Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle: 8th edition

Hi, all. Good to see everyone again. I know, it's been awhile. Took a little time off from writing for this blog to recharge a little bit. Have been kicking around some ideas for some future writing projects, and I'm ready to dive back in.

I'll get restarted with a baby step, with this eighth edition of my Pandora live-blogging. But this time I want to raise the stakes a little bit. As I have been doing, I'll start my semi-randomized Pandora shuffle feed and write a little something about the first five songs that turn up.

But then, I'll take a day or two to write a more in-depth piece about the sixth one -- I'll write something about the song itself, perhaps the artist, perhaps the album the song is from, something a little meatier than what I normally do with the five songs. Let's see where it takes us.

"OK, Google, shuffle my Pandora."

"Golden Star," My Brightest Diamond (Bring Me the Workhorse, 2006):
My Brightest Diamond has been turning up occassionally on my Pandora feed for several years. I enjoy the random song but I've never got any further with this band. According to Wikipedia, the band is actually a solo project by a woman named Shara Nova, who kickstarted her professional career touring with Sufjan Stevens. My Brightest Diamond has released five studio albums, one every two or three years, since 2006. "Golden Star" is from the first one, a three-minute bouncy folk-pop outing featuring Nova's solid voice on top of a bass-drums-strings accompaniment. I don't find much in the way of distinguishing characteristics here, but it's pleasant enough, enjoyable to the point that maybe one day I'll do some exploration.

"Semaphore," Kinski (Airs Above Your Station, 2003):
Another instrumental outing from my favorite post-rock/shoegaze outfit. This track first appeared on the Semaphore EP in 2002 -- my first Kinski purchase and a successful audition. This one features a staccato synth intro by Matthew Reid Schwartz before it moves into a sludgy guitars-bass-drums workout by the rest of the band, eventually back to Schwartz' one-note riff and an accelerated full-band outro. I love this stuff and would highly recommend Kinski as a great horizon-expander.

"Burnin' For You," Blue Oyster Cult (OCC Rocks, 2009):
Had to search hard for info on this album. OCC Rocks is a compilation of classic-rock tunes released in a marketing tie-in with the TLC reality show American Chopper. The songs for this album were "curated" by Orange County Choppers founder Paul Teutul Jr., according to the Amazon.com product page. I can find no track listing, but the product description says the album includes songs by Judas Priest, Kansas, Molly Hatchet, Toto, etc., etc. It also includes three tracks by something called OCC The Band. "Burnin' For You" was one of Blue Oyster Cult's big hits, from the 1981 album Fire of Unknown Origin. I was a big fan of BOC's first two albums, but I moved on a few years before this one appeared. I'm sure you've heard this song a gazillion times in the past 40 years. I know I have. It's become Classic Rock background noise, the kind of stuff that has no effect on me one way or the other in 2021.

"Sherry," Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons (Rhino Hi-Five: Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons, 2005): I enjoy hearing something like this once in awhile more than I do "Burnin' For You" and your standard Molly Hatchet and Toto stuff. "Sherry" was the first big hit by The 4 Seasons, released as a single in August 1962 and later that year on the band's debut album, Sherry and 11 Others, by VeeJay Records. It was the first of three straight No. 1s that kicked off the band's career -- followed by "Big Girls Don't Cry" in October and "Walk Like a Man" in January 1963. This Rhino compilation is a short one, five tracks clocking in at 13:37.

"Black Flame," Renaissance (Turn of the Cards, 1974):
This is the first track on Side 2 of the brilliant Renaissance album I wrote about previously. Lyricist Betty Thatcher said in a 1993 interview that the song is about the dark hearts of combatants in the Vietnam War. The Michael Dunford composition and the performance is highly recognizable Renaissance of that period -- spotlighting Annie Haslam's stunning voice and John Tout's classically influenced piano runs. "Black Flame" was one of many exceptional Renaissance tracks from their great run of albums in the early and mid-'70s.

"I've Seen All Good People," Yes (The Yes Album, 1971):
Pandora made it easy for me. This band and this album was already on my blog to-do list, and the followup LP, Fragile, will be a discussion at Geezerology on YouTube in a couple or three weeks. Check back here in a day or two, I'll go in-depth on this one.

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