Donna-SummerThe hilarious and increasingly silly Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is getting to that point where most of the superbig names are in and they have to start considering other genres to keep our attention. That said, I'm fine with that. If they want to keep the incredibly awful Kiss out of the Hall, then so be it. But keeping King Crimson, Tim Buckley, Moby Grape, Cheap Trick, the Cure and the Smiths out of the place, just for starters, is reason enough to get your crayons out and start writing to the powers that be and let them know they don't play fair!
Anyhow, I'd let everybody in. Even Kiss. I bought their first thirteen albums or so, when I was 9, so I have some interest in seeing them validated. Yet, what do I really care?
But for our purposes, let's profile the 15 nominees for this year's potential induction. I've listed them in alphabetical order, since I have no idea how this will turn out. I'm doing this, it should be noted, while listening to Robbie Basho's Bashovia and Bonn 1st Supreme albums on Spotify! Because it is 2012, after all.
15) Paul Butterfield Blues Band: Butterfield's guitarist, Michael Bloomfield, played with Dylan when he went electric, so there's that connection. They were once a highly respected group that lacked the commercial firepower of the British blues bands. Their induction depends on the average age of the voter and whether or not their vintage plays for or against them.
14) Chic: You can hear the likes of mainstream FM radio fans wondering how Foreigner, Boston and Styx have been ignored while these non-rock'n'roll funk practitioners get nominated yet again. I'm both surprised they're here and surprised they haven't been let in. I thought Nile Rodgers had some pull.
13) Deep Purple: I guess this depends on how much the voters like or dislike hard rock and heavy metal, which seems to tilt towards dislike, considering the lack of Uriah Heep, Sir Lord Baltimore and Nitzinger in the Hall. That said, the route to entry for veteran acts seems to be "eventually." I'd let them in, just on the fact that for twenty years you couldn't go near a music store without hearing some poor lad cranking out the intro to "Smoke On the Water."
12) Heart: Well, they're still active. Their label put out a career retrospective and a new album as if to fortify their stature and force voters to give them a serious nod. Which version of the band would you admit entrance? I'd dock them points for selling their souls in the 1980s.
11) Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: Seeing as to how the deserving Runaways aren't in, I find it funny that the Hall would admit its lead singer all because she sang "I Love Rock and Roll" and, I guess, "Bad Reputation." Is that what it takes to get in the Hall? Hits?
10) Albert King: Every year they need to find a veteran bluesman to induct to keep up the premise that they care about the history of the music. Last year it was Freddie King; this year it should be Albert King. No problem with this. It's just weird.
9) Kraftwerk: Here's a real test. Kraftwerk are a highly influential band on modern music, but they were complete outcasts during the height of their powers. Since the Hall can't induct Eric Clapton for a fourth time -- well, technically they can if John Mayall's Bluesbreakers or Derek and the Dominoes were to get the call -- they may have to consider letting in people who didn't play classic rock the way they think classic rock should be played. You mean, gasp, synthesizers???
8) The Marvelettes: Just as every year we need a veteran bluesman, each year we need a vintage Motown act to induct, just to prove we remember the 1960s before it turned into technicolor. Their version of "Please Mr. Postman" is reason enough to give them the nod. What's funny is how their validation seems to be based on other musicians covering their hits. Here, honey, let the Beatles or Jerry Garcia handle that for you. Jeez!
7) The Meters: If the Hall were to induct based solely on musicianship, the Meters would've slid right in without hassle. You'd think all the good will towards New Orleans post-Katrina would've helped them out, but, let's face it, the Meters aren't exactly a suburban household name. And if you can't appeal to the ironically named "swing" voters, you're doomed until the grand poobahs take up your cause. They should have been inducted years ago.
6) Randy Newman: Suburban audiences know him for his Disney scores and for his constant Academy Award nominations and the very-occasional win, but do they know Randy Newman, the best songwriter of his generation? Well, "Short People" and "I Love L.A.," right? I would've thought Lenny Waronker would've already paid for his old next-door neighbor to enter the Hall years ago.
5) N.W.A.: Without a doubt I would let these gentlemen into the Hall. Dr. Dre and Ice Cube alone are famous enough for people who care about that end of things. And I think "F*** tha Police" was as funny and entertaining a tune as any single you'd care to name. Are they still too "dangerous"? I doubt it. But though they were hip-hop, they surely rocked. Who cares if they only made one album worth hearing half the way through? How many great albums did the Dave Clark Five make? Singles count!
4) Procol Harum: "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is perfect enough for automatic inclusion. That the band also featured the great organ work of Matthew Fisher, the sterling guitar chops of Robin Trower and the vocals of Gary Brooker means…well, in this case, it could work against them, since how many times has the voting bloc listened to Exotic Birds and Fruit or A Salty Dog, for that matter?
3) Public Enemy: OK, you tell Chuck D he can't be in the Hall. It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back was like Appetite for Destruction. You heard it everywhere once it hit. Everyone knows Public Enemy are the one hip-hop group that white, male rock critics like (I'm looking right at…me! Whoa, freaky!). Surely, there's a portion of those folks voting this year! I'd vote them in without hesitation. But I'd also vote for The Birthday Party, American Music Club, The Misfits, Vom, Love and The Go Betweens before 2/3rds of the things people are voting on. No wonder they don't ask me. I woudn't!
2) Rush: Ha ha. This should prove interesting. The group's stock is at an all-time high, with that documentary being shown on VH-1 pretty regularly and the generation that grew up listening to 2112 finally with power at their disposal. And "Fly By Night" is in a commercial, so they're still culturally relevant! I suppose they could fall victim to the Hall's need to appear to have "standards" and be held out as a token showpiece that not everyone who sells millions of records is let in, just Billy Joel. Folks, Canada needs this one.
1) Donna Summer: "Love To Love You Baby" gets my vote. "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," even "The Wanderer" are all fine by me. They're not strict rock 'n' roll, but I don't like style boxes. No rules, people. She worked with Giorgio Moroder and Quincy Jones and even had Bruce Springsteen play on one of her albums! Bruce Springsteen! Hello! If that doesn't get Ms. Summer into the Hall, what chance does Joe Gruschecky really have? Or Southside Johnny?