Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

The nominees for the Class of 2011 of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been announced. I don’t know how to feel about this batch. The powers that be seem to be increasing the number of nominees, but have not said anything about how many of these nominees will be inducted. If they follow the precedent of recent years, it will be five of these fifteen nominees.

The nominees are: Alice Cooper (the band), Beastie Boys, Bon Jovi, Chic, Neil Diamond, Donovan, Dr. John, J. Geils Band, LL Cool J, Darlene Love, Laura Nyro, Donna Summer, Joe Tex, Tom Waits and Chuck Willis.

As a refresher: to be eligible for the Hall of Fame, at least 25 years must have passed since the release of your first album or single. The criteria is rather vague, for the longest time it was stated as having “a significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock and roll.” More recently, the Rockhall has added that “We shall consider factors such as an artist's musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.” Whatever the hell that means. Does it just come down to the personal preferences of the Nominating Committee? The Nominating Committee is comprised of industry insiders (for a more detailed discussion of the Nominating Committee politics, check out my post here). Then approximately 500 voters (industry insiders, critics, other Rockhall inductees) vote on the inductees. The actual inductees will be announced probably sometime in December or January, with the induction ceremony occurring in March of 2011. This process is for the main “Performer” category (which is the one that most people focus on). There are also specialized committees who choose inductees in “Early Influence,” “Sidemen” and “Non-Performer” categories.

ABOVE: Will Neil Diamond be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011?...

ABOVE:...or will it be Dr. John?

ABOVE: Or perhaps Alice Cooper?

First, the good. With 15 nominees, they can afford to be eclectic. We’ve got singer songwriters, a New Orleans legend, psychedelia, rap, disco, soul, shock rock and mainstream pop/rock all represented in this group. Some have been nominated before (such as Beastie Boys, Chic, LL Cool J, Laura Nyro, Donna Summer, Joe Tex), and there are some first time nominees as well (Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Bon Jovi, Donovan, Tom Waits).

Now the bad. Genres and entire time periods are still woefully underrepresented in the Rockhall, and this list of nominees does not really rectify some of the Hall’s glaring problems. Beyond Genesis (who got in last year) and arguably Pink Floyd, prog rock as a genre is still MIA. With groups like Yes, Rush, King Crimson and The Moody Blues yet to even be nominated, that is inexcusable. The Committee’s failure to understand or appreciate the 80’s music scene continues. Bon freakin’ Jovi? Really? That is the token 80’s nomination (beyond rap)? Crucial 80’s movers and shakers like The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, Sonic Youth and others remain on the outside. Hell, even a band like Motley Crue at least influenced a genre that exploded in the second half of the decade. Stevie Ray Vaughan, who would seem a shoe-in, has yet to be nominated despite loud protest. Metal also continues to get the shaft. Other than Black Sabbath and Metallica, metal is mostly ignored. How about Motorhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, etc.? All are yet to be nominated. But you give us Bon Jovi?

ABOVE: Bon Jovi? Really?

So, I am both pleased with a decent list and frustrated by infuriating snubs that continue to challenge the relevance of the Rockhall.

Assuming that they will still induct five artists, I will give you my predictions of who will get in out of this group, and then who I would like to see get in. With 15 nominees, this is really a shot in the dark as far as predictions are concerned, but here goes. I think that the following artists will be inducted for 2011:

* Beastie Boys (they’ve been on the ballot recently, and it is time for another rap inductee)

* Neil Diamond (finally nominated, respected as a great songwriter despite the cheese factor)

* Alice Cooper (one of the more egregious snubs until now, Alice Cooper [the band] will get in on their first ballot)

* Tom Waits (Leonard Cohen surprised a few years back by getting inducted, Waits is even more respected and better known)

* Donna Summer (nominated several times, Summer was one of the most important disco artists of the late 70’s. The Bee Gees are in, so she will finally get in too)

Who I would like to see get in:

* Alice Cooper (along with KISS, Alice Cooper brought a sense of shock theater to rock and roll in the 70’s. Crucial early influence on glam rock)

* Beastie Boys (it is time to move cautiously ahead with honoring more groundbreakers in rap)

* Neil Diamond (a great songwriter, superstar of the 70’s, and the cheese factor works mostly to his advantage actually)

* Donovan (underrated pop/folk/psychedelic craftsman from the 60’s and early 70’s. He is a longshot to make it in this crowded field, but I am glad to see him at least nominated. I think he made some of the finest music of the 1960’s)

* Tom Waits (one of our great songwriters and a critic’s darling)

What are your thoughts on the nominees this year? Predictions? To see a full list of the Rock Hall Inductees by year, go to their website here. I have been working with a fellow group of Rockhall obsessives over the summer at futurerocklegends.com in creating our own, alternate universe, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We voted for each induction “year” once a week over the summer, and of course discussed and argued. Check out our picks here. Ours is better.

ABOVE: Although unlikely, Dez hopes that Donovan makes it in the Class of 2011. Above is Donovan (right) hanging out with Hall of Famer Bob Dylan.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dez Predicts....

