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ABF Friday:  Days of Future Past Edition!

In our latest installment of Lazy My New Day Job Keeps Me Really Busy Blogging, we’re going to dust off an ABF exercise we did many years ago at Pandagon, because (a) it was F, and (b) Pandagon has the most broken archives in the Interwebs and nobody will ever remember that I’m recycling this one unless I tell them. 

Anyway, here goes.

Most solos in rock/pop are guitar solos, of course.  Then there are your sax solos and your piano solos here and there.  Some of them are good.  And there’s Denny Dias’s amazing electric sitar solo in Steely Dan’s “Do It Again.” But what about all the other (non-stringed) instruments in the world?  Long ago, in comment 48 of of this most diverting or dilating thread, I speculated on the comparative worth of the flute solos in Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath” and Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star.” I have since been reminded by my trusty iPod that Brick’s 1976 song “Dazz” contains a pretty kicky bit of flutin’ as well.  And I think we can all agree that Alan Civil’s work on the Beatles’ “For No One” (a solo reportedly whistled by McCartney to George Martin, who then booked Civil for the job) is the best French horn solo in rock/pop.  But let’s not forget that happy, zippy xylophonin’ on Robert Palmer’s “Clues,” either!

So think of some great solos with lesser-used non-stringy instruments, if you’d be so kind.  Extra special bonus points for anyone who comes up with a great oboe or bassoon solo.

Now, about that day job.  I finally have some news!  Which is to say, some evidence that I’ve actually been “working” behind the “scenes.” Check this out, folks.  It is, or will be, or is and will be and also will have been, wicked cool.  It was inspired in part by this most diverting or dilatory thread, which made me get up out of my chair and then go sit down in another chair to watch a bunch of movies.  I decided I didn’t like Idiocracy. I wonder: would I have liked it more if it were funny?  Perhaps.  Also, Shaun of the Dead didn’t stand up to a second viewing, so it lost to 28 Days Later in the zombie playoffs. 

But the real find, for me, was Code 46.  Atmospheric, evocative, haunting ... you know, those adjectives.  Plus lots of spacy dreamy ambient music and the always-eerie Samantha Morton.  So it gets the coveted Saturday 9:30 slot, just after District 9.  The State Theatre has very kindly posted info on each film as well as a trailer (my program notes on each film are less expository and a bit silly and free-associationy, sort of like this here post), so I have now learned that Code 46 is saddled with what must be one of the worst trailers ever made.  Seriously, if I saw that trailer in a theater, I’d make a mental note to avoid the movie forever, and if I were Michael Winterbottom I would kick somebody or something.  Basically, the trailer takes this atmospheric evocative spacy eerie ambient movie and turns it into In a world when genetics blah blah.  In a time when people blah blah.  Only one man blah blah blah. Couldn’t Jerry Seinfeld have prevented this?

Anyway, we invited Michael Winterbottom to join us for the film festival, and I got through the first three baffles, all the way to a personal no from his actual agent, who apparently did ask Mr. Winterbottom if he had the time to travel to the deep interior of Pennsylvania in mid-October to screen a movie he made seven years ago.  So I have finally hit the big leagues.

If you’re in the area in mid-October, come to the State Theatre!

Oh, almost forgot.  Here’s today’s dueling YouTubes.  We have to break out of the boomer mold, folks, and do something that the kids of today will understand.  Namely, alt.oldies!  Here are two of my nostalgia-inducing faves.

Posted by on 09/10 at 10:53 AM
  1. Spike Jones’ cover of “Flight of the Bumblebee.” Tuba.

    Posted by David J Swift  on  09/10  at  12:20 PM
  2. The Troggs’ rendition of “Wild Thing.” Ocarina.

    Posted by Ben Alpers  on  09/10  at  12:40 PM
  3. The kazoo solo in Joanie Sommers’ “Johnny Get Angry.”

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  12:40 PM
  4. If “Do You Feel Like We Do?” doesn’t qualify, then another ABF thread should be started for it to be the winner of. Because it’s the greatest ever of something.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  12:40 PM
  5. More kazoo goodness: Ringo Starr, “You’re Sixteen”

    The theremin solo (or, if you wanna be finicky, the theremin-dominated outro) in the Beach Boys, “Good Vibrations”

    Posted by Gil  on  09/10  at  01:11 PM
  6. Oh, c’mon. Lew Soloff (trumpet) on “Spinning Wheel.” It’s iconic, man. Iconic.

    Runner up: James Pankow (trombone), “Twenty-five or Six to Four.”

