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Nothing worse than bad sax.
June 26, 2009 7:13 AM   Subscribe

A handy rating guide to 1980s saxophone solos -- "I realized about 5 years ago that at some point in the 80s, lots of the popular music started incorporating saxophone solos into their songs. Some of them are fine, but most of them are ridiculous to have in the songs. I have attempted to separate the quality and appropriateness of the solos from what I think of the song as a whole..."
posted by miss lynnster (140 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
i was just thinking about this very thing the other day. crazy synchronicity.
posted by mexican at 7:16 AM on June 26, 2009


Very Related
posted by Navelgazer at 7:18 AM on June 26, 2009


OMD's "If You Leave" beats Quarterflash? Playing the iconic "if you want a compressed dose of the 80's, this is the sax solo to have" song "Harden My Heart"? Which only gets a B?

It's one thing to totally obsess over something trivial — the Internet was made for that in some dark ritual that coincidentally spawned angelfire — but if you're going to obsess, get it right.
posted by adipocere at 7:21 AM on June 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Doesn't Romeo Void's Never Say Never have a decent sax solo in it?
posted by jonp72 at 7:25 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I used to jump around playing air guitar to the Foreigner "Urgent" sax solo. What a stupid kid.
posted by orme at 7:28 AM on June 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


Flagged as awesome on several levels, but particularly the "vibrato overuse" icon.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:29 AM on June 26, 2009


Stop using sax as a weapon.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:29 AM on June 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm glad Timmy Capello's solo in the Lost Boys cover of "I Still Believe" is included. Don't get me wrong, Capello is awesome (I loved him in Tap), but the sax did not belong in that song.
posted by djeo at 7:31 AM on June 26, 2009


What, no Sisters of Mercy - Dominion? Not even the gothiest of goth music was safe from the ravages of the sax solo... awesome begins at 0:00 (with additional sax intro!) and solo at 3:01 or so.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:32 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Err, solos. You know what I mean...
posted by djeo at 7:32 AM on June 26, 2009


The smacking around of the "Dancing in the Dark" and "You're A Friend Of Mine" solos is, I think, mostly unwarranted - Clarence Clemons is there, he's a saxman, you're going to have saxophone going around.

Eh. I think he screwed up things like Quarterflash, Men At Work, and a couple others.

The INXS overuse of solos all over the place I'll stipulate to, though.
posted by mephron at 7:32 AM on June 26, 2009


Many otherwise decent songs of the 80s are unlistenable for me thanks to the addition of gratuitous sax. When done well and appropriate for the song, the sax is a great addition to a rock song, but it seems to seldom work out that way. Especially in the 80's.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:33 AM on June 26, 2009


Harden My Heart was awesome because it featured a girl on the sax, which to my 15-year-old self somehow made her way hotter than she would have been otherwise.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:36 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this miss lynnster. I love me some good sax. For me, the love affair started long before the 80's with this.....
posted by newleaf at 7:36 AM on June 26, 2009


....separate the quality and appropriateness of the solos from what I think of the song as a whole...

What if what I think of the song as a whole is almost completely defined by the fact that it contains a sax solo?
posted by DU at 7:37 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dead saxy.
posted by xod at 7:42 AM on June 26, 2009


Thanks to 1980s movie tropes, every time I hear a sax solo I always imagine a sexy, long-legged vixen getting out of a car.

Anybody else?
posted by Afroblanco at 7:42 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


No Baker Street? I guess it's technically not an 80s song, but still, it is THE sax solo song.
posted by consummate dilettante at 7:45 AM on June 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Harden My Heart

I was working on a parody of this called Pardon My Fart back then. Shame I never finished it.

