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  • The Rock Hall of Fame fails to embarrass

  • The newest crop of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees are in, and upon seeing the list I didn't feel the need to scratch out my eyeballs and lie weeping in a dark corner.
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  • The newest crop of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees are in, and upon seeing the list I didn't feel the need to scratch out my eyeballs and lie weeping in a dark corner.
    Long-time readers of this column know that I've had my, um, issues with the Rock Hall in the past.
    Like most popular institutions, the Hall tends to err on the side of the commercially successful and mundane. Yeah, yeah, yeah, they motioned to enshrine the Sex Pistols a few years back and received a hilarious and dead-on rebuke from Johnny Rotten (in the form of a scribbled letter in which he called the Hall of Fame a "pish stain"), but mostly the list is predicable, tame.
    Until this year. Some interesting choices could (but mostly likely won't) be made. I can't see The Replacements making it in, even though you could argue that no other band besides REM is more responsible for framing the indie rock sound than the 'Mats.
    The nominees are: Nirvana, The Replacements(!), Yes, Cat Stevens, The Zombies, The Meters, N.W.A., Hall & Oates, Kiss, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, LL Cool J, Link Wray, Linda Ronstadt, Deep Purple and Peter Gabriel.
    That's about as eclectic a list as I've seen the Hall produce. I appreciate most of those mentioned above, except Kiss, but I'll get to that in a minute.
    Right off the bat you can make room for Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt and either N.W.A. or LL Cool J.
    Nirvana's legend continues to grow, and denying them their rightful place in Cleveland's hallowed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be criminal.
    The old, angry and broken among us will always bore you with unprovable statements such as, "Today's music is crap compared to the old days." And: "The music the kids listen to today is crap."
    I count myself among the old and broken, but I'm not ready to throw in the towel on the kids just yet. I know this because I talk to a fair number of high school punks during my job. And I'm here to tell you they love Nirvana, or at least the smart ones do. The Kurt Cobain worship among this young tribe makes my heart swell and burst. At any moment at any high school in this country you will see at least one gawky, punker kid rocking a Nirvana shirt on the way to geometry, and that makes me feel positive for the direction of this country.
    From there you get into the coin flip of N.W.A. or LL Cool J. Of course, the Hall won't pick two (my god!) hip-hop acts, but the horrifying dearth of the genre in the Hall is a continuing pox on the institution. Of course, N.W.A. deserves it. They created a hip-hop revolution by creating hilarious and scary Raiders-jacket-clad characters and combining it with some trenchant satire and political commentary. Everyone likes to focus on the profane and angry tracks on "Straight Outta Compton," but when I listen to that album these days I'm struck with how funny it is. Dr. Dre, Easy E, Ice Cube and Co. were master satirists. Hip-hop doesn't get nearly the credit it deserves for its use of humor to make deep political and philosophical points.
    This leads to the inevitable who-can-be-more-stupid battle over Cat Stevens. I'm on record as a Cat Stevens fan. My parents used to rock "Teaser and the Firecat" on vinyl every Sunday morning when I was a kid. However, Cat has since embraced Islam and changed his name to something Middle Eastern and scary, so there will be those whose teeth will gnash about honoring a dude who happens to share something vaguely in common with a certain group of people who blew up some of our buildings in New York in late summer 2001.
    I can't support Kiss making it into the Hall. For two reasons: 1. If you're going to honor theater/shock rock for the first time, it should be Alice Cooper. He was more talented and funnier than Kiss. And 2. Kiss sucks.
    Prog rock gets its due with Yes and Peter Gabriel. I hate prog rock, so this matters not to me. Those of you who believe Rush's "2112" is the end-all-be-all of rock 'n' roll, feel free to criticize. But you'll have to wait until after Neal Pert's sixth drum solo, and by then I'll be long gone.
    I'm curious to hear your thoughts/ideas/vitriol about the Hall. Send them my way. And if any brave soul wants to make the case for Hall & Oates, I'd be curious to hear your pitch.
    Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or cconrad@mailtribune.com.
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