If you talk to die-hard Bruce Springsteen fans, many of them will list “Incident on 57th Street” as one of their favorite Springsteen songs. The song leads off the second side of Bruce’s second album, “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” released in 1973, with “Rosalita” and “New York City Serenade.” The jazzy sound of these songs was dominated by the incredible piano playing of David Sancious who preceded Roy Bittan in the E Street Band.
The live version in the video above was released as a B-side in the mid-Eighties when Springsteen released his first live album, but I can’t find it anywhere on iTunes or in a legal digital format. It’s by far the best live version I’ve heard of this song and it features an excellent and mellow guitar solo by Bruce at the end that’s much better than the solo on the original recording.
This fan video was created by a Springsteen fan on YouTube who has posted a number of excellent Springsteen videos. He mashes up concert footage and other Springsteen footage to create visually interesting interpretations of the songs, and he translates the lyrics into Spanish subtitles.
Last night at Manhattan’s East River Park, the legendary Lyricist Lounge continued their 20th anniversary celebration with a free show featuring two of Hip-Hop’s all-time greatest producers and deejays, Pete Rock and DJ Premier. Hosted by Lyricist Lounge founders Danny Castro and Ant Marshall, the show was dubbed “Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier,” though it was really less a battle than a collaborative showcase. Castro began the show by schooling the audience on a bit of trivia about the East River Park bandshell, which is where the finale of the 1983 Hip-Hop classic “Wild Style” was filmed.
Unfortunately, before they could get into the golden era of ’90s Hip-Hop, including the promised battle of their own productions and a promised special guest rapper (who, based on the outstanding scope of their past collaborations, could have been virtually any heavyweight emcee still alive and breathing), there was a power failure that brought the show to a premature end. I thought it was a gimmick at first, and much of the crowd began chanting “Hip-Hop,” as if our true belief could bring the lights and sound back on. Sad to say, in a city with subways full of ads featuring the slogan “Never be powerless,” the promoters and technicians were unable to bring the show back. It was a disappointing ending to an otherwise enjoyable evening of music brought to us by two of the greatest deejays alive.
Long before the video revolution, The Beatles put out promotional videos and obviously made movies, so we have a ton of great footage of the band. Here’s the promo video for “Something” written by George Harrison featuring the band and all their gal pals. With the London Olympics starting today we had to give you something from an English band – right?
Forty-three years after their original 1969 formation, the legendary band War can still rock a stage with the best of them and provide a funky good time for audiences of all ages. Of course, the only original member still in the lineup is keyboardist and current lead singer Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan, but since the band has cycled through more than 25 members since its original inception, this is no surprise. The band, in its current seven-piece configuration, played a free show at Queensbridge Park in Queens, New York, last night as part of City Parks Foundation’s annual SummerStage series. Probably about 400 people, ranging in age from toddlers to elderly folks, were in attendance, and War played an excellent two-hour set full of positive energy and musical prowess.
After an hour-long warm-up from DJ Felix Hernandez’ Rhythm Revue, War opened their set with the funky, upbeat “Me and Baby Brother,” from their 1973 gold record “Deliver the Word,” and the already dancing crowd really began to get down. Jordan is an exceptionally charismatic frontman who really commands the stage even when boxed in behind his keyboards, but he stepped out early on in the show to lead an audience sing-along to the 1972 hit “The Cisco Kid.” He joked that if anyone in the crowd could tell him how many other War songs contained the word “wine,” he would let that lucky fan buy him a glass of wine.
Jordan then slowed the upbeat set down a bit with the more serious jam “The World Is a Ghetto,” from the 1972 album of the same name, taking time to speak off-the-cuff about changing the world for the kids in the audience. He referred specifically to an adorable toddler dancing near the stage, of whom he couldn’t quite identify the gender, saying, “They don’t know when they’re that age anyway. Let ‘em worry about all that when they get older.” The band also catered to an unexpected fan request by playing the gorgeous, tempo-shifting instrumental “City, Country, City,” also from the “World Is a Ghetto” album, which really gave saxophonist Fernando Harkless and harmonica player Stanley Behrens a chance to shine.
