Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

Well, I can say that although there remain egregious omissions from the Rock and Roll of Fame, this batch of 15 nominees is really, really solid. If the pattern of the past decade or so holds, five of these fifteen nominees will be inducted as Performers in the Class of 2012 in April. Let me say a little bit on each nominee, give you who I personally would vote for out of these, and then I will predict who I think will be in the Class of 2012. Here are the nominees…

Beastie Boys: This is their 3rd nomination, and they definitely will get in the Hall at some point, it is just a matter of when. Innovators not only in rap music, but also in mixing diverse musical elements in a rock and roll context. As innovators, this group is what the Rockhall is (or should be) all about.

The Cure: Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! Perhaps the door is opening on important 80’s music, and few bands are more important or influential (or as good) from that period than The Cure. I was worried that the NomCom’s anti-80’s stance (led by 80’s-hater Steve Van Zandt) would remain firm. There are still many egregious 80’s omissions, but The Cure’s nomination goes a ways in rectifying that. Now let’s hope they actually get inducted. They are also responsible for helping the lipstick and eyeliner industry turn a profit.

Donovan: I’m a Donovan fan, and I’m glad he’s getting another nomination. His hippy dippy folk tunes, and later psychedelic pop classics, stand as some of the better representatives of that era. I don’t think his chances are too high in this company, but I’d like to see him get in eventually.

Eric B. and Rakim: Rap pioneers who, if we agree that rap has a place in a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, deserve to be there. No question.

Guns ‘n Roses: As great as they were in their classic line-up, it is interesting to consider what more they could have been had they been able to keep it together longer. Had they not had such implosive drug issues, had Axl Rose not been so insane…but then they wouldn’t have been G’nR without all of that, would they? They could have been a modern Rolling Stones. But as it stands, they were the best hard rock band of the 80’s or 90’s. For Appetite For Destruction alone they need to be inducted.

Heart: Finally a nomination for the great Heart. With the Rockhall’s focus this year on the Women in Rock Exhibit, perhaps it is no surprise that they nominated quite a few women this year. The Wilson sisters and their band were responsible for some killer 70’s hard rock, and were early role models for female rockers everywhere.

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts: Is any female rocker any cooler than Joan Jett? She was a total badass, and like Heart, served as a role model for rocker chicks worldwide.

Freddie King: Surprisingly, this is the late, great Freddie King’s first nomination. Surprising because the Rockhall has generally been very good about honoring blues greats/influences, and King was definitely influential on blues-rockers, especially Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. I doubt he makes it in this class, but I would love to see him get in eventually.

Laura Nyro: Respected singer-songwriter, I’m honestly not very familiar with her material, so I can’t really say much on her. Perhaps she should be inducted as a Non-Performer, since she is more famous as a songwriter who has provided hits for others more than as a Performer. I doubt she gets in this time around, though.

Red Hot Chili Peppers: What is great about the Chili Peppers is how they have evolved over time, while maintaining influence and quality throughout their various stages. They will definitely be inducted eventually.

Rufus with Chaka Khan: Talented R&B diva/group, not sure they are really Hall-worthy, though.

Small Faces / The Faces: Great nomination, and a surprise too. The Small Faces were quite creative and admired in the 1960’s, an innovative group who dabbled in folk and psychedelia. Then they evolved into a great, gritty bar band featuring Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood on guitar and the underrated Ronnie Lane (who was in both incarnations). I’d love to see these guys get in. It is a bit dubious lumping them together in one nomination, though. They were really two separate bands with some overlap in personnel. It would be like inducting Joy Division and New Order together as one band.

The Spinners: Another area that the Rockhall has actually covered quite well is R&B and soul. The Spinners would be a nice addition to the soul roster of the Hall, and a nice representative of Philly soul.

Donna Summer: The NomCom has been pushing her for several years now. She was a disco icon, and being one of the most important artists in a genre qualifies you for induction in my book.

War: War was a gritty rock/soul outfit in the 70’s, notable for their work with Eric Burdon (of The Animals) and on their own. They were great, but I am not sure they are Hall of Fame-worthy.

So, there you have it. Overall, it is a strong group. That being said, I still have (as do all Hall watchers) a long list of ridiculous snubs. For some it is the fault of the Nominating Committee (Peter Gabriel, Yes, Rush, King Crimson, The Cars, Deep Purple, Chicago, Judas Priest, Joy Division, New Order, Motorhead, The Replacements, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Big Star…all yet to even be nominated), while others have been nominated but have yet to be inducted. But that aside, this has the potential to be a really solid class.

If I had a ballot, it would look like this…

The Cure
Guns ‘n Roses
Freddie King

I think there are many deserving nominees this year. Beastie Boys, Eric B. & Rakim, Joan Jett, Faces, Spinners, Donna Summer and Red Hot Chili Peppers will all hopefully get in at some point.

