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The 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

This weekend I continued my long love/hate affair with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the 2013 induction ceremony aired on HBO. There is much to hate, especially in the long list of bands that should have been inducted long ago. But I still love the inductions every year — especially this year with Rush finally getting the nod. But there were many other highlights as well

I’m a big Randy Newman fan. I think he’s an incredible songwriter, one of those rare people who can incorporate humor into his music without becoming a parody singer or a buffoon, and even use it to slyly and cleverly advance a social cause (the other to come to mind in this regard is Warren Zevon). His performance of the song I’m Dead But I Don’t Know It probably hit a little close to home to many of the aging rock stars in the room.

Albert King is in the blues pantheon, of course, and it is right and fitting that he is in the rock hall of fame now too. The great Stevie Ray Vaughan revered King, his mentor and his hero, and King bestowed on Vaughan the approval of one of the blues gods. I loved the performance of Born Under a Bad Sign by Gary Clark Jr, Booker T. Jones and John Mayer (who is, despite his often saccharine popular songs, quite a good blues guitarist).

Heart, like Rush, was way overdue for induction. It was cool to see the original band back together and that they didn’t just put the Wilson sisters in and forget the others who were a big part of that sound as well. And by the way, Ann Wilson still has one of the best voices in rock and roll. She sounded absolutely great. And I like that Chris Cornell, Jerry Cantrell and some of the other later Seattle rockers recognize and express their debt to Heart.

I was also happy to see Public Enemy get inducted. Yeah, it’s rap. Get over it. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is really the popular music hall of fame and always has been. That’s one of the things I like best about it is that they don’t just focus on hard rock and recognize the enormous diversity that has long existed in popular music. And Public Enemy was, for me, the definitive rap group of the late 80s. Chuck D is the best MC there is, as far as I’m concerned. And I was happy that he put rap into historical context by noting that rap and rock both owe their origins to the blues.

But the two big ones for me were Quincy Jones and Rush. Quincy Jones is one of those very few people at whose feet I would sit for hours, days, weeks at a time just listening to stories. The word “legend” doesn’t even seem to cover it. He worked with everyone, from Duke Ellington to Sinatra to Michael Jackson (the modern day equivalent is Rick Rubin, who has produced everyone from Jay Z to Slayer — and he’ll be in the hall of fame before too long himself). The stories that man must have…

And lastly, Rush. Perhaps the most overdue induction ever. This was the last induction and they saved it for last for a reason. That place went berserk when the video about them started showing. The audience and their fellow musicians were screaming with cathartic joy at finally seeing them get their due and Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins expressed that perfectly in their induction speech. And true to form, they made fun of Rush for the funniest cover photo of all time, particularly noting Alex Lifeson’s camel toe. And Neil Peart said it perfectly when he said that they’d been saying for years that this isn’t a big deal, but it turns out that it kind of is. It’s about damn time.

Now it’s time to get Deep Purple in next year. And Yes. And Kansas. And KISS (a band I can’t stand, but they belong there anyway). And Iron Maiden. And Judas Priest. And so many others.

Comments

  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    And Kansas

    You really only need one Midwestern rock band in there, since they are indistinguishable. I still remember REO’s thrilling Journey to Kansas album.

  2. Dexeron says

    As a huge Rush nerd, I’ll have to confess I got a little too enthusiastic when Grohl inducted them. And the three of them obviously have so much fun doing what they do, it’s hard not to get excited for, and with, them.

    Ann and Nancy Wilson are, and always have been, amazing. They still rock.

    Public Enemy absolutely killed.

    I agree with the issues everyone has with the Hall, and there are many, but I’ll admit I still get a little dorky watching these great groups up there performing in any setting, especially seeing my favorite band finally getting the nod. And that final Crossroads jam at the end, with everyone up on stage together, was epic.

  3. Alverant says

    About time for Rush. I’ve been a fan since I head about Magnignant Narisicism (sorry about the spelling) on PZ’s blog.