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  01:14 PM
  7. There are some fantastic harmonica solos out there, from Little Walter’s “Juke” (the only harmonica instrumental to hit #1 on the billboard charts), to Blues Traveler’s “Hook” (and, I suppose pretty much every other Blues Traveler song as well), which is more in the contemporary pop/rock genre (see also: The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan [although Dylan’s skills at the harmonica pale in comparison to his skills at mumbling unintelligibly], and a host of other bands who need to blues up a song). I’d go so far as to venture that harmonica solos are probably the most numerous non-stringed solos around.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  01:20 PM
  8. Well, the original 10 minute 12” version of The The’s “Uncertain Smile” has a few things.  Flute, some sort of percussion thing- zylophone? marimba? wood blocks?  plus flute and sax.  The album version has Jools Holland of Squeeze on piano.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  09/10  at  01:28 PM
  9. Apparently, there is a near-exhaustive answer to the oboe-solo-in-pop-music question.

    captcha, appropriately, meaning

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  01:29 PM
  10. For great bassoon solos look no further than the work of Lindsay Cooper and Michel Berckmans in Henry Cow and News from Babel (LC) and Univers Zero, Aksak Maboul, and Von Zamla (MB).

    Posted by ben w  on  09/10  at  01:30 PM
  11. NO ROLLERBALL??

    Honestly, the world ruled by giant corporations (prescient) plus Bach on organ=not as bad as one might think.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  09/10  at  01:33 PM
  12. Kyle Bruckmann must take some oboe solos somewhere in the Lozenge corpus, I’m sure (not to mention Andy Mackay in Roxy Music).

    Bratko Bibic in BB and the Madleys and in Begnagrad (and Accordion Tribe), accordion; Lars Hollmer (accordion, melodica) in Samla Mammas Manna. And then there are the accordion solos of Kimmo Pohjonen, the Merzbow of polka. Alec K. Redfearn is also known to rock out on the accordion, and the jew’s harp.

    Tatsuya Yoshida, zipper, on one of the tracks of his live album with Satoko Fujii, Toh-Kichi.

    Why are we supposed only to consider non-stringed instruments? What about the hammered dulcimer, or the hurdy-gurdy—why do they get no respect?

    Posted by ben w  on  09/10  at  01:40 PM
  13. (I can’t name many specific tracks because I am away from my music!)

    Posted by ben w  on  09/10  at  01:40 PM
  14. Mid 70s David Bromberg cover of ‘Such a Night’ featured a trombone where one would expect a lead guitar. Didn’t realize a trombone could be so expressive even though (or perhaps because) I’d played trombone from 4th grade through the last day of high school.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  02:08 PM
  15. Seconding Sam on harmonica solos. The solo on “Hook” is exceptional, but the double harmonica solo on Stevie Wonder’s “Too High” defies belief.  Starts at about 2:10: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8dK0iEzi1M

    Posted by Tyler Bickford  on  09/10  at  02:20 PM
  16. Just wanted to mention the majestic flute solo by Peter Gabriel in “Firth of Fifth” off of Genesis’ Selling England by the Pound and his creepy and sinister flute solo in “The Knife” off the pre-Phil Collins Trespass.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  02:25 PM
  17. Freddie Hubbard blows some mean trumpet on Billy Joel’s “Zanibar.”
    There’s the piccolo trumpet on “Penny Lane.”
    Chet Baker plays real nice on Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding.”

    sax doesn;t count? Because Phil Woods’ alto on “Dr. Wu” and “Just the Way You Are” are some of the greatest solos of any kind in ‘pop.’

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  02:34 PM
  18. ~the Bloody Muses? Cold hearted orb that rules the night? Red is grey and yellow white?  Yeah i remember that; still.

    The theremin solo in the Beach Boys, “Good Vibrations

    Shameless self-promotional plug, my jazz teacher Paul Tanner performed that solo; and this brings up Jim Horn.  A great saxophonist who at the young age of 17 began an incredible (and ongoing) career as a soloist on some of the best rock albums ever (and lots of others). 

    My favorite however is Nicky Hopkins; a pianist with remarkable fingers who made the instrument instrumental to great rock records by the Beatles, Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver, Jeff Beck, the Who, and and and. 

    We have to break out of the boomer mold, Right, cause there are like maybe five of us or so.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  03:52 PM
  19. How could I forget Gryphon’s “The Unquiet Grave” which not only features a bassoon solo section in the middle but starts off with … CRUMHORN!

    Posted by ben w  on  09/10  at  03:58 PM
  20. Sorry, one second.. in keeping with the thread.  I left out the sentence about Nicky playing Harpsichord on three different Beatles epics, as well as on Blows Against the Empire.  The Harpsichord counts as a rarely used instrument, right?

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  03:59 PM
  21. There’s a great cello solo on Alamaailman Vasarat’s “Vasaraasialainen” from Käärmelautakunta.

