Rock the Boat (The Hues Corporation song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"Rock the Boat"
Rock the Boat - Hues Corporation.jpg
Single by The Hues Corporation
from the album Freedom for the Stallion
B-side"All Goin' Down Together"
ReleasedMay 1974
LabelRCA Records
Songwriter(s)Wally Holmes
Producer(s)John Florez
The Hues Corporation singles chronology
"Freedom for the Stallion"
"Rock the Boat"
"Rockin' Soul"

"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).[1] 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 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, 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. Producer John Florez did not like the lyrics for "Rock the Boat", calling them "trite", and it was originally made a B side. After a riveting response from New York City's dance clubs, Florez remixed the song and it was quickly re-released, becoming a smash.

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."[2]

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
for one measure while the rest of the song is in common time. The 'Rock the Boat' dance is 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[edit]

"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.

British girl group Delage covered the song in 1990. It peaked at #63 on the UK charts.

There is a reference to the song's distinctive bridge in Jurassic 5 track "Concrete Schoolyard".

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".[3] 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) 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. In Derry Girls, "Rock the Boat" is played during an episode that takes place at a wedding.

In 2000, "Rock The Boat" was covered by Gemmy Industries, the makers of Big Mouth Billy Bass and used in the novelty items Travis the Singing Trout, Rocky the Singing Lobster, and Lucky the Singing Lobster.

One of the furthest reaches "Rock The Boat" has made has been on the Australian series Playschool in a program theme about water.[4]



  1. ^ "The Hues Corporation - Rockin' Soul (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". October 6, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  2. ^ "Gary James' Interview With St. Clair Lee of The Hues Corporation". Retrieved July 5, 2011.
  3. ^ "Rock The Boat by The Hues Corporation". Songfacts. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
  4. ^ "Theme Notes : Water" (PDF). Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  5. ^ Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  6. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on February 21, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". July 27, 1974. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  8. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Rock the Boat". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  9. ^ Dutch Charts Annual Reviews - Single 1974
  10. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  11. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  12. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  13. ^ "Hues Corporation Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 265.
  15. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 114.
  16. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 7/13/74". July 13, 1974. Archived from the original on August 28, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  17. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on December 23, 2015. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  18. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1974" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  19. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1974/Top 100 Songs of 1974".
  20. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1974". December 28, 1974. Archived from the original on July 22, 2019. Retrieved October 10, 2016.

External links[edit]