Friday, July 04, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Sax and Violence Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to scenic Milford, Ohio (on the Little Miami), for a fabulous July 4th weekend stay at the sumptuous digs of Brian "Lubyanka" Hardig, a/k/a The Ohio Douche, a/k/a The Author of the Greatest Letter to the Editor Ever Written.

Which means that posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days, river crestings and boil advisories permitting.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best Saxophone Work (Solo or Section) On a Post-Elvis Pop/Rock Record!!!

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Seven:

7. Romeo Void -- Never Say Never (Benjamin Bossi)

A great sax line, but so minimal you're not even sure the guy can actually play, which may be the point.

6. The Champs -- Tequila (Danny Flores)

Obnoxious folkies Seals and Crofts were in a later touring version of this band, but you won't be surprised to learn that they have absolutely zip to do with the record "Tequila" itself.

5. A tie --

The Rolling Stones -- Brown Sugar (Bobby Keys)

A roadhouse tenor sax apotheosis. Keys actually played with Buddy Holly in his youth, and it shows.


The Rolling Stones
-- Waiting on a Friend (Sonny Rollins)

To our knowledge, the only appearance of an avant-garde jazz titan on a Top 40 hit record.

4. Another tie --

Junior Walker and the All-Stars -- Shotgun (Junior Walker)

Soul sax at its grittiest, although Walker was also a consummate balladeer (cf. "What Does It Take").


Foreigner -- Urgent (Junior Walker)

These guys remain the Most Useless Band in Rock History, but in this case Walker's guest sax solo actually justifies the song title.

3. King Curtis -- Memphis Soul Stew (King Curtis)

Just about every one of the countless records Curtis played on was the best, alas, but this was his biggest solo hit.

2. The Contortions -- I Can't Stand Myself (James Chance)

That's James Chance a/k/a James White a/k/a the No Wave James Brown at Max's Kansas City in 1979 -- a real time capsule of a video. Chance's obligatory Asian (back then we said Oriental) Downtown artist girlfriend not shown, alas.

And the number one sax on a pop/rock record, I can't believe we're even arguing about this it's so fricking obvious, is --

1. Bruce Springsteen -- Jungleland (Clarence Clemons)

Seriously -- forgetting the fact that the performance positively drips atmosphere and emotion, this is as perfectly constructed an instrumental solo as there is in the entire history of popular music; every note is exactly where it should be. Of course, the marvel of it is that although it was put together phrase by laborious phrase over endless time in the studio, the end result sounds utterly spontaneous, as if it was going directly from Clarence's soul to tape. Just amazing.

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel (and quite amusing, I think) movie Listomania is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you leave a comment, an angel gets its wings.]


TJWood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TJWood said...

All good choices here. I'll try my best to come up with four (as in the 4th of July) random selections for this category. Note: Surprisingly, you didn't ban any Bowie choices, nontheless I will try to refrain from falling back on one of his efforts.

1. The Beatles--You Know My Name (Look Up My Number): Originally issued as the B-side to "Let It Be", this features the stylings of that noted sax master, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.

2. Traffic--Freedom Rider: One of my favorite sax lines of all time, and it sound simple enough that Bowie probably can play it. By the late Chris Wood (no relation)

3. T. Rex--Bang A Gong (Get It On): The sax is by Ian McDonald, late of King Crimson and previously mentioned useless band Foreigner. There are actually some pretty good sax solos on those old Foreigner records, and had they not already been given a mention, I'd probably include them.

4. James Brown--I Got You (I Feel Good): Maceo Parker is only one of five saxophone players credited on this song. Could have opted for numerous other Maceo bits on JB records, there are plenty of choices still out there.

danny1959 said...

"Take a Walk on the Wild Side," anyone?

Brooklyn Girl said...

Is the Rockin' Rebels' "Wild Weekend" considered pre- or post-Elvis? An iconic song from my yout' ...

And, while I'm not going to single out any specific performance, I think Michael Brecker deserves a shout-out for the amazing contribution he made ... his discography is incredible, from Aerosmith to Zappa and everything in between.

shrimplate said...

"Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel features a lyrical solo by the great altoist Phil Woods.

On the "Return to the Dark Side of the Moon" tribute album, the excreble Tommy Shaw sings and the fantastic Edgar Winter solos on alto on a pretty-good cover of "Money." Bill Bruford and Tony Levin accompany.

Sax isn't really a very good rock instrument, never much rising above Sha-Na-Na status. The jazzers have it all over the rockers on that axe.

Sinfonian said...


My favorite band of the '70s with one of my favorite songs of the '70s!

I just introduced "Urgent" to my 2.9yo daughter and her 5.5yo friend. Both are now scarred for life.


David said...

I've never been a huge sax fan, but when I first heard "I Got Loaded" by Los Lobos, I said to myself, that has got to be one of the most exhilarating sax solos in the annals of rock--and it still is! ("Urgent" is easily the best thing Foreigner ever did.)

peter spencer said...

Phil Woods is also great on Steely Dan's "Doctor Wu."

The Waitresses had a real good sax-player, if memory serves. Anyone remmember?

Garth Hudson on the Band's "W.S. Walcott."

And Lee Allen's work on Little Richard's "Good Golly, Miss Molly" (Oops! Is that pre- or post-Elvis?) establishes for all time that, yes, the saxophone is a rock and roll instrument, what with GGMM being (it says here) the Greatest Single Rock And Roll Record Ever Made and all.

TJWood said...

peter spencer said...

The Waitresses had a real good sax-player, if memory serves. Anyone remember?

The name of the sax player is Mars Williams. Williams later played with the Psychedelic Furs, and plays today in the reunited version of the Furs

Mike said...

There's a great sax/accordion line (really) in Richard Thompson's Tear Stained Letter. Greatest Living Englishman indeed.

Steve McKay's work on the Stooges' album Fun House, particularly that great wailing on the end of 1970.

And someone's gotta mention Baker Street, so it may as well be me.

Noam Sane said...

Charlie Chalmers on 'Respect'.
If you're into the whole brevity thing.

John Fogerty on "Long As I Can See the Light".

Pete Christleib on "Deacon Blues" deserves a mention.

MBowen said...

Commenter David is right: Steve Berlin's soloing on Los Lobos' "I Got Loaded" for the win - joyous, energetic, swinging, imaginative. Best r'n'r sax solo evah!

trifecta said...

Tim Capello (I Still Believe) from the Lost Boys is kind of fun.

semafore said...

Wooly Bully!

FeralLiberal said...

Late as usual, but I gotta mention David Sanborn (before he went all smooth "Jazz") on the title cut of Ian Hunter's "All American Alien Boy". Love that song and always thought it would make a great live production number.

Anonymous said...