Tag Archives: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

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

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:

dark_side_of_the_moon       


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 monotrememadness@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading and listening!

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

When Devotees Cry

Dearly beloved,

We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life

Sometimes you just want to talk about who is being brutally murdered in one of your favorite (and extremely lethal) fantasy realms now that you do not have any more original source material to refer to, but ultimately who lives or dies in Westeros is of little consequence compared to deaths here in the real world. 2016 has already seen the loss of one of my favorite all-time musicians in the great David Bowie, yet his illness and age made the announcement of his death less of a surprise than last Thursday’s news that Prince had joined him in the Afterworld. There is plenty I could say about Prince that so many already have, so today I would like to write about some of the memorable moments that added to the mystique of the man for me, specifically the almost forgotten honor he is the last to have been awarded by the Oscars.

Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, so yes, his real name is Prince. The Love Symbol and “Artist Formerly Known as” business came later as a result of his one of a kind everything. He was a jack-of-all-trades when it came to music, capable of playing multiple instruments and styles, and of blending them all together to create groundbreaking music that influenced countless other artists, and, like Bowie, will continue to long after his death. Due to this grand impact, it should come as no surprise that Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during his first eligible year to be able to in 2004. During the induction ceremony, Prince, Tom Petty, and a number of other rockers played a tribute to George Harrison and his solo still remains as the best version of the song and one of the best guitar pieces I’ve ever heard. And not just anyone can make a guitar disappear like that upon finishing! I first heard this in 2007, the most formative year of my current musical tastes, while I was researching the Rock Hall and many who had been welcomed into its ranks. It blew me away, but it was not surprising to hear Prince’s weeping guitar sound so good since I had already been exposed to his showmanship and professionalism earlier that year in the greatest Super Bowl Halftime Show I’ve ever seen. Prince stole the show away from an admittedly fairly uninteresting game (why is that always the case when Peyton Manning wins?), but most impressively shone like the sun amidst the only downpour in the Halftime Show’s history. It rained on Prince’s parade and he made it seem like he planned it that way from the start. Playing a medley of his own songs and others by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan, and the Foo Fighters, Prince made every moment a legendary one. All of the genuine fears of stage and stadium orchestrators were annihilated like Charlie Murphy’s coterie in a basketball game.

Fun fact about this fun skit (which is probably my favorite from Chappelle’s Show), Dave Chappelle and company drew from Prince’s lesser-known, yet actual love to play basketball for inspiration for it. It’s hilarious for any who watch it, including the mocked man himself, who responded to it by placing Dave Chappelle dressed as him on the cover of his single “Breakfast Can Wait“.

Dave Chappelle is not the only comedian to have a respectful laugh at the audacious charisma of the man who once changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. “Weird Al” Yankovic gave Prince and his affinity to use numbers in place of letters and words a shout out in his song “Word Crimes” from his most recent album Mandatory Fun.

My introduction to Prince was from the songs he wrote for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film, but I heard plenty of his hits on the radio, especially “When Doves Cry”, “1999”, and my personal favorite, “Let’s Go Crazy”. “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” are both off of Prince’s remarkable album Purple Rain which is all music written for his film of the same name that is so wonderfully Prince-y in every aspect. I’ve said this a lot about Prince’s works, but Purple Rain is one of the greatest and most unique movie soundtracks ever produced, however, I really do mean it. One of the treasures of my dad’s cassette tape collection (because we can’t all be driving cars made in the last 10 years) is Purple Rain. When I finally saw the film I felt about the same as most critics in that I enjoyed it,  but mostly for the music. The movie is definitely held together not only by Prince’s songs but also his passion, and it could not have worked as well as it did with anyone else in his place. Thanks to all this and the aforementioned pair of songs that featured in the film, Prince ruled 1984 musically and cinematically and had the top album, song, and film in the United States for a good chunk of it. Also from Purple Rain is the song “Darling Nikki”, which, like almost all of Prince’s songs, is extremely upfront regarding its subject matter (it’s about sex!). It inspired Tipper Gore, the separated wife of former US Vice President and climate change educator Al Gore, to begin her infamous (or famous depending on your stance on the First Amendment) crusade for censorship and the founding of the Parents Music Resource Center that is the reason why your favorite rap album has PARENTAL ADVISORY slapped across the cover of it.

