Sunday 22 September 2013

The Official Ultimate Dock Rock Playlist

   "You think maybe I need help, no, I know I'm right..."
                                               -Hall and Oates

     *Before you get started, go pour yourself a beverage.  This blog bone's got some meat on it.  When you come back, fire up some comments and join the discussion.

       One of the interesting things about scribbling a blog like D6C is the reach.  Publish your meanderings on the WorldWideWeb and you will, as the network's name implies, attract regular readers WorldWide.

 (I hate the word "followers"- Cripes,  I'm scrawling a typo-ridden blog here, not starting a cult.)

 ((But I thank each and every one of you who is a follower, for following and reading regularly.))
     You will also electronically rub shoulders with other bloggers.  It's cool to be able to compare notes, share ideas, discuss plans and thoughts and share advice and opinions with somebody hundreds or thousands of miles away, in real time.

     Often the discussion is technical.

      Sometimes, it is not.

    This post was spawned by an ongoing discussion that falls squarely and firmly into the "not" category.

    I've mentioned fellow small boat sailor/casual racer/blogger Chip on these pages before.  Chip and I share, much to our spouses' occasional horror, the cheesiest of aural guilty pleasures- an endless fascination with "Yacht Rock."

    "Yacht Rock" was a term coined back in the early 90s to describe Jimmy Buffett's style.   In 2005, multi-platform film festival Channel 101 premiered "Yacht Rock", an ultra-low-budget "series" about the fictional behind-the scenes saga of the incestuous California music scene of the 1970s.

     "Incestuous?"  shocked Constant Reader exclaims.

    Let me explain.

    Did you ever notice how a lot of the Top 40 music from say, 1975- 1985 sounded pretty much the same?
     Here's why:
     The Doobie Brothers lead singer at the time was Michael McDonald.
     Michael McDonald wrote songs for Kenny Loggins.
     Kenny Loggins wrote songs for The Doobies.
     McDonald sang backup for Loggins.
     Loggins backed up The Doobies.
     Michael McDonald sang backup for Steely Dan.

   Whoa, hang on, let's back up a second...

    First, there was Steely Dan.
    Steely Dan's original guitarists were Denny Dias and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter.  Michael McDonald sang backup.
    Baxter left Steely Dan and joined The Doobie Brothers in 1975, bringing Michael McDonald along as lead singer.
    McDonald still sang backup with Steely Dan.
    Meanwhile, Steely Dan and Kenny Loggins and The Doobie Brothers were backed up in the recording studio by session musicians David Paich and Jeff Porcaro.
    Porcaro and Paich also backed Seals and Crofts and Boz Scaggs.
    Boz Scaggs' hits "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle" were co-written by Paich.
    Paich and Porcaro  went on to form the band Toto in 1977.
    Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins sang on Toto albums.
    Christopher Cross probably listened to Toto albums.
    McDonald sang backup on Christopher Cross's first album.
    Don Henley also sang on Cross's debut LP.
    So did J.D Souther.
    Don Henley is an original member of  The Eagles.

      Okay, hang on, hang on, hang on, let's start again...
      FIRST, really, there was The Eagles.

    J.D. Souther co-wrote hits with Henley and Glenn Frey for The Eagles.
    Souther also co-wrote songs for Dan Fogelberg...
    ...and James Taylor.
    Jimmy Buffett sang backup on the same James Taylor LP that features the hit Souther co-wrote.
    James Taylor wrote and recorded "Mexico", which Jimmy Buffett covers.
    Leland Sklar may very well have played bass on damn near everything...

     .... including Jimmy Buffett's 1992 album Boats, Beaches, Bars and Ballads...

    ... all of which brings us right back to the first time the term "Yacht Rock" is used, describing Jimmy Buffett's style.

    So, basically, most of the American Top 40 music recorded between 1975 and 1985 was written and performed by one band: The Steely BozToEagles Brothers.

    And Leland  Sklar.

     If you spend any time on the water, you have at least one or two dozen Yacht Rock tracks on your iPod, on board, or on your mind at any given time.

