The ‘Not In a Nutshell’ Long-Winded Rundown of the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees
Sssshhhhhh….can you hear that? It’s the sound of a million Rush fanatics furiously pounding out seething emails to the Board of Whoevers at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for once again failing to place their Canadian idols amongst the music industry’s elite artists in the Hall’s home in Cleveland, Ohio. Along with the tears of Geddy-Heads the world over comes a new batch of inductees to dissect and debate, which is the purpose of todays post. Sorry Rush lovers-maybe next year?
Today’s post will feature the artists and bands inducted into this year’s ‘Performer’ class. Of course, all opinions on said artists and bands are mine, which means you can expect a little bit of bias and probably a touch of ignorance, which is also fitting since it’s those same faults that are often lobbed at the Hall of Fame over its induction process. You see, the Hall of Fame inductees are decided on by 500 Hall appointed voters-industry types, critics, and historians. The general consensus is these voters (who, for the most part, have their identities hidden from the general public) are casting their votes based on personal musical preference, rather than the cold hard facts (such as album sales, concert revenues, and how often an act is mentioned in thank you speeches at the Grammys). It’s for this reason alone that bands like Rush still haven’t found their way to the Hall, since many of the same critics and music writers who bash Rush and all their Lord of the Rings influenced prog-rockness are also casting the votes for the Hall. Whoops.
G N’ Fuckin’ R, baby. I’m assuming that the Hall’s voting in of the band was meant for the classic Guns line-up (the one responsible for the albums Appetite for Destruction (1987), G N’ R Lies (1988), and Use Your Illusion I & II (1991): Axl Rose, Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler. Guns N’ Roses brought hard rock back to the mainstream, and along with it endless tales of drugs, booze, and overall debauchery that had been missing from the world of popular music for a while. By the time 1993’s The Spaghetti Incident finally surfaced, Guns N’ Roses as a band were pretty much finished, with all but singer Axl Rose either quitting or being fired (depending on who’s telling the story). Over the years Axl has been working with a variety of different musicians under the Guns N’ Roses name, and even managed to release a new album of material three years ago (Chinese Democracy, anyone?). The big question is: which G N’ R line-up will be at the Induction ceremony next April? Considering the public battle that has gone on between guitarist Slash and Rose over the years, chances are slim it will be the original. Does the Hall of Fame allow cover bands to perform at these things?
Do They Deserve To Be Inducted?
As much as G N’R have kinda bugged me over the years, I have to admit they should be in the Hall. They’ve sold a massive amount of albums (somewhere in the 100 million plus range), and at the height of their popularity were the biggest band in the world. Axl Rose may be an egomaniacal douche, but he and the rest of his LA based scallywags definitely made a lasting impression on the world of music, even if they were responsible for a generation of kids thinking it was cool to rock bandanas with their formal wear.
Paradise City, from 1988
The Chili Peppers did okay for a band of white kids who managed to mash together a tasty blend of pop and funk without ever having too much of the dreaded cheese factor diluting the mix. Again, I suspect that the Hall had a certain Pepper’s line-up in mind when it came to their inclusion in this year’s inductees: Anthony Keidis, Flea, Chad Smith, and John Frusciante-even though the Peppers have had their fair share of personnel changes over the years. Although not an original Pepper, Smith has been helming the drum throne for some time now. The Chili Peppers have had a barrage of guitarists from day one, although it’s been Frusciante whose been the go-to guy (and what many consider the heart and soul of the band) on some of their biggest successes, such as 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik and 1999’s Californication. I suspect that you’ll see a return to the Stadium Arcadium touring line-up when the Chili Peppers are inducted in April, with current guitarist Josh Klinghoffer sharing the stage with Frusciante, Keidis and Flea. The big question is whether one-time guitarist Dave Navarro will crash the party. I hope to god the answer is no.
Do They Deserve To Be Inducted?
Yes. The Chili Peppers may have made a career out of having a singer who couldn’t sing, but like most great bands they somehow managed to turn potential weaknesses into strengths. Add into that a ground breaking bassist in Flea, and you have a band that wore their musical influences on their sleeves with pride (when they bothered wearing shirts). Along the way they’ve collected seven Grammys and sold 70 million albums.
