Friday, April 25, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Dave "Baby" Cortez Lives! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to Paramus, New Jersey (a mere stones throw from my digs in the Paris of the Tri-State Metropolitan Area). Something about brown bears on a rampage. I'm not sure what the deal is; perhaps they're eating old Jews. Doesn't seem right.

Hey. It's late and I was stuck for a joke. So sue me.

In any case, as a result, 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:


As we stipulated for last week's piano list, once agin by "best" we mean the most melodic, the most effective, or the most inventive. It can be a solo, an entire part as played through the length of a song, or simply a riff -- whatever gets you off.

And just to belabor the obvious, we said "organ." No pianos, clavinets or synths need apply. You heard me. But in the interests of common sense, we're waiving the four minute time constraint this time -- there are too many good songs that run well over that arbitrary limit -- although I do hope you'll have the good breeding not to nominate anything by Yes.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Twelve, with credits for the fine folks who actually play the notes appended:

12. Arcade Fire -- My Body is a Cage (William Butler)

Just so we have something recorded in this century. This sounds a lot like some other, older band from Canada, though...can't quite think of their name.

11. Booker T. and the MGs -- Time is Tight (Booker T. Jones)

Get me drunk and I'll actually claim that this is one of the best short pieces of instrumental music, in any genre, written in the second half of the 20th century.

10. The Beatles -- We Can Work It Out (John Lennon)

That's John on harmonium, of course, which is a primitive form of pump organ so don't give me any crap. In any case, this may be the most perfect early Beatle record, largely due to those organ swells adding color and texture during the verses. And the out of nowhere liturgical riff at the end, of course.

9. A tie:

The Animals -- Boom Boom (Alan Price)

The Alan Price Set -- I Put a Spell On You (Alan Price, natch)

Price is kind of a household name in England; in this country, alas, less so. But if there was a more soulful keyboard guy and singer tossed up on the shores of the British Invasion, I can't think of him.

8. Spencer Davis Group -- I'm a Man (Stevie Winwood)

Well, maybe Stevie.

7. Brinsley Schwarz -- Surrender to the Rhythm (Bob Andrews)

This clip simply slays me. Astoundingly lyrical organ work; the young Nick Lowe wrote the damn thing and is trying hard to be the focus of attention here, but Andrews absolutely steals it.

6. Another tie --

? and the Mysterians -- 96 Tears (Frank Rodriguez)


Sir Douglas Quintet -- She's About a Mover (Augie Meyers)

Genuis simplicity or moronic mindlessness? YOU make the call!! Seriously -- the cheesy 60s organ sound that pretty much defines pop retro begins here.

5. Another tie --

Bob Dylan -- Like a Rolling Stone (Al Kooper)


Elvis Costello and the Attractions -- Pump It Up (Steve Nieve)

Kooper invents the quicksilver 60s folk rock keyboard sound in the former, Nieve updates it for the immediate post-punk era in the latter.

4. The Zombies -- Time of the Season (Rod Argent)

Argent's playing here is dazzling, of course, but the decision to overdub a second solo on top of the first one on the fadeout was sheer genius.

3. Procol Harum -- Pilgrim's Progress (Matthew Fischer)

Like "Layla," this is a song with a lengthy, seemingly unrelated instrumental coda appended from out of the blue. Unlike "Layla," this one has no guitar histrionics whatsoever, and yet it's just as gorgeous. Remarkable.

2. Alabama 3 -- Woke Up This Morning (Orlando Harrison)

This is possibly the simplest organ lick ever recorded -- really, I could teach my cat to play it in five minutes -- and yet damned if it doesn't work in the context of the everything but the kitchen sink stuff these guys surround it with. Of course, this is now essentially the state song of New Jersey, so I may be overrating it....

And the number one coolest, it's not even a contest for crissakes, organ grinding on a pop/rock record of all time is indisputably ---

1. Oh crap, it's another tie!!!

The Band -- Chest Fever (Garth Hudson)


The Call
-- The Walls Came Down (Garth Hudson)

The Mad Professor at his maddest and grandest. And it is perhaps no accident that both these songs, as lyrically different as they are, have magnificently primal hard rock riffs at their core.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?