Though the overall set was mostly very up-tempo and danceable, War took time for a couple of slow love ballads near the end. Jordan took a lengthy vocal and keyboard solo for the beginning of the beautiful 1973 title track “Deliver the Word” before letting the rest of the band join him to jam it out, and drummer Salvador Rodriguez sang a love ballad of his own before War broke out their two biggest hits. On “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” from the 1975 album of the same name, each of the seven members of the band sang one two-bar verse, except for percussionist Marcos Reyes, who relegated the last small verse to an audience sing-along.
They closed with the iconic hit “Low Rider,” from the same album, and of course the crowd loved it, many of them begging for one more song. Unfortunately, the free outdoor show had a strict ending time, but it is a testament to War’s energy, vitality and long list of beloved hits, that a two-hour set could still leave us wanting more.
This story is getting plenty of play today, as it should. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band capped off a marathon show in Hyde Park in London by inviting Paul McCartney on stage. They ripped through “I Saw Her Standing There” and then moved on to “Twist and Shout” when all of the mikes were cut off. Apparently they had gone beyond the curfew and someone decided it was time to end the show. What a shame.
Last night at the Hotel on Rivington in Manhattan, ArjanWrites.com presented a special ARTIST #TALK session with Miami-based club rapper Flo Rida, a massively successful artist who has sold 60 million records and scored 14 hit singles, including the ubiquitous hits “Low” and “Right Round.” Arjan describes the ARTIST #TALK series as “as a listening session meets ‘Inside The Actors Studio‘,” and this is a fairly accurate way to put it. The evening began with a basic interview summing up Flo Rida’s career thus far, and then proceeded to a preview listening session for his new album “Wild Ones.”
Flo Rida began as a hype man for the legendary 2 Live Crew, who were equally loved and hated in their time for boundary-pushing songs like “Me So Horny.” Of this experience, Flo says, “I heard about the crazy things that went on, but I never took part in that. I just went out and did the shows.” This is a large part of of his persona as an artist, a relentless positivity that embraces partying while avoiding explicit lyrics about drugs, guns or any other negative tropes often heard in club music. He says, “I was happy to have music that my mom could listen to … and put smiles on the faces of young and old people.” He has even started his own charity, Big Dreams 4 Kids, to give back to underprivileged youth in slums like the one in which he grew up. When asked about the way his music has mixed Hip-Hop with electronic dance music, he also points to his upbringing: “Growing up in Miami, Florida, it’s like a gumbo of different cultures.”
We then moved on to the listening portion of the evening, previewing 90-second snippets of all nine tracks from the new album, “Wild Ones.” The first single, “Whistle” has a pleasant, laid-back feel to it, with a hook that is almost reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The title track, “Wild Ones,” features the up-and-coming singer Sia, and Flo spoke of his interest in finding new talent because “when you’re starting out, you don’t have the chance to work with who you want to, you just have to do what you can, and that’s how I started out.” He would seem to have a good instinct for future success, judging by songs like “Starstruck,” an early collaboration with a then unknown artist named Lady Gaga.
The rest of the album largely follows the template of “Wild Ones,” with thumping dance beats and Flo’s facilitating delivery. It should give fans exactly what they’ve come to expect, but it would be nice to hear him switch up his style more. Flo is a club rapper, though, not an emcee’s emcee, and he has found a sound that works for him. Even his more reflective song, “I Cry” has a similarly up-tempo flow on the verses, though the beat is a bit slower than the rest. “Good Feeling” is another standout track, featuring a beautiful Etta James sample, and according to Flo, “she passed away right after we went number one” with the song, a strange omen that meant a lot to him. Perhaps the worst track on the album is “Sweet Spot,” which features a guest turn from Jennifer Lopez and lots of lazy sugar/sex references, even dropping the phrase “candy shop,” a reminder of 50 Cent’s most embarrassing work. Still, this is a record for people to dance to, not analyze, and it should satisfy that need quite nicely.
