Tag Archives: Induction

State of the Season 12 – Rock and Roll, Reading, and Remembering

Hello and welcome to any and all who find themselves here! As is customary for my every 13th post I look back at the last 12 for a retrospective of the previous “season” of this blog. Let’s hop to it!

Back on May 8th, I tossed the second of my four-part inspection of the T-shirt worn by Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This was followed by the final two parts over the next couple of weeks. Ament’s shirt contained a list of names of bands and artists he and his bandmates feel deserve inclusion into the Rock Hall. Some I know and agree with, others I was less familiar with. In an effort to educate myself further on all these acts, I listened to a cut of each act’s discography and sought the best (or my favorite) of the bunch to feature.

“Waiting in the Wings of Rock and Roll – Vol. 2”

“Waiting in the Wings of Rock and Roll – On Being the Third Part of Jeff Ament’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Shirt”

“Waiting in the Wings of Rock and Roll – The Final Chapter”


“Never Forget Our Heroes” is my Memorial Day post that attempts not to remember fallen soldiers and service members, but those translators who have been forgotten by the US government in the mire of political bureaucracy. This came from a featured segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver that I include.


“With a Little Help from My Friends” – I was committed to sticking to my original plan to release a celebration of The Beatles for the anniversary of their most famous album. I did so even in the wake of Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement, and I am pleased that so many cities, businesses, and communities have all stated that they will continue to honor the international agreement on climate change mitigation. With a little help from my friends indeed.


“Da na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na That Man!” is a eulogy of actor Adam West. Fox Animation recently churned out a video compilation of his best moments as Mayor Adam West on Family Guy:

“Paul! That’s a person’s name!”


Indeed it is, Mayor West, and it is Sir Paul McCartney who is the focus of “Happy Birthday Walrus Man!” where I listed some of the best songs written and performed by McCartney over his career with The Beatles and Wings and on his own. He’s referred to as Walrus Man because he was the walrus! Don’t believe me? Well check, check it:


“Rowling Along the Reading Rainbow” is my thanks to J.K. Rowling for writing the book (series) that got me jazzed about reading. I’ll send another shout out to her for today right here and now: Happy Birthday to you and Harry!


“The Magical Mystery Tour is Waiting to Take You Away” – There’s that Walrus again. Expanding upon my fantasy book series fandom like a literary Bran the Builder, I next turned my attention to the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The featured picture is artwork of my favorite sequence from the books, the wildling attack on the Wall. Fantastic fantasy.


While the show, Game of Thrones, does not always nail some scenes like that battle, it has put together some excellent moments, including some that did not occur in the books. You may even call these moments “Epic! Badass” as I did. Enjoy these 10 scenes that may have fallen off your radar from the first six seasons of the show.


“Astronauts Without Borders” is a celebration of the docking between Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 that took place in 1975. It was the first time two countries planned and enacted a mission to connect spacecraft in flight and kicked off a grand partnership between the scientific communities within the USA and the USSR/Russia that continues today as it always has – separate from politics.


“Nobody Exists on Purpose. Nobody Belongs Anywhere. Everybody’s Going to Die. Come Watch TV.” – Game of Thrones isn’t the only anticipated show that’s back. Rick and Morty made their long awaited return last night on Adult Swim, and Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon and company keep finding humor in the existential dread that surrounds us all. Props especially to Chris Parnell who manages to make us pity and laugh hysterically at the plight of pathetic Jerry whose name is dragged through the mud by even the wind.

Since next Sunday is six long days away, check out the Non-Canonical Adventures of Rick and Morty to help hold you over.


In addition to this recap, I’d like to wish the best to the family of Sam Shepard, who died from ALS on July 27. An actor on the stage and screen best known for his roles in movies like The Right Stuff and Black Hawk Down, but his true passion was as a playwright. Shepard penned 44 plays and won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama with his work Buried Child. He also co-wrote some film screenplays, was nominated for an Oscar for The Right Stuff, and even played banjo on Patti Smith’s unique cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. R.I.P.

Thanks for reading, watching, listening, and enduring some bad jokes in all along the way. I hope that I provide quality entertainment and ideally some education along with it; if I do, I hope that continues, but if I don’t, I hope it begins. Most of all, I hope you’ll check back in here next week for more fun.

Until next week,

Alex

Waiting in the Wings of Rock and Roll – The Final Chapter

Oh boy! Have we got some good ones today awaiting us in the final six-line section of Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament’s shirt from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony this year. In case you’re new or you’ve been away for a while, I have been taking a look and listen to the artists written upon Ament’s shirt whom he and many others believe are worthy of inclusion into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You can recap the first and the second and the third posts in this series if you so choose before we round out the last leg today in what might be the most fun quarter yet. Let’s rock to it.

The Jam – We begin the end with a good one I have not heard from previous to reading Mr. Ament’s attire. For 10 years in the 70s and early 80s, they dabbled in a few rock styles including punk, modern, and psychedelia, and helped form the new wave of 1980s rock. Let’s start this finale show appropriately with “That’s Entertainment”. These guys definitely know how to live up to their name.


The Smiths – Speaking of that new wave, The Smiths were at the forefront of the post-punk movement that shifted into early alternative rock and was one of the signature styles of the 1980s. Picking up during the same year The Jam spread out (1982), The Smiths were a force driven by background instrumentation and effects that are easy on the ears like a summer’s breeze coming off the ocean with more than a touch of melancholy, all the better to accentuate the haunting vocals of lead singer Morrissey. They have been in the voting discussion for Rock Hall induction for the last few years, and it is understandable why when you listen to “This Charming Man”, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”, and “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”. Yet my favorite will always be “How Soon Is Now?”


Descendents – Between the United Kingdom and southern California there have been a lot of punk bands making a lot of noise aimed at the government, teachers, parents, and other sources of authority preaching agendas the punk rockers don’t share. Descendents (yes, it’s spelled like that; even the English language isn’t safe!) hail from SoCal and on and off since the late 70s they have been protesting authority and hypocrisy while also embodying teenage angst and life well beyond their own teen years in an energetic punk style. I like “Clean Sheets”.


