|Genres||Rock, new wave, power pop|
|Associated acts||It's Immaterial
|Past members||Bob Bellis
Martin J. Watson
Ray 'Chopper' Cooper
The group was formed by art students in Liverpool in April 1977 out of an earlier band, known variously as 'Albert Dock' or 'Albert and the Cod Warriors', who had supported the Sex Pistols on one of their infamous early gigs the previous year.
The band originally consisted of Bob Bellis (drums, vocals); John (J.J.) Campbell (vocals); Martin Dempsey (bass guitar, vocals) (later replaced by first Ray "Chopper" Cooper, then Mick Shiner and finally Glyn Havard); Henry Priestman (born Henry Christian Priestman, 21 June 1955, Hull, and brought up in Liverpool) (vocals, keyboards); and Martin Watson (guitar, vocals).
They played their first show (as ‘Yachts’) at Eric's nightclub in Liverpool, supporting Elvis Costello. This led to a recording contract with Stiff Records, where they released one single, the witty and self-referential "Suffice To Say", written by Priestman and Campbell and produced by Will Birch. They also released a novelty single, "Do The Chud", as the Chuddy Nuddies.
With label mates Costello and Nick Lowe, they then joined the newly formed Radar label. On 9 October 1978, a few weeks after releasing "Look Back in Love (Not Anger)", their first single on Radar, the band recorded the first of two sessions at Maida Vale 4 studio, for John Peel at BBC Radio 1. The tracklisting was "Hits", "Yachting Types", "Look Back In Love", and "Then And Now". (The band’s second session was recorded in June 1979).
The band recorded their debut LP in New York with producer Richard Gottehrer. One reviewer raved that “[the Yachts have] got this cool cheesy (sic) keyboard sound with a nice chunky guitar underneath and in addition to being catchy tunes, their songs have hysterically funny lyrics, like "Yachting Type", where the guy's girl runs off with a yachtsman, or "Mantovani's Hits", which hypothesizes a rock and roll world where Elvis records hadn't been hits but Mantovani's had, or "Box 202", where the guy's girl is killed in an airplane crash so he puts out a classified ad to look for a replacement. The others deal with romance in equally oddball ways, but always rocking and always catchy as hell”.
Campbell left the group in 1978, and Dempsey departed in 1980. Dempsey became a member of Pink Military; and Campbell helped to found It's Immaterial. Yachts finally split up in 1981. Priestman, who for a time was a member of both Yachts and Bette Bright & the Illuminations, then went on to join It's Immaterial, Wah! and, most notably, The Christians, more recently working as a producer with Mark Owen and Melanie C.
Retrospective appraisals of the band’s output vary. M.C. Strong dismisses Yachts as “one of the many outfits jostling for recognition in the overcrowded pop / rock marketplace”. Colin Larkin is more generous, writing that “Yachts’ popularity was fleeting but they left behind several great three-minute slices of pop, including a cover of R. Dean Taylor’s "There’s a Ghost in my House". Vernon Joynson summed up Yacht’s approach. “Lyrically, much of their material was in the usual boy / girl realm but with humour. Musically, they ranged from sixties influenced rock with [farfisa] organ to fast-paced punk-cum-[new wave]”. Steve Gardner loved this approach. “They hammered out these rocking pop songs surrounded by swirling washes of cheap keyboards. Lots of their songs strung together common threads of boating and strange tales of love, and they had some hysterically funny lyrics, like "I wouldn't climb any mountain for you/Ford any stream that's a daft thing to do/'Cos I'm cynical cynical cynical through and through" from ‘Love You, Love You’”.
- "Suffice to Say" / "Freedom (Is a Heady Wine)" (Stiff Records, BUY 19, September 1977)
- "Do the Chud" / "Big in Japan" on the flip-side (as The Chuddy Nuddies, Eric’s, November 1977)
- "Look Back in Love (Not in Anger)" / "I Can't Stay Long" (Radar, ADA 23, September 1978)
- "Yachting Types" / "Hypnotising lies" (Radar, ADA 25, November 1978)
- "Love You, Love You" / "Hazy People" (live) (Radar, ADA 36, May 1979)
- "Box 202" / "Permanent Damage (live)" (Radar, ADA 42, July 1979)
- "Now I’m Spoken For" / "Secret Agents" (Radar, ADA 49, November 1979)
- "There’s A Ghost in My House" / "Revelry" / "Yachting Types" (Radar, ADA 52, April 1980)
- "I.O.U. (In the Oddments Drawer)" / "24 Hours From Tulsa" (Radar, ADA 57, August 1980)
- "A Fool Like You" / "Dubmarine" (Demon, D 1005, February 1981)
- Yachts (Radar, RAD 19, June 1979) – released as S.O.S. in the U.S. - Billboard 200 chart No. 179
- Without Radar (Radar, RAD 27, May 1980)
Appearances on various artists compilations
- "Yachting Types" on DIY: Starry Eyes – UK Pop II (1978-79) (Rhino Records, 1993)
- "Suffice to Say" on A Hard Nights Day: A History of Stiff Records (Double album, MCA / Universal, 1997)
- "Suffice to Say" on 1-2-3-4: A History of Punk & New Wave 1976 – 79 (5 CD Box Set, MCA / Universal, 1999)
- "Suffice to Say" on North by North West: Liverpool & Manchester from Punk to Post-Punk & Beyond (3 CD Box Set, Korova, 2006)
- Larkin, Colin (1992) “Indie & New Wave Music”, Guinness Publishing, Enfield, p. 317;
- ‘The Story So Far’ on The Christians’ official website;
- Will Birch website;
- John Peel Sessions on BBC Radio 1;
- Steve Gardner (1996) “Hiljaiset Levyt: 100 Best Punk LP's”;
- Strong, M.C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, Edinburgh, p. 187;
- Joynson, V. (2001) Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk, Borderline Productions, Wolverhampton, p. 455;
- Steve Gardner (1996) “Hiljaiset Levyt: 100 Best Punk singles”;