We've only got 4 to go in this unwieldy list of nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, class of 2014. And a couple of them cause me a problem. So off we go into the wild blue yonder.
The Replacements cause me a BIG problem. I don't know much about them, and it's Wenatchee's fault. Well, maybe not Wenatchee, but Wenatchee radio, a weak kneed programming nightmare that (with limited exception) has never taken a chance in it's life. And there's the problem. By 1979 I'm firmly intrenched here, in a town with a single Top 40 station, and a single Power Pop FMer playing the predictable pablum that marks 25 years later, The Quake. Oh how we've progressed.
So I didn't hear much of The Replacements in their prime. No exposure to what is generally accepted as the precurser of the Alt Rock movement. And in reviewing their work, I can see very easily why they got that reputation. Take "Alex Chilton", for example......
......offers up The Knack with depth, containing a total sound package that would make Dave Edmunds proud. But like I've said a couple times before, I know them only by reputation, so I'm going to take a pass.
As I probably should do with The Meters but won't. The Art Neville (yea, as in Neville Brothers) led New Orleans based funkateers laid, along with Sly and his family, the true seeds of funk and eventually disco. I've been debating if I should use "Just Kissed My Baby"....
......or "Cissy Strut".......
....and finally concluded both Josie Records singles from '69 are worthy. Eventually, The Meters became producer Allen Toussaint's house band, while churning out a series of highly regarded but low selling LPs until their breakup in 1980, and eventual reunion in the early 90's. They still tour today.
Now here's where the Hall of Fame's wheels fall off. They've got no way of dealing with The Meters. I'll get into this later, but there is no way The Meters should not be inducted, but there's no way they will be.
As to Yes, I'm a little afraid that no matter what I say, my brother will jump up and down on me untill I look like a deflated air matress. I really like Yes, and I REALLY liked them back in the early 70's when dope was 10 bucks a lid. The classic lineup with Jon Anderson (vocal), founding member Chris Squire (bass), Steve Howe (guitar), Bill Bruford (drums), and keyboard wonder Rick Wakeman turned out a string of symphonic prog rock LPs that drove the genre to new heights. Think of them as a more accessable King Crimson. Songs you actually listened to. A modest example:
The band went through a number of changes after their "golden era", Wakeman leaving and returning a couple of times, before they called it quits '81, with Goeff Downes and Howe going off to form Asia. The band sort of reformed in '83, and released their comback LP 90125 later in the year. By then the group has become more "poppy" in their sound, still innovative, but softer, more accessable than their classic LPs. Based on their later catalogue, they wouldn't be worthy, but I'm gong to give them a Yes, Yes on the should they/will they scale based on the monster recordings of the late 60's and early 70's.
The Zombies on the other hand, are a questionmark to me. One of the most lyrical bands of their time, I'm wondering if they're included on this list because Jann Wenner suddenly realised that there wasn't a true 60's group on the list. They warrent consideration by the RaRHoF because they were so good, but because their output was so little, bascially 2 studio LPs and 3 hit singles between "She's Not There" in 1964 and "Time Of The Season" in 68. And their best LP, "Oddesy And Oricle" was released after the band broke up (1968) and became a BIG thing only after Al Kooper pushed Columbia Records into promoting it. I'll let them introduce themselves here.....
After the band broke up, Rod Argent formed the band Argent, with Chris White providing some of the songs. White went on to write for a number of acts, and did vocals on some of Allan Parsons projects. Bllunstone and Argent reunited in 2001, and have been touring off and on ever since, and released a new Zombies LP in 2011. It's amazing to me that they sound as good now......
But induction into the hall? I don't think so. Grundbreaking, yes. But they just don't have the body of work. So they're a No, No in my book.
Well, that does it for the hard part. The easy part is chewing on the tailbone of the hall, rock and roll in general, and its fans, including me.
The hall has problems, mostly in it's nominating procedure and structure. First off it need a Veterans Committee, like the baseball Hall Of Fame. We're getting too far away from the roots of rock and roll to remember (or for the younger artists, care) who did what to set the groundwork. An example would be the nomination of Link Wray, and not Dick Dale or Lonnie Mack. All 3 were VERY influential guitarists in the early stages of rock as we know it now, and to choose one over the other is a major oversight.
Secondly, the hall should be more transparent in it's nominating process. I have no idea who nominates, or who votes on the nominees for that matter. Music journalists? Artists? The music director of some one lung radio station in Escanaba, Michigan? No idea what so ever. Open it up so we have some idea what lunitics are making the choices.
Third, there has to be some way that the Hall can deal with acts like The Meters. It's doubtful that this group will ever make it in, but they deserve a place in the hall somewhere. Early Influence won;t work, they're too late, and besides, the hass has pretty much let catagories like "Sidemen" and "Early Influences" go the way of the joy buzzer and dribble glass. But there's got to be some way of honoring those groupes that don't have a snowball's chance of being voted in. There are just too many of them.
And fourth, the hall should realise it's not a Hall Of Fame in the traditional form. There are no statistics, we're dealing with an art form here. You can't say The Mothers Of Invention his more home runs than The Nazz, it's impossible to quantify a rock and roll band. They should realise that the Hall is a museum and nothing more. It is an honor to be inducted, but to say the individual artists are the pinnacle of their craft is a joke.
Anf to the rock and roll fans, get out of your box. Rock and roll is a big tent, large enough that N.W.A. AND Linda Rhonstadt should be considered. Before 1968, rock was pretty much all things to all people, at least until the first of the Progressive radio stations like WABX (Detroit), WNEW (New York), and KOL-FM (Seattle) hit the airways. I took a look at a list of rock and roll "formats" that had 28 different styles of radio programming from Adult Album Alternative to Urban Contemporary, all with an individual identifiable sound and format. And the listeners of one probably don't listen to any other. Ask yourself this, at least from an old guy perspective. Is The Greatful Dead rock and roll? If so, how about New Riders Of The Purple Sage? No? OK, so the Dead is in, but one of their side projects is out, right? Makes the Byrds both in and out at the same time, doesn't it. See what I mean Vern? I guess what I'm saying is when a jock at 102.1 The Quake took out after Donna Summer and Chic for not being "rock and roll", they had their head in a position that, if I remember my high school health class correctly, is anatomically impossible. Or, to distort the meaning of George Clinton's quote, "Free your mind and your ass will follow".