Dennis Wilson – Bamboo

Here it is, as promised: Dennis Wilson’s second and final solo album, the unreleased Bamboo. And actually, if you want to get right down to it, the subject of today’s Bootleg City isn’t really an album so much as a collection of recordings left behind after Dennis died; it’s certain he intended some of these for Bamboo, but nobody’s ever going to know which ones, and they were all incomplete on some level anyway. I just don’t want any of you going in expecting to hear something as — for lack of a better word — polished as Pacific Ocean Blue. Not to get all maudlin on you or anything, but this is basically the soundtrack to a man’s slow, tragic death.

Is it rough? Certainly. But it has its moments, particularly in the two songs (”Baby Blue” and “Love Surrounds Me”) that the Beach Boys poached for their woeful L.A. (Light Album). Dennis’ recording method during this period was open-ended and somewhat experimental — he had access to the Beach Boys’ studio whenever he wanted, at least until they sold it to Tom Scott, and he took advantage of this to circumvent the terms of his contract with Caribou by recording with whomever he wanted, rather than the big-name producer James William Guercio demanded.

As legend has it, Dennis started working on Bamboo even before Pacific Ocean Blue, and continued tinkering with it, off and on, until his death in 1983. It’s remained unreleased for any number of reasons — it was recorded in violation of Dennis’ contract with Caribou, for one, making ownership of the masters a thorny issue; for another, Wilson was increasingly in no shape as a human being to be much more than a casual musician. Some people listen to these recordings and hear something sad, stately, even elegaic; for others, Bamboo is just a fuzzy mess.

Then again, the same could be said for Skip Spence’s Oar, or any number of the other lost “masterpieces” that have floated down the deluxe reissue pipeline over the last ten years. I imagine something like a true Bamboo will be cobbled together at some point, along with a (hurry up already, Sony) remastered Pacific Ocean Blue. Until then, here’s one version. Enjoy!

Moonlight (download)
It’s Not Too Late (download)
Companion (download)
Schoolgirl (download)
(I Found Myself In A) Wild Situation (download)
Baby Blue (download)
Love Surrounds Me (download)
New Orleans (download)
He’s A Bum (download)
Holy Evening (download)
10,000 Years (download)
Wild Situation (download)
Sound of Free (download)
Lady (download)

About the Author

Jeff Giles

Jeff Giles is the founder and editor-in-chief of Popdose and Dadnabbit, as well as an entertainment writer whose work can be seen at Rotten Tomatoes and a number of other sites. Hey, why not follow him at Twitter while you're at it?

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