The Walking Dead - "Tell It to the Frogs" & "Vatos"

I spent the bulk of last week talking about the origins of zombie film, television, etc., and why we, we the audience, never grow completely tired of the zombies as horror antagonists. This week, I'm going to speak specifically about the episodes at hand. After the stellar opening hour and a half of The Walking Dead, the show has worked to find that perfect pacing, allowing both new characters to appear and develop (if only slightly sometimes) and maintaining the sense of dread that is essential for a story taking place at what could be considered the "end of the world." Sometimes, episode two was a little too rushed, but now, with "Tell It to the Frogs" and "Vatos," the pacing has hit its mark, and the horror has become even more effective.

In "Tell It to the Frogs" we see the dramatic reunion of Rick and his family. There's a lot of heartwarming stuff here. All the survivors from the camp are happy to have their loved ones back, except for Daryl, whose brother Merle (the racist redneck) is still trapped, handcuffed, to the roof on a building in Atlanta. Because Rick has superhuman morality, he decides that they have to go back for Merle, and while they're there, his bag of guns too. And so a new group runs leaves, going back into the fray. And in camp, we find out that Shane told Lori that Rick had died in the hospital, and then Shane beats up Ed, someone who will matter so little in one episode that beating him up for being a violently abusive husband still seems fine.

Dialogue has yet to become a strong point with this show, and I've heard it's equally weak in the comic. But this episode was especially effective because it opened on Merle, with a problem, and closed on part of Merle and that problem solved, at least for him. The book-ending worked well, even if I called his saw-job upon set up in the first scene. What matters is the expansion of new characters and old. Glenn continues to be valuable for quips and good plans. And surprisingly, Daryl, who is as effective a zombie-killer as there is, seems reasonable from time to time. The key, when this episode ended, was what impact Shane beating on Ed would have on the group, and how Shane would make careful amends with the woman with whom he'd been sleeping by telling her her husband was dead. (It's that in the plot of the Count of Monte Cristo?) Turns out, at least for one more episode, we don't see a huge issue, or any resolution from a scene that should have more fully developed the survivor camp because...

"Vatos" comes along and jumps from a hand, wrapped in a handkerchief and placed in a backpack, to an unnerving image of a survivor we really haven't met yet digging a ton of graves on a hilltop. Also, Andrea and Amy have a long conversation about their childhood, and their father, and death/mortality, love, etc. while fishing for the camp's dinner. The setup for "Vatos" is compelling, and if it could have stayed where it was, for the most part, it would've been a nearly perfect episode, but for some reason there seems to be a fear to fill the space with the tension and long shots of desolation that made "Days Gone Bye" so effective. Instead, Rick and his crew of rescuers find out that Merle has gotten all the way to street level, hand-less and fancy free. The gents attempt to get the bag of guns back, the bag that Rick dropped before becoming trapped in the tank, by another genius Glenn-plan, and nearly succeed. They are interrupted by a gang, stereotypically Hispanic, who want the guns too, and kidnap Glenn. From there, it rattles from tense, to silly, to sweet, to pointless. No violence. No amazing gun-fight-that-turns-into-a-zombie-mob. Two groups kiss and make up, Rick gives them half the guns and ammo, and because their truck is stolen (by Merle?) they run (RUN!) all the way back to camp.

Camp has been interesting too. After Andrea and Amy catch dinner, Shane confronts the survivor digging his "holes," after Dale (the old guy) confronts him about the same thing. No one seems to think of graves, or say that, or even imply that, whoa, our buddy here may be going nuts and planning to murder us, but Shane cuffs him to a tree for his, and their safety. And then there's a nice bit of dialogue from Dale, talking about his watch, about time, about what keeping time means. Essentially, keeping time lets you forget about it. Amy gets up to go to the bathroom, and oh yeah, Ed was hanging out nursing his wounds, so he's in a tent. That's when... ZOMBIES! Err... WALKERS!!! And some people get bit, torn up, eaten, etc. Mostly people we don't know, or don't like. And just before any of the principle characters can "eat it," Rick and the boys run (RUN!) in from Atlanta to blow away the rest of the zombies.

