Picks and Pans Review: Solo Saxophone Ii—life

updated 02/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

John Klemmer

Klemmer's first solo album in 1978 was fascinating, daring and interesting melodically as well as technically. He has, however, loaded this LP with a little too much philosophical baggage, not to mention vocalist Clint Holmes. Holmes sings a couple of tracks (one entitled The Rain Is the Tears of My God for Me), chants "life, life, life" and makes inexplicable grunting background noises as if he were being forced to march around the studio carrying a 500-pound barbell. Klemmer also attaches such a strong echo to his sax that on occasion he gives the impression that he's playing in a 50-gallon drum and you're trapped in there with him. The album contains lots of absorbing, original music in between the lapses, but a solo saxophone player who alienates his listeners even a little risks sending them scurrying back to their more conventional Charlie Parker, Grover Washington and Sonny Rollins records.


Just when you thought you'd never find out the titles of those mid-'50s hits by Sid King & the Five Strings, along comes Epic Records to let you know they were called Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight and Sag, Drag and Fall. Both are on Vol. 2 of this must-have collection for rockabilly fanatics. So are Ersel Hickey's Bluebirds Over the Mountain, Carl Perkins' Pink Pedal Pushers, Charlie Rich's bluesy No Headstone on My Grave and Bob Luman's Mystery Train. The music is captured here in all its innocence, fun and raggedy bliss. Some cuts, strangely, are as recent as Rick Nelson's 1979 That's All Right (which sounds authentic enough) and Billy Lee Riley's I Got a Thing About You Baby (which doesn't). There are four obscure treasures from Link Wray, who did heavy metal guitar work before anyone knew just how heavy it was, and early tracks by two warbling hillbillies called the Everly Brothers. There's also a delicious surprise: six cuts from teenage siblings Lorrie and Larry Collins. The latter at 14 was already a hot-licks whiz on an electric guitar with his name inlaid. Accompanying photos, and Epic Vice-President Gregg Geller's thorough and informative liner notes, round out an irresistible package.

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