Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Doing the Pandora Shuffle, 9th edition

"OK, Google. Shuffle my Pandora."

"I'd Love to Change the World," Ten Years After (A Space in Time, 1971):
Alvin Lee picked up an acoustic guitar, the band slowed down the pace and Ten Years After finally had a hit. "I'd Love to Change the World," from the band's sixth album, hit No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- the only time Ten Years After has cracked the Top 40. The band probably is most famous for their scorching performance of "I'm Going Home" at Woodstock in 1969. They were on a pretty good run on the album charts leading up to A Space in Time. Ssssh hit No. 20 on the Billboard 200 in 1969, Cricklewood Green No. 14 and Watt No. 21 in 1970. A Space in Time hit No. 17. But that was pretty much it for Ten Years After as a marketable recording outfit. They're still around. Lee died in 2013, but keyboard player Chick Churchill and drummer Ric Lee have kept the band working, primarily as a live attraction, through the decades. I listened to Ssssh and Watt as well as the 1968 live album Undead a lot as a kid. But I lost interest when A Space in Time came around and have paid scant attention since.

"Cycling is Fun," Shonen Knife (Yama-No Attchan, 1984):
Shonen Knife is a female Japanese garage-pop trio that has been recording since 1981. This is from their second album. I have no idea what the song is about, as this particular album was recorded in the band's native language. It's a nice little mid-tempo bouncy number, quite pleasant. Lead singer and guitarist Naoko Yamano is the only founding member still in the group. The band has recorded 21 studio albums, the most recent being Sweet Candy Power, in 2019. Shonen Knife's songs have been turning up on my Pandora feed for years, and I always enjoy hearing them. The only full album I've listened to, on Spotify, was their 2011 release, Osaka Ramones -- yep, it's an album of Ramones covers. It's quite bouncy and Ramones-y. Search your favorite streaming service and give them a listen -- I'm pretty sure it'll make you smile.

"Airscape," Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians (Luminous Groove, 2008):
Hitchcock was a big favorite of mine for a couple of years in the late 1980s, during my Northern Virginia days. He was the British guy who would not let psychedelic rock die. He combined the absurdist, whimsical sensibilities of Sid Barrett with the popcraft of The Beatles and became a huge influence on the alternative scene in the late '80s and early '90s. Luminous Groove is a box set of three of The Egyptians' mid-'80s albums packaged with a trove of rarities and outtakes. "Airscape" originally appeared on the 1986 album Element of Light, The Egyptians' second studio release. Most of Hitchcock's 1980s catalog is out of circulation, available only in repackaged sets like this or in bits and pieces across a handful of compilations. Hitchcock is still recording and has worked frequently with ex-REM guitarist Peter Buck and other survivors of that era. He performed solo in the 1998 Jonathan Demme-directed concert film Storefront Hitchcock in 1998. I've dropped a video of his performance of "Airscape" from that film at the bottom of this blog post.

"Crystal Blue Persuasion," Tommy James & The Shondells (Crimson & Clover and Cellophane Symphony, 2006):
Oh, my. I'm still a sucker for these Tommy James hits of the 1960s. I will never not love this stuff. "Crystal Blue Persuasion" was the followup single to the massive 1969 hit "Crimson & Clover." It did very well in its own right, riding at No. 2 for a couple of weeks. It could not get past Zager and Evans' "In the Year 2525" to claim the top spot. This album is a repackaging of the band's two 1969 albums. Crimson & Clover was one of the first albums I bought with my own money. Never had it on vinyl but bought it on cassette along with Steppenwolf Live and The Rascals' See, maybe one or two others. I wore all of those things out on my little mono cassette player. They probably all ended up in a trash can at some point from overuse.

"Chantilly Lace," The Big Bopper (Chantilly Lace Starring The Big Bopper, 1964):
What to say about this one? It seems silly to try to do some sort of profound analysis, so let's just answer a couple trivia questions. Beaumont, TX, disc jockey J.P. Richardson released four country-music records as Jape Richardson before deciding rock-and-roll was the next big thing. So he shifted gears, started calling himself The Big Bopper and released "Chantilly Lace" in August 1958. The song immediately became a big nationwide hit. So Richardson wrote and recorded several more songs over the next few months, had hits with a few of them and was a major rock-and-roll star. And then, after a gig in Clear Lake, Iowa, on Feb. 2, 1959, Richardson persuaded Waylon Jennings to give up his seat on Buddy Holly's chartered airplane headed for Fargo, ND. Five years later, Mercury Records collected all of Richardson's rock-and-roll singles for the compilation album Chantilly Lace Starring The Big Bopper.

"Disappearer," Sonic Youth (Goo, 1990):
Song No. 6, calling for a full blog post in the next few days. This will be a little tougher than the last one -- I know a little bit about Sonic Youth, but this is the first time I've heard this song, and I've never listened to this album. Check back later in the week, I'll have something on this.

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