Also. The Motels, Only The Lonely. That sax solo comes straight outta nowhere. You can guarantee there was a producer doing big honking lines & proclaiming "Everything has a sax solo in it, baby!" *snork*
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:45 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


To paraphrase Leonard Plympth-Garnell, in regards to the saxophone solo on The Year of the Cat, let it be noted that it, said saxophone solo, was, as was every other aspect of that feeble excuse for a popular song, was simply and utterly odious, only simply and utterly more so. Odious, odious, odius. More so, more so, more so. Truly a candidate for one of the signs of the Apocalypse, if there is or were such a thing.
posted by y2karl at 7:48 AM on June 26, 2009


The Comic Sans.. it burns!
posted by acb at 7:49 AM on June 26, 2009


Yeah, what the hell. Branford Marsalis' work in Englishman in New York? Eeeeehhhh: B.

Whatever, dude.

Also, leave Men at Work alone!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:49 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


He should add 808 State's Pacific State. 1989. Brilliant song. Maybe the missing link between late '80's pop sax wankery and '90's techno. I'd always thought of the sax there to be a nice shoutout to Duran Duran, but that's probably just a function of my childhood musical tastes.
posted by felix betachat at 7:51 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


DO NOT TRUST THIS MAN!

He hates onions, so feel free to ignore his sax opinions.
posted by orme at 7:51 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think this may be a double but the original link seems dead.
posted by nightwood at 7:52 AM on June 26, 2009


The "Hungry Eyes" solo is sequenced from some sort of lousy samples, though, isn't it? That can't be a real performance.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:54 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]




Oh, and what's with that Dire Straits song where he intones that

"I was made to go with my girl
Like a saxophone was made to go with the night,"


and then DOESN'T follow that with a sax solo?? WTF Mark??
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:03 AM on June 26, 2009


Hmm. Given the author's feelings about the sax solo over the fadeout, I wonder what Hall and Oates' "It's A Laugh" would rate for starting off with one?
posted by bink at 8:07 AM on June 26, 2009


Fact: At some point in the 80s, David Bowie attempted to put a sax solo into every single one of his songs. And other people's songs.

Fact: He knows like, three or four sax notes

Fact: Once you know this, it becomes like finding a Whilhiem Scream "Oh! Bowie Sax Solo, 2 points!"

Fact: This will make you unpopular at parties.
posted by The Whelk at 8:09 AM on June 26, 2009 [15 favorites]


i think 'let love rule' was the tail-end of the 80's and had an appropriate sax solo, not represented here. and marked the absolute zenith of kravitz's unfortunate career.
posted by songfromme at 8:11 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Galaxie 500, Blue Thunder (w sax).

I never could figure it out.
posted by plexi at 8:11 AM on June 26, 2009


Yeah, on the David Bowie tip, I didn't see the Blue Jean sax solo.
posted by Mister_A at 8:15 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Motels, Only The Lonely

The Motels are touring.
posted by longsleeves at 8:15 AM on June 26, 2009


Also, leave Men at Work alone!

nth-ing this.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:15 AM on June 26, 2009


Waiting On a Friend?
posted by punkfloyd at 8:19 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks to 1980s movie tropes, every time I hear a sax solo I always imagine a sexy, long-legged vixen getting out of a car.

Anybody else?


Douglas Adams, for one. From Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul:
It was a battered yellow Citroen 2CV which had had one careful owner but also three suicidally reckless ones. [...]
A door flopped open, wobbling perilously on its one remaining hinge, and there emerged from the car a pair of the sort of legs which soundtrack editors are unable to see without needing to slap a smoky saxophone solo all over, for reasons which no one besides soundtrack editors has ever been able to understand. In this particular case, however, the saxophone would have been silenced by the proximity of the kazoo which the same soundtrack editor would almost certainly have slapped all over the progress of the vehicle."
posted by Electric Dragon at 8:20 AM on June 26, 2009 [22 favorites]


I hate the saxophone in rock music. Another reason 80s music sucks so bad.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:23 AM on June 26, 2009


I hate the saxophone in rock music.

YOU killed that guy from Dave Matthews Band, didn't you.
posted by hippybear at 8:28 AM on June 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I hate the saxophone in rock music. Another reason 80s music sucks so bad.

