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Old 02-21-2015, 01:04 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Touche'.

Agreed.
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Old 03-01-2015, 01:30 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Five Obscure Westcoast Gems With Michael McDonald On Backing Vocals



Some of you love him. Many of you hate him. Some of you probably wish you could be him. A few of you have even laughed at him.

This is my top five Michael McDonald backing vocal songs that only a small % of the global population is likely aware of!



Quote:
5. Out On The Streets (Patrick Simmons - Arcade - 1983)

Doobie Brothers guitarist going all out on this high energy opening cut to his first solo album. And of course, you can hear everyone's favorite white bearded blue eyed soul singer surging on the chorus and main verses.

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4. Some Children (Holy Ghost! - self-titled - 2011)

One of the more recent places we've heard ol Mikey chiming in, and in the contemporary synth-pop world of all places. Killer groove, killer song.

Quote:
3. Night Across The World (Christopher Cross - Rendezvous - 1992)

Everyone and their grandma has heard 'Ride Like The Wind', but mistah McDonald has contributed his heavenly tones to a scattering of other Christopher Cross tunes across the years, with this one being one of the punchier ones.


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2. Good Friends (Joni Mitchell - Dog Eat Dog - 1985)

The idea of Joni Mitchell and Michael McDonald doing anything together might horrify fans of her really jazzy 70's era, but this is definitely one of the brighter spots in her more radio-oriented 80's discography.


Quote:
1. No Way Out (Paul Anka - Walking A Fine Line - 1983)

My favorite of the five listed here, and a strange one in some respects. A synthier, edited version of this song was later made into the title song for the same-titled movie starring Kevin Costner in 1987, but this Michael McDonald penned song (which also features him on backing vocals in the second half), is far groovier in its original long form from back in '83. Dat bassline...

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Old 03-17-2015, 11:00 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Westcoast Artist Spotlight: Bernard Oattes



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Sometimes instead of doing album reviews, trivia or vignettes featuring Captain Koko, I'll be doing "feature" posts that zero in on someone in the Westcoast-AOR world and takes a collective look at their work and why you should care. I'll also be providing a "best" of download of that artist at the end of the post.

Netherlands-based singer/songwriter/producer Bernard Oattes is an uncommon example of someone completely un-Californian and removed from the scene yet, nevertheless, being heavily influenced by Westcoast music and then incorporating some of his own interesting ideas into the mix. He only did four-ish albums in his short lived career from the late 80's through the 90's before disappearing off the face of the planet, but there's a surprising amount of variety across those albums to warrant a cursory analysis, which includes lush 80's pop, early Euro-house and jazzier lyrically minded material not too far removed from late 70's Steely Dan.

Instead of boring you guys with tedious song descriptions and the like, I'll just post a few YouTube vids for your pleasure and a personally uploaded .zip "Best Of" collection I've compiled from my personal vaults. His albums are pretty much impossible to find online in good quality, so enjoy!

Parting Note: The title of the compilation, 'Feed Your Hate To The Dragon', is a lyric from track 11 on the compilation, 'When I Go To Sleep', which was also the closing track from his 1992 solo release Frame By Frame.


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Old 04-01-2015, 08:32 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Sorry for the slow updates. I run a business IRL and as some of you know I'm doing a great journal collaboration every week with Unknown Soldier. But, without further ado, here is the Yacht Rock Question Of The Month-

"Anteater...wtf is Christcoast?"

Pray...pray for your mortal SOULLLLLL


That's a great question kids! But to truly answer this question to any real degree of effectiveness, we must travel back in time to the good ol' 1980's, the decade where CCM (aka Christian Contemporary Music) because a multi-million dollar industry.

See, what some labels were beginning to realize at the end of the 70's (such as World Records and Myrrh Records) was that there was actually a huge market of Evangelical Steely Dan and Bread fans who didn't mind it much when smooth, jazzy grooves and their faith intersected. Hell, sometimes the results were pretty interesting, even if the album covers tended to range from abysmal to downright hilarious:







..and so on and so forth.

That being said, there are some real gems in this (arguable) genre of yacht rock, and a couple of key artists who are downright impeccable IMO. I'll highlight a few key songs below to those willing to get their feet washed in the holy waters of the Californian faithful:


Quote:
The Archers - What's It Gonna Take (from 1984's All Systems Are Go)


Lovely song, spiced up via Jay Graydon's always awesome presence on synths, guitar and production. "Heaven on Earth" for fans of smooth music everywhere!

Quote:
Bruce Hibbard - Calling (from 1980's Never Turnin' Back)


Arguably the best of the early 80's Christcoast artists, Hibbard was top drawer talent from a performance and songwriting standpoint: dat chorus! Hell, non-historical Jesus wouldn't have had to die on the cross if this album had come out 2000 years ago.

