Monday, June 14, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 7th edition

"OK, Google. Shuffle my Pandora."

"Red Rain," Peter Gabriel (So, 1986):
The lead track on Gabriel's breakthrough album was released in the US as a fairly successful followup single to "Sledgehammer." I remember "Red Rain" being featured in an episode of "Miami Vice" and getting a lot of airplay on FM radio. It's never been among my favorite Peter Gabriel tracks -- it's too heavy on gloomy synth-and-drums atmospherics for my tastes. I've never really understood what the song is all about. I get this apocalyptic sense of blood drops falling from the sky. "Red Rain" aside, I have had a love-hate relationship with So since the day it was released. I was a Peter Gabriel megafan for more than a decade when So landed, but it fell flat for me. It was far too conventional to satisfy my appetite for new Peter Gabriel material. I understand So much better in hindsight than I did then, and I find it brilliant. But it was such a drastic pivot both artistically and commercially that it took me a long, long time to get over the shock.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Notes from the weird side of rock and roll

A compendium of the unusual, and sometimes downright bizarre, from the world of rock and roll:

'Gimme Shelter’ cost the life of her unborn child: 
Four months pregnant when she added her piercing vocals to “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones, singer Merry Clayton blames the stress of the recording session for her subsequent miscarriage.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Renaissance: Out of the chaos rose sublime beauty

Ca. 1974: Tout, Haslam, Sullivan, Camp, Dunford

Keith Relf and Jim McCarty formed Renaissance in 1969 as a way to wrap their folk and classical influences into the bluesy rock they had been playing for several years with The Yardbirds. It was a noble experiment, one that did blaze a trail, eventually, for the progressive music that poured out of Western Europe in the following decade.

But Renaissance nearly disintegrated into dust by the time the band's second album, Illusion, was dumped on an uninterested German market in 1971. All five band members wearied of the grind of touring and recording, and they all went their separate ways. McCarty instituted a revolving-door policy to keep the Renaissance name alive while he retreated home to focus on his songwriting. Manager Miles Copeland stepped in to put finishing touches on the revamped lineup, and Renaissance was reborn.