I beg to differ, sir.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 8:29 AM on June 26, 2009


Leave Huey Lewis and the News alone, too! We shall not disparage "Back In Time". Although, admittedly, the live version of the song does sound better.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:29 AM on June 26, 2009


I used to jump around playing air guitar to the Foreigner "Urgent" sax solo. What a stupid kid.

At least it was a good solo. Deeply sub-par song (as was everything in the Foreigner songbook) ... but the solo was always turning up the radio for.
posted by philip-random at 8:31 AM on June 26, 2009


This guy sure likes his B grades.

And why include Huey Lewis' Back in Time but not The Heart of Rock & Roll? Now there's a classic upbeat 80s sax solo right there.
posted by Spatch at 8:31 AM on June 26, 2009


Leave Huey Lewis and the News alone, too! We shall not disparage "Back In Time".

But I hate that song! And now you have put in my head.
posted by longsleeves at 8:37 AM on June 26, 2009


I would like to propose that the Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) and Candy Dulfer all-sax all the time "Lily was Here" marks the end of the the overwrought 80's sax solo.
posted by exparrot at 8:39 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


A few more sax solos (Spotify links):

Magnum - Midnight
Marillion - Berlin
Dream Theater - Another Day
posted by salmacis at 8:45 AM on June 26, 2009


Leave Huey Lewis and the News alone, too!

Diverting from my previous reference to Men at Work, Servo, in this case I shall have to say that you are very special.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:47 AM on June 26, 2009


I used to jump around playing air guitar to the Foreigner "Urgent" sax solo. What a stupid kid.

I can do better: When I was 13, Jr. High school had a band requirement. I got stuck playing saxophone for some reason, mostly apathy on my part.

One night, during a fight with my parents about my unwillingness to practice I admonished them that it was a stupid instrument and noone even plays it anymore - after all when was the last time they had even heard one on the radio.

I got sent to my room, and turned on KQDS and what were they playing ? Baker Street.

I damned near tore the power cord off the radio I hit it so hard.

To this day, I regret not putting more effort into it. One of these days I'll get a sax and start taking lessons.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:48 AM on June 26, 2009


There is some pretty terrible sax playing there, I'll grant you. But there's also Junior Walker, Maceo, Chris White, Branford and a few other pretty fine players.
There should be a tag for overuse of processing like phasing/flanging, another annoying 80's cliché.
And for the record, the saxophone pre-dates the guitar as the solo instrument of choice in rock and roll. Check out Fats Domino and Little Richard for starters.
posted by Jode at 8:50 AM on June 26, 2009


Ya'll are just a bunch of haters. I say more brass in indie rock!
posted by organic at 8:51 AM on June 26, 2009


So timely: I saw Wang Chung perform Dance Hall days this past Wednesday as part of the Regeneration Tour (ABC, Berlin, Wang Chung, Cutting Crew). The show was a melange of cool tunes and unforgiveable cheese.
posted by exogenous at 8:52 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Saxophones made it onto the new Nachtmystium album, which aside from a few neat instrumental moments is a godawful mashup of Pink Floyd, 80s cheese, and Burzum.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:59 AM on June 26, 2009




My brother and I were talking the other day about how the backing track to the old "Like Mike" Gatorade commercials assumed all the musical sins of 1992. Synthesized Worldbeat percussion! Beatboxing! Lazy vocal fills! The obligatory rap!

And - the sax solo. Thin, cheesy, and entirely perfunctory. 1992 was probably the last year that the saxophone could claim pop music relevance, and "Like Mike" was its recessional.
posted by Iridic at 9:00 AM on June 26, 2009


Fact: At some point in the 80s, David Bowie attempted to put a sax solo into every single one of his songs. And other people's songs.

Wasn't that more of an early 70s thing? The baritone sax on Ziggy Stardust, "Young Americans," "Mama's Little Jewel" from All the Young Dudes...

