If you think yacht rock gave up the ghost in '86, you'll be pleasantly surprised. This edition is all new/recent tracks. The Cruise ship has had a lick of paint, so smash the champagne and bless all who sail with her - Toto (back), China Crisis, Young Gun Silver Fox, Ruel, zervas & pepper, Minke, PREP, silver seas, lissie. Sail on!
The thesis behind Katie Puckrik’s recent BBC4 documentary I Can Go For That, was that the tumultuous, protest spirit of the 60s gave way to resignation, and a more introspective (and self-indulgent) period in which we all accepted our fate. And did so by continuing to toke on cush, perhaps along with a little of the white stuff, while sipping on cocktails and staring out to the horizon. Dressed in all-white clobber, perhaps with the sleeves rolled up just a little (well, by the time the 80s arrived anyhow). And soundtracking the whole thing with mellow but sophisticated, chilled sounds.
The music industry responded by making perfect, and perfectly unchallenging music. Studio musicians obsessed over everything and the resulting sound was ‘ennui deluxe’, a sophisticated soft rock that occupied the charts and drove ginormous album sales through, roughly speaking 1976 to 1986 (when synths sandblasted the subtlety out of the sound).
The documentary was an absorbing and enjoyable trip, getting the mood and spirit of the ‘genre’ across nicely. And, since we had recently began our Cruise Control Yacht Rock series, we were hoping for more inspiration to revisit the series for a second volume. But then a rather cool idea came into our heads. What about challenging Katie’s theory that yacht evaporated in the Bermuda triangle back in ’86?
The yacht rock sound has continued to inspire and translate into a variety of modern styles. Sure, recording studios don’t really exist as they did back in those days, residing mainly on computers and all that. But, we scanned the horizon for signs of life. The result is here for your delectation: Cruise Control Bright & Breezy edition, with all new tracks made over the past few years.
Our openers set the tone perfectly. The Night Game’s wistful ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’, Zervas & Pepper’s exquisite ‘Hotel Bible’, and China Crisis beautifully rendered ‘Fool’. What a trio of Yacht Rock modern classics to get us moving, a? Got you in the mood? Take it from there Minke with ‘Maybe 25’, another homage to the soft rock sound, with a Fleetwood Mac DNA but right out of little old middle England - and she can’t half play that guitar too. She could only be followed by the genre’s titans themselves, the mighty Toto, and a new track from them that hits the yacht-spot as hard as they ever did.
See where we’re headed with this? A lovely place indeed. A place where you can drop all your worries right the goddamn minute you come on board. Thing is, the yacht rock sound has become something that serves us well in these troubled times, just as it did back in the day. Sure, we’ve taken a few small liberties in bringing you these 30 wonderful pieces of pop, some tracks perhaps falling more into a ‘chill-lo-fi-breezy-pop’ type bracket. But, many of the tracks we’ve selected here stick pretty darn close to the original ‘76-’86 formula - a gentle breezy bounce, superb musicianship, the occasionally perfect guitar solo, meticulous production all wrapped in melancholic, reflective song craft. And for some, we had to break the cardinal playlisting rule and include not one but two tracks.
I mean come on. Young Gun Silver Fox have honed their craft so well, they deserve two placements on the list. The Silver Seas too. For either band we could probably have filled the playlist and still be within scope. Indeed, the Silver Seas singer and leader Daniel Tashian spreads his influence even further, by way of his production supervision on Kacey Musgraves wonderfully breezy ‘Slow Burn’. Theirs is a very signature yacht sound, lush and lovely. Doubling down again, is China Crisis (their 2018 album Autumn In The Neighbourhood is the purest ‘yacht’) and Zervas & Pepper again, with the sublime ‘Cigar Store Indian’ almost closing us out. Almost, but not quite.
For the pleasure of closing, it had to be a true homage to the golden age, so we chose Lissie’s beautiful piano rendition of Fleetwood’s ‘Dreams’.
Just because we can.
Playback notes: just go ahead and do entirely as you wish, but make sure you have a glass in one hand as you shuffle with the other. And never, ever, skip.
Thundercat ‘Show You The Way’ of course, includes vocal cameos by none other than Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, godfathers of yacht, both now elevated to ultra-cool - never something they would have expected back in the genre’s hay day.
If all this has you pining for more of the original palette of yacht from the golden age have no fear. We’ve got Captain Alex Macnutt to go below deck on a crate digging mission like no other, and I’m sure you will love the results in CC Vol. 2. Coming soon…