Yacht Rock – it’s a thing.
What those of us who grew up in the 1970s called soft rock or easy listening is now associated with rich people on boats wearing captain’s hats, like The Captain of The Captain and Tennille, who, not so coincidentally, played yacht rock. For reasons that mystify me, this mellow music is now embraced by the generation that came, well, 40 years later. There’s a web series (no longer in production) and a tribute band called Yacht Rock Revue. And now there’s even a book that delves into the history of the now-venerated light rock sound.
Yacht rock is defined as soft rock fused with jazz and R&B, produced to perfection in a studio with the finest musicians of the day. Most of us who were teens during its peak would NEVER admit we liked it – that would make you tragically unhip. But the truth is, some of it is very listenable, especially when you consider that Steely Dan is part of the mix (though I would argue that band does not belong in the same box as Ambrosia or Rupert “Pina Colada” Holmes.)
I’ve been reading and reviewing books for this site for quite some time, so I am admittedly jaded about the format I come across about every four or five books – interviews with multiple people peppered throughout a chapter, then interviewed again for the next chapter, which is a slightly different take on the same subject. It gets old quick – it’s rehash after rehash. And unfortunately, that’s how The Yacht Rock Book goes. I’m not even sure how the author managed to get almost 300 pages out of this topic, but he did.
Certainly, there were parts that kept my attention, mostly because I didn’t really keep up with these bands back then and don’t know their background. And it is interesting that the same studio musicians were on a circuit, so to speak, as the new version of the Wrecking Crew. But the main reason I kept reading was to try to figure out why some of the bands were included. To me, many of them don’t fit the bill.
And now that I am writing this, I am wondering if that is done by design to keep the current fans debating. What a brilliant way to keep a genre alive. Arguing. On social media. It’s so 2018. Bravo, current Yacht Rockers, bravo.