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Chris Christian - Love's Not One To Forget (from 1981's Chris Christian)


Intensely dumb cover aside, his name's is friggin' Chris Christian: what more could you want? Oh, and the song ain't shabby 'neither.
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Roby Duke - Win Or Lose (from 1984's Come Let Us Reason)


While Roby Duke's face is one that shall haunt the nightmares of women and small children until the end of eternity, he was generally on the ball on his first couple albums when it comes to grooving for God. Great voice too!
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Ole Børud - One More Try (from 2008's Shakin' The Ground)


Words cannot express my appreciation of the literally godlike talent of Norway's Ole Børud. He's a Jesus-infused Nordic Stevie Wonder with an unbelievable potency when it comes to smooth music in every sense (singing, songwriting, guitar and production). He's also the lead guitarist of progressive death metal group Extol. How baddass is that?
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Old 04-11-2015, 06:46 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Whilst I am spending quite a bit of time with a variety of genres this week (including weird indie and some pop-house stuff), I do manage to squeeze in a few yacht rock gems into the playlist now and then. Here were a few highlights this past week-



T'Bell - Postman (Replay, 2000)

Obscure Swedish AOR/Westcoast one shot record from...wow, fifteen years ago. The album itself has a solid mix of pomp rock and other stuff, but this particular song is hilarious. You've got Jay Graydon-esque guitar heroics juxtaposed against lines like "Don't let the postman in / Don't let him into your mom". What more can I say? Comedy gold!



Geyster - I Won't Let You Down (Knight Games I, 2015)

This one-man modern Westcoast extravaganza has been a recent revelation: Geyster, AKA Gaël Benyamin, is a singer/songwriter/producer/everything else who lives in Paris has been producing all kinds of soft rock / AOR / R&B crossover goodness since the early 00's. This particular song, the opening cut of the first of the THREE Knight Games albums he released last week, is smooth as smooth can get. Super talented dude. Check out all his albums on Bandcamp here if you dig modern soft rock as much as I do.



The Coral - More Than A Lover (Butterfly House, 2010)

Some of you might be familiar with this bunch from the silver age of the Brit-pop scene at the end of the 90's, but I consider their last album Butterfly House to be the best thing they've done...like ever. There's a wisp of the ol' 60's in there, but you can easily hear vintage America and Fleetwood Mac clawing their way up out of that chorus.



Crossfade - Flying (White On Blue, 2004)

This is the Westcoast project of former Yngwe Malmsteen singer Goran Edman, and whilst they're mixed bags...the good stuff is absolutely phenomenal. Like this song for instance - you could easily see Steely Dan having cooked this up on Aja's B-side or the like.




Al Jarreau - Girls Know How (Girls Know How OST, 1982??)

One of those really great early 80's yacht rock crossover songs that got featured in some random movie but never ended up making the jump to CD or a digital format. I'd give half my pinky for a decent rip of this sucker, but alas...
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Old 04-19-2015, 10:19 AM   #26 (permalink)
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5 Great Westcoasty Songs By People Known For Other Styles



Yacht rock has sunk its claws into a variety of other bands and artists, some who were simply doing music during that era and others who are doing music today. I've merely decided to highlight some that diversity in this post, so enjoy!



Quote:
5. Girl On The Moon (Foreigner - 4 - 1981)

On the softer side of things, most people known of Foreigner's big #1 "soft" hit 'Waiting For A Girl Like You', but my favorite slower piece from that album also happens to be a tasty slice of space-faring yachtiness they haven't done before or since.

Quote:
4. Cancun (Suspyre - self-titled - 2012)

Probably the only time I've heard a metal band try to do a "soft rock" song without any irony or tounge-in-cheekness in tow. Pretty much the definition of a "left turn", but I personally find it quite enjoyable.

Quote:
3. Rockin' You Eternally (Leon Ware - Rockin' You Eternally - 1981)

Although I've already pointed out that Westcoast and R&B crossed over on numerous occasions in the late 70's and 80's, Leon Ware is on this particular list because he has never done anything beyond this album with that sort of vibe. This guy's mostly known for production and songwriting work with guys like Marvin Gaye, not being on a boat...and yet here he is. And boy does it work!


Quote:
2. Far Away (Y.T. Sessions) (Washed Out - Yours Truly Sessions - 2011)

For anyone who spent any time at all on a music website between 2007 and 2012, "chillwave" was a big deal in contemporary dance music. Many of the big progenitors of the "movement", such as Washed Out, are actually big fans of Westcoast and yacht rock, as this particular take they did on one of their biggest singles demonstrates...complete with awesome sax!


