ARTIST: The Essential Series: West Coast ARTICLE: Volume 1 (By Gdazegod) YEAR: 2017
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
Background Here's something different, and GDM'ers might see a few other Top 10 Lists being written about as I feel inspired to write them. The first of which is a selection of some of my favourite Top 10 West Coast albums. West Coast means different things to different people. Japanese fans have got the definition right I reckon, as many can tell by the plethora of releases coming out of there in recent years. Another definition is Yacht Rock, though this term has older origins and I've seen it referenced going way to the early 80's.
As recent examples, we can refer to exponents such as Brazil's Ed Motta, Sweden's State Cows, or even Sonic Station at a pinch. Legends such as Michael McDonald and Bill Champlin are good examples going back into time.
Sometimes we get crossover sub-genres combining, like jazz fusion, funk, R&B and soul, creating some interesting hybrids, so West Coast isn't something that is set in stone from a genre perspective. So, kicking off, here's my first selection of 10 essential West Coast albums - Volume 1.
David Roberts - 1982 All Dressed Up No two ways about it, this is probably the creme de la creme of the West Coast signature albums. The Canadian has been in the business for many years, but has yet to match the class of this Elektra classic debut. The Japanese fans adore this album, and you don't have to go far to wonder why. The music speaks for itself.
Nielsen And Pearson - 1983 Blind Luck Even after all these years, I play this album often. It's got everything really. I've been known to play this at all hours of the day. Songs like 'Sentimental', 'I Hear You Breathing' and 'Carrie' all sound essential. If there is one Japanese SHM-CD you require, it would be this.
Chris Eaton - 1986 Vision Underrated back in 1986, this Englishman has since worked in the CCM industry, with a bunch of Christian pop/rock releases, but 'Vision' was an OTT release for its time, with bombastic slabs of West Coast and AOR all combining to maximum effect. Songs like 'When My Heart Breaks' and 'It Was Love' are immense. Did I mention that Dann Huff and Mike Landau make appearances? Eaton is also known for his work with fellow Brit Mark Williamson - himself another exponent of CCM and West Coast.
Lee Ritenour - 1982 Rit II I first got into Lee Ritenour thanks to his previous album: 1981's 'Rit', thanks also to his hit single 'Is It You'. But this album took everything to a new level, the perfect blend of Fusion and West Coast, helped also by the vocals of Eric Tagg. Songs like 'Promises Promises', 'Voices', 'Cross My Heart' and 'Keep It Alive' are all summertime winners.
Paul Davis - 1981 Cool Night I became a fan of Paul Davis way back in my early high school years, thanks to the 1977 hit single 'I Go Crazy'. Then having acquired his self-titled 1980 LP, I wasn't prepared for what came with Arista LP 'Cool Night', which soared across the Billboard charts in 1981 due mostly to the single of the same name. In later years, the album became quite a difficult item to pick up on CD, but now the Japanese market has come to our rescue. Superb stuff.
Dakota - 1984 Runaway For a band coming out of the industrial heartland of Pennsylvania, you wouldn't expect them to be creating a superb hybrid of West Coast and AOR. But that they do. Signed to MCA, this album had a wonderful mix of tracks that should've seen this album head high into the charts during 1984. That opening sequence to the title-track 'Runaway' says it all really.
Greg Guidry - 1982 Over The Line I remember buying this LP for $4 back in 1983 at a local second hand store in Wellington, New Zealand (Sylvios, on Cuba St). I bought a gazillion LP's from there over the years, but I distinctly remember this one, for all the right reasons. Every song is a winner, and there's no filler. This guy was a seriously good songwriter, and I was kinda chuffed to get to know him during the early era of this website (back in the year 2000) prior to his passing a few years later. If you have this on Japanese CD, the fidelity is fantastic.
Joe Bruce & Second Avenue - 1987 s/t over the years I've come to enjoy this obscurity more and more. Essentially the duo of Bruce Sudano and Joe Esposito, this 1987 release got zero marketing push from the fuckwits at EMI America, and it was left to fans of the genre to help give this album the push it needed to ensure long lasting love. A Rock Candy Records reissue would be the icing on the cake. Do it!
Airplay - 1980 s/t With guys like Jay Graydon and David Foster the driving force behind this band, they were destined for greatness. A certifiable West Coast classic, revered in Japan, with songs still being played to this day. 'Nothin' You Can Do About It' is probably the signature song of the entire West Coast sub-genre. Can anyone suggest an alternative? Please let me know..
Marc Jordan - 1983 A Hole In The Wall There have been so many aspects to Marc Jordan's music over the years. However, it is acknowledged by many West Coast fans that his late 70's and early 80's period is his strongest. Albums like 'Mannequin', 'Blue Desert' and this one: 'A Hole In The Wall' are the winners among his discography, despite some strong works like 'Talking Through Pictures' and 'C.O.W' appearing later on.
In Summary There were so many others which nearly made the cut, if I added them then the list would've topped out to over 50. Artists such as Boz Scaggs, John O'Banion, Sneaker and Larry Lee. So we'll look at some of those in the next edition: Volume 2.
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Good list. My top ten West Coast albums are as follows-
1. Tim Cashion - Find Us On The Dial (2015)
2. Earth, Wind & Fire - Faces (1980)
3. Steely Dan - Gaucho (1980)
4. Kazu Matsui Project - The Direction-West (1982)
5. Jay Graydon - Airplay For The Planet (1993)
6. Bill LaBounty - Bill LaBounty (1982)
7. Al Jarreau - Jarreau (1983)
8. Byrne & Barnes - An Eye For An Eye (1981)
9. Herbie Hancock - Lite Me Up! (1982)
10. Christopher Cross - Christopher Cross (1979)