If there was a contest to find the most derided instrument in rock music today, the saxophone would be a prime contender. After ruling the airwaves in the Eighties, it was chased out in the Nineties by grunge, and these days it often feels as if the only person still playing the sax in public is Lisa Simpson… Roxy Music were the first great rock band in which a woodwind player was a central member (Andy Mackay, on sax and oboe; there has still, arguably, been only one more: Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, featuring the late lamented Clarence Clemons).
At times like this, I wish I knew how to spell that stunned sound of disbelief that cartoon characters make when they shake their heads rapidly. Uh, Tim? Meet Dana Colley, the invalidation of your entire thesis. Even if you don’t count Twinemen and Bourbon Princess as major bands, Morphine alone – before, during, and after the heyday of grunge – did more to display the creative potential and importance of the saxophone in rock music than all of the superfluous ’80s soft-rock hits put together.