    It is generally acknowledged that Yacht Rock crashed and burned when Loggin's recorded "Danger Zone" for the Tom Cruise flick "Top Gun."  Just as he may very well have killed the cinematic career of Jack Reacher, it looks like Cruise may have made his bones by thrusting a stake through the heart of Yacht Rock almost three decades before.

     Dead.  Finished.  Gone.

     Or... is it?

    Thus the foundation for the ongoing discussion between the erstwhile masters of Whiskeyjack and Fortuitous.
    If Boz Scagg's "Lowdown" is Yacht Rock, then surely Canadian content stalwart Ian  Thomas's "Pilot" deserves the label, as does "Clear Sailing."  Hell, he's earned entry in the club just based on  this album cover:

                                                                                                     -image courtesy WorldwideWax

       If a Canadian artist from the same era is allowed entry, smooth rock pioneers like Otis Redding and Booker T & The MGs deserve legacy status.

     If Booker T and the MGs  and "Memphis smooth" are in, then you gotta strongly consider some of the stuff backed by the Swampers, out of the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama

     And if one is willing to expand the definition of Yacht Rock from one of geography and collaboration to one of sound and time, if Ian Thomas is in the club, then Hall and Oates makes the cut.

      If one argues that Philly Soul gets in, then you gotta allow entry to NYC based Pina Colada lover, Rupert Holmes.

     If you're gonna let New York solo artists past the velvet rope,  Paul Simon definitely has to get a seat in the VIP lounge.  If you're gonna let Simon and Holmes in, then James Taylor gets membership, and he can bring Carly  Simon along.
     If those guys are in, three time zones east,  what the hell, keep going- let's add Birmingham UKs Climax Blues Band to the roster, Manchester's Simply Red,  Bath's Naked Eyes  and the ultra-smooth Avalon- era Roxy Music

    Well,  okay, if you're gonna allow the Canadians and Brits in, then Australia's Little River Band deserves a regular table too.

     And with the inclusion of Hall and Oates representing blue-eyed Philly Soul and the UK Soul of Simply Red, then you gotta include the note-perfect retro soul of French duo Daft Punk, thanks to their latest album, Random Access Memories.
     So, if you are gonna include current artists in the ever-expanding Yacht Rock Club, then Maroon 5 deserves a nod...  and they are from Los Angeles, where Yacht Rock was born...

      ...Thus closing the circle, and keeping it turning.

     Riding that turning wheel are a number of Yacht Rock stars of yore, who are touring under the "Sail Rock"  banner:

     (Shameless local promotion:  the Sail Rock tour will be appearing at the Norfolk County Fair.  Tickets are still available, as I write this.)


     Since the genre has expanded so far beyond the original "Yacht Rock" concept in both time and space,  and since "Sail Rock" is taken,  I think it has earned a new moniker:

     "Dock Rock"

    (Might have to be "Boat Rock" in Canada, since the "Dock Rock" tag was been used for a K-Telesque compilation of Can-Con-weighted classic rock hits circa 2002-10.  Sigh.)

     So,  thus we build

     The first Official Ultimate Dock Rock Playlist v.1.0  (annotated)

