Cry baby cry, make your mother sigh, we’re old enough to know better than the likes of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Induction committee, so cry baby cry… for the likes of the best rock and rollers and musical maestros who have not yet been welcomed in to the pyramid-shaped temple commemorating their grand contributions to the culture of the greatest music genre. I speak of course of the many bands and artists who are not yet inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, quite a few of whom were listed on Jeff Ament’s shirt when he and the rest of Pearl Jam were received in this year’s Induction Ceremony, and today I am continuing to take a closer look at the likes of the next quarter of the men and women Ament and others believe are worthy of making it in with them. If you so desire, you can reread the first and second six-line sections before continuing on here.
Hipgnosis – This is an interesting mention on Ament’s shirt in that it is not a musical artist, but an artist artist. Hipgnosis is an art design company that has created numerous album covers for many musical artists over the years, and let me tell you, their handiwork will not make you sleepy. They have helped form the face of some of the most iconic album covers from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, including most of Pink Floyd’s, each of Led Zeppelin’s from Houses of the Holy until their final Coda (with the notable exception of Physical Graffiti), a collection of Bad Company, Genesis, Styx, ELO, Peter Gabriel, The Police, and even post-Beatles Paul McCartney albums. Their name is a juxtaposition of “hip” and “gnosis”, the former being cool and current, and the latter being the Greek word for knowledge and a hearkening back to older exploration into the Divine as with Gnosticism. You are undoubtedly familiar with some of their stuff:
Thin Lizzy – Believe it or not, there are other Irish rock bands besides U2. Furthermore, Thin Lizzy is one of them, a fact that is a bit more surprising. No matter where they hail from, it’s a safe bet we know they are going to be hanging out on the shores of Lake Erie someday, especially with songs like “Jailbreak”, “Cowboy Song”, “Whiskey in the Jar”, and of course “The Boys Are Back In Town”.
The Waterboys – This Scottish folk/rock group was founded by Michael Scott! Okay, he goes by Mike, and no, he doesn’t run a paper distribution office in Scranton, Pennsylvania. What he does do is play some of that Celtic influenced folksy rock and some that might be considered prog rock. Take a look at “The Whole of the Moon”.
Bad Brains – Talk about embracing a change in style, these guys have shifted their tonal focus in music and lyrics over the years, and have even changed their name from Mind Power after hearing The Ramones song “Bad Brain”. Punk became their jam until hearing Bob Marley jam led them to infuse it with reggae and go Rastafarian. They are truly eclectic, not just in complete discography, but within the length of one song! Listen to “I Against I” and enjoy the ride.
Dead Kennedys – Most notable punk rock bands in the early days of the punk movement came to United States from the United Kingdom, but these boys are American born and bred and made quite a splash when they hopped across the pond. It’s not hard to hear why when you listen to the likes of “Kill the Poor”, “California Uber Allies”, their twist on “I Fought the Law”, and most of all “Holiday in Cambodia”.
Bauhaus – Named after the German art school, these guys were part of the back end of the British punk roll where things dialed back a bit and got more modern. They churned out some signature songs including “Dark Entries”, “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything”, “She’s In Parties”, and a pretty great cover of “Ziggy Stardust”, but their best known is “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”.
The Replacements – Punk/alternative from the far northern reaches of Minnesota, The Replacements were not necessarily replacing anyone, but rather taking what they loved of their favorite bands and turning out their own influential style in songs like “Waitress in the Sky”.
The Pixies – This is one of my favorite bands not yet in the Rock Hall, and probably one that does not need that distinction for my favoritism, and definitely does not need to be distinguished as not being in the Rock Hall any longer. Put ’em in the next class, Rock Hall! How can you not with hits like “Here Comes Your Man”, “Hey”, “Debaser” “Monkey Gone to Heaven” (man, Doolittle is enough to qualify them for inclusion in just one album!), and “Gigantic”? If their discography is not enough already, look at the likes of Nirvana, Weezer, Radiohead, and many more alt-rock bands to follow them that have been trying to master their mojo with The Pixies as their guide. Hell, Kurt Cobain said on more than one occasion that he was trying to “rip off” The Pixies, which is a major reason I first looked into their stuff. Another is bassist/backup vocalist Kim Deal whose other projects like The Breeders had previously piqued my interest.