Kraftwerk -Oh those wacky Germans and their electronica! Kraftwerk helped lay the foundation of avant garde heavy synthesizer electronic pop and rock from as far back as 1969. You can hear pieces of their work sampled in many a hip-hop jam and it’s easy to see why with tunes like “Man Machine”. Daft Punk would not be around without the road these guys constructed, especially the “Autobahn”. Yes, that song is over 20 minutes long.


Sonic Youth – Some people, including Juno and myself with some tracks, hear Sonic Youth as “just noise”. The American post-punk rockers do definitely have some good stuff though, and much of it is intended to be experimental noise. I heard one radio host on Little Steven’s Underground Garage refer to them as the greatest American rock band and one of the most influential music acts of their time. If enough people feel that way, then these guys deserve a spot in the Rock Hall. Listen to “Teenage Riot” and “Superstar” to see what you think of their noise.


Todd Rundgren – Another “oh that’s that guy’s name!” entries on Ament’s shirt, you have heard Todd Rundgren before but probably did not know exactly who he was, and almost certainly did not connect one of his most famous songs to him given its wildly different tempo and style from his other works. Aside from his solo song work, Rundgren served as a producer for albums for Badfinger, The Band (which he almost joined), Hall & Oates, and Grand Funk Railroad, to name a few. Yet, he will best be known for three songs: “I Saw the Light” and “Hello It’s Me” which fit within his more mainstream soft, easy style, but his most notable song is one of the most fun songs you’ll ever hear and has helped sell more than its fair share of Carnival cruises:


Ted NugentI have made this argument before, and I will make it again, but this time I’m not alone.  Ted Nugent is cray-cray to be sure, but he is a guitar god and a highly entertaining and influential musician. He deserves inclusion in the Rock Hall. I’d say more, but his music speaks for itself:


The Cure – One of my favorite bands not yet in, and more importantly, one of the best and blackest of the 1970s through today, but especially in the 80s and early 90s. Singer/guitar player Robert Smith has been the primary dose of The Cure since their formation in 1976, and he is the only original member of the band today. His gothic makeup and haunting lyrics can lead observers to believe The Cure are morose, and they can be, but mostly their work is a surprisingly varied blend of new age and alternative rock and roll that can be equally uplifting and devastating. There have been some masterful uses of The Cure’s songs in TV and film that serves a testament to their incredible emotional power. Plus, Smith is the key to stopping Mecha-Streisand when she gets her hands on the Triangle of Zinthar. Disintegration is one of the best albums ever, and these are some of the best songs ever: “Boys Don’t Cry”, “Lovesong”, “Pictures of You” (I was bawling when they played this in Season 1 of Mr. Robot after showing the flashback of Elliot meeting Shayla; perfectly used), “Friday I’m In Love”, and my favorite, “Just Like Heaven”:


MC5 – One of the earliest and most influential (I know that I’ve used that word a lot, but seeing as that is one of the two requirements for Rock Hall induction, it bears repeating for so many of these artists) garage rock bands that emerged from the Detroit-area like so many other garage rockers throughout the years, MC5 will always be remembered for their fanatical energy and “Kick Out the Jams”. One of MC5’s guitarists, Fred “Sonic” Smith is half the namesake of Sonic Youth.


Captain Beefheart – In my research on all of these artists, I cannot think of any other artist not already in the Rock Hall whose name I came across as frequently as Captain Beefheart; seems like he also has the influence box checked. Born Don Glen Vliet in Glendale, California in 1941, the man who would become Captain Beefheart and command his Magic Band, had a noticeably kooky style similar to his frenemy Frank Zappa, and like Zappa Dappa Doo, he dived into multiple styles of music and in the process contributed to making a few. I was not supremely familiar with him and his stuff prior to writing these posts – and I’m still not an expert now – but just like when I first listened to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, I can tell this guy and his group belong with the rest of the rockers already in Cleveland. Give a listen to “Sure ‘Nuff ‘n’ Yes, I Do” which I like for its bluesy opening and flow and rocking pickup, but mostly for the mention of my oft-overlooked hometown!


Warren Zevon – Speaking of weird and wonderful, ain’t nobody fits into that category quite like Warren Zevon. Ever the showman, it’s no wonder that David Letterman was such a big fan of Zevon and had him on his show so often over the years before Zevon’s death in 2003. Like too many rock and rollers, Zevon struggled with addiction, and like a few others he translated his internal dependency struggles into his music, but not to the degree that his songs all focus on drugs and alcohol. In fact, it’s not always clear where his bombastic lyrics stem from, but I’ll be damned if they’re not poetic and beautifully sang and perfectly paired with a bevy of instruments to create some truly great music. You really can’t go wrong with Warren, but try “Lawyers, Guns and Money”, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner”, “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me”, “My Shit’s Fucked Up” (you can see where the drugs and booze may have influenced that one), his cover of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, and “Night Time in the Switching Yard” – a funky take on a classic blues trope. However, his greatest and most popular is indubitably the gorgeously goofy “Werewolves of London”. Even if Kid Rock pulled a Vanilla Ice with the melody of that music, it only whets my appetite for the real deal from Zevon’s brilliant bodacious mind.


Link Wray – You may not have heard the name, but you sure as hell have heard his music. Wray was one of the earliest influences in modern rock music, playing guitar with distortion and tempo that could often classify as surf rock or rockabilly. With his band, the Ray Men, he crafted music akin to his contemporaries Dick Dale and Duane Eddy. Though you may not have heard it by name, you have undoubtedly heard “Rumble” before.


Weather Report – This may come as a shock, but they did not actually report the weather. They did, however, make some funky fresh jazz fusion that is a whole lotta fun. Take a trip to “Birdland” and let me know if it gets you flying.


