The B&V List of Artists Who Really Should Be In the Rock Hall of Fame

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*Image of the Rock Hall from the internet, specifically gettyimages and is likely copyrighted

I think it was the “American Pie” guy who sang the line, “February made me quiver with every paper I’d deliver…” I never really liked that song but he’s got a point about February. I forget how hard February is as a month. Maybe that’s why it’s only 28 days (29 in the Leap Year). The holidays end (thankfully) in early January. NFL football ends in early February. And then… the grey, cold nothingness of winter. Rarely do we see any new music this early in the year as most artists prefer to release stuff for the big Christmas season. Green Day finally released Father of All… I won’t be reviewing that one… there’s enough hate and negativity out there and I don’t want to add to it by telling you the new Green Day is unlistenable crap. Oops, well, there… I’ve said it. I feared it’d go that way when I heard the first single, Green Day: New Single, “Father of All…” – Trying Something New?.

Being stuck inside with what borders on cabin fever, I’ve been able to let my mind wander. And oh does it wander. I was recently musing on the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, or as I call it, the Rock Hall. I was watching the NFL announce their latest batch of Hall of Famers and it got me thinking about the Rock Hall in Cleveland. Ahmet Ertegun had the original idea in 1983 and they chose Cleveland in 1986 as the permanent location. I guess any institution that sticks around long enough has to open a Hall of Fame. It’s no secret to long time readers that I’m a big enough music nerd that I think the Hall of Fame is kind of, well, cool. I’ve even commented on the Rock Hall before, to express my displeasure with some of their choices, The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Inductees: Getting It Wrong, Again. I was perhaps a bit hasty in my determination that Dire Straits was a bad choice… hindsight is 20/20.

In the early days of the Rock Hall it was easy to support the selections. It was a new thing, and all the great bands were being inducted. Chuck Berry, James Brown and Ray Charles, and Elvis were being inducted along with the Beatles, Stones, Who and Kinks. How can you argue with those selections? I’ll be the first to admit that its seems odd that a force as subversive as rock and roll would put on tuxes and induct each other into a “hall of fame.” It’s kind of what Ray Davies of the Kinks said during his induction, “Seeing everybody here tonight, it makes me realize that rock and roll has become respectable.  What a bummer.” That point aside, the Rock Hall’s decisions on inductees was never terribly controversial because we could all agree Johnny Cash should be in there.

As the years have gone by, and I can’t believe it’s been 35 years since they opened the building in Cleveland, the choices have become more controversial. This year the Rock Hall is inducting Whitney Houston. Whitney was an extremely talented singer. She was indeed many things but rock and roll is not one of them. If you’re going to induct people like Whitney or Madonna, you should call it the Pop Music Hall of Fame. I’m not too hung up on hip hop artists being inducted, like this year the Notorious B.I.G. is getting in – rap has always had a rock n roll danger to it, but does Tupac belong in there beside say, Hendrix? The music styles are so incongruous, one could argue whether rap artists belong in the Hall? Smarter people than I am can make that call. I will say I’m thrilled Depeche Mode made it this year. I can even dig the Doobie Brothers and NIN. T Rex I can take or leave.

I’m such a big music nerd, the Rock Chick actually surprised me with a trip to Cleveland to see the Rock Hall. I have to say, Cleveland gets a bad rap. I thought it was a charming city and I found some great Lebanese food. The Rock Hall itself, designed by I.M. Pei no less, is a beautiful building tucked away on Cleveland’s Lake Erie shoreline, nestled next to the Indians’ and Browns’ stadiums. I had a great weekend there and absolutely loved the Rock Hall. It’s a trip every rock fan should make. Oddly it never occurred to me to rent a car and drive to Canton to see the Pro football Hall of Fame, although looking back that would have been a nice add-on to the trip.

