Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I've already written about being a bit mystified about the significance of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Dave Clark 5. Although Steven Van Zandt makes a good case for them, I daresay that Tom Hanks really brought the point home at tonight's induction ceremony. The country was in a dark place in the early '60s, and The Dave Clark 5 (among other great British bands) helped to bring a smile to peoples faces. That might be a simpistic way to look at it, but Mr. Hanks seemed to feel passionately about it. Sometimes non-musicians show up at these events because they have a movie to promote, or just because it makes them look cool. But you get the impression that Tom actually took the time to write his own speech and that the DC5 really meant a lot to him. It's just so sad that singer Mike Smith died just a few days ago. And I didn't realize, until tonight, that sax player Denis Payton died earlier this year. It's too bad that people can't really hear their music anymore: it's out of print, and you can't even download it (legally). Mr. Van Zandt and Wicked Cool Records, I'm looking at you!

Billy Joel made a great speech about John Mellencamp: he didn't tip-toe around John's reputation as being difficult, but also pointed out that, more importantly, John is a voice of discontent that just won't be shut up. Mellencamp is often compared to Bruce Springsteen. I found it interesting that, a few years ago, Bruce stood on that same stage, pointing out that there have been so many horror stories in the music industry, many told in prior years on that same stage. He was grateful that he hadn't experienced too much of that kind of thing. Mellencamp, on the other hand, has had a much more difficult ride. I'm glad to see that he's still on it, and as he pointed out, he still has work to do. And his performance was (as usual) great.

It was cute that they got Justin Timberlake to make the speech for Madonna, but let's face it, the minute she got on stage, you forgot all about it. It was really interesting to hear her speak. Without saying so much, it was sort of her "goodbye" to Warner Brothers, the label where she has spent her entire career. But her next album will be her last for them, after that she's signed to Live Nation, which isn't a record label (at least not in the way that we think of them). The Stooges' performance of "Burning Up" was brilliant, "Ray Of Light" less so. But come on Hall of Fame, these guys deserve their due!

Lou Reed's speech about Leonard Cohen was cranky and rambling, but Mr. Cohen was classy and elegant. I loved his line, "Jon Landau said, 'I've seen the future of rock and roll and it isn't Leonard Cohen!'" He recited the lyrics to "Tower Of Song" after that.

John Fogerty's speech about The Ventures was cool, and it was nice to see that they're still performing.

Ben Harper looked a bit nervous at the podium during his speech about Little Walter, and I thought it was sad that no one accepted on Little Walter's behalf. After that, Ben performed with James Cotton and the Letterman band. When they did "My Babe," Ben killed it.

And it was great to see Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who don't seem to get their due credit, be inducted .

Oh yeah, and Joan Jett's peformance of the DC5's "Bits And Pieces" was great, and made me want to find the original.

P.S. To the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: stop embarassing yourselves, and elect The Stooges next year. While you're at it: Jeff Beck, Alice Cooper, KISS, Dr. John, The Meters, The Faces, Tom Waits and Peter Gabriel haven't been inducted yet. And neither has Bill Withers.

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