Anonymous said...

My internal organ (B3 style) will always be Matt Fisher's solo on Kaleidoscope from the first Procol Harum album.


Brooklyn Girl said...

Well, since you said post-Elvis I suppose that leaves out "Runaway" ...

But no "Good Loving"? Sheesh.

TJWood said...

Good choices all, Steve. Since I don't like to even repeat artists for my list, I do have to leave out Procol Harum, since they've already been given two mentions.

I'll be the first to give a mention to the recently departed Danny Federici from the E Street Band. There may be better choices out there, but I'll go with "Tunnel of Love" from the album of the same name as my top choice for this week. "Ramrod" would be a good choice, too, but it is similar in style to some of the choices on your list. "The Fever" would be good, too, but that was given a mention in last week's Listomania.

A few completely random honorable mentions, and although I really don't have anything against them, I will refrain from bringing up the Doors, if only to avoid going to too obvious a choice:

The solo in the middle of the Rolling Stones' "I Got the Blues" (from Sticky Fingers)--played by Billy Preston, if I'm not mistaken

"Dreams" from the first Allman Brothers Band album (Gregg Allman, of course)

For my Farfisa choice, I'm going with the Rick Wright solo in Pink Floyd's "Matilda Mother" (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn)

Finally, even though it means breaking my rule because he was previously mentioned as the organ player on "Like A Rolling Stone", there's Al Kooper on "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" from the fine first Blood, Sweat & Tears album.

Mister Pleasant said...

I heard Procol perform "Pilgrim's Progress" about four years ago at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, when Matthew Fischer was briefly back in the band. I cried like a baby. I understand that a British judge recently overturned an earlier decision for Mr. Fischer's legal case, which claimed that he should be given credit as a co-writer of "A Whiter Shade of Pale". For my money, AWSOP IS the organ part. Well, that and the poetry.

Glad to see "The Walls Came Down" at the top of the list. I bought the 45 single (must have been about 1980) but frankly had forgotten about it until now. Us old folks sometimes have rusty memories.

My list would include Spark's "As I Sit Down to Play the Organ at the Notre Dame Cathedral". Genuine Mael brother dementia with massive waves of organ sound.

Anonymous said...

I second The Koop on "Like a Rolling Stone" - Double Secret Bonus Points, as he had never played organ before that session!
And it's gotta be the live version of "Chest Fever" from 'Rock of Ages' - the long intro ('The Genetic Method?')STILL makes me break out in hives.
And RIP Danny Federici. (Other than that, I got nuthin') - bill buckner

steve simels said...

Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals should definitely be on this list, but as I was assembling I thought "Good Lovin'" was just too obvious.

"Come on Up" or "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" would have definitely worked -- especially, the latter, which if memory serves has some really awesome Hammond swells.

Felix is WAY underrated -- he's really the American Stevie Winwood.

FeralLiberal said...

As piano player I'm sorry I missed last weeks list (no computer access at the FeralFarm)

OK I'll go with the obvious "Light my Fire" from the Doors.

And it may not have been all that technically brilliant, but I think the organ bits on "96 Tears" was influential beyond it's scope.

NYMary said...

What, no Flock of Seagulls?


Seriously, though, it's worth noting Trevor Horn's work on "Video Killed the Radio Star," and Rick Wakeman on "Roundabout."

Brooklyn Girl said...

Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals should definitely be on this list, but as I was assembling I thought "Good Lovin'" was just too obvious.

Yeah, well, it was 12:30 in the morning ...

The opening chords of the Stones' "She Smiled Sweetly" set that song up perfectly.

Of course, there's Winwood on Traffic's "Glad" ....

And then there's Georgie Fame, a budding Bobby Darin if there ever was one. No real organ solo on this song, but it certainly would be nowhere near the same without his playing.

Bill Kopp said...

