Friday, June 13, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Zounds, What Sounds! Edition

[I first posted this one back during the Spanish American War -- okay, actually late 2008 -- but the topic has always been one of my faves. As usual, I've rewritten some of it, and changed one of the nominees to reflect the fact that I no longer feel the need to include something by Smashing Pumpkins in every Listomania. You know, just to keep my hand in. -- S.S.]

Best/Most Inventive Use of a Non-Traditional Rock Instrument on a Post-Elvis Pop or Rock record!!!

Arbitrary rule: By "non-traditional," we mostly mean any instrument outside the original 50s rock instrumental template -- guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ, and sax. Other non-trad keyboards (mellotron, anybody?) will be vetted at my discretion, but don't try to pull any of that 70s/80s synth shit. Other than that, I think this is wide open.

Okay, that said, my totally top of my head Top Six is:

6. The Beatles -- Norwegian Wood

George on sitar, natch, and the first and still probably best use of the instrument on a pop song.

5. The Wackers -- Oh My Love

A Japanese koto, appropriately enough, on a gorgeous version of the John Lennon ode to Yoko that first appeared on Imagine. In fact, this sounded so much like a Beatles track that it was widely bootlegged as a John demo; in reality, of course, it's by an excellent and still inexplicably underrated Canadian power pop band and can be found on their Hot Wacks, one of the very best rock albums of 1972. Buy it on CD here; you won't regret it.

4. The Association -- Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies

More koto (Gary Alexander, the guy who wrote and sang this, was of mixed Japanese-American heritage, I belive) on an absolutely fabulous and unjustly forgotten slice of LA psychedelia.

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Red Right Hand

T.Rex only WISHED it had banged a gong as cool as this one.

2. The Blues Project -- Flute Thing

The late great Andy Kulberg, first electric flautist of note. A lot of awful hippie shit (not to mention Jethro Tull) followed in the wake of this, but if you ever saw them do it live, the effect was quite mesmerizing, believe you me. According to Kooper, it's based on a riff on an old Kenny Burrell jazz record, BTW.

Okay, and the coolest use of a non-trad instrument (at least on a rock record), there's no question about it so just cut me some slack already about this, obviously is --

1. The Rolling Stones -- You Can't Always Get What You Want

Al Kooper's French horn intro really has no precedent on anything by the Stones. Flawlessly played, too, and it's hardly even his main instrument. The Beatles had the world's greatest living classical horn player -- Alan Civil -- on "For No One," but this is every bit as good.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?


Sinfonian said...

John Entwistle was an accomplished horn player, too, if memory serves. He displayed his brass prowess on a number of Who tracks -- "5:15" comes most readily to mind. But I don't have a specific nominee...

The Kenosha Kid said...

The Kinks had a phase where they used harpsichord on a bunch of songs. I think my fave is She Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina. Apparently that's Ray Davis himself playing the harpsichord.

steve simels said...

Entiwistle memorably blew his horn on Pictures of Lily.

BTW, those are chimes on the Nick Cave song. I was kidding
about the gong.

Anonymous said...

Brian Jones accordion - Backstreet Girl.

Brian Jones marimba - Under My Thumb (did you hear about the Trader Joe's shopper and college professor who complained to corporate because she heard "Under My Thumb" by the Stones while shopping and was offended by the lyrics? WTF and she claims to be a Lou Reed fan as well? WTF. And tries to tie it to a recent killing spree? WTF)

Brian Jones dulcimer & harpsichord - Lady Jane

Charlie Watts glockenspiel - Lady Jane

Those are some easy ones,

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

Brian Jones recorder - Ruby Tuesday

Grace Slick recorder - Comin' Back To Me

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

John Lennon clavioline - Baby You're a Rich Man

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

Jack Bruce cello - As You Said

Felix Pappalardi viloa - Deserted Cities of the Heart

Todd Rundgren calliope - The Night the Carousel Burned Down

Vickie Rock headed for the Body Shop

Anonymous said...


Nick De Caro accordion - Backstreet Girl - NOT BRIAN JONES

Vickie Rock back from the Body Shop

Anonymous said...

Maybe not non-traditional but I love the electric sitar playing on Gene Pitney's "She's a Heartbreaker", whoever the session man may be.

And while were on that subject, Denny Dias electric sitar - Do It Again - Steely Dan.

Off to Dr. Wu

Vickie Rock really finished now

steve simels said...

It's not Brian Jones on accordion on Back Street Girl?

Never heard that before. Disappointing, if true.

Anonymous said...

Don McGlashan plays the euphonium (!) on THE MUTTONBIRDS "A Thing Well Made".
No guest artist ringers here, Don also sings the lead vocal, and wrote the the song.
Here's a live version on youtube...

steve simels said...