The ending scene is effective, and genuinely sad. But I can't help but wonder how much more effective it could have been had the episode not invested half its focus on dealing with the "angels in disguise" gang members. We still don't know that much about the survivors. We know that Merle and Daryl are redneck racists, but that Daryl is the "reasonable" one. We know Rick and Shane were cops, and Rick is hyper-moral, while Shane is questionably motivated (but still clearly driven to protect people... his heart is good). We know that Lori and Carl are Rick's family and Lori is happy to have him back, but sad that she ostensibly cheated on him. And we knew that Ed was an abusive asshole. And Dale is an old guy who is a little crotchety, but generally reasonable. And Andrea and Amy can fish. And Glenn is the funny one. We could have known more about these people, information that would have made the deaths more impacting, but we didn't and don't. That's my only major gripe. We're supposed to feel sad because we see the characters on screen sad, but that requires heavy lifting for the actors. With more set-up on these people, we could just feel that sadness too. Also, the guy digging the holes, he lets us know, "I was digging out graves," at the end of the episode. But, viewers who weren't zombies got that imagery already.

Still, "Tell It to the Frogs" and "Vatos" were improvements over "Guts" and keep the story moving well. The show will be good. It's not perfect, but that's because it has to fight past the early shit, at least that's my hope. The real conflicts haven't appeared yet. And the only "good" conflict, will Rick find his family, was resolved early. If the show can focus on the survivor camp, and stop trying to follow a "new survivor of the week" formula, it will pace better and we will care about these people. The best thing, really, is that the show is gorgeous. Every time it's beautiful. And the gore is effective and well done. Now, if the writing staff could fix the little holes in the plots, and make us love the people will surviving through, the show will be hugely effective.
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Girl Talk - All Day

Girl Talk produces games as much as music. With each subsequent album of mash-ups, the consensus, among friends of mine, is that the music itself isn't as interesting as its parts. It's a game to pick out the pieces among the body, like Operation. On 11/15, Gregg Michael Gillis surprised us with a new album, free for download through Illegal Art, called All Day. It is, ultimately the same fare as previous efforts like Night Ripper, Feed The Animals, etc., insofar as the album is a Frankenstein-ian manipulation and re-assembly of music we already know and may or may not love. All Day isn't as fast-paced as its predecessors, which makes it a different type of listen, but aesthetically it remains successful. I can see the logic of Girl Talk's detractors. It's not new, or original, and I'm sure that many listeners would struggle to pick All Day out of a line up of his other work, meaning that these albums are difficult to consume as individual pieces, much less tracks, into which All Day is broken "only for easier navigation."

I suppose my question becomes this, why do we attempt to judge Girl Talk, or other mash-up albums the same way we judge original albums? And how can we judge an album like this one to be aesthetically valuable or musically interesting in a way that doesn't require us to compare to individual focused originals? The issue with Girl Talk, and especially with All Day is that it is judged as only the sum of its parts. That our view of mash-ups doesn't seek deeper connection between tracks, and that there doesn't really appear to be a great narrative happening, or if there is we are too distracted by the samples we recognize, the bass lines, the riffs, and the choruses, to see the forest built by all those beautiful trees. And since we, as a society, value ingenuity and originality above much else, we feel vindicated in choosing not to appreciate mash-ups or at very least to see them as cute projects.

All Day uses somewhere around 700+ samples to compose its monstrous form. That, in itself, regardless of opinions on individual samples or the whole of the music should remain somewhat awe-inspiring. I can't imagine myself taking the time to find that many pieces of songs in the first place, let alone to sit and assemble them into something cohesive, dance-able and fun. Really, the mash-up is like a musical quilt. Each sample is a patch, and those patches come together into something that's huge and cozy and warm (well, or you know, dance-able and fun). So, from a purely work-effort standpoint, Girl Talk is an insanely complex undertaking. I guess, my point here is that even the ugliest building can be appreciated for how much work has gone into it, even if you'd never choose to live in it yourself.

We want music to substantive. We want to garner meaning from it. And we see from many artists that their form expression, whether it is music or painting or sculpture, to be a window to their thoughts and something we can apply to ourselves and a better understanding of our world. Girl Talk doesn't give us that, not in a traditional sense. Instead we receive a broad overview of our musical world. The reason why All Day is good, is valuable is not because it does something that hasn't been done, it's because it gives us nostalgia and a survey of the musical world. Even the greatest collector of music doesn't own everything, and through sampling we hear things we might not choose to hear. Girl Talk provides that kind of forced exposure to new things, it broadens our listening base by giving us a little bit of everything. Philosophy aside, All Day is cohesive and well-assembled. It's fun to listen to and blends disparate themes and images like a Dali painting.

