Tagged: bruce springsteen

I Made You A Mixtape…Nine (The Clarence Clemons Mix)

In keeping with this weeks blog posts I have the joy of doing a mix-tape on what I regard as Clarence Clemons best bits. Now, my aim in these tracks is not to ‘Out Clarence’ anyone & I am certainly no Saxophone expert. All of the tracks I’ve chosen are from Springsteen albums, as that is where we knew & loved him. These are (in my opinion) his greatest 10 moments on Springsteen tracks. (I’d love it if people think I’ve missed any out and want to leave comments below…if you don’t you’ll only make my ego big)

1) Thunder Road (Born To Run, 75)
The opening track to the album that Clarence famously appeared on the cover sleeve of. Quite simply a masterpiece of a track, it opens gently with a soft harmonica and ends closes with Springsteen screaming ‘It’s a town full of losers, and I’m pulling out of here to win’. Then it’s over to Clarence & Bruce with one of there most famous partnerships…love it!

2) Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (Born To Run, 75)
This is Clarence Clemons track… enough said!

When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band
From the coastline to the city all the little pretties raise their hands
I’m gonna sit back right easy and laugh when Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half
With the Tenth Avenue freeze-out, Tenth Avenue freeze-out’

3) The Fever (18 Tracks, 99)
Rumour has it that this track lost out to Jungleland for appearance on Born To Run… As a result Springsteen gave this song (like so many others) to good friend Southside Johnny, who’s version is fantastic. On this version, Clarence doesn’t appear on Sax. It’s his voice that get’s the nod. I love his soulful ‘When he’s got The Fever for a girl…’ on this track.

4) Bobby Jean (Born In The USA, 84)
My personal favourite track from Born In The USA. Normally I harp on about Springsteens lyrics in this but on this occasion I’ll let you listen to the track, and the classic ending ‘Good luck…goodbye…Bobby Jean’ (THEN SAX!)

5) Born To Run (Born To Run, 75)
It takes less than 1 second of this track for Clarence to blast his Sax in one of the most iconic ways possible only to top it at the 1:52 mark with a famous Clarence solo! This is Born To Run…do I really need to explain?

6) Prove It All Night (Darkness On The Edge Of Town, 78)
There is a bit in the film The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town where in the studio Clarence realises that there isn’t as much Saxophone in this album and is he required…then there is Prove It All Night to prove yes! I have seen this song live numerous occasions, each time the part of this track where Clarence sax solo is followed by a Bruce solo (which lasts maybe 30 seconds on here) lasts minutes with them going back and forth. This whole song can take up to 15 minutes live as Steve Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren and the rest of the E Street Band get involved. This is a great track that reminds me of seeing the band live.

7) Secret Garden (Greatest Hits, 95)
In a change of pace this is a rare occasion where Clarence plays unbelievably softly throughout the track made famous by Jerry Maguire…but for me steals the show. The Sax makes this track, beautiful.

8) Mary’s Place (The Rising, 02)
I watch the Live in Barcelona DVD a lot. There is a fantastic moment during Mary’s Place where Bruce refers to the show as a ‘House Party’ then to the E Street Band as ‘The Greatest little house band in the land’. And that is what this song reminds me of as when introducing the band piece by piece he leaves Clarence till last (as he always did)… ‘Minister of Soul…You wish you could be like him but you CAN’T! BIG MAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN Clarence Clemons!

9) Spirit In The Night (Greetings From Asbury Park, 73)
I love this track and when I was making this mix tape I didn’t immediately think of it as there are no epic Sax solo’s, etc in it. Then it I was listening to this album and as this track came on I realised that the Sax barely goes away at all on this track, if it wasn’t there the track wouldn’t work the same, it’s subtle, which makes it ace!

10) Jungleland (Born To Run, 75)
I’m sure it’s no surprise I ended on this track, and it’s no surprise there are 4 tracks from Born To Run on this mix tape, it always felt like Bruce & Clarences album. When I posted the first post this week a friend of mine sent me a message reminiscing about when he saw Jungleland live at Emirites Stadium in 2008. That same year I saw Jungleland at Cardiff Millennium Stadium and it was clear we had the exact same experience. ‘HOLY SHIT…I’M SEEING JUNGLELAND!’ Clarence Clemons solo in this song is, like the man himself, epic! When I saw this live the whole stadium was silent as Clarence took centre stage, it was a moment I will never forget and I count myself lucky to have seen it happen.

So there you go. Now tell me I’m wrong and what gems I’ve missed. I know you want to!