As the Rock Hall’s choices on who to induct seem to cause more and more uproar each year – this year Tom Morello roasted the selection committee for snubbing Rage Against the Machine – I found myself listing off in my head artists who really should be in the Rock Hall but for some reason or other have not been inducted. Hard rock especially seems to get short shrift in the inductee category. I will say, Motorhead isn’t going to be on my list. I can’t stand Motorhead. There are other, very obvious choices here like the White Stripes, but I don’t think they’re eligible yet. You have to wait until 25 years after your first release. Without further adieu, the following rock acts deserve to be in the Hall… certainly before Whitney Houston anyway…

  1. Bad Company/Free – When Free collapsed under the weight of drug addiction and apathy, Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke formed Bad Company. I see these bands as two separate ones but ever since they inducted the Small Faces/Faces, I’ve felt they could do the same for Bad Co/Free.
  2. Beck – The man is simply brilliant. If he’s not eligible, he soon will be. From “Loser” to his latest hit with Cage the Elephant, “Night Running” the man always kills me.
  3. The Cult – The Rock Chick’s favorite band should be in the Rock Hall and I’m not saying this to schmooze the boss. They’re a great band and can be found on hard rock and alternative rock stations around the dial. Music that rocks needs to be recognized.
  4. Eurythmics – Annie Lennox’s wonderful vocals and Dave Stewart’s songwriting and production. These guys should be in the Hall.
  5. Peter Frampton – The best selling live album of all time, yes!
  6. J. Geils Band – I wish we’d seen these guys inducted before we lost J. Geils but what a great posthumous honor for him. I love everything these guys did before “Freeze Frame.” They were one great, slinky blues rock band. And they boast Magic Dick on harmonica.
  7. Jane’s Addiction – Perry Farrell invented Lollapalooza. That ought to be enough to get them in, right? Perry, Dave Navarro and company were a cornerstone to alternative rock.
  8. Judas Priest – It’s astounding that heavy metal gets snubbed by the Rock Hall year in and year out. It’s baffling why this enormous band is not in the Rock Hall yet.
  9. Lenny Kravitz – Another great artist who is definitely eligible and who definitely should be in the Hall.
  10. Dave Matthews Band – They were on the ballot for 2020. Here’s hoping for next year.
  11. John Mayall – The Bluesbreakers were such a seminal influence on blues rock in Britain. Cream and Fleetwood Mac were all formed by guys who’d met under Mayall.
  12. Motley Crue – These guys first five albums should be enough to seal their induction, but alas, hard rock bands get snubbed.
  13. Harry Nilsson – Sure he avoided fame – for his commercial breakthrough he chose a grainy picture of himself in a bathrobe… not exactly making an effort? The voice is one that should be enshrined.
  14. No Doubt – I don’t like anything Gwen Stefani has done solo, but oh when she was young could she rock!
  15. Ozzy – Yes, he’s in with Sabbath, but he should be recognized for his incredible solo career.
  16. Robert Plant – The same as Ozzy. Great solo career that should be recognized in it’s own right.
  17. Iggy Pop – It seems I have a string of these artists who are inducted with their original bands, here its the Stooges, but not their great body of solo work.
  18. Rage Against the Machine – They do belong and I didn’t want Morello to get mad at me too.
  19. Scorpions – Germany’s greatest band.
  20. Smashing Pumpkins – Billy Corgan is a genius. This band was enormous. And they’ve been putting out some great stuff over the last few years.
  21. Social Distortion – One of the inventors of CowPunk. This band has always been under appreciated.
  22. Soundgarden – Tragic that they weren’t inducted before Chris Cornell ended his life.
  23. Thin Lizzy – Also on this year’s ballot but snubbed in the end. It’s a mystery why these guys aren’t in yet.
  24. Joe Walsh – Already in as an Eagle, the man behind the James Gang and countless spectacular solo albums deserves to get in on his own. The riff on “Turn To Stone” should be enough for his application.
  25. Lucinda Williams – Rootsy and bluesy, I love her. Car Wheels On A Gravel Road alone should get her into the Rock Hall.
  26. Steve Winwood – Again, in with Traffic, needs to be in as a solo artist. If they’re going to induct every single Beatle, then some of these other great artists deserve to be in.
  27. Warren Zevon – I agree with what Letterman said, “It’s about time you invite me back here to induct my friend Warren Zevon, it’s overdue.” It’s long overdue. He was a great, great songwriter and absolutely should be in. He’s never even been on the ballot.

That’s my list folks. Heavy on solo careers of currently inducted guys, but they all still deserve to be in. I’m sure I’ve missed some favorites of yours. If so, please list them in the comments section.

Cheers!

 

 

Stevie Nicks: The New Rock Hall of Fame Inductee’s Essential Albums

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I can’t believe I’ve been so bone-crushingly busy lately that I haven’t had a chance to do what I love…sit back, crank tunes and then think entirely too much about what I’ve just heard. And then, of course, share it with you. The end of the year was crazy. The Rock Chick and I are in the midst of moving to new quarters. Every time I’d drop the needle on an album, she’d appear with boxes for me to carry, “tote that barge, lift that bail,” indeed. I can barely stand upright… thank heaven for bourbon to ease my back pain.