Score: (N/A)/10
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The Walking Dead - "Days Gone Bye" & "Guts"

I'm not usually one to recap television, but AMC's iteration of The Walking Dead demands deeper exploration and thought as a piece of social commentary as much as a piece of both horror and the shambling, ubiquitous zombie craze. The first question seems to be why now, when the whole zombie thing seems woefully played out throughout this decade with films (28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, et al.) and the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies already spreading the genre/concept thin? The second question is how can any new text/art contribute something meaningful to the concept? And the third seems to be how The Walking Dead, as translated from its original comic series version, executes the ideas in a valuable way that makes the show worth watching. Zombies are, after all, so deeply ingrained into pop culture sensibilities at this point that adapting them in a new way is nearly impossible, so what's the deal with zombies and why are we still at least vaguely enamored with them?

From 2000 - 2010, there have been somewhere around 11+ movies with a focus on zombies or the undead as incapacitated, but still dangerous antagonists. For the purpose of this I'm included Planet Terror from Grindhouse and the Resident Evil franchise too, not to mention the yearly showings of Michael Jackson's Thriller on any and all on demand TV services. We have been exposed to zombification in film in the forms of toxins, viruses, injections, sudden-inexplicable-events and much more, and concept remains desirable. And the concept refuses to die, so to speak, but not because each new reinvention or retelling brings anything specific or new to the genre. Instead, zombie film, and texts, are a combined force of campy nostalgia and sociological study. Their staying power comes from our love of them, and from our fear of what they represent; the animalistic, unfettered, mob-mentality-driven aspect of the human animal. We all feel our society to be a fragile construct based on cooperation (i.e. we all agree tacitly not to kill and eat each other, but we all recognize that as an illusion too) and zombie films, texts, and programs give us that fear-loaded taste of being the last person to find out the social contract has disintegrated.

Ultimately, zombie apocalypse is a macroscopic break-up in our rom-com with society and order. The people who survive, who play the protagonists against the hordes of undead, are the broken up with. Society, and the gross majority of the population suddenly goes a new way, altering the arrangement to which we've grown accustom, and that leaves the broken-up-with to deal with the world completely altered, and how their ideals and concepts of reality are not longer applicable. This breach of trust, like a break-up, but even greater as a total reworking of reality is the crux of our fear. We all feel, at least to some extent, that the order around us is temporary and could be upended at any time. This is our fear of war, and famine and all types of destitution. We know that desperation makes strange brain-fellows. And with the concept so simple and over-arching, is there any way to contribute anything new to the narrative? Do we even need new ideas or is the simple basis of that fear enough to drive anything?

Ever since Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968), the idea of the undead overwhelming the "actualized living" (I call them this because our protagonists, as with ourselves, always define themselves by their/our free will and consciousness, regardless of whether their/our reactions and behaviors are actually chosen by them/us) was demonstrated as the truest test of our social norms and rule-based culture. When the majority has gone a different way, then it is a small group against the changing tide. And for Romero's first film, that minority group was a mix of adults and youths, races (racism plays an essential role in the film, if primarily latent and creeds, all fighting to maintain what they thought reality to be, but also fighting amongst themselves. Zombies test our resiliency against a changing larger society, but also our ability to maintain our society on a microcosmic level. Zombies force us to ask us how enlightened we really are. Can we maintain what we hold to be humanity and order when it is no longer in style? And can we also continue to fight for some level of social justice and order in the face of a collapsing world? Or, are we, as we fear, simply animals who will do what is necessary to ensure our survival, even if it means cannibalism and worse?

The short answer to the second question stated in the opening is that there is no need to contribute something new. Society is a wealth of contradictions, fears and breakdowns, and all zombies do is act as a catalyst for what we fear most about ourselves. Which leads me to discuss what The Walking Dead does that other such zombie texts and epics do not. The comic book series, now 78 issues in, digs deeper into the social fear issue. And since, I hope we've agreed, zombies aren't scary as much on their own merit as what they represent about our, maybe id-overwhelmed minds, destroying the order we feel exists, they aren't the point of The Walking Dead at all. The reason that the program should, and hopefully will, succeed is that it is ultimately a massive human drama. This is why in the first episode "Days Gone Bye" no explanation for the zombification of society is given. We don't need to know why, sure we want to know, but what matters is what the people who remain do to maintain what we hope for society, and how they fend off the extinction of culture. (And that's really what it is, right? Zombies don't create art, they don't build, they don't love or feel, they simply act to destroy... which is the thing we fear most in ourselves. A hunger for destruction.) So, we don't need to know why society has fallen into disrepair. The why is usually far more mundane anyway. We need to know what the protagonists will do to keep culture and humanity alive. We need to know/hope that there is some way for our world to bounce back in a better way. Ideally, with each zombie narrative, we hope that there will be a cure or at least that by the end we can rebuild, that even when humans become completely animal, completely primal, we can still start again and do it right so the world will be ordered again.

