Yachts - Suffice To Say - The Complete Yachts Collection (Cherry Red Records, 2018)
Having supported The Sex Pistols at Liverpool’s Eric’s Club, the seven-piece band Albert Dock and the Cod Warriors, shortened to Albert Dock as the entire name would not fit on the bass drum, became a five piece band rechristened The Yachts.
Following a gig supporting Elvis Costello at Eric’s later in 1977, the band were invited by the legendary Stiff Records label to record a couple of tracks with producer Will Birch, the result being the single “Suffice To Say” b/w “Freedom (Is A Heady Wine)” and thus began the short, yet delightful recording career of this most underrated UK power pop/new wave band. The entirety of the band’s recorded legacy, two albums and ten singles, forty three tracks total, are collected on this wonderful new three CD box set.
Their debut single failed to hit, and within a few months lead vocalist J.J. Campbell exited the band, but after releasing a single under the alias The Chuddy Nuddies, the band returned as a four piece, consisting of Martin Watson on guitar, Henry Priestman on keyboards, Martin Dempsey on bass, and Bob Bells on drums, with Watson and Priestman taking over on lead vocals. The Yachts followed Costello to Andrew Lauder’s new Radar Records and in September, 1978, released their follow up single, a cover of an obscure 60s song “Look Back In Love (Not In Anger)” which like their debut quickly sank. However, the band began a run of delightful singles a few months later with the band original “Yachting Types” b/w “Hypnotising Lies,” the b-side a rant about a relationship lost at sea, where the victim’s girl runs off with a sailor, a sign of things to come as the Yachts future releases were zany numbers in the vein of the likes of the Sweet, the Pretenders and Squeeze among others.
The Yachts ventured to the US and played a gig at NY’s CBGB’s club, followed by two weeks at Radio City Music Hall and recorded their debut s/t LP with Blondie producer Richard Goetteher. “Yachts” opens with “Box 202” a tongue in cheek tune along the lines of the Shangri-Las “Teen Angel” which involves a young man’s attempt to replace his recently deceased girlfriend (victim of a plane crash) by using a computer dating service. The amusing track was culled as a single, but sadly, as with the album itself, it failed to chart. The album which also included the previously released “Yachting Types” is actually an excellent collection of power pop and new wave tunes, led by Watson’s guitar and Priestman’s Farfisa organ and certainly deserved a much better fate.
The band released their second, and final, album “Without Radar” produced by Martin Rushert in May, 1980. During the recordings Martin Dempsey exited the band and the album’s bass parts were recorded by Ray Cooper. Unfortunately, the album and the first single taken from it, “Ghost In My House” penned by R. Dean Taylor of “Indiana Wants Me” fame, failed to hit as well as a non-LP single “IOU (in the Oddments Drawer)” b/w concert favorite “24 Hours From Tulsa.” By this time Cooper had also left the band, replaced by ex-Jade Warrior bassist Glyn Havard. Fate was not kind to the band as Havard left just as the Yachts were headed for a second US tour, with Mick Shiner learning the band’s entire set in 3 days. Like its predecessor “Without Radar” featured outstanding guitar work by Watson and killer Farfisa courtesy of Priestman on tunes such as album opener “Consequences” and “Trust You” with the latter including some fine fuzz work by Watson.
When their sophomore LP failed to sell, the band once again found themselves without a recording contract. After signing to Andrew Lauder’s new Demon Records , the band released their final single, “A Fool Like You’ b/w “Dubmarine” with the a-side containing a David Bowiesque sax sound. The single, released in February, 1981, once again failed to chart. The Yachts had an album’s worth of demos recorded, and the songs were well received when played live, but remain unreleased.
While the Yachts never achieved fortune or fame, the quality of their work is unquestionable and they have retained their cult status. Fans of power pop and new wave rock of the late 1970s and 1980s will find “”Suffice To Say” a joy, whether they are part of the band’s cult following or this box set serves as their introduction to the band. The set, overseen by Priestman, comes in a clamshell box, and includes a 24-page full color booklet, with an essay by band fan Les Glover along with notes by Radio 5 broadcaster Mark Kermode, numerous clippings and memorabilia, a Pete Frame family tree, and a superb mastering job by James Bragg. They may not be a band you hear about every day, but “Suffice To Say” documents the musical adventures of a most talented band with a rather twisted sense of humor, featuring a unique guitar and Farfisa led sound and comes most highly recommended.
- Kevin Rathert
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