Purple Rain has another special distinction and is easily atop another list for me. This will take some explaining though. There is an award category for the Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, that is still around today, but never has had a film nominated for it under its current title of “Best Original Musical”.  It used to be called “Scoring of a Musical Picture”. Then it was the “Best Original Song Score and Adaptation Score” and then simply “Best Original Song Score”. John Williams got his first Oscar in this category for Fiddler on the Roof. In order to be nominated, a film needs to have at least five songs that are original to it, i.e. written for it, and there need to be enough other films fulfilling the same requirement during the same year so that if there is only one movie that fits this bill it does not win by default.Oh, and the song’s need to be tied into the story somehow; they can’t just be good songs that are thrown into the movie, even if they are being heard for the first time in it. Since musicals are not as popular as they once were, this award has not been in the Oscars mix since 1984. What was the last movie to ever win this strange award? You guessed it: Purple Rain. In the last time it was presented, and the only it was presented under the title “Best Original Song Score”, Purple Rain took home an Oscar for Prince. No matter what you may think of the movie, you cannot deny that it earned that Oscar, and for me it is the most deserving selection of songs to ever win the award. You can peruse the list of past winners and nominees for yourself, but I only want to see Prince laughing in the Purple Rain.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to return for the State of the Season next week, and remember to live for now even if things are the wrong kind of crazy.

Are we gonna let  de-elevator bring us down?

OH NO LET’S GO!

Let’s go crazy,

Alex

Rock Out With Your Subscription Service Premium Cable Package Out

Hope you’re not standing on a hot bed of coal, because I’m about to rock your socks off!

Actually, I hope you’re not standing on a bed of coal period; that would not be pleasant even with something on your feet. Nevertheless, this post will indeed rock you as I have prepared another closer look at the most recent inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Similar to last year’s celebration of the better-late-than-never inductions of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joan Jett, I am diving into the latest list of those who have been chosen to join the ranks of the rockers who have picked before them like a green squeaky alien toy in a Pizza Planet crane game. If you are curious about how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voting procedure works, then feel free to consult my post “This Guy is Crying… No More!“. As I said last year, essentially the two main rules for inclusion are this:

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

Now that you know what it takes (without discussing the constant criticism from artists and experts the world over), let’s talk about who had it to get into this 2016 class. This year’s inducted artists and musical contributors are as follows:

Cheap Trick

Chicago

Deep Purple

Steve Miller

N.W.A.

Bert Berns

Each of these groups/people are wildly different in style, but all have that underlying blues-based rhythm contributing to unique originality in their work. No matter what the prevailing flavor is, each deserves a place in the Rock Hall for fulfilling those two requirements, and for just fucking rocking. Let’s take a look at each with a selection of their best songs.

Cheap Trick

Known so well for a live album, “Live at Budokan” for such hits as “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender“, Cheap Trick’s discography beyond those two songs may be a mystery to most outside of their diehard fans. Still, it’s hard to argue against the impact and continued radio playtime of these songs. Cheap Trick definitely has more to offer though, and it is good stuff. Take a listen to the likes of “Dream Police” and “The Flame“, as well as some of their covers of rock staples that preceded them like “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Ain’t That A Shame“. If all this isn’t enough, they’ve got a new album that came out two days ago.


 

Chicago

Originally called Chicago Transit Authority, this jazz-classical-rock fusion decided to make their name easier to print on banners and discern from their hometown’s actual transit authority when they began touring following the 1969 release of their first self-titled album. Chicago brought a big brass band feel to rock and pop rock and is universally known as the rock and roll band with the horns. They were a long time contender for inclusion finally getting their due, especially after releasing hits like these:

25 Or 6 To 4” – My favorite from Chicago has the rhythm of Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You“, but overlaid with that signature selection of horns.

