We know it’s only Wednesday, but today we have the perfect playlist for an end-of-summer weekend in the sun. Young Gun Silver Fox’s Shawn Lee and Andy Platts recently released West End Coast, their own tribute to ’70s yacht rock, so they created this playlist as a companion to the oft-maligned, yet quietly resurfacing, genre. Listen below for slick production and sophisticated melodies from Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Boz Scaggs and more.
–Dave Lucas, Talkhouse Marketing Manager
Ambrosia — “Biggest Part of Me”
The snare sound is possibly the best West Coast “fat” snare sound that has ever been recorded to tape. The whole sonics of the mix is really slick and beautiful. The vocals soar and every aspect is absolutely tasty and purposeful. I really love this song. Ambrosia also had a bunch of jams.
Player — “Baby Come Back”
This kind of slick, groovy ballad really typifies a certain aspect of this late-’70s/early ’80s sound. The chords, the guitars, and vocals are all on point.
Wings — “Arrow Through Me”
This is such a beautiful record. I love the production on this. The vocal melody is sophisticated and rivals anything Stevie Wonder was doing at that time. The drums definitely have an Isley’s “Footsteps in the Dark” vibe too. I think this a slept-on classic.
Boz Scaggs — “Lowdown”
Straight-up classic track, this. Killer drumming by Jeff Porcaro. Always loved Boz’s singing, and he had many good songs and albums from this period. Always the best West Coast session musicians behind these records.
The Doobie Brothers — “What a Fool Believes”
The Doobies really owned this era. The Michael McDonald lineup produced so many great hits. This one was co-written by Kenny Loggins, another West Coast stalwart. This song has such a feel-good pocket, and the vocals are incredibly ridiculous. The chords are so choice, and the song really is quite unique and special. It’s hard to choose a favorite Doobies track, but this one is certainly up there for me.
Airplay — “Nothin’ You Can Do About It”
Jay Graydon and David Foster made a fantastic album in 1980, and this tune is one of the real highlights. Open and relatable lyric writing, sophisticated chord changes but in a natural way. Killing horn parts and a huge half-time groove to top it all off. What’s not to like?
Kenny Logins — “This is It”
Another great McDonald/Loggins creation, this tune is just so uplifting. Tinged with gospel, you’re waiting for that chorus to come round again, as well as the delicious Michael McDonald pre-chorus with that lovely shifting harmony.
America — “Ventura Highway”
You can see the road, you can feel the heat, you can hear the wind in your ears. It’s so evocative—one of those records which has a real mood to it. Topped with acoustic guitars and lush vocal harmonies paired with elusive lyrics, it leaves you in a slight daze, doubtless in a dream.
Bobby Caldwell — “What You Won’t Do For Love”
This might be stretching the “genre” a bit, but these things aren’t black and white, I guess. It ticks a lot of the boxes for me though. Real smooth, great cyclical chord progression, fat minimalist beat, amazing horns/strings orchestration, and a yearning, soulful vocal from Mr. Caldwell.
The Doobie Brothers — “What A Fool Believes”
This may well be the torchlight song for the genre for me. It’s perfect. The lyrics and songwriting are amazing and have so much depth next to your average pop song. The way the song works through the sections, stopping to pause before teeing up the chorus….ahhh man. Amazing groove and chord choices too. And, of course, the inimitable velvet voice of Michael McDonald. This really presses my buttons in terms of everything that appeals to me as a songwriter.
(Photo credit: Dan Massie)