It's hard to believe that it was just two years ago that Post Malone released Stoney, launching his…
Call it dad rock, smooth jazz, easy listening, adult contemporary, lite rock or by its most famous and current label yacht rock, it is one of the most divisive genres of music in the history of popular music recordings. You can hear it in elevators, at your dentist office, at the grocery store or anywhere a pleasant and mostly upbeat tune is needed to keep a mellow vibe in public spaces. Because of this many have begun to associate these artists with dental surgery and other mundane scenarios that we’re forced to wait in varying levels of distress, for uncomfortably long periods of time. These artists and their selected albums however are some of the most complex expressions of pop music from the last century, featuring some of the greatest musicianship and melodies ever to be cut to a vinyl record. This however is not up for debate, like it or not, these are:
One of the funkiest albums ever recorded that you could also fall asleep to. This apple falls closer to the smooth jazz tree, but these ice cold jams will treat you real nice when when you’re out for a dinner with that special lady at the Bonaventure hotel, or taking an ocean drive in your metallic blue Lamborghini Countach, coked out of your mind. There are a lot of great Steely Dan records, once you fall down the SD rabbit hole, most fans never resurface and become raving evangelists of this incredible band.
Many would want to strangle me for including this on a yacht rock list, but it ticks all of the boxes of our nautical genre. Not only is this album front to back flawless, it blends the sophisticated synth sound that brought Roxy Music into the 1980s. From its timeless classic “More Than This” to the etherial fantasy of “True To Life,” this album has some of the best studio recordings translated to vinyl I have ever heard.
All I have to say about this one is four grammys, count ’em 1, 2, 3, 4. If that’s not enough for you, my secondary evidence is “What A Fool Believes.” Michael McDonald has one of the most distinctive and beautiful male voices of the 70s and 80s, he went on to achieve some of the greatest achievements of the Yacht Rock genre, this entire post could be dedicated to this somewhat under appreciated genius.
This album has almost all of the tracks that you love but may not know are performed by Miami Sound Machine. This album is a monster, I call this record soft proto-freestyle, but where it gained popularity was in the safe spaces that smooth jazz and adult contemporary provided during 1985. Gloria Estefan absolutely kills it on “Bad Boys,” “Conga,” and “Falling In love (Uh-Oh),” how did albums in the 80s each contain an endless amount singles?
A song that was un-escapeable between the years of 1986 and 1989, “Captain Of Her Heart,” was soothing yet haunting, and as beautiful and reassuring as the yacht itself. What many did not appreciate at the time, mostly because they were a one hit wonder in the US, was how great Kurt Maloo’s voice came across on every single track of their magnum opus Blue. This record could be the dictionary definition of what smooth jazz is, and defined the mellow sound of the elegant 80s, so much so that you’d swear this album was recorded on a yacht.
You can’t have this list without Hall & Oates, and it’s an extremely difficult decision as to which of their albums most deserves to be on this list. This one edges out Private Eyes primarily for how incredible this vinyl record sounds, and the diamond pristine production that went into making this one of the most iconic albums of the 1980s.
Winwood has been a part of so many great music projects, but it’s hard to see any resemblance between the LSD traveler who sang “Dear Mr. Fantasy” with Traffic in the 60s reflected at all in the peak of his commercial success, Back In The Highlife. If you don’t think you know Winwood, you most probably do, his songs “Higher Love” and “The Finer Things” still haunt waiting rooms until this very day.
The only thing more impressive than McDonald’s 4 grammys with The Doobie Brothers, are the 5 that Christopher Cross won for his extremely impressive debut, that many refer to as the blueprint for yacht rock, referring to his timelessly smooth classic “Sailing.” His voice is as clear and beautiful as a horn, clearly an angel walking among us.
If you thought you couldn’t make Fleetwood Mac into an 80s band, think again. Lindsay Buckingham lead this incredible band into some of the most complex productions, and vocal arrangements of their career. This album is so smooth, there are literally almost no words to describe it. Every convention that 1980s production came to be known for is distilled here into one record. If you need to put on something to come down from listening to all of Christopher Cross from front to back, this could be one of the few records worthy of that challenge.
Please make sure that you listen to these albums responsibly on a quality hifi stereo record console.