The last time I saw Dennis Wilson was in August 1983 at the Houston Astrodome. The Beach Boys were playing after an Astros game and he looked completely disheveled when he got out of one of the convertibles that brought band members on the field. Dirty jeans, no shoes, no shirt, and probably high as a kite. By this time, he couldn’t keep time and another drummer was also on stage.
Wilson drowned later that year (ironic because he was the only Beach Boy who could surf), however, he left behind one of the better solo albums by any member of the Beach Boys, Pacific Ocean Blue.
Wilson never had the clean, angelic voice of his brothers Brian and Carl. His was rough, grainy (maybe from all the years of drugs and alcohol) soulful and sad. It reflected his life. His voice is best showcased on the excellent “Thoughts of You,” “Time,” “Farewell My Friend,” the eerie “End of the Show,” and the spiritual “River Song,” where the lyrics include the line “got to get away” illustrate his pain of living.
This two-disc collection also features the unfinished album, Bambu, that Wilson was working on shortly after the release of Pacific Ocean Blue. His decline into drug and alcohol abuse took away any inspiration he had to finish, in his words, “a superior follow up.” The Bambu disc also features a version of “Holy Man” sung by Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins.
Out of print for more than 15 years, it’s nice to see Legacy Recordings finally released this gem. Mike Love never had it in him to make an album this good.