Pacific Ocean Blue

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Pacific Ocean Blue
Studio album by Dennis Wilson
Released August 22, 1977 (1977-08-22)
  • 1971 (1971) ("River Song")
  • February 12, 1975 (1975-02-12) – March 22, 1977 (1977-03-22)
Studio Brother Studios, Santa Monica, CA
Genre Rock,[1] pop[1]
Length 37:15
Label Caribou
Producer Dennis Wilson, Gregg Jakobson
Singles from Pacific Ocean Blue
  1. "River Song"
    Released: 1977
  2. "You and I"
    Released: 1977

Pacific Ocean Blue is the only solo studio album by Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson.[2] When released in August 1977, it was warmly received critically,[3] and noted for outselling the Beach Boys' contemporary efforts.[4] Two singles were issued from the album, "River Song" and "You and I", which did not chart.

Background and recording[edit]

After several attempts, starting in 1970, to realize his own project, some of which made it to the finished album, Wilson recorded the bulk of Pacific Ocean Blue in the months spanning the fall of 1976 to the following spring, at the Beach Boys' own Brother Studios. At the time of recording, Dennis' hard living had begun affecting his looks and more importantly his singing voice, which now delivered grainy and rough, yet still deeply soulful, vocals.[3][5]

Recalling the time Wilson spent working on the album, co-producer Gregg Jakobson said, "This was when he fully accepted himself as an artist. Brian had shown him chords on the piano, but as he'd become more proficient the music that came forth was not derivative of that. Having his own studio helped tremendously. With a little encouragement, and the right tools, Dennis took off."[6]

Brian reported that his reaction when Dennis played him early mixes of the album was "Dennis, that's funky! That's funky!"[7]

Release and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Bloomberg L.P. 4/4 stars[8]
PopMatters 8/10 stars[9]
Pitchfork Media 8.5/10 (reissue)[10]
The Onion AV Club A-[11]
Robert Christgau (dud)[12]
Uncut 5/5 stars[13]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[14]
Spin 4/5 stars[15]

Released in August 1977, Pacific Ocean Blue received glowing reviews for its depth and emotion.[3] It has allegedly been praised by his older brother Brian Wilson, but in a 2008 interview with Pitchfork Media, Brian denied knowing that Dennis had recorded an album at all.[16][17] The album also performed poorly in the U.S. charts peaking at a disappointing #96 during a short 12 week chart run, and eventually went on to sell fewer than 5000 copies.[18] The poor performance of the record, combined with Wilson's increasingly unreliable professional behavior, lead his record label to pull support for a modest West Coast tour that had been scheduled to promote the album.

Wilson intended to record a follow-up, entitled Bambu. But his continuing decline into substance abuse and personal problems ensured that the album remained unfinished at the time of Wilson's drowning death in December 1983.[17][19]

Thus, this album, alongside his pioneering work with the Beach Boys, remains a focal point of Dennis Wilson's legacy,[19] being referred to as a "lost classic."[2][20][21][22] The album has appeared on several "Best-of" lists[23] including Robert Dimery's "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die,"[24] and Mojo's "Lost Albums You Must Own"[25] and "70 of the Greatest Albums of the 70s" lists.[26] In 2005, it was ranked #18 in GQ's "The 100 Coolest Albums in the World Right Now!" list.[27]


Issued by Caribou/CBS Records on CD in 1991, Pacific Ocean Blue went out of print within a year[3] due to ongoing disagreements over copyright ownership; the album was virtually unavailable for more than fifteen years. Copies of the extremely rare 1991 CD sold for over $200.[21][28]

Legacy Recordings released a special 30th anniversary, 2-disc edition of Pacific Ocean Blue on June 17, 2008.[29] It includes material from the Bambu sessions.[16][22] A limited edition 180-gram vinyl multi-LP box set was also released on the Sundazed label.[21][30]

Notable on the reissue is the inclusion of the song "Holy Man", recorded for Pacific Ocean Blue in 1977, in two versions. Wilson had completed work on the instrumental backing track but never finished a satisfactory vocal, erasing an original attempt. For the reissue, Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters was recruited to record a vocal version in Wilson's style given their similarities. The song's original lyricist, Gregg Jakobson, was tapped to help recall the song's original melody and to write lyrics for the song.

Despite missing the UK Album Chart on its original 1977 release, the expanded reissue of Pacific Ocean Blue entered the UK album chart at #16, also reaching #5 on the Norway album chart. In addition, the package managed to attain a high of #8 on Billboard's Top Pop Catalog Albums chart.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "River Song"   Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson 3:44
2. "What's Wrong"   D. Wilson, Gregg Jakobson, Michael Horn 2:22
3. "Moonshine"   D. Wilson, Jakobson 2:27
4. "Friday Night"   D. Wilson, Jakobson 3:09
5. "Dreamer"   D. Wilson, Jakobson 4:22
6. "Thoughts of You"   D. Wilson, Jim Dutch 3:02
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Time"   D. Wilson, Karen Lamm-Wilson 3:31
2. "You and I"   D. Wilson, Lamm-Wilson, Jakobson 3:25
3. "Pacific Ocean Blues"   D. Wilson, Mike Love 2:39
4. "Farewell My Friend"   D. Wilson 2:26
5. "Rainbows"   D. Wilson, C. Wilson, Stephen Kalinich 2:55
6. "End of the Show"   D. Wilson, Jakobson 2:55
Total length:

