Yacht Funk


There is no genre called “yacht funk,” but maybe there should be. It’s like a corollary to the widely recognized “yacht rock” sub-genre, with breezy, loping time signatures, a languorous disco pace, and maybe a little flicker of guitar, George Benson style. It’s heavy on jazz-funk, true, but wouldn’t be complete without someone doing his best Michael McDonald impression, like George Duke on “Every Little Step I Take,” or the Gap Band on “Yearning for Your Love.” (We will have to save the “Late 1970s soul singers who wanted to be in the Doobie Brothers” phenomenon for another post.) There are even songs specific to summer sun and sailing, like Benson’s “Breezin’,” Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Sailaway,” Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness” and Donald Byrd’s “Wind Parade.”

The joke, of course, is that yacht funk is profoundly un-funky. But that’s part of its charm. After all, what’s funkier than trying to relax on a boat in the middle of the ocean?


  • George Benson, “Breezin”
  • Earth, Wind & Fire, “Sailaway”
  • Roy Ayers, “Searching”
  • Chic, “Sao Paolo”
  • Gap Band, “Yearning for Your Love”
  • George Duke, “Every Little Step I Take”
  • Dionne Warwick, “Deja Vu”
  • Herbie Hancock, “Sun Touch”
  • Donald Byrd, “Wind Parade”
  • Andy Bey, “Celestial Blues”
  • Love Unlimited Orchestra, “Strange Games & Things” (extended version)
  • The Doobie Brothers, “You Belong to Me”
  • Stevie Wonder, “Summer Soft”
  • Earth, Wind & Fire, “New World Symphony”
  • The Isley Brothers, “Summer Breeze”
  • Kool & the Gang, “Whiting H&G”
  • George Duke, “For Love I Come My Friend”
  • Bobbi Humphrey, “Please Set Me At Ease”
  • Ohio Players, “Heaven Must Be Like This”
  • Kool & the Gang, “Summer Madness”

(Rhapsody – May 20, 2014)

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