Dennis Wilson- Pacific Ocean Blue (Reissue) (Album Review)
It’s not hard to see why Dennis Wilson’s only album has such mythical status. Alongside the Beach Boys drummer’s colourful back story – the hedonistic hard living, his dubious association with Charlie Manson, his Californian surfer good looks and his all too predictable early demise in his beloved Pacific Ocean – is the album’s scarcity value. Out of print for aeons, tracking down a copy of Pacific Ocean Blue has long been the Holy Grail for many a rock fan.
Thankfully, the album is finally getting the deluxe reissue treatment to tie in with its 30th anniversary. An accompanying CD includes album outtakes and tracks. So will shining a light on Pacific Ocean Blue rid it of its reverential allure? Not a jot. It can now justifiably be held up against the likes of Pet Sounds, Surf’s Up et al.
Stylistically, the album takes a detour from Brian Wilson’s Sixties sunshine-soaked symphonies. Adding a plaintive beauty and combining it with coke-ravaged, mid-Seventies, Spector-ish AOR and some playful studio trickery, the album is a raw, introspective and melancholic delight.
Although Wilson’s voice might be torturously cracked – notably on ‘Thoughts of You’ and ‘Time’ – there are moments of hope, not least on the blue-eyed soul of ‘River Song’. Brian once referred to his kid brother as a dumb angel. Well, Dennis might not have been an angel, but he wasn’t dumb either.