Uncle Smokes said...

You can't get more non-traditional than a kazoo made from tissue paper and a comb, as Hendrix used on "Crosstown Traffic".

pete said...

I always thought the sitar playing on Paint it Black and Street Fighting Man was way hipper than George's melody-doubling on Norwegian Wood. Still, it started the vogue in exotic instruments so you gotta give him that.

I know you love (as I do) Brian's mellotron on We Love You. Maybe that doesn't count but it certainly sounded new and different.

And for electric sitar my favorite is the unnamed player on BJ Thomas's "Hooked on a Feeling."

Anonymous said...

What about the nose solo on the Jefferson Airplane's Lather?

Who was that snorting the best licks in town?

Plus Buffalo Springfield Bluebird with banjo. Was this the first banjo in a rock song?

With regards to kazoo:

Grateful Dead - Alligator - Jerry, Phil & Bob

Rolling Stones - Triple C - don't know which Stone played it

Zappa / Mothers - Hungry Freaks Daddy, Who Are the Brain Police

Thunderclap Newman - Accidents and a variety of other cool stuff throughout the Hollywood Dream album besides kazoo

Floyd - Jugband Blues - Nick Mason kazoo

CJ & Fish - Feel Like I'm Fixin'

Dr. West - The Eggplant That Ate Chicago

And a few tunes by the NGDB and Spanky & Our Gang, if not the Lovin' Spoonful, I suppose.

Vickie Rock, I guess I wasn't really done

Brooklyn Girl said...

What --- no love for the cowbell? :-)

The Yardbirds used the didgeridoo on "Hot House of Omagarashid" long with some other tinkly weird things.

Beck used silverware on "Clap Hands."

When I saw him, the puppets played along in pefect unison.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Adn what would "Born to Run" be without the glockenspiel?

Anonymous said...

With re: to B.J. Thomas Hooked on a Feeling, I'll take an educated guess and say that was Reggie Young on electric sitar. He also played the instrument on the Box Tops "Cry Like a Baby." It's all Chips Moman stuff out of American Studios.

The guy playing electric sitar on the aforementioned Gene Pitney's She's a Heartbreaker is Vinnie Bell. The record was produced by Swamp Dogg.

Vickie Rock

Oh, and re: Brian not playing accordion on Back Street Girl, I'm afraid it's true as per Andrew Loog Oldham. Nick De Caro was an acquaintance of Jack Nitzsche and L.A. studio guy. This is an RCA Hollywood session as are most of the BTB tracks.

Cheers, I'm off to Jax for oodles of Nightcaps and a fix

Vickie Rock

M_Sharp said...

Wow! 18th comment and no one else said Theramin! Beach Boys "Good Vibrations", of course, and Jon Spencer used to get off on his.

Also, John Entwistle played trumpet on The Who's "Bucket T".

Anonymous said...

I guess I just wasn't made for these times.

Paul Tanner rocks.

Brian Wilson chose some oddities like woodblocks, bike horns, etc.

And what about that 11 inch bass harmonica?! That's something that made me want to join the All-Girl Harmonica Band.

Since I didn't have one, I had to blow my boyfriend's.

Vickie Rock

M_Sharp said...

Ocarina! The Troggs, Reg Presley, "Wild Thing"

edward said...

Pretty sure I said this the first time you posted, but just about anything by Tom Waits in the last 30 years.

Tubular Bells anyone?

Anonymous said...

Musical director Colin Fretcher played the one-take ocarina solo on Wild Thing in the studio. Reg did it on tour.

It's periwinkle pussycat, don't you just looove it?

Vickie Rock

Mr. Minimac said...

I always had a soft spot for the Hooters in their prime. That keyboard harmonica thing (technically a Melodica, I guess) was a whole lot of fun in And We Danced and elsewhere.

Am I cheating if I nominate the lowly Cowbell? And is there any doubt that BJ Wilson was the fastest Cowbell in the West? While Whiskey Train is not anywhere near my top 10 Procol Harum songs, it contains a Cowbell tour de force!

Anonymous said...

If cowbell's in the game, "Low Rider" by War, and "Honky Tonk Women". First instrument heard in each song. And both with great grooves.

Walking Into Your Gin Joint,

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

As far as early flute in rock, the Association's wonderful take of Tandyn Almer's "Along Comes Mary", should never be counted out.

Or Eric Burdon & War's "Spill the Wine".

Peter Gabriel for the lovely flute in "Firth of Fifth"

Ian McDonald just for being Ian McDonald In the Court of the Crimson King.

Chris Wood for Forty Thousand Headmen.


Van Morrison's "Slim Slow Slider" for the SOPRANO sax by John Payne, (not the Fred Gailey one).

