The history of Bamboo
Bamboo was the working title of Dennis Wilson's projected second solo album. According to an interview with Dennis (David Leaf, Petsounds, Sept. 1977) work began on the second album before Pacific Ocean Blue, his first, was even released. In that interview, Dennis said this about the new album: "The next album is a hundred times what Pacific Ocean Blue is. It kicks. It's different in a way. I think I have more confidence now that I've completed one project, and I'm moving on to another."
Sadly, we'll never know for sure exactly how that album would have stood up against the critically acclaimed Pacific Ocean Blue. The pressures of touring, increasingly difficult battles with substance abuse, and a generally tumultuous personal life took their toll, and while a significant amount of material was completed, work on the new songs began to slow down. Two of the most promising new songs, Baby Blue and Love Surrounds Me, appeared on the Beach Boys 1979 disk LA (Light Album). While this may have indicated that plans for the new solo effort were on hold, it has been noted that Beach Boys album sales, even at this low time in their career, would no doubt be greater than sales of a solo LP, and Dennis appreciated the opportunity to share in the financial benefits associated with having his songs included on a new Beach Boys album. No other songs from the new solo album appeared after that. (Morning Christmas has since appeared on 1998's compilation Ultimate Christmas, and All Alone was included on the 1998 compilation Endless Harmony Soundtrack). Brother records sold their studios, and this greatly hampered Dennis' rather spontaneous recording habits. Dennis reportedly continued to record, and it was reported that Dennis and Brian worked together in the studio on a number of occasions in 1980. Plans for the new album remained on hold as personal and professional problems in the Beach Boys organization took center stage. And then, on December 28, 1983, it all came to an end.
In the world of Beach Boy music collecting, Brian Wilson's legendary abandoned Smile album has long been the holy grail of unreleased material. Portions of it have leaked out over the years, sometimes by official means, and it has become possibly the most bootlegged material from the Beach Boys entire body of work. Bamboo, which has been referred to by author Ed Wincentsen as "Dennis' Smile album", has not fared so well. His one official LP release, Pacific Ocean Blue, is itself hard to find, having been out of print as a CD since 1991 (and it was hard to find it then) . And needless to say, it's even harder to find unreleased songs from the Bamboo sessions. While rumors continue to circulate about a CBS European import re-issue of POB, no such plans have been announced in reference to Dennis' later material. It remains possible that we may see some songs appear as bonus tracks on future reissues, but that is a long way down the road, and mere speculation. Relatively ambitious bootlegs have appeared over the years (at least two, an LP and a CD) with the Bamboo title, and other, rare bootlegs have occasionally included songs from these sessions. They are out there.
Recently,a few dedicated fans formed the Bamboo Archival Project (BAP), and embarked on a special project close to their heart: to collect and review all available Bamboo tracks, and assemble them on a single disk, attempting to approximate as closly as possible what the LP Bamboo might have sounded like. Along the way, new discoveries were made, a couple rare backing tracks were uncovered, and new mixes incorporating these tracks were completed. These new mixes, unheard before (except maybe, by Dennis!) are the exciting new gems of this collection. If you are familiar with the music, these will be pleasent surprises, and in at least one case, a revelation. If you are not familiar with this music, then you are in for a full album's worth of great new music by a sorely missed musician.
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the Ultimate Bamboo CD
In the process of assembling a new version of Bamboo, it became evident that there was a good amount of unreleased Dennis Wilson music out there. Fans of Dennis have always discovered his music a few songs at a time, and except for Pacific Ocean Blue, no collection has ever been attempted before. Until now. It is a real experience to listen to a whole CD full of Dennis Wilson music, and it seemed natural to go ahead and assemble an anthology of songs written and sung by Dennis. Not all of his music is on this disk: selections were taken from POB and Bamboo to represent those albums, and a few other (readily available) songs were not used. Priority was given to songs that Dennis both wrote and sang lead on. It is a powerful thing to listen to Denny's art bloom and evolve over the course of his short career.
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Dreamer: the best of Denny