This Week’s Theme: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs
I have a love/hate relationship with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Rock Hall). I’ve visited a few times, about once per decade, and I’ve enjoyed the time spent there. The exhibits tend to be hit or miss, but I certainly don’t think it is a waste of time to visit. It’s not the Museum of Modern Art, but it serves its purpose. The real discussion of the Rock Hall, however, is a conceptual one – it is all about the members, not the brick and mortar building.
The first members of the Rock Hall were inducted in 1986 and there are now a little under 400 artists who can claim membership. During the last thirty-five plus years, there has been plenty of controversy along with some quality selections by the voting committees. The entire process continues to avoid transparency, and the Rock Hall is clearly a money-making, private museum that can do whatever the hell it wants. It has no public mandate and no reason to adapt to the whim of music fans. Unofficial stories about the voting on artists such as The Monkees, The Dave Clark Five, Chicago, and ZZ Top can be researched with just a few Google clicks, and there is no way to make everyone happy. But fandom and its opinions also have no obligation to adapt to the whim of the Rock Hall’s clearly biased voting committee. They like to hide behind their statement of non-transparency, but if something looks like a pig and smells like a pig then it is a pig. A couple of years ago there was a lot of propaganda about how a new voting committee was going to set things right, but the 2021 selections clearly show that they are still allowing themselves to be bound by artificial rules about how to select artists and how many can be selected. If they want to fix thirty-six years of mistakes, they need to make some swift changes.
The first change that seems obvious is that they should start to induct more artists per year and stop acting like their members are a part of some specially selected group. There will always be snubs in any sort of voting process, but they can decrease the number of obvious grievances. The selection of artists such as Guns ‘n’ Roses, ZZ Top, The Moody Blues, The Doobie Brothers, and Nine Inch Nails before other older, more popular, and/or more influential artists of similar genres is easy to criticize and impossible to justify with a serious discussion. That is not to say that Guns ‘n’ Roses and The Moody Blues don’t belong as members, but not before Judas Priest and King Crimson. What they need to do is say “sorry, we made a mistake” and then have one massive induction ceremony of about fifty artists. They could have a week-long party with nightly concerts and then at least the list of snubs won’t be so obviously egregious.
The second issue is much more problematic. The Rock Hall has now clearly shown itself to be a discriminatory organization, especially against women. It is clear that they have started to broaden their walls to include other genres such as rap and metal, but there is still a clear bias toward men. There also appears to be a new bias toward American artists, especially those who recorded after 1980. At this point, membership in the Rock Hall is focused on all music other than jazz and country, so it is time for the overall diversity of the members to expand toward non-American, non-rock artists.
Many people, after over thirty years of not caring about the Rock Hall, will simply say “why does it matter?” The problem is that the Rock Hall is not just a private museum that can be ignored by simply not visiting. Membership in the Rock Hall now impacts the ability of old acts to continue recording and performing after their prime. Membership drives sales of recordings and concert tickets. Membership is one of the first identifying features mentioned in press kits and advertising of the member artists. That level of awareness, when it equates to monetary gain, should not be ignored. Discrimination is still rampant throughout the world, and no one should ignore it’s impact on anyone, even aging rock stars who probably spent all of their earnings thirty years ago on bad decisions.
Welcome to Radio Faux Show number thirty-five.
First things first – click a link to start listening and then come back to read about this week’s songs.
The Glass Ceiling
The Rock Hall is a glaring example of discrimination against women. The percent of women members is a shameful eight percent (see Faux Show #32 and Faux Show #33 for some of my thoughts on female artists who demand more recognition). Although the new group of judges is attempting to improve the Rock Hall’s voting history with the induction of Carole King, Tina Turner, and The Go-Go’s in 2021, these seven women only make up just over thirty percent of the artists that will be inducted this year, and it is seven women only because the Go-Go’s are an all-female group with five members. At that rate, it will take decades to make up for the errors made over the last thirty-six years. I suggest the Rock Hall fix their problem in one shot with the induction of fifteen female artists per year in addition to their standard annual additions. They can start next year with the inclusion of these fifteen artists and groups.
Joan Armatrading: See Faux Show #19 for my thoughts on Joan Armatrading.
B-52s: The B-52s formed in the mid-late ’70s and laid the groundwork for the new wave music of the ’80s. Their mix of humor, party music, and infectious rhythms and melodies were a much-needed cure for the problems facing America during the Carter/Reagan years. Along with the iconic speak-sing vocals of Fred Schneider, the lead vocals, harmonies, and beehive hair-dos of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson are still a part of pop culture. They exploded into the American consciousness with their SNL performances, and then, when everyone thought they were finished, they released Cosmic Thing, an album containing one of the most popular songs of the ’80s, “Love Shack.” Their infectious fun is dearly needed to counter-balance the growing seriousness of the Rock Hall.