If you’re like me, you couldn’t turn the page on the calendar from 2018 to 2019 fast enough. Jesus, what a shitty year. Too many crazies out there, too much bad news. However, I did see one bit of good news. Stevie Nicks, of Fleetwood Mac fame, is going to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame this year as a solo artist. She’s in somewhat rare company there – Clapton is in solo and with Cream, each Beatle (save for Ringo) are in the hall as solo artists and with the Beatles, and I’m sure there are a few others – so good for her. I have to admit, I’ve always been a fan of her spacey, rootsy rock and roll. We often tend to focus on the harder rock end of the spectrum here and I don’t think we give the women rockers their due at B&V.

Ah, Stevie. I used to describe her as the “Mistress of Her Generation.” I didn’t say that because she’d burned through half of Fleetwood Mac (Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood), the better part of the Eagles (Don Henley, Joe Walsh) and producer Jimmy Iovine… I called her that because we all loved Stevie Nicks. Every man of a certain age will get a peculiar, glazed look in his eyes when he hears Stevie Nicks sing. She was the cool, stoner chick that we all aspired to go out with in high school. Beautiful, mysterious, and wildly talented, she had it all. And likely she was carrying…

When I first got into music, I was way behind my brother. He had twice the number of albums that I did. Oddly, he traded me Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours for Supertramp’s Breakfast In America, which was a great album, but it was no Rumours. I listened to that album endlessly. Almost every song was played on the radio. “Dreams” was a song I’d been aware of even before I knew who it was or even liked music. It always seemed to be on the radio. I can close my eyes and I’m back at the neighborhood, public pool and there’s Stevie singing, “Do you have any dreams you’d like to sell?” I can think of a few… I would stare at this little pixie of a woman on the front and back cover… who was this “Gold Dust Woman”? Even my college roommate whose record collection was almost exclusively heavy metal (Van Halen, Sabbath, Zeppelin) had a few Fleetwood Mac albums…

While I loved Fleetwood Mac’s follow up album, Tusk, I may be in the minority there. I have to admit when I first heard it, the only songs I really, truly loved, other than the bizarre title track, were Stevie’s songs. “Sisters of the Moon,” “Sara,” “Storms” were all great tunes. Show me a man who says he didn’t mist up a little the first time he heard “Beautiful Child” after a break up and I’ll show you a liar. “Angel” was a great rock song that only Stevie could write and sing and only Lindsey could play guitar on… It is one of the quintessential Mac tunes for me. I guess the record company guys realized that Stevie’s songs were the best ones on the album and so Tusk did what all the romantic breakups in the band couldn’t do – it pushed the members to do solo stuff. It almost broke them up.

Stevie’s first two albums are just incredible. I can remember driving up and down the main drag where I grew up with the windows down and blasting “Edge of Seventeen” or her duet with Petty, “Stop Dragging My Heart Around.” Her backing band on those first two albums was sublimely talented. Waddy Watchel on guitar, members of both the Heartbreakers and the E Street Band (Roy Bittan, piano) backed Stevie on those first couple records. Jimmy Iovine produced them both and they were smash hits.

I saw Stevie on the 1983 tour in support of The Wild Heart. Joe Walsh opened. It was amazing. We had nose bleed seats and crashed down to the stage. Stevie sang “Beauty and the Beast,” and I swear she was looking at me and my friend next to me. We certainly qualified as “the Beast” in question. Her band that night included Watchel (guitar), Bittan (piano), Benmont Tench (keyboards), and Liberty Devito from Billy Joel’s band on drums. Instead of concert T’s we all bought the same photograph of Stevie and taped them to our walls. Jeez, what fan boys we were!