DEVO – If Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a band it would resemble this band of brothers (and Alan Myers) from Kent and Akron. DEVO may be as famous for their unique outfits, stage showmanship, and videos as they are for their unique new wave music. They have a collection of sweetly strange songs, including one of my favorite covers with “[I Can’t Get No] Satisfaction”, but they will always be best known and beloved for “Whip It”. It seems certain that DEVO will secure their rock and roll legacy not far from where it began in northeast Ohio.


Flaming Lips – An inventive bunch from Oklahoma whose style is hard to peg down, but undeniably they are good. They sound reminiscent of The Pixies. Roll with the spacey sounds of their continued act with songs like “She Use Jelly”, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1”, “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”, and mostly “Do You Realize??” which in 2009 was honored as the official rock song of Oklahoma. I guess they figured to follow the example of the superior “O” state. Shots fired. I do really like “Do You Realize??” though, and it has a message that just might be worth repeating at the end of the year.


Nick Drake – A brightly-burning musician who made some remarkable music in a short timespan before his suicide at the age of 26. A sufferer of depression, Drake channeled his strong emotions into his softly played guitar. I liked what I’ve listened to so far, including “Northern Sky” and “Things Behind the Sun”, but I really like “Pink Moon”.


Harry Nilsson – Frequently simply referred to as Nilsson, he’s another one of the “that’s who that guy is!” artists. Predominantly a songwriter, he started his success by penning hits for other artists like the Little Richard, The Monkees, and Three Dog Night. Nevertheless, his own songs made even bigger waves, and like fellow “that’s his name” rocker Todd Rundgren, Nilsson had a trifecta of hits: “Without You”, “Coconut”, and  definitely “Everybody’s Talking” which won a Grammy after it was used in Midnight Cowboy.


NEU! – Oh those wacky Germans are at it again! In fact, it is the same wacky Germans I spoke of earlier, as NEU! was formed by Kraftwerk members Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother after that band’s breakup. Kraftwerk and NEU! each represent the epitome of krautrock, the German electronic experimental rock that they manufactured and helped to create future subgenres of rock and roll with. They were inspirational to many other rockers over the years, perhaps most notably David Bowie who was a big fan of their song “Hero” and reflected it in his own Berlin-made (with Brian Eno) album Heroes. I much prefer “Super 16” which will be familiar to any Kill Bill fans for its use in Volume 1 of that story, a choice that stems from the use of NEU!’s songs “Super 16” and “Super 78” (slowed and sped up versions respectively of their own song “Super” all off their second album) being used in the 1976 classic martial arts film Master of the Flying Guillotine which features a martial arts master who wields a mace of sorts with a razor blade encircled around it, the exact same weapon that is favored by sadistic schoolgirl Gogo.


Chad Channing – An interesting inclusion, and possibly one meant partly as a jab to Pearl Jam’s (superior) crosstown rivals, Nirvana. Channing was the fifth Beatle if you will of Nirvana. He was the band’s original drummer, and did most of the drum work on their introductory album Bleach, as well as “Polly” on Nevermind, an album he also helped lay the drumming groundwork for his replacement, Dave Grohl. Now I say it may be partly meant as a jab to Nirvana for eschewing Channing (a collective and civil decision made by the band over creative differences), however, I think Ament and the rest of Pearl Jam are including Channing more as a condemnation of the Rock Hall for not including him alongside Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Grohl when Nirvana were inducted a few years ago, especially considering his early involvement in the band – not to mention that he performed alongside of them when they were still called Bliss. Ever the good sport, Dave Grohl personally thanked Channing for his work with Nirvana at the 2014 Induction Ceremony which Channing (also a good sport) attended.

While Channing may be best remembered for his brief time in Nirvana, he has since played in bands called Fire Ants, The Methodist, and Before Cars, and previously with Tic-Dolly Row.


Sweet – Are you ready, Steve? Uh-huh. Andy? Yeah. Mick? Okay. All right fellas, let’s go!

Oh yeah, let’s get some glam rock up in this biotch. Not to say I’m not a fan of the predominantly punk and new wave bands this shirt list has contained, but it is nice to mix it up, and especially so when it such a fun group. Sweet turned more than a few heads with more than just their gaudy attire from the late 1960s to early 1980s, producing a few notable hits that are all worth a listen. “Fox on the Run” had a major chart revival last year after its inclusion in the first few trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and “Love Is Like Oxygen” has also received some love over the years, but nothing will ever match the wild energy of their oft played and covered classic “Ballroom Blitz”:


Raymond Pettibon – Similar to Hipgnosis, Pettibon, born Raymond Ginn, is an artist artist who created posters and album covers for a number of artists, including a few on this list, most notably punk and alternative bands on the independent record label SST, or Solid State Turners, an electronics provider turned music label founded by Greg Ginn, Raymond’s brother and frontman of Black Flag, another entry on this list.


Oasis -Originally led by Liam Gallagher and eventually featuring his older brother Noel who would become the leader after some of I-think-I’m-the-second-coming-of-John-Lennon Liam’s antics, Oasis was one of the preeminent bands of the 1990s, and one of the few that did not tap into the angst and anger of grunge to do it – not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is all the more impressive though, given the well-publicized in-fighting among the Gallagher brothers, that Oasis soared as high and long as they did. Easily the top of the Britpop bunch that included rivals of sorts in The Blur, Pulp, and Suede, Oasis kept ahead of them all with easy to listen to music that frequently delved deeper into human emotion than its poppy rhythm would lead listeners to believe. Find refreshment in anything from “Stand By Me” to “Supersonic”, or “Champagne Supernova”, but mostly in their two best: “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “Wonderwall”.


Bad Company – Finally we have come to the end, for better or worse, but as I promised, we round this lengthy list out with one of the best, and frankly one of the most shocking omissions yet. I have stated that Steppenwolf is the most heinous exclusion from the Rock Hall, but these guys are not far off, and personally I like them better, thanks mainly to a more expansive discography, some inventive guitar work mixed with a great medley of other classic rock instruments, and Paul Rodgers inimitable vocals. Previously I discussed Free, the band Rodgers and Simon Kirke left to join Bad Company, and if they ever get in (which they probably will) then Bad Company are a lock (as if they are not already) Rodgers and Kirke may be on the outside currently, but they very well may be placed in twice in the near future.