Pat Benatar: See Faux Show #32 for my thoughts on Pat Benatar.
Mary J. Blige: I was not listening to much pop music in the early ’90s, and definitely not Mary J. Blige. I recall spending several years back then focusing my attention on Ray Charles and old R&B acts. But, now that I am much older and wiser, I see that the music of Mary J. Blige lies on a straight line from Ray Charles to Stevie Wonder to Prince to Blige. Her music still sounds as fresh as it was thirty years ago, and her voice is one of the greatest in R&B. Her list of accomplishments, which started with her debut album, are an incredible string of all possible accolades possible for a female R&B artist. Her snub is also one of the most difficult to understand and a prime example of the Rock Hall’s prejudice.
Kate Bush: See Faux Show #32 for my thoughts on Kate Bush.
Mariah Carey: Even more ridiculous then the snub of Mary J. Blige is the snub of Mariah Carey. She has sold over 200 million records (!) and is one of the greatest selling artists of all time (male or female). She is arguably the most popular pop music artist not in the Rock Hall. Her influence on R&B and Pop vocals, her use of hip-hop in pop music, and her almost unbelievable list of accomplishments should have made her a first-ballot member. This is the definition of discrimination.
The Carpenters: This one is easy to argue and shows both the lack of respect the Rock Hall has for the pop music of the ’70s and their prejudice against female artists. The Bee Gees, Cat Stevens, Donovan (give me a break!), The Doobie Brothers, James Taylor, and Randy Newman are members, but one of the best-selling artists of all time, much less the ’70s, has been snubbed for over twenty years. You don’t have to like an artist’s music to recognize how influential they are. The Carpenters made more impact on the music of today than 75% of the Rock Hall members.
Sheryl Crow: She may not be the most important artist of her generation, but while pop music was moving away from singer/songwriters and into the hands of song production machines, Sheryl Crow produced a string of rock/pop albums that now feel like the end of the line for female songwriters of her type. We didn’t know it at the time, but she may be the last true female rock and roll songwriter.
Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine: See Faux Show #32 for my thoughts on Gloria Estefan.
Connie Francis: See Faux Show #32 for my thoughts on Connie Francis.
Chaka Khan: Chaka Khan is the Queen of Funk, She has sold over seventy million records, won ten Grammy Awards, and released the first R&B/Rap crossover hit, “I Feel For You.” She is an R&B icon, a symbol of female empowerment, and one of the greatest vocalists of all time in any genre. Like Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige, this snub is an egregious example of blatant sexism.
Annie Lennox and Eurythmics: See Faux Show #32 for my thoughts on Annie Lennox. Eurythmics influenced the MTV generation for decades to come. Annie Lennox has one of the greatest voices in pop music history, they wrote one of the most iconic ’80s pop songs, “Sweet Dreams,” and Dave Stewart’s production techniques have influenced generations of electro-pop musicians.
Laura Nyro: See Faux Show #19 for my thoughts on Laura Nyro. *Addendum: This was an error; Laura Nyro was inducted in 2012.
The Runaways: See Faux Show #32 for my thoughts on The Runaways.
Salt ‘N’ Pepa: See Faux Show #33 for my thoughts on Salt ‘N’ Pepa.
Most members of the Rock Hall can be split into two groups: artists who changed the sound of music and artists who are very good at an already existing sound. In other words, creators and really good imitators, or in modern-day social media terms, Influencers and Followers. For example, Black Sabbath invented Heavy Metal while Guns ‘n’ Roses are good at playing heavy metal. These five artists fall into the “Influencer” category and it is absurd that they have not been selected for induction. If I were given veto authority over the Rock Hall voter selections, these are the first five artists I would induct, after inducting a bunch of female artists.
Admittedly, if German experimental rock band Can were inducted into the Rock Hall they would be the worst-selling, least known members. But, they would also be one of the most critically-acclaimed, influential members, and there would be a lot of current members lining up to give their induction speech, from David Byrne to Brian Eno to Radiohead to fellow Krautrock friends Kraftwerk.
To understand the importance and influence of Can takes an entire book (it exists, is titled All Gates Open, and was written by Rob Young and founding member Irmin Schmidt). One way to understand is to simply list the genres and artists (including several current Rock Hall artists) that were influenced by the band: Brian Eno/Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Radiohead, post-rock, electronic music, ambient music, Stereolab, The Fall, Pavement, The Flaming Lips, noise-rock, experimental music, post-punk, late-70s Bowie and King Crimson, trip-hop, EDM, and on and on.
If you ever decide to internalize the music of Can (which I have done religiously for decades) then you will find yourself in a new world of music where almost everything you hear from after 1975 will show evidence of Can. They are a band, much like The Velvet Underground, who only had a core group of listeners during their existence, but those listeners (and others after them) include many of the most important artists of the last forty-plus years.
