacy Edition)”

  1. Sorry, Derr, GLONO doesn’t quite exactly stand for Glorious Noise. It stands for GLONO is quite Obvious but apparently that is not obvious Not to everyOne.

    It’s GNU kind of thing.

  2. Oh, we’ll be doing more of this mainly because we’re too lazy to write real reviews and also becuase we end up shooting the shit on IM anyways so we might as well let you all in on our wisdom.

    I’d like to open this up to whomever might be interested. Maybe do a group chat IM. Like a record party, but via IM.

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