My personal favorite from The Pixies is “Here Comes Your Man”, but I’m guessing most people are fans of their excellent song that ends that movie no one’s allowed to talk about:
The Black Crowes – One of the first bands I thought to list on my own “who’s who of who’s not in” post when I first talked about the Rock Hall a few years ago, these guys are also one of the more recent staples of classic rock stations, meaning that they have received near constant radio playtime since they started, so it’s not a stretch to suggest they also are bound for the Rock Hall. Hear it for yourself with the likes of “Remedy”, “Twice As Hard” “She Talks to Angels”, and “Jealous Again”. However, my favorite is their hard rockin’ cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle”.
Black Flag – Don’t Panic in the presence of this punk band from southern California because you might have a “Nervous Breakdown” the likes of their song, but perhaps some “Black Coffee” would bring you back up to speed. If not, a “Six Pack” or “TV Party” might be more what you’re looking for. Okay, enough punk puns, just take a look and listen to the moshy majesty of “Rise Against”.
Big Star – Another someday soon addition thanks to the lasting influence and a song on the Rock Hall’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. Check out any of Big Star’s stuff, from “Thirteen”, “Ballad of El Goodo”, “I’m In Love With a Girl”, “When My Baby’s Beside Me”, “Nighttime”, “Lady Sweet”, and especially that aforementioned featured song, “September Gurls”.
Billy Idol – See, Billy Idol gets it, I don’t know why she doesn’t get it! My introduction to this bad boy of the ’80s was in his cameo in The Wedding Singer, still one of the best of Adam Sandler’s movies. Outside of Happy Glimore and Billy Madison that’s not a tremendously high mark, but they’re still worth a watch, and Billy Idol’s songs are definitely worth a listen. “Rebel Yell”, “White Wedding”, “Eyes Without a Face”, “Rock The Cradle”, “Flesh For Fantasy”, and his cover of “Mony Mony” are all great, but my favorite is “Dancing With Myself”. Don’t worry, Billy, I’ll dance with you.
Bjork – I love Bjork and I love Jeff Ament for rightfully including her in this discussion. In between Madonna and Lady Gaga we tend to overlook the gorgeous vocals belted out and wild outfits belted up on Iceland’s wonder. Remember that swan dress at the Oscars? It doesn’t matter if you do or not, because what you should remember is her incredible music, a unique blend of styles that highlights her unbelievable singing range and helped move forward rock and rolls many subgenres. Starting with The Sugarcubes in the late ’80s, Bjork went solo in 1993 and became Iceland’s best selling musician ever. I’ll go so far as to say she is not just the best selling but the best from there altogether. Her voice is filled with power and passion, her music videos are fucking balls to the walls bonkers, and I love every second of both. Check out her album Post; you will not be disappointed. Give a listen to “Army of Me”, “Hyperballad”, her cover of “It’s Oh So Quiet” (the best version of that song), “Possibly Maybe”, and “I Miss You” (all off Post), as well as “Human Behaviour”, “Venus as a Boy”, “Violently Happy”, and my favorite, the Fluke Mix version of “Big Time Sensuality”.
Bon Jovi – One of the biggest eyebrow raisers of “really, these guys aren’t in the Rock Hall?” They will be, if for no other reason than “Livin’ on a Prayer”. Just don’t forget “Runaway”, “You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Bad Medicine”, “It’s My Life” and my fave “Wanted Dead or Alive”.
Smashing Pumpkins – I’ve never been the biggest fan of these guys, but I cannot deny their influence and popularity over the years. The one I do like is probably their most popular, “1979”.
Blue Oyster Cult – I got a fever! And the only prescription is… inclusion into the Rock Hall for a band that truly deserves it. Hear for yourself with the song in that famous SNL skit, “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, or any of their other hits like “Burnin’ For You”, “Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll”, “Fire of Unknown Origin”, or my absolute favorite:
Public Image Limited (PiL) – After The Sex Pistols broke up, Johnny Rotten formed this band and is still making music with it, although he has been the only steady member over its existence. Listen to “Public Image” a song he wrote when he was still with The Sex Pistols.
The Melvins – This Washington (state) based band was a precursor to grunge and undoubtedly helped create the Seattle Sound of the late ’80s and ’90s. No wonder Jeff Ament and Pearl jam thought of them. Listen to “Lizzy” for a sample of their stuff that blends soft and hard rock elements.
