When I initially made these mixes in 2009, I had noted down songs featuring the flute for about a year, and I still stumbled across flutes that had previously passed me by, even in songs I know very well, such as Kris Kristofferson’s Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I Ever Did Before) and The 5th Dimension’s Up Up And Away, a song I have loved since I was a little boy. In the case of the latter I picked up the flute only while watching a clip of the song being performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. There will still be more flute mixes.
1. Van McCoy – The Hustle (1975)
Flute moment: 0:35 Well, this is the soul anthem of flutology which everyone knows how to whistle, straight after chanting “Do the hustle!”
2. The 5th Dimension – Up-Up And Away (1967)
Flute moment: 1:43 The flute creeps in almost unnoticed in the background at 0:52, disappears and then asserts itself almost a minute later.
3. Dusty Springfield – I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby’s Face (1967)
Flute moment: 0:01 The alto flute sets up the song with a 17-second intro. The job done it lets Dusty do her lovely thing. Check out Baby Washington’s equally flutetastic version.
4. Aretha Franklin – Until You Come Back to Me (1973)
Flute moment: 2:27 On Aretha’s cover version of Stevie Wonder’s much-neglected song, the flute serves as an occasional member of the rhythm section until it gets to show off its solo chops in the final third.
5. The Style Council – How She Threw It All Away (1988)
Flute moment:0:01 The flute comes in right away and returns periodically throughout, and gets a cool 15-second solo at 2:01, and from 3:41 stays with us till the end.
6. The National – So Far Around The Bend (2009)
Flute moment: 0:49 In 2009, The National show that the flute is not out of fashion. It has the flute (well, I’m not totally convinced it’s a flute, but something flute-ish) and the xylophone. Reader Itallstarted suggested this track in the comments section; thanks for alerting me to my new current favourite song.
7. Mercury Rev – Something For Joey (1993)
Flute moment: 1:57 Amid all the multi-instrumental wall of sound, the flute pipes up merrily, as was Mercury Rev’s wont.
8. Golden Earring – Back Home (1970)
Flute moments: 0:10 & 2:38 Traffic did it. Jethro Tull did it. Moody Blues did it. Why shouldn’t hoary Dutch rock acts?
9. Jeremy Steig – Howling For Judy (1969)
Flute moment: All of it. It is cheating a bit to include a flute-jazz track here, but this is fantastic and more rock than jazz: two flutes and a bit of bass. This tack was the basis for the Beastie Boys track on Any Major Flute Vol. 1. Steig passed away on April 13, 2016 — exactly a week after I re-posted the flute mix with his sample on the Beastie Boys track.
10. Joe Walsh – Days Gone By (1973)
Flute moment: 3:55 The future Eagle kicks off with flute, returning to the flute hook periodically before giving the instrument the opportunity to take over for a minute. Thanks to Johnny Bacardi for sending this to me.
11. Blood, Sweat & Tears – Sometimes In Winter (1969)
Flute moment:0:22 The flute is with us from the start on this track, but really helps set the scene after 22 seconds, staying prominently with us through out the first minute, taking a break for another minute, and returning after the 2-minute mark and never leaves us again.
12. Kris Kristofferson – Loving Her Was Easier (1971)
Flute moment: 0:20 Blink and you might miss it. For a long time, I did not take notice of the three moments of brief flutesomeness, all within in the first minute. And I have listened to this song, an all-time favourite, more than most KK songs.
13. The Dillards – Listen To The Sound (1968)
Flute moment:0:01 The flute is not particularly big in country. But here we’ve had KK and now The Dillards, the hugely influential but largely forgotten country/bluegrass band.
14. The Association – Windy (1967)
Flute moment: 1:07 Flute solo! And the flute returns at 2:27, staying until the song fades out.
15. Billy Joel – Get It Right The First Time (1977)
Flute moment: 0:16 This is possibly the only Billy Joel that features the flute. I can’t think of any other. Funny then that it is my least favourite song from The Stranger.
16. The Isley Brothers – For The Love Of You (1975)
Flute moment: 0:01 Early ’70s soul music frequently incorporated the flute to great profit. For The Love Of You signalled the advent of the much-maligned Quiet Storm genre (named after the Smokey Robinson album, the title track of which will feature in Volume 4). The lovely flute hook accompanies the song discreetly throughout.
17. S.O.U.L. – Burning Spear (1973)
Flute moment: 0:18 Where the flute was inhibited on the previous song, on this funk instrumental it takes the centre stage and sounds as sexy as any wind instrument ever did (oh dear, one could manufacture a terrible double entrendez from that statement).
18. Procol Harum – Pandora’s Box (1975)
Flute moment: 1:39 Borrowing liberally from the Tull, the rock legends turn to the flute in an interplay with the guitar.
19. Stackridge – To The Sun And Moon (1974)
Flute moment: 1:19 Fun fact: Folk outfit Stackridge were the first act to play at the very first Glastonbury Festival. A flute-friendly act, they take their time to bring in the instrument here.
20. Focus – Hocus Pocus (1971)
Flute moment: 4:14 When I asked earlier why Dutch rock bands shouldn’t use the flute, I merely restated what Focus pondered almost 40 years ago. The flute takes its time to turn up in this entirely strange strong which includes prodigious yodelling, a momentary lapse of the singer’s mental faculties as he does speaking in tongues, and all manner of other madness. Odd then that it is the flutes that are best remembered — after the yodels, obviously.