Wednesday, October 15, 2014

For Those About to Rock: Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of the 3-part series For Those About to Rock where I break down each nominee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and predict who makes it in this year and who is left waiting.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently released their list of 15 artists nominated for the 2015 Induction class and, just like every year, I’ve obsessed over the list, trying to predict who will make it in.  Some people feel Hall of Fames are pointless and are a waste of time, but whatever man, its fun and always leads to a great discussion.   This year, its a list of strong contenders.  Let’s see what we have to argue about...

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - I have a soft spot for these guys since they (actually, only three of them) were the backing band to Dylan when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.  They combined rock n roll with the Chicago blues and their music had a sharp attitude to it.  Their Hall of Fame bio says, “The Butterfield Band converted the country-blues purists and turned on the Fillmore generation to the pleasures of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon and Elmore James.” Mike Bloomfield hardly gets mentioned in discussions regarding great rock guitarists which is a crime considering how explosive he was as a performer and even in the studio.  Paul Butterfield did make inroads regarding white blues performers and also is one of the greatest blues harmonica players.  Their debut album is a notable one but not much different than what had already been done at the time.  As much as I love them, its hard to see them getting into the Hall of Fame this year.

Chic - I will do my best to be unbiased here since I’m not the biggest disco fan around.  Chic influenced a lot of other dance groups and their influence in the oncoming hip hop genre is pretty hard to overlook.  “Le Freak” and “Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah! Yowsah! Yowsah!)” are staples of any disco soundtrack outside of Saturday Night Fever.  They had their hits and their vocal talent is hard to deny, plus they were one of very few disco “bands” out there.  With disco artists The Bee Gees, Donna Summer, and the bane of my existence, ABBA, its difficult to make the case for any other artists of the genre to make it in.  Let’s face it, disco artists had their hits but didn’t have any defining albums aside from the previously mentioned Saturday Night Fever.  ABBA benefited from having a fucking musical (the soundtrack to my nightmares) based on their music to help spread their popularity to the United States.  However, artists like Chic only have their shortlist of hits to help make a case for their induction, and for me, unfortunately, it is not enough.

Green Day - Not a lot of people like Green Day, much to my surprise.  However, they will need to get used to this fact: Green Day will get in, it might not be this year though.  The issue here is whether they’re first ballot or not?  Green Day helped break and revitalize punk music into the mainstream music scene and caused millions of teenagers to wear pink, green, blue or any other color of hair in the mid-90s.  They sang for the disillusioned youth with Dookie and with the concept album American Idiot, got political and described to the “T” an American society post-9/11. They had their hits and their iconic songs “Longview”, “Basket Case” and “American Idiot”.  They can be credited to helping pop-punk bands like Blink-182, Sum 41 and Fall Out Boy have a place in the mainstream music scene, much to the chagrin of me and millions of other punk fans.  They’re a lock for the hall, but are they first ballot?  Are they on the same level as Nirvana, The Beatles, The Stones and Buddy Holly?  I don’t think so.  Next year is looking more like their year, so better to prepare yourselves now.

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - The Hall of Fame has a sordid history when it comes to recognizing female artists.  There were gimmies like Aretha, Madonna, Janis Joplin and The Supremes, but when it comes to artists like Linda Ronstadt, who waited 19 years (!!!!!!!) to get inducted, Heart who waited 11 years, not to mention those that have yet to be nominated like The Runaways (really?  first female punk band and they don’t even get nominated?), Pat Benatar (fucking crime), it doesn’t look good, AT ALL.  After Linda Ronstadt FINALLY got in last year, Joan Jett moved to the top of my list.  Here was a woman who, after breaking from The Runaways, formed her own independent record label in 1980 because her first album was rejected by 23 labels because she didn’t look the part of the sexy female rocker.  Instead, she had spiked hair, spike bracelets and wore all black leather and wrote songs of someone who was pissed off and loved rock music.  As an independent artist, she broke through the mainstream and had a successful career with The Blackhearts with songs like “I Love Rock n Roll”, “Do You Wanna Touch Me”, “I Hate Myself For Loving You” and “Bad Reputation”.  If you liked her, she invited you to come along on the ride.  If you didn't, well, she just didn’t care. She is known as the Queen of Rock n Roll and helped blaze the path for future female musicians and became an iconic figure in the 90s when the feminist punk movement Riot Grrrl was in its infancy.  This is turning into a rant AS IT SHOULD!  She belongs in the hall of fame.  She was passed over last year and she needs to get in this year.  Cut the shit Hall of Fame!

Kraftwerk - Kraftwerk has been eligible for nearly twenty years, and how they have not gotten in yet is beyond a mindfuck to me.  Surely, the weak class of 2008 could’ve used their help.  I can think of some artists that shouldn’t even be in there (Donovan in 2012.  Really?  Fucking Donovan?) that Kraftwerk could’ve taken the place of.  Formed in 1970, this band set the stage for the industrial, electronic music that is prevalent in the current music industry.  There are multiple sources out there that make the general statement that Kraftwerk and The Beatles are the two most influential bands in the history of pop music.  That might debateable but you cannot overstate their contribution to rock n roll or pop culture.  Kraftwerk can be credited for their influence in EDM, techno, hip hop, art punk a la Devo, Depeche Mode, Daft Punk and Prodigy.They were passed over three times before.  I think they get in this year.  To hold this group from induction any longer would be a sin.

Up next in Part 2: The Marvelettes, N.W.A., The Smiths, Nine Inch Nails and Lou Reed

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