Joan Armatrading’s Drop The Pilot is without a doubt one of the very best songs to come out of the 1980s and should have been a bigger hit that it was. That’s not to say it wasn’t a big hit, in Australia is was huge, but in the US it did not chart that high.
Never the less, it takes nothing away from the fact that this is a great song, with some great players involved int he recording of it, including Tim Pierce on guitar. Val Garay was on fire in the early 1980s producing hit after hit, and Drop The Pilot along with the other album track What do boys Dream were recorded in New York, separately to the rest of the album which was recorded in the UK and Sweden.
Like all recordings of the day, Val Garay used the DBX 160 on the drums for Drop The Pilot and once again little is known of the other effects used during mixdown, It is quite likely that the then go to reverb, the AMS RMX16 was used, or perhaps the Lexicon 224.
Drop The Pilot has proven to be a mainstay of radio to this day, and deservedly so. Perhaps die hard fans of Joan Armatrading look at The Key and Drop The Pilot as a period in time where Joan strayed from her usual formula that they had grown to love, but there is no doubt it produced her greatest commercial success which speaks volumes.