Bad Company played with power, even in their softer songs, and brought their heart and soul to every note. Their strong showings on stage and in the recording booth, coupled with their obvious influence on ensuing acts should be more than sufficient for inclusion, but their best argument is found in their excellent music with songs like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy”, “Burnin’ Sky”, “Silver, Blue, and Gold”, “Run With the Pack”, “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad”, “Rock Steady”, “Ready For Love”, “Shooting Star”, “Can’t Get Enough”, and “Feel Like Makin’ Love”. However, their best will always be the song off their debut album that shares its name with that album and their band:

Thanks for reading and listening, and for rocking for rolling with my extended four-part series studying the names on Jeff Ament’s shirt more closely than their text. This really was a lot of fun for me, and I have discovered some new artists that I would not have otherwise, so thanks to Ament for helping to introduce me to those while also bringing awareness to other acts that may or may not have been known or considered for rock and roll royalty by most casual music lovers. I have no doubt that most of these guys and girls will get in, especially those who have been under consideration for voting in the past, but perhaps this small showcase of their names and others will spark the fuse that blows the walls of the Rock Hall open to them. Bravo to you and Pearl Jam for expressing your opinion, and cheers for crafting a list of candidates from a number of musical styles and countries not to represent diversity, but because they are worthy as contributors to rock and roll which is the most diverse collection of music that has ever existed.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be sure to windmill swing your way back here next week for – oh God, what I am going to write about now!?! Eh, I’ll think of something; I always do.

Rock on,

Alex

R.I.P. Chris Cornell, frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave and his solo projects. Take small comfort in the thought that he’ll be inducted someday.

Waiting in the Wings of Rock and Roll – Vol. 2

Yesterday I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and once again the Guardians of the Galaxy did what they do best: put together a kickass soundtrack. The best song they have playing in their adventures this time around is Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” which prompts man-hunk Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord to declare Cooke one of the greatest singers of all time. I agree, and this song is a major reason why:

Props also to Lou Rawls who sang the backing vocals and would go on to release his own version later.

In keeping with the music spirit, today I will be continuing the closer look at artists listed on Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament’s T-shirt at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony that I started two weeks ago. This post will peruse some featured discography of those listed in the seventh-twelfth lines of Ament’s torso top. Once again, feel free to dig deeper into all of these acts. Who knows? You just might find your new favorite song or artist.

Love – These Los Angeles guys are known to get trippy from time to time, but they always stay chill. Their best known is probably “Alone Again Or”.


Lenny Kravitz – This guitar guru is one of the first artists I ever liked. Growing up in the 1990s I heard a lot of music that derived from rock and roll, but Lenny Kravitz rose above the rest by tapping into the hard and heavy roots of garage rock while infusing his own stylings. He managed to produce music that blended powerchords with ’90s pop, and he definitely influenced the music culture of rock and beyond. I like a lot of his stuff, including “Dig In”, “Again”, “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”, and his cover of “American Woman”, but his best still remains “Fly Away”.


The Cult – These Brits added to a rich alternative hard rock atmosphere in the U.K. during the ’80s and ’90s and still perform today. They nabbed a few hits, but none so deservingly notable than “She Sells Sanctuary”. Trust me, you’ve heard it before.


Dinosaur Jr. – They are not actually young dinosaurs, but don’t let that disappoint you because they had to change their name from its original Dinosaur because they were sued by a supergroup made of rockstars from other bands. They still aren’t actual dinosaurs of any age, but they did make “Feel the Pain” which is not at all painful to listen to.


King Diamond – Named after the stage name of their lead singer who seems to have done the juggalo makeup thing first, this Danish heavy metal band has a bit of a Metallica vibe. Try “Welcome Home” on for size.


Minor Threat – This D.C. group shows that punk is for Americans too. Take a listen to “I Don’t Wanna Hear It”.


Minutemen – More proof that Americans can play punk rock, these guys were known for playing on the cheap, which inadvertently led to them helping usher in alternative rock. Take a taste of “This Ain’t No Picnic”.


Misfits – This U.S. punk group has a little more metal in them, which you can hear even in the doowoppy  “Saturday Night”.


The Monkees – The fabricated American answer to The Beatles in many respects, The Monkees were an odd creation of entertainment marketing. The four man band was formed as the focus of a television show about band trying to hit the big time. Funny thing is, they actually did. So much so that they continued to be a band years after the show ended. However, their greatest achievement was undoubtedly surpassing The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in sales for a time in the late 1960s.

The Monkees scored some memorable hits like “Daydream Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville”, but my favorite is “I’m a Believer”.


Motorhead – No offense to The Monkees and the aforementioned punk groups, but let’s get back to the heavy metal sound of hard rock and roll. Motorhead is one of the best of these from the U.K. or anywhere yet to be placed in their rightful spot in the Rock Hall. With the gruff vocals of leadman Lemmy Kilmister powered out hits like “Overkill”, “We Are the Road Crew”, and “The Game”, but you can always count on their best to be at the top of the deck:


Mountain – Let’s keep the hard stuff out and roll on down the steep peak that is Mountain. Formed in New York in 1969 (giggle), these rockers brought their big guns to Woodstock and the avalanche that ensued laid the groundwork for heavy metal bands of the future. I’m sure you remember this one from Guitar Hero:

Always a trusty cure for fevers that need more cowbell.


Mudhoney – The Seattle Sound was a major movement in American music in the late 1980s and early 1990s helping to from grunge and hard alternative rock. Acts like Nirvana and Jeff Ament’s own Pearl Jam may have been the biggest to come out of the Emerald City (no, really, that’s its nickname), but plenty of other groups helped make that sound happen, and Ament and his buddies clearly remember the influence of Mudhoney. Take a dose of “Touch Me I’m Sick” and call me in the morning.