Saturday in the Park” -I remember being stoked to hear this on Saturday, July 4th in a park a few years back.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Beginnings

Make Me Smile

Feelin’ Stronger Every Day

Old Days” – Love the guitar in this!

Just You N’ Me

You’re the Inspiration” – Try not to get stabbed in the head when you hear this song.

If You Leave Me Now” – One of my favorite melancholy songs. It comes to mind every fall as I say farewell to summer. Also a favorite of Butters Stotch.

Baby What A Big Surprise

This is merely a taste of what Chicago has to offer after 24 studio albums.


Deep Purple

SMOKE ON THE WATER! AND FIRE IN THE SKY!

This was the band that I was most surprised to see not already in the Rock Hall when I wrote my post last year. Thankfully, someone listened. In addition to creating the most famous guitar riff in the classic song “Smoke on the Water“, Deep Purple charted hits from 1968 on and still performs today. Often considered one of the three hallmark acts of heavy metal alongside Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, from the “unholy trinity” of British hard rock, Deep Purple is responsible for such hits as:

Hush

Space Truckin’” – Another easy and fun to play riff.

Woman from Tokyo

Knocking At Your Back Door

Perfect Strangers

Fireball

They too have dabbled in the cover game with success on songs like “River Deep, Mountain High” and “Kentucky Woman“, making each their own.

And what might be their best:

Highway Star


 

N.W.A.

You know what it stands for, and you know what they stand for, but most of all, you know where they come from. An earth-shattering musical act who not only sent shockwaves through the music industry, but through the streets of America from the epicenter of Compton, California. But this is all old news to you, especially after last summer’s film release of Straight Outta Compton. Their hits may also be known to you, but they are certainly worth another listen.

Straight Outta Compton

Fuck tha Police

Gangsta Gangsta

Express Yourself

Appetite For Destruction


 

Steve Miller

The man behind the band named for him, or rather in front of it, Steve Miller is an excellent guitarist/singer/songwriter, but that is to be expected by someone who grew up around Les Paul and Mary Ford. Some people call him the space cowboy, some people call him the gangster of love, but whatever you know him as, Steve Miller is another it-was-only-a-matter-of-time inductee. Such cannot be argued with classics like these:

The Joker” – Not to be confused with the Batman villain.

Take the Money and Run

Jet Airliner

Fly Like An Eagle

Abracadabra” – I love the sizzling guitar in this!

Jungle Love” -Everything’s peaches and cream.

And the best that Mr. Miller has to offer:

Rock’n Me


Bert Berns

You felt the Bern long before you ever heard of Sanders, you just didn’t know it. At least I didn’t. This remarkable man is the recipient of this year’s Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement, i.e. the in-the-background guy category that used to be called the “Non-Performer Award” until they realized it wasn’t a great title given that a lot of the recipients and considerations were also performers, just not as well known as the major acts they ended up helping to greater stardom.

Bert Berns was a man constantly writing music and lyrics for various artists and record companies over a short but prosperous period. Check out this brief biography on him from the Rock Hall’s website and marvel all the artists he has contributed to the rise and success of. Classics like “Twist and Shout”, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”, and “Piece of my Heart” were all written by Berns. Yet the song that sticks out the most to me is “My Girl Sloopy” that The McCoys later turned into “Hang On Sloopy” and a hit. A hit that is today the official Rock and Roll song of my home state of Ohio and has the perfect four-second break for us to motion the letters of it.

Thanks for reading! Send any comments or questions to monotrememadness@gmail.com. Enjoy listening to some new music or old favorites, and catch the performances of the Induction Ceremony in Brooklyn this Friday, April 8th whenever you can. In the meantime, I’m going to pick up Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and rewatch the Han out of it. Be sure to find your way back here next week for some more fun.

Rock on,

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”.