RECOMMENDED WEST COAST SOFT ROCK CDs
[Album art are linked to amazon.com]


Soul
Philly Soul
Salsoul
Funk
Jazz/Funk
Blue-Eyed Soul
Chill Out Electronica
CD Want List

All Music Guide
You should find the info you're looking for here.

Discogs
One of the largest and most accurate music databases.

How Band Got Their Names
Steely Dan: A dildo in the William Burroughs novel "Naked Lunch".

Lyrics World
Like to sing in the shower, but can't quite remember the words?

...and yes, - just what you were looking for!

Misheard Lyrics Archive
Hilarious! " 'scuse me, while I kiss this guy"

Museum of Bad Album Covers
What where they thinkin'?!

Ned Doheny

 

Boz Scaggs

Gino Vannelli

 


 

Airplay: Airplay (RCA 1980)

Produced by: Jay Graydon & David Foster
The mother of all "West Coast" albums. A must if you're into this genre. Here you'll find the original recording of the EWF classic "After the love has gone". The album has been remastered by Graydon and was re-issued by BMG Japan in July 2005 as a special 25th Anniversary edition. Feat. Bill Champlin, Jay Graydon, Tommy Funderburk, Jeff and Steve Porcaro, Steve Lukather, Pay Parker Jr. and Jerry Hey.

 
 
Alessi: Driftin' (A&M 1978)
Produced by: Louie Shelton
Alessi: Words & Music (A&M 1979)
Produced by: Bob Gaudio/Nick DeCaro
Alessi: Long Time Friends (Qwest 1982)

Produced by: Cristopher Cross & Michael Ostin
Three great albums from twins Billy and Bobby Alessi featuring   a who's who of L.A. session musicians. Long Time Friends also has additional vocals by Christopher Cross and Patti Austin. Executive producer is Quincy Jones. Jap. import CD.

  Buy it on Amazon.com
Buy it on Amazon.com
 
Ambrosia: Life Beyond L.A. (Warner Bros. 1978)
Produced by: Freddie Piro
Ambrosia's third album is more commercial and less conceptual than their first two releases, which was produced by UK Prog Rock man Alan Parsons. Life Beyond L.A. incl. the classic westcoast track and the top ten single "How Much I Feel".

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Gary Benson: Moonlight Walking (Aura 1980)
Produced by: Gary Benson
Don't know much about this British singer/songwriter, but his 1980 album Moonlight Walking has an excellent Westcoast sound. If you like Stephen Bishop (see below), you'll love this! Jap CD Reissue.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Stephen Bishop: Careless (MCA 1976)
Stephen Bishop: Bish (MCA 1978)

Produced by: Henry Lewy/Stephen Bishop
Singer/songwriter Stephen Bishop was discovered by Art Garfunkel in the mid 70s and started out writing songs for Chaka Khan, Four Tops and Barbra Streisand. His debut album, Careless (1976), was nominated for a Grammy and produced several chart singles. His next, Bish (1978) is even better showing Bishop's strength as a songwriter. The A-list guests on these two albums are pretty impressive; Doobie Brother Michael McDonald, Chaka Khan, Eric Clapton, Art Garfunkel, Natalie Cole, David Foster, Abe Laboriel, Michael Sembello, Ray Parker Jr., and Steve Cropper. String arrangements by Gene Page and Marty Paich.

  Buy it on Amazon.comBuy it on Amazon.com  
Terence Boylan: s/t (Asylum 1977)
Produced by: 
Singer/songwriter Terence Boylan released his self titled critically acclaimed and quite classic AOR/WestCoast album in 1977. Excellent songwriting and feat. Donald Fagen and several members of Toto and Eagles.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Robert Byrne: Blame It On the Night (Mercury 1979)
Produced by: Prod. Clayton Ivey & Terry Woodford
Robert Byrne established his songwriter status by 1977 American Song Festival Grand-Prix with "Bound To Know The Blues" and 1978 winning tune of the same festival "I'll Love Your Leavin' Away". His 1979 debut Blame it on the Night is very good, just skip the cheap disco opening track "Baby Fat".

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Bobby Caldwell: Bobby Caldwell (T.K. Records 1978)
Produced by: Ann Holloway
Caldwell's debut-album containing the ultra classic and much sampled "What You Won't Do For Love". Also check out his "Where Is Love" from 1993.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Bill Cantos: Who Are You (Pioneer Japan 1995)
Produced by: Bill Schnee and others
This very talented piano player has worked with Brenda Russel, Jay Graydon and Howard Hewett. Also check out his "Movie in the Night Sky".