Nick Cave – The man at the front of The Bad Seeds, Cave is known as the “Prince of Darkness” of rock and roll because of his often occult subject matter. If you feel like crawling down into the depths to take a listen might I recommend “Red Right Hand”?


Nina Simone – Ooh yeah, sing that soulful music, Nina! This bluesy, jazzy stuff has got me “Feeling Good”, how about you?


Nine Inch Nails – Trent Reznor started his band in Cleveland, and it seems that it’s going to end up there in the not too distance future. Reznor is and always has been the primary producer of NIN’s work which is the epitome of industrial rock. It takes an acquired taste or at least the right mood to dig through Reznor’s library for those of us who aren’t David Fincher, but it can be rewarding. Still, my favorites are a little more well known like “Closer”, “Head Like a Hole”, and “The Hand That Feeds”, yet the soft strings and devastating lyrics and finish of “Hurt” will always be his best.


PJ Harvey – Polly Jean Harvey is her full name, and she has performed with a few bands, including the aforementioned Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but her own act is the best example of her musical mojo. Try on “Dress” and see how it fits you.


Richard Hell – Another punk rocker who is on track for inclusion thanks to his song “Blank Generation”, which he made with his band The Voidoids, being selected as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.


T. Rex – Just as is the case with Dinosaur Jr., none of these guys are actually dinosaurs, however, they did make “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”, so that’s gotta count for something.


Roxy Music – Remember Brian Eno (old sourpuss) from a couple weeks ago? He played synthesizer in the original lineup for Roxy Music! And they made some fun songs with an eclectic electric feel that helped shape many genres. My favorite is one that still gets a good amount of radio playtime:


Judas Priest – These guys are in for sure and it shouldn’t be long, especially since they have been on the ballot before. Not to mention a litany of hits such as “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, “Breaking the Law”, and “Painkiller”. My favorite is “Living After Midnight”.


The Sonics – This ’60s garage rock band made a name for themselves with a selection of inventive covers on songs like “Have Love, Will Travel”, “Louie, Louie”, “Night Time is the Right Time”, “Walking the Dog”, and “I’m a Man”, but they rollicked plenty with their own jams too. The Sonics have served as inspiration for many famous acts as from Bruce Springsteen to Jack White, and undoubtedly many garage and grunge rock performers to follow will also cite them as an influence. Try some of their stuff like “Strychnine”, “Psycho”, “The Witch”. My favorite of theirs is “Maintaining My Cool”.


Soundgarden – Another fellow of Pearl Jam from the Seattle Sound grunge movement, Soundgarden is driven by frontman Chris Cornell whose vocals and lyrics are an excellent compliment to any rock act. Soundgarden has many well known songs like “Fell on Black Days”, “Spoonman”, “The Day I Tried to Live” and “Blow Up the Outside World”, however, their best is the surreal, non-sequitur nonsense of angst that is “Black Hole Sun” with a music video to match:

The tuning of the sixth string doesn’t seem to be the only thing dropped in that song….


Steppenwolf – One of the most incredible omissions to date, Steppenwolf is hugely influential as one of the premiere hard rock bands of the 1960s. Hits like “Magic Carpet Ride”, “The Pusher”, “Rock Me”, and “Don’t Step on the Grass, Sam” pushed the bounds of rock and roll with power, psychedelia, and all around top quality lyrics, vocals, and music. John Kay has been at the forefront of the band from its rise in the late ’60s to the present, and Steppenwolf has been at the forefront of rock and roll influence for the same timespan, and looks to be forever, so their inclusion is going to come, hopefully sooner than later because Steppenwolf is the most deserving of all the acts on Ament’s shirt. Look no further than the fact that they created the term “heavy metal” in what is often considered the first heavy metal song, their immortal “Born to Be Wild”


The Damned – We finish today’s post by moving from the first heavy metal song to the first album releasing British punk band. The Damned churned out Damned Damned Damned in 1977, but they sent this shot to the airwaves the previous year:

“New Rose” is another of the Rock Hall’s 500 Songs the Shaped Rock and Roll, and The Damned are another band that will be in there someday.

Thanks for reading and listening again! Send any questions, comments, or suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com. Unless something crazy happens in the next week, part three of this Jeff Ament’s shirt study will continue next Monday.

Keep rockin’ that roll,

Alex

When the Hall is a Rockin’ Don’t Bother Knockin’

The latest of the greatest rock and rollers have officially been welcomed into the open arms of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The most recent to join the ranks of rock immortality are as follows:

ELO (Electric Light Orchestra)

Joan Baez

Journey

Pearl Jam

2Pac

Yes

Nile Rodgers (with the Award for Music Excellence)

The Rock Hall’s website has a pretty good description of each of the artists, complete with a Spotify playlist and recommendations of signature songs.  Guess my work was over before it started. Either way, I’ll provide some of my own input and earbud encouragement where applicable. I have known of most of the new class, and many I have been rooting for over the years to get their well-deserved admission. If you are not familiar with any of the aforementioned inductees for 2017 – and even if you are – check out this year’s video montage:

Like my first and second previous posts about the Rock Hall’s annual induction class, I’ll provide a bit of insight into each act. As has been the case from the beginning of the process, the requirements for inclusion are essentially two simple steps:

1.) It must be at least 25 years since the release of your first album

2.) You must be an influence and a significant contributor to rock and roll music

Okay, so achieving either of these are not simple, especially the latter, but the point is that there is no fine print protocol to get called up onto that stage in Cleveland, Los Angeles, or this past weekend in Brooklyn. You just have to rock hard enough and inspire others to aspire to your oeuvre. This group of people have been recognized for doing just that.


ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) – Truly unique in their bombastic overtures that justify their name, ELO combined the styles of classical music and rock and roll like no one had before or has done since. Comprised of the trio of Bev Bevan, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Wood, ELO conducted such classic rock masterpieces as “Evil Woman”, “Livin'” Thing”, and my personal favorite, “Don’t Bring Me Down”.


