Although soft rock never officially died and the term continues to maintain general application to various kinds of mellow, light rock still today, the style thrived in its purest form for about 10 years spanning most of the ’70s and the early years of the ’80s. Characterized by gentle, unimposing arrangements and lyrics focusing on love and romance, it soon mutated into AOR, & was the sort of music they played in Hi Fi stores to display the quality of the latest smoke topped music centers. These records “sounded” great for a reason they mostly featured “jazzers” – west coast jazz session men who brought their skills & precision to the fore on cuts. Also, a lot of money was floating around the record industry, & a lot of money was spent making these records. orchestras booked, overdubs played, guest vocalists brought in. And why? Because if you hit pay dirt & got a hit away the jackpot was HUGE. And, of course where there is the combination of money & fledgling rock stars there is Cocaine. It’s often pondered as to the effects of cocaine on music. Rumors abound that once suggested it can influence the frequency one hears at…..hence the high end sheen which seems to be present on so many of these recordings (plus some very OTT artwork).
I fucking love Soft Rock. Tapping into this musically source was one of the main inspirations for my Guilty Pleasures brand, the first two comp releases having a sprinkling of AOR cuts. So much of the new music I play within my weekly radio show reflects the influence of soft rock – Midlake, Haim, Gonzales, John Grant, Ariel Pink, Jonathan Wilson, Haim, Destroyer, Phoenix & of course Daft Punk. Then there’s the never ending source of edits,most of which can be found here, AOR Disco. And now, Berlin based DJ Marcus Liesenfeld has gone all the way & come up trumps with a stunning set “Too Slow To Disco”, within which he reveals the true gems in the crown. He explains, “As you know, once musical genres get old the best parts still shine through, and this collection is a delectable document of this forgotten phase of the mid-70s West Coast music world. We’ve unearthed some of the lesser-known but still beautiful mood music of this period, by people who were often still starting out, or would write their biggest hits years later, but who surfed the West Coast wave penning some total gems.”
This is the best compilation of the year so far. Here’s three choice cuts to get you excited.
Robbie Dupree – Steal Away
Alessi Brothers – Do You Feel It ?
Photoglo – Steal Away