Come ON now...nobody's mentioned Jerry Corbetta's jazzy turn on Sugarloaf's "Green Eyed Lady."

Also very cool: Barry Andrews's organ on The League of Gentlemen's "Inductive Resnance."

And mocke me if you must, but Doug Ingle's organ work on Iron Butterfly's "In-a-gadda-da-vida" is, well, groovy.

And while I know there have been several Procol Harum nominations, I vote for "Repent Walpurgis" as the one instrumental that brings me to tears every time I hear it, even on my scratchy old vinyl mono-reprocessed-for-stereo copy.

TMink said...

Bill Kopp, you da man. I completely agree.

While it is a simple part, Steve on Watching the Detectives is down right creepy.

I am glad to see Garth tie himself for the top spot!

The organ on Magic Carpet Ride is kill.

Have a great weekend!


TMink said...

Ya know, the texture that a B3 or Farfisa adds is really something, even if the part is simple. Think of some of the great Squeeze stuff, Farfisa Beat or Tempted, nothing too difficult, but the texture is central to the song.


Brooklyn Girl said...

Then there's this Deep Purple classic from Playboy After Dark, 1968 ... Eeek!!!! Shiny satin shirts!!!

Kula Shaker does a wicked live version of it.

Noam Sane said...

Who played the organ on Aretha's cover of "Spanish Harlem" - Spooner Oldham? That's the stuff.

Arif Mardin's production on that song is just gorgeous.

Deep Purple's "Hush" is kinda obvious. As is Timmy Thomas's wondrous one-hit.

Holly A Hughes said...

Excellent list --so glad you got the underrated Alan Price on there. Nieve, Argent, Kooper, three of my all-time faves. But I agree with with Brooklyn girl that you're missing Georgie Fame (how could you have Alan Price without Georgioe Fame) and I'd have found a place for Donald Fagan on there somewhere.

dave™© said...

Let me cast my vote (again) for Federici on "Incident on 57th Street". Just gorgeous stuff...

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Zep is one of those bands I kinda know I shouldn’t still be into, but like napalm in the morning … and I do think it’s just a fact that it was ballsy to start off the B side of your debut album with Jones's big ol swirling Hammond on Your Time is Gonna Come.

Thanks for all the work you put in to produce these fantastic Listomanias, Steve. God I love ‘em.

MBowen said...

Wrong call on the Spencer Davis gotta go with "Gimme Some Lovin'", overused in commercials or no.

How about spooky post-punk minimalists Young Marble Giants?

Or a personal fave, Human Switchboard? (I'm going to see Myrna Marcarian's new band next week!)

Noam Sane said...

Brooklyn Girl, didn't mean to dis your Deep Purple choice, pure coincidence I assure you. That is a bitchin' organ song. (Killer drumming too).

That was written/originally done by Joe South, if I recall.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Brooklyn Girl, didn't mean to dis your Deep Purple choice, pure coincidence I assure you. That is a bitchin' organ song. (Killer drumming too).

Oh, I didn't take it that way ... it may be obvious but it's also iconic. And the Kula Shaker cover is fun.

FeralLiberal said...

A few more for me.

A guilty pleasure, Grand Funk's "Footstomping Music"

Love the organ work in the Stone's "Shine a Light"

The organ parts in Steven Still's "Love the One You're With" dressed that up nicely.

Alman Brothers - "Whipping Post"

And for that matter, Devo's "Whip it"

steve simels said...

Holly A Hughes said...
Excellent list --so glad you got the underrated Alan Price on there. Nieve, Argent, Kooper, three of my all-time faves. But I agree with with Brooklyn girl that you're missing Georgie Fame

Mea culpa on Georgie Fame; ditto Felix Cavaliere.

And swear to god, I was gonna include that Timmy Thomas song.

The Kenosha Kid said...

"Old World" by the Modern Lovers (Jerry Harrison on keyboards).

tjwood says the Doors are too obvious, but I disagree: The Wasp - Ray Manzarek

"What Goes On" by the Velvet Underground (organ by Doug Yule or John Cale - opinions differ)