Dennis Wilson -
Pacific Ocean Blue
Produced by Dennis Wilson & Gregg Jakobson
Released August 22, 1977 - Caribou PZ 34354 (CBS)
Pacific Ocean Blue - Legacy Edition
Original Recordings Produced by Dennis Wilson & Gregg Jakobson
Bonus Tracks Produced by Dennis Wilson, John Hanlon & Gregg Jakobson
Executive Producer: James William Guercio
Released June 17, 2008 - Caribou/Epic/Legacy 88697-07916-2 (Sony/BMG) Disc One
Dennis Wilson had always been considered the quintessential "Beach Boy": not in a musical sense (that, of course, was Brian), but in a lifestyle sense. His love of surfing inspired the others to adopt the image that launched the band, and his further adventures in the worlds of fast cars, fast bikes, and fast women continued to fuel the imagination and song catalog of his older brother and cousin. But in the first five or six years of their career, his musical contributions were limited to drumming and singing backup (and sometimes not even that), with an occasional lead vocal opportunity (either covers of other artists or new songs that Brian and Mike would throw his way). However, with Brian Wilson's retreat from full artistic control of the band in 1967, the other members (Dennis included) began to be relied upon more and more for compositional and production efforts. Dennis' first contributions in this respect appear on the 1968 Friends album, and would continue over the next five years; tunes like "Little Bird", "Be With Me", "Celebrate The News", and "Forever" were highlights of the late '60s-early '70s Beach Boys era.
In order for Dennis to evolve musically into something more than "just the fun-loving playboy drummer", he needed to master a melodic/chordal instrument well enough to compose on it. His mother Audree had taught him the fundamentals of boogie-woogie piano playing as a kid, while David Marks recalls Dennis teaching himself Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata", and Bruce Johnston showed him some more advanced chords while on the Boys' January 1966 tour of Japan. Dennis' first wife, Carole, recalls "The very first thing after we got married, before we even bought one piece of furniture, he bought a piano...which we still have; a baby grand piano...it was white-and-gold, it was the ugliest thing, but he didn't care, it was his piano, and he immediately started playing around on the piano. Before that, on the road, whenever we'd go anywhere for concerts and things, he would always go backstage, either before or after performance, and if there was a piano onstage, he'd always play piano, trying to work out something for himself. He had ideas in his head right from the beginning of the kind of music he wanted to make. But he just played around at first, (and) didn't, I don't think, have the confidence to move forward right away". When his second wife, Barbara, went to his home for the first time (he was living in friend Gregg Jakobson's basement at the time), she found him playing the piano, totally absorbed in a new song he was working on. Hal Blaine, who was hired to play drums in Dennis' place on many of the Beach Boys' biggest hits, said "Dennis also played great piano, maybe better than drums". In fact, there was a time in the early '70s when Dennis was unable to drum due to a serious hand injury; for a three-year period ending in late 1974, he would play keyboards live with the group or simply stand at the mic and sing.
In late 1970, Dennis was able to release a solo single in several countries (but not the U.S.) as a "trial balloon" to test the waters for a possible solo recording career: "Sound Of Free", backed with "Lady". Encouraged by the positive reviews it generated, Dennis recorded several more tracks with Beach Boys auxillary keyboardist Daryl Dragon, in hopes of completing an entire solo album. Sadly, most of these tunes were never completed and Dennis abandoned the project. He did contribute a smattering of new songs to Beach Boys albums over the next couple of years, but the creative burst he experienced between 1968 and 1972 flickered and died. And yet, the second era of great Dennis Wilson artistry was about to dawn...
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