Soulful West Coast Classics (AOR On The Radio Series)

Taylor La Shae
West Coast pop (not to be confused with nineties hip hop) is some kind of a melting pot of soul, disco, funk, jazz, folk, psychedelic, AOR and all the (sub) genres in between. It was preceded by the early seventies West Coast singer/songwriters (like James Taylor and Carole King) and became popular from approximately the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties. West Coast pop is well-crafted, soft-focused music that was mainly made and played in California. A few big names are The Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac and Steve Miller Band. This sub-genre differs from soft rock or rock ballads, played by heavier stadium rock bands, like Def Leppard, Whitesnake or Loverboy, but you can discuss about some acts, like Toto and Boston.

Because of the coastal area, where West Coast pop was originated and its often nautical themes, it is called ‘yacht rock’ sometimes as well (although that term emphasizes the campy side of it). Listeners were meant to nod their heads to the beat and not to move their legs on the dance floor. It was music you could almost dance to (to quote DJ Supermarkt), which made it perfect for FM radio, specialized in Adult Oriented Rock (AOR). Most of the selected tracks were recorded between 1974 - 1983.

Around the mid-eighties people seemed to be fed up with smooth music and a musical revolution was not far away. Eventually house and hip hop swept away the last pieces of disco, new wave and smooth music too.

After the release of his album 'Possessed by the Moon' in 1974, the very talented Jimmy Gray Hall did session and tour work for Linda Ronstadt and others, but did not capitalize on the positive reviews of his debut. Hall’s turbulent personal life, including a serious drug addiction, took its toll, as Hall spent the next decade in and out of prison for crimes including drug possession, weapons charges, and armed bank robbery. After being implicated in more than 30 bank robberies in Southern California, he died in a police shootout after a high-speed chase in Big Bear, California, at age 35, on June 3, 1984. 'Be that way' is on the new compilation 'Too slow to disco, volume 2'.

Enjoy the soulful West Coast classics (and some rarities) that I selected for this new episode of AOR On The Radio!


Ed Motta – AOR (2013)
The Doobie Brothers – What A Fool Believes (1978)
Faith Band – You're My Weakness (1979)
Rosie – Pick Up Your Heart (1976)
Jim Messina – Free To Be Me (1979)
1973 – Simple Song (For A Complicated Girl) [Snooze Remix] (2010)
Ronn Matlock – Feeling Something (1979)
Ben Sidran – Hey Hey Baby (1974)
Wings – With A Little Luck (1978)
Debra Laws – On My Own (1981)
Pratt & McClain – Whachersign (1976)
Cory Wells – Hard Times (1979)
Crackin' – Double Love (1978)
Quarterflash – Harden My Heart (1981)
Steve Miller Band – Take The Money And Run (1976)
Jimmy Gray Hall ‎– Be That Way (1973)
Father John Misty – Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins) (2015)
Shuggie Otis – Aht Uh Mi Hed (1974)
Rita Coolidge ‎– All Time High (1983)
Powder Blue Tux – Mayfair (2015)
Josef Salvat – Open Season (2014)
Fleetwood Mac – Never Going Back Again (1977)
Kymaera – It’s Too Late (2002)


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