Pandora and The Pandoras
Published on July 8, 2013 by guest author: J.K. Eisen

It’s easy to complain about how technology has changed music for the worse. I should know – I’m one of those people. Thanks to iTunes and other services, record stores, albums and album cover art have become virtually irrelevant. It may be a common complaint from someone pushing 40, but it doesn’t mean I’m completely anti-technology. I love streaming movies, TV shows and other videos to my TV and the other electronic gadgets I own. 

However, when it comes to music, I’ve been slow to embrace the new technology. Usually when I use this technology, it’s a memorable milestone: downloading my first song, getting my first iPod and my first upload of music to Amazon’s cloud. 

But my recent discovery of The Pandoras, an all-girl hard rock group formed in the 1980s, made me realize how much new music technology I have adopted without even realizing it – technology that has changed the way I discover and experience music. More important, it’s made me realize that the changes brought by this technology may be much more positive than I had thought. 

I discovered The Pandoras through the like-named Pandora Internet radio service. The band was a recommendation based on songs the service knew I liked. This recommendation was right on target. When I heard The Pandoras play “Run Down Love Battery,” I was stopped in my tracks. The song’s in-your-face guitar, pounding bass drum and big, catchy chorus made it a great pick for someone who enjoys The Runaways, The Donnas, Betty Blowtorch and L7. 

I didn’t consider signing up for Pandora radio to be a major milestone in how I experience music. I simply signed up to hear playlists featuring my favorite artists. I didn’t think much about the service’s recommendations at the time, but it has since helped me discover several musicians and bands. The Pandoras are only the latest discovery. 

There was once a time when I discovered a lot of new music through the recommendations of an employee at a local record store. Though most record stores – and their employees – are gone thanks to digital downloads, Pandora may be the new record store employee who knows what I like. 

I not only bought The Pandora’s “Rock Hard/Live Nymphomania” CD, but searched the Internet for more information. When I’m into a band, I like to find out as much as I can about them. I want to know their history, best albums, worst albums, line-up changes, tour dates, side projects, rare imports, concert videos and other trivia. 

Years ago, when you were into a band that wasn’t played on MTV, it could be a lot of work to find out these things. It meant reading magazines, fanzines, talking to fans in your area – if there were any – and searching for those rare concert videos. 

Today, I simply google it. 

I quickly learned that The Pandoras formed in 1983 as part of Hollywood’s Paisley Underground – a music scene influenced by 1960s psychedelic garage rock. The band evolved into the hard rock group I discovered. Sadly, the band ended in 1991 when singer/guitarist Paula Pierce died from an aneurysm. Two members of The Pandoras would form The Muffs, a band I plan on checking out soon. 

I went to YouTube where I found a treasure trove of Pandoras videos, including unseen backstage footage apparently uploaded by a former band member. I found great footage from a 1990 club gig in San Diego. Their performance of “Run Down Love Battery” and “Six Times a Day” puts you in the middle of a gritty, sweaty concert that shows you what The Pandoras were all about live. 

I was able to see the arc of the band’s career, including performances during the mid-1980s in New York City, at UCLA, and on a Los Angeles cable TV show. There’s also footage of the band performing a raucous version of “Cherry Bomb” in 1989 with Cherie Currie of Runaways fame – an on-stage meeting that seems inevitable given the obvious Runaways influence. And as a KISS fan, I enjoyed The Pandoras’ live cover of “Lick It Up” in 1990. As I expected, Paula isn’t as coy as Paul Stanley when she introduces this song. Her NSFW stage banter leaves nothing to the imagination. 

Quite simply, I was able to get a front-row seat to The Pandoras’ career through these videos. Years ago, I would have had to track down these videos and others one bulky VHS tape at a time. It’s a process that would have taken months or even years. I did it in one afternoon on my couch. 

Obviously, most people know how to use Google and YouTube. It’s not a great revelation that you can find such things on the Internet, but it’s important for all of us who lament how technology is hurting music to recognize how much technology we have adopted – often without realizing it – to discover and experience music. 

I suppose some could complain that part of the fun of enjoying a band is tracking down those rare recordings, that it’s about the thrill of the hunt – not YouTube’s instant gratification. Of course, if it wasn’t for technology, I may never have discovered The Pandoras, much less tracked down their albums and concert footage. 

I still have concerns about technology’s effect on music, but if it continues to help me discover bands like The Pandoras, my friends will hear less grumbling from me and more of the music I’ve discovered. 

J.K. Eisen writes about entertainment and the world around him. He lives in the Deep South.

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