After the guitar, the sexiest instrument in the rock artillery is, and always will be the saxophone. Eddie ‘Kingfish’ Manion is one of the finest exponents of that magnificent, glistening, sassy piece of brass. His credits name-drop the great and the good.
Perhaps best known nowadays as one of the lynchpins of Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, and a founder member of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, he has graced the stage and the studio with McCartney, Springsteen, Dylan, Keith Richards, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi… the list goes on. Eddie Manion is a man in demand as a player.
As a much sought-after sideman and world acclaimed musician, Eddie has helped shaped some of the most artists of our time’s works. Now with ‘Coastin’ In’, his second album, Eddie is taking centre stage.
And it suits him.
Having shown his impeccable musical taste and knowledge with his selection of songs, Eddie breathes and blows new life into these classics.
On an album of mostly instrumentals, ‘Kingfish’ pays huge respect to the originals, but stamps his own take on jazz standards like ‘Smile’, (composed by Charlie Chaplin) and a spectacular version of ‘Spooky’.
I’ve never been a great jazz fan but the tone and clarity and sheer infectious nature of the groove might well change that.
Manion has surrounded himself with some amazing musicians. As his last paid employment was with Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, he didn’t really need to look too far to locate such an illustrious band of players.
Disciples musical director Marc Ribler leads the way on guitar and produces some counter solos to Manion’s sax. It is also well worth checking out Marc’s own recent solo album ‘The Whole World Awaits You’, which is just a great totally engaging rock album.
Rich Mercurio on drums and Jack Daley on bass also help their fellow Disciple out, as do backing singers Jesse Wagner (whose soulful and eclectic album, ‘Shoes Droppin’ is also a rare musical treat), Lisa Lowell, and Jacquelyn Ware.
It’s an album of great variety, from the cool meditative tones of ‘Georgia On My Mind’ to a rousing run-through of the Georgie Fame classic, ‘Yeh, Yeh’, back to the smoky haze of ‘Deep Purple’, and through to a faithful rendition of the Hollies’ ‘He Ain’t Heavy’, there is so much to admire and immerse oneself in.
It’s a brave man who takes what is regarded by many as the classic pop song in The Beach Boys, ‘God Only Knows’, but ‘Kingfish’ does. He wisely keeps faithful to the original, with the obvious exception of his glorious sax playing, and reliance on background vocals, making a glorious sound, in particular on the outro.
It’s hard not to love Steve Winwood’s ‘Roll With It’ and Eddie’s version is a real blast. Manion also displays a talent in the songwriting stakes himself, contributing the breezy, free-flowing, title track and the bonus Christmas track, with a nod to his Irish routes and his own good time vocal.
‘Coastin’ In’ is a richly varied, engaging, and extremely entertaining album that will add to the hugely impressive CV and reputation of Eddie ‘Kingfish’ Manion.