Thursday, October 18, 2012

Number 8

Rock n’ Roll Hall of Bullsh*t

This rant is dedicated to the rock n’ roll critics and snobs who believe they know better than everyone else.  They tell you that the HoF is only for the most deserving artists, but when you follow that up with the question of “who decides?”  They quickly declare, “we do – and what’s more, we don’t care what you think”. To my mind, The HoF has become a private club.  This wouldn’t bother me so much, but for the fact that the RnR HoF Foundation positions itself as the ultimate arbiter of what’s deserving and what’s not; who’s in and who’s out.  Why do they get a voice and you and I don’t? 

Ultimately, this has meant that a few (IMHO) undeserving people have gotten in; while a huge number of people and groups that should be in, are left marginalized on the sidelines of RnR history.  To my mind the opposite should be true.  Of all styles of music, RnR (and perhaps country), best exemplify the spirit of populism.

What makes this so galling is that music is one of the most subjective art forms in existence. What you enjoy, might gag me; while my tastes may lead you to plug up your ears.  Which one of us is right?  I would argue that we both are.  And here is the crux of the issue.  I believe that music, at its best, is transformative.  Music in general (and RnR specifically), has been a powerful force in my life.  I believe strongly that RnR artists and groups that have, through their music, provided that transformative experience, deserve to be inducted.

With that in mind, throw open the doors and let the following inside:

1.  Rush           
For some reason critics hate Rush.  I’m not a huge fan, but I know several who are, and boy, are they passionate.  Rush have created their own niche and sound in RnR (and for the record – if you create your own niche and sound, you belong in the HoF), while making and playing music at a high level for decades.

2.  Deep Purple
There are three groups that are primarily responsible for the development of hard rock/heavy metal.  Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and these guys.  If you were going to play five songs to someone who’d never heard RnR before, “Smoke on the Water”, would be one of them.  And there is so much more to these guys than that.  (Again, for the record, if you record of the RnR’s definitive songs, you’re in the Hof)

3.  KISS
Sure, a lot of their music is lame, but can you deny the image.  That image has become an integral part of RnR history.  (To those of you who say, “Yes, but the RnR HoF is about music and not image”, I say: “Do you really want to argue that image is not part of RnR?”)  BTW if the Monkees aren’t in the HoF, they deserve to be in for this reason alone.

4.  the Raspberries
Power pop is a woefully under-appreciated genre.  It’s too bad these guys couldn’t hold it together longer than they did in order to create a larger body of work, but go back and listen to the guitar lick that opens “Go All the Way” and tell me they don’t belong.

5.  Cheap Trick
As I said above, power pop doesn’t get much respect.  I disagree.  By mixing the sensibilities of a pop song with rock instrumentation you can create a tasty treat.  Cheap Trick is the definitive power pop group.

6.  Yes
I don’t much care for Yes, but they are the definitive prog-rock group, hence their inclusion here.

(Yes, I know, I’m using the word definitive a lot; it’s kind of my point.)

7.  Jethro Tull
Ian Anderson and his band of henchman have an impressive body of work, and have played at a high level for decades.  They’re in.

8.  Iron Maiden
Heavy Metal is another genre that critics love to hate.  Any heavy metal group that they now claim to admire is revisionist history.  Don’t believe me – go back a read the initial reviews of Zeppelin and Sabbath. (By the way, Queen was another group that the critics absolutely loathed during their heyday.  Now that they’re in, those same elitist snobs talk about how wonderful they were.  This is further proof that sometimes the ‘regular’ fans know more than the critics).   In any event, Iron Maiden has a huge catalogue of epic songs and have inspired countless heavy metal/hard rock bands, so they’re in.

9-12.  Styx, REO Speedwagon, Def Leppard, & Journey
What’s wrong with music that lots and lots of people like?  It may not be the most challenging, but what the hell’s wrong with people dancing and singing and having a good time?  These bands are part of the story of RnR, and sometimes the people know something the critics don’t.  If you want to throw Foreigner in there, too, go ahead.

13.  Mott the Hoople/Ian Hunter
One of the few times on this list where I pretend to know more than you (the Raspberries would be the other).  Mott was a great band in the late 60’s/early 70’s.  Their big break came when Bowie gave them “All the Young Dudes”, but they were making great primal RnR long before that.  They were punk before punk was cool.  In fact, they were so punk, they would often play slower and more thoughtful songs.  The group’s songs were primarily written by Ian Hunter, a tremendously under-appreciated artist who is still making great RnR at the age of 72.

14.  The Doobie Bros.
Try putting together a definitive list of  RnR from the 70’s without them and you can’t do it.  (The RnR of the 70’s is not the complete wasteland that critics like to claim it is, BTW).  They are often forgotten about, which is a shame.  They should be in for no other reason than their appearance on “What’s Happening?”, which coined the immortal phrase:  “Which Doobie you be?”

15.  Dire Straits
Great songwriting, great musicianship, and boy can Mark Knopfler play a guitar.  Don’t believe me?  Search out a live version of “Sultan’s of Swing”.

16.  The Cars
Combined the best of new wave and pop music sensibilities.  If Blondie and the Police are in, there’s no way you can keep them out.

17.  Link Wray
So you’ve never heard of him?  Trust me, you’ve heard his influence.  Link Wray invented the power chord.  Without the power chord, RnR does not exist.  Also, he had a wonderfully nasty sound.  His one big hit, “Rumble” managed to get itself banned from radio stations in the 50’s despite the fact that it’s an instrumental.

18.  Joan Jett
A true believer.

19.  Chicago
The case against these guys is that they stuck around too long.  I’m not listing them for the slop they’ve put out since the mid 80’s, but for the impressive boy of work they put together in the 70’s.  They were the most successful group to blend jazz and rock.

20.  Steve Miller
I wore out the grooves of his “Best of 74-78” album.  Seriously, if you’re at a dud of a party, put this on and you will make people happy.  Also came up with the line “Abracadabra, I’m gonna reach out and grab ‘ya”.  Besides being a great writer, the guy is a fantastic guitar player. 

21. Electric Light Orchestra
John Lennon himself thought highly of ELO.  ‘nuff said.

22.  the Moody Blues
A little pretentious for my tastes, and some people think that symphonic rock is an oxymoron, but they do have an impressive catalogue.  Besides they had many moments when they legitimately rocked out.

23.  J. Geils Band
"Ain't Nothin' but a Houseparty".  Goodness knows we all need a party, now and again.

24.  Slade
Once upon a time, a group of four lads from the backwoods of England got together and had #1 hit after #1 hit.  The crowds went crazy, made a lot of noise, and had a great deal of fun.  Certainly, these boys are the least sophisticated entry, but what the hell, they knew what RnR was all about.

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