The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Inductees: Getting It Wrong, Again

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I like to be positive here at BourbonAndVinyl, there are enough haters out there, but this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Class (for 2018) has once again got my gander up. Of course this could just be a by-product of my annual Holiday Funk, but I’ve got to get this off my chest… I’ve been to the Rock Hall in Cleveland, and it was a great birthday-gift-trip from the Rock Chick. I dug seeing it. But as the years unfurl, the industry folks who make up the judges (who cast secret ballots) continue to fuck up the nomination process. I’m beginning to agree with the Sex Pistols’ famous letter rejecting the invitation to attend the ceremony, that the HOF is “urine in wine.” One might say they royally fucked up in the first place by putting the thing in Cleveland (which I actually thought was a descent city, great Lebanese food, but I’m from KC, what do I know). The Rock Hall should be in Memphis. That’s where the King was from… but that point is mute at this juncture.

I looked at the induction class for 2018 and frankly, I’m stunned. I guess I should not have been surprised, these are the same judges who put Journey in the Hall last year. I mean, for fuck’s sake, Journey? I thought they were ok when I was in high school, because I didn’t know any better and the chicks always seemed to dig Steve Perry’s voice. Yes, in the interest of full disclosure, I did see them twice in concert back then, which is barely defensible, but I seem to recall a chick being involved in both those nights as well. It’s likely I was trying out my “smooth moves” on some poor woman (and failing), but I do recall also thinking Neal Schon was a descent guitar player… I mean, he’d played with Santana. Ah, my misguided youth. I’m not proud of any of that.

I’ll start off by saying, in terms of the 2018 class, I was glad to see Sister Rosetta Tharpe being inducted in the “early influence” category, whatever that is. I hear a lot of grousing about the inclusion of Nina Simone, since she was more of a jazz singer than a rock and roller, but she’s such a huge influence, I’m happy to see her on the list. She was a giant. And, I think I speak for all of us when I say, everybody loves the Cars. I’m glad the Cars are finally getting their due. It’s after those names that the whole thing goes to hell in a hand basket.

Dire Straits was an OK band. Knopfler can play the guitar. He wrote a few catchy tunes. But Hall of Fame worthy? I just don’t see it, or perhaps more appropriately, hear it. I saw Dire Straits in concert and I was impressed with Knopfler, but I never dreamed they’d be in the Hall of Fame. Even knowing what I know now, that Dire Straits are a band the Rock Chick secretly listens to as a “guilty pleasure,” can’t change my mind on this. They were a middle-of-the-road band who never conjured the sort of excitement or danger I would think you would need to reach the Rock Hall of Fame. They literally broke no new ground.

But then it gets worse.. The Moody Blues are being inducted? I mean, I don’t mind Art Rock or Prog Rock (I dig Rush and Yes) or whatever the hell the Moodys are supposed to be, but the key to those genres is the “rock” part of the description. There is nothing rock and roll about the Moody Blues. When I met my wife, while I was trying to expand her musical universe, I posited my music theory: Every band has 1 great song, even if you don’t like the rest of the catalog, there’s always one tune you can attach to. The one exception to that rule is the Moody Blues. Everything they did sucks. “Knights In White Satin” is a song so bad I almost wreck my car, lunging toward the car radio to change the station, whenever I’m unlucky enough to hear them. The horror, the horror.

The Moody Blues inclusion in the HOF was bad enough but the cherry on top of this shit sandwich is Bon Jovi. Bon-fucking-Jovi. I read somewhere, someone quoted as saying “Bon Jovi is music for people who don’t like music very much.” I’d have killed to come up with that line… it’s sooooo true. The geniuses behind Slippery When Wet are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Does the HOF just want to start handing out participation trophies? These guys were such poseurs. They were supposed to be part of the whole 80s Heavy Metal/Hair Metal crowd, but this music isn’t metal… Maybe Metal Light. Bon Jovi are the Bud Light of Rock and Roll. “Urine in wine.”

