Some Thoughts On Jim Horn

Originally posted January 28, 2009

The first time I ever heard of Jim Horn was when I was listening for the first time to The Concert for Bangla Desh and heard George Harrison introduce the players behind him. Jim Horn and the Hollywood Horns were among the performers on stage that day in 1971, and I guess I mentally shrugged and halfway put Horn’s name on a mental list of people to someday learn more about.

And his name popped up on occasion as I began to read the fine print on record jackets and inserts. I didn’t see his name as frequently as I saw the name of Bobby Keys, who along with trumpet player Jim Price played on the recently mentioned stretch of albums influenced by the late Delaney Bramlett. Still, Horn’s name popped up often enough that when I began to seriously collect vinyl in the 1990s, a record with his name in its credits would more often than not find a place on my shelves.

I have no idea how many of my LPs include Jim Horn’s saxophone work. I took a look at his list of credits at All-Music Guide and started counting LPs I own. Of the nearly one hundred albums listed on just the first page of Horn’s credits there – covering the years from 1958 into 1974 – I have at least thirty, maybe more. (I did not count those LP’s that I have only as files of mp3s; there were at least ten to fifteen of those.) And that was only on the first of ten pages of credits for Horn.

I thought of Jim Horn recently for two reasons. First, I was rummaging through a box of LPs I’ve set aside to rip to mp3s. Three of them were Horn’s albums – Through the Eyes of a Horn from 1972, Jim’s Horn from 1973, and the 1988 album, Neon Nights. (He also released Work It Out in 1990, which I have on CD. And AMG lists four other albums: Christmas with Jim Horn, released in August 2001; and A Beatles Tribute, Tribute to John Denver and The Hit List, all of which are listed as having been released on March 2, 2001, which seems a little improbable.) So Horn’s work was on my mind as I pondered which albums I should rip both for sharing here and for my own files.

Then came the announcement of the most recent selections for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I find myself not caring much these days about the groups and individuals elected to the Hall of Fame, but that’s another post for another day. (When the list was announced, my pal JB at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ shared a few thoughts about this year’s crop; his comments are near the bottom of the linked post, and they’re worth a read.) But I do take a look each year to see who’s been selected as a sideman.

It’s a relatively new category, with the first inductees being named in 2000. Here’s the list so far, chronologically:

2000: Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, James Jamerson, King Curtis, Scotty Moore.

2001: James Burton, Johnnie Johnson

2002: Chet Atkins

2003: Benny Benjamin, Floyd Cramer, Steve Douglas

2008: Little Walter

And this year’s inductees will be Bill Black, D.J, Fontana and Spooner Oldham.

Two things come to mind: Why was there a five-year gap between 2003 and 2008? Is the list of sidemen who are eligible and worthy so short that the electors had to work hard to come up with Little Walter and this year’s three inductees? I kind of doubt that, and I find that gap odd. And as I pondered the list of inductees – all greatly deserving of the honor – I began to wonder if Jim Horn belongs there. And I wondered the same thing about Bobby Keys, Jim Price and – though I’ve not mentioned them in this piece so far – the Memphis Horns.

My thoughts? Horn, Keys and the Memphis Horns likely belong. Sax players King Curtis and Steve Douglas are already in, but – unless the Hall is working under some kind of quote system – that shouldn’t matter. Jim Price? As good as he was, I don’t see him in the Hall; his list of credits, compared to the others mentioned here, is brief.

Whether he belongs in the Hall or not – and I can listen to arguments either way – Horn is one of those musicians I look for. And I thought I’d go ahead and rip Through the Eyes of a Horn for today. It was released on Leon Russell’s Shelter label, and it’s a pretty good album, very much of its time, with production credits going to Horn, Russell, Denny Cordell and Larry Knechtel.

Highlights? I think the best track is the opener, Horn’s take on Canned Heat’s “Going Up The Country.” Two others that stood out were “Which Way Does The Wind Blow,” and “Sweet Motor City,” the album’s closers. Overall, it’s a good album. (There are more pops on this rip than there usually are on albums I share here. The worst noise, however, is limited to just a few tracks: The opening section of “Along Came Linda,” which happens to be the quietest song on the record, and “Rollin’ Along” and “Jennifer Juniper.” This is, after all, thirty-seven-year-old vinyl.)

Musicians on the record were: Ron Tutt, Chuck Blackwell, Jim Keltner, Jim Gordon, Earl Palmer, John Guerin and, Paul Humphreys on drums; Gary Coleman on steel drums; Jerry Scheff, Carl Radle and Max Bennett on bass; Mike Deasy, Louie Shelton, Leon Russell, Al Casey on guitar; Louis Shelton on dobro; Larry Knechtel on keyboards and mouth harp; Bobby Bruce on fiddle; Chuck Finley, Jackie Kelso, George Bohanon, Paul Hubinon, Jack Redmond and Dalton Smith on horns; and Rita Coolidge, Priscilla Jones, Kathie Deasy, Booker T. Jones, Maxine Willard and Julia Tillman on background vocals. Johnnie Horn, who I assume is Jim Horn’s son, takes a vocal turn on “Nice To Make A Friend.”

Going Up The Country
Along Came Linda
Shake N’ Bake
Brain Dance
Lulu Belle
Guerilla Love In
Nice To Make A Friend
Rollin’ Along
Jennifer Juniper
Which Way Does The Wind Blow
Sweet Motor City

Jim Horn – Through the Eyes of a Horn [1972]


One Response to “Some Thoughts On Jim Horn”

  1. How ’Bout Some Bobby Keys? « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] wrote a few weeks ago – in my musings on Jim Horn’s Through the Eyes of a Horn – about my regard for Keys. At the […]

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