Black Sabbath were the first heavy metal band, but Judas Priest invented the sound that is most commonly recognized as metal. Along with bands like The Scorpions, Priest built the blueprint of heavy metal in the mid-70s and then perfected it by the end of the decade. Judas Priest’s twin-guitar attack, anthemic choruses, and high-register vocals were groundbreaking at the time, and every metal band from England, LA, New York, and the rest of the world who started in the late ’70s/early ’80s were attempting to simulate the sounds of Priest.
Metal will always be a form of music that is ignored by anyone but those who love it. Metal is one of the most popular forms of popular music in the world and, thankfully, the Rock Hall has slowly opened its doors to metal acts. Still, the induction of Alice Cooper, Van Halen, Metallica, Bon Jovi, Guns ‘n’ Roses, and Nine Inch Nails before the selection of Judas Priest is clearly an example of a Rock Hall bias against non-American metal acts that isn’t present in other forms of music. The question now is will Priest be inducted before Iron Maiden, or will neither ever get in?
Robert Fripp should be in the Rock Hall simply for the influence he has had on music technology and production, but his band, King Crimson, deserves induction on its own for their influence on rock music from the ’70s through today. People love to snicker at prog-rock, imagining Keith Emerson, of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, sitting behind a mountain of keyboards while Carl Palmer plays twenty-minute drum solos after Greg Lake sings about demented big-top circus shows. King Crimson, however, are the epitome of everything positive that prog-rock has to offer – highly technical musicianship, dense composition and production, and a blend of rock, jazz, and experimentation that makes every King Crimson album different yet interesting.
To go through the career of Robert Fripp and King Crimson in any sort of detailed way is a book and not a few paragraphs. There are several major periods in King Crimson’s output, some so different that you would not know it is the same band. If you aren’t familiar with them at all, here are the basics. The band started as an experimental prog band whose sound incorporated late-60s British psychedelia with innovative electronic and recording techniques. Greg Lake of ELP was a vocalist for a little while, and their first three albums go together as a trilogy of sorts. This was followed by a period of extreme experimentation, which culminated in their album Red, one of the first true noise-rock albums. This second period featured John Wetton (of Asia) on bass and vocals for several albums. In the late ’70s/early ’80s, Fripp brought in a new lineup featuring Adrian Belew on vocals. This resulted in a trilogy of albums (the red, yellow, and blue ones) that are probably the most popular outside of their debut (the one with the scary face on the cover). From the ’90s on, there have been several more albums and tours, all of which have resulted in more material for fans to savor. To summarize, Robert Fripp is a musical genius and has shaped the sound of modern music without ever recording a hit single.
Wilco’s Rock Hall snub makes no sense and, from what I can tell by reading opinions online, was a surprise to everyone in 2020, and then again in 2021. The ’90s were an extremely innovative decade in rock music, especially from artists categorized as post-rock, alt-country, and a variety of forms of computer-based electronic music. One of the two most important bands in the evolution of rock music from the grunge/alternative rock sounds of the ’90s into the electronic based sounds of the 21st century, Radiohead, were inducted into the Rock Hall in 2019. The other band is Wilco.
From their first release, an alt-country album recorded as a contractual obligation after the break-up of Uncle Tupelo, to their masterworks, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born, Wilco assimilated alt-country, folk music, roots rock, post-rock, electronic music, lo-fi, and rock and roll into a cohesive sound that marked the start of the new-American sound of the 21st century.
They may not have the album and ticket sales of Foo Fighters, the other major American rock band of the late ’90s and 2000’s, but where Foo Fighters show consistency, Wilco shows a level of experimentation comparable to the work of Radiohead. They continue to put out records with an always shifting focus, and the songwriting of Jeff Tweedy has now proven to be that of an American master. If a band like Wilco is not qualified for induction into the Rock Hall, then it may be time to stop inducting any artists who began recording after 1995.
I determined the artists to include in this week’s theme selections by determining thirteen different groups of artists and then selecting one from each group. Each of the artists in these groups deserve induction as much as any of the others.
Pop Music: The Monkees “Pleasant Valley Sunday”
Let’s start with the basics. Pop music is the foundation of radio, record sales, and the members of the Rock Hall. Among the dozens of artists in this category who deserve mention, The Monkees, Duran Duran, The Carpenters, Carly Simon, and Connie Francis are five obvious choices.
One of the biggest snubs since the beginning of the Rock Hall are The Monkees. Some music critics will never consider them anything more than a bubblegum novelty act, but they have twelve Top 40 hits including several of the most famous songs of the ’60s. They are still beloved today, and the fact that they didn’t write and perform all of their songs is just a rationalization for those who refuse to be a believer.
For my thoughts on Connie Francis, possibly the biggest snub of all, see Faux Show #32.
