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NOTE: On June 18th, 2008, Sony BMG/ Legacy Recordings released the long awaited reissue of Dennis Wilson's masterwork, the acclaimed 1977 solo album Pacific Ocean Blue. Aside from a brief CD release in 1992, this is the first time this album has been widely available to the public since it's first appearance. Included in this release is a second disc packed with previously unreleased material from sessions leading up to a second solo album, tentatively titled BAMBU.

So, have you heard the new release? What do you think? What surprised you? Do you have questions? Reviews? Opinions? - they are all welcome here.

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Review of Denny BBC doc.

Legends: Dennis Wilson, The Real Beach Boy
Lime Pictures - BBC

In the summer of 2008, Something akin to a musical miracle took place – the Re-issue of Pacific Ocean Blue, Dennis Wilson’s 1977 masterpiece, in a deluxe edition featuring never-before-heard cuts from his unreleased follow up. While this lavish production was a fitting tribute to his musical legacy, Dennis’ life has never received a full biographical film treatment before. Any film about the history of the Beach Boys has inevitably focused on Brian Wilson’s story, and compelling as it is, it is just one of the rich life stories that emerged from that legendary band.

But with the release of Dennis’ music as a thematic backdrop, the BBC has taken it upon itself to be the first to explore the life story of Dennis Wilson on film, and they have produced an honorable and powerful work. This documentary reveals the life of a complex and captivating American rock icon, laying the foundation for a deeper appreciation of his music. Those unfamiliar with the story of Dennis Wilson will meet the Beach Boys’ drummer who later became the band’s leading composer and the first group member to release a solo album. Those who know the story and love the music will be thrilled by new footage, new photos, new revelations, and most of all, a respectful, honest, intelligent assessment of Dennis’ life, and the influence he has had, both on those who knew him intimately, and on the music world.

The documentary begins, fittingly, with the sound of waves. A bearded Dennis Wilson circa 1977 steps into the frame. ” Hi. My name is Dennis Wilson. I make rock and roll records.” And we are immediately off into act one, which explores the Southern California hothouse that shaped the young Wilson.

The producers mercifully spare us from the tedious amounts of surf/sand/bikini stock footage, getting the obligatory shots out of the way quickly and getting us into the story first-hand, through the warm, inviting narration of founding Beach Boy member (and first to leave the group) David Marks. Marks proves to be a truly articulate Beach Boy, and serves as our guide through not only the recollections of those early years, but literally though their neighborhood. (or one very close by – Marks quickly explains how the site of their actual childhood homes rests under the banks of dirt that support the freeway later built through their hometown of Hawthorne, a suburb of LA. “Can’t go home…nothin’ there…pile of dirt” he states with a wry, ironic lilt in his voice.

Through Marks, we are introduced to his mother Joanne Marks who has one of the best cameos of the film, getting irritated on screen after all these years as she listens to her son recount the episodes of physical abuse meted out on him and Dennis by the Wilson patriarch, Murray Wilson. The tales of manhandling under taskmaster Murray establish the theme of dysfunction that is a recurring motif in any story of the Wilson brothers. But it’s clear through the stories that Marks recalls that Dennis, even at that young age, didn’t make it easy on himself.
“There was always something happening with Dennis and the Police” says Marks.

By this time the viewer is completely into the story. Not three minutes into the film, and we are already hearing new material presented in a fresh, personal, and very intimate way. This becomes a clear template for the film, as we are invited into the story by old friends, former touring band members, collaborators, sons(!), and those in the inner circle of Dennis life. In addition to Marks, Beach Boys Al Jardine and Brian Wilson himself (from earlier interviews) make appearances.

The saving grace of this documentary is its focus on the music. With all the sensational fodder offered by the common narrative of Dennis’ life, it is a pleasure to see and hear Wilson’s music discussed with such intelligence and passion.

Biographer (and co-producer on the film) Jon Stebbins sets the tone early on as he elegantly and enthusiastically considers the ingredients that made the Beach Boys signature early sound so effective and culturally significant. Making the point that it was Dennis that authored and shaped that now-immediately recognizable surf beat, Stebbins gets off one of the best lines in the film, describing Dennis’ unmistakable drumming style as the “Starting Pistol of the Sixties”.

As the history of the band unfolds, one of the supreme ironies of Dennis life becomes apparent. As the band begins to decline, and his brother and band leader Brian retreats further and further into himself, Dennis begins to blossom as a creative force to be reckoned with in the band. The film takes us on a trip from the innocent early years of the 60s into the more complex times of the late 60s and early 70s, and we are confronted with that troubling moment in Dennis life – his association with Charles Manson. Close friends Gregg Jakobson and Ed

Re: Review of Denny BBC doc.

Nice, thank you. I wanna see this.

Re: Review of Denny BBC doc.

thanks - oh...and I apologize to Murry fans for the misspelling of his name in the review :-)

Re: Review of Denny BBC doc.

Many thanks for that Dan, and to Jon for drawing our attention to it from the Blooboard.

Looks like there's a chunk missing off the end of your review though - maybe you could post that as a reply to the thread?

