If you were to approach average teenage music fans and ask them who Pablo Cruise is, you may get responses like “Tom’s brother” or perhaps “the svengali behind the Backstreet Boys or N*SYNC”. The music of Pablo Cruise, like the music of many other great ‘70s bands, seems to have gotten lost with the passage of time. Fortunately, the folks responsible for the successful compilation series, 20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection haven’t forgotten Pablo Cruise.
Formed in San Francisco in 1973, Pablo Cruise, like The Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffett, effectively created music that possessed the unique ability to transport the listener to a place, with a sound that evoked sand, sunshine, palm trees, and tropical vistas. Guitarist/vocalist Dave Jenkins, bassist/vocalist Bud Cockrell, keyboardist Cory Lerios and drummer Steve Price released their eponymous debut in 1975, which included signature singles like “Ocean Breeze” and “Island Woman”. This record introduced listeners to the band’s hypnotic brand of good-time, radio-friendly, soft-rock showcasing Cockrell’s stinging vocals and Jenkins’ groove-laden, jazz-rock guitar passages. Their follow-up, Lifeline (1976) though not a commercial success, proved the band’s musical direction was right on track, as evidenced on “Zero to Sixty in Five”. But everything changed with the release of A Place in the Sun (1977). Easily their best outing, A Place in the Sun gave the band national exposure and platinum success via hits like “Whatcha Gonna Do?” and the soft-rock styled title track, not to mention strong, deep cuts like “Atlanta June”. Their follow-up, Worlds Away(1978) saw the departure of Cockrell, but the band picked up where they left off with the addition of Santana bassist/vocalist Bruce Day. Worlds Away would go on to achieve platinum status while giving the band three bone-fide hits in “Love Will Find a Way”, “Don’t Want to Live Without it” and a rock-splashed version of Peter Allen’s “I Go to Rio”.
While Pablo Cruise would go on to release three more albums, Part of the Game (1979), Reflector (1981) and Out of Our Hands (1983) and realize some chart success with “I Want You Tonight” and “Cool Love”, a burgeoning New Wave scene would ensure that the band would never again duplicate their earlier success.
While not an exhaustive collection, The Best of Pablo Cruise: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection is an excellent primer for those who may be unfamiliar with the band, as well as those who enjoy meticulously-crafted compositions, great harmonies and cool musical breezes.
// Notes from the Road
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