The Texans will be victorious today over the Cowboys. And all of Dallas and San Antonio will weep. It will be a good day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dez Recommends The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses, 1989

The great thing about being a music fanatic is that regardless of how much you think you know, you can always come across something that blows your mind. In the latest installment of "I can't believe that I missed this the first time around" comes the remakable debut record from Manchester, England's The Stone Roses. It's not like this was exactly under the radar, as it helped to launch the "Madchester" music movement and while it didn't really make a dent Stateside, in Britain it is considered one of the greatest British records ever released. After doing some research, I found that it ranks in the Top 10 in a host of British music polls of the Greatest Records Ever variety, and in 2009 NME declared that it was the "greatest debut album ever." So, there I am this last weekend, sitting on the couch watching VH1 Classic's documentary on British indie music, and almost half of the freakin' show is dedicated to The Stone Roses. I'm sitting there like a dumbass asking, "who are these guys?"

Naturally I have since rectified that problem. The Stone Roses came out of the music hotbed of Manchester in the late 80's along with Happy Mondays, James and other English notables. They were sort of a second wave, as New Order, The Smiths and The Fall had all come out of the same city earlier in the decade. In many ways, they were the precursor to Oasis, even down to their egos. Before their debut came out, lead singer Ian Brown was loudly crowning his band the greatest band in the world. But damned if their debut didn't, at least for a very short time, back it up.

Full of bold and brash British rock, it is brimming with grooves and hooks every second of its running time. What makes the record so great (and rare) is that it balances equally melodic and hooky pop songwriting with hypnotic grooves and jams. I think this is why they were embraced across the musical spectrum in England at the time. It touches equally on rock, house, psychedelia and pop.

TSR opens with my current favorite song, "I Wanna Be Adored," where singer Ian Brown is more demanding to be adored than asking. While Brown is a potent force, it is guitarist John Squire who makes this band so special. His deft guitar work lays down riffs, glorious arpeggios and a rhythmic touch that is masterful. The rhythm section of Mani on bass and Reni on drums provide a firm foundation that can rock hard or get you out on the dance floor.

The first three tunes were all singles and are all ridiculously great. "I Wanna Be Adored," "She Bangs the Drums" and "Waterfall" are all perfect rock/pop songs. Following "Waterfall" is "Don't Stop," which takes the "Waterfall" track and plays it backwards, creating a mesmerizing groove of its own. After these tunes, I was thinking that it could not stay this good all the way through, but it pretty much does. They had another single with the beautiful "Made of Stone" (which to me sounds like the best Oasis song I've ever heard) and the record closes with the epic "I Am the Resurrection," another British hit for them that clocks in at over 8 minutes.

After TSR came out, they were the toast of the British music scene. But the familiar story of drug excess, clashing egos and record label lawsuits stopped all of the momentum. They would only release one other record (1994's disappointing Second Coming) and then call it quits. Their legacy is a mere two albums and a handful of brilliant non-album singles and b-sides (collected on Turns Into Stone), but what a great band. Get The Stone Roses.

ABOVE: Here's one of the singles, "Made of Stone"

***** out of *****

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Still Here, Upcoming Tunes (and Bonus Pics)

ABOVE: Daughter of Dez

Hello readers, sorry for the quiet around here these days. I will get some good new stuff up soon. After the explosively exciting Presidential List, I thought I needed to let my reader(s) catch their breath.

I'm pretty stoked about some upcoming music releases on the horizon. Hopefully at least a couple of them will live up to expectations. Kings of Leon have a new one coming out, as does Pete Yorn. Coldplay is supposed to release a new record before the end of the year. I am particularly excited about some new product from a couple of Dez favorites, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. Neil has a new one coming out in about 10 days called Le Noise, and I am quite excited about this one. Produced by Daniel Lanois, it features Neil alone, playing acoustic and electric with some heavy treatments courtesy of Lanois. I've heard snippits, and it sounds really promising and a bit out there. I'll give you a review in about 10 days.

Springsteen is finally releasing his long promised remastered/box set of the Darkness on the Edge of Town-era in November. This could be huge for Springsteen fans. It will have three CDs and three DVDs. The CDs include a remastered version of the Darkness on the Edge of Town album, plus two discs of previously unreleased tracks from the same period. Those knowledgable in Bossology will note that after Born to Run in 1975, Bruce was legally prevented from releasing new material for a three year period due to a lawsuit with his former manager. He recorded a mountain of music in those years that has never seen the light of day, and so here it finally is. He put some great tracks out on the 4-disc set Tracks, but that was just a taste. By many accounts, this material is epic, classic Born to Run-esque Springsteen. He himself said that had he been legally able, this is the stuff that would have been put out on a quicker follow-up album to Born to Run, before he changed sonic directions with what eventually would be DOTEOT. He had over 70 songs he was considering for DOTEOT. As for the DVD's, there is the requisite documentary and commentary. But the real prize is a full show from Houston captured on the 1978 Darkness tour. The Darkness tour has long been acknowledged as his most vital and exciting tour, and now we've got a full show on DVD from that legendary jaunt. And in Houston, no less!

ABOVE: Here is a studio version of "Fire" that will be on the new set(a longtime live staple, but I dig this more subdued, groovy studio version).

Anyway, here's some more Daughter of Dez...

ABOVE: "What do you mean you don't like the new Springteen tunes?"