  4. says

    Whenever I get irritated at the fact the Red Hot Chili Peppers made it in before Rush, I remember that a Hall of FAME is different from a hall of GREATNESS. Not too comforting, but still…

    And I remember how disappointed I was when Heart turned to the seemingly-inevitable pop ballad stage of their career. In my opinion, it helped end it for them.

    Ed, what do you think the over-under is on how long it’ll take Journey to make it in?

  5. heathermighty-lambchop says

    I annoyed my friends and family by asking them to vote for Deep Purple when the online voting was open. It’s ridiculous that they have not been inducted. Much of modern heavy metal would not exist without them.

    Completely agree about Maiden, Priest and Kiss. Even though I have my own problems with Kiss.

  6. troll says

    I think one could make a very strong argument that Public Enemy is punk-fucking-rock in spirit. And they had a pretty solid influence on industrial.

  7. scienceavenger says

    Probably the best class ever. Heart is a little pedestrian (Zeppelin Lite with estrogen), but I was still a fan. Ann Wilson’s vocal talents are undeniable, perhaps the best pure vocalist of the era, even if the material didn’t always live up to it (ditto, but more so, with Pat Benatar). The others were slam dunks, even Public Enemy, raising a flawed genre higher than most. I’ll never forget hearing Fear of a Black Planet for the first time and thinking “wow, rap doesn’t have to be stupid”.

    I’m a big Randy Newman fan. I think he’s an incredible songwriter, one of those rare people who can incorporate humor into his music without becoming a parody singer or a buffoon, and even use it to slyly and cleverly advance a social cause (the other to come to mind in this regard is Warren Zevon).

    I’m a big fan of both Newman and Zevon. Sail Away is still a frequent listen for me. Newman’s sound hearkens back to 40’s ragtime, yet packs a punch. “Let’s Drop the Big One” still resonates, and is hilarious.Ed, you surprise me. After your comments about the Who, Star Trek and Rainbow (bleah) I wasn’t sure we’d ever have common ground like this.

    Now it’s time to get Deep Purple in next year. And Yes. And Kansas. And KISS (a band I can’t stand, but they belong there anyway). And Iron Maiden. And Judas Priest.

    Damnit, new it couldn’t last. Yes obvioiusly belongs (I can’t belive they aren’t there yet), and ditto on KISS. They sucked, but they added a ton to the rock social aspect (a la Elvis Presley). Deep Purple? Only if having the most recognizable guitar riff in the 70’s, if not history (Smoke on the Water: even my dad can finish it) qualifies. But Kansas? Iron Maiden? Judas Priest? Pedestrian doesn’t begin to describe them. One silly metal band is plenty, they are practically indistinguishable anyway. You might as well include jokes like Beastie Boys…wait a minute. (sigh)

    But then I tend to have the same reaction to sports halls of fame too. The bar should be higher.

  8. Adrian W. says

    I think I may have my Canadian citizenship revoked for saying this, but I can’t stand Rush.

  9. catbutler says

    I say I will not rest until The Dead Milkmen are inducted. Or The Shoes, at the very least.
    That is all.

  10. beezlebubby says

    How about Jeff Lynne, either as a producer/songwriter, or for his role at the helm of the Electric Light Orchestra? No Jeff, no HOF as far as I’m concerned. Jann Wenner sucks ass.

  11. frog says

    Holy crap, Rush was overdue.

    How are inductees selected? In what possible universe could people say, “What about Rush?” “Eh, maybe next year,” time and again?

  12. says

    “Halls of Fame” are, for me, a pretty lame concept. They are done for one reason–well, two. The first is to make money for somebody, the second is for people to have relatively pleasant blogthreads in between the “take no prisoners!” posts!

    Having said the above, I want all to know that I and a group of committed fanerdorks will be lobbying for the inclusion of the “Starland Vocal Band” into the R&RHoF. While their record may be scant, they are, imnsvho, the shittiest band to ever have a #1 Hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and that deserves SOME sort of recognition!

