Thursday, March 18, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 2nd edition

It's 11:20 a.m. Let's see what Pandora has in store for us. "OK, Google, shuffle my Pandora."

"Big Time," Peter Gabriel (So, 1986): Gabriel's second big hit single, after "Sledgehammer." "Big Time" reached No. 8 on the Billboard Top 100. The video employed the same stop-motion claymation that we saw in the "Sledgehammer" video. Subsequently, many folks see this as a followup to "Sledgehammer," but "Big Time" actually was written and recorded earlier. "Big Time" is where bassist Tony Levin's "funk fingers" style originated. Drummer Jerry Marotta used a drumstick to pound Levin's strings with his sticks in time with Levin's playing, creating that heavy bottom in the song. Levin loved the sound and began taping pieces of drumsticks to his fingers to play bass in concert.

"Ghost Dance (Paiute Prophet Mix)," Robbie Robertson & The Red Road Ensemble (single, 1994): I don't know that I've ever heard this one. This appears to be an alternate mix of a track that appears on a soundtrack album, Music for the Native Americans, for a TV documentary, The Native Americans. Wikipedia says this was Robertson's first move into writing music about his Mohawk heritage. I used to listen to Robertson's self-titled solo debut from 1987. If you are familiar with that one, you have a pretty good idea what this song sounds like -- Robertson's croaky, whispery vocals on top of a midtempo atmospheric rhythm track with a couple of female backup singers. It's pleasant enough, exactly what you would expect from solo Robertson.

"Dirty Boots," Sonic Youth (Goo, 1990): This was released as a single in April 1991, the third from Goo. If you're into Sonic Youth, you'll enjoy this one. It's a rare track on which Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon sing together -- Moore on lead vocals, Gordon on harmonies. Sonic Youth is one of those bands whose albums I find hard to get through. Way too much experimental noise. But I love the songs with structure. "Dirty Boots" is not one of their songs that I know well. It's a fine Sonic Youth song, but I like several others more -- "Incinerate," "Teenage Riot," "Dirty," "100%" to name a few.

"Locomotive Breath (Steven Wilson Remix)," Jethro Tull (Aqualung: 40th Anniversary Special Edition, 2011): Those of us who never listened to Jethro Tull much do know this classic. Steven Wilson is the guy behind the experimental-prog band Porcupine Tree who built a second career remastering several classic prog albums from the 1970s. Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Rush are among those who have gotten the Wilson remix treatment for much of their catalogs. I haven't heard a whole lot of those things, but this Tull track certainly shines in this iteration.

"Monolith," T. Rex (Electric Warrior, 1971): A deep cut from a classic record. "Monolith" is a slower-tempo number, but it's still full of the in-your-face, riffy Bolan guitar solos and his classic whispery come-on vocal delivery. Electric Warrior was the album that featured "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" and was T. Rex's U.S. breakthrough, the one that broke the glam movement here.

Well, that was a little more diverse than the first time around. We'll do this again soon. Thanks for listening.

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