  Jap. cover  
Bill Champlin: Runaway (Elektra 1981)
Produced by: David Foster
Singer/songwriter/keyboard player/guitarist Bill Champlin first started out in 1966 as the leader of the San Francisco-based group The Sons of Champlin. In 1981, Champlin became a member of Chicago, with whom he has recorded and toured ever since, while releasing the occasional solo album, sometimes only in Japan. He scored two singles chart entries in 1982 with "Tonight Tonight" and "Sara", both from "Runaway". Also check out his 1978 release "Single". This is produced by David Foster and has a more R&B feeling.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Nick DeCaro: Italian Graffiti (Blue Thumb 1974)
Produced by: Nick DeCaro
A&M Records master arranger (and occasionally songwriter, producer, musician and singer) Nick DeCaro has worked on more than 300 albums. Mainly for A&M Records. On Italian Graffiti, his second and last solo album, he wrote new arrangements that even the composers would have to admit have value added. He even threw in some humour changing Joni Mitchell's "All I Want" lyrics from "I want to knit you a sweater" to "I want to lift your sweater" :-)

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Christopher Cross: Another Page (Warner Bros. 1983)
Produced by: Michael Omartian
Cross (born Christopher Geppert) came out of the blue in 1980 with his self-titled debut of slight soft pop. He managed to clean up at the following year's Grammys, beating out previous record-holder Frank Sinatra with a total of five awards. Another Page is his second album, and features additional vocals by Michael McDonald, Don Henley and Art Garfunkel. Cross also had a #1 hit with "Arthur's Theme" from the movie Arthur. Question: What's with the pink flamingo? Anybody?

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Ned Doheny: Hard Candy (Columbia 1976)
Ned Doheny: Prone (Columbia 1978)

Produced by: Steve Cropper
Two of my all-time favourite "West Coast" albums. Singer/songwriter Ned Doheny's songs have been recorded by such artists as Average White Band, Chaka Khan, Tata Vega, George Benson and Millie Jackson among others.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Dane Donohue: s/t (Columbia 1978)
Produced by: Terence Boylan
Only release by songwriter and guitarist Donohue. Great AOR with guest appearances by Bill Champlin, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Larry Carlton, Jay Graydon, Steve Lukather and many more of the westcoast studio mafia. Jap. CD release only.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Doobie Brothers: Minute By Minute (Warner Bros. 1978)
Produced by: Ted Templeman
The Doobie Brothers (after a slangterm for marijuana) was one of the most popular Californian pop/rock bands of the '70s. They evolved from a mellow, post-hippie boogie band to a slick, soul-inflected pop band by the end of the decade. In 1979 the Doobies released their most successful album, Minute By Minute, which spent five weeks at number one on the strength of the number one single "What a Fool Believes". For more of the same, check out "Livin' on the Fault Line" from 1977.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Bryan Duncan: Blue Skies (Myrrh Records 1996)
Produced by: Dan Posthuma & Dan Garcia
A very good "West Coast" album from the former lead singer of Sweet Comfort Band. Great songs and an excellent production.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Randy Edelman: You're The One (Arista 1979)
Produced by: Fred Mollin & Matthew McCauley
New Jersey born film and TV score composer released this excellent AOR album in 1979. Featuring Jay Graydon and Steve Lukater, the album contains several great songs like "Time Changes People", "My Heart Got In The Way", and "Thirty Years Old (Mom)". The latter is one of my all-time fave WestCoast/AOR tracks! Jap. CD release only.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Donald Fagen: The Nightfly (Warner Bros. 1982)
Produced by: Gary Katz
Donald Fagen: Morph the Cat (Reprise 2006)
Donald Fagen: Sunken Condos (Reprise 2012)

Produced by: Donald Fagen
Not much more to be said about the 1982 ultra classic The Nightfly. Even the album sleeve is great! Although not such classics, Morph the Cat and Sunken Condos are exactly what you want and expect from one half of Steely Dan. The Nightfly is also available in multichannel DVD Audio and SACD formats.