Hard Rock: Foreigner “”Juke Box Hero”
For many years, the Rock Hall was mostly filled with old R&B/Doo Wop acts, legendary soul artists, and white men who play music most commonly referred to as classic rock. Over the last ten years, the number of classic rock inductees has slowed down considerably as the voters have branched out into other genres. This is unfortunate for those hard rock acts who have been left behind, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving. Foreigner, Bad Company, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Bryan Adams and others are just as deserving as Journey, ZZ Top, The Doobie Brothers, and Def Leppard.
One of the most hated of all popular hard rock bands from the late ’70s/early ’80s is Foreigner. There was a time when you couldn’t go a day without hearing “Cold As Ice” and “Hot Blooded” multiple times on the radio. Thirty years later, that is no longer the case, and it is time for the critics to drop their prejudice and realize that Foreigner passes all of the tests for Rock Hall induction. They have five solid albums, sixteen Top 40 hits (including some of the most well-known rock songs of the era), and solid record sales. They get in simply for being so popular during a period when hard rock was at its peak.
There is still a group of artists including Bad Company, REO Speedwagon, Bryan Adams, and Styx who used to rule classic rock radio and now live in a world of reunion concert tours. At some point they should all be inducted so we can move on from these conversations.
The ’80s: Duran Duran “Hold Back the Rain”
One of the most beloved subsets of Pop Music is the glorious ’80s. Many of us show our age when we wax poetic about the early days of MTV and the fabulous music of the ’80s, but I would argue that pop music died in the late ’80s and didn’t make a comeback for almost fifteen more years after being driven out of the spotlight by alternative rock, grunge, and rap. As the end of an era, there is now a melancholic nostalgia found in the hits of 1981-85. Among the artists who made the ’80s the influential decade it was are Duran Duran, Devo, The B-52s, The Smiths, and Kate Bush.
Duran Duran are still often referenced as a band from the new romantic period who had some MTV hits, but they are so much more than that. There was a five-year period in which Duran Duran ruled MTV, Pop Radio, Teen Magazines, and, most importantly, the hearts of all girls between the ages of eight and fifteen (including Ms. Faux). Their fans have stayed with them for forty years, and they continue to put out quality recordings (their latest, and best in years, having just been released). They moved beyond their new romantic period after their first few albums and became a mix of synth-pop, dance music, pop/rock, and balladry. They are one of the most influential artists of the ’80s, and are by far the most successful of all of the British new wave acts.
Devo will get more attention in a future Faux Show. They were so far ahead of their time that their snub is indefensible.
Alternative Rock: The Smiths “How Soon is Now”
By the end of the ’80s, rock and roll as pop music was evolving into a form that by the ’90s was universally identified as alternative rock. Bands that had previously been forced to release albums on independent labels were suddenly getting signed to major labels and a new radio format was created to monetize this newfound popularity. Some of the most important artists that led to the success of alternative rock are already in the Rock Hall, such as R.E.M., U2, and Nirvana. Four others who were just as influential in building the genre are The Smiths, The Pixies, Sonic Youth, and The Violent Femmes.
The Smiths are one of the most important bands of ’80s college/independent radio. I can only imagine that their snub is based on some voting members’ inability to like Morrissey’s vocals and point of view. The Smiths are the perfect blend of goth aesthetic, teen angst, and guitar rock. At the time, they rivalled critical darlings R.E.M. and U2 for the title of greatest band in the world, but instead of staying together to produce a string of mainstream pop albums in the ’90s (like R.E.M. and U2), The Smiths broke up in 1987. The music they created in only five short years stands up against any bands’ work in a five-year period and still sounds relevant today.
In order to get to the alternative rock explosion of the ’90s, it took years of work in small clubs and college radio airplay by thousands of small bands. Two of the most important early ’80s artists who paved the way for Nirvana to succeed were The Violent Femmes and Sonic Youth. The Violent Femmes may not have a discography that is as well-known as other alternative rock bands, but they have one album that still stands as a gateway drug into the world of alternative music. Their debut, Violent Femmes, is still a classic album that is discovered by thirteen year old kids whose minds are immediately blown when they discover there is music that is catchy, funny, and laced with those words and images you aren’t supposed to sing about.
Sonic Youth will get more attention in a future Faux Show. They were so influential that their snub is indefensible. I am not going to go on a rant about how over-rated Nirvana is, and I understand why they are considered so important, but Sonic Youth and other noise bands of the early-mid ’80s were doing grunge long before it was called grunge and, in many cases, a lot better than Nirvana. As an angry young man during that time, I can only say that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was innocuous bubblegum pop music compared to “Teen Age Riot” and “Catholic Block.”
The Pixies started later in the ’80s than bands like Sonic Youth, but they were able to move into the ’90s with a major label deal and world-wide success. After The Smiths broke up and R.E.M. went Green, there were hundreds of thousands of music fans who didn’t care because The Pixies had already become the greatest band in the world. Their first three releases still stand as some of the greatest alternative rock albums ever produced.