Fact: He knows like, three or four sax notes


Yeah, but they're all of them good notes.

Fact: This will make you unpopular at parties.

Now I'm tempted to throw a Bowie Saxophone Solo party.
posted by Iridic at 9:02 AM on June 26, 2009


I say more brass in indie rock!

A saxophone is not a brass instrument. I mean, it's usually made of brass, but it's not a brass instrument, dig? It's a woodwind.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:08 AM on June 26, 2009


80s cheese

Now, there is your better than below average eponysterical tribute band name, for sure.
posted by y2karl at 9:15 AM on June 26, 2009


SEX BOMB BABY
posted by klangklangston at 9:16 AM on June 26, 2009


"I hate the saxophone in rock music. Another reason 80s music sucks so bad.

Though it's '70s, I reply, "Oh bondage, up yours!"
posted by klangklangston at 9:17 AM on June 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Not from the 80s, but one of the greatest uses of saxomophone in all rock music:

Oh Bondage, Up Yours!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:18 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, weird...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:19 AM on June 26, 2009


I say more brass in indie rock!

We saw a solo saxophonist open for The National a few weeks back. He was... impressive? Lots of hooting noises and weird, almost guitar-like riffs. I mean, I could understand the skill and practice it would take to coax those sort of sounds out of a sax, but I can't understand why I'd want to listen to it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:24 AM on June 26, 2009


I'm so happy to see Timmy Cappello on this list. I'd wax nostalgic about better times but I'm too busy listening to YouTube clips and digging for my copy of Lost Boys (on VHS).
posted by empyrean at 9:26 AM on June 26, 2009


I know it's not a song, per se, but the Love Theme to St. Elmo's Fire (skip to -1:50) includes a seriously nasty, dog-hair-on-the-reed solo.
posted by aliasless at 9:26 AM on June 26, 2009


No love for the Waitresses? Really?
posted by pxe2000 at 9:27 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but "You Belong to the City" is the one that sticks out in my head.

OH Bondage! Ha, I first heard that from Venetian Snares (though totally samples without the sax).
posted by symbioid at 9:29 AM on June 26, 2009


"I hate the saxophone in rock music. Another reason 80s music sucks so bad."

Two Words: Hazel O'Conner
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:34 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Waiting On a Friend?

The sax solo was played by Sonny Rollins, so it gets a pass.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:37 AM on June 26, 2009


This is desperately missing (I've Had) The Time of My Life.

In my experience, when this comes up in Karaoke without fail everyone jumps to their feet and plays air sax.
posted by Adam_S at 9:40 AM on June 26, 2009


"I hate the saxophone trombone in rock music. Another reason 80s music sucks so bad."

FTFY

(epi-read the liner notes for Alive in America)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:41 AM on June 26, 2009


Doesn't Romeo Void's Never Say Never have a decent sax solo in it?

Every Romeo Void song has a decent sax solo in it. And some maybe not so decent, depending on your mood.
posted by blucevalo at 9:51 AM on June 26, 2009


Oh man, knocking Quarterflash and Huey Lewis is out of bounds.

But feel free to kick around Tina Turner (great song, lame sax).
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:51 AM on June 26, 2009


The sax solo in "Urgent" was played by Junior Walker. That gets better than a B in my book.
posted by blucevalo at 9:53 AM on June 26, 2009


I hate the saxophone in rock music. Another reason 80s music sucks so bad.

I beg to differ, sir.


I was actually going to say "except Pink Floyd" . Somehow they managed to make it sound decent. But still.. when they get into the sax part of Shine on you Crazy Diamond I always want to kip it. Us and Them works though.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:58 AM on June 26, 2009


Stupid Internet. Be more insightful.
posted by Herodios at 10:00 AM on June 26, 2009


As others have pointed out, the 70s is really when the execrable sax solo began and reached its heights (or rather lows). The 80s was just a continuation of all that.

