Pacific Ocean Blue (1977) by Dennis Wilson

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Full disclosure: I did not want to listen to this. I don’t love The Beach Boys and have generally been annoyed by the Brian Wilson-worship that has bubbled to the surface over the last few decades. Of all the likely listeners of this record, one would expect me to be among the least fair.

Let’s get the bad part out of the way first: Dennis Wilson is a bad lyricist. (Or, alternatively, whoever helped him with the lyrics, or wrote the lyrics, is a bad lyricist. Maybe he wrote the music to all the co-writes and the bad lyrics are contributed by different people. It’s possible.) These lyrics are bad. They’re not just mediocre, they are attention-drawing level shitty.

A less negative aspect of the record, though nowhere near as notable as the shitty lyrics, is Wilson’s love for what one might call outdated songs, particularly on “What’s Wrong,” which sounds like something that should have been recorded in 1962.

But the remarkable thing is the ridiculous, over the top arrangements save the record. These are some excessive, ridiculous arrangements. But they give the album some desperately needed idiosyncrasy which saves the melodies (which often feel like echoes of other, more famous songs, even if they are often compelling) and nearly saves the lyrics. (I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to listen to this without thinking about these lyrics.) The arrangements are the reason to listen to this record. Yes, they are completely over-the-top, but I don’t know too much else like this from the era (maybe because I haven’t listen to any ’70s Beach Boys) and, for me, they make the album worth listening to, and maybe even worth listening to in the future.

7/10

  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
  7. “Time” D. Wilson, Karen Lamm-Wilson 3:31
  8. “You and I” D. Wilson, Lamm-Wilson, Jakobson 3:25
  9. “Pacific Ocean Blues” D. Wilson, Mike Love 2:39
  10. “Farewell My Friend” D. Wilson 2:26
  11. “Rainbows” D. Wilson, C. Wilson, Stephen Kalinich 2:55
  12. “End of the Show” D. Wilson, Jakobson 2:55
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