After doing the best tracks on Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage album, Stevie’s hot streak started to falter. It’s the classic Hollywood rise, fall, rise storyline. I remember my college girlfriend bringing me the aptly titled album Rock A Little. She knew I dug Stevie and she liked the song “Talk to Me” which looking back, may have been her attempt to send me a message… I wasn’t the most communicative of boyfriends. That album was a surprise for me. Stevie went heavy into the drum machine/synth sound of the 80s. The magic seemed to be fading. Stevie had cowrote most of the tracks on that album and her stuff was always better when she alone wrote it…

What we didn’t know was she was burning out from too much cocaine. Drugs always creep up on these guys. She finally got over that only to succumb to an addiction to Klonopin which led to excessive weight gain and a whole host of other problems. I think most people lost track of Stevie after that. But she emerged from all of that and started releasing a series of late period albums that are the kind of records B&V was born to write about. Here are the B&V Essential Stevie Nicks LPs:

  1. Bella Donna, 1981 – We all already loved Stevie from Fleetwood Mac and this album solidified her as a solo force to be reckoned with. From the hits “Stop Dragging My Heart” around and “Edge of Seventeen” to some of the deeper tracks, this is a great album. “After the Glitter Fades” and “Think About It” are two of my favorite deep cuts. The music is all real instruments – guitar, acoustic guitar and piano – coupled with Stevie’s nasally, throaty vocals. This album is almost perfect.
  2. The Wild Heart, 1983 – This was almost a sequel to Bella Donna. Iovine is back in the producers chair and most of the same musicians are assembled. A taste of the 80s synth sound is here in the first hit, “Stand Back” where Prince plays an uncredited synth riff. I heard Stevie say, “Prince just showed up and did this amazing thing on keyboards with just two fingers.” One can only wonder why Prince was hanging around… naughty, naughty man. “If Anyone Falls” was also synth heavy but still a great tune. “Enchanted” rocked and “Beauty And The Beast” features strings. Stevie was on fire.
  3. Trouble In Shangri-La, 2001 – An album, I must admit the rock chick turned me onto. After a number of misfires through the end of the 80s and 90s, I’d all but forgotten about Stevie. She’d actually asked old friend Tom Petty to write songs for her and he gave her a stern talking to about being confident and writing her own songs which resulted in “That Made Me Stronger.” My favorite track was an older Fleetwood Mac outtake, “Planets of the Universe.” I heard that song and knew Stevie was back. Sheryl Crow helped out on a couple of tracks on this record as well. This was a miraculous comeback album.
  4. In Your Dreams, 2011 – It had been a decade since her last album and I was thinking maybe she was done when this great record came out. Produced by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics’ fame, this record jumped out at me. “Secret Love” was a great opening track. “For What It’s Worth” is a beautiful acoustic track. Stewart seems to capture all the elements of Stevie’s early work, without being nostalgic. He even gets Stevie rocking on the harder edged “Ghosts Are Gone.” Check out the title track as well.
  5. 24 Karat Gold – Songs From the Vault, 2014 – I admire the truth in advertising in the title – these are all old tracks Stevie wrote back in the 70s and 80s, but I fear the title put people off. Once again we have Dave Stewart at the producers helm with none other than Nicks’ old pal Waddy Watchel helping. Stevie wrote so much great music for Fleetwood Mac, but with three writers she couldn’t get all her stuff on the records, so she had plenty of leftovers. Hell, “Silver Springs,” one of her greatest songs was a b-side. “Starshine” is a nice, tight little rocker that opens the proceedings. “Carousel” and “The Dealer” are two of my favorite Stevie songs. It was a brilliant idea for her to revisit these tracks she’d only demo’d before.

Congratulations Stevie on your induction to the Rock Hall! Folks, enjoy spelunking through this woman’s catalog. Her music and wonderful melodies will stick with you.

Cheers!

Artist Lookback: Warren Zevon, His Essential Albums

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“I want live alone in the desert, I want to be like Georgia O’Keefe, I want to live on the Upper East Side and never go down in the street…” – “Splendid Isolation,” Warren Zevon

I find myself thinking a lot about Warren Zevon these days. I know most people only know him from his “novelty” single, “Werewolves of London,” which is a shame, because he put out so many more great songs. It’s like only knowing Randy Newman from “Short People.” There’s so much more if you just investigate… Zevon was simply one of the greatest lyricists and songwriters who ever lived.

Part of my problem these days, is that I hate winter, “always cold, no sunshine.” I’m sure that if I lived in some majestically beautiful Scandinavian country, like Sweden or Norway, I’d love winter. Beautiful blonde people, likely skiing to work and sharing rich chocolates with coffee, synchronized precision timepieces, everyone dressed in colorful snow gear, with complete healthcare coverage. That would be ok. But I live in America’s heartland, where it’s just gray and cold. I find myself thinking about Warren’s brilliantly overlooked song, “Splendid Isolation,” a paean to being alone. That’s how I feel in the winter. No good new music. Football is basically over since my Chiefs lost in the playoffs. Even the Rock Chick is mired in her annual, ritualized winter “funk.” I tip toe around this place. “I’m putting tinfoil on the windows, I’m lying down in the dark to dream.” Oh, Warren we need you.

