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!