Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Well, it's been over a week since this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, congratulations to Tom Waits, Alice Cooper, Dr. John, Darlene Love, Neil Diamond and Leon Russell.  In the past few days, I've written "arguments" for who I think I deserves to be inducted in 2012 (and soon afterwards): KISS, The New York Dolls, Public Enemy, Bill Withers, Rush, Joy Division and Randy Rhoads. I'm about to wrap this theme up.  But there's five more artists I'd suggest for induction in the next few years.

The Cure. Some people may say that they haven't aged well, but I disagree.  I'd argue that they are sort of timeless. No matter what is the "in" thing, there's always going to be kids dressed in all black playing songs that reflect their feelings of alienation. But most of those songs won't be as good as the ones that Robert Smith has written. Sometimes The Cure is "in," and other times they aren't, but Smith has never seemed to care what's going on in the music scene. It's funny that a lot of people don't even know what they're about. I remember in the mid-90s going to see The Cure - a metal friend of mine was at the same show.  The next day he remarked that the show was really close to being a metal show. Everyone wearing black, really intense band, loud guitars.  I mean, "Fascination Street" is loud guitar rock.  I've read that Hendrix is one of Smith's biggest influences. This isn't the kind of the music that Hall of Fame voters generally gravitate towards, and they've never gotten much support from Rolling Stone, but they represent rock music that lives outside of the mainstream, and maybe occasionally visits. That's an important part of rock music though.

The Beastie Boys. Has any band ever had a more unlikely career arc? Starting out as an average hardcore punk band (nowhere near as good as say, Bad Brains, Black Flag or Minor Threat), they transformed themselves into the biggest hip-hop group ever (at the time) in the mid '80s with Licensed To Ill, using Run-D.M.C.'s template of Rick Rubin production, spare beats, loud guitars and cool samples. They then created a mind blowing album of hundreds of layers of samples on Paul's Boutique. For Check Your Head, the put everything together - hip-hop jams, hard rock anthems, hardcore punk rants, and even added some really funky instrumental tracks. They became one of the few bands who could unite hipster, suburban jocks, punks and hip-hoppers, not to mention the Lollapalooza crowd. Along the way, they created the template for The Jerky Boys and a million morning radio shows (for better or worse) with "Cookie Puss," made fake country music as Country Mike, shot some iconic music videos, and went from being drunken brats to global activists, without losing any of their cool. They made it cool to care about a tiny country that many Americans never heard of on the other side of the world. And an unbelievable catalog of incredible songs.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of my favorite bands ever. Like The Beastie Boys, influenced by hardcore punk, hip-hop and funk, but coming from an entirely different place (the Hollywood Hills). Also like the B-Boys, they started out as pranksters who weren't necessarily a band you'd take too seriously, but they grew up over the years, and their writing got deeper. Everything came together on Bloodsugarsexmagik, as perfect of an album as anyone's ever done. I can't wait to hear their new album, which will hopefully come out later this year.

No one works in the service of the music like Emmylou Harris. She always seems to know the right thing to do, the right inflection, to make a song hit the exact right note. She's a great writer, but if she doesn't have anything, she has no problem using other people's materials. It's not about her ego. She's a great collaborator: of course she came up with country-rock legend Gram Parsons, and then went on to become a legend in her own right. But still, it seems that she doesn't mind singing backup if she likes the song or the artist enough. And talk about aging gracefully, she seems to get better with each year. I think her older friends prefer her '70s or '80s albums, but my favorite is the one where I discovered her: Wrecking Ball.

Motorhead. I think the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should be, above all else, about influence. Few bands have influenced more groups than Motorhead. Heavy metal would be a different genre without Motorhead. Check out their documentary, it's a big "exhibit A" for why they should be inducted.

Of course, there are lots of other artists who I think should get in, including Black Flag, Warren Zevon, LL Cool J, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, The MC5, The Replacements, X, Cheap Trick and Peter Gabriel to name a few. So, tune in next year for more discussions on this topic!

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