Dennis Wilson was not the first member of The Beach Boys to release a solo record. His brother Brian got there in 1966 when ‘Pet Sounds’ song ‘Caroline, No’ came out under his name and not the name of the band. Brian was at it again in 1967 when the ‘Smiley Smile’ song, ‘Getting Hungry’ came out credited to Wilson and band mate/cousin Mike Love. What can be said about his 1970 single, Sound Of Free’ is that is was, arguably, the most surprising. Granted, he had started to write and contribute songs to the last couple of Beach Boys albums, but a solo record? Backed with ‘Lady’, the single only came out in a small number of countries. These were the UK, Netherlands, Ireland, France and New Zealand. The single was not a hit in any of these territories.
The single was listed as being by Dennis Wilson and Rumbo. Rumbo was the pseudonym of Daryl Dragon, who at this time was playing keyboards in The Beach Boys band. Dragon would be one of a number of co-writers that helped Wilson with his compositions. It would seem that Wilson was not only working on songs to be presented to The Beach Boys, but also had enough material for a solo album. He would work on this material between 1970 and 1971, even pulling his material from the ‘Surf’s Up’ album, which some have said is because he wanted them for his own record. I wrote about the reasons this happened in my previous post.
A few titles have been put forward for this album, including ‘Freckless’, ‘Poops’ and ‘Hubba Hubba’. The ‘Poops’ name came because Wilson and his second wife, Barbara Charren called each other Big Poop (the former) and Little Poop (the latter). The majority of the songs from this period were inspired by Barbara and Wilson’s love for her. Work continued along with touring commitments, Wilson’s appearance in the film ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’ and work on The Beach Boys albums themselves. Stephen Desper, The Beach Boys studio engineer at this time said ‘ninety percent of it was ninety percent done’. So why didn’t it come out?
No one can quite say. Wilson could have lost interest in the project or it could have been down to the fact some of his songs that he was keeping for this solo album were used for the ‘Carl & The Passions – So Tough’ album. Whatever happened, a good deal of these songs remained in the vault and we have had to wait nearly fifty years for the majority to be released. The wonder box set, ‘Feel Flows’ box set continuing the most of them. Last year, a few sites tried to reconstruct this album but I have come at this at a slightly different time/angle than they did. These others were looking at an album that would have come out in 1971. I propose that this Dennis Wilson album would have come out in 1974 instead.
Why did I go with this date? Well, The Beach Boys had released at least an album a year up to 1973, but then there was a gap of a couple of years. In 1974, a compilation called ‘Endless Summer’ came out and focused on their surfing and car songs from the mid 60s. The album became a massive hit and made them a major live draw, but it had the knock on effect of refocusing the band into more of an oldies act than the progressive band they had become.
There were some sessions in 1974 but the will does not seem to be there to really get to work on a new album. However, a couple of the songs recorded during these sessions were Dennis Wilson originals. What happened if Dennis had taken these songs along with everything he had left in the archive and constructed his first solo album, three years before his cult classic ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’ came out. Well, this is what I came up with.
Unlike previous efforts to reconstruct this album, I did not want to include anything that had already been released. Therefore, none of the songs that I included on my previous Dennis Wilson post (insert link to previous post here). It needed to be strictly songs that had not seen the light of day before. The majority of the songs do come from the 1971 sessions, but there are a couple of songs from the late 60s which does make the sound of the album a little disjointed. If this had been released at the time, I am sure the 60s songs would have been remixed to make them sound more contemporary.
Even though this album is a little disjointed in terms of sound, it does prove that Dennis Wilson was an excellent song writer who was going through a hot streak in the early 70s that most artists can only dream about. Why material of this quality were left in the vault is beyond me, even if some of the songs that have come out do sound as though there were unfinished or did not get past demo recordings.
- The Gong (Edited)* – 1968
- Barnyard Blues – 1974
- My Love Lives On – 1974
- Barbara – 1971
- It’s A New Day – 1971
- Hawaiian Dream – 1971
- Medley: All Of My Love/Ecology – 1971
- I’m Going Your Way – 1969
- A Time To Live In Dreams – 1969
- Before – 1971
- Carry Me Home – 1973
- 4th of July – 1971
- (Wouldn’t It Be Nice To) Live Again – 1971
*The Gong seems to be Dennis Wilson mucking around in the studio. However, there was a small section which sounded like a good introduction to this LP.
The cover is adapted from an article that was included in Shindig Magazine. I’m afraid I am not sure when the article was written though but I think it was in late 2021. None of the titles suggested by Wilson for this were particularly good, but ‘Hubba Hubba’ was already on the cover I used and it considerably better that ‘Poops’. Maybe Dennis should have spoken to Mike Love about this. Love has always maintained that he is a title guy.