Dennis Wilson – All I Want To Do

In life, Dennis Wilson was the rock and roll animal sitting behind the drums whilst leading a drug and alcohol induced descent into what was an early death. However, scratch the surface and there was a lot more to this man than first met the eye. He appeared in cult film ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’, inspired Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie to write ‘Only Over You’ about him and was arguably the second best songwriter in The Beach Boys after his brother Brian. 

Dennis had contributed next to nothing in terms of songwriter during the early days on the band but with Brian taking a step back after the ‘Smile’ sessions, the other members of the group needed to step up. Dennis did exactly that and every Beach Boys album from 1968’s ‘Friends’ LP to 1973’s ‘Holland (excluding 1971 ‘Surf’s Up’) included at least one song written by him.

There have been a couple of reasons why Dennis didn’t place any songs on ‘Surf’s Up’. The man himself said that the songs he put forward for inclusion didn’t gel with everyone else songs. Another reason is that there was some inter band fighting going on about how many Wilson brother penned songs were going on the LP, with Carl and Brian already taking up more than half of the album time. The third, and most probably the real reason was that Dennis had been keeping songs back for a solo album. He had already released a solo single in 1970 under the name of Dennis Wilson and Rumbo. Rumbo was a name used by Beach Boys keyboard player, Daryl Dragon, who would later be known as the Captain and be one half of Captain & Tensile. 

I am getting a little ahead of myself here, but December 2023 is the 40th Anniversary of Dennis Wilson passing so in the first of two projects related to him, I have put together a compilation that could have been released by the band as a tribute to him. This would not include his lead vocals on songs prior to 1968 or the two songs he had writer’s credits on before that year either. That is because I wanted to focus on Dennis the songwriter during the period 1968 to 1973. I choose these years because after this, Dennis was focused on recording his two solo albums, ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’ and ‘Bambu’ (only one of which came out in his lifetime). This lead to him not contributing much to Beach Boys projects from 1974 onwards. I also look to only include songs that Dennis either wrote on his own or with one other person. therefore, songs such as ‘Be Here In the Mornin’ don’t make the cut. 

All the songs were released by The Beach Boys except ‘Sound Of Free’ and ‘Lady (Fallin’ In Love)’  which were released as a Dennis Wilson solo single in some European territories in1970.

Side 1

  1. Sound Of Free – Solo single A-Side (1970)
  2. All I Want To Do – 20/20 (1969)
  3. Got To Know The Woman – Sunflower (1970)
  4. Lady (Fallin’ In Love) – Solo single B-Side (1970)
  5. It’s About Time – Sunflower (1970)
  6. Forever – Sunflower (1970)
  7. Be With Me – 20/20 (1969)
  8. Only With You – Holland (1973)
  9. Be Still – Friends (1968)

Side 2

  1. Never Learn Not To Love – 20/20 (1969)
  2. Slip On Through – Sunflower (1970)
  3. Little Bird – Friends (1968)
  4. Celebrate The News – Single B-Side (1969)
  5. Steamboat – Holland (1973)
  6. Make It Good – Carl & The Passions (1972)
  7. Cuddle Up – Carl & The Passions (1972)

The cover image is a picture taken from the inner gatefold sleeve of Denny’s album ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’. I like the image so much, I thought I would also make this sleeve a gatefold. The Caribou Records and Brother Record label logos have been added as this were the labels Dennis and the Beach Boys were both on at the time. 

This mythical unreleased first solo album that Dennis Wilson was working on during the early 70s will be something I will be looking at later in the month. 

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