“All right now, for all you boppers out there in the big city, all you street people with an ear for the action, I’ve been asked to relay a request from the Grammercy Riffs. It’s a special for the Warriors, that real live bunch from Coney, and I do mean the Warriors. Here’s a hit with them in mind.”
One of the best parts of the 1979 cult action film The Warriors is the smooth and cool DJ. She’s never seen on screen in her entirety, but she’s got enough presence with her red lips alone. Lynne Thigpen provides the voice of the foxy disc jockey who has a firm control over the various gangs that make up New York City.
After she sends out her first threatening message to the Coney Island Warriors, who were innocent but were framed, she plays the song (rather ironically) “Nowhere to Run” covered by Arnold McCuller – who is best known for his solo work and touring as a vocalist for James Taylor. This is one of the best songs ever written, and the cover fits the film terribly well. But while it’s great, it probably doesn’t meet the majestic majesty of the original recording by Detroit darlings Martha and the Vandellas.
Arnold McCuller’s version from The Warriors:
Martha and the Vandellas:
The sound in the Martha and the Vandellas version is so BIG. In the addition to the loud drums and tambourine, session musicians the Funk Brothers used snow chains – it doesn’t get too much more Detroit than the video above. The two different connotations in each with such different context. Clearly in the Vandella’s version, it is very much about trying to break free of a man that has such a tight hold on her emotions.
“It’s not love
I’m running from
It’s the heartaches
That I know will come”
While McCuller’s version has the same lyrics it brings more of a punch than a heartache, but paired with the imagery of the film, the song takes on a more sinister meaning. Instead of being trapped in a bad relationship, it’s about trapping the Warriors. The sound isn’t necessarily menacing, but it can sure take on that feel. Especially with McCuller’s strong voice punching through the song.
“Good news, Boppers: The big alert has been called off. It turns out that the early reports were wrong, all wrong. Now for that group out there that had such a hard time getting home, sorry about that. I guess the only thing we can do is play you a song.”