The ’90s: Wilco ” A Shot in the Arm”
For my thoughts on Wilco, see Major Snubs.
The music of the ’90s was very different than that of the ’80s. MTV had evolved from an all-music video channel to a multi-dimensional cable power. New wave and guitar-based pop bands were being replaced by rap, dance, and grunge/alternative rock. The presidency of the first Bush culminated in the Gulf War, and sent pop culture in a spiral toward anger, resentment, and frustration. It was not a happy time.
However, the evolution of music in the ’90s was in many ways as creative as the evolution of music in the late ’60s/early ’70s. Artists were moving toward a multi-genre sound that mixed hip-hop, R&B, and rock into a new form of popular music much harder to label than in the past. Parallel to this change in sound was the change in how popularity was measured. Airplay was replaced with a new method of record sales calculation, which allowed artists previously held off the charts to demand recognition. The end result, from Nirvana to Wu Tang Clan, created one of the most diverse eras in pop music.
In this new world of cross-genre songwriting, an artist emerged unlike any seen before. Blending Generation X angst, lo-fi compositions, and a love of hip-hop, Beck was a new sound for those members of the Slacker Generation who didn’t think Nirvana was the second coming of Christ. From his early lo-fi albums to his breakthrough hit “Loser,” to his genre-defining classic Odelay, to his retro-funk/soul album Midnite Vultures, to his neo-folk masterpiece Sea Change, to his string of 21st century albums that combine all of the sounds he perfected in the ’90s, Beck produced a set of recordings that belong in the Rock Hall.
Grunge was invented in the ’80s and made a household word by Nirvana. There were dozens of bands to capitalize on the grunge craze of the early ’90s (anyone remember Silverchair?), but there was one act who were able to combine the energy of grunge with a slacker aesthetic and a sense of humor and lift the genre out of its misery. Weezer exploded into pop culture with a Happy Days themed video about a dead rock and roll legend, seemed to break apart from the stress of sudden stardom, and then spent the last twenty-plus years producing one solid album after another. They may not be influential, but, along with Foo Fighters and Green Day, they are the only American rock band to last into the present as a major arena-rock draw. While others continue to survive as small-venue attractions, Weezer is, for some indescribable reason, the band that made it big. It must just be that Rivers Cuomo knows how to write a catchy hook with a sing-a-long chorus better than any of his contemporaries.
Much like The Pixies, Pavement had only a relatively brief period of existence, but for about five years they were the greatest band in the world. Induction into the Rock Hall for Pavement is a long shot, but as a fan I feel like time will show them to be one of the more influential ’90s bands – certainly more important than the dozens of grunge bands who outsold them during their glory years.
If you made me pick one band who rarely gets mentioned for nomination but someday will surprise everyone and get into the Rock Hall, I may select Flaming Lips. Their slow growth from ’80s psychedelic band to ’90s alternative rock band to 21st century critical darlings is one of the greatest success stories in rock history. Wayne Coyne’s rise from young guitarist of the band he formed with his brother, to leader of the band, to pop culture icon is an amazing story. Any of their fans who have been with them from the beginning know that someday they will be recognized as the greatest band in the world! Not likely, but they certainly deserve more credit than they have received, not only for their music, but for their innovations, experimentation, and amazing live shows.
Progressive Rock: King Crimson “Elephant Talk” and Supertramp “Bloody Well Right”
For my thoughts on King Crimson, see Major Snubs.
Yes, Genesis, and Moody Blues are in the Rock Hall, but anyone who grew up listening to classic rock radio in the ’80s knows that Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Jethro Tull, and Supertramp were just as important. “Karn Evil No. 9,” “Aqualung,” and “The Logical Song” are burned into the brains of at least two generations of rock fans. Let’s just stop hating and accept the fact that white British guys in the ’70s were making good music that influenced the sound of rock and roll, even if The Sex Pistols tried to destroy them all. In the end, you never hear “Anarchy in the U.K.” in the grocery store, but you still hear “Give a Little Bit” and can’t help but hum along.
Funk/R&B: The Meters “Look-Ka Py Py,” Rufus and Chaka Khan “Tell Me Something Good,” War “Me and Baby Brother,” and Mary J. Blige “I’m Goin’ Down”
The Rock Hall has done very well with their R&B inductions for artists up through the ’80s, but they have focused much more attention on rap for artists from the ’90s. You can read my thoughts on Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey in The Glass Ceiling section of this week’s show. When it comes to funk, they’ve also done well, but they need to complete the list with the induction of Rufus/Chaka Khan (see The Glass Ceiling for my thoughts on Chaka Khan), War, Kool & The Gang, Tower of Power, and especially The Meters.
War is a snub that I don’t understand. They are the last of the great ’70s soul acts that haven’t been inducted and I don’t understand why. Their mix of soul, funk, and jazz was unlike any other artist of their time, and they have Top 40 crossover hits as well. Tower of Power will never get inducted, but they are similar to War, only without the hits to back them up. Kool & The Gang are also an odd snub, and I think they will get in sooner or later. Unlike War and Tower of Power, they were able to evolve from a first-generation funk band into an ’80s R&B hit machine.