  Buy it on Amazon.com
Buy it on Amazon.com
 
Faragher Bros.: s/t (ABC 1976)
Produced by: Vini Poncia
Excellent and quite soulful WestCoast/AOR release from California brothers Danny, Davey, Jimmy & Tommy Faragher, who also worked as a background vocal session group on numerous recordings, contributing vocals to artists such as Kiss, Melissa Manchester, Ringo Starr, Randy Edelman and Lynda Carter. Their 1976 self titled album are very Average White Band-ish. Jap. CD release only.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Jay Graydon: Airplay for the Planet (Insideout 1993)
Jay Graydon: Past To Present (Sonic Trust 2006)

Produced by: Jay Graydon
Seems like this guitarist and producer has worked with about everybody in the business! Airplay for the Planet is Jap. import CD. Past to Present incl. previously unreleased material from his Airplay album period with David Foster.

   
Greg Guidry: Over the Line (Columbia 1982)
Produced by: John Ryan
Greg Guidry: Soul'd Out (GMG Records 2000)
Produced by: Greg Guidry
The first release from this very talented singer/songwriter and pianist from St. Louisis in my opinion one of the best "West Coast" albums from the early 80's. Featuring David Hungate (Toto) and David Sanborn. The original is very hard to find on CD, but the album has now been remastered and released with new cover on GMG Records in the US.
It took him about 18 years to release the second album Soul'd Out, but this is definitely one to get you hands on! Excellent songs and production with an early 80's feeling.
There is also a Jap import album titled "Private Session" for the die hard fans that can't get enough of that distinctive 80's sound. The album is a collection of previously unreleased material that was recorded in the mid to late 80's and the early 90's. Most of these cuts were originally intended for Greg's sophomore offering, but never made it to production.

  1982 cover  
Adrian Gurvitz: Sweet Vendetta (Jet 1979)
Produced by: Adrian Gurvitz
One of my all-time fave Westcoast albums! Featuring Toto members Steve Porcaro, Jeff Porcaro and David Paich. Be sure to get the 2002 Jap. CD reissue containing 10 tracks. The 1995 Jap. CD has crap sound.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Rupert Holmes: Persuit of Happiness (MCA 1978)
Rupert Holmes: Partners In Crime (MCA 1979)

Produced by: Rupert Holmes
Singer/songwriter Rupert Holmes wrote and produced for artists in a wide variety of genres; Barbra Streisand, Sparks, and Sailor. Although best known as a singer/songwriter, he acquired international fame with "Escape" (later known as Escape - The Pina Colada Song) from his 1979 AOR album Partners In Crime.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
JaR (Jay Graydon & Randy Goodrum): Scene 29 (JaRZone 2008)
Produced by: Jay Graydon & Randy Goodrum
Two legendary names on the Westcoast music scene working together as JaR. Scene 29 is superbly crafted, loaded with sophisticated, catchy songs, subtle harmonies, fun lyrics, and interesting melodic hooks, - all with a touch of Steely Dan. As usual Graydon plays his guitar with elegance and accuracy. Available from CDBaby.com

   
Al Jarreau: This Time (Warner Bros. 1980)
Al Jarreau: Breakin' Away (Warner Bros. 1981)
Al Jarreau: Al Jarreau (Warner Bros. 1983)

Label: Warner Bros.
Produced by: Jay Graydon
3 great west coast/jazzfusion albums from Al Jarreau with great production by west coast soft rock guitar maestro Jay Graydon. Tou want more; check out his 3 earlier releases We Got By (1975), Glow (1976) and All Fly Home (1978). Glow incl. his fantastic version of Elton John's Your Song.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Marc Jordan: Blue Desert (Warner Bros. 1979)
Marc Jordan: Hole in the Wall (Warner Bros. 1983)
Produced by: Marc Jordan
Originally a film student from Canada, Marc Jordan started out in 1970. He played with a band for a short time, returned to school, but then left for good to travel outside Canada. Warner Bros. signed him and released his 1978 debut album "Mannequin".