Pure Prairie League's "Let Me Love You Tonight" = sort of the cusp between exiting 70s awfulness and entering 80s awfulness.
posted by blucevalo at 10:02 AM on June 26, 2009


> He should add 808 State's Pacific State.

yes, yes, yes. My roommate in college sophomore year would play that song for hours. By the end of the first month I wanted to kill their saxophonist.
posted by xbonesgt at 10:03 AM on June 26, 2009


Five words: I Want a New Drug

( wait for the solo)
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:06 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some late Eurythmics songs and album cuts also overdosed on cheesy sax solos and fills.
posted by blucevalo at 10:09 AM on June 26, 2009


I hear that New York's Alright if You Like Saxophones.
posted by not_on_display at 10:12 AM on June 26, 2009


There is no need for insight when somebody is blowin' the sax well. It's pure exuberance; that's why it is an indispensible ingredient in rock n' roll. That's a tenor sax Kenny G. is playing, by the way, so I just kinda destroyed my point.
posted by longsleeves at 10:15 AM on June 26, 2009


Wasn't that more of an early 70s thing? The baritone sax on Ziggy Stardust, "Young Americans,"

I believe Young Americans was David Sanborn. I liked him okay before Kenny G murdered the soprano sax for all time.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:20 AM on June 26, 2009


For the record (so to speak) I like Kenny G.
posted by longsleeves at 10:29 AM on June 26, 2009


For the record (so to speak) I like Kenny G.

We all have faults.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:31 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


The tradition lives on: Ween + David Sanborn, 2007.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:32 AM on June 26, 2009


I say more brass in indie rock!

A while ago, it seemed that every indie-pop band coming out of Sweden (these days, the global epicentre of indie-pop) had a trumpet section and knew how to use it.
posted by acb at 10:36 AM on June 26, 2009


You know who didn't need the sax added to his music? Gary Numan didn't need the sax added to his music. And somebody buy that bass player some frets.
posted by item at 10:37 AM on June 26, 2009


I believe Young Americans was David Sanborn.

My mistake.

[Misses a step, cuts his hand]
posted by Iridic at 10:39 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mister_A: "Yeah, on the David Bowie tip, I didn't see the Blue Jean sax solo."

Did he play that? Not credited here. And the tonal effects - which make it a highlight of the song, if you ask me - were executed with an authority that seem beyond the description of his chops found elsewhere in this thread.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:40 AM on June 26, 2009


Seconding all of the shout-outs to "Baker St."...when I think "'80s saxophone solo," that's The One. I believe it's the solo Lisa Simpson plays when she has that dream where she's playing with Garfunkel, Oates and Messina? It's either that the one from "You Belong To The City."
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:42 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread is starting to make me feel like a homicide detective with a mullet and a skinny tie who's been living on the edge.
posted by The Straightener at 10:44 AM on June 26, 2009


I believe it's the solo Lisa Simpson plays when she has that dream where she's playing with Garfunkel, Oates and Messina?

It is indeed "Baker Street."
posted by blucevalo at 10:49 AM on June 26, 2009


This is from the 70s, but I can't think of a better sax solo than the one Phil Woods plays in Steely Dan's "Dr. Wu." I used to play that over and over, turning up the volume as the song faded. It turned me into a Phil Woods fan for life.
posted by Man-Thing at 10:53 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was actually going to say "except Pink Floyd" . Somehow they managed to make it sound decent.

You seriously haven't lived until you've heard DSoTM and WYWH in the original quad mixes. Holy fuck, what an experience. Okay, I'm going to put on my 4.0 surround version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond right now for at much-needed eargasm.
posted by hippybear at 10:59 AM on June 26, 2009


Thanks to 1980s movie tropes, every time I hear a sax solo I always imagine a sexy, long-legged vixen getting out of a car.

I also seem to associate both of these things with Pontiac commercials.
posted by brundlefly at 11:03 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


And somebody buy that bass player some frets.

A non-musician friend who was hanging out at a rehearsal a few years ago asked me in all honesty whet the difference was between my two basses.