Last night at Manhattan’s Bowlmor Lanes / Greenwich Village Country Club, Axe previewed its new interactive global gaming experience, “AxeMan,” at a special, exclusive event shrouded in secrecy. Guests were taken by pre-paid car service to the venue near Union Square, where we were served complimentary food and drinks such as Axe’s signature drink, the “AxeMan” (basically just a good, strong Manhattan), and uniquely delicious breaded-and-fried mac & cheese bites.
We quickly learned the reason for the event’s top-secret, exclusive guest list: as we were seated with our drinks, all the event’s guests were provided with complimentary iPads on which we were given a tutorial on how to play “AxeMan.” In this case, the “axe” in question is an electric guitar played by a tough-looking bro reminiscent of Jack Black‘s “Brutal Legend” character, Eddie Riggs, but with shorter hair and nicer clothes. The game itself combines “Guitar Hero” with a first-person shooter, such as the classic “GoldenEye 007,” though its game-play is a much less complex horizontal scroll.
The object of the game is to collect curvaceous, scantily clad women (hereinafter referred to as “honeys”) to your “crew” while simultaneously defeating bad guys, just like in real life. The game’s setting is the fictional university “PWN U,” and the bad guys are frat-boys who throw either dodgeballs, beer bottles or free-weights at you as you attempt to gain honeys. You can block these by tapping them as they come toward you, and you kill the bad guys by strumming guitar notes at them from a fretboard at the bottom of the screen. The “boss” at the end of the game’s first level is the school’s mascot, a huge bull that comes to life and charges you, depleting your supply of honeys until you defeat him or die. It sounds pretty stupid, and to be honest it is, but it’s also surprisingly fun and addictive.
In addition to the “AxeMan” game, Axe has also launched “Planet Axe,” a social networking hub containing “AxeMan” and other games, where players can connect to share their high scores and talk trash. “AxeMan” also features a user-generated soundtrack of songs supplied by your own iTunes or other music player, so if you prefer to shoot bad guys to the sound of heavy metal, while your friend would rather pick up honeys to the sound of smooth jazz, everybody still wins. Watch out for the bull at the end, though – music of any kind will not likely sooth that savage beast.
Q: What do you call a guy who hangs around with musicians?
A: A drummer.
One of our college advisers told us that joke. He was a tool. He’s also dead wrong.
All great bands have great drummers (yes, that includes Ringo), and we suspect that John Wicks (far left), drummer for Motown revivalists Fitz & the Tantrums, would agree, if we could get him to stop shaking his ass. In the middle of a summer tour where they are headlining shows as well as supporting Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler and Ben Harper – with a Tony Hoffer-produced sophomore album set to drop in October – Wicks took a few minutes out of his super-busy schedule to accept our invitation to list the 10 songs he wishes he had written. Knowing that this is the sort of thing that can descend into hipster elitism in a heartbeat, Wicks decides to turn the question on its head, and gives us 10 songs from right now. Well played, sir.
So whenever I get asked to do any sort of top 10 favorite records or top tunes, everyone expects me to come up with these hidden deep cuts from my record crates. I usually do just that. But truth be told, I am a pop fanatic. I LOVE great, modern day cheesy, sugary, infectious, danceable pop music! So here are the top 10 tunes I wish I wrote within the last couple of years, and they are the songs I will be secretly listening to in my tour bus bunk starting tonight. Hope to see you all out at a FATT show near you!
“Big Mouth,” Santigold
Santigold’s Coachella time slot was right before us. She played a lot of her previous record in her set, which I love, but when she premiered this song, it just knocked me out. Her new album was not due out for a week or two, and the wait was just killing me. The whole record is great, and she has the best smile in the biz.
“Moves Like Jagger,” Maroon 5
My twin 3-year-old daughters absolutely freak over this song, and admittedly so do I. I’m obsessed with anything Benny Blanco, Dr. Luke, and/or Max Martin produce. This song and “The Voice” brought Maroon 5 back into the limelight. They gave Fitz & the Tantrums a huge break, taking us out on tour with them in ’09. Awesome guys, and drummer Matt Flynn has become a dear friend.