30th Anniversary Edition[edit]


  • Dennis Wilson — Lead, backing, and harmony vocals; Piano; Hammond Organ; ARP String Ensemble; Moog bass; Mini-Moog synthesizer; Clavinet; Fender Rhodes; Drums; Bass harmonica; Percussion; Tuba on "Dreamer"; Electric Violin on "Time", Lap Steel Guitar on "Farewell My Friend"; Arrangements
  • Carli Munoz — Piano, Keyboards, Moog synthesizer, percussion, Producer
  • Carl Wilson — Lead and rhythm guitar, backing and co-lead vocals
  • Bruce Johnston — backing vocals and vocal arrangement on "End of the Show"
  • Hal Blaine — Drums on "What's Wrong"; Kick Drum on "You and I"
  • Chuck Domanico — Bass
  • Ricky Fataar — Drums; Tambourine on "Holy Man"
  • John Hanlon — Engineer; Lead Guitar on "Dreamer"
  • Gregg Jakobson — Producer; backing vocals
  • James Jamerson — Bass
  • Earle Mankey — Guitar; Engineer
  • Dean Torrence — Background Vocals
  • Billy Hinsche — Rhythm Guitar, backing vocals
  • Trisha Roach — backing vocals
  • Baron Stewart — backing vocals
  • Jim Dutch — backing vocals
  • Karen Lamm-Wilson — backing vocals
  • Robert Lamm — backing vocals on "What's Wrong"
  • Gayle Levant — Harp on "End of the Show"
  • Stephen Moffitt — Chief Engineer
  • Michael Andreas — Alto, Tenor, and Baritone Saxophone; flutes; clarinet
  • Lance Buller — Trombone, Trumpet
  • Sterling Smith — Keyboards
  • Tommy Smith — Drums
  • Dave Hessler — Bass
  • Ed Carter — Lead, Rhythm, and Bass Guitar
  • Mort Klanfer — Bass on "You and I"
  • Bobby Figueroa — Drums; Congas on "You and I"
  • Wayne Tweed — Bass
  • Manolo Badrena — Percussion
  • Janice Hubbard — Oboe
  • Bill Lamb — Trumpet, Cornet, Trombone
  • Charles McCarthy — Tenor and Baritone Saxophone
  • Eddie Tuleja — Lead, rhythm, and slide guitar; banjo and mandolin on "Rainbows"; backing vocals
  • Sid Sharp — Live strings ensemble
  • Alexander Hamilton's Double Rock Baptist Choir
Per Craig Slownski.[31]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b Haggerty, Dan. "Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson's Solo Album To Be Reissued". 411mania. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  3. ^ a b c d Sclafani, Tony. "Sea of Heartbreak: Dennis Wilson's Majestic Solo Work". PopMatters. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  4. ^ Mehr, Bob. "Buried Treasure". American Airlines' American Way. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  5. ^ Hooper, Mark (2008-01-29). "Catch of the Day: Dennis Wilson". London: Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  6. ^ Edmonds, Ben. "Dennis Wilson: The Lonely Sea". Mojo, November 2002
  7. ^ Fornatale, Pete (November 3, 1976). "Interview with Brian Wilson" (MP3). NY Radio Archive. WNEW-FM 102.7. 
  8. ^ link
  9. ^ link
  10. ^ link
  11. ^ link
  12. ^ link
  13. ^ link
  14. ^ link at the Wayback Machine (archived April 27, 2009)
  15. ^ Spin June 2008, p.119
  16. ^ a b url = Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Pitchfork" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  17. ^ a b Doe, Andrew. "Pacific Ocean Blue". Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  18. ^ "Pacific Ocean Blue: Album Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  19. ^ a b Abbott, Kingsley. "Songs in the Key of Sea". Mojo. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  20. ^ "The Lonely One". London: Observer Music Monthly. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  21. ^ a b c Cohen, Jonathan. "Wilson's 'Ocean' Set For Expanded Reissue". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  22. ^ a b "Beach Boys Star's Classic Solo Album To Be Reissued". NME. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  23. ^ "List of Pacific Ocean Blue Accolades". Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  24. ^ Dimery, Robert. "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die". Cassell Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  25. ^ "Lost Albums You Must Own". Mojo. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  26. ^ "70 of the Greatest Albums of the 70s". Mojo. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  27. ^ "The 100 Coolest Albums in the World Right Now!". GQ. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  28. ^ Bowen, Rebecca. "Beach Boy Dennis Wilson's Solo Album Finds Re-release". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  29. ^ Spring '08 LPs From Madonna, Coldplay, The Roots, Mudcrutch, Elvis Costello : Rolling Stone
  30. ^ Mills, Fred. "Dennis Wilson�s Pacific Ocean Blue Reissued w/Unreleased Bambu". Harp Magazine. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  31. ^

External links[edit]