Of all of these funk bands, though, The Meters are the band that is the least known and the most influential. Along with The JBs, Kool & The Gang, Sly & The Family Stone, and a few others, The Meters invented funk music. All of these first-generation funk groups created the sounds that would become P-Funk and the rest of the ’70s funk explosion, and The Meters led the way right along with The JBs. The Rock Hall has inducted just about every doo-wop group to ever have a hit, so maybe someday they’ll realize the importance of all of these funk artists and let them sit side-by-side with all of the Motown and Atlantic R&B acts they have already inducted.
Rap: Ice-T “6 ‘N the Mornin'”
Over the last ten years, the Rock Hall has made it a point to induct rap artists. Most would not argue with those inducted so far, but there are two they have snubbed and it makes no sense.
Both Ice-T and Erik B. & Rakim created extremely influential music in the late ’80s and had a profound impact on all rap to come. I’m not a rap expert, and you can certainly research these two artists in depth. I’ll just say that Ice-T is one of a small group of artists who invented gangsta rap (before N.W.A.) and Erik B. & Rakim pushed sampling to new heights and created an internal rhyme technique that all rappers to follow have had to emulate in order to sound relevant.
International Artists: Can “Moonshake,” Toots and the Maytals “Pressure Drop,” Ali Farka Toure “Hawa Dolo,” and Fela Kuti “Obe”
After their discrimination against women, the Rock Hall’s most obvious discrimination is against artists from countries other than the United States and England (and even England has started to be ignored for artists from 1980 on). Rock purists would argue that rock and roll is an American musical form so this isn’t discrimination, but rather it is due to geography. I’ll call BS and leave it at that. At this point, the Rock Hall is clearly devoted to almost any form of music other than country and jazz. In that spirit, it seems that any international artist who was either influenced by and/or had an influence on American/British music should be recognized. The list of artists who meet this definition is large, but there are several who should be immediately inducted.
For my thoughts on Germany’s Can, see Major Snubs.
Nigerian musician Fela Kuti invented Afrobeat music and is one of a handful of artists responsible for the combination of R&B, jazz, soul, and funk music with African rhythms and song structure that is now found throughout western music. Along with Hugh Masekela, Manu Dibango, Jorge Ben, and other similar artists, Fela Kuti changed the sound of music in the ’70s. Without these artists, the careers of Rock Hall members such as Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, and Paul Simon would have wrapped up in the ’70s instead of exploding in the ’80s with groundbreaking works such as Security, Remain in Light, and Graceland.
The Rock Hall has a few members who are reggae artists, but for some reason they have yet to induct Toots and the Maytals. I don’t have much to say other than, “why?” There is a direct line from rocksteady/ska/reggae/dub music to British punk and new wave. There are several reggae artists who should be inducted, and Toots is an obvious place to start. Toots is the Otis Redding of reggae. The Maytals are as much, if not more, responsible for the evolution and popularity of reggae as Bob Marley (especially in the ’60s). They are definitely more responsible than Jimmy Cliff.
Ali Farka Toure “Hawa Dolo”: The majority of Toure’s albums in the ’70s received very little international attention, but he slowly gained an audience in the ’80s, and by the ’90s he was recording one successful album after another. His mastery of the blues led to a style called desert blues, and he is now included in almost all lists of the greatest guitarists. He is not as influential as artists like Can, Fela Kuti, and Toots and the Maytals, but sometimes just being so good, especially when playing the #1 rock-god instrument, should be enough.
Songwriters: Nick Drake “Which Will”
There are still so many songwriters to induct to the Rock Hall that it is hard to focus on only a few. Some obvious choices include Warren Zevon, Harry Nilsson, and Jim Croce. Female snubs include several, and you can read my thoughts on Lucinda Williams and Laura Nyro in Faux Show #19 and Faux Show #33. The two most influential, though, are Nick Drake and Steve Earle.
Nick Drake barely recorded any music before his tragic death at the age of twenty-six. The music he did record was barely listened to by anyone, and if you look at his discography and record sales you would not be able to distinguish him from hundreds of other short-lived ’70s singer/songwriters. The difference is that the music of Nick Drake has lived on for fifty years and has grown more beloved with each passing generation. By the ’90s, entire genres such as Lo-Fi and Indie Acoustic were created with Nick Drake as one of the main influences. Artists like Sufjan Stevens, Iron and Wine, Elliot Smith, and Bon Iver owe everything to Nick Drake. If you have never listened to him, go do so now – you can spend a couple hours and you’ll hear it all, and then you’ll want to do it again and again.