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Ray Kennedy: Ray Kennedy (CBS 1980)
Produced by: David Foster
Although better known for his country albums, this Foster-produced "West Coast" album is really worth checking out. Jap import CD only.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Dennis Lambert: Bags & Things (ABC 1972)
Produced by: Dennis Lambert
Producer, keyboardist, guitarist and singer/songwriter Lambert's only album release. He co-wrote/co-produced songs for Tavares, Four Tops, Commodores, Natalie Cole among others and have received 11 Grammy Award nominations and 26 BMI "Most Performed" Song Awards. Jap. CD release only.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Kenny Loggins: Celebrate Me Home (Columbia 1977)
Produced by: Bob James
Although responsible for one of the most cheesy 80's pop songs; Footlose, Loggins' 1977 album Celebrate Me Home is classic 70's WestCoast/AOR. Guests incl. Patti Austin, Gwen Guthrie on background vocals plus many of the late 70s L.A. studio mafia; Lee Ritenour, Steve Gadd, Harvey Mason, Eric Gale, Robben Ford among others. Arrangements and production by Bob James.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Clif Magness: Solo (Empire 1994)
Produced by: Clif Magness
As far as I know, his only solo release and very hard to find on CD. (My copy was released in Sweden). Better known for his guitar-, keyboard-, song writing and production work for artists like Al Jarreau, George Benson, Wilson Phillips and Barbra Streisand.

  Jap cover  
Mark-Almond: Other Peoples Rooms (A&M 1978)
Produced by: Tommy LiPuma
Not to be confused with 80s artist Marc Almond (Soft Cell). Mark-Almond consists of UK born Jon Mark and Johnny Almond. After releasing 4 albums in the early 70's they relocated to the US and got Tommy LiPuma to produce on his own Horizon label. The result is sophisticated smooth westcoast pop jazz (for a late night, if you like) and could remind of Michael Franks at times. Feat. Larry Williams, Steve Gadd, Ralph McDonald and Jerry Hey.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Kazu Matsui Project: Marine Fantasia (Japan Rec. 1986)
Produced by: Kazu Matsui
A master of the shakuhachi (a Japanese traditional bamboo flute), Matsui is more of a New Age artist, but his "Marine..." album is excellent smooth "West Coast". (Jap import CD only). He also contributed music to a series of major Hollywood features including Willow, Legends of the Fall and Jumanji, and producing recordings for his wife, keyboardist Keiko Matsui.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Jimmy Messina - Oasis (CBS 1979)
Produced by: Jimmy Messina
Jimmy Messina was a staff producer for CBS in the mid/late 70's which lead to the hugely successful liaison with Kenny Loggins. Oasis dates from the period immediately after the end of the Kenny Loggin's partnership in 1978 and incl. the great track "Seeing You (For the First Time)".

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Chris Montan: Any Minute Now (20th Century 1980)
Produced by: Evan Archerd
Another hidden Westcoast gem available on CD in Japan is Chris Montan's solo album "Any Minutes Now". The album has a very good early 80s AOR sound, - a bit James Taylor-ish.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Pablo Cruise: Lifeline (A&M 1976)
Pablo Cruise: A Place In The Sun (A&M 1977)
Pablo Cruise: World's Away (A&M 1978)

Produced by: Bill Schnee
Pablo Cruise achieved some measure of success during the latter part of the 70's with its mellow, easygoing California pop. The group was praised for the compositional and instrumental skill on the albums "Pablo Cruise" and "Lifeline", and were rewarded with the Top Ten hit "Whatcha Gonna Do?" in 1977 from "A Place in the Sun". "Worlds Away" went platinum, as did its predecessor, and produced three hit singles, including the Top Ten "Love Will Find a Way".  Several of the group's songs were used as soundtrack material for sports programs on ABC, CBS and NBC.
Be sure to check out their 2011 (!) live recording "It's Good To Be Live" available on both CD and DVD. Seeing/hearing "Zero To Sixty in Five" live, is fantastic! Excellent musicianship!

  Buy it on Amazon.comBuy it on Amazon.com  
Perry & Sanlin: For Those Who Love (Capitol 1980)
Produced by: Chuck Jackson & Cecil Hale
Phil Perry & Kevin Sanlin were members of the soul group The Montclairs (1971-1975). They both moved to L.A. where Perry did lots of vocal session work for other artists before he and Sanlin got a deal with Capitol as a duo in 1979. For Those Who Love was released in 1980 and has a very AOR-ish sound. It incl. session players like Ndugu Chancler (Crusaders), Patrice Rushen and Nathan East among others. Jap CD release in 2001. (Both Perry & Sanlin albums For Those Who Love and We're The Winners (1981) are avail. as a 2 on 1 CD limited ed. CD release by UK Funky Town Grooves).

   
Lee Ritenour: Rit (Elektra 1981)
Produced by: Harvey Mason, David Foster & Lee Ritenour
Label: Elektra
Lee Ritenour has long been a very busy studio guitarist in Los Angeles. He possesses an impressive technique, and has mostly played instrumental pop throughout his career, sometimes with a Brazilian flavour.