    Posted by ben w  on  09/10  at  04:05 PM
  22. Cheating a bit but Rasputina have an awesome fuzzed cello solo on “Draconian Crackdown” off of Oh, Perilous World.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  05:55 PM
  23. I’m going to be “that guy”: there’s an extra full-stop where there should be a comma on the film festival homepage (after “elusive"):

    “...fifteen films that ask us, in variously subtle, elusive. and visually arresting ways, how we might imagine the world we will have made.”

    No solos on the brain, but thanks for the Feelies fix.

    Captcha: “Ready” for the grammar police?

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  06:10 PM
  24. NO ROLLERBALL??

    No.  No Rollerball.  For the same reason there’s no Logan’s Run.

    (Go ahead, ask.  I dare you.)

    Posted by Michael  on  09/10  at  06:44 PM
  25. there’s an extra full-stop where there should be a comma on the film festival homepage (after “elusive")

    Bugger. off

    Besides, that’s not as bad as the typo that went out today on the IAH listserv, in which 2001‘s release date was given as ... 2001.  Weird, really, since we copied it off the State Theatre page.  Then again, it’s entirely possible that in 2001, Kubrick was sent back to 1968 by a team of scientists to plant a monolith that would take us to our future, and then he saw himself die on la jetée.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  06:49 PM
  26. No Rollerball, Logan’s Run or *Robocop*. It’s like you don’t even care.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  07:04 PM
  27. I nominate Frank Zappa’s synclavier solo on “Jazz from Hell” which compromises the entire album except for St. Ettienne.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  07:20 PM
  28. For pure dystopian vision, no film’s done it for me quite like Osama (2003). The bad guys of this poor girl’s world don’t need no stinking science to completely ruin the rest of her life.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  07:30 PM
  29. I decided I didn’t like Idiocracy.

    But, but, but ... it has electrolytes!

    OT, but this bit of map fun from the NY Post and FoxNews is almost beyond belief.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  07:40 PM
  30. No Dr Strangelove? It doesn’t have Idiocracy’s problem, that’s for sure. Plus we could call it M. le docteur amour bizarre.

    Captcha: “probably”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/10  at  07:54 PM
  31. I just realized a slight flaw with nominating Dr Strangelove. It’s not set in the future, bad or otherwise. D’oh!

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/10  at  07:59 PM
  32. It’s not set in the future

    So we already blew ourselves up? Par-tayyy!!!

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  08:01 PM
  33. As grackle pointed out above this search can become too productive, given that so many groups in this 21st century use a variety of instrumentation because they can.  But, going back, i propose that the human voice as an instrument by a guest artist counts~ and nominate Clare Torry performing with Pink Floyd.  I also like a good penny whistle used in rock as well, but no one has mentioned that yet (Irish/Celtic punk?).

    JP, it is all about finding the new memorial, somewhere under one of those red dots.

    I can easily understand the dis-inclusion of IDIOCRACY given the voters in Nevada and Arizona.  Is there a syllabus or study guide with this festival?  I have seen all the films and would love to play.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  08:03 PM
  34. JP, it is all about finding the new memorial, somewhere under one of those red dots.

    Well at least no one would dream of exploiting the memory of the event for $75-$225 a ticket no harm, no foul.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  08:20 PM
  35. There’s an oboe solo by Amanda Brown in The Go-Betweens’ Bye Bye Pride

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  09:07 PM
  36. no one would dream of exploiting the memory of the event

    Certainly not!

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  09:23 PM
  37. Bagpipes in AC/DC’s “A Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock ‘n’ Roll”? And maybe the bagpipe intro to “Copperhead Row” as well.

    Posted by  on  09/10  at  10:14 PM
  38. o, the best french horn solo in not Mr. Stiff Upper Lip Civil on For No One, it’s Al Kooper ("the ‘Zelig’ or ‘Forrest Gump’ of Rock,” according to alkooper.com, which oughtta know) on You Can’t Always Get What You Want. C’mon! Bah-dah-dee-dahhhhhhhhh la-da-da-da-dahhhh. Supposedly the first time he picked up the instrument, or something like that. Between the horn and all those precious boys going “you cahhhn’t always get what you WA-ant,” it’s a track that will never ever lose its charm.

    And I hate to break it to you, but Civil says there was no whistling. Walter Everett interviewed him for his book The Beatles as Musicians.

    Civil says the four bars requiring the solo were played to him several times and he was asked to “busk” along. Although Martin recalls that the composer suggested the melody, Civil says, “McCartney sang nothing. Nobody seemed to know what they wanted at all, even George Martin. And you think they’d have written something down, but, no, they didn’t.” Responding to such suggestions from McCartney as “Try something a bit higher,” the final result was Civil’s own melody: “I was entirely responsible for inventing the motive; I never thought of anything as high as that, though, actually, because that’s not a distinctive horn sound, as such.”

    It reminds me of the way I’ve heard some jazz musicians talk about the Beatles. They didn’t know shit just did what the producers said.... Makes me just a little skeptical of Civil.

