Another Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nomination cluster-blank (but with some good news.)

27 09 2011

This year’s nominees are:

  • The Cure
  • Beastie Boys
  • Donovan
  • Eric B. & Rakim
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Heart
  • Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
  • Freddie King
  • Laura Nyro
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Rufus with Chaka Khan
  • The Faces/Small Faces! (Finally!)
  • The Spinners
  • Donna Summer
  • War

Every year, the RRHOF continues to highlight what a joke it is.  The museum is fine.  But the nominating committee is made up of a bunch of chowderheads.

For example, once again the committee passed over Rush in favor of the likes (of good but hardly great) Joan Jett or Heart.  I’m no Rush fan, but they’re one of the most influential, powerful rock bands of the last forty years.  Lee, Lifeson and Peart are some of the best musicians in rock history.

Rufus & Chaka Khan? Really?

It’s so ridiculous that rock bands are being passed up for entry by hip-hop groups like Beastie Boys and Eric B. & Rakim.  I love the Beasties, but let’s put rock and rollers in the RRHOF first before we start filling it with rap and hip hop.

I will credit the nominating committee for putting rockers like G N’ R and one of my favorites, The Faces, on the list.  The Faces should’ve been in the RRHOF a decade ago.  Donovan’s also long overdue for induction.

This about sums it up for me:

For the record, yes, it is a crime against humanity—resolvable only by a war-crimes tribunal—that none of the following have ever been nominated: T. Rex, the Smiths, Yes, Jethro Tull, Devo, Todd Rundgren, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Roxy Music, Willie Nelson, Warren Zevon, the Replacements, ELO, Chubby Checker, Hall and Oates, Los Lobos, Black Flag, X, the B-52s, Dick Dale, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Nick Drake, Captain Beefheart, Sonic Youth…

I wouldn’t put all those performers in the RRHOF if I were a one-man nominating committee — no Chubby Checker, no Jethro Tull, no Captain Beefheart — but many of them are better the crop of so-called rockers that have been inducted in the last 10 years or so.


September 18, 1970

18 09 2011

Not only did the idealism of the mid to late 60’s come crashing down (arguably) following Altamont, the Manson family killings, the seeming failure of the (music-driven) anti-war movement to end the war, the break up of the Beatles, and election of a law and order president like Nixon, but pop stars seemed to drop like flies as the 60’s ended and the 70’s began.  Rolling Stones founder, Brian Jones, died in July 1969, after being booted out of the band.  Janis Joplin died in October 1970, of an apparent heroin overdose.  Depending on whom you ask, Jim Morrison died in July 1971, most likely due to the affects of years of heavy boozing.  That’s to say nothing of the numerous 60’s and 70’s rockers who, over the years, have come unglued, destroying their families and careers, due to substance abuse and the inability to handle the challenges of fame and fortune.

The most significant of those late 60’s/early 70’s losses was the untimely death of Jimi Hendrix.  He was found dead in his London apartment on this day in 1970.  There is some debate over the precise cause of death, but both (prescription) drugs and alcohol played significant roles.  When Jimi died, the most influential player to ever pick up the guitar was lost forever.

Not only was a great guitarist lost, but the 60’s died with him and his contemporaries.  All the hope held out for mankind in psychedelics was dashed.  That drugs could change society for the better, bring about world peace as well as individual spiritual growth, was shown to be a lie.  John Lennon summed this up when he said in 1971:

Okay, so Flower Power didn’t work. So what? We try again.

Jimi is not and never will be my favorite rock guitarist.  As amazing as he was, and as utterly mindblowing some of the sounds he created were, I think others that followed were able to get more out of the instrument.  I think some others that followed were cleaner, better technical players.  But they wouldn’t have done what they did had Jimi not paved the way.  What I like about Jimi’s sound, especially some of his later work, is that it really had a lot of jazz, funk and fusion sounds in it.  The music might not have held a pop appeal, but it was unique.  No one can copy Jimi.  He was like the Miles Davis of electric guitar.

The Cosmic Dancer

16 09 2011

On this day in 1977, Marc Bolan died in a car crash in the southwest London area.  His girlfriend, Gloria Jones, was driving the car that tragic evening.  Bolan was killed instantly when their car went off the road and struck a tree.  Marc was only 29.

The last year or two, I’ve found myself heavily influenced by T. Rex.  Some songs have a surprising amount of depth.  Other songs are shallow or just plain weird.  Some of the attempts by Marc at poetry are god-awful.  But the music has a groove that is missing in music the last 10-15 years.  Looking back on it, T. Rex looks like something of a pioneering act.  On the human level, it is sad that someone so young died in such a way.


The messenger god

6 09 2011

The Roman god, Mercury, was believed to be the patron of travelers, merchant (god of commerce), rogues and thieves, as well as the wind deity.  He was the messenger god, moving swiftly from place to place.  To be “mercurial” is to be volatile, unstable, fickle, flighty and erratic.

Today is the 65th birthday of one of rock and roll’s most beloved performers, the former Farrokh Bulsara, who took the stage name Freddie Mercury.  He helped form the mold of the rock and roll frontman of the 70’s and 80’s, and wrote some of rock and roll’s classic hits of Queen’s era.

In thinking about his life and impact, I wondered if there was a connection between his stage name and his personality, at least as he saw it.  Maybe it was as simple as picking a cool name.  There is certainly evidence that his personal life had its fair share of volatility and instability.  To those fans that loved his music most, he was certainly a rock god.

I don’t consider myself much of a Queen fan.  I have an album or two.  I like a lot of their songs; hardly listen them, though.

But, as real guitar-driven rock and roll seems to continue its steady decline toward extinction, the appeal of bands like Queen (along with AC/DC and the mammoth Led Zeppelin) becomes more and more apparent.  If you’re a rock fan, you can’t help but notice the absence of guys like Freddie Mercury.  It’s hard to beat songs like this.


If Noel Had A Gun

4 09 2011

Noel Gallagher has released the second song from his upcoming album, High Flying Birds.   “If I Had a Gun” has been floating around in demo or soundcheck form for some time.  Throughout his career with Oasis, Noel was known to write good material, shelve it for an album or two or three, and resurrect it to fill in albums or B-sides.  It appears that the new album will be full of stuff that was written in the last days of Oasis.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the songs we’ve heard so far sound like songs Noel might have done with the old band.

I’ve only heard 4 songs from the new album.  Two of them are ones that have been around the ‘net for a few years.  Two are the ones that have been released.  It is becoming more and more apparent that Noel’s stuff will outdo Beady Eye.  I don’t think he’ll rock as hard, but the melodies and lyrics are vastly superior… so far.  In fact, I find him much more listenable as a vocalist than Liam, whose voice is shot from cigarettes, booze and the aging process.

Here’s “If I Had a Gun”