It’s not like the Hall didn’t have some great choices on the ballot this year. Depeche Mode is one of the longest lasting, strong, influential, relevant bands in the world today. The Spirit album and tour this year were triumphant. What a great victory lap to have them inducted into the Hall this year, but no. Rage Against the Machine and Radiohead (who I don’t even like despite years of Arkansas Joel’s trying to get me to, but respect more than Bon Jovi) are seminal 90s bands. Rage has the strength and credibility of their political convictions and Tom Morello shreds on guitar. That rhythm section is something else… Radiohead are artier than anything the Moody Blues could come up with… they truly stretch the boundaries of rock and roll, but no. Judas Priest should be in the Hall of Fame, I’m with Eddie Trunk on this one. They’re one of the biggest bands to come out of the British Heavy Metal movement, and were a huge influence on almost every metal band that came after them but no… no, Bon Jovi gets in before them. The Hall told Judas Priest it took Black Sabbath 8 votes to make it. That’s fucking bullshit. I personally think the J Geils Band should be in the Hall. Forget about “Freeze Frame,” they were one of the 70s greatest blues, boogie bands around. But, no. Sigh.

It’s not even a problem with just this year’s ballot. There are so many acts that aren’t even on the ballot. They aren’t even being considered for inclusion/induction. These are bands/acts that are far better than Journey and Bon Jovi and have never, to my knowledge, been on the ballot:

  1. Soundgarden – UFB, that Bon Jovi is in before these guys. How poignant to have seen these guys put in after the devastating loss of Chris Cornell.
  2. Dio – Ronnie James Dio was the lead singer in Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and his own band, yet no love from the Hall.
  3. Warren Zevon – Simply one of the greatest songwriters of all time. I’m with David Letterman, I can’t wait to see him come back and induct Warren. “Carmelita” is a song that should automatically qualify Zevon for the Hall.
  4. Ozzy/Robert Plant/Joe Walsh – These lead singers and guitarist are inducted as members of their respective bands, but have amassed an amazing body of solo work which has yet to be recognized by the Hall. I mean, each Beatle save Ringo is in the hall…. where are these great artists?
  5. Motley Crue – These guys would have been such a better choice than Bon Jovi to represent that 80s hard rock/heavy metal sound. Their first 5 albums are a great resume to run on.
  6. Bad Company/Free – Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke climbed from the ruins of Free’s demise and formed one of the biggest rock bands of the 70s, Bad Company. I think these guys deserve a hyphen nomination like the Small Faces/Faces got a few years ago.
  7. The Doobie Brothers – These guys were as big as the Eagles at one time… And while not all their music has aged as well as some, they still deserve consideration.
  8. Lucinda Williams – Brilliant voice, brilliant songwriter and a spectacular performer.
  9. The Smashing Pumpkins – Another seminal 90s band that has been tragically ignored.
  10. The Scorpions – Germany’s greatest export since the Volkswagen.

I could go on and on and on and on… But these are the bands that spring to mind. I’m sure I’ve forgotten or overlooked many artists here. How do we fix this? They have a fan poll they run every year but I don’t think it factors into the actual judge’s voting so that won’t help. The problem with the Hall’s nomination system is that the voting is done in secret by a small group (one might call them an Evil Cabal) led by Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone magazine and Jon Landau (Springsteen’s erstwhile manager… I tend to agree with Little Steven’s dim view of this guy), and a few other industry types. There have been charges over the years that these guys nominate artists who have ties to their record companies. I think the committee to nominate should be expanded and should include artists – maybe the inductees, the living ones – and these judges should be forced to defend the logic they used in a public ballot… I’d love to hear Jann Wenner tell me why the fuck he voted for Bon Jovi. “Well, I saw Jon at the club and he asked me to help him out….” This whole things smells corrupt to me.

I’d like to thank everybody for allowing me this angry screed/rant. With all the relatives around, I had to barricade myself in my room, turn up the 1977 Springsteen bootleg from Rochester and pretend no one was here… Happy Holidays to all of you and please, Keep Rocking in the New Year… and remember the sage words of the Sex Pistols… “were not your monkey,” and don’t be anybody’s monkey.

 

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Get Out The Vote: The BourbonAndVinyl Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Ballot

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It’s that nasty time again, Election season… time to vote for your Rock And Roll Hall of Fame nominees. At least their are no threats to jail the nominees who fail to get elected… When the RnR Hall of Fame first opened I thought, like Ray Davies, “what a drag” to see the music of rebellion institutionalized. But the ceremonies have led to some great performances and jam sessions. I can’t help but think of Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Prince performing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” for George Harrison’s induction. Prince owns that guitar solo for me now.