That's the beauty of The Walking Dead. Following one of the most brutal opening scenes in television, we meet Rick and his, then fellow officer of the law, Shane talking about the nuances of love, lust and manhood. Fitting that our first heroes would be actually responsible for the maintenance of societal order. These two men have a special interest in keeping the world safe and upholding humanity as we know it. This is also why we feel so much for Rick when he awakens in the hospital to see that the entire world is different. He believed, in his career, in a certain order of things, and when he sees the destruction and blood in the hospital, it's as much about being scared as being devastated that everything he held dear was an illusion. The unthinkable happened, and all while he was asleep. The first episode, then focuses on Rick's coping with the new world he lives in. The contract is broken. Nothing makes sense. And everything is beautifully drawn out over and hour and thirty to keep use wary of our surroundings.

When Rick meets Morgan and Duane Jones, he receives only information enough to tell him that what he has seen is everywhere and that the CDC is somehow involved in trying to clean it up. And through Morgan and Duane we are forced to confront another deep fear, that if the people we love were on the other side of the line, if they are part of the new contract, and have broken the one we hold true, how do we reconcile them? The scene where Morgan tries, but cannot gun down his zombie wife, is one of the most heart-wrenchingly real moments in zombie lore. Could any of us kill someone we loved if we didn't have to, but it would ultimately put them out of their misery. (Is that a commentary on euthanasia... perhaps a bit.) But also, what someone looks like betrays reality when they are no longer that person inside. And Rick, who puts a half-eaten zombie out of her misery is performing the same kind of service, but he does it clinically. (Now, to be clear, I'm not forgetting how Shaun was forced to shoot his mum in Shaun of the Dead, but the circumstance of direct danger forced his hand. Had she left the Winchester, it's unlikely he could have brought himself to shoot her at long range.)

In "Guts" the ante is upped significantly. Rick, who is now trapped inside a military tank in Atlanta is rescued by a group of survivors, all of whom have entered the city as scavengers. Now with a lot of other survivors, a lot of other believers in the old ways, so to speak, The Walking Dead tries to explore the failures of the old society. The episode spends a lot of time on racism, and how one redneck Southerner still holds onto his views of the black survivors in his group despite the circumstances. While I was initially off-put by the over-the-top portrayal, it seems that the core message is that society, the one we lost, but that the survivors still wish to uphold was deeply flawed. How far from the undead were we really? Intolerance still exists, and that seems like a negative that should be seen, understood and remembered. At least as zombies, everyone is equal. So, when Rick cuffs the racist to a pipe on the roof and tells him that none of the old aspects of society exist anymore, it's hard to believe him fully. Sure, Rick is an idealist, a mostly pragmatic, enlightened individual, but his contradiction is difficult. The zombies did destroy the old culture, but simply by surviving they are seeking to maintain it.

What "Days Gone Bye" and "Guts" do well is establish the collapse of the world. And how the last vestiges of society react to the change. The Walking Dead, as with all zombie work, is about us, about people, about survivors. The zombies are a convenient antagonist, but the real villains are always ourselves. My hope is that the program will continue to drive the issue of humanity until it breaks itself, really clearly showing that all we need to fall apart is a catalyst. And that our hearts and minds are powerful enough to transcend some things, but too weak to transcend others. Our tentative grasp on order is a ripe topic, especially because it works in en masse and under the microscope. Thanks for sticking with me on this long post. Hopefully my next two episode review will be exposition light and get straight at the show a little more.

