Song Of The Day 7/24/2015: Eye to Eye – “On the Mend”

Yacht Rock Underground – Finally, I’m not sure Eye To Eye belong on this theme week. That’s three days in a row I’ve put an artist up here and then proclaimed I wasn’t sure they belonged in Yacht Rock Underground week. Which really should call the whole integrity of the last week into question, ’cause I skipped over artists like Robbie Dupree, Orleans, Pablo Cruise and Christopher Cross, all unquestionably qualified yacht rock heroes, in favor of artists whose music I actually, you know, preferred, tying them however fragilely to the mast of a rock movement that didn’t even exist until 30 years after it was over. And even then it didn’t happen until a bunch of comedians in L.A. decided it happened. Hot damn, I screwed this pooch.

Ah well. Eye To Eye were produced by Gary Katz, who is the same producer responsible for all of Steely Dan’s most renown work from Can’t Buy a Thrill to Gaucho. Steely Dan were profiled in the Yacht Rock web series as well, though I don’t remember exactly how they were portrayed. From a sound sculpture standpoint they fit the mold, although they sang about some pretty desperate situations with characters who had mostly sold their souls down the river.

Eye To Eye was similarly smart, and not easy to placate with floral prints and ill-fitting captain’s hats. They were two people, Deborah Berg and Julian Marshall. Marshall’s career was already a little speckled by 1982; he’d had a pop hit in the UK as half of Marshall Hain, and skipped from that into a short stint with mechanical parodists the Flying Lizards. Berg had an attractive voice and a wry lyrical take – I’m assuming she wrote the lyrics for no real reason other than she sang them – and the two of them scuttled around the lower reaches of the top 40 with the very Steely hit “Nice Girls.”

Berg’s presence just as yacht rock was flopping on the beach gasping for oxygen is a reminder that the pseudo-genre was nonetheless the near-exclusive province of dudes. Sure, they were ostensibly sensitive and promised to cater to your every need, but that doesn’t mitigate the fact that it was pretty much a sausage fest from stem to stern. It must have had to do with the precision hardware and tools required to pull off something as slick and well-calibrated as yacht rock. Not to generalize, but it’s pretty much the boys who frothed over those meters and synth patches and noise reduction and stuff. I think we all needed the change.

That brings Yacht Rock Underground week to a close one day early because, frankly, I just have to move on. The response and page views have been too good and I’m afraid of being typecast, like Lifeguard #2 on Baywatch. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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