You also have to love the early Pearls Before Swine stuff for a variety of unconventional instruments and songs.

And I think fuzz steel guitar qualifies the late Sneaky Pete.

We'll Always Have Paris but you gave up your right to rest in peace when you signed this contract,

Vickie Rock

pete said...

danny1959 said...

Flute solo in "California Dreaming" by The Mamas and the Papas.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that flute solo in "California Dreaming" is really wonderful. It's done by the late Bud Shank, a light jazz guy who was also a ubiquitous session man in L.A. Very tasty. Is this the earliest recorded version of a flute solo in a rock song?

I dunno, but this record was playing on L.A. radio before Christmas 1965. Same time frame as Rubber Soul, Turn! Turn! Turn! As Tears Go By, Day Tripper, The Little Girl I Once Knew, The Sounds of Silence, Lies, My Generation, Uptight (Everything's Alright) if that helps crystallize it.

Hollywood will fuck you when no one else will,

Vickie Rock

salhepatica said...

The Move, Roy Wood on oboe, "The Words of Aaron."

Anonymous said...

There's cowbell in "Hard Day's Night" and "You Can't Do That" --

Anonymous said...

Jimi Hendrix Experience Stone Free has a cowbell banging like the sexiest metronome in history.

Uptempo cowbell can be heard on Deep Purple's "You Fool No One". but it's still not as quick B.J. Wilson. A good one for a vigorous belly dance and strip tease combination. I can say that with some experience. Done privately and discreetly, of course:)

Elementary melodica can be heard on the Red Hot Chili Pepper's Oh Mercury, which is a pretty good track. RHCP haters should listen.

Is that a melodica on Sunny Afternoon? I think on the Band's Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, too.

Speaking of off-beat instruments, Garth Hudson played a bunch as did Levon and the rest of the boys.

Time to Light the Lamp and Fire Mellow.

Cabin Essence Timely Hello,

Vickie Rock

P.S. I can't strip to Elvis Costello:)

Anonymous said...

How come I'm the first one in with the canonical, untoppable Clavioline solo in Del Shannon's "Runaway"? It truly makes the song. I heard they wanted an actual Ondes Martenot but there wasn't one stateside...

And kudos to Roger Ruskin Spear for providing the only rock and roll solo ever on the titular contraption of the Bonzo Dog Band's "The Trouser Press". Which spawned a whole media empire, lest we forget.

(Of course, the Bonzos are their own universe when it comes to obscure instruments in a pop rock setting, giving prominence to bass sax, euphonium, rhythm pole and tap dancing-- in addition to Eric Clapton on ukulele. But even in that group, Spear's fearless trouser press solo stands out. "Go on, give it all you can/ It's so much better than/ A prefabricated concrete coal bunker").

Nosmo King

Anonymous said...

No Smoking?

I guess trouser press beats all, but it's not something I wanna listen to over and over. Whatevs..

Blind Faith - Sea of Joy - Ric Grech gorgeous violin

The late great Captain Beefheart used to play a lot of weird wind instruments and Chinese Gongs.

Re: Roy Wood and the oboe here are some more oboe hits ---

Pretty Ballerina - The Left Banke - played beautifully by George Marge of the Gil Evans Orchestra

Sonny & Cher - I Got You Babe - George Poole (wrecking crew associate)

The Cake - Tides of Time (which features a duet of oboe-like instruments and baroque-ish arrangement).BTW Jeanette Jacobs rocked! God rest her soul.

Roxy Music - Sea Breezes and others - Andy Mackay

More cowbell tunes:

Beatles - Drive My Car

Creedence - Down On the Corner

Mountain - Mississippi Queen

Montrose - Rock the Nation

Three Dog Night - Black & White - Floyd Sneed was a badasss drummer and cowbell tinkler. Most of you here probably hate this song, but it has an interesting history. Check this out if you don't already know:

Even more cowbell tunes:

Nazareth - Hair of the Dog

Humble Pie - Hot 'N' Nasty, Stone Cold Fever & Red Light Mama Red Hot

Guns 'N Roses - Night Train

Jefferson Starship - Cruisin'

Black Crowes - Wiser Time, High Head Blues (the latter gets a bonus point for triangle)

Fleetwood Mac - Homeward Bound

Steve Miller Band - Steppin' Stone

Grand Funk - We're an American Band

It seems limitless.

So, Mott the Hoople - One of the Boys - best use of telephone ever

B-52's - walkie talkies and smoke alarms

How about the vibraslap:

Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower

Aerosmith - Sweet Emotion

Grand Funk's rendition of Feeling Alright - I guess Joe Cocker's too

Lemon Pipers - Green Tambourine

Police whistle:

Bob Dylan - Highway 61

Reaping the wind and floating like a feather,

Vickie Rock

cthulhu said...

