A Lost Treasure, Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue Resurfaces

posted June 2, 2008

A Lost Treasure, Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue Resurfaces

Eternal Beach Boy Dennis Wilson's much sought-after 1977 solo album - which Mojo Magazine has heralded as a "buried treasure" -- will return to circulation on the occasion of its 30th anniversary, and the 25th anniversary of Wilson's untimely death in 1983, at age 39. The double-CD Pacific Ocean Blue: Legacy Edition will arrive in stores June 17th on Caribou/Epic/Legacy, a division of Sony BMG Music Entertainment. A vinyl edition of the LP will also be released at the same time, on the Sundazed label.

In 1977, Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue became the first solo LP to be released by a member of the legendary Beach Boys. Dennis, the band's surfer, drummer and free spirit, emerged from the shadow of his older brother, pop genius Brian Wilson, and shocked the industry with a sound and style unlike any other. Over thirty years later Pacific Ocean Blue remains arguably the greatest solo work by a Wilson.

"In all those years since Pacific Ocean Blue became a rare gem, I have been eager to make it more widely available," says James William Guercio, producer and owner of Caribou Records, who served then and now as executive producer. "The music that caught the ear of critics and fans in 1977 has fallen from popular conscious­ness in the last two decades, and it has long been due this incredible treatment. The devotion that the Legacy Recordings crew has shown to both the official album and the huge number of unreleased tracks is a testa­ment to the strength of Dennis' musical genius."

Dozens of musicians and singers collaborated on the Pacific Ocean Blue and Bambu sessions, which took place at numerous studios around Los Angeles, Seattle, and Miami. In addition to Dennis Wilson on vocals, drums, percussion, keyboards, and harmonica, there were his wife Karen Lamm-Wilson; Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys on guitar and vocal backgrounds; latter day Beach Boys members Billy Hinsche and Bruce Johnston (vocal backgrounds) and Ricky Fataar (drums); Beach Boys engineer Earle Mankey (guitar); and many West Coast session greats. A host of background vocalists included Christine McVie of Fleeetwood Mac, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America, Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean, and more.

Disc one of Pacific Ocean Blue: Legacy Edition will comprise the original 12-song LP sequence:

  1. River Song
  2. What's Wrong
  3. Moonshine
  4. Friday Night
  5. Dreamer
  6. Thoughts of You
  7. Time
  8. You and I
  9. Pacific Ocean Blue
  10. Farewell My Friend
  11. Rainbows
  12. End of the Show

The album was produced by Dennis Wilson & Gregg Jakobson (original co-producer and co-writer); with James William Guercio, executive producer.

In addition, disc one will contain four previously unreleased bonus tracks:

  1. Tug Of Love
  2. Only With You
  3. Holy Man (instrumental)
  4. Mexico

These tracks were produced by Dennis Wilson, John Hanlon (credits: the Beach Boys; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Jayhawks; R.E.M; Gillian Welch), and Gregg Jakobson. Of special note, "Only With You" was never known to exist - Dennis co-wrote the song with fellow Beach Boy Mike Love, for the group's 1973 Holland album, with Carl Wilson singing lead.

Disc two of Pacific Ocean Blue: Legacy Edition will be a godsend to Dennis Wilson and Beach Boys devotees around the world - especially those who have been aware of the Bambu album he had hoped to release as a follow-up, but never completed. The tape archive is the source for 17 bonus tracks, all previously unreleased except for one ("All Alone"), from the original Pacific Ocean Blue and Bambu sessions. Bambu has been referenced as "Bamboo" in numerous articles on Dennis and the Beach Boys, but paperwork that accompanied the sessions now reveals the artist always intended for the album to be titled Bambu.

Now titled Bambu (The Caribou Sessions), disc two comprises:

  1. Under The Moonlight
  2. It's Not Too Late
  3. School Girl
  4. Love Remember Me
  5. Love Surrounds Me
  6. Wild Situation
  7. Common
  8. Are You Real
  9. He's A Bum
  10. Cocktails
  11. I Love You
  12. Constant Companion
  13. Time For Bed
  14. Album Tag Song
  15. All Alone (originally issued on the Capitol Records Soundtrack Endless Harmony)
  16. Piano Variations on Thoughts of You
  17. Bonus Track: Holy Man, with new vocal by Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters.

The Bambu tracks were produced by Dennis Wilson, John Hanlon and Gregg Jakobson; with James William Guercio serving as executive producer. Of special note, "Holy Man" features a newly-recorded vocal by Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, a longtime friend of Jakobson. Hawkins, a huge Dennis Wilson and Beach Boys fan, was someone who Jakobson always had in mind to add to the project, should he ever get the chance to revisit some of the unfinished tracks he made with Dennis.

Liner notes for Pacific Ocean Blue: Legacy Edition have been written by several Beach Boys scholars, starting with Ben Edmonds, a MOJO contrib­uting editor who has written a 2,500-word essay entitled "Love Remember Me: Dennis Wilson's Dreams Delivered." A second essay, "Dennis Wilson: Chronology of a Solo Artist," has been newly-penned by Jon Stebbins (author of Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy, 2000) and David Beard (editor of the Beach Boys fanzine, Endless Summer Quarterly).

A final essay by David Leaf will appear as a PDF embedded on the Pacific Ocean Blue disc. Leaf is the author of the Brian Wilson biography Beach Boys and the California Myth (1978), and the follow-up, Beach Boys: Spirit of America (1985). He has annotated nearly 30 Beach Boys-related reissue projects, including the Good Vibrations: Thirty Years Of the Beach Boys (1993) and The Pet Sounds Sessions (1997) box sets, which he co-produced. Leaf is also an award-winning television producer, director and writer of more than 50 entertainment-related biographies and specials, including An-All Star Tribute To Brian Wilson (TNT, 2001); Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of SMiLE (Showtime, 2004); and The U.S. vs. John Lennon (Lionsgate/VH1, 2006).

The full-color booklet in Pacific Ocean Blue - Legacy Edition will feature extensive discographic information and rare photos. Among these are the images taken for the original LP package by photo­grapher and lifelong friend Dean Torrence (of Jan & Dean), thought for decades to be lost but later uncovered in the Sony Music archives.

Long considered one of the Rosetta Stones of Beach Boys iconography, Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue has been a collectors item virtually since the day it was released. The LP edition, although it sold as well as any Beach Boys title at the end of the 1970s, was out-of-print in the catalog by the early '80s, when the group's Caribou Records deal expired with Epic Records (distributed by CBS). The first generation CD transfer of 1991 (non-eq'd) has similarly been out-of-print for over a decade.

As part of the release of this special CD, SonyBMG has produced a free 3-episode podcast series. In this series, Wilson's close friends, family and collaborators - including Brian Wilson - discuss how his musical passions both reflected and contradicted his hard, fast lifestyle. We also hear from Dennis, himself, in excerpts of a 1977 radio interview.

The show is hosted by another great drummer named Dennis...Dennis Diken of the Smithereens, who has also authored liner notes for many of the recent Beach Boys CD reissues.

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