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC.
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Notable Text: Invisible Monsters

Invisible Monsters came out back in 1999. It's Chuck Palahniuk's third novel, and his only to be published only in paperback form. Interesting that a novel about image, escapism and recapturing individualism through extreme means would receive only the basic publication treatment; never getting a full hardcover look, but holding somehow to the adage about not judging books by their covers. So I'll start this minor academic deconstruction with that cover (or at least the cover of the copy I read) which features what I'll call a "princess-old hag" piece of artwork. When oriented one way, it's a princess, marked over mouth and chin with spattered pink (appropriately) and the other way, it's a notably unattractive older woman (with the spattered pink now in the forehead). Just with the cover, Invisible Monsters presents its internal dichotomy: shattered beauty v. shattered mentality. Which of the two images is most tragic is hard to say, but that's the underlying theme of the book. (Go ahead and do a head-stand to see the other image. I won't tell anybody.)

The novel opens in a chaotic, fast-changing scene where characters we don't know are all apparently on the brink of extinguishing each other. Our narrator, later called Daisy St. Patience (and numerous other names, one of which happens to be true, and the crux of the book) is standing over the body of her idol, the near-dead Brandy Alexander (neither the song, nor the drink), who has been shot down by the narrator's best friend Evie Cottrell. The scene of violence is juxtaposed with "Daisy's" self-absorption, and her continuing ties to her former career as a model, a career that ended when a tragic accident removed the lower third of her face. As readers, we are thrust into the action, unaware of the reasons for anything we are witnessing, and in that Palahniuk hooks us... that and a continuing question of what happened to the beautiful girl. How did she get here?

For a society that so greatly values beauty in women over much else, this commentary is apt, and a perfect place for Palahniuk to draw up various mysteries that keep us moving. We are drawn, as people, as Americans, to wonder why the beautiful girl is ugly, and to empathize with her loss or tragedy, especially because we all, to some degree or another, desire to be beautiful, to be desired and have the attention that our narrator describes. The story jumps back in time, to "Daisy's" accident that disfigured her, her first meeting with the incredible transsexual Brandy Alexander, her early days modeling with Evie, and all of her self-involvement begins to develop. We feel for her, the beautiful but stricken girl, but we also learn to hate her, for her constant jealousy at the attention given to her dead, gay brother, over her, and for her disinterested friendship with Evie (who seems genuinely to want only her love and consideration). Over time, we learn that "Daisy" isn't someone we like, but we accept her because, like us, she is not a hero(ine), but a fallible person.

The narrative takes course all across the western United States and into Canada where Daisy, Brandy and a male companion undertake petty crimes to pay their way, and stay perpetually high on pills. And throughout it, the questions raised are those of identity, reality, beauty and love. Really, Palahniuk balances his trademark gruesome descriptions and witty nonchalance with deep, meaningful heart. And in an effort not to throw spoilers all over the place for those who still wish to read the book, the resolution comes in the form of varying identity crises. The ultimate question being how can we define ourselves without defining ourselves by other people, by convention, by society? These characters, all of them (surprisingly) want to transcend--or ascend--past the way they were made. Instead of being reliant on beauty, we see people who seek refuge in difficulty. Instead of seeking definition by family we see characters defining themselves by doing exactly the opposite of what they want. And to see love we sometimes have to become the exact opposite of who we think we should be to become the person that we love ourselves, for taking a chance, or for suffering.

Invisible Monsters raises a litany of deep, philosophical questions about self, reality and individual satisfaction. How important is beauty? And I know that question seems obvious, but REALLY, how important is it? Does beauty define you more than you define it? It's silly, it seems, to pity the beautiful, but there's something to that. The attention, the lust, the expectation, and sometimes the beauty is the only thing that sustains that person's role in society. And how far do we go to be beautiful? If we never ask to be born, is it not our prerogative to alter ourselves as we see fit until we feel defined? But, beyond even that, what is love? Love can grow from strange places, but it is often restricted, choked and left when we try to pack it into the relationships we believe must exist. The conventions of society and science (gender, sexuality, genetics) are the great restrictions; terrorizing our individuality as we try so hard just to fit in.