Before I could answer, the drummer very drily replied "This one shows him where to put his fingers, and that one, he plays out of tune."
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:12 AM on June 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


There are quad mixes of Pink Floyd albums? Dear God.
posted by longsleeves at 11:14 AM on June 26, 2009


> I was actually going to say "except Pink Floyd" . Somehow they managed to make it sound decent. But still.. when they get into the sax part of Shine on you Crazy Diamond I always want to kip it. Us and Them works though.

I am way, way past my Pink Floyd Phase, but Us And Them is one of the tunes I still like. However, it was always somewhat tarnished by the saxophonist they got for the Delicate Sound of Thunder live album/video: the hair! The emoting (he really gets going at 4:45)! The horror!
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:18 AM on June 26, 2009


"Baker Street" was 1978 (it was one of the few ubiquitous songs that made my year in just-outside-Fresno Radio bearable) and it also contained a brief electric guitar "wailing" solo that I had to edit out to get my Program Director to add to the playlist. (An AM PD in his 40s still in a minor-league market. Obviously.)

But blame (or credit) Gerry Rafferty for starting the whole thing. There were plenty of sax solos before, but that was the one credited for making it a #1 single. And everybody wanted a #1 single.
posted by wendell at 11:21 AM on June 26, 2009


All of the songs on American Fool would benefit from sax solos.
posted by blucevalo at 11:21 AM on June 26, 2009


And yeah, I know, it's the post-Roger Waters "Pink Floyd," but still...
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:22 AM on June 26, 2009


As bad as 80s Sax is (and it really is bad, Dance Hall Days aside, since Wang Chun built the rest of the song around a pretty tight Sax riff) I'm still happy that Law & Order has stuck with their iconic theme song which get more and more dated each week. That's what this thread has made me realize.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:22 AM on June 26, 2009


My roommate in college sophomore year would play that song for hours. By the end of the first month I wanted to kill their saxophonist.
Your boyfriend is really a jerk (jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk)
Will he ever learn to play the saxophone
He plays that same song over and over. . .
[squonk squonk kablatt etc. ]

-- The Bobs, Through The Wall

posted by Herodios at 11:28 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


My favorite sax solo: Bret's Angry Dance! (2:06)
posted by amethysts at 11:34 AM on June 26, 2009


Stupid Internet. Be more insightful.

There is no need for insight when somebody is blowin' the sax well.


Perhaps. But I was really hoping there would be some in the site under discussion.
posted by Herodios at 11:35 AM on June 26, 2009


Play something tragic, Ton Ton
posted by Smedleyman at 11:36 AM on June 26, 2009


Navelgazer:

Nice link, but they're completely wrong when it comes to Radiohead's "The National Anthem". That saxophone makes the song. Baritone sax, in general, should be exempt from this discussion just because it's so badass.
posted by spitefulcrow at 11:45 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I got into John Zorn partially because of his appearances on a Half Japanese record. So, thanks, '80s saxophone solos.
posted by box at 12:01 PM on June 26, 2009


I am way, way past my Pink Floyd Phase

I'm 42 and still in mine, though it's milder than when I was 17.
posted by maxwelton at 12:18 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is always this classic.

Notice: This links to Yakety Sax.
posted by longsleeves at 12:21 PM on June 26, 2009


Morphine was more recent than the 80s, but they definitely knew how to rock the hell out of a sax.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:22 PM on June 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Thanks to 1980s movie tropes, every time I hear a sax solo I always imagine a sexy, long-legged vixen getting out of a car.


Not by any means an 80s movie trope, John Barry for one was using it in the 60s (jump to 2:15, when the girls of Pussy Galore's Flying Circus wiggle out of their Cessnas).

And Barry's "Into Miami" may have my favorite sax break ever in it.
posted by Restless Day at 12:26 PM on June 26, 2009




I love the internet so much.

