Rock n’ roll church

12 01 2013


It just occurred to me a few minutes ago; the Hard Rock Cafe is really like a church. The Detroit Hard Rock Cafe has stained glass depicting kiss, The Supremes, Alice Cooper, Stevie Wonder and other images synonymous with the Detroit music scene.  This is not unlike the Christian churches in the world, great and small, which honor saints of centuries past by memorializing them in colored glass.

The photos of rock gods on the wall are like icons and statues so important to Catholic and Orthodox worship.  More than anything, what we call “memorabilia” has value because of its connection to famous people.  We’re fascinated to see Eminem’s (grubby) sweat pants or a guitar Eddie Van Halen played on a wall.  “He touched those!” we think when we see them, or at least we’re supposed to have that reaction.  Otherwise, why would we care to see a shirt worn by David Crosby?  The stuff on the wall works out to be modern relics.  Maybe we no longer fight wars over a splinter from the “true cross” or an article allegedly touched by a saint or Christ Himself.

I know it’s only rock and roll, as Mick Jagger once said — I know that’s a little corny.  But I see a deeper meaning: places like the Hard Rock Cafe are little hints that people need a God or gods to worship.  The Judeo-Christian Father God is not seen by us under what we would consider normal conditions.  But these gods we can see and touch.

If the Hard Rock Cafe is like a local church, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is like St. Peter’s in Rome.  Think about it.




Joe Walsh: an unheralded rock legend

24 01 2012

Maybe I give the place too much credit by talking about it, but what the heck.  A guy that needs to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work outside his most famous group, the Eagles, is Joe Walsh.  Joe Rocks.  Of course, his talent has been recognized since he was an important addition to one of the biggest selling rock bands of all time.   His solo work, or stuff with the James Gang, is, in my ever so humble opinion, vastly more interesting than the Eagles’ music.  It surely rocks harder.

Joe’s also one of the most entertaining guys in rock history.  He’s a great interview; completely hysterical.  It’s impossible not to like him after hearing him for a few minutes doing a radio interview.  Although he’s been clean and sober for years, he still sounds drunk (but makes more sense than a drinker.)

One of my favorite from Joe’s catalog

(Finally) a solid Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class

7 12 2011

I’ve been grumbling for the last few years about who has and hasn’t been inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  The list of nominees for 2012 was very promising, at least compared to past classes.  The list of those that got the nod is solid!

  • The Small Faces/The Faces (Finally!)
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Donovan
  • Beastie Boys
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Laura Nyro

The band that I’m most pleased to see inducted is (are) actually two groups put in as one inductee, the Small Faces/The Faces.  Rod Stewart has been in the HOF for awhile but, in my opinion, he’d be nothing without the work of both The Small Faces, and the band that became something of his backing group, The Faces.  He’d probably be tending bar somewhere without those guys.  They’re massively influential bands and they’re actually rock n’ rollers!

In the late 80’s, early 90’s, Guns N’ Roses was probably the preeminent hard rock band.  Although they haven’t made music worth crap in 20 years, in their heyday, they were mighty.

I don’t own a single Chili Peppers album, but I love their rock-funk style.  Flea is one of the coolest bassists to come along in the last 40 years.

While I’m definitely critical of the RRHOF inducting hip-hop and rap artists, I back the induction of Beastie Boys.  They brought a lot of rock and roll into the music.  Check Your Head is still one of my favorite albums of my youth, and it rocked.  The Beasties crossed enough genres to, in my opinion, be considered  a rock group (in a loose sense.)

Donovan’s kind of cool for his unique blend of folk and psychedelic.  I dig his more rocky or poppy songs like “Sunshine Superman” and “Season of the Witch.”

I’ve never been much of a Laura Nyro fan, but I have no complaints about her induction.

There is little interest for me in the “Early Influences” and “Sidemen” categories.  I would say, though, that Glyn Johns is well deserving of his induction.  That guy has had his hands on the controls for many of the greatest rock records ever made.  Thumbs up, Glyn!

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.

The 2011 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees are…(drumroll)…

28 09 2010

  • Alice Cooper
  • Beastie Boys
  • Bon Jovi
  • Chic
  • Neil Diamond
  • Donovan
  • Dr. John
  • J. Geils Band
  • LL Cool J
  • Darlene Love
  • Laura Nyro
  • Donna Summer
  • Joe Tex
  • Tom Waits
  • Chuck Willis

Every year I say this and I feel compelled to repeat it.  This year’s list of nominees include people that have no business being in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame before rock acts like T. Rex and The Faces.  Rod Stewart is in solo, but the band that made him great, a massively influential group, waits and waits and waits.  T. Rex, admittedly, lacked some substance, but they were a very influential rock band, the kings of the Glam movement.  Bands like Oasis made fortunes pinching some of Bolan’s work.

I’m not a Rush fan personally, but it’s ludicrous to think that Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Chic (Chic???), Bon Jovi and Dr. John could make their way into the RRHOF before Rush.