Smooth Sailing: Soulful AOR & Groovy Yacht Rock

Joan Smalls Instagram
It's time for some Smooth Sailing again! ! In my view yacht rock was some kind of West Coast rock variant of soul music (or a soulful variant of Westcoast rock…), which was played by blue-eyed-soul artists like The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan and Hall & Oates. Of course, the term 'yacht rock' relates to the stereotype of the yuppie yacht owner, enjoying smooth music while out for a sail. But many yacht rockers made nautical references in their lyrics, videos, and album artwork (think of Christopher Cross’ ‘Sailing’), because of the fact that sailing was (and still is) a popular leisure activity in Southern California. Sailboats made part of their daily lives.

Due to its soulfulness quite a few R&B artists covered yacht rock songs in an even more soulful way, like Tata Vega did with the Ned Doheny song. She was featured in the Oscar winning movie ‘Twenty feet from stardom’ about sublime background singers who could not make it in the limelight. The tracks by Canadian singer Diane Tell and Eric Tagg are from a compilation album called 'AOR Global Sounds 1977 to 1982'. Part 2 is out now.

Before they became an archetypical rock band, British glam rockers The Sweet recorded a couple of soulful pop songs in the early 1970s. They even did cover versions of Motown songs like 'Reflections' and ‘Reach out I’ll be there’. The band got away with it, because Brian Connolly was an exceptional singer. His life went downhill after he had left The Sweet in 1979. He suffered from an alcohol addiction and his solo career was not successful. He died in 1997, only 51 years of age.

Enjoy the soulful side of yacht rock!


Michael Wycoff – Looking Up To You (1982)
Diane Tell – Je Suis En Amour (1980)
Chameleon – Game Of Life (1979)
The Sweet – Coco (1971)
Mayer Hawthorne – Out Of Pocket (2016)
Martha Redbone ‎– Hard Livin' (2006)
Wilderness America Feat. Walter Hawkins – Metropolis (1970s)
Erik Tagg – Got To Be Lovin’ You (1977)
Richard Stepp – Caught Up In A Whirlwind (1979)
Alfonzo – Low Down (1982)
Charles Mann – Do It Again (1973)
Tata Vega – Get It Up For Love (1979)
Leroy Hutson ‎– All Because Of You (1975)
N-Cee Band ‎– Say You Want To Party (1980s)
Mr. President – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) (2014)


Anonymous said…
Incredible music selection ! Mate, this is the BEST mix !!!
The Walter Hawkins (among others) is top notch !!!
Respect, Peace & Music from Paris France,
professor Eddy said…
Thanks a lot for your comment! Much appreciated.

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