Here, Palahniuk writes about discovering yourself, even by extreme means. But it's a treatise on the destructive capacity of modern society. We are bombarded my media and belief systems that force us to find new, creative, strange ways to combat our existential distemper, going beyond numbness in drugs to complete recreation. These characters, all complex, and more so by the end than you'd ever imagine at the beginning, are fighting for their own reality. (This is especially true for the narrator's parents, who concoct a vast conspiracy and simultaneous sense of pride from the ashes of their gay son's death... again for spoilers sake, I won't spoil.) For Invisible Monsters that reality is an endless chain of clues, hints, fears, and questions, but even all that uncertainty is preferable to being stuck in neutral, simply playing the hand you were dealt at birth.
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Underappreciated Music File: Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue

Yep. It's that time again. After a seven month hiatus, I'm delving deep into the volcanic depths of music to laud an album that most of us haven't heard, nor even heard of. Of course, I could be projecting my own lack of knowledge onto others, but for the sake of this post, let's say not. This time in the Underappreciated Music File it's Dennis Wilson (former Beach Boy, Wilson brother and tragic music figure, who drowned in 1983) with his only solo release Pacific Ocean Blue. The album came out in 1977 and is a compelling mix of rock, soul, jazz, blues and the undeniable vocal harmonies he brought from/contributed to the Beach Boys. Like most albums of the era, it is a cavalcade of quick, radio-friendly tracks, but this is hardly delicate surf-pop. This is a text of anthems, many brought to life through the lens of Wilson's fast-living, drunken lifestyle. And the vocals, with Wilson's voice battered and rough from years of abuse and cigarettes, provide the kind of urgency and realism that reminds me (if only vaguely) of the work on Johnny Cash's American IV: The Man Comes Around.

Pacific Ocean Blue opens with the charming ballad-to-nature "River Song" where Wilson laments the city and seems to be finding essential peace along the water. The song comes with jaunty piano riff and feels the most like a Beach Boys track. But soon thereafter, the album starts to show its deeper soul, the inner motivation. The bluesy and downbeat "What's Wrong" and the haunting, nearly timeless "Moonshine" both pull you down to a place where you see that this isn't about getting kids to dance. Wilson has strongly separated himself from the clean-cut, fun-life-California image he earned over the preceding years. And then the album hits the listener over the head with the ghostly, slow-burning, building "Friday Night." The song is a testament to rock, love and frustration. The powerful keys maintain a clamor with only a soft guitar riff filling the back end. The best part, it doesn't GO anywhere specifically. It's a lament. It's a moment. The Friday night in question fizzles out, with nothing solved.

"Dreamer" pulls things back up to more conventional writing by thrusting a bluesy, thick track loaded with horns and soul harmonies into the mix. And for all it's groaning, simmering anger... it finishes on a sentiment of letting all the shit, all the fucked up blues, go out into the wind. "Thoughts Of You" is a heart breaking piece of slow poetry that begins with Wilson's whispered vocals and leads into an explosion of sound, a wall with Wilson screaming out through echoes of regret. The brilliant contrast of his raspy, pained vocals to the big-production moments is staggering and inspiring. The next track, "Time" operates in a similar manner, running on Wilson's hopeful older-man persona, but it features some lines in the first verse, painfully sung, that makes the song into something special "I'm the kind of guy/ who likes to mess around/ know a lot of women/ but they don't fill my heart/ with love completely free." And this is the fall-out of free love. It's everywhere, so for this song at least, it has lost meaning.

"You And I" has more of a Beach Boys feel, more serene, more open and less pained. It's a song of acceptance and happiness in love. "Pacific Ocean Blues" feels like a bit of the Derek and the Dominoes, Beatles' Let It Be kind of vibe. It is ornate and loaded with bouncing keyboards and funky guitar and really, Wilson could be a dead ringer for Joe Cocker. "Farewell My Friend" is a straight up goodbye/love letter to a friend. The final two tracks on the original release (I won't discuss the Bonus tracks on the 30th Anniversary edition here, but suffice to say they are fine, though not as exceptional as the whole of the original album.) are "Rainbows" and "End Of The Show." The former is a love song that reaches around the edges of rock, blues and country in a fairly conventional way. The latter is a beautiful metaphor asking "where do we go from here?" A sentiment that really sums up the entire album.

Dennis Wilson was always an overshadowed member of the Beach Boys, but he proved in one disc that he was as talented as his brothers, if in a slightly different capacity. As a standalone piece of history, both musical and American, Pacific Ocean Blue is precious. The album has probably gone unheard by too many fans of the Beach Boys and all great music, and that's why in belongs in the Underappreciated Music File. But, more so, Dennis Wilson created this and only this as his swan song, prior to alcohol and drowning, and that makes some of the strained vocals and sad poetic lyrics even more poignant, even 33 years later.
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