Archive for E Street Band

Rock and Roll Identity Crisis

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2011 by 30daysout

Axl Rose with guitarist DJ Ashba, ostensibly Slash's replacement - is it really GNR?

Walking into Houston’s Toyota Center for the big Guns N’ Roses show last week, we overheard people asking each other incredulously: “Slash is NOT with them???” Well, no. The guitarist left in 1996, on not-so-friendly terms with lead singer Axl Rose. As did pretty much all of the other original band members. So who was playing that Friday night in Houston?

Was it Axl and a bunch of no-name scabs? Hardly – this version of Guns N’ Roses can certainly deliver the goods and is totally worthy of the name. But what happens when other popular rock groups hit the road with just one or two original members in tow? Is it still the same group we know and love?

Lynyrd Skynyrd's current guitar lineup includes (from left) Rickey Medlocke, Sparky Matjeka, original member Gary Rossington and bassist Robert Kearns.

Just a week before GNR, we saw Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top in Austin. Skynyrd has had more attrition than any other rock band in memory, after a plane crash that killed original lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister and backup singer Cassie Gaines. Other original members have also died or retired; the current Skynyrd lineup contains only one original member, guitarist Gary Rossington.

Skynyrd became stars in 1973 with their debut album, so the crash meant that the classic lineup was in the national limelight for only about four years. The new Skynyrd lineup has been together, with various members, since 1987. So is it Lynyrd Skynyrd? Probably it’s a really good tribute band – paying tribute to itself.

In some cases it’s clear cut: it can never be the Rolling Stones unless Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts are involved, but if John Fogerty hired a new rhythm section and toured as Creedence, why not? If Van Halen tours with David Lee Roth, the only person who may dispute the authenticity would be Sammy Hagar, sitting in his living room. Classic ’70s bands Foreigner and Journey hired new lead singers and have both re-recorded their old hits – Walmart shoppers picking up the new CDs probably don’t know, or don’t care.

It gets stickier with bands with well-known, or even beloved, members playing behind the lead singer. Can Bruce Springsteen tour without Clarence Clemons and still call it the E Street Band? Heartbreaking as that may be, that’s probably what he will do. If Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston hit the road next year, can they still call themselves the Beach Boys? Probably. The Kinks? Only if Ray and Dave Davies are both on board.

What's Bruce Springsteen gonna do without Clarence Clemons?

Some years ago David Gilmour fronted a Pink Floyd lineup that included original members Rick Wright and Nick Mason, but not Roger Waters. It worked for millions, if not for Roger. The Who have been diminished by half, but Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend still sell a lot of tickets under the Who banner. If Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones can talk Robert Plant into a tour, Led Zeppelin will most certainly pack ’em in.

And I suppose that’s what it all boils down to: will the audience accept a lineup that isn’t original? Ask Axl Rose, while he’s counting the gate receipts from the current Guns N’ Roses tour, and the answer is yes – in some cases.

– Denny Angelle

YouTube: Guns N’ Roses playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” in Houston (the sound is horrible, but you can see it was a crowd favorite).

This one’s MUCH better – “Welcome To The Jungle” on 11/17 in New Jersey

Friday is Boss’ Day: Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 7, 2009 by 30daysout

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During last year’s Magic tour, Bruce Springsteen started taking requests from fans who brought homemade signs with them. It was a clever and very effective way of getting the audience involved.  The practice has grown during the current Working On A Dream Tour with hundreds of fans getting creative with their signs and ridiculous with their requests.

Springsteen is arguably one of the greatest songwriters in history with hundreds, if not thousands, of songs in his catalog.  However, it seems fans want to hear him play other people’s songs.  The band has ripped through covers like “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide,” “London Calling,” and the most ridiculous one, “Hang On Sloopy.”  Why as a Springsteen fan would you pay $108 (including tax) for a ticket, $10 + for parking and want to hear “Hang On Sloopy?”  It doesn’t make any sense.

How about signs that read “New York City Serenade,” “Wreck On The Highway,” “Cover Me,” “Pink Cadillac,” “Restless Nights” or even a great track he’s never played before, “Missing.” Hell, how about something off Lucky Town or Working On A Dream like “My Lucky Day,” “This Life” or “The Last Carnival.”  I mean what’s next? (Our answer after the jump.) Continue reading

Friday is Boss’ Day: E-Street Detours

Posted in Bruce Springsteen with tags , , , , , , , on April 25, 2008 by 30daysout

                                             

Bruce Springsteen used to be notorious for taking a long time between albums. Three to four years was usually the norm. This gave members of the E Street Band (and Bruce himself) the freedom to explore other options.  Here are just a few:

Gary U.S. Bonds – At one time Gary Anderson (who changed his name to Gary U.S. Bonds after a record company sent his first disc to radio stations with the headline “Buy U.S. Bonds”) was so hot he was a headliner above newcomers The Beatles on a 1963 tour. Bruce and Little Steven (both of whom had grown up on Bonds hits like “Quarter to Three”) met Bonds in 1980. The three became fast friends and Bruce and Stevie produced Bonds’ comeback album, Dedication, in 1981 which included the hit “This Little Girl.” The pair also went on to produce On the Line a year later.  Both are excellent rock and roll CDs, and hard to find.

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes – Southside Johnny is a poor man’s Bruce Springsteen. The Boss has contributed numerous tunes to Southside’s career such as “The Fever,” and “All the Way Home” to mention a few. Little Steven was behind the boards for most of Southside’s albums including the critically acclaimed Hearts of Stone.  “Love On The Wrong Side Of Town,” from the Jukes’ second LP, is a Springsteen-Van Zandt co-write.

Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul – Little Steven’s always called himself a “band guy.”  The Springsteen consigliere  stepped out in front on his first album, Men Without Women, in 1982, and actually left the E Street Band to tour in support of Voice of America in 1984. Van Zandt has a great soulful voice and it really comes out in his solo work. His tunes are often highly political, but usually groovin’. Both CDs are excellent if you can find them. 

Killer Joe – In the early 1990s Mighty Max Weinberg anchored this unit along with guitarist/trumpeter Mark Pender and the Vivino brothers, Jimmy and Jerry.  Scene Of The Crime is a slick R&B effort highlighted by the Springsteen-penned instrumental, “Summer On Signal Hill.”  A chance meeting on a NYC street with talk show host-to-be Conan O’Brien led to Weinberg’s assembling the Max Weinberg 7 in 1993 with some of his old Killer Joe buds.  Check out the self-titled 7 album on Hip-O Records, it’s a hoot.

The Red Bank Rockers – Clarence Clemons has always been asked to participate on other records and he’s played on a few big hits (“You’re A Friend Of Mine” with Jackson Browne, “Freeway Of Love” by Aretha Franklin).  He also had a solid solo career in the mid-1980s, releasing some successful albums under the Red Bank Rockers moniker.  Bruce chipped in to the effort by writing the single “Savin’ Up”  for the Red Bankers’ second album.

MP3: This Little Girl by Gary U.S. Bonds

MP3: Love On The Wrong Side Of Town by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes

MP3: Lyin’ In A Bed Of Fire by Little Steven & the Disciples Of Soul

MP3: Summer On Signal Hill by Killer Joe

MP3: Savin’ Up by Clarence Clemons & the Red Bank Rockers

Southside Johnny official website

Clarence Clemons official website

Late Night with Conan O’Brien