Fugazi – Like Minutemen, Fugazi makes a lot with not a lot, playing punk rock on the cheap in a do it yourself kind of way, that helps reflect their disgust with the corporate side of music management. My favorite from them is “I’m So Tired”.
Dio – Ronnie James Dio belongs in the Rock Hall for one simple reason. Sure, he performed as the lead singer of many metal bands like Rainbow, Black Sabbath after Ozzy Osbourne left and its reworking into Heaven and Hell, and the eponymous Dio. Yeah, he was the guy who rocked that dance at South Park Elementary and sent Jack Black’s Jables on his quest to form the greatest rock band of all time. You bet he was the man who sent spines down Ritchie “Smoke on the Water” Blackmore when he sang with their band Rainbow. Yet most importantly of all, Dio was the man who made the metal horns gesture that resonates around the world at every rock show now and forever. His best known songs are “Rainbow in the Dark” and my fave “Holy Diver”.
Elliott Smith – Smith fits within the least desirable yet not uncommon category of blossoming musician who died too young. He was only 34 when he died probably at his own hand. In his brief career, he channeled his pain and depression into his music including in “Miss Misery”, a song that was nominated for an Oscar for its inclusion in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting. Yet I prefer “Between the Bars”, the sad song of perspective that reawakens Old Rick from Tiny Rick in season 2 of Rick and Morty.
Psychedelic Furs – This British band scored some notice with songs like “Dumb Waiters”, “Love My Way”, and “The Ghost in You”, but I personally like the song “Pretty in Pink”, which John Hughes evidently liked too as he named his movie after it and featured the song in it!
X – There were actually two punk rock bands named X that formed in 1977, one in America and one in Australia. I feel safe in assuming the one referred to on Ament’s shirt is the American band from Los Angeles considering they have a couple of albums on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, including Los Angeles which features the song “Los Angeles” that is also on the Rock Hall’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list that I keep bringing up. It just so happens that this is also my favorite song from them:
Free – Before he was in Bad Company (stay tuned for the final band in this series’ final post), lead singer Paul Rodgers was the frontman for Free. Free did not play together for many years, with Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke leaving to form Bad Company, and guitarist Paul Kossoff and Andy Fraser also going off to form their own bands. While they were together though, Free cut one megahit that still receives a ton of radio playtime on classic rock and some oldies stations alike in “All Right Now”, which, yes, is on the 500 Songs list.
New Order – Formed out of the ashes of Joy Division after Ian Curtis’ suicide, New Order carried on the electronic infused rock scene Joy Division had been such an integral player in. The song “Blue Monday” encapsulates their essence, and is also the best selling single ever put on a 12-inch record.
As I stated before with my annual Rock Hall Induction post, Ament’s shirt had one name that is already written on the spiraling hallway in that funky structure on the shore of downtown Cleveland. Tom Waits was inducted in 2011’s class, but he is certainly worth a special mention, so I’ll invite you to take a taste of “Chocolate Jesus”:
Truly a poet of inventive means and music, who has also composed and acted, Waits has reported on the world in a creative and carnivalesque manner that never fails to entertain. Watch this interesting entry in PBS’ “Blank on Blank” series that brings to life one of Waits’ interviews that in turn brings to life his humor:
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer – Let’s end this segment with some prog rock and one of the most important bands of the genre. Keith Emerson and Greg Lake each had their own bands in 1969 (Lake’s was King Crimson, one of the earlier discussed bands on Ament’s shirt). They left their respective acts and joined together with the likes of drummer Carl Palmer and embarked on a journey of electric fantasy that helped rock and roll evolve and inspired many artists to follow. Only Palmer is alive today, as both Emerson and Lake died last year a few months apart, but their legacy lives on in their music, especially in songs like “Lucky Man”, “Still…You Turn Me On”, “The Gambler”, their inventive cover of “Peter Gunn”, “Tiger in a Spotlight”, and everybody’s favorite overly titled track “Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Pt. 2:
I was contemplating saving that last one as the beginning of the next and final post in this series so that I could open with “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends!” Oh well, we’ll still have some fun with the last leg of rock and rollers on Ament’s shirt, and I will end on one of my favorites, and every great story needs to have a great ending, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. It’ll also be nice if you stop on back here next week to see the end of this rockin’ show. In the meantime, send any questions, comments, or requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading and listening!