This year’s nominees are a diverse set of acts, from punk to grunge to soul to disco to hip hop. There are a lot of deserving acts but in the end, you can only vote for 5 on the HoF’s website. The fans are allowed to vote on the website once a day with a Facebook address or an email address and the fan’s ballot is then treated as 1 of the about six-hundred that get sent out to Rock journalists, historians and performers. To date, BourbonAndVinyl has not been formally asked to participate in the process which frankly, chaps my ass.

You may cast your vote daily here:

https://vote.rockhall.com

Here are the five acts your humble blogger at BourbonAndVinyl feel are the most deserving and who we’ll be voting for daily. It doesn’t make a huge difference but at least we have a small voice in this thing:

  1. Pearl Jam – the Kings of grunge. These guys have been kick ass their whole career. If you’ve seen them live, you know what I’m talking about. “Lightning Bolt,” their last album was proof that they’re still going strong. Eddie Vedder is one of the greatest voices of all time.
  2. Depeche Mode – Dave Gahan and the gang are so influential I’m not sure why they haven’t been voted in already. Their new LP drops in 2017, entitled “Spirit.” I could listen to Dave Gahan sing all day long.
  3. The Cars – They could be voted in on the strength of their debut album alone. Consider “Candy-O” and “Heartbeat City” and these guys deserve to be in the Hall.
  4. Jane’s Addiction – Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro… Another very influential 90’s band. Perry also created Lollapalooza which should give Jane’s extra consideration. Who doesn’t love “Jane Says”?
  5. J. Geils Band – this fifth choice was tough for me. I almost voted in Tupac but I love Peter Wolf. The band’s earlier, bluesy stuff is what I feel qualifies them. “Musta Got Lost” is one of my favorite songs of all time.

In the spirit of democracy, I shall list the remaining nominees this year, and the reasons I didn’t vote for them:

  1. Tupac – the man is a legend. He’ll likely get in first ballot. I always loved the tune “California Love.”
  2. Chic – I love Nile Rodgers as much as the next guy, and he should get into the Hall as a producer, but Chic wasn’t my cup of tea.
  3. Journey – these guys are actually leading the fan vote now which disturbs me deeply. I mean, I saw Journey twice in high school – that’s high school folks, who didn’t make mistakes in their youth. I grew out of it. I always liked the Gregg Rollie era better than the later stuff. Steve Perry turned into such a dick. I fear people are voting for Journey in the hopes Perry will show up and sing with the rest of the band, but knowing Steve, I doubt it. And really, who wants to see Jonathan Cain get into the Hall….
  4. Bad Brains – I know zero about them. There are limits to even B&V’s music knowledge.
  5. Janet Jackson – it’s the Rock And Roll Hall, not the Pop Hall of Fame.
  6. Chaka Khan – One hit wonder.
  7. ELO – Oh, spare me. These guys were so derivative of the Beatles Jeff Lynne ended up producing George Harrison. They had a few good songs but were a bit twee in my mind.
  8. Joan Baez – I’ve never been able to stand this woman’s screechy, warbling. I blame Bob Dylan for her influence.
  9. Joe Tex – I know nothing about this guy either. With a name like Joe Tex, he might be a blues guy so I might have to do some home work here.
  10. Kraftwerk – this is a scary German synth band that people who want to sound cool cite as an influence. Don’t believe them, no one listens to Kraftwerk.
  11. MC5- Solid, if short lived punk band in the same vein as the Stooges… I considered these guys in J Geils place as well…
  12. Steppenwolf – Overrated…
  13. The Zombies – Not a bad band, solidly blues based, but Hall of Fame worthy?
  14. Yes – The prog rock giants. There were so many configurations of this band I wonder if the stage is large enough to hold them all. Guitarist Steve Howe looks like the Crypt Keeper these days. I liked Yes, but outside of “The Yes Album,” “Fragile,” and maybe “90125” I’d be hard pressed to name another Yes album.

There you have it folks, the B&V take on this year’s all important Election. Who will you be voting for? Let me know in the comments section who you like if you disagree with my take.

As always, take care of yourself out there, the actual Election for US President gets darker every day, which is something I thought would be impossible. Even my cat woke up hissing from a nightmare today, which seems biblical in it’s portent. It’s a dark time… put on some groovy music and pour some of the dark stuff. For me today it’s Bob Dylan and Buffalo Trace… Hunker down, that’s my advice.

Cheers!