Books You Say…? 'Big Man' – Clarence Clemons

In 2009 Clarence Clemons released his ‘memoirs’ of sorts, co-written with his close friend Don Reo, the title…BIG MAN!

I received this book as a gift almost immediately after it’s release. However, for one reason or another, this sat on my shelf until around about this time last year after the news of the passing of Clarence Clemons when I knew I had to pick it up. What followed was an absolute blast.

Firstly, I’d like to touch on the term ‘memoir’. This is addressed in the foreword of the book by both the authors and Springsteen, this book is a collection of stories by storytellers. The whole book is a selection of stories, in no particular order, which vary from tales Clarence was told as a child to hilarious stories about Bruce, The E Street Band and other famous friends and situations. Throughout the read you question what is real, what is enhanced for dramatic effect, and what is total BS, but that’s what makes this read so much fun!

‘Big Man’ also gives huge insight into the friendship of Bruce & Clarence and great insight into the man Bruce Springsteen and not just the rock star. I have read a fair number of Bruce Springsteen biographies and always felt a little short changed by never really learning anything new about him as a person. This book blew my mind with personal stories of these two friends who grew old together in the coolest way possible.

Now it’s impossible for me to write a review of this book without giving away some of it’s contents, so I’ve decided rather than write a huge review I will simply say if you are a fan of Clarence Clemons or indeed a fan of Bruce Springsteen, buy this book. It’s fantastic. Below are 3 of my favourite tales from the book that also involve Bruce. Go find them for yourself…

1) Clarence & Bruce meet for a drink in a biker bar in the back end of nowhere. They are sharing a drink and swapping stories when a ‘fan’ approaches and asks for a photo. Clarence says ‘sure’ so the guy passes Bruce the camera and poses with Clarence. Bruce takes the photo and when the guy leaves he says to Clarence ‘Say hi to Bruce for me’

2) The story of where Bruce got the red cap for the cover of Born in the USA…

3) On the last night of The Rising Tour the moment hits Clarence back in the car Bruce notices and asks ‘You okay?’ … after a short chat… “Hey Man…Thanks” said the Big Man. “For what?” asks Bruce. “For everything” replies Clarence.

OK, so far it’s been all Bruce & Clarence but this book is so much more. Stories of Clarence playing pool with Fidel Castro, meeting fans and meeting his wives are all fantastic but some of the best stuff in this book are also the chapters written by Don Reo. He tells the story of watching your best friend grow old. His understanding of who Clarence Clemons was is as important to this book as the insight

Clarence Clemons gives into who Bruce Springsteen is. Go buy it! You won’t be disappointed!

Remembering Clarence Clemons

One year ago today is the date of the sad passing of the legendary saxophonist of The E Street Band Clarence Clemons. For me, the news of his death was one of those “remember where you were” moments. Readers of this blog may have noticed that at least once a year I have a Bruce Springsteen related post, so on the anniversary of Clarence’s death it is no surprise I had a real urge to write about ‘The Big Man!’

Clarence was a man mountain, he was (as Bruce would introduce him), ‘The Biggest Man You’ve Ever Seen’, he was (and always will be) an absolute legend. Not only was he the saxophonist in the greatest house band in the land but he also appeared in Bill & Ted, The Wire & in his last years on earth was still cool enough to be demanded by the biggest popstar in the world, Lady Gaga.

I count myself extremely lucky to have had the chance to have seen Clarence in the flesh on 4 separate occasions. In the later shows he had his infamous throne to give him a break during Springsteens epic 3 hour+ sets, yet when the time came for The Big Man to step up he would still own the stage, still playing off the energy of the crowd and the rest of the band. Despite his body slowly working against him I will never forget the fantastic image at the end of the show. The whole band were stood down on a slightly lower (front) stage, right at the screaming crowd who were stretching as hard as they could to touch either Bruce, Steve Van Zandt, Nils, or any of The E Street Band, however, while all this was going on the remainder of the audience were looking at only one man. Clarence Clemons stood a level up (his knees unable to support taking the few short steps down) standing behind the band, arms crossed, nodding…he was The Big Man and it was your privilege to have seen him. Epic!

And so, one year on from his passing Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band are back in the UK and therefore I have hijacked the blog for the next few days to dedicate a few posts to Clarence ‘The Big Man’ Clemons. In the next couple of days I will tell you about his book, share his best bits in mix-tape form and let Bruce say a little something about the man himself.

Record Store Day 2011 – Badlands

In the second of our Record Store Day themed posts, Chris gives us some info on one of his favourite record stores…in Cheltenham. With the internet being so important to bands, labels and Record Stores these days, Badlands specialise in the type of thing a certain type of music fan may not find down at the their local store…

When we spoke about doing a post on our favourite Record Store for Record Store Day I had the thought ‘Can I really write a post on a store i’ve never been to…!!!???’