    Everett’s book is great, though. It’s not can you find out who played what when on every track from Revolver through the Anthology. You also get a Schenkar graph of the whole Abbey Road medley.

    Posted by Robert Zimmerman  on  09/10  at  11:09 PM
  39. Greatest solo I ever saw was when Joseph Jarman did one with semaphore flags at an Art Ensemble show in 1983.  I didn’t know that was even allowed.  Probably not on YouTube though.

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  09/10  at  11:15 PM
  40. I wouldn’t be surprised if Weasel Walter has video of it.

    Posted by ben w  on  09/11  at  01:24 AM
  41. It’s hard to find a harmonica part that’s not a blues cliche (Blues Traveler is brilliant at performing blues cliches, but c’mon). The harmonica on the first album from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones is really amazing.

    Posted by  on  09/11  at  01:28 AM
  42. OK, oboe. I knew there was oboe in some random oldie I heard recently and it cracked me up. It took wikipedia to jog my memory: I got you babe. Kind of a pastoral effect in the chorus, and truly weird. It seems that Phil Specter may have had something to do with it.

    Posted by Robert Zimmerman  on  09/11  at  01:46 AM
  43. Sonny and cheer reminded me of a couple of other epics of that period replete with tuba endorsements.  Yes, the tuba!  What?  You don’t like the tuba? 

    Perhaps the best known tuba classic is “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac (but that may be cheating since they used the whole of the USC marching band).  So how about the Rolling Stones use of the same instrument in their 1967 song “Something Happened To Me Yesterday?” Just try to not sing that without the omm pah lumpahing along. 

    Everybody must get stoned is accompanied by the tuba in “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” Dylan encouraged the use of the tuba on a couple of the tracks on John Wesley Harding with the Band (yes i am stuck in ‘67).  Can you sing the Band’s “Rag Mama Rag” and not hear the tuba, or maybe in “The Night They Drove Ol Dixie Down?”

    My personal vote for best tuba in a classic is “Purple Haze” as arranged and orchestrated by Frank Zappa.  If only Jimi had thought of it.

    Posted by  on  09/11  at  02:46 PM
  44. thanks Michael!

    I’ve had this ambient sci-fi noir earwig (brainwig?) in my head for the last couple of years (really).  I’ve been trying to remember it—but couldn’t find the right terms to throw at google.  But now you’ve given it to me—Code 46!  Dead brainwig—yeah!

    Nowhere near PA, otherwise I’d definitely go.

    Posted by  on  09/12  at  01:54 AM
  45. I’m late to the party, but I brought the organ intro to The Band’s “Chest Fever.” Which has bonus incomprehensible lyrics.

    Posted by  on  09/12  at  07:41 AM
  46. God hates classical instruments in rock.

    A founding member of ELO has been killed in a freak accident when a giant hay bale rolled out of a field and landed on his van.

    Cellist Mike Edwards died instantly when the 50-stone cylindrical bale careered down a slope, flipped 15ft over a hedge and smashed on to the roof of his van.

    Posted by  on  09/12  at  12:05 PM
  47. Love the Feelies, although It’s Only Life is a little more Velvet Underground-y than usual

    Posted by  on  09/12  at  02:50 PM
  48. With Mike Edwards that would have been some sort of karmic moment, given that he was a Buddhist.  I wonder what he did to deserve that, other than performing rock on a classical instrument?  50 stones = 317.5 kg = 698.5 pounds… damn that is a big ass bale of hale. 

    In other matters, i am still struggling with the alt.oldies genre, in terms of just what that includes?

    Posted by  on  09/12  at  04:46 PM
  49. I would go with the typewriter solo in Brian Eno’s “China My China” on “Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy.”

    Posted by  on  09/13  at  02:16 PM
  50. recorder solo!

    Posted by  on  09/13  at  06:32 PM
  51. Classic solo on the quills: ”Bull Doze Blues,” Henry Thomas

    You know it in the version substituting flute for quills: “Going Up the Country,” Canned Heat

    Posted by  on  09/13  at  08:12 PM
  52. I like the xylophone solos in “Gone Daddy Gone” by the Violent Femmes.

    Posted by  on  09/13  at  10:18 PM
  53. The tuba also appears in “Electric Guitar” by Talking Heads, though I don’t know if it’s a solo or a noteworthy use of the instrument.

    And here’s a place where you can listen to all of “Bull Doze Blues,” not just a sample, and also get advice for playing it on your ukulele.

    Posted by  on  09/14  at  11:08 AM
  54. If you want “lesser-used non-stringy instruments” how about the Jackyll’s “Lumberjack?” It has a chainsaw solo.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  09:54 AM
  55. late entry (I’ve been away). The genuinely real elephant solo on Propaganda’s Duel.

    Posted by  on  09/27  at  08:47 PM

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