Joan Baez – This pre-cat surgery Maureen Ponderosa look-alike was a major force in the American folk movement and helped to bring Bob Dylan up to the forefront of the genre he is now synonymous with, not to mention that Joni Mitchell owes her some props too. Really, every folk singer that followed Baez owes a debt of gratitude to her influence. However, her greatest contributions were to the cultural and political causes she gave a lovely voice to, especially the civil rights rallies of Martin Luther King Jr. where she would often perform her rendition of the gospel standard “We Shall Overcome”.


Journey – My favorite of this year’s class of inductees, the San Francisco collection of former bandmates from Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch (yeah, that’s a real band) is one of the greatest bands of the 1980s. Formed in 1973 with some notable hits prior to their peak in the early 80s, Journey was driven by Steve Perry’s legendary voice as much as their combined energy and harmony. The band continues to dominate the airwaves of radio stations, personal playlists, and wedding receptions with the likes of “Any Way You Want It”, Wheel in the Sky”, “Lights”, Lovin’, Touchin’ Squeezin'”, and “Stone in Love”, but there is no other song that can elicit a karaoke performance from anyone at anytime the world over like the greatest song of the 1980s:


Nile Rodgers – A dual-threat performer-producer, Rodgers co-founded Chic with Bernard Edwards and composed the dance anthem “Le Freak”.  The duo and eventually Rodgers on his own shifted gears to producing albums for other artists. Rodgers was a major creative force helping perfect the likes of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Madonna’s Like a Virgin, and Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories where he played the guitar for “Get Lucky”.


Pearl Jam – Nirvana may be the best band of the grunge movement and the whole of the 1990s, but not far behind them was the next greatest purveyor of the Seattle Sound, Pearl Jam. A shoe-in for inclusion, Eddie Vedder and the boys from the Pacific Northwest rock hard and fast with a varied lyrical assortment of songs, including “Jeremy”, “Even Flow”, “Alive”, “Black”, “Daughter”, Yellow Ledbetter”, and “Last Kiss”. I love all of these, but their best for me will always be “Better Man”.

At last weekend’s induction ceremony, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Arment wore this shirt that listed the names of numerous artists who are not yet in the Rock Hall that he and the band believe should be, and I agree with most of them. Tom Waits is already in, but he probably could go in again for something.


2Pac (Tupac Shakur) – What to say of this poet of the streets? His rocky life experiences and observations of social inequity pertaining to race relations, poverty, gang violence, and so much more provided the tragic muse for his music. The Rock Hall’s biography describes him as an “irresistible contradiction” because of his dual roughness and tenderness toward those around him. Regardless of the final sentiment the world may have for him, there is no denying that his all too short life and career were briefly phenomenal. Listen to the likes of “California Love”, “Keep Ya Head Up”, “Dear Mama”, and especially “Changes” to hear the truest 2Pac.


Yes – Another overdue inductee, Yes remain as the epitome of progressive rock band. Pink Floyd may have earned more commercial and critical success while pushing the boundaries of experimental music, but nobody, and I mean nobody did it quite like Yes, and they managed to score a number of big hits along the way, especially “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. Throw in “I’ve Seen All Good People”, “Long Distance Runaround”, “The Fish”, and “Yours is No Disgrace”, and you’ve got an impressive resume. But all memes aside, their best for me is unquestionably “Roundabout”.

Thanks for reading and listening! I hope you enjoyed the offerings from the latest class of legendary rockers and music contributors. Please peruse their discography beyond the taste I’ve provided here. They made it into the hallowed Hall of Rock for a reason, after all.

Send any questions, comments, or suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com, and roll on back here again next week for a new adventure of words, images, and sounds!

The Cure and The Pixies best get in soon,

Alex

This Guy Is Crying… No More!

Hi everyone! Today I’m talking about the greatest style of music there ever has been and the official recognition of some of it’s great contributing acts who are finally being given a hall pass to a place they all helped to build.

Like most people, my musical interests are not confined to just one genre, but nothing compares to that blues-based, guitar-filled music that is both ever-evolving with new influences from around the world and continuously hearkening back to its rustic roots in the American South. Haven’t a clue what I’m talking about? Well allow me to deliver you some News: “everywhere there’s music, real live music, bands with a million styles, but it’s still that same old rock and roll music that really really drives ’em wild.” The heart of rock and roll is still beating in Cleveland, and it will be pumping faster and harder there this Saturday, April 18th when Public Hall plays host once again to the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Anyone who ever finds him or herself in my home-away-from-hometown in northeast Ohio should visit the fascinating structure that is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum located on the shore of Lake Erie next door to the Great Lakes Science Center and the Factory of Sadness.

Beside the Museum is an Ohio Historical Marker that tells of how disc jockey Alan Freed used the term “rock and roll” to describe the music he played on his midnight radio show “The Moondog House” which was named after this instrumental composition called “Moondog Symphony” by Louis T. Hardin a.k.a. “Moondog”. The original Moondog eventually sued Freed for infringement and was awarded $6000 on the condition that Freed got to keep the name Moondog. (To any basketball fans who have ever wondered why the Cleveland Cavaliers have a mascot that is a dog called Moondog instead of just a musketeer, there you have it.)

Thanks to the coining of the term “rock and roll” by a Cleveland DJ, and hosting the first large rock and roll concert (Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball), as well as the numerous concerts put on there by the top acts in rock throughout the decades, the city is renowned as being a major hub of rock and roll music and is often referred to as “The Rock and Roll Capital of the World”.

Of course, that rock and roll music we love so much is universal and blares loudly and proudly all around the world. Many cities and areas have contributed significantly to the growth of the grand genre and its many sub-genres through artists, local culture, recording studios and their producers, and the overall sound of their specific town. Some of the hallmark American rock cities are named in the Huey Lewis and the News song “The Heart of Rock and Roll” I included an excerpt of earlier, such as New York, Los Angeles (which are the other two sites of the Rock Hall Induction Ceremony), and Detroit, Seattle, and San Francisco, as well as other significant contributors like Memphis and Chicago. We can’t forget international locations either, especially the likes of Liverpool and London across the pond in the UK. Yet today I want to begin by focusing on Austin, Texas and a man and his band which will finally receive their excessively overdue acknowledgement from the Rock Hall.