The answer is quite clearly yes…

I first came to know about Badlands when I walked into bar in Belfast, pre-Springsteen

gig, and found that I had walked into what I now know as a Badlands Party. What I encountered was an all day sessions with sing-a-longs, bootleg CDs & DVDs, cool (& cheaper than the official merch) t-shirts and a pre-gig show by a local guitarist. Since that day I have been to similiar pre-gig Badlands Parties in Cardiff, Dublin & (finally) Glasgow, each as much fun as the last.

Now I know what you’re thinking, the above is no reason to mention them as a great Record Store, surely this just shows that they can throw a great party, however since that first event I have been a regular visitor to the store’s website. Any Springsteen fan will find something on the site to keep them happy with full back catalogue along with a number of bootlegs aswell. I use Badlands regualrly to get copies of Backstreets magazine which isn’t readily available in the UK. And it is worth a visit for said t-shirts alone.

Badlands don’t just cater for Springsteen fans, they have a good taste in music and when Bruce downs tools they’re always off to other shows creating a similar atmosphere so I highly recommend a visit to their site.

For Record Store Day the guys at Badlands have there very own release called ‘It’s Boss Time’ which is a compilation by a number of artists of Springsteen covers, as well as a Saturday night show with Willie Nile and Danny & The Champions of The World.

Oh and not to make this post too Bruce Springsteen orientated… Bruce Springsteen – Gotta Get That Feeling is released for Record Store Day also… (bet you didn’t see that coming!)

Elba Annual 2010 – Chris (Elba)

As promised, we have returned after the festivities of this weekend to bring you the last installments of the 2010 Elba Annual. We are feeling a little delicate and a bit too full after all the indulgence and we do hope that you all had a Merry ol’ time regardless of how you spent it.

It is now time for Elba to talk a little bit about our year. We will get the ball rolling with Chris’ choices and hopefully have the rest up before the 1st rolls around.  This is entirely dependent on whether Phil manages to get to a computer at some point this week as I’m sure he’ll be juggling nappies, milk bottles and what not… not literally juggling of course as that would be messy, not to mention smelly.

I give you Chris’ review of 2010 and our first alter ego picture of three.  For Mr Knox we have selected Quentin Tarantino. Having been audience to both (QT – a Q&A screening of Death Proof at the GFT in 2007, CK – give him a pint and watch him go) the visual resemblance is striking not to mention the enthusiastic manner it is an easy connection to make:

Album of The Year – The Promise – Bruce Springsteen. For me personally this is outstanding! An album that could’ve/should’ve come out anytime between 76-78 had Springsteen not been shafted by Mike Appel, however that decade’s loss is our gain. An album that is both a trip down memory lane and a gem of an album of never before heard tracks and as always every song is full of lyrics simply not found in 2010, quite simply outstanding. (And the £80 boxset is the sexiest thing i’ve ever seen). PS The Suburbs – Arcade Fire was also outstanding if i’m allowed to squeeze in two!

Best Gig – The National – O2 Academy. One of my favourite bands that I had never seen live…and boy they didn’t let me down. I announce pre-gig ‘I’ll be happy as long as they play Mr November’ (which is one of the cleverest songs ever written) and when they did it was incredible!

Favourite New Band(s) – The Scottish Enlightenment – OK…so they aren’t new…but I only picked up on them until this year. Yet another mighty fine artist on Armellodie.

Musical Memories of 2010 – There is a smell that will strike you when you first meet two musicians that have a) Slept in a car the night before b) Driven up that day from London…and I experienced that smell first hand when we met the guys from King James to record a podcast pre-gig at Elba Studios. Fortunately the smell isn’t what has stayed with me…the podcast itself was an absolute joy, each track effortless and the chat was great…then hours later they were down the ship for one of my favourite Elba gigs of the year.

Hopes/Plans (music) for 2011 – What makes doing the podcast/blog/gigs so fun is that there are four of us that all chip in. We all have different tastes and opinions and if i’m honest i’ve struggled this year to get excited by many new artists. All I want from 2011 is for a handful of artists to make me sit up and listen…in a good way! That and The Boss to tour again will keep me happy.

Come and join us again around our metaphorical fireplace on Wednesday for further tales from our motley crew.

