(Post by John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia – November 2021)
My nominee for the Once Upon a Time in the ’70s Hall of Fame is Tom Scott.
I can hear the collective ‘WHO ?’ like a stoner party of tripping owls. Take it from someone who is well aware of the illicit pharmacy in ornithology. In my quest to introduce recreational drugs to sea birds, I have left no tern un-stoned !
Thomas Wright Scott was born 19th May 1948, the son of film and television composer, Bernard Scott, who wrote and arranged the music for the TV show Lassie so you could say he has good pedigree. A musician of good standing – sitting, fetching and staying as well.
Oor Tam was equally proficient on all of the saxophone and woodwind families as well as much in demand as a composer and arranger. Look hard enough in your 70s collection and I’ll bet his name pops up more than once. His session work is vast.
These are a just a few of my favourites and a mere smidgen of Scott’s output.
“Gotcha” (Starsky & Hutch theme tune) Who hasn’t run down the drive way and tried to slide over the bonnet of your Dad’s Hillman Avenger when this funky theme started up. I think he plays this on the lyricon, one of the earliest electronic wind instruments.
“Listen To What The Man Said” by Wings from 1975. That was our Tommy boy playing some jaunty soprano sax on this Macca track.
The solo alto sax in “I Still Can’t Sleep” in Martin Scorcese’s film Taxi Driver – Tom ‘Are you looking at me ?’ Scott !
Tom was a Blues Brother and played with Jake and Elwood on most of their albums. He didn’t appear in any of the films though.
“Spindrift” is a beautiful tune I use to attempt to play from his time with the LA Express in the mid 70s.
Tom solos on tenor and arranges the horns on Steely Dan’s “Black Cow” from the seminal 1978 album “Aja”. And before you go all woke, black cow is a cocktail !
Although encroaching into the 80s, his work on Blondie’s “Rapture” takes this rap tune to new levels.
But my favourite collaboration of his is on Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark”. This 1974 release was Mitchell’s first foray away from folk and into rock and jazz. Scott’s subtle playing and sensitive arrangements greatly compliment Joni’s singing and songwriting.
Having his band the LA Express and the Crusaders to hand was none too shabby. Apparently drummer John Guerin and Joni had a wee thing going on. I guess they were courting and presumably sparking until they split up. Joni wrote about him in “Refuge of the Road” (Hejira)
Tom Scott went on to form house bands for two short lived US late talk shows (including Chevy Chase) and continued writing music for TV (Cybill) and film (Conquest of the Planet of The Apes). He remains much in demand as a session player and can now add educator and radio/pod presenter to his CV.
Good boy Scotty. Good boy.