Pop-rock bands from Manhattan only, not other boroughs; all eras
May 2, 2004 7:27 PM   Subscribe

I've been asked to present a special three-hour radio programme on pop/rock bands from Manhattan. Not NYC - a very limiting factor. I'm currently bowled over by The Walkmen and I want to book-end them with The Velvet Underground. Any suggestions for in between? All I can think of is John Lurie and his progeny, as we tend to think of New York bands, rather than "Manhattan". Thanks beforehand!
posted by MiguelCardoso to Media & Arts (35 answers total)
what era? 70s? 80s? 90s? now?

Most CBGB-heyday bands lived in Manhattan when they were playing there in the 70s--i know for sure Blondie did (Bowery). Talking Heads too.

Beastie Boys may be partly Manhattan kids too, i think. Suzanne Vega is also Manhattan.

It's that most people came from elsewhere, and used to always live somewhere downtown, at least for a while. Madonna being a good example of that, along with tons of others.
posted by amberglow at 7:47 PM on May 2, 2004

where's jonmc when you need him? (email him, Miguel)

How strict is the rule? born and bred? or just living here?
posted by amberglow at 7:53 PM on May 2, 2004

i'm not sure if this will be of any help - but according to my sis these chicks got all the dirt on what's going on in and around NYC.
posted by specialk420 at 8:12 PM on May 2, 2004

Response by poster: All eras, amberglow. Blondie, Talking Heads and the Beastie Boys I've got. Thanks for Suzanne Vega!

Madonna won't do because her music wasn't innovative in any sense, i.e. I hate it.

The criteria are fluid, i.e. I haven't decided yet. But the main criterium would be: bands living in Manhattan, whether uptown or downtown (I really need the crucial Harlem bands - I think at least 60% should be hip-hop and rap) when they first started playing and/or making a name for themselves.

It's not supposed to be a history of Pop music in Manhattan (else I'd stick to the Bemelsmans Bar, the Rainbow Room and CBGBs) - rather an overview of still-enjoyable popular music produced in the island of Manhattan.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:15 PM on May 2, 2004

Response by poster: On preview, as they say: hey, thanks a lot, specialk420. As usual, you're a Godsend - sorry about the religious reference, but you know what I mean. That web site looks very good indeed!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:16 PM on May 2, 2004

sorry miguel. i meant to mention. i think you can email them for recommendations ... you could also give another friend and new york scenester mila drumke an shout - i bet she'd load you up with an excellent list.
posted by specialk420 at 8:29 PM on May 2, 2004

flavorpill might be better than dailycandy, i think.

most rap/hiphop was The Bronx/Queens/Brooklyn, but let's see: dancemusic-wise: Lisa Lisa (& Cult Jam)--Hell's Kitchen.
These are Queens rappers, but i bet some if not most recorded in Manhattan and moved there when they hit.

Laurie Anderson might be fun to stick in there too, and Rufus Wainwright lives here now. Joe Jackson too.
posted by amberglow at 8:46 PM on May 2, 2004

and think about/do a search for Max's Kansas City (some overlap w/CBGBs, but earlier)
posted by amberglow at 8:47 PM on May 2, 2004

Daily Candy seems aimed at the people who want to get their Manolos at the sample sales and other assorted scenesters.

Jonmc will definitely have the best ideas for this.

But why Manhattan, Migs? You could do five really interesting shows showcasing music from each of the boroughs. Six if you include northern New Jersey. F'r instance, Queens (possibly the most diverse place on earth) boasts music from Run-DMC to Louis Armstrong to the Ramones to Tony Bennett to Simon & Garfunkel to Gogol Bordello. The Bronx is the cradle of hip-hop. Brooklyn bands include Les Savy Fav, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and They Might Be Giants. (The great Al Kooper was born in Brooklyn, too, as were Richie Havens, Neil Diamond, and Mos Def.) And I'm sure somebody is from Staten Island...

(Actually, I just checked. David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter) of the New York Dolls and the Harry Smiths was born in Staten Island.)

But anyway. You'd be remiss if you left out Benny Goodman, Television, Patti Smith, or even lesser-known lights like Arto Lindsay.
posted by Vidiot at 9:16 PM on May 2, 2004

oops, just saw that you're interested in pop and rock....so scratch the recommendations for Benny Goodman/Louis Armstrong/Duke Ellington, etc.
posted by Vidiot at 9:19 PM on May 2, 2004

I believe Interpol were started while founding members were at NYU, for whatever that's worth. If you're digging the Walkmen (as I do too), you may like 'em.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:26 PM on May 2, 2004

cibo matto? soul coughing? interpol?
posted by whatnot at 9:28 PM on May 2, 2004

I'd also add all the Brill Building songwriters -- Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Doc Pomus, Lieber & Stoller, Burt Bacharach, etc...
posted by Vidiot at 9:33 PM on May 2, 2004

Puff Daddy's from Harlem. His best work was with Notorious BIG (Brooklyn), but that's probably ok.

He's the only big-name hip-hop MC or DJ who comes to mind... Tupac was from Brooklyn... Gil Scott Heron was from the Bronx... Ghostface Killa's from Staten Island... but some of the other members of the Wu-Tang Clan (GZA, Raekwon, etc.) are from Manhattan island, I think.

