In 1968, on the advice of some friends whose musical tastes I trusted, I went to the Gazzarri’s nightclub on the Sunset Strip to see the soul band Pacific Ocean. I had heard great things about their charismatic lead singer, Eddie James.
Pacific Ocean was a terrific L. A. brown-eyed soul band. Throughout their performance Eddie would often execute what we used to call “legitimate splits”; that is, he would do the splits, hit the floor and then pop back up onto his feet without using his hands. Previous to Eddie James, I had only seen that trick executed by another James: James Brown.
Mr. James sang with great intensity, occasionally punctuating his vocals with what sounded like a banshee inhaling a scream. Examples of this vocal trick are included in a few of the LP’s songs.
I still have my vinyl self-titled LP of Pacific Ocean (on VMC Records). I assumed it would never be released on CD due to its obscurity. Lo and behold, Pacific Ocean has just been released on CD by the Early Dawn music label.
Most of the cuts on Pacific Ocean are covers of classic soul songs. Here is the original track running order, which somehow got screwed up on the CD release:
1) “16 Tons”
2) “Road to Hell”
3) “My Shrink”
4) “Subterranean Homesick Blues”
5) “Tracks of My Tears”
6) “I Can’t Stand It”
7) “I Wanna Testify”
8) “99 1/2”
9) “Mickey’s Monkey”
I held out hope for a CD release, as there was one important element I thought might make this LP rise back to the surface of our collective musical consciousness. Eddie James sang and entertained with the same ferocious intensity that he later brought to a successful acting career, a career in which he began using his full name: Edward James Olmos.