Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to Albany for the weekend, where we'll be attending the black tie premiere for the new bio-pic about Governor Eliot Spitzer, Thank You For Everything. Could be a hot one!
In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.
But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:
BEST HARMONICA SOLO ON A POP OR ROCK RECORD!!!!!
By "best," we mean either in a blues or non-blues idiom, just to keep it totally wide open. And by "solo" we mean anything of any length, even if it's just a riff.
Totally arbitrary rule: Don't even try to nominate something by that fat guy from Blues Traveller. The Hendrix of the Blues Harp my ass....
Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Thirteen:
13. The White Stripes -- Hello Operator
Just because we needed something actually recorded in the 21st century.
12. Jimmy Reed -- Honest I Do
The very definition of sly concision. (Hey -- I made a couplet!!!!)
11. The Pretenders -- Middle of the Road
Chrissie Hynde -- first she growls, then she makes her harp sound like a stray cat in heat. Can we just admit she's the greatest female rocker who ever was or will be and be done with it already?
10. Procol Harum -- Your Own Choice
Sorry there's no audio or video link, but take my word for it -- it's gorgeous, and it's played (unredited) by the great Larry Adler. And if you don't know who he is, hang your head in shame and then read this.
9. Bruce Chanel -- Hey Baby
That's Delbert McClinton playing the harmonica stuff. I seem to recall it was a huge influence on a certain four-piece band from the UK.
8. The Beatles -- I Should Have Known Better
Uh...a case in point.
7. J. Geils Band -- Whammer Jammer
The aptly named Magic Dick. 'Nuff said.
6. Stevie Wonder -- For Once In My Life
As brilliantly structured and performed a solo as you'll ever hear on any instrument.
5. A tie --
The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger) -- Stop Breaking Down
No vid available alas, but you can listen to the whole thing in stereo(!) here.
The Rolling Stones (Brian Jones) -- Good Times Bad Times
Amplified Chicago blues harp in the former, acoustic country blues harp in the latter, both brilliant.
4. Bob Dylan -- I Want You
Short, melodic, and it frames the song perfectly, front and back. Anybody who says Dylan's a crappy harp player really isn't listening....
3. XTC -- Ballad of Peter Pumpkin Head
Blues harp on a revisionist folk rock song. Andy Partridge is god, obviously.
2. Creedence Clearwater Revival -- Run Through the Jungle
John Fogerty channels Howlin Wolf. It doesn't get any spookier, song OR harp part.
And the number one, no question about it, all time coolest harmonica solo on a hit record is --
1. Slim Harpo -- Scratch My Back
Hands down, the down and dirtiest blues performance ever to crack Top 40 radio.
Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?
[h/ts to Brooklyn Girl and John McPartlin]