Bruce Springsteen's 'The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story'

Every so often I get so excited by an upcoming release that I forget any other future release exists…this year, like so many before it, the name on my lips is Bruce Springsteen. What makes this particular release so great is (as with almost anything Springsteen releases of late) the meticulous detail put in for his fans. However, this time they’ve really pushed the boat out.

The release I am talking about is of course ‘The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story’. I almost called this a re-issue, however, when you see what is in this package you will see why that statement would be a grave injustice.

This release includes 3 CDs & 3 DVDs (or Blu-Rays & Vinyl depending on your preferred technology). The media contents are packaged within an 80-page notebook containing facsimiles from Springsteen’s original notebooks from the recording sessions, which include alternate lyrics, song ideas, recording details, and personal notes in addition to a new essay by Springsteen and never-before-seen photographs. It’s definitely one for the fans.

For full track listings on both CDs & DVD’s see the official press release here. Personally I am most excited about the DVD side of the release as there is nothing quite like seeing The Boss live. Some of the CD tracks are actually available on the deluxe edition of Tracks (but that’s just me being a Bruce anorak!).

The full collection will be available on the 15th November from all good stockists, however, point your browser towards these guys at Badlands. They’re great and I would urge any Bruce fan, no scratch that, any music fan to check them out, especially if The Boss is touring as they throw a hell of a party!!

Elba Annual 2009 – Phil Elba

My turn, let’s keep it snappy…

Album of The Year – Loads to choose from! Titus Andronicus – The Airing of Grievances probably tops the list though. Honourable mentions to Brakes, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Le Reno Amps, Cuddly Shark and The Cinematics, oh, and The Phantom Band! (I could go on…)

Favourite New Band – Again, several! I’ve heard loads of new stuff from doing the blog and going out to gigs. Top 3 in no order at all would have to be Maple Leaves, Julia and The Doogans and The Scottish Enlightenment.

Best Gig (Elba) – All of the gigs we’ve put on so far have been pretty memorable for various reasons. The first night at The Liquid Ship with Le Reno, Calum MacDonald, Paul McLinden and Only Living Boys was a total treat and I think we all felt a sense of achievement at the end of the night. However, all of the gigs have been great fun and we’ve had some very talented people at each night.

Best Gig – It would probably have to be Springsteen at Hampden. It was a great day all round and it was fantastic to finally see him live. Also really enjoyed Brakes at King Tuts early in the year and seeing Chris T-T as Sleazies was pretty sweet as well!

Best Memories of 2009 – Apart from getting married and going on honeymoon (photo above), probably getting involved with Elba and setting up the blog. It’s opened my eyes to loads more music and I’ve had a lot of fun putting on the gigs and meeting people as well as starting to just pop along to gigs as well with my Elba cohorts to listen to a new band. As a musical memory, I’ll not forget Le Reno Amps playing ‘Body’ at Tuts with Marc from Brakes playing pedal steel. It’s a beatiful song and was a nice moment.

Hopes for 2010/Things You’re Looking Forward To – Putting on more gigs, writing more for the blog (and getting better at it), seeing and hearing loads of new music, working with Armellodie records and seeing it evolve, Pavement at the Barrowlands (!!!!!!!) and putting some faces to email addresses!


SEE YOU IN 2010!

Elba Annual 2009 – Chris ‘Knoxy’ Elba

After a couple of days of Christmas over-indulgence, Elba Sessions go self indulgent. We’ve saved a couple of annual posts until the end of the month about our ‘bests’ of the year. Up first, podcaster broadcaster Chris…

Album of The Year – Wilco – Wilco (The Album). I literally listened to one album for 2 months after I bought this album so it has to be. Honourable mention to Richmond Fontaine’s new album…brilliant.

Favourite New Band – The Low Anthem. Listening to 6music at work every so often a song pops in between a Reggae & Drum and Bass track that makes you turn up the radio…’Ohio’ was that track and I can’t wait to see The Low Anthem at Celtic Connections.

Best Gig (Elba) – Ok so i’m not in a band but my favourite gig that we put on had to be the October Elba Sessions. Calum MacDonald was a hidden gem, Paul McLinden is an artist I don’t understand how he isn’t huge and Le Reno Amps played as a two piece (it was like I was back in Aberdeen), their banter was brilliant and they showed that they are learning how to play their instruments…great night!!!

Best Gig – Bruce Springsteen – RDS Arena, Dublin (12/7/09). It was part 1 in a Bruce double header in 3 days and it was unforgetable. I claimed I had seen it all after Cardiff the year before but on this day I saw Steve Van Zandt in the street during the day, then Bruce & The E Street Band played for 3 hours + and included ‘Spirit In The Night’ & ‘Darkness On The Edge of Town’ from the request cards from the crowd.