Good luck!
posted by Marquis at 9:52 PM on May 2, 2004

Tom Waits lived in NYC for a while, but I'm not sure if it was Manhattan. I don't know who you're including in John Lurie's progeny, since the Lounge Lizards incorporated more than a few downtowners. I would guess that a fair number of people in the Zorn axis (which is huge) lived in the lower east side at one point even if they don't now (Tonic's there, anyway). Naked City, Marc Ribot, that crowd. Hell, Robert Fripp lived in Manhattan for a time; you could play 80s King Crimson.
posted by kenko at 10:00 PM on May 2, 2004

Sonic Youth?
posted by hootch at 10:24 PM on May 2, 2004

Just out of curiosity, how do you get a radio gig like that?
posted by gluechunk at 10:27 PM on May 2, 2004

You have to be a nationally-beloved Portuguese author. In a smoking jacket.
posted by Vidiot at 10:27 PM on May 2, 2004

and no one has said bob dylan. am i dense?
posted by headless at 10:49 PM on May 2, 2004

Television? Richard Hell & The Voidoids? Liquid Liquid? The Theoretical Girls? Glenn Branca? Teenage Jesus & The Jerks? DNA? Sonic Youth? Material? Suicide? Doug E. Fresh? Kurtis Blow? Double Dee & Steinski? I want to say that all these artists/bands have the pedigree you're looking for. I'm not 100% certain for any of them, to be sure, but I really do think they may be what you want.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:59 PM on May 2, 2004

Rhys Chatham.
Anyone know if the Bang on a Can folks are Manhattan- or Brooklyn-based?
Also not sure about, but I think Manhattan: Dr. Nerve, Claudia Quintet.
posted by kenko at 11:09 PM on May 2, 2004

Q-Tip, Alicia Keyes, Adrock and Mike D, Gillian Welch (born there), Rasputina, 50 cent, Clay Aiken, and imdb's (entirely too comprehensive and off topic) place of birth search.
posted by headless at 11:10 PM on May 2, 2004

Hendrix moved to Harlem in 1965 and kind of drifted between there and Greenwich Village until he was discovered playing in the Village's Cafe Wha by Chas Chandler. He often returned to Manhattan after making it big, jamming in clubs around town and building his studio in Greenwich Village.
posted by timeistight at 1:21 AM on May 3, 2004

Response by poster: Thank you infinitely - I now have enough to be going on with. The problem was that the remit is Manhattan and most biographies just specify NYC. Foreigners like me don't have the "sensitivity to place" to distinguish between the boroughs With the list provided - for which thanks again - I can now make up a good playlist.

Just out of curiosity, how do you get a radio gig like that?

It's a commission. I've been doing radio on and off since 1970 - though this will be my first one-off. Radio's great - the pay sucks but you have a totally free hand.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:22 AM on May 3, 2004

I'm guessing that for a Portuguese audience, Miguel wants something ostentatiously, even stereotypically, highly-urban New York. Man, it'd be nice if you could fit Tom Waits in there.

Incidentally, Ani DiFranco was sorta Suzanne Vega's protoge—is she based out of Manhattan? Definitely Laurie Anderson (but from before she started singing). Rufus Wainwright sure would fit in, if you could claim he's from there (he grew up in TO, didn't he?).

It looks like Joe Jackson moved to NY in 1982; I can't tell if he's still living there. But it looks like both Night and Day and Body and Soul were both recorded and mixed in Manhattan. And, gosh, I thought that one (or more) of the tracks on one of his albums was recorded in a church or somewhere in NYC.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:26 AM on May 3, 2004

food for thought:

Lou Reed was born in Long Island

Julian Casablancas was born in Manhattan

and Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, btw

posted by matteo at 3:23 AM on May 3, 2004

Tim & Jeff Buckley (RIP). Bill Frisell. Syd Straw. Golden Palominos.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:52 AM on May 3, 2004

I believe Ani DiFranco is from Buffalo, or is at least based there now.
posted by Vidiot at 6:43 AM on May 3, 2004

The Fiery Furnaces
My Favorite
posted by mr.marx at 7:32 AM on May 3, 2004

oh, throw a Magnetic Fields song in there (very East Village) --maybe The Book of Love?

and Ollabelle is Manhattan & Brooklyn (i know one of the people in it).
posted by amberglow at 7:36 AM on May 3, 2004

Yeah, ignore that Daily Candy crap. Worthless.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:54 AM on May 3, 2004


And if you're going to feature the Walkmen, you should look up Jonathan Fire*Eater, which several of them were in previously.
posted by sad_otter at 9:35 AM on May 3, 2004

I second the Magnetic Fields and Luna. Very Manhattan (and very good).

You should probably include the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, too.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 2:27 PM on May 3, 2004

For punk: Ramones, Television, Blondie, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, Talking Heads, Murphy's Law, New York Dolls.

60's-70's rock: Mountain, Vanilla Fudge, Kiss, Twisted Sister, The Young Rascals, Al Kooper & the Blues Project, Ramblin' Jack Elliot (the Last of The Brooklyn Cowboys), Arlo Guthrie (born on Coney Island), David Peel & The Lower East Side.

A huge portion of doo-wop black and white rose from the 5 boroughs and vicinity, plus hip-hop legends like Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Run DMC. (puff Daddy's from Mount Vernon, which isn't NYC proper but close enough).

Best I could do off the top of my head.
posted by jonmc at 6:21 AM on May 5, 2004

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