    In researching background information for this article I found out two things. The first, a tip I received from an unnamed character assassination group, notes that “Standard Vocal Band” menbers were off the radar throughout the entire period during which Glen Bek is rumored to have been involved in the kidnap, rape, murder and subsequent cannibalism of an undetermined (but HUGE) number or adolescent and teenage orphans. My source is someone close to either Julian Assange, the AP or FuckTheNew’sCorpse; take your pick.

    The other item I gleaned from Wiki, is that “Afternoon Delight” was covered by these fine young men:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_Jerks

    according to this:

    “Concurrent to the Starland Vocal Band’s version, country singer Johnny Carver had a Top 10 cover of his own on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. In 1983, the Circle Jerks also covered this song as one of the six cover versions on “Golden Shower of Hits (Jerks on 45)”, which appears on their third album with the same title. British experimental folk music band Current 93 used an industrial-style cover version as an introduction to their performances of their 2009 album. Claude François sang it in French as “Dimanche après-midi”.”

    also from Wiki:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afternoon_Delight_(song)

    Which version I’ve never heard. Based on their name alone, I’m sure that the Circle Jerks version would be superior in the same way that Patti Smith’s singing of Debbie Boone’s “You light up my life” on the program “Kids Are People, Too!” with Joe Brooks, the song’s composer, on keys. (type: “Patti Smith doing “You light up my life” and you’ll get a link for youtube*.

    Hey, Jack Black, I gotchyer, “School of Rock’, Righ’cheer!**

    * Ms. Smith’s performance on the Sunday morning show for young verysquare MurKKKan teens is not to be confused with a later performance of the same song by her and her band at Max’s Kansas City in Sodom on the Hudson, later that same year. It should be noted that the bootlegged recording which I’ve heard only a few times (no commercial version that I’m aware of) has issues of sound quality and it appears that Ms. Smith might have been doing performance dehancing drugs at the time. I’m fso feelin’ like Steve Morse, FUCK YEAH!

    ** democommie grabs inside of left thigh where the end of his enormous schlong would be–if he had an enormous schlong, instead of a very normal, 11″ mantool.

  13. twincats says

    I think I may have my Canadian citizenship revoked for saying this, but I can’t stand Rush.

    Unless you’re a “belieber”, I think you’re probably okay.* I couldn’t stand Rush either for a long time, most likely cuz my introduction to them was having 2112 blasted at me in the back seat of a car for 5 hours in 1978. But they’ve grown on me since then…

    The “Induct Warren Zevon Into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame” Facebook page has 13,342 likes. Just sayin.

    *The opinion of an American; the exchange rate for which in Canada probably sucks!

  14. Synfandel says

    Adrian W. @8:

    I think I may have my Canadian citizenship revoked for saying this, but I can’t stand Rush.

    I’m a Rush fan, but I often fear I’ll have my passport yanked and be set adrift on an ice floe, because I don’t watch hockey. I just hope that my I-love-curling defense will save me.

  15. Synfandel says

    I would also nominate Elton John, Styx, Supertramp, Hawkwind, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, and the Guess Who.

    Guess when I was a teenager.

  16. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    . . . (the modern day equivalent [of Quincy Jones] is Rick Rubin, who has produced everyone from Jay Z to Slayer — and he’ll be in the hall of fame before too long himself).

    The accomplishment I value most from Rubin was his production of Johnny Cash. I still listen to a lot of their music. Rubin re-revealed the genius of Cash that was hidden after the Sun record years.

  17. Michael Heath says

    Reginald Selkirk writes:

    You really only need one Midwestern rock band in there, since they are indistinguishable.

    Bog Seger and the Silver Bullet Band ≠ Kansas, REO, or even John Mellencamp.