Best Memories of 2009 – Richmond Fontaine – Stereo. The night Scotland played Holland in the decider for World Cup Qualifying I decided to go see Richmond Fontaine…what a decision…oh and they milked having no idea on Football excellently (At 10.30pm it was still 0-0 supposidly).

Hopes for 2010/Things You’re Looking Forward To –
Album – Lightspeed Champion.
Book – Willy Vlautin – ‘Lean On Pete.
TV – Final season of Lost can’t f%^king wait!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh and putting on more gigs…

The Scottish Bloggers and Music Sites Award 2009 (The Scottish BAMS)

The Elba Sessions podcast has been running since July this year and we have been blogging since September so we were pretty honoured to be asked by Peenko to throw our tuppence worth into what is now affectionately known as The Scottish BAMS or The Scottish Bloggers and Music Sites Award 2009, to give it it’s proper title. The Phantom Band’s Checkmate Savage took the honours and the Top 20 was packed with plenty of good choices, with a large amount of Scottish talent being represented.

The Phantom Band Checkmate Savage

Personally I struggled a bit, not to choose the ten so much, but more to order it from 10 to 1. Looking back at my choices, I’ll stick with my Number 1 and possibly the first few places but to be honest, if any of my top 10 were at number 1, I’d have no complaints at all. Here is how Stephen, Chris and myself voted…

(note: Stephen ducks out slightly by nominating an unreleased album, but we’ll let him off for that and you’ll notice I favoured counting down from 10 to 1, to build suspense and all, wheras my fellow amigos went straight in with a number 1!)

Phil Elba

10. Cuddly Shark – Cuddly Shark
9.Le Reno Amps – Tear It Open
8.Bruce Springsteen – Working On A Dream
7.The Cinematics – Love and Terror
6. Brakes – Touchdown
5. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
4. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
3. Sufjan Stevens – The BQE
2. Phantom Band – Checkmate Savage
1. Titus Andronicus – The Airing of Grievances

Stephen Elba

1. De Rosa – Prevention
2. My Latest Novel – Deaths and Entrances.
3. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career.
4. Idlewild – Post Electric Blues.
5. Conor Mason – When its Over
6. Le Reno Amps – Tear it Open
7. LAU – Arc Light
8. bat for lashes – two Suns
9. Daniel Wylie – Fake your own death (wont be released until 2010 but i have heard the tracks and they are ace!)
10. Cuddly Shark – Cuddly Shark

Chris Elba

1. Wilco – Wilco (the album)
2. Richmond Fontaine – We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River
3. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
4. Bruce Springsteen – Working on a Dream
5. De Rosa – Prevention
6. Bob Dylan – Together Through Life
7. Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
8. The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
9. Sufjan Stevens – The BQE
10. Le Reno Amps – Tear It Open

I was pretty pleased that 4 of mine were included in the Top 20 and having seen the spreadsheet where the maths was done, a couple just missed out. I think The Phantom Band were worthy winners though, being voted for by predominantly scottish blogs and writers it’s fitting that a Scottish band should win it, who would have doubted that one would!

And here’s how the masses voted!

1. The Phantom Band – Checkmate Savage (61)
2. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion (54)
3. De Rosa – Prevention (53)
4. King Creosote – Flick the V’s (51)
5. Withered Hand – Good News (45)
6. The Twilight Sad – Forget The Night Ahead (43)
7. We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls (40)
8. Beerjacket – Animosity (38)
9. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (32)
9. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (32)
11. My Latest Novel – Deaths and Entrances (28)
11. Malcolm Middleton – Waxing Gibbous (28)
13. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – s/t (25)
14. You Already Know – s/t (24)
14. Broken Records – Until the Earth Begins to Part (24)
16. The XX – s/t (23)
17. The Antlers – Hospice (21)
18. Sufjan Stevens – The BQE (19)
18. And So I Watch You From Afar (19)
20. Wilco – The Album (18)

You can praise/blame/thank the following for their input!

17 Seconds, AyeTunes, Dear Scotland, Earz Mag, Elba Sessions, Glasgow Podcart, Hooligans Lament, Jim Gellatly, JocknRoll, Jockrock, Kowalskiy, Last Years Girl, Love Shack Baby, Manic Pop Thrills, My Portiswasp Says, Off the Beaten Tracks, The Popcop, Products of a Gaseous Brain, Song By Toad, The Daily Growl, The Spill, The Steinberg Principle, The Vinyl Villain and Under the Radar.

And once again, well done to Peenko for organising all of this!