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Pacific Ocean Blue (Legacy Edition)
Artist: Dennis Wilson
Label: Sony BMG
Times: 1 hour 53 minutes/2 CDs

Like an unrepentant prodigal son, Dennis Wilson's spirit has waited for 31 years for this time to come. He has not rested easily. Blessed and plagued as the wild Beach Boy, the one who actually lived what the others sang about, he traveled through his life like a drifting soul. He did nothing in moderation. This reason may be why this re-release of his solo effort,  _Pacific Ocean Blue,_  is such a critical success, adding mystique and rough edges to the one-dimensional wholesome image of America's band. It is packaged with photos, extended liner notes, bonus tracks and the unfinished follow-up work, _Bambu_ on a second CD. 
This is a double-edged release. It's the emergence of a truly great American rock album from 1977, when the pop world was steeped in the artificiality and sophomoric pessimism of disco and punk. It's also a release of the memory of Dennis Wilson, who can rest peacefully knowing the world will finally hear this forgotten record which stands with the best of Brian Wilson's solo work.

Clearly, Dennis learned his writing, vocal and studio production lessons well--but not from brother Brian. This album doesn't even hint of _Pet Sounds._ He didn't learn this from the early surf and hot rod music championed by his nemesis, Mike Love. This album's startling influence is from the band's most underrated effort, 1974's _Holland._ The sound, the texture, the diverse instrumentation and vocal arrangements suggest these tracks could have been Dennis' personal outtakes from the _Holland_ sessions. This period was one of his creative productivity, while The Beach Boys drifted aimlessly in the wake of their mid-70's comeback. The themes vary from broken love, mourning, protection of the environment and heartfelt love songs.

What is most surprising is Wilson's vocal work. While he captures the Beach Boys' multi-harmonic layered approach, he distinguishes himself with the whiskey-tinged, ragged soulfulness of his voice. He's the antithesis of the beautiful smooth sound of his brother Carl, and the contrast works better than can be described in print. 
So, at times, if we are lucky enough, a forgotten classic may fall through the netting of time and re-emerge to help heal a sad world; a world considerably sadder than when Dennis Wilson drowned in his boat slip in Marina Del Rey, California that winter day. This gift is _Pacific Ocean Blue_--a masterpiece. It's that simple. It captures the essence of Dennis Wilson, the troubled, wayward brother who sought love and approval during his short 39 years on the planet. In 1983 he was buried at sea, a fitting place for this authentic son of the ocean's wild passion. _Pacific Ocean Blue_ gives us Dennis Wilson's spirit in musical form. As he once said, "If you want to know me, listen to the music." Listen to this album, and you will feel like you know this prodigal son who journeyed here for a short while and then returned to his true father's arms. 

Terry Roland  July 22, 2008

 
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