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Music / Pacific Ocean Blue

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Pacific Ocean Blue.

Pacific Ocean Blue is the debut and only studio album by Dennis Wilson, released in 1977. This album is notable for outselling the most recent albums by The Beach Boys, and is generally seen as Dennis's overall best. Despite that, the album was seen with indifference (though perhaps this was due to envy) by his band-mates (with the exceptions of brother Carl, who played and sang on every track on the album and Bruce Johnston who did backing vocals on every track and helped with the arrangement of the final track on the album), and was even banned from doing a solo tour to support the album under threat of being kicked out of The Beach Boys, which devastated Dennis. It's also somewhat of an One-Hit Wonder, because despite its enormous success he never made another album. He attempted a follow-up with Bambu, but his alcoholism, drug abuse, and complete lack of self-confidence slowed matters down and in December 1983 he unexpectedly died from drowning. The album was barely finished, but two songs from it - "Love Surrounds Me" and "Baby Blue" - ended up appearing on The Beach Boys' L.A. Light Album in 1979.

Unfortunately though, "Pacific Ocean Blue" went out of print not long after release, and for decades was nearly impossible to find. In the last decade or so however, Dennis Wilson's work with The Beach Boys as well as his solo work got re-discovered and was finally getting the acclaim he deserved - only he didn't live to see it. This ultimately led to this album (finally) being reissued in 2008, with the deluxe edition containing tracks intended for Bambu. "Pacific Ocean Blue" now appears quite often on Greatest Albums lists, and is generally referred to as a lost classic, not unlike SMiLE by Dennis's older brother Brian Wilson.


Side One

  1. "River Song" (3:44)
  2. "What's Wrong" (2:22)
  3. "Moonshine" (2:27)
  4. "Friday Night" (3:09)
  5. "Dreamer" (4:22)
  6. "Thoughts Of You" (3:02)

Side Two

  1. "Time" (3:31)
  2. "You And I" (3:25)
  3. "Pacific Ocean Blues" (2:39)
  4. "Farewell My Friend" (2:26)
  5. "Rainbows" (2:55)
  6. "End Of The Show" (2:55)

Pacific Ocean Tropes:

  • Alliterative Title: "What's Wrong", "Farewell My Friend".
  • Call to Agriculture: In "River Song" Dennis gets fed up with the overcrowded and polluted city he lives in and goes on to look for some country life.
  • Darker and Edgier: This album in general can be considered this when compared to Dennis's work with The Beach Boys. Or even The Beach Boys in general.
  • Face on the Cover: A close-up of Dennis Wilson.
  • Grief Song: "Farewell My Friend". Made all the more poignant by the fact that Dennis was actually grieving when he composed and recorded this song, as his close friend Otto Hinsche (father of Beach Boys touring musician Billy Hinsche) had just died.
    Farewell my friend
    My beautiful friend, farewell
    You take the high road, And I'll take the low road
    And we'll meet again
    • The song became one for Dennis as it was played at his funeral. Even Mike Love (who didn't have the best relationship with Dennis) wept openly when it was played.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Wilson's last name appears in such gigantic letters that the title looks small in comparison.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Subverted by "Pacific Ocean Blue", which makes a stance against whaling.
  • One-Word Title: "Moonshine", "Dreamer", "Time" and "Rainbows".
  • Protest Song: The title track is essentially a protest song against the slaughter of sea animals.
    The flagship of death is an old whaling trawler
    The people are rising over whale killing crawlers
    You gotta holler more
    Wait a minute can't you see, you gotta let 'em be
    Yeah, it's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: According to Dennis, "You And I" is about him and his former wife. "Farewell My Friend" was written as a tribute to Otto Hinsche, father of Billy Hinsche.
  • Solo Side Project: Wilson released this solo album while still being a member of The Beach Boys.
  • The Something Song: "River Song".
  • Something Blues: "Pacific Ocean Blues".
  • Special Guest: Dennis's Beach Boy band-mates Carl Wilson (plays guitar, sings backing vocals. Also co-wrote River Song and Rainbows with Dennis), Bruce Johnston (sings backing vocals) and Ricky Fataar (plays drums) appear on this album, with Mike Love co-writing the title track.
    • Other guests include Dean Torrence on backing vocals, James Jamerson on bass and several regular Beach Boys touring musicians such as Ed Carter, Billy Hinsche, Bobby Figueora, etc.
  • Title Track: Though it adds an "s" at the end of "Blue", "Pacific Ocean Blues" can be considered this.