England Dan & John Ford Coley

The Atlantic Albums +

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When people think of Yacht Rock, they think of soft sounds and bushy beards -- the Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald immortalized on the internet comedy Channel 101. England Dan and John Ford Coley had mustaches, not beards, but they never skimped on the soft sounds, as Edsel's 2015 reissue, The Atlantic Albums +, proves in spades. The duo cut three records for A&M in the early '70s but they didn't register on any radar. When they switched to the Atlantic subsidiary Big Tree, they hit the big time with 1976's Nights Are Forever, which contained the pseudo-title track "Nights Are Forever Without You" and "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight," pinnacles of smooth '70s Southern California soft rock. Things got even slicker from that point on, with each successive album -- 1977's Dowdy Ferry Road, 1978's Some Things Don't Come Easy, 1979's Dr. Heckle & Mr. Jive -- getting glossier. So slick were the sounds that the songs didn't always stick -- the duo had only two other Top 10 hits, 1978's "We'll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again" and a 1979 cover of Todd Rundgren's "Love Is the Answer" -- and the emphasis on in-the-pocket grooves and immaculate tracks could sometimes give the albums a professional anonymity, which may have hurt them at the time but is charming in retrospect. This is especially true on The Atlantic Albums + , which is expanded with three fine non-LP singles from 1979 and contains liner notes from Paul Myers that give England Dan & John Ford Coley personality, but the true appeal of this double-disc set are those easy sounds, sounds that sound better and smoother with the passing of time.

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