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Our July reviews include albums by Captain & Tennille, The Sons of Champlin, The Nielsen Pearson Band, J.D. Souther and Kenny Loggins.

“Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille (1975)

The influence of the Beach Boys not only on the West Coast sound but also on the iconography of yacht rock is exemplified by the duo Captain & Tennille. Musician and songwriter Daryl Dragon began his musical career as a keyboardist in the Beach Boys’ backing band, where he quickly befriended Dennis Wilson and became a key collaborator with the Beach Boys drummer. However, it was Beach Boys singer Mike Love who nicknamed Daryl Dragon “Captain Keyboard” for his musicianship; Dragon has called himself “The Captain” ever since and made the captain’s hat his trademark. With his partner Toni Tennille, who also toured with the Beach Boys, Dragon formed the successful duo Captain & Tennille in the 1970s. In 1975 they released their debut album “Love Will Keep Us Together”, backed by session musicians from the legendary Wrecking Crew. The single of the same name, written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, became a world hit – and the captain’s hat a must at every yacht rock party.

“A Circle Filled with Love” by The Sons of Champlin (1976)

With Fleetwood Mac producer Keith Olsen, Bill Champlin and his band pursued a more commercial sound on their sixth album, situated between the blue-eyed soul sophistication of Boz Scaggs and the slick funkiness of the Average White Band. It was a long way from their beginnings as a psychedelic Bay Area rock band in the 60s to a contemporary funk band. The first single “Hold On” became a minor hit. Bill Champlin’s voice is again an event and confirms his status as one of the greatest blue-eyed soul singers of the 70s. “A Circle Filled with Love” is a highly recommended West Coast masterpiece.

“The Nielsen Pearson Band” by The Nielsen Pearson Band (1978)

In 1978, the Nielsen Pearson Band released their self-titled debut album at the crossroads of sunny 70s West Coast pop and slick AOR. The American musicians Reed Nielsen and Mark Pearson had formed the band with John Scott Bowen and Steve Boutté in Sacramento. For the debut, they enlisted support in the studio from professionals such as Marc Jordan, Steve Boutte, Lenny Pickett, the Faragher Brothers and Norton Buffalo. An album that stands in the shadow of Nielsen and Pearson’s releases from the 80s, but it’s worth discovering.

“You’re Only Lonely” by J.D. Souther (1979)

Singer-songwriter J.D. Souther made his mark on the Californian country and folk rock scene of the 1970s, when he was a songwriter for many artists such as Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles. “You’re Only Lonely” was his third album, released in 1979 and recorded with an exquisite cast of musicians including The Eagles, David Sanborn, Waddy Wachtel, Jackson Browne – to name a few. The 50s inspired title track reached #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. The beautiful ballad “White Rhythm & Blues” was later covered by Linda Ronstadt on her album “Living in the USA”.

“High Adventure” by Kenny Loggins (1982)

After his smooth masterpiece “Keep the Fire” (1979), Kenny Loggins evolved from a soft rock messiah to the “Indiana Jones” of 80s AOR. His fourth solo album “High Adventure”, released in 1982, was strongly aimed at a mainstream rock radio audience – with success: three singles climbed into the Top 40 of the singles charts. The album opens with the 80s arena rock anthem “Don’t Fight It”, co-written and sung by Journey frontman Steve Perry. Followed by the campfire rocker “Heartlight”, another top 40 hit single. Highlights are the soulful West Coast masterpiece “Heart to Heart”, co-written by David Foster, and the blue-eyed soul gem “I Gotta Try”, co-written by Michael McDonald and first released on McDonald’s solo debut. Loggins collaborated with a number of high profile musicians on this record including David Foster, Paulinho Da Costa, Neil Larsen, Richard Page, Tom Snow and David Sanborn. The result was a polished, luxurious AOR album made in California. Hollywood was already waiting…