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Jorge Santana: s/t (Tomato Records 1978)
Produced by: Bob Clairmountain
Guitarist Jorge Santana (brother of Carlos) is joined by Richard Bean on vocals on this great West Coast album with a slight Caribbean touch. Incl. the long, classic laid-back groover "Love the Way."

   
Boz Scaggs: Silk Degrees (CBS 1976)
Boz Scaggs: Middle Man (CBS 1980)

Produced by: Bill Schnee
Boz Scaggs: My Time - A Boz Scaggs Anthology (Sony 1998)
Produced by: Various
Born William Royce Scaggs in Ohio 1944, singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs started out in the 60's as a member of the Steve Miller Band. In 1963 after relocating to England, he sang on street corners. He recorded "Boz" in Sweden in 1965, before returning to the U.S. where he reunited with Miller two years later. After recording two acclaimed albums with the group, "Children of the Future" and "Sailor", Scaggs exited in 1968 to mount a solo career. He didn't achieve a commercial breakthrough until 1976's "Silk Degrees", which reached #2 on the album charts and including the hits "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle". 1977's "Down Two, Then Left" was also a success, and 1980's "Middle Man" reached the Top Ten on the strength of the singles "Breakdown Dead Ahead" and "JoJo". However, Scaggs spent much of the 1980s in retirement, owning and operating the San Francisco nightclub Slim's and limiting his performances primarily to the club's annual black-tie New Year's Eve party.
Also check out the 2001 release "Dig" on Virgin Records including the excellent "Miss Riddle". Co-produced by David Paich and a very fine adult contemporary take on R&B that showcases Scaggs in the finest voice in decades.

  Buy it on Amazon.com
Buy it on Amazon.comBuy it on Amazon.com
 
Steely Dan: The Royal Scam (MCA 1976)
Steely Dan: Aja (MCA 1977)
Steely Dan: Gaucho (MCA 1980)

Produced by: Gary Katz
Walter Becker & Donald Fagen are hard to place in a genre. Steely Dan could just as easily been tagged jazz/rock. Anyway, these three albums are in my opinion some of their best work. Excellent songwriting and outstanding production. They've recently all been remastered into any Hi-Fi freak's wet dream! "Gaucho" is also available in 5.1 channel DTS sound! For a good overview of the bands career, try the compilation "A Decade Of Steely Dan".

  Buy it on Amazon.com  
Gino Vannelli: Powerful People (A&M 1974)
Produced by: Gino & Joe Vannelli
Gino Vannelli: Brother to Brother (A&M 1978)
Gino Vannelli: Nightwalker (Arista 1981)

Produced by: Gino, Joe & Ross Vannelli
Maybe not real "WestCoast", but I couldn't resist recommending these 3 excellent titles by Gino Vannelli. He has never really got the recognition he definitely deserves. Gino Vannelli learned to play the drums early in life and studied music theory at McGill University. He formed an R&B band with brothers Joe and Ross in the late 60's, but began recording solo material for RCA in 1970. Alternatively you could go for the very good 18 track "Ultimate Collection".

  Buy it on Amazon.comBuy it on Amazon.com  
Jimmy Webb: El Mirage  (Atlantic 1977)
Jimmy Webb: Angel Heart (Columbia 1982)
Jimmy Webb: Suspending Disbelief (Elektra 1993)

Produced by: Jimmy Webb
Pop music composer responsible for writing numerous popular and Top 10 hits sung by a various group of artists, including Glen Campbell ("By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman", "Galveston"), Art Garfunkel ("All I Know", Scissors Cut"), Richard Harris ("MacArthur Park"), The Fifth Dimension ("Up, Up and Away") and The Highwaymen -- consisting of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson -- ("The Highwayman"), Linda Ronstadt, and many many others. Both El Mirage and Angel Heart are excellent AOR efforts filled with classic Webb compositions. El Mirage is Jap. CD release only.

  Buy it on Amazon.comBuy it on Amazon.com  
Wilson Brothers: Another Night (Atlantic 1979)
Produced by: Kyle Lehning
Steve and Kelly Wilson's only release, and what a great effort it is! Despite the fact that it was recorded in Nashville and the only west coast player on it is Steve Lukather -- who by the way does some of his best session here -- this album -- Another Night is surely a West Coast classic. Jap. CD release.