(coming into this very late, I know...)

Well, there's the machine gun at the end of Tonio K.'s anthem to happy marriage, H-A-T-R-E-D...

And going back to the Who one last time, there's the very nice accordion and banjo on Squeeze Box. I recall that Steve has inveighed against that song on more than one occasion here, and it's certainly lightweight compared to most of Townshend's output up to that time (though it's still no Faith in Something Bigger), I find it to have a sweet charm that always puts a smile on my face. And the banjo solo is really quite good. If you want more accordion, check out Townshend's demo on his fabulous "Scoop" collection of demos.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Who:

Dave Arbus - violin Baba O'Riley if you can stand hearing it one more time.

The Who By Numbers seems more like a Townshend record than a Who record. And it's the beginning of the quick decline. "Squeeze Box" sure aint no "I Can See For Miles."

What an unproductive band are the Who. Classic rock radio has made more than a few of us loathe every Who song played on its airwaves. It used to be blow up your tv. Now it's blow up your radio.

Plus, how many farewell tours has this band had? Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching. What a joke. Now it's Half the Decrepit Who. They should have had the decency to hang it up when Keith Moon died. But they haven't a shred as proven after Entwistle's "blow and hookers" death.

Townshend has written some of the most annoying songs in rock history and it becomes all too apparent under repeated listening. "Who Are You" is torture for me. "You Better You Bet," is excruciating.

Too bad he didn't die before he got old. He could have stopped after Quadrophenia and we'd all be the better off.

Either the salt is rotten or the meat,

Vickie Rock

cthulhu said...

Vickie, politely, you are full of shit. Diarrhea of the mouth...

Anonymous said...


De gustibus non est disputandum.

It was just a rant.

Happy Father's Day. :)

BTW, nothing beats a love-hate relationship. It ain't real if it isn't. That applies to the arts as well as people.

I always liked Bernie Leadon's pedal steel guitar on the Eagles "My Man". Very subdued and tasty.

And the Paul Beaver Moog on the Monkees' wonderful Daily Nightly.

Sweetwater - Motherless Child - Albert Moore - flute; August Burns - cello. perennial openers in L.A. circa 1967-1969. In a Rainbow is also interesting.

Vickie Rock, roller skater of dreams

Coldplay lyrics said...

Great post! Will bookmark it!

Anonymous said...


Tjay Cantrelli [Contrelli] just popped into my head like lightning!!!!

Da Capo side one wouldn't be the same without him and his flute and sax work. And that side is a mother in recorded history.

He was in Geronimo Black too. And the Grandmothers. Great musician.

Time for another session and attempt to connect with Augoeides till the golden dawn,

Vickie Rock

Brooklyn Girl said...


Of the 40 comments here, 18 are yours. This is typical --- you hijack every thread with either your opinions, your endless lists, your argumentativeness, or your life stories. It takes all the fun out of being here. I would have thought you would have learned your lesson the last time; sooner or later, you piss people off and then you get all huffy about it.

GET YOUR OWN BLOG. PLEASE. Or if you have an overwhelming need to hang out here, at least show some respect for your hosts and the other people who post here, instead of spending all your time trying to one-up everyone.


Anonymous said...

I am not hijacking anybody. I am just really enthusiastic about the subjects at hand and somewhat knowledgeable. I only am here for fun. You read me completely wrong.

I don't know the meaning of the word "huffy". It's not in my world. I'm the most easy-going girl in the world. I'm just trying to be sociable and playful. That's all.

When reading this do not take my tone as harsh but very calm. Because I am. You simply mystify me. It seems that no matter what I do, you don't like it. Why?

Can't we be friends?

Vickie Rock

P.S. regarding the subject of this post:

For one of the most atmospheric pedal steel performances I nominate John Neff for his wonderful playing on the Drive-by Truckers' "The Opening Act."

Anonymous said...

The bagpipe solo on AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock 'n Roll)"!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm VERY late to this (damn vacation), but I feel compelled to chime in with the wonderful use of an Optigon by Elvis Costello and Crowded House (amongst others, I'm sure).

Elvis on "So Like Candy," and CH on "Nails in My Feet," for example.

Maybe it's the Mitchell
Froom connection?

senormedia said...


It's not a Theramin on "Good Vibrations", it's a Tannerin (which, just to confuse things, is sometimes called an Electro-Theramin).

Apparently (according to BW) they spent $15,000 on the sessions for that instrument alone.

Anonymous said...

Re: the Tannerin

Named after its creator Paul Tanner who also played it for the sessions.

Vickie Rock