On Sax Criminality

Love it or loathe it, top 40 charts throughout the 80s were furiously coloured with smatterings of growling, wailing, and often nauseous saxophone solos.

Sax crimes were committed en masse, polarising the listening public and offending many through its excessive presence. Introduced as a svelte novelty, the reputation of a once distinguished instrument became tarnished, transformed into a cheesy and sickeningly romantic cliché - the hallmark of 80’s overproduction.

Indeed, much of the horn work throughout the 80s is frought with headshaking inappropriateness and enough cheese to kill a Frenchman. Paradoxically, much of the same material is considered profoundly awesome by many for the very same reasons.

As many pundits as there are out there who truly hate what the saxophone did to the 80s, there are diehards like me who appreciate a good ball-tearing dose of 80’s horn for what it generally is – glorious, ridiculous, comical, fist knucklingly powerful in its fraudulence.

While enduring such criminal acts as George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ and Spandau Ballet’s ‘True’ sets my stomach down the path of vomitory blowout, absorbing gems such as Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker St’ and Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’ unleashes something primal within me, some powerful force, something dangerous. It is this fine, oft hypocritical line of distinction that marks the truly awful from the terribly great.

As a wielder of fine horn, I often ponder what might have been had I been planted on this earth a little before 1983, given proper breeding ground through the 70’s in order to capitalise on this period of saxophonic excess.

All I can do is look back with a cocktail of wonder, admiration and jocular contempt.

Almost everything to be simultaneously loved and mocked about saxophone in the 80s can be exemplified through one man.

You may recall the vampire film ‘The Lost Boys’, and an opening beach scene featuring a sultry summer night on the beach of the Santa Carla boardwalk, a crowd of mullets and perm gyrating about a bonfire as a band fronted by a lubed up man mountain brandishing a sax gyrates the living pelvis out of a makeshift stage.

Tim Capello is that gyrator.

Reasons abound for his cringeworthy magnificence.

Capello has long hair down to his ass and wears chains around his neck and around his wrists. Few men on this earth are capable of pulling off an ensemble of pink spandex and a completely bear torso lubed to the nines with cooking grease, nor can many humans claim to be able to gyrate hips and thrust pelvically with such striking, bewildering potency.

Capello smashes horn. Few men will ever dream of nailing such gloriously soaring altissimo sax growl with the rude spunk and nonchalance as Capello, while simultaneously clenching enough casual arrogance to deem a neck strap totally unecessary.

Lost Boys aside, Capello’s major gig was working for years next to Tina Turner churning out archetypal horn blasts in tunes like ‘We Don’t need another Hero’ and songs of similar cheesy fortitude, ‘One of the Living’ and ‘Simply the Best’ coming to mind.

Capello epitomises the light-dark paradox that is rife through 80’s saxophony. The man is an ooze of horn infused sleaze and sweat. He makes me want to cut loose, bathe in Soul Glo, gyrate and wail like a dying moose.

According to his website, Capello’s band ‘The Ken Dolls’ were the only group ever banned from the New York venue CBGB’s for being ‘too outrageous’. This is saying something.

Capello is testament to the proof that the 80s were not always just bad.

They were often badass.


Paul said...

Hahah, your a lubed up man-mountain!

Welcome back!

Dool said...

Thanks buddy, on both accounts.

I am indeed chuffed.

diz said...

I want Tim Capello's babies.

Dool said...

They're all your my luv. Be warned - he's cut his hair since the crazy 80s....but only recently. Pix on his sit how that he still lubes up daily, so you know...you guys'll have fun.

Danny said...

I know what you mean about the Clarence Clemons bit in Born To Run too... totally awesome.