Rock the Boat (The Hues Corporation song)
|"Rock the Boat"|
|Single by The Hues Corporation|
|from the album Freedom for the Stallion|
|B-side||"All Goin' Down Together"|
|The Hues Corporation singles chronology|
"Rock the Boat" is a song by American trio The Hues Corporation, written by Wally Holmes. "Rock the Boat" was first featured on their 1973 debut studio album Freedom for the Stallion (a different edit version, which was the single, later appeared on certain editions of the band's 1974 second album Rockin' Soul). It was released as the third single from the album in early 1974, to follow up Stallion's title song, which had peaked at number sixty-three on the Hot 100, and "Miracle Maker (Sweet Soul Shaker)" which did not chart.
Initially, "Rock the Boat" appeared as though it would also flop, as months went by without any radio airplay or sales activity. Not until the song became a disco favorite in New York did Top 40 radio finally pick up on the song, leading the record to finally enter the Hot 100 and zip up the chart to number-one the week of July 6, 1974, in only its seventh week on the chart (and fourth week in the Top 40). The record also reached the top-ten in the United Kingdom. "Rock the Boat" is considered one of the earliest disco songs. Some authorities proclaim it to be the first disco song to hit number-one, while others give that distinction to "Love's Theme" by Love Unlimited Orchestra, a chart-topper from earlier in 1974. The song became a gold record. It is a heavy airplay favorite on oldie and adult contemporary stations today.
The song features a lead vocal by Fleming Williams, who left The Hues Corporation shortly after the song was recorded. According to The Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Fred Bronson, the lone female member of the group, H. Ann Kelley, had originally been pegged to sing lead, but this idea was discarded out of fear that groups with female lead singers were less commercially viable. The bass player on the session was Wilton Felder, not James Jamerson as previously reported. The drummer on the session who inadvertently brought the concept of using that Cumbia beat to the song was Bobby Perez, session drummer (former Ludwig endorser) from Los Angeles and New York. Prior to that recording session the song had a completely different rhythm.
The Hues Corporation member St. Clair Lee claims "It was a song that you could do anything on. You could cuddle or you could get crazy if you wanted to. It was a love song without being a love song. But, it was a Disco hit and it happened because of the discos."
The song features a change in meter during the pre-chorus "We've been sailing with a cargo full of love and devotion" where it is 7
4 for one measure while the rest of the song is in common time. The 'Rock the Boat' dance also a favourite at weddings and birthday parties and involves many people sitting down in a row and 'rowing' a boat to the tune of the song.
Samples and covers
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"Rock the Boat" was covered in 1982 by the Dutch/American singer Forrest Thomas. His version also made the UK top five (number 4) and the top 10 of the American Dance/Disco chart. Jacob Miller and the Inner Circle cut a reggae version of the song in 1974.
Singaporean band Lizard's Convention also covered the song in the 1990s.
Richard Finch of KC and the Sunshine Band has said that "Rock The Boat" played a partial role in inspiring the hit "Rock Your Baby". The song was also featured in the 1990 film The Spirit of '76, the 1993 film Carlito's Way, the 1996 film The Cable Guy, the 1999 film Man on the Moon, the HBO series The Sopranos (Season 2, episode 5, Big Girls Don't Cry), commercial for M&M's, and (sung in character by Seth MacFarlane as Glenn Quagmire, Patrick Warburton as Joe Swanson, and Mike Henry as Cleveland Brown) the Family Guy episode A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas. The song appeared in the 1997 movie The Devil's Own with Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt, and a short extract of the refrain ("Love is a ship on the ocean..") in the 2015 movie The Martian directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon.
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