And seriously, dissing "Harden My Heart" is grounds for justifiable homicide, via the "Jessie's Girl" defense.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:39 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Buh? The sax solos on Oingo Boingo's Little Guns are fucking sublime. I suppose the "spaz" ating is somewhat appropriate, but NOBODY maligns Sluggo on my watch, damnit.
posted by lekvar at 1:08 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


For me, '80s saxophone can only be Borbetomagus.
posted by idiopath at 1:25 PM on June 26, 2009


Nik Turner, anyone?
posted by stinkycheese at 1:26 PM on June 26, 2009


You Look Nice Today covered ridiculous sax in the Nickelpuss episode.

You know, if you like them.

Which I do.

posted by Pronoiac at 1:37 PM on June 26, 2009


No love for the Waitresses?

Square Pegs! Square! Square Square Peg! Always never quite right!
posted by The Whelk at 2:19 PM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


No love for the Waitresses?

Personal tragedy aside, i always disliked the waitresses. I found it the ultimate Irony that someone that i found horribly unattractive was taunting me and insisting that she knew "what boys liked". at the time of my first viewing of said video my instant reaction was thus: If she knew what boys liked so much, she must have been very familiar with and apparently acustomed to, to the point of being happy about it, rejection. Either that, or she had no idea what boys liked.

Christmas Wrapping is annoying as all hell too.

The long and the short of it, no. No love for the waitresses.
posted by djduckie at 2:48 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Awesomely bad 80's sax:

Brass Monkey.
posted by djduckie at 2:52 PM on June 26, 2009


-- The Bobs, Through The Wall

You know, most of that album is pretty unlistenable 20 years later (Be My Yoko), but I still loooooove that song. I absolutely have to sing the bass part when it comes on the iPod. "Bow, Bow, Bedeep!"

I have a thing for songs about obsessive lurkers, too, for some reason, & that's one of the best.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:59 PM on June 26, 2009


David Bowie attempted to put a sax solo into every single one of his songs. And other people's songs.

Fact: He knows like, three or four sax notes


I was an usher at a concert on the Diamond Dogs tour. We saw the whole setup and rehearsal before the show. There were a whole bunch of additional performers behind scrims that couldn't be seen during the show.

It was strange to realize that no one at the show found it odd that there was no cowbell on the drum kit, or that saxophones can't usually play two and three notes at a time.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:38 PM on June 26, 2009


Where's "Careless Whisper?"

Saxomophone in the 80's has been a meme of mine for some time. Interesting to see the ratings guide...but I really just would have preferred for it to not have existed at all.

Now, the trombone solo on The Specials' "Ghost Town," that's seriously badass...
posted by Chuffy at 5:48 PM on June 26, 2009


I've been looking for this website for 20 years! */closes her eyes and thinks of Rob Lowe in a muscle shirt
posted by njbradburn at 6:56 PM on June 26, 2009


Eh, this guy is the typical pompous saxophonist, full of the "my taste in music is better than yours" garbage. If he didn't play sax he'd play trumpet and be just as unbearable. Believe me, I play trumpet.

Anyway, what really irks me (I mean the most, because his whole operation is irritating), is the "when I learned this in 7th grade" crap. If you're so good, why aren't you playing professionally - or at least on some studio recordings so we can judge you? Right.

Plus, he labels half of the solos as blaring. These are supposed to be rock and roll songs, not oboe etudes transcribed for sax. Sometimes you want a rough tone quality, that's what makes the sax a good instrument for this kind of music. The only song this guy gave an "A" to had the sax solo so low in the mix you can hardly hear him. What a jerk.

And by the way, on Huey Lewis' "Back in Time" doesn't he know that the last bit of that is the horn section soli - not a sax solo? I mean, come on, they're playing almost perfect unison. Give me a break.

This guy is just a self-important jerk. Sorry to jump all over your thread, because I was really excited to check this out. I just wish it was more... reliably done.

