Q Magazine

Playlist - On the decks: the 10 best Yacht Rock tunes

Playlist - On the decks: the 10 best Yacht Rock tunes
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Chris Scoot promoter of the world’s best Yacht Rock night (the efficiently named Club Yacht Rock) has curated a new three disco compilation of Yacht Rock, which is released on Monday (9 June). To celebrate this return of Hawaiian shirts and soaring harmonies, not to mention these slickly produced songs from their yuppie origins, he’s made Q this Playlist of the best Yacht Rock ever to take to the (air) waves.

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The Doobie Brothers – What A Fool Believes

“This is THE definitive yacht rock tune. Written by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, both men released their own version of the track, however the Doobies version with McDonald at the helm remains the definitive recording, and helped the now Blue-Eyed Soul group to a second wind of success in the late 70s.”

Christopher Cross – Ride Like The Wind

“Christopher Cross’ story of a man struggling to reach the border to escape justice hardly conjures up images of yachts and sunshine, but the combination of a disco-like beat, Philly Soul strings and Michael McDonald on backing vocals, sonically, this is classic Yacht (not to mention the classic Christopher Cross flamingo on the sleeve). McDonald’s contributions on this track were famously lampooned by Rick Moranis in a SCTV. Heavy metal fans should check out the video to Saxon’s version of the track, for some more unintentional laughs.”

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Steely Dan – Kid Charlemagne

“The list of players that passed through the Steely Dan ranks reads like a who’s who of major Yacht Rock players – David Paich (pianos) and Jeff Pocaro (drums) would go on to form Toto, whilst Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter (Guitar) and Michael McDonald (backing vocals/pianos) would go on to join the Doobie Brothers. They would also cultivate a friendly rivalry with The Eagles (with whom they shared manager Irving Azoff) which would lead to them being referenced in Hotel California.”

Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin (Every Time Your Near)

“The fourth straight song on this list to feature the double-M, and one of the later entries into the Yacht Rock canon. The laid back funk of I Keep Forgettin’s bass line would be sampled by Warren G and Nate Dogg a decade later on their G-Funk classic, Regulate.”

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Kenny Loggins – This Is It

“Before he became the keyboard driven rocker who gave us the movie soundtracks for Footloose, Caddyshack and Top Gun, Kenny Loggins was a somewhat smoother proposition. His work with Jim Messina, in Loggins and Messina is a folksier take on Yacht rock, with gentler songs about Pooh Bear… By the late 70s however he was regularly teaming up with McDonald and they wrote this together, on the surface a blissed out smooth love song, that in fact deals with Loggins’ feelings about his dying father.”

Captain And Tenille – Love Will Keep Us Together

“This husband and wife duo’s first major hit was actually penned by Neil Sedaka, and is one of only a few Yacht Rock songs with a female vocalist. Both “Captain” Daryl Dragon and Toni Tenille actually had stints playing with the equally nautical Beach Boys in the 70s.”

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Daryl Hall & John Oates – Rich Girl

“The subject of Hall’s tale of entitlement was actually a guy, an ex-boyfriend of collaborator and Hall’s long time romantic partner Sara Allen, Hall changed the lyrics to better suit radio audiences expectations. Hall and Oates’ blend of soul and rock n roll, particularly in the late 70s bore all the hallmarks of Yacht Rock, before the keyboards gradually snuck in with the turn of the 80s.”

Toto – Rosanna

“The popular myth that surrounds this song is that it was written about Steve Pocaro’s then girlfriend Rosanna Arquette. Alas, the band have put pay to that rumour over the years. The distinctive, and deceptively difficult drum beat from Rosanna has become something of a staple to students of drumming with Jeff Pocaro’s half-time rhythm dubbed The Rosanna Shuffle.”

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Boz Scaggs – Lowdown

“Scagg’s backing band from the album Silk degrees (from where Lowdown is taken) may look familiar: David Paich (who co-wrote the track), Jeff Pocaro and David Hungate would go on to form Toto after their experiences on this record, roping in Steve Lukather, who also had played with Scaggs.”

The Eagles – Desperado

“One of the smoothest tracks in The Eagles arsenal, from their underperforming second album, and never released as a single, the Western Influenced ‘Desperado’ with the bands perfect vocal harmonies towards the end of the track means this is undoubtedly a smooth Yacht Rock classic.”


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