Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 5th edition

"OK, Google: Shuffle my Pandora."

"Crimson and Clover," Tommy James & The Shondells (Crimson & Clover/Cellophane Symphony, 1991):
Oh, yeah, one of those early hard-rock favorites that opened my mind for exploration beyond your typical Top 40 fare. I cannot express how much I loved this song in my early high-school years. Pandora is serving me the 5:32 version from the 1991 CD packaging of the band's 1968 and 1969 albums. To explain this one, let me start at the beginning: The single "Crimson and Clover," clocking in at 3:23, was released in November 1968 and quickly became the biggest of The Shondells' string of big hits. A month later, the band released the album Crimson & Clover, which featured a 5:25 version of the centerpiece song. This version essentially was the single with a long guitar solo by Ed Gray edited into the middle of the track. But that piece was inadvertently sped up slightly during the mastering process, and the 1968 album went out that way. Engineers corrected the mistake digitally for the 1991 package, resulting in the 5:32 version of the song, billed as the way the song originally was intended to be heard. It sounds as great as ever.

"19th Nervous Breakdown," The Rolling Stones (Hot Rocks 1964-1971, 1971):
This mono recording, released as a non-album single in February 1966, is the only version of this song ever released officially, according to Wikipedia. I really don't have anything to say about this one. I have remained steadfastly ambivalent about the Stones for my entire life. I don't particulary like them, I don't particularly dislike them, they've just always been there, and I'm happy to share the universe with them. This song is one of a gazillion of their songs that have always been around, and to which I've always paid little attention.

"Linger," The Cranberries (Gold, 2008):
This was the first hit single by this Irish band, originally appearing on their 1993 debut album, Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We? It stuck around the Billboard Hot 100 for awhile, peaking at No. 8. It's a nice, pleasant, largely acoustic number featuring a typically strong, passionate vocal performance by Dolores O'Riordan. I've learned to recognize the sound of The Cranberries over the years, and I've always enjoyed hearing their songs. But I've never pursued them at all. Maybe one day.

"Rock Around the Clock," Bill Haley & His Comets (single, 1954):
The hit singles keep on coming. Pandora is serving me up a remastered version from just recently, though I can't find information on when this version was released. I'm learning that Haley was not the first person to record this song. There is some dispute over the origins of this song. In the most accepted version, credited co-writer James Myers has said the song was written in 1952 or 1953 specifically for Haley. But Haley was unable to record it for whatever reason. It was then given to Sonny Dae & His Knights, who recorded it in March 1954. Haley recorded it a month later, and it was issued as a B side to "Thirteen Women (And Only One Man in Town)" and quickly forgotten. But then in 1955, director Richard Brooks featured Haley performing "Rock Around the Clock" in his movie The Blackboard Jungle, and rock-and-roll instantly became a thing. "Rock Around the Clock" was the No. 1 single in the country for weeks.

"The Fairest of the Seasons," Nico (Chelsea Girl, 1967):
Well ... so much for the hits. This is a song written by Jackson Browne and Gregory Copeland, the opening track on Nico's debut album. This minimalist track -- containing only Nico's voice, Browne's acoustic guitar and John Cale's viola -- has been revived a couple of times over the years. Wes Anderson used it in his 2001 film, The Royal Tenenbaums; and Gus Van Sant picked it up for his 2011 movie, Restless. 

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