Tag Archives: Mar-Keys

Who’ll follow the Big Man?

Louis Jordan … King Curtis … Sam Butera … Clarence Clemons … all gone.

No one takes their place, but someone must follow.

Who’s the most influential rock ‘n’ roll and R&B sax player out there now? I’ll go with Maceo Parker, but no one else leaps to mind. (And at 68, Parker is just a year younger than Clemons.)

I confessed here long ago that I’ve never been much of a Springsteen fan. That said, I’ve always loved horns, and especially the Big Man’s tenor sax.

One of my favorite albums from the ’80s is Clarence Clemons’ first LP.

In 1983, with Springsteen and the E Street Band between albums and tours, Clemons put together a group on the side. Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers — named for Red Bank, New Jersey, where Clemons briefly owned a club in the early ’80s — put out one record.

I dug it out last fall and wrote about it on my other blog, The Midnight Tracker.

“Rescue” is full of spirited, blue-collar R&B and rock, the kind you’d hear from a bar band. Which is exactly what the Red Bank Rockers appeared to be, albeit with one well-known sax player.

“A Man In Love” and “Resurrection Shuffle,” Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers, from “Rescue,” 1983. It’s said to be available on a two-fer CD along with “Hero,” his 1985 solo debut, but it’s hard to find.

The first song is co-written by Clemons and Desmond Child, who at the time was just getting started on his remarkable songwriting career. Keyboard player and producer Ralph Schuckett and Terry Abramson also are credited as co-writers.

The second, of course, is a cover of the old Ashton, Gardner and Dyke song from 1971. This cover alone may be why I bought this record.

The vocals on both are by John “J.T.” Bowen, whose hard-luck story we shared over at The Midnight Tracker.

“Peter Gunn Theme,” Clarence Clemons, from the “Porky’s Revenge” soundtrack, 1985. It’s out of print.

You always wanted to hear this one played by the Big Man, didn’t you? The credits aren’t specific, but I believe he’s backed by Dave Edmunds on guitar.

Finally, there is this …

This song popped up on shuffle earlier today. I immediately got the sense of being at church and hearing the tenor sax preaching a tribute to the Big Man. That is Andrew Love of the Mar-Keys on the tenor sax.

“Let It Be,” the Mar-Keys, 1971, from “Stax Does The Beatles,” 2007. It originally was on “Memphis Experience,” their last Stax LP (available on this two-fer CD with the “Damifiknow!” LP from 1969). I have this tune on “Beatlemania, Volume 2,” a Mojo magazine compilation CD from September 2004.

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Filed under June 2011, Sounds

That ’70s song, Vol. 12

The Beatles were all but done as a group by the last week of March 1970, but you couldn’t tell it from listening to the radio.

There, bunched together at the top of the charts 40 years ago this week, were these three hit singles:

— A song by the Beatles.

— A song by a solo Beatle.

— A song written and recorded first by a solo Beatle.

It was, perhaps, Beatlemania’s last stand.

It was about this time that I signed a petition begging the Beatles to stay together. It was something orchestrated by WOKY, the big AM Top 40 station out of Milwaukee. They wanted listeners to circulate petitions. If memory serves, the top prize was a complete set of Beatles LPs.

At our school, a seventh-grade girl named Robin took up the challenge. I signed her petition during lunch in the gym. Robin must have done a pretty good job. She got some kind of mention on the radio. Whether she got any Beatles LPs, I can’t recall.

We didn’t keep the Beatles together, of course, but no one was letting go of them. Not with these songs at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 in WOKY’s chart that week:

— “Let It Be” by the Beatles.

— “Instant Karma” by John Lennon.

— And the one written by Paul McCartney and released on the Beatles’ Apple label …

“Come And Get It,” Badfinger, from “Magic Christian Music,” 1970.

This was one of my favorite 45s. I liked this tune, but I liked the flip side even more. “Rock Of All Ages” is a wild piano- and guitar-driven rave-up that’s been posted here twice before.

McCartney did a solo demo of “Come And Get It” during the “Abbey Road” sessions in July 1969. It wasn’t officially released until 1996.

As for those other hit singles by the Beatles and by John Lennon … enjoy a couple of cool covers.

“Let It Be,” Ike and Tina Turner, from “Workin’ Together,” 1971. It’s out of print but is available digitally. Tina makes this one all her own.

“Let It Be,” the Mar-Keys, from “Memphis Experience,” 1971. It’s out of print. From the house band at Stax Records in Memphis, this is a sweet, laid-back instrumental with a warm sax lead. (This is a CD rip from “Mojo Beatlemania, Volume 2,” included with Mojo magazine in September 2004.)

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Filed under March 2010, Sounds