Sunday, August 25, 2013

I Want Your Sax -- Best Sax Solos of the 80's (According to Me)

Ever since I was a young yinzer growing up in Western PA, I wanted to move to NYC. Because of Cyndi Lauper, Reading Rainbow, Tina Turner -- I was moving to NYC and no one was going to stop me. If you ask me what I remember about moving to NYC, part of it was the romantic image in my head of the sax player in Central Park or the subway,the sound of it echoing into the dark, steamy night (steamy now I know courtesy of Con Ed). Tina Turner, Glen Fry, Bananarama all used NYC as the backdrop. It was the sax that capped it for me.

So without any order in mind, my favorite Sax Solos of the 1980's.

You Belong to the City by Glen Fry. You cannot get anymore NYC than this - the opening scene alone, a vantage point from Brooklyn, starting at the South Street Seaport then panning wide to reveal the World Trade Center. It's a classic night-life NYC. The lyrics alone paint the picture of anonymity in NYC, even more so at night. The interwoven scenes of Miami Vice also help the 80's feel. Love this song, it's NYC to me.

Next up, Quarterflash with Harden My Heart. I actually had not seen the video until recently (nothing says 80's more than swinging light bulbs and a wood paneled trailer). The sax intro makes this song and helps to give it that sound that means the 80's to me ... almost as much as the next song.

Yes, George Michael, Wham! and Careless Whisper. From an early age, I have loved Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou, or as we all know him, George Michael. Faith, while I had no idea at the time (nor should any ten year old) what half of those songs were talking about, introduced me to sounds like I had never heard before and haunting videos life Father Figure. It would be one of his last Wham! songs though that would always remind me of those 80's.

Quintessential 80's sound with sultry sax and lots of hair: Hall and Oates Maneater. While not one of their best songs when it comes to complexity, it is a defining sound for Hall and Oates and hands down one of the most recognized songs from the 80's.

This next song not only has an incredible sax solo but has one of the best bass lines of an 80's song (fangirl moment for John Taylor). Duran Duran's Rio is arguably another one of those 80's best of hits ever with one of the top videos from the 80's as well. But here is some trivia for you all. Who played the sax solo for the song? Well, if you watch the video you would say "John Taylor or Nick Rhodes" but no - you have been duped. It was actually Andy Hamilton, a British saxophone player who has played with not only Duran, but with Wham (see above) Elton John, David Bowie, and more.

Ahh, the mates from Down Unda, Men at Work with Overkill. And, again, another haunting video full of sunsets and mystery ... and Colin Hay going through some type of paranoia. Ghosts appear and fade away ...

And who can forget Sade's Smooth Operator? The jazzy song begs for the saxophone. Without the woodwind, this song would be missing something. This song song about a jet-setting, womanizing business man was usually never heard in its full form and was nominated for a VMA for it's 4 minute version. Ladies and gents, here is the eight minute full version.

And how can you mention sax solos without mentioning INXS? Kirk Pengilly made the sax sexy in the 80's. While bands were jamming to guitar and synthesizer solos, Kirk made us weak in the knees with his famous sax solos in songs such as New Sensation, Johnson's Aeroplane, Kick, The One Thing, Mediate and this one - Never Tear Us Apart. I personally wish it could have been a longer solo, or spread throughout the song, but then I realize, oh yeah, he also has to play guitar.

 So there is my list of some of the best sax solos of the 80's ... you think they will ever make a comeback?

1 comment:

  1. Love them all, but I have to say the sax solo in "Baker Street" crushes any and all. That thing cuts glass like a guitar solo, and will always be my favorite.