      If I had a Boat- Lyle Lovett  (C'mon, any song with the lyrics, "Kiss my ass, I bought a boat" is worthy.)
     Southern Cross- Crosby, Stills and Nash
     Southern Breeze- Isley Brothers (Some prefer the Seals & Crofts original-  this cover is better.)
     Mexico- James Taylor
     Easy- Lionel Richie & Willie Nelson (Is it a cover if  the original writer/singer re-records it, better?)
     FM- Steely Dan  (No static, at all.)
     Green Onions- Booker T & The MGs
     Slip Slidin' Away- Paul Simon
     Beth- KISS  (Tell me I'm wrong.)
     Couldn't Get It Right- Climax Blues Band
     People Gotta Move- Gino Vannelli  (Boz Scaggs' DNA is all over this.)
     Sunday Morning- Maroon 5
     Pilot- Ian Thomas  (Another Boz-styled mumbler )
     Sittin' (On the Dock of The Bay)- Otis Redding
     I'll Be Around- The Spinners
     Ain't No Sunshine- Bill Withers
     Promises, Promises- Naked Eyes
     Good Times- Chic
     Get Lucky- Daft Punk  (Promises, Good Times and Get Lucky are best played as a three song arc to get the full Nile Rodgers guitar effect)
     Love On a Real Train- Tangerine Dream
     Eminence Front- The Who
     Fallen Angel- Robbie Robertson
     Heaven- Simply Red
     What a Fool Believes- The Doobie Brothers
     Escape (The Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes
     Sail On- The Commodores
     Sara Smile- Hall & Oates
     Night Moves- Bob Seger ("...autumn closing in..." sends shivers down my spine.)
     Ain't Even Done With The Night- John Mellencamp
     Why Can't I Fall In Love- Ivan Neville
      Love the One You're With - Stephen Stills/ Isley Brothers/ Luther Vandross  (One original, two covers, three different feels, all great.)
     Forever Young- Bob Dylan
     Reflections- The Supremes
     You're So Vain- Carly Simon
     Chain of Fools- Aretha Franklin
     After the Love is Gone- Earth, Wind and Fire
     Little Wing- Stevie Ray Vaughan
     Wondering Where the Lions Are- Bruce Cockburn
     Games People Play- Alan Parsons Project
     How Long- Ace
     Low Spark of High Heeled Boys- Traffic
     Avalon- Roxy Music
     Woman in Chains- Tears For Fears ("Woman.."  and "Avalon" are another matched pair, best heard together.)
     Miss You- Everything But the Girl
     Cab Driver- Daryl Hall
     Birmingham- Amanda Marshall
     Tiny Dancer- Elton John
     Love is the Answer- England Dan and John Ford Coley
     Another Auld Lang Syne- Dan Fogelberg  ("Love..."  and "Another..." should be played back to            back to get the full soprano sax effect)
     That Girl- Stevie Wonder
     Take Five- Dave Brubeck

    "Talk the Dock"











  1. Holy shit! What a trip. Will have to make another pot of coffee to review again, and again, until 5 o'clock. Thanks. You rock as a researcher.

  2. Great post Brian but you can't have Boz Scaggs, Paul Simon, Aretha and Bob Seger in a playlist without mentioning their shared connection to Muscle Shoals in the 1969 - 1976 period

  3. Phil,
    You are absolutely right. it is a glaring error, now corrected.

  4. Just between you and me - April wine
    How can you have this list without Marvin?
    Day after day - Badfinger
    Harmony - Elton John
    Just my imagination - Tempts

    All I can think of at the moment while standing in the fabric store with my wife.

  5. you need some Pablo Cruise on there....

  6. Wow. On the horns of a dilemma here. I graduated high school in 1980 and consequently was already into punk bands. At the same time, I saw Queen and Rush shows at the old MLG...and loved hordes o' prog rock, the anti-Christ of punk.

    And I like the stylings of Steely Dan, which I heard in a church converted to a house on a prime, if antique, Bang & Olafson stereo in the later '80s.

    But I have to tell you that I just find Jimmy Buffett six shades of awful, and that whole 87-85 period dire, save for some occasional high points. I'm not a fan of "easy listening" and my idea of hell has the Eagles on repeat.

    That said, I would endorse about 40% of your choices on my own boat.

    But I'll throw down a challenge. Go for a night sail, preferably on a nice, warm, eight knot true night, five miles off shore, and play the Peter Gabriel album "Security" (1982), the Kate Bush album "Hounds of Love" (1985) and the XTC album "Skylarking" (1986) and tell me if there's not sail-appropriate tunes on that. Finish with some Stan Rogers and/or Waterboys' "Fisherman's Blues" and you've got a hell of a playlist.

    Remember to turn it up.

  7. es.johnson@live.com16 May 2014 at 19:26

    1/"Dock of the Bay" Otis Redding
    2/"Sailing" Rod Stewart
    3/"White Rabbit" Jefferson Airplane
    4/"Burn this town" Rosanne Cash
    5/"Southern Cross CSNY

    Just a few off my boat lists....