  18. CaitieCat says

    I actually spent my teenage years in the area that Rush are from; they went to the next high school down the road (L’Amoureux – lammeroe in the local dialect), and I used to babysit for Alex Lifesen’s sister (she lived four doors down from me).

    Never liked them much, though I respect their talent. Too much Objectivist claptrap for my taste, but definitely three outstanding musicians.

  19. Michael Heath says

    Dexeron writes:

    Ann and Nancy Wilson are, and always have been, amazing. They still rock.

    I’ve been a Heart fan since their first album. One of the more annoying things Heart fans have to suffer through is the media whining about the lack of female rock stars where they fail to mention Heart having overcome the discrimination that certainly did exist. All while mentioning far less accomplished female rock stars (Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde) . That annoyance is amplified because I don’t find their fans support them because the Wilsons are female but instead because they’re leaders of a great rock band.

    Kinda like the South Park episode where the boys couldn’t comprehend that adults would distinguish people by their skin color, Heart’s just considered a great band rather than a non-great ban. Without their leaders’ femaleness having much of anything to do with it, e.g., Bonnie Rait, Stevie Nicks, Tracy Chapman, K.D. Lang, and Linda Ronstadt.

  20. jonathangray says

    All together now:

    There is unrest in the forest,
    There is trouble with the trees,
    For the maples want more sunlight
    And the oaks ignore their pleas.

    The trouble with the maples,
    (And they’re quite convinced the’re right)
    They say the oaks are just too lofty
    And they grab up all the light.

    But the oaks can’t help their feelings
    If they like the way they’re made.
    And they wonder why the maples
    Can’t be happy in their shade.

    There is trouble in the forest,
    And the creatures all have fled,
    As the Maples scream oppression,
    And the oaks just shake their heads.

    So the maples formed a union
    And demanded equal rights.
    “These oaks are just too greedy;
    We will make them give us light!”

    Now there’s no more oak oppression,
    For they passed a noble law,
    And the trees are all kept equal
    By hatchet, axe, and saw.

  21. Trickster Goddess says

    Rush and Heart were my two favouritist bands in high school so it’s great to see them inducted together. Heart lost me during there hair band/love ballad phase but I’ve recently rediscovered them now that they have started recording new albums again that take them back to their Led Zep/folk rock roots. Red Velvet Car is particularly good.

  22. dan4 says

    “I’m a big Randy Newman fan. I think he’s an incredible songwriter…”

    Maybe, but his nasal singing voice is annoying. He should have just stuck to songwriting.

  23. says

    “Maybe, but his nasal singing voice is annoying. He should have just stuck to songwriting.”

    Warren Zevon, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Neill Young, Joe Walsh, John Hyatt are–just off the top of my head–male vocalists who are not what anyone would call great “singers” but nobody else can do their songs like they can.

    One of the Syracuse, NY stations has Rush in fairly heavy rotation but only about six tunes (max). They’re on but I don’t usually hear them.

  24. Michael Heath says

    “Maybe, but his nasal singing voice is annoying. He should have just stuck to songwriting.”

    democommie writes:

    Warren Zevon, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Neill Young, Joe Walsh, John Hyatt [Hiatt] are–just off the top of my head–male vocalists who are not what anyone would call great “singers” but nobody else can do their songs like they can.

    I’d add Tom Petty into that mix, who I love. And hey! I think Neil Young’s a great singer, even though I don’t usually like high-pitched singers.

    While I don’t normally gravitate to lyric-centric artists (devout Stones and Led Zeppelin fan), I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan. I had a thirty-three year-old relative with an open mind challenge me to put a play-list together over Christmas. She’d only heard a Dylan song here and there and did not get why he had such devout fans (like me). So I put together about 140 minutes of his music in reverse chronological order and submitted it to her. This was the first time I recall ever being responsible for a conversion. I should point out she’s my primary resource where her challenge is keeping me relevant instead of stuck in the late-60s through the grunge era.

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