Quote:
1. Fragments Of Time (Daft Punk - Random Access Memories - 2013)

I'm sure some people predicted Daft Punk's eventual metamorphosis into a late 70's/early 80's nostalgia machine years before it actually happened, but I still find it amazing that Random Access Memories exploded commercially the way it did. A yacht rock album hasn't won a Grammy since 1982, and yet this album did it in 2013. The modern day equivalent of Herbie Hancock's 'Lite Me Up!", this particular song is an absolute joy for modern day sailors of the sunshine state. Dig itttttt.

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Old 05-31-2015, 03:30 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Smooth Reunion - Cleaning Up The Business (2008)

"The connection between two different worlds / Is the New York City style / You don't need to know no words / Just bond for a while..."

As L.A. music and mainstream sensibilities shifted and splintered considerably from the mid 80's through the present day, yacht rock became yet another notch on the genre bedpost for most people. Although some remained aware of the big "hits" of the heyday based on whatever loomed prominently on Spotify or ITunes under the yacht rock/soft rock tag ('What A Fool Believes', 'Steal Away', Michael Jackson's Thriller, etc.) most of the style's present acolytes ended up carrying on the spirit in a surprising part of the world - the Netherlands, specifically Sweden and Norway.

To that end, you now have young music majors coming out of university on that side of the pond who would have you believe Steely Dan never went out of style, such Josef Melin (vocals, guitars, bass, keys, harmonica) and Samuel Andre (drums, percussion, vocals), a couple of buds who formed a group called Smooth Reunion and released one top notch Westcoast album before splitting off into other bands and projects in 2010.

At the time they recorded this obscure little gem a few years back, they were in their early 20's, yet despite this fact this album sounds very professional and seasoned, like something the boys in Jamiroquai might have done in their early 90's heyday had they been a little more into George Duke as opposed to Chic or Luther Vandross. Yet that still doesn't quite sum up this duo's sound despite the aforementioned comparisons: Josef Melin takes a more understated, relaxed and informal approach to the mic that complements the overtly jazzy, ever-shuffling aesthetic that haunts the underbelly of these ten songs. Hell, forget yachts: this stuff would make any Starbucks 50x better in the atmosphere department compared to the usual fare.

As for the ten songs themselves, they have the benefit of being strong alone or even better as a complete album experience. Opening number 'BMPD',for instance, comes complete with a full blown horn section and a backing female-led chorus that sweetens the deal even more.


The balance between jazz and lyrical pop-isms continues to one degree or another in every track: there's lots of upright bass action, subtle piano or Rhodes melodic flourishes and lots of breezy guitar acoustics that bring beachy summer fun to mind. Some of the finer moments would be the gorgeous yet wryly amusing ode to pride 'Mr. Mullet' and the spacey hi-hat driven awesomeness of "lead" single 'The Connection', but is there a weak song here? I can't find it!


Long story short, groups like this one are what keep the benchmark high for acts trying to channel their inner L.A. cruise line into reality. Its the perfect antithesis for a cold winter day or the perfect complement for a sunny weekend. Give us another album boys, I'm beggin' ya! The future of Japan's children depends on it (see video below)!


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Old 07-17-2015, 10:16 PM   #28 (permalink)
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So I spent 10 days in the second half of June at the Virgin Islands (the U.S. ones). Despite being bombarded by vile, allergy-inducing Sahara dust during the latter part of this vacation, there was much to enjoy: the history, the rum distilleries, and of course some amazing diving and snorkeling experiences at the local reefs.

Perhaps the highlight of this trip for me, however, was getting a snorkeling trip over to Buck Island, which is said to have one of the ten most beautiful beaches on planet Earth. Having been there now....I can heartily agree with that judgement. With awe to spare!



Of course, I got to travel back and forth to this particular slice of paradise courtesy of a catamaran, which also doubled as a yacht. What was really awesome, though, was that the soundtrack the captain chose was of the smooth music variety. I can still remember almost every song I heard over that outing going back and forth, so I thought I'd share a few here:




Chicago - Happy Man (Chicago VII, 1974)

This was the first song that got played on the trip over. While its not the song I would have picked, I will say Chicago have had a crazy amount of hits since their genesis as a band in the late 60's, and this one wasn't too shabby. Their first album is pretty much the only album in their entire discography that is absolutely loved by even the most skeptical musical connoisseurs out there, but they certainly put out some great soft-rock stuff as the 70's came and went. Along with other prime-time content around the same period by The Beach Boys, Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac, this is some swell hammock noise.



Marc Jordan - Lost In The Hurrah (Blue Desert, 1979)

I had to double check on this one after the fact, but this is definitely the song that followed Chicago. Brief background - Marc Jordan is one of those guys who has probably written or been involved in a lot of music you've probably heard over the last thirty years, but most likely wouldn't know it: he's worked with everyone from Kansas to Josh Groban. Way back in 1979 however, he ended up working with David Foster and produced an album called Blue Desert which is considered to be a yacht rock classic (one which I'll eventually review in it's entirety). This song alone is probably worth the album and is perfect for any seafaring journey: it has a languid, almost hypnotic groove and arrangement, and Marc's soothing delivery and the cool keyboards dancing around it's jazzy atmosphere makes it a keeper.