When I first decided to start this blog eight months ago, I had a few ideas for posts I knew I wanted to write, including this one. The theme was drastically different then than it is now as I had some strong words for the Hall of Fame committee. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came into existence on April 20, 1983 (yep, on 4/20) and the museum was opened on September 1, 1995. The official rules and criteria for being placed on the induction ballot to get into the Hall of Fame can be found here at the Rock Hall’s website, but the short answer of how to get in is:

1.) It must be at least 25 years since the release of your first album

2.) You must be an influence and a significant contributor to rock and roll music

Aaaaand that’s it. There’s not too much more than that. It really becomes pretty obvious over the minimum 25 year time span who is a mainstay in terms of style and popularity, and what effect they had on the music industry. Some artists are obvious shoo-ins, like Nirvana last year. They were the biggest name on the ballot in their first year on it and were rightfully voted in immediately. Similarly, Green Day was voted into this most recent class on their first year on the ballot. However, not always do artists get admitted on their first try. Sometimes it takes a few years to make the cut. And maybe, it’ll take seven years for you to be welcomed in when you should have been eagerly anticipated since the formation of the Rock Hall Foundation which you preceded. That is what happened to Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band Double Trouble. They formed in 1978 and released their first album, Texas Flood, in 1983, so for the last seven years I’ve been pitching the same fit in vain until finally, finally, SRV got his just desserts. Saturday will see him honored along with other deserving acts, and today will have me weeping with joy instead of sorrow.

In case you don’t know who Stevie Ray Vaughan is or haven’t heard much of his music, allow me to fill you in a bit. Stevie Ray Vaughan, often referred to simply as SRV, is nothing short of one of the greatest guitarists to ever live. With masterful skill on his Stratocaster, SRV was the driving force of the blues revival in the 1980s. He was a wizard on guitar on par with the best. Clapton, Page, Beck (as in Jeff), SRV could play right alongside them all. He even played a Hendrix song as well as Jimi (“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”) and made a longer and better version of another (“Little Wing”)!

Here are some more of the essentials from SRV:

“Pride and Joy” – This most well known song of Vaughan’s is about his wife Lenny.

“Tightrope” – Juxtapositions abound in this rocking jam about a man struggling to stay upright in a madcap world.

“The Sky is Crying” – A wailing electric blues guitar pours out notes like a rain cloud.

“Crossfire” – Things ain’t the way they used to be in the world.

“Cold Shot” – Things ain’t the way they used to be with our love.

“Texas Flood” – a cover of bluesman Larry Davis’ song of the same name, it is regarded as one of the great modern blues songs.

This is just a sampling of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s work with Double Trouble. He had many more great songs with that band, and also had memorable work with other artists, most notably David Bowie who heard him at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1982 and enlisted him to play guitar on songs like “China Girl”, “Modern Love”, “Let’s Dance”, and the “Let’s Dance” alternate track of  “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”. That last one may strike you as a weird title, but if you saw Inglorious Basterds you’ve heard the original version of it. Of course, you’ve heard it if you saw 1982’s remake of Cat People that it was written for, but I’m guessing less people today have caught that one (it’s not about people who really like cats – actually, I guess it kinda is… I remember it more for the song and being one of the first movies I ever saw boobs in).

Unfortunately, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s wait to get onto the ballot was as long as his all too short career. Only seven years into his national prominence with Double Trouble, it all came to a literal crashing halt after an East Troy, Wisconsin concert with Eric Clapton. The helicopter Vaughan boarded after the show flew off course into a hill. Vaughan and Clapton’s bodyguard, assistant manager, and agent all died in the wreck. Vaughan was 35.

Whether ironic or intended, he’ll be placed into the Rock Hall 25 years after his death. Joining SRV in the 2015 class are seven other musical artists/groups. None are surprising additions and all are deserving, but there is one other who should have been in already. I’ll get to her, but first, here’s a list of the class of 2015 with a link to a well known song of theirs in each name:

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band – Formed in Chicago in 1963, they helped mix and match Chicago blues and electric blues and that style of music that you enjoyed hearing in The Blues Brothers with jazz and rock. I don’t know them as well as the other inductees, but considering they were comprised of members who had formerly worked with the likes of blues legends such as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, it seems their induction was a long time coming also.

The “5” Royales – The “early influence” group for this class, The “5” Royales helped to kick off the rock era by drawing upon gospel, R&B, and doo wop. Many of their songs have been covered by artists like Ray Charles, James Brown, and Mick Jagger.

Green Day – The inclusion that will make Nineties kids feel old! If you grew up in the 1990s you heard a lot of Green Day and that was never a problem with me except at graduations when you inevitably heard “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” which is not a bad song the first 5000 times you hear it. Green Day was a lighter take on punk, but still challenged authority, especially President George W. Bush whom they did not like very much, to put it mildly. Their album American Idiot and the rock opera based off of it drew a considerable degree of inspiration from Mr. Bush. Green Day is one of the few acts inducted this year who are still performing, and they probably will be until they are swallowed up by sludge on Lake Springfield.

Lou Reed – Lou Reed is already in the Rock Hall with the Velvet Underground, the excellent and highly influential band he founded with John Cale in the early 1960s. Reed was the primary creative force in the band and it showed when he left to go solo in 1972. He had a long list of famous hits like “Perfect Day”, “Walk on the Wild Side”, and “Sweet Jane”. He was actually in Cleveland a few years ago to receive a liver transplant at the Cleveland Clinic. Too little, too late to make up for years of drinking and drugs it would seem; Reed died in 2013. Next week I’ll discuss more songs, including my favorite from Reed.