As I posted last month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced their annual inductees list (The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Inductees: Getting It Wrong, Again). As usual the list is a combination of the deserving (Nina Simone, The Cars) and the confusingly undeserving (Moody Blues, Bon Jovi). The omissions are more glaring each year. I scan the list, the same way I scanned the ballot this year, because hey, voting is a right people, exercise it… and as usual Warren Zevon’s name was conspicuously absent. Even on the ballot. It’s baffling. While inducting Pearl Jam last year, as a stand-in for Neil Young, David Letterman mentioned he looks forward to coming back to the Hall and inducting his friend Warren Zevon. I look forward to the Hall committee gaining some sanity and having Letterman back to do just that, induct Warren Zevon. Please, induct Warren Zevon… So naturally, since last month, my thoughts occasionally drift back to Warren because of the mess the Hall has made of it.

We live in terribly troubling times. And while Zevon is known for his sense of humor, his biting satire ranks up there with Randy Newman’s, he also had a keen mind for expressing political ideas in his songs. “The Envoy,” “Veracruz,” and the brilliant “Disorder In the House” are great examples. I could use some of that political satire right now. I think we all could. I do often wonder what Zevon would make of the current political situation we find ourselves in.

While I enjoy Zevon’s funnier moments and his political moments, I am still awe of the way he was so open about his struggles with alcohol and substance abuse. Zevon struggled early in his career, but was championed by his friend Jackson Browne who produced his commercial breakthrough, Excitable BoyLinda Rondstadt was also a big, early fan and she covered a number of Warren’s tunes, from the big hit “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me,” (a song Zevon jokingly wrote about Jackson Browne, who bemoaned that all the girls loved him…) to her soulful cover of “Mohammed’s Radio.” After his first two albums, when the acclaim and success finally came, Warren fell into a bad cycle of alcoholism and substance abuse. After Excitable Boy in 1978 it took him 2 years, a lifetime back then, to come back with Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School, which was an unflinching look at his addictions. Unfortunately, it would be a recurring cycle for Warren. Every bit of success was followed by a lapse. But unfailingly, through out the rest of his career he sang about his addictions. Considering the tragic deaths of Tom Petty (newly revealed to be an overdose) and Prince, perhaps we should have all been listening to Zevon’s warnings more closely. Zevon also wrote some of the most beautiful love songs I’ve ever heard. If “Keep Me In Your Heart For a While” doesn’t break your heart… you don’t have one. His ability to express vulnerability is unsurpassed.

There are certain albums from the Zevon canon that I feel are essential. If you’re not a completist, like I am (I admit it, I have a problem), Zevon has a couple of superb “greatest hits” packages that give you a good feel for his catalog: Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon or I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead are excellent starting places for Zevon’s music. But if you’re like me and you want to delve deeper into what we at B&V feel are his “essential” albums, here is our list. I envy those of you who are uninitiated in the catalog of Warren Zevon… this will be an enjoyable process.