Much like Nick Drake influenced several generations of modern-day folk songwriters, Steve Earle influenced decades of alt-country and roots rock songwriters. Unlike Nick Drake, Steve Earle has been recording for almost forty years, has an immense, diverse discography, and has received numerous awards and recognition during his life. Much like Lucinda Williams, Earle is a Rock Hall snub and a Country Music Hall of Fame snub, even though they both could fit in either Hall perfectly. Earle’s early influence was Townes Van Zandt, another snub from both the Rock and Country Halls, but he combined the songwriting style of Van Zandt with the rock and roll of Bruce Springsteen and created his own unique sound. The evolution of Earle’s music from Guitar Town to Copperhead Road to Train a Comin’ to I Feel Alright to his string of great 21st century albums is an amazing example of songwriting expertise. I am a huge fan, and picking a favorite (or five favorites) is impossible. Every album is different, and listening to one makes me want to listen to another.
Metal: Judas Priest “Living After Midnight”
Let’s keep it simple. Just like pop, rap, and dance music, metal is popular all over the world. In some nations, it rivals other genres in popularity. The Rock Hall has actually done fairly well in its metal coverage with the addition of Metallica, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Guns ‘n’ Roses, and, of course, Black Sabbath. At this point, they just need to finish up the canon and select Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, and Motley Crue. There are others to consider as well, such as Anthrax, Megadeth, Pantera, and Sepultura, but these four are at the top of the snub list.
See Major Snubs for my thoughts on Judas Priest.
The Scorpions are mocked for the extreme popularity of one song, “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” but they worked simultaneously with Judas Priest in laying the foundation of metal in the mid-late ’70s. The fact that neither Priest nor Iron Maiden are inducted is ridiculous. Almost all metal to follow these bands was developed by The New Wave of British Heavy Metal that was lead by Sabbath, Priest, and Maiden, along with Dio, Saxon, and Tygers of Pan Tang (worst/best metal band name ever). Motley Crue, along with Ratt and Quiet Riot, invented the LA glam metal scene that led to hair metal, metal ballads, and ultimately Guns ‘n’ Roses. The Rock Hall needs to get their head out of the sand and bang it a little bit.
Punk: The Jam “Going Underground”
As I have stated in past Faux Shows, I tend to think of punk in a broad sense and I don’t get hung up on the true definition. True punk acts like The Ramones and The Sex Pistols are already in the Rock Hall, along with The Clash and Iggy Pop & The Stooges. In a broader sense, however, there are other artists who fall into the punk realm and deserve to be members.
Some would argue that one of the first punk bands was the New York Dolls. They are often listed as an original punk act along with The Stooges and the Velvet Underground. They also fit into the American glam rock scene with bands like Kiss and are contemporaries with hard rock band Alice Cooper. No matter how they are classified, their influence was great and they are an obvious snub, most likely for their lack of popularity during their recording years.
In the US, The Clash are revered as punk gods and the most important band in the world from 1977 to 1982. They even have two Top 40 hits. The Jam, on the other hand, were unknown to anyone who didn’t listen to college radio in the ’80s. In fact, more Americans are familiar with The Style Council, Jam co-founder Paul Weller’s ’80s blue-eyed soul band, than with The Jam. In England, however, The Jam were one of the most successful bands in the country from 1977 to 1982. They charted twice as many songs on the British charts as The Clash. They probably charted as many songs as any British band during that period. This is not to say that The Clash are over-rated. If anything, they are under-rated and deserve to be a lot more well known than artists like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, but fame is fickle. Nevertheless, The Jam are one of the most under-rated bands among Americans. Their albums are amazing, each one a complete piece of songwriting mastery. Their sound evolved at an incredible rate over just five years, so it is easy to see how they broke up and Weller went on to pursue very different forms of music. Paul Weller will be a Faux Show Artist of the Week or Theme one day. He is the Godfather of British Punk and revered by every British rock band from the last forty years.
The Fall are probably never going to get nominated, much less inducted, until someone on the Rock Hall committee is a fan. I am too much of a fan to objectively evaluate them. I think they are one of the best punk bands, best ’80s bands, and a major influence on the music of the ’90s. They are definitely a love them/hate them kind of band, although for many people they are probably an “I don’t get it” kind of band as well. For those who did get it, such as Pavement, their influence was inarguable.
Artist of the Week: All of Them
Most of this week’s artists have already been rejected by Rock Hall voters for years, so the least I can do is make them all the Artist of the Week. The last thing they need is one more snub.
Happy Birthday (October 31)
Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) is a founding member of Beastie Boys and was inducted into the Rock Hall in 2012.
Booker Irvin: See A Little Jazz.
Illinois Jacquet: See A Little Jazz.
Annabella Lwin is the lead singer of ’80s one-hit wonder Bow Wow Wow, best known for the song “I Want Candy.”
Johnny Marr was the guitarist for The Smiths.
Larry Mullen, Jr. is the drummer for U2 and was inducted into the Rock Hall in 2005.
