Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Last week, I said that I would be going on The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick on SIRIUS|XM OutQ on Friday instead of Wednesday.  That was the plan until I ended up on the disabled list and missing a few days of work.  Rest assured, I'll be talking about Jimi Hendrix on the show soon enough.

But this week, I'll probably be talking about this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. And also who *I* would vote for in 2011, if I were a voter. On one hand, I feel that with the long awaited induction of The Stooges, they can shut the door on the hall for a few years. On the other hand, there are lots of deserving artists, and here are a few who I would vote for. Please call in at 1-866-305-6887, or tweet @ Larry with your opinions! Below would be my ballot, with the expensive career retro, budget priced best of, and my favorite album by the artist.

First up is KISS. It's really easy to hate on them because of their crass commerciality and their marketing machine (although no one complains about Jay-Z's clothing line, sneakers, nightclubs, etc.). And because of the way Gene Simmons comes off in interviews. But I've said it before, I'll say it again: If you gave Gene and Paul Stanely a buck for every kid who bought a guitar or a drumset because of KISS, they'd double their earnings. Maybe the artists later decided that they didn't like KISS. But it was KISS that got them to start playing. That's influence.
If you have big $: Check out the The Box Set, released in 2001, which pretty much covers their entire career minus last year's surprisingly good Sonic Boom.
The best of: 2002's Greatest KISS, two discs that go through most of the non-makeup years. If you want to stick with makeup era, go with 2005's Gold (also two CDs) .
My favorite album: their self titled debut from 1974. They really had something to prove, and sounded really unified. My second choice would be 1975's Alive!

Actually, I'm not sure Public Enemy will be eligible next year: their debut album, Yo, Bum Rush The Show, came out in January of 1987, but I think a lead single may have come out in '86, which I think would make them eligible. But if anyone deserves to get in early, it's Public Enemy, and yes I know a lot of people don't think hip-hop groups should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To me, Public Enemy is rock and roll played on different instruments. They are punk and they are metal and they are blues and they are rock and roll. In the late '80s and early '90s, everyone was influenced by them, or scared of them, or both. And by the way, they still make great records, but since those records often criticize today's hip-hop culture, hip-hop writes them off as old and out of touch. Sorry, you don't get off that easy.
There's no P.E. box set, nor a career-spanning best of, but a good compilation is 2005's Power To The People and The Beats: The Best Of Public Enemy. It covers their Def Jam years.
My favorite P.E. record? 1988's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. It's one of the best records of all time. But 1990's Fear of A Black Planet is amazing also, and so is Apocolypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Black, but by then hip-hop was already moving on to the next thing.

Alice Cooper. And by "Alice Cooper," I mean Alice Cooper on vocals, guitarists Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway on bass and drummer Neal Smith. When they started, it was a band, and it was a great band. People don't take Alice seriously for some of the same reasons they don't take KISS seriously: he started out as a scary badass, and later got more commerical and cartoon-like. He was on Hollywood Squares, The Muppets, and played golf. He embraced showbiz. He was scary, but fun-scary. Still, he influenced all of the early punk bands (especially The Sex Pistols and The Ramones) but also lots of heavy metal artists and rock and rollers as well.
If you have big $: get the 1999 4 CD box set The Life And Crimes Of Alice Cooper.
The Best-of: go for 2001's 2 CD set Mascara and Monsters: The Best Of Alice Cooper.
Best album: tough one, I like 1973's Billion Dollar Babies, but also 1971's Love It To Death, 1971's Killer, 1972's School's Out and the 1975 "solo" album Welcome To My Nightmare.

I've been talking about Bill Withers a bit lately, I just think he is so... maybe not "underrated" but definitely under appreciated. If you only know his big hit singles, trust me on this one. Dude has got lots of great songs, and is a great song interpreter as well. I think if he was on Motown or Stax he would have gotten more props. He's one of the great soul/R&B singers of all time. Trust me.
There's no Bill box set that I know of, but never mind that, we all need to check out the documentary Still Bill The Movie. But for a best-of, go with 1994's Lean On Me: The Best Of Bill Withers.
My favorite album would be his debut, 1971's Just As I Am, followed by the follow-up, 1972's Still Bill. Also 1973's Live At Carnegie Hall.

Tom Waits is weird, and "weird" is important to rock and roll. Not everyone is weird, and not everyone has to be. But when someone can combine "weird" with great songwriting, it's a wondeful thing. Combine that with a great presentation and a unique voice? Well, that's Tom Waits. I was late to get into Waits, and I still don't "get" all of it, but his stuff blows me away. He's the only artist I can think of who keeps getting weirder.
Tom Waits doesn't have a box set, but if you have big $, pick up 2001's Used Songs, which covers his early era on Elektra, 1998's Beautiful Maladies and which covers his middle era on Island. There's no real compilation for his latest, and really great, period on Anti-, the imprint of punk rock label Epitaph Records.
My favorite album however, is his Epitaph debut, 1999's Mule Variations. I know most people choose older albums, but that's the one that really hooked me on him. The fact that he did such an incredible album a quarter century into his career blew me away.

The New York Dolls, I was a latecomer to them as well. I sort of got into them via frontman David Johansen's SIRIUS radio show, The Mansion Of Fun. The Dolls influenced Guns N Roses and they influenced The Smiths. Come on! I like their recent reunion albums. But all you really need to have is their 1973 self-titled debut album.

Of course, there are so many other bands who I think should get in: The Cure, The Beastie Boys, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bad Brains, Black Flag, Warren Zevon, Emmylou Harris, LL Cool J, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Peter Tosh, Motorhead and The MC5 to name a few. But as of this moment, the above are the artists I would vote for if I could vote tomorrow.

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