Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#941 in the Series) is Les Dudek, Say No More
Are you a guitar fan? Do you like great blues guitar? Do you like funky jazz guitar? I’m hoping you know who Les Dudek is. If not, you need to know about him, and quickly.
Born in Rhode Island, and raised in Florida, Les made the rounds before ending up in California. Before he launched his solo career, he spent time playing with the likes of Boz Scaggs and Steve Miller.
I recently learned an interesting story about the start of his solo career. In the early 70s he was living in the San Francisco area, well-known manager/producer “Herbie” Herbert was putting a band together and quickly thought of Les. The plan being that “Herbie” wanted to pair the two hot, young San Francisco Bay area guitarists together. He offered him the position of co-lead guitarist in a new band he was putting together with Prairie Prince on drums, Ross Valory on bass Neal Schon on guitar and Gregg Rolie on keyboards and lead vocals. This of course was the beginnings of Journey. Unfortunately, Les ended up passing. They would eventually make their debut in 1975 with a few slight changes, Aynsley Dunbar would be on drums instead of Prince and George Tickner would be the second guitarist. When I listen to this Les Dudek album I can just hear how well he would’ve fit in with that early space rock Journey sound. It would’ve been spectacular. But oh well.
Instead, Les decided to pursue a solo career as his first record deal literally was hitting the same day that he was beginning his work with Journey. In fact, it was during the band’s very first rehearsal session at Studio Instrument Rentals on Folsom Street in San Francisco when Les made his move. He shared the story with me. “I literally took a brake from the rehearsal to attend a meeting across the street at Columbia Studios when the president and vice president of Columbia Records offered me a solo deal, the rest is history.”
Les also spent a period doing some projects with Dickey Betts and The Allman Brothers, in fact Betts and Dudek co-wrote the classic Allman Brothers tune “Jessica.” I wasn’t really aware of the degree of his and The Allman Brothers relationship, again Les completes the picture. He recently shared the details in an email. “In addition to co-writing “Jessica” with Dickey Betts, I also played the acoustic guitar on that song, and I played half of all the lead guitar parts on “Ramblin’ Man,” both originally from the “Brothers & Sisters” Allman Brothers Band LP.”
Say No More was released in 1977 and featured a ton of the great Los Angeles studio musicians of the time among them, Jeff Porcaro on drums, Chuck Rainey on bass, David Paich on piano and the late David Sancious on organ.
If you like bands like Little Feat, Boz Scaggs, the Allman Brothers, or Robert Palmer then you really need to check this one out. Some of it even has that “Sneaking Sally Through The Alley” feel.
This album received decent airplay and the one song you should know is “Old Judge Jones.” It spent a long period of heavy play on FM rock radio. I’ve included it below make sure you give it a listen. Another highlight that you need to year which is also included below is the instrumental “One To Bean Up.” This is a funky little number that I know you love.
I was only able to find about half the album to place on the video playlist below but make sure you check it out, Les Dudek is one of the greats. I’ve also included a bonus video of the song called “City Magic.” This song is not from this album but it’s one you may know.
I can’t tell you enough how good this guy is. I encourage you to check out not only this album but all of Les’ work.
Les Dudek is still out there today playing so check his schedule and kitchen where you can I’m sure you’ll be impressed.
— Larry Carta
- “Jailabamboozle” (Les Dudek) – 3:06
- “Lady You’re Nasty” (Les Dudek) – 4:40
- “One to Beam Up” (Les Dudek-Alan Feingold) 3:25
- “Avatar” (Les Dudek) – 7:00
- “Old Judge Jones” (Les Dudek) – 4:56
- “Baby Sweet Baby” (Les Dudek) – 5:35
- “What’s It Gonna Be” (Les Dudek) – 3:27
- “Zorro Rides Again” (Les Dudek) – 5:50
- “I Remember” (Les Dudek) – 3:07
- Les Dudek : guitars, vocals
- Jeff Porcaro : drums (01-05,07)
- Tony Williams : drums (08)
- Gerald Johnson : bass (01-04,07)
- Chuck Rainey : bass (05)
- Bob Popwell : bass (08)
- Kevin Calhoon, Reymondo, Pat Murphy (bongos on 07) : percussion
- Alan Feingold : organ (01,02), piano (03,04), piano solo (05,07)
- David Paich : piano (01,02), Fender Rhodes (03)
- Ted Straton : organ (03,07)
- Joachiem Young : organ (04,05)
- David Sancious : organ (08)