Ringo Starr – Like Reed, Ringo is being inducted into the Hall of Fame a second time, but the band he first got in with did a hell of a lot better commercially than Reed’s. While Ringo still receives a lot of crap for bringing up the rear of The Beatles, he is an excellent drummer and a jovial and amusing personality. Nevertheless, his post-Beatles career has undoubtedly been helped by him being one of the lads from Liverpool, and I’m sure that also factored into the Hall of Fame committee’s decision to bring him back in as a solo artist to join his three Beatles buddies who have all been inducted in as solo performers already. Even so, if you’ve ever seen a Beatles movie then you know Saturday should be fun because Ringo is the star when the cameras roll. It’ll also be nice to see him and McCartney hanging out again.

Bill Withers – Oh yeah! Sing it Bill! Withers hit it big with his melancholy song about how depressing life is when his baby isn’t there, but he has more that “Ain’t No Sunshine”. The soulful singer also has famous tracks like “Lean on Me” and “Just the Two of Us” and is still performing today!

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – You know this hard-rockin’ guitarist/singer; she loves rock n roll, doesn’t give a damn about her bad reputation, and is your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb! She’s also another “it’s about damn time” nominee considering she first broke onto the musical scene in 1975 when she co-founded The Runaways. She would go on to a solo career before forming The Blackhearts who were rightfully known as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Joan Jett is deservedly called a “Queen of Rock” and is considered to be one of the greatest guitarists. As she’s finally been nominated (with her second band The Blackhearts) I guess someone at the Rock Hall listened to Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic at last year’s induction concert. (Damn, Dave Grohl was banging the fuck out of that drum set. Hopefully he’ll bring some more of that energy to this Saturday’s ceremony.)

Joan Jett has had some great hits over the years, including:

“I Love Rock and Roll” – A cover of the original song by The Arrows.

“I Hate Myself For Loving You”

“Bad Reputation”

“Crimson and Clover” – A much louder cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells original.

“Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)”

“Cherry Bomb” – My favorite from her career with The Runaways. Just makes you want to save the galaxy, doesn’t it?

You’ll notice that her music videos were also eye-catching and have many tough-look close-ups of the badass bitch herself.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the 2015 Class of Inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While it’s refreshing to see Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joan Jett have finally made it in, there are still some artists out there who should be in who aren’t. I was shocked to find that Deep Purple is not in the Rock Hall. There must be some serious smoke on the water on the north coast to keep them out. Also surprising is the lack of Bad Company, The Bangles, The Buzzcocks, The Cure, Dire Straits, Dr. Dre, Roy Harper, Iron Maiden, The James Gang, Huey Lewis and the News, Steve Miller Band, The Runaways, Soundgarden, Steppenwolf, Styx, Tears for Fears, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, The Violent Femmes, Joe Walsh, X, Yes, Warren Zevon, and The Zombies. I’m not suggesting that I believe that all of these acts are deserving to be inducted, or that I’m even a fan of them all, only that I am surprised to not see them included already.

For me, one of the most deserving names that has so far been omitted is Ted Nugent. Beginning as The Amboy Dukes in the late 1960s, the Detroit band would become Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, before transitioning completely to being Ted Nugent’s band. Nugent and company have made serious and lasting contributions to rock, especially heavy metal and occasionally prog rock. Yet, they remain on the outside looking in. To that I offer this:

“Journey to the Center of the Mind”

Do you want to get into the Rock Hall? Cause that’s how you get into the Rock Hall! Unless of course you also happen to be a radical gun-nut who comes across as very unstable and hates how Fox News isn’t harsh enough on Obama and the Democratic Party as a whole. Yes, Ted Nugent’s a wackadoodle, but God damn it, not just anybody can play guitar like that. So what if his political views are on the opposite end of the spectrum of the voting members of the Rock Hall? He has displayed an exemplary talent over the course of his career and he’s still got it today. His energy is incredible; just listen to some of his live albums. My favorite of his is a live cut of this bad boy:

“Great White Buffalo”

Is Ted Nugent intolerant? Certainly. Is he crazy? Unquestionably. Should he be in the Rock Hall? You’re goddamn right, Bob. He fits the criteria and influenced the genre and other artists over many years. He’s a psychopath, but so are sooooo many others rockers and famous musicians. Whenever a Michael Jackson song starts playing do we condemn him for being a pedophile? No. The man made Thriller. Thriller! Being an unbelievable talent doesn’t forgive him for what he did outside of his music, nor should it do so for Nugent, but the Rock Hall was made to focus on the music and not the livelihood of the men and women who made it. They love the hell out of the insulting refusal letter they got from the Sex Pistols, why refuse a deserving musician who actually wants to be there?

Look for some bands and artists to be inducted in the future, especially Pearl Jam who are eligible for the first time for 2017 and should be at the top of that class. Also potential future inductees are: Beck, The Black Crowes, The Black Keys, Daft Punk, Eminem, Fatboy Slim, The Foo Fighters, Moby, Oasis, Radiohead, Weezer, Amy Winehouse, and The White Stripes, especially Jack White, who might be the most deserving artist for induction not yet in the Rock Hall.

Thanks for reading! If you’re hoping to see the Induction Ceremony on Saturday and you haven’t already shelled out thousands for a ticket…uuuuuh, hope you have HBO and get to watch the edited broadcast a few months later. Don’t worry, clips will make it online – hell, the whole thing undoubtedly will, and it usually is only good when they shut up about how great everyone is and just play (and show how great they are). Send any questions, comments, or future post requests to monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to rock back here next week for more rock and roll, this time with a mellower flavor.

Rock on and off and any which way you can,

Alex

P.S. Congratulations to my cousin Josh, who, after years of receiving hands-on-hips sighs from many of our family members expressing a desire for him to stop fishing his way across the country and get his life together, won the 2015 National Bass Anglers Association (not to be confused with the lesser-known National Basketball Association) National Championship on Kentucky Lake! I applaud his passion and unceasing tenacity, and I also thank him for giving me a chance to forever say that I know someone who “got lucky in Kentucky”.