Tag Archives: Paul Shaffer

The Little (Steven) Rascals

Angus? Angus WHO??

By now you’ve already heard that Little Steven has pulled another musical miracle out of his hat – reuniting the original Rascals at a recent benefit at which he and his wife Maureen Van Zandt were being honored for charitable efforts. The band agreed to perform together in their honor as well as in support of the Kristen Ann Carr Fund, which “provides grants for cancer research and seeks to improve all aspects of cancer patient life”. (If you are inclined to support them as well, click here to donate). 

Don’t underestimate the magnitude of this event. 

For anyone growing up in the 60s, the Rascals were one of the biggest bands of the decade, dominating the charts with a series of hits and being one of the bands on this side of the Big Pond to thrive in the midst of the British Invasion. Featuring not one, but two soulful lead singers, they combined pop melody with r’n’b muscle, dance floor soul and social conscience. They were popular and critically acclaimed. They were the total package

Why can't you and me learn to love one another?

As so often happens in bands, things fell apart, but in their case it was bitter acrimony that lingered for decades. The four have not shared a stage since their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To the dismay of their many fans, Cavaliere would occasionally tour as Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, while Gene Cornish (despite a bout with cancer) and Dino Danelli toured under the moniker of The New Rascals.  

I saw a performance of the latter group at an oldies show last year. It was hit and miss, but the highlights showed that there was something there. And now, after performing this set together with original members Eddie Brigati and Felix Cavaliere, there’s a chance – albeit a slight one – for a real reunion. 

Hopefully the four original members can resolve whatever has kept them apart and let their special music live and breathe again. At least they are talking about it, which is huge progress from the situation just one month ago. 

When I first learned that they were planning to do this show, I feared something would go awry at the last minute. But as a packed house in the Tribeca Grill found out, sometimes you can go home again. 

Videos from the reunion concert. 

The band was augmented by bass player Mark Prentice and both Brigati’s wife (Susan) and brother (David Brigati) on vocals. Special guests included Bruce Springsteen and Paul Shaffer, and the set list was wall-to-wall hit records

I’ve Been Lonely Too Long
In The Midnight Hour
I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore
You Better Run
It’s A Beautiful Morning
Love Is A Beautiful Thing
Groovin’
A Girl Like You
How Can I Be Sure?
Come On Up
What Is The Reason
People Got To Be Free
Good Lovin’ (with Little Steven and Bruce Springsteen)
See
 

The show was filmed and recorded for a future broadcast. And great news, regardless of what happens with future plans – Cornish is now cancer-free!

Young Rascals fan site

Little Steven’s Underground Garage 

The Kristen Ann Carr Fund 

Young Rascals at AllMusic.com

Not The Turtles, just Happy Together.

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Chin Music

Frankly, I don’t think Conan needs me to fight his battles – looks like he’s perfectly capable of handling this all by himself.

(As a bonus, the Letterman clips prove once and for all that Paul Shaffer – great bandleader, good storyteller in the proper setting – should have his lips stapled shut whenever Letterman is talking.)

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Music Flicks

After writing about The Boat That Rocked the other day, I thought about other music-related movies that I really enjoyed and found that I had several favorites that I could watch over and over again and enjoy almost as much as the first time. These aren’t concert films – those are obvious repeat performers – but movies about pop music. I’m also focusing on the more modern era (forgive me, Sal Mineo). Plus the movie has to be good (sorry, Tommy) . A few are obvious commercial favorites (is there anyone who doesn’t quote Spinal Tap?) but a couple of these must be off the path; I find most people have never heard of them, let alone seen them.

But hey, that’s a large part of why I do this, to share information about what knocks me out and hopefully expose people to a great band, film or book they might have missed. I highly recommend every single one of these, and hopefully there’s at least one you haven’t seen that you will take a chance on. Enjoy some great movies with great music, whether it’s a library rental, a used copy on Amazon or circling the listing in TV Guide when you see it. Without further ado (you’ve had just the right amount of ado so far, right?) and with apologies to The Committments and The Rutles, here they are in alphabetical order…

Almost Famous : Cameron Crowe drew upon his own story to craft this brilliant peek behind rock’s curtain, from the groupies (sorry…Band-Aids) to the roadies and the madness that is rock’n’roll. Great music and wonderful performances from the leads and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s great turn as Lester Bangs.

A Hard Day’s Night : The Beatles. Need I say more? “I’m a Mocker”

Hedwig and the Angry Inch : Absolutely the best rock opera ever. John Cameron Mitchell’s brilliant performance and Stephen Trask’s music are a perfect match, and both the musical and the movie soundtracks could stand on their own as great music. But the film is phenomenal.

The Idolmaker : Ray Sharkey should have won the Academy Award for his performance as a teen idol Svengali. Great performances from Paul Land, Joe Pantoliano and Peter Gallagher.

A Mighty Wind : The Spinal Tap of folk music and another perfect movie from Christopher Guest. Tremendous performances from everyone, but Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as “Mitch and Mickey” were brilliant. How did this song not win the Academy Award?

Rock and Roll High School : The Ramones. Need I say more? “Things sure have changed since I got kicked out of high school”.

Spinal Tap : Absolutely hilarious, with pitch perfect performances from the three leads and an amazing array of bit parts and cameo roles, like Paul Shaffer as Artie Fufkin and Bruno Kirby as the Sinatra-loving limo driver (the extended deleted scenes are priceless). Here’s a song so good I like it even though it’s parody.

Still Crazy : I think the common thread in all these movies is perfect casting. Bill Nighy is wonderful as the fragile lead singer and you can’t go wrong with comic geniuses Billy Connolly and Timothy Spall. But the story is as heartwarming as it is funny and the music is phenomenal.

That Thing You Do : Tom Hanks nailed the screenplay about a one-hit-wonder band and even wrote many of the songs that the other acts in the “galaxy of stars” performed. The main songs benefitted from pop wizards like Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne) and Mike Viola, but the perfect casting was only exceeded by the movie’s heart. One of my favorite films of all time in any genre.

Velvet Goldmine : Glam fans will lap this up – an Eddie and The Cruisers type plot in the world of glitter and decadence, with Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as thinly disguised Iggy Pop and David Bowie plus great performances from Christian Bale and Eddie Izzard.

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