  1. Warren Zevon, 1976. Thought of as his first album, it’s actually his second. This album is Zevon’s masterpiece. The tunes Ronstadt covered are here, “Mohammed’s Radio,” and “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.” One of my all time favorites, a song about heroin addiction, “Carmelita” is also on this record. A tune Zevon wrote for the Everly Brothers (he was in their back up band) opens the album, and it’s brilliant, “Frank And Jesse James.” Two of his best, heartbreaking ballads are here to, “Desperados Under the Eaves,” and “Hasten Down the Wind.” Conversely, I’ve never heard anyone slam an ex like he does on “The French Inhaler,” (“she called me Norman…” I may have dated the same woman). This album ranks up there with anything else coming out of L.A at the time, be it from Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac or The Eagles.
  2. Excitable Boy, 1978. Critics ding this album because it’s a little more lightweight than his “debut.” Jackson Browne was at the helm on this record, and I suspect he steered Warren to a more commercial sound. “Werewolves of London” is here. I always liked the title track, about a deranged serial killer, and “Tenderness On the Block.” The real stand out track is a song I always play when I’m in trouble, “Lawyers, Guns and Money.” I love the line, “Now I’m hiding in Honduras, I’m a desperate man, send lawyers, guns and money, the shit has hit the fan.” It’s a bit slighter than Warren Zevon but this is still a great listen.
  3. Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School, 1980. After a bad bout of alcoholism, Zevon finally got sober and released this album which was seen as a come back. The title track is, as mentioned, an unflinching look at his problems. “Bad luck streak in dancing school, on my knees again.” Another friend and supporter, Bruce Springsteen co-wrote the great “Jeannie Needs a Shooter.” I love Warren’s cover of “A Certain Girl.” Even I’ll admit “Gorilla, You’re a Desperado” is a throwaway, but the snippets of Zevon’s classical composing are intriguing. This is a strong, if slightly flawed album.
  4. Sentimental Hygiene, 1987. This album could have been called, “The Rehab Album.” The 80’s had been mostly cruel to Zevon and he’d fallen off the wagon. He addressed the issues honestly with his sense of humor in tact on tunes like “Detox Mansion,” “Trouble Waiting to Happen,” and “Bad Karma.” The title track, “Sentimental Hygiene” is one his greatest tunes and boasts a guitar solo from Neil Young (you’ll recognize his sound immediately… he supposedly did the solo in 1 or 2 takes, turning to the booth and smiling, “did you get what you need?” I love Neil). Elsewhere Bob Dylan shows up to provide a harmonica solo… not bad company. His backing band here were none other than R.E.M. (sans Michael Stipe). I’ve always loved the song about boxing, “Boom Boom Mancini.” He even has time for a dig at the music industry with “Even A Dog Can Shake Hands.” Like his 1976 eponymous album, there’s not a bad song on this record.
  5. Transverse City, 1989. OK, I know how the words “concept album” sound. And yes, the concept is a tad lost on me. I’ve always felt the concept album format should be left to Roger Waters and Pete Townshend, and maybe, just maybe Billie Joe Armstrong. This is a bit of a dark, glossy, synth-washed affair as well, but it captured the zeitgeist of its time. Put that aside and you’ll find some of Zevon’s finest songs and finest lyrics. “Run Straight Down” and “The Long Arm of the Law” are both sensational tunes. “Splendid Isolation” is a masterpiece and you’ll find it here too.
  6. Life’ll Kill You, 2000. Critics were so-so on this album, but I love it. Rock and roll is typically about girls, sex, cars and more girls. This is an wide-eyed look at mortality. Songs like the title track and “Don’t Let Us Get Sick” hit the issue straight on. Zevon also addresses his mistakes, “My Shit’s Fucked Up,” “I Was In the House When the House Burned Down” and “For My Next Trick I’ll Need A Volunteer” which are all funny takes on his reputation. His version of Steve Winwood’s “Back In The Highlife” may just be definitive. He even points back to what may be the first victim of opioid abuse, Elvis Presley, on “Porcelain Monkey.” Another great, overlooked album.
  7. The Wind, 2003. For his ultimate trick, after writing an album about illness and mortality, Zevon ends up with a terminal illness, a rare form of lung cancer. Instead of heading straight into treatment, he gathers all of his friends – Jackson Browne, Springsteen, several Eagles, Jim Keltner, Billy Bob Thornton – and records not only an album, but a final statement. This is the blueprint for similar albums like Bowie’s Blackstar or Gregg Allman’s Southern Blood. It’s a spectacular send off. Never maudlin, always honest, it’s truly great. “Disorder In the House,” Zevon’s last “state of the union” address, features scorching guitar and vocals from Bruce Springsteen. “Rub You Raw” is a great blues tune with amazing guitar work from Joe Walsh. Don’t let all the guests fool you, Zevon is at the heart of this record. I wish I could write a song as beautiful as “She’s Too Good For Me” or the elegy, “Keep Me In Your Heart For A While.” I just wish Warren could have been miraculously cured…  

These are the records every Zevon fan should own. I think if you take the time and delve in here, you will be rewarded. Wit, wisdom and beautiful melodies… what else do you need…who but Warren could have written, “Michael Jackson in Disneyland, don’t have to share it with nobody else, Lock the gates, Goofy, take my hand and lead me through the World of Self.”

“‘So long, Norman,” She said, “So long Norman'”

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.