Colm O’Ciosoig was the drummer for My Bloody Valentine.
Robert Pollard is the lead singer and guitarist for Guided By Voices.
Bob Seibenberg was the drummer for Supertramp.
Ali Farka Toure was one of the greatest guitarists in the world.
3 Chunks of Funk
Rufus featuring Chaka Khan “Tell Me Something Good”: This Stevie Wonder song is THE funk classic by this overlooked band.
War “Me and Baby Brother”: War weren’t just a funk band, but when they wanted to they could get deep in the groove.
The Meters “Look-Ka Py Py”: This is an early classic by this seminal funk act.
Pat Benatar “Shadows of the Night”
Mary J. Blige “I’m Goin’ Down”
Sheryl Crow “Everyday Is a Winding Road”
Foreigner “Juke Box Hero”
The Monkees “Pleasant Valley Sunday”
Rufus featuring Chaka Khan “Tell Me Something Good”
Supertramp “Bloody Well Right”
War “Me and Baby Brother”
Two for “Two”day
Duran Duran “Future Past” and “Hold Back the Rain”
Johnny Marr “Ariel” and The Smiths “How Soon is Now”
Duran Duran “Future Past”
Guided by Voices “My (Limited) Engagement
Johnny Marr “Ariel”
Let’s Take a Trip Around the World
Can “Moonshake”: This is from their 1973 album, Future Days, which was their last album with vocalist Damo Suzuki.
Toots and the Maytals “Pressure Drop”: This is a ska/rocksteady song recorded in 1969. It is also one of the first punk songs. You can hear all of the roots of punk in this song, and if Steve Jones was their guitarist then you wouldn’t even argue this point.
Ali Farka Toure “Hawa Dolo”: This is from what could be considered his breakthrough album, 1992’s The Source.
Fela Kuti “Obe”: This is a very early recording from some sessions done in LA in 1969. Although these sessions weren’t released until later, they are from the period in which Kuti spent ten months in LA, learned about the Black Panther party, and began to form the musical and political views that would shape his career in the ’70s.
The Get Down
Erik B. & Rakim “I Ain’t No Joke”: This is the first track from 1987’s Paid in Full, one of the most important albums of rap’s first decade.
Ice-T “6 ‘N The Mornin'”: This is from one of the first few albums to define the gangsta rap movement, 1987’s Rhyme Pays.
Beastie Boys “Brass Monkey”: This is from the album that placed rap firmly into radio airplay, MTV video rotation, and the living rooms of kids all over America, 1986’s Licensed to Ill.
A Little Jazz
Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra “Flying Home”: Lionel Hampton wrote this tune as a way to deal with his fear of flying during his first flight in 1939. At that time, he was a member of Benny Goodman’s orchestra and that group recorded the tune later that year. In 1942, after leaving to form his own group, Hampton recorded the song and it became his band’s theme song. The tenor sax solo on that recording was performed by Illinois Jacquet, who was only nineteen at the time. It is considered the first R&B sax solo ever recorded.
Charles Mingus “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”: This tune is from the 1959 album Mingus Ah Um. The album is in the Grammy Hall of Fame, The Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, and the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time list.
I know that jazz is not everyone’s thing, but anyone who wants to start to gain a basic appreciation of jazz should listen to this album and then branch out from there. It is a great way to start a love of jazz.
Thanks for listening (and reading)!
|1||Foreigner||Juke Box Hero|
|2||King Crimson||Elephant Talk|
|3||Supertramp||Bloody Well Right|
|4||Sheryl Crow||Every Day Is a Winding Road|
|5||The Smiths||How Soon Is Now|
|7||Mary J. Blige||I’m Goin’ Down|
|8||Rufus (featuring Chaka Khan)||Tell Me Something Good|
|9||War||Me and Baby Brother|
|10||The Meters||Look-Ka Py Py|
|11||Bow Wow Wow||C30 C60 C90 Go|
|15||Toots & The Maytals||Pressure Drop|
|16||Ali Farke Toure||Hawa Dolo|
|17||Duran Duran||Future Past|
|18||Duran Duran||Hold Back the Rain|
|19||“Weird Al” Yankovic||Yoda|
|20||Nick Drake||Which Will|
|21||Charles Mingus||Goodbye Pork Pie Hat|
|22||Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra||Flying Home|
|23||Wilco||A Shot in the Arm|
|24||my bloody valentine||Soft as Snow (But Warm Inside)|
|25||Guided By Voices||My (Limited) Engagement|
|26||The Jam||Going Underground|
|27||The Monkees||Pleasant Valley Sunday|
|28||Eric B. & Rakim||I Ain’t No Joke|
|29||Ice-T||6 ‘N the Mornin’|
|30||Beastie Boys||Brass Monkey|
|31||Pat Benatar||Shadows of the Night|
|32||Judas Priest||Living After Midnight|
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