Can’t Stop, from 2003
Donovan Leitch is probably best known for songs like Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow (both released in 1966) and his role in the rise of the psychedelic counter-culture that swept across England in the late 1960s. Donovan started off his career as an English Bob Dylan, acoustic guitar in hand and harmonica always at the ready. Although his contemporaries (the biggest of which was the Beatles) generally went on to greater fame and fortune, Donovan is often credited as being ‘the first’, heavily influencing a generation of artists that went on to form the creative mecca that became the Summer of Love in 1969. Since the late sixties Donovan has made sporadic public appearances, and rarely finds himself in the studio. He’ll be at the Induction ceremony, though.
Does He Deserve To Be Inducted?
Personally, I could take or leave Donovan. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a child of the sixties, or maybe because Sunshine Superman annoys the hell out of me, but Donovan has always just been a foot note for me. He’s also an artist who I feel their lesser known catalog is far superior to the songs they’re more widely known for, but I’m on the fence as to whether that warrants inclusion in the Hall.
Colors, from 1966
Nyro is a singer/songwriter whose work, of all the inductees this year, I am least familiar with. In fact, I can honestly say her songs and the artists who have covered them are so far outside my comfort zone I can’t really say either way whether she deserves to be in the Hall. Here’s what I can tell you: Three Dog Night, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Peter, Paul and Mary have all had hits with Nyro-penned songs. Oh, and some gal named Babs Streisand. Nyro passed away in 1997 from cancer.
Does She Deserve To Be Inducted?
As I said above, Nyro’s style is not really my bag. I’ve listened to her songs, both as she does them and by other artists, and I’m still not quite sold on them-yet. It could also be a case of me automatically dismissing anyone whose had anything to do with Streisand.
He’s a Runner, from 1970
The Small Faces were born in the mid-sixties and quickly turned their mod influenced music and fashion into chart topping success, rivalling other British acts of the time like The Who and the Rolling Stones. After original singer Steve Marriott left the band in 1969, the Faces were (re)born when Rod Stewart signed on to fill the vocal duties, and future Rolling Stones sideman Ron Wood stepped in on guitar. The band lasted another five years, until Stewart discovered that skin tight pants and disco were where the chicks could be found. As mentioned earlier, Wood went on to join the Stones, and drummer Kenney Jones filled the drum seat in The Who for two albums after the passing of Keith Moon in 1978. Rod Stewart, of course, made a name for himself by having totally crazy hair, playing soccer, and shagging anything with a vagina and a pulse.
Do They Deserve To Be Inducted?
No. The Small Faces were a great band, and even with Stewart in the fold as the Faces the group continued to be more than competent, but as far as be included in the Hall I’d have to say ‘pass’.
All or Nothing, from 1966
If you would have told me way back when that the band responsible for (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)! would one day be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I would have kicked you right in the shins. Yet here we are, ten albums and literally dozens of awards later, honouring the Beastie Boys. I have to give the three lads from Brooklyn credit-they’ve done pretty good for themselves. Michael Diamond aka Mike D, Adam Horovitz aka Ad-Rock and Adam Yauch aka MCA managed to fuse punk rock ethos with the whole urban street thang, and along the way help launch the careers of Rick Rubin and Doctor Dre, both of whom had stints behind the turntables with the group in the mid-80s.
Do They Deserve To Be Inducted?
Of all the artists in this year’s Hall of Fame class, I’d say the Beastie Boys are most worthy of inclusion. Not just because they wrote (and continue to write) cool songs, but because they are a band that broke new ground, tore down fences, and helped to build a new genre of music around their sound. Rap was happening, rock was happening, but no one was really fusing the two worlds like the Beastie Boys did back in the 80s. Once Paul’s Boutique hit in 1989, the Beastie Boys cemented their role as pack leaders, and always seemed to be a foot ahead of the competition.
Root Down, from 2004
For a full list of inductees, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website.
Posted on December 8, 2011, in Music and tagged Beastie Boys, Donovan, Guns N' Roses, Laura Nyro, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rush, The Faces, The Small Faces. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.