Player - Melanie (Player, 1977)

Known for the monster smash 'Baby Come Back', this was a huge surprise when it was played on the way back from Buck Island. I didn't even know this B-side had been released as a single, but it was my favorite song off that album and has an absolutely amazing set of elements: huge tidal backing vocals, a killer bassline, an imaginative chord progression and overall arrangement that only the best Californian soft rock songs have and a nifty hook to boot amidst all this other stuff. What a great way to start the trip back after a day at the reefs.



Bobby Caldwell - My Flame (What You Won't Do For Love, 1978)

The last song I remember the captain playing (or maybe it just came up on the station he was on), and a minor classic on R&B radio back at the end of the 70's. It was a very early example of the slicker direction Westcoast music would take as the eighties came in full force. Along with Boz Scaggs' Silk Degrees, Caldwell really set a high standard with this record for other smooth cats to follow. And that guitar...what a way to end a night. Or, in my case, a voyage back from one of the best beaches ever.
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Old 07-19-2015, 07:15 AM   #29 (permalink)
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You're right about that beach it looks absolute paradise, btw is there a shark presence there?
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Old 09-06-2015, 10:20 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Sorry for the lack of updates fellas, but I assure you I still love yacht rock and have many gems left to share. To make up for lost time, I recently made a 26 track playlist over on 8tracks of yacht rock (past, recent and present) that covers various bands and artists from the 70's to the present day. A few aren't even American, and a few have been mentioned in past posts...but overall I think this playlist is as good a distillation as your gonna get of what I love in the genre, so enjoy!

The Ideal 101: Westcoast-AOR, AKA Yacht Rock


"Twenty six gems, some obscure and some not, of smooth sailin' yacht rock / Westcoast goodness from the 70's through the modern day. Includes artists such as Gino Vannelli, Ole Børud, Robbie Dupree, and many many more!"


Click Here To Stream It!

Tracklist:

1. 'We Own The Night' - Geyster
Album: Radio Geyster 1977
Year: 2011

2.'Union Square' - Paul Bertolino
Album: Where The Buildings Hit The Sky
Year: 2012

3. '1978 (Leave The Radio On)' - Ed Motta
Album: AOR
Year: 2013

4. 'Soul Detective' - Bernard Oattes
Album: Soul Detective
Year: 1994

5. 'Mystery Girl' - Bugatti & Musker
Album: The Dukes
Year: 1982

6. 'Coming Down From Love' - Bobby Caldwell
Album: Cat In The Hat
Year: 1980

7. 'Simone' - Boz Scaggs
Album: Middle Man
Year: 1980

8. 'Why' - Robbie Dupree
Album: Carried Away
Year: 1989

9. 'I Know You'll Bring Us Back' - The Diogenes Club
Album: The Diogenes Club
Year: 2011

10. 'Jojo (Cover)' - Arnold McCuller
Album: Fly Away: The Songs Of David Foster
Year: 2009

11. 'Gettin' To The Good Part' - Herbie Hancock
Album: Lite Me Up
Year: 1982

12. '311' - Hiroshima
Album: Go
Year: 1987

13. 'Another Sun' - Yutaka
Album: Another Sun
Year: 1993

14. 'U Turn' - Joe Sample
Album: Spellbound
Year: 1989

15. 'One More Try' - Ole Børud
Album: Shakin' The Ground
Year: 2008

16. 'Seven Years' - Nate Williams
Album: Got To Let Go
Year: 2014

17. 'Golden Girl' - Jakata
Album: Light The Night
Year: 1984

18. 'And Love Goes On' - Earth, Wind & Fire
Album: Faces
Year: 1980

19. 'The Years' - Bruce Hibbard
Album: Time Waits
Year: 2000

20. 'Look Who's Lonely Now (Cover)' - Ricky Peterson
Album: Night Watch
Year: 1990

21. 'No One There' - Eric Tagg
Album: Dreamwalkin'
Year: 1982

22. 'Give It Up' - Lava
Album: Cruisin'
Year: 1981

23. 'Ride On Time (Cover)' - Gene Miller
Album: Tatsuro Songs From L.A. 2
Year: 1991

24. 'Tomorrow's Girls' - Donald Fagen
Album: Kamakiriad
Year: 1993

25. 'Where Am I Going' - Gino Vannelli
Album: Storm At Sunup
Year: 1975

26. 'Sunset' - Makoto Matsushita
Album: First Light
Year: 1981
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