(You should see what I would have said if he'd given Billy Joel a worse score...)
posted by Kimothy at 11:01 PM on June 26, 2009


I dig the black girls!
posted by klangklangston at 11:14 PM on June 26, 2009


-- The Bobs, Through The Wall

The only thing as annoying as the saxophone is cutesy a cappella music.
posted by item at 6:43 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only thing as annoying as the saxophone is cutesy a cappella music.

*hides childhood cassette of Rockapella under t-shirt, and attempts to walk away nonchalantly without dropping it*
posted by The Whelk at 6:48 AM on June 27, 2009


I love the cheap clip art icons, especially how Madness earned four Blaring air horns. I wonder how many Spazzes he'd give James Chance and the Contortions.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:04 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only thing as annoying as the saxophone is cutesy a cappella music.

How do you breath in that tiny box?
posted by Herodios at 9:19 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


How do you breath in that tiny box?

Especially with this guy in there with you...
posted by Kimothy at 9:21 AM on June 27, 2009


That box is getting crowded. Hey, quit grabbin' my ass.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:24 AM on June 27, 2009


"Nothing worse than bad sax."

Yes, there is: bad sex, and lots of it. Or 1980 synth sax with no lube (really, Steve Winwood kept doing this, again and again, throughout the '80s, because he was just too cheap to pay a sax player, and maybe because he thought it gave him some cred as an organist/synth player, I guess).

But really, 130+ comments and no love for Joe Jackson?
posted by paulsc at 4:29 PM on June 27, 2009


1980 synth sax

Good god. A band I was in had a synth player who would occasionally try to pull off the synth-sax solo. The rest of us had to try to calmly explain to him that, no, it didn't really fit the tone of the song, all the while secretly wishing we could feed him his synthesizer, amp-first.

The worst part was he could actually play the saxophone pretty well, but insisted on the synth-wankery.
posted by lekvar at 9:51 PM on June 27, 2009


But really, 130+ comments and no love for Joe Jackson?

You will note that the tread is about the ubiquitous inappropriate use of saxophones in rock songs in the '70s and '80s just because that was thought was necessary to make hits.

Joe Jackson is a real actual musician who has pretty much always maintained artistic integrity over his output. I like me the angry Joe the best, but that's one hell of a happy song, there. With a horn section being used exactly as a horn section should be used in a pop song -- to add texture throughout. I didn't know he was a competent alto-wielder, but I'm not surprised at all.

I can still remember exactly where I was the first time i heard Got The Time, and it was amongst a host of about 15 songs in the late 70's that turned me on my ear, musically. My favorite to this day though is Beat Crazy -- it a lyrical powerhouse throughout. Huey Lewis isn't fit to shine Joe Jackson's shoes.

So there's some love for ya.

I have to restrain the visceral urge to break things when a wimpy Steve Winwood song from the 80's accidentally gets heard, though. What the hell happened to him? From Traffic to Blind Faith to... ugh. His keyboard tone just says "wimp, wimp, wimp."
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:46 AM on June 28, 2009


I'm just back from the highlands so its a good time to send out some 80s sax love for Mark Knopler's "Going home" from Local Hero (saxophone starts a couple of minutes in).
posted by rongorongo at 11:59 AM on June 28, 2009


Watching Madness at Glastonbury on the telly this afternoon. 'blaring sax'? My arse...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:25 PM on June 28, 2009


Obligitory "Father Ted" Clip
posted by TwoWordReview at 6:48 PM on June 30, 2009


I thought of this thread today when Thomas Dolby's version of I Scare Myself came up on random this afternoon because of the utterly awesome trombone solo. Which is a minor part of an utterly awesome recording of an utterly awesome song.

And speaking of it, here's David Sanborn playing a soprano sax solo alongside Dan Hicks, the composer, performing it on Night Music. I'd forgotten about that show. Wow, I'm so old I can remember when Dan Hicks got radio airplay. Damn.

For the insane, read the youtube comments attached to either.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:36 PM on July 1, 2009


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