Re: Review of Denny BBC doc.

Tonight's the night!!!!

Full Review

Go here and scroll down...

Re: Full Review

I haven't visited the Bambu Room in awhile and I can see I'm way behind on the news, enjoyed your book and the re-release of Pacific Ocean Blue immensely. I just found out about "Denny BBC doc" dvd. How can I get a copy?

Re: Full Review

Hi Bob,
You can view it at this link...

Re: Full Review

Thanks Jon- Wow! Yes that makes a great companion to your book. It kept stopping but I got through a good 7/8 of it before it was stopped most of the time. So I hope we'll be able to buy the dvd some day. Thanks for all you do.

Review of BBC doc. Part 2

Roach are our guides through this second act, and we hear what it was like to be around Dennis and his circle of friends directly from their own mouths. Thankfully, the producers resist the obvious temptation, and don’t get bogged down in Manson stories – they keep their eyes on the music, and crisp narration from Stebbins and Jakobson keeps the story on track. Ed Roach’s enthusiasm is infectious as he vividly recalls Dennis’ blossoming creativity, and the music continues to take center stage as we meet Beach Boys recording engineer and friend John Hanlon. Hanlon becomes a key player in the narrative, as he reveals the process of recording with Dennis – efforts that soon lead to his first and only released solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue. Hanlon takes us into the studio for what will be one of the most thrilling passages of the film for Dennis Wilson fans. As Hanlon works the boards, and we hear the swelling sounds of Dennis’ compositions, we feel privileged to hear him discuss the process of recording with Dennis so intimately, and we share in his joy and amazement as he tries to explain what it was like to work on those tapes again in 2008, and to hear songs again that he hadn’t heard in over 30 years.

This is the greatest success of this film: The emotional power of the music itself begins to supplant the attention usually focused on the circumstances of Dennis life and death. This emotional content becomes almost palpable as his sons Michael and Carl B. talk intimately about re-discovering their father’s music, and mining the emotional depths of the work as adults, and artists in their own right.

As this final chapter ebbs to a close, we become witnesses - through the eyes of those who knew him best - to the heartbreaking dissolution of Dennis’ life in his last years: the loss of his loves, his studio, his beloved boat, his voice, his self control. While some may see this decline as the train wreck one can’t look away from, those who have heard the music created at the end of his music-making period can’t help but feel a profound longing for what might have been.

Friends Marks, Jakobson, and Roach betray this heartbreak and sense of loss as they recall Wilson’s final days. As we walk with Ed Roach to the boat slip where Dennis died, having been so skillfully escorted through the story of his life, we participate in that same sense of loss.

But the story doesn’t end there. The triumphant tale of the completion of the tracks for Dennis’ unreleased follow up, Bambu, is the real end of this story, and one that can, at long last, be told. It is to this film’s credit that we are left with a feeling of joy, knowing that the musical legacy of Dennis Wilson has finally been given its due, and is now a documented part of musical history.

Dan Addington

(So glad you liked it, Dan, & thank you for the kind words! Ed)

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

Can someone please tell me why we fans of Dennis cannot see this wonderful, long awaited documentary in the states???? I understand it's produced by folks in the U.K., but geez why is it that they always get these things first??? Smile was premiered there, etc. Come on, afterall, the Beach Boys were born here in the states!!!


Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

You did a great job, Ed. It wouldn't have worked without you.

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

Fantastic stuff!

Oh and Donna........I should have copies of this pretty soon and should be able to send you one if you like

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

Great Prgram.

Mr Stebbins please take off those silly sunglasses especially indoors !!

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

I would like to purchase a copy of the Dennis Wilson biography showing on the BBC. Where can I purchase one?

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

I also would like to know if this can purchased. I had to work and missed the entire show. Any info would be great. Thanks

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

man...remember the good ol' days when folks had VCRs, and could set them to videotape the shows they would miss...before THE MAN took them away from us!!

We've lost control of our own destiny under the guise of digital enhancement, and yet, we watch crappy quality clips on tiny youtube windows and LOVE it.

I'm keeping my VCR

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

Just got to see the Dennis doc and must say "fantastic!"
It's good to be able to put faces and voices to Dennis's friends. I loved David showing us around the old neighborhood . Seeing Ed and the folks Dennis worked with in the studio. It does leave a couple questions,one being what was Ed doing up in Christine's bedroom when Dennis burned down the pool house?...hmmm?

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

Just got to see the Dennis doc and must say "fantastic!"
It does leave a couple questions,one being what was Ed doing up in Christine's bedroom when Dennis burned down the pool house?...hmmm?

Well, ahem, I, uh...

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

For those who missed it the Dennis Wilson documentary will be repeated at 10.30pm on Saturday 6th March on BBC4. It is also available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer until 10pm Friday 5th.

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

Chineese version of youtube is helpful, if you havent seen the documentary here it is:



Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

Thanks for posting that link. I missed both times it was on TV and it was great to finally be able to see this. Again, thank you very much.

Re: Review of BBC doc. Part 2

Thanks for the link ! nice to see the documentary .. Anything new on the early 70 BB`s dennis solo works beeing released ?

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