My Predictions: who I think will be inducted…

Guns ‘n Roses
Beastie Boys
The Cure
This last one is tough, I’ll go with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Thoughts? Predictions?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

RIP R.E.M., 1980-2011

"To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening." - R.E.M.'s website today

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cute Stuff

I realized that I had not posted cute pics of my daughter in awhile. She is growing up fast.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

2012 Rockhall Nominee Predictions

It is that very exciting time of year again. Yes indeed, folks, why most of you look forward to the month of September. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee met on the 12th to determine this year’s ballot, which should be made public by the end of this month. My fellow Rockhall obsessives have been making their predictions on their various blogs and websites, so I guess I should throw in my 2 cents. Go to Future Rock Legends for links and more discussion. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily who I want on the ballot (although quite a few are ones I would agree with), it is who I think the NomCom will actually put on the ballot. Predicting these is always a crapshoot, because we know little of the inner workings of this very secretive group of insiders. The ballot in recent years has been growing, so I will stick with 15 slots (with 5 eventually getting into the Hall for 2012). My thoughts:

As for the newly eligible artists this year (25 years after the release of their first single or album), I think that Guns ‘n Roses is the only sure thing. They will be nominated and inducted. The Rockhall would love the buzz surrounding “will they / won’t they” reunite and play for the induction ceremony (they won't).

I think that this is the year Stevie Ray Vaughan (and hopefully with Double Trouble) finally gets nominated. Whenever they do nominate him, he will be inducted that year. But I have been sure he would be nominated every year since he was first eligible, and it has not happened yet. Seems a no-brainer to me. But that does not mean much with the NomCom of the RRHoF.

They’ve been pushing several artists hard for the past several years, and they will continue to do so. Look for Beastie Boys, Chic and Donna Summer to appear yet again on the ballot. Perhaps they will give Donovan another shot as well.

Rumor has it that they are finally warming to the long neglected alternative 80’s scene, so it may finally be time for Sonic Youth to lead that charge. Their record on the 80's in general is just shameful.

I’ve got a feeling also that this may finally be the year they give up on their Rush ban and finally put them on the ballot as the prog representative. Hey, they finally relented on KISS, who may also get another shot.

Steven Van Zandt has to get his requisite 50’s or early 60’s pick on there. I’m thinking, along with many others, that it may be Johnny Burnette and His Rock and Roll Trio this time around. Which would be fine with me. Burnette rocked.

I think that they may throw a bone to the country crowd and give Gram Parsons another nomination.

For the last four slots, your guess is as good as mine. I’ll say Deep Purple, Kraftwerk, J.J. Cale and Roxy Music, just shooting in the dark there.

So, my predictions for the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ballot are:

Guns ‘n Roses
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Beastie Boys
Donna Summer
Sonic Youth
Johnny Burnette and His Rock and Roll Trio
Gram Parsons
Deep Purple
J.J. Cale
Roxy Music

Now, that looks like a decent ballot. We’ll see how correct I am by the end of the month, and then I will give you my predictions on who will make it into the Hall from the actual ballot.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today

I felt I should say something about the 10th anniversary of 9/11. This is the last thing that I cover in my U.S. History course that I teach, and my students are still old enough to remember the day (in several years they won't be, which will be strange). I do an excellent 9/11 lesson (about a week long) to cap off the year, and I was pleased when some current students told me that last year's group told them about it and how effective it was. Anyway, I digress.

Like most of the country, I experienced 9/11 through television. I was in law school in Austin at the time. My friend Brian called me up that morning to wake me up and tell me to turn on the TV. The first plane had already hit, I honestly can't remember if the second one had already. I do recall watching as the news of the Pentagon and United 93 broke. I recall watching both towers fall live. As shocked and horrified as I was, I could not imagine what people were going through who were actually at those locations. It was a strange sensation for part of the day when the media could not locate the president (he was in Air Force One for part of the day, as it was deemed safer to have him airborne). I walked to school and of course law students were glued to the TV's in the lounges. I have a vivid image of one girl I knew with tears streaming down her face. (One professor still insisted on holding class that day, though! If we don't learn about Commercial Paper, then the terrorists have won! He at least refrained from calling on anyone that day).

I have watched several of the documentaries they have been airing nonstop this weekend and they are still quite gripping. I especially love the story of Stanley and Brian, two workers in one of the towers who seem to share their story on every single documentary on 9/11 made (including the one that I show my students). Touching story of surival and a new friendship, though. Anyway, it's been ten years.

ABOVE: Here's Stanley recounting his story

Friday, September 9, 2011

OK, Fine. I'll Talk About It

I’ve finally gotten interested in the 2012 election. There is a great website called ontheissues.org, which breaks down the positions of each of the candidates (both declared and potential). They also have a quiz that you take, where you respond to a series of policy questions, and then they categorize you on a graph with Liberal/Populist/Conservative/Libertarian at each corner, with the middle being labeled Moderate. Once you take the quiz, click the link at the bottom that says something like “analyze” or “explain” results for a fairly detailed self-report. It turns out that I am a “Moderate Libertarian Conservative.” Even better, based on your responses to the questions, they line you up by percentage with the candidates, from the one you agree with the most to the least. It turns out Jon Huntsman is my man. Well, sort of.

Now, the quiz isn’t perfect, as it just focuses on policy positions. It does not take into account the important intangibles, such as Bachmann’s shrill insanity or Perry’s deep, deep stupidity. Even with Huntsman, my positions lined up with his less than 50% of the time. So I don’t really have an ideal candidate for me out there running. Perry, thank God, was pretty low on my list.

I watched the Republican Debate the other night, and I thought it was quite good. It is clear that this is already really a two person race between Perry and Romney, from positioning them in the middle of the stage of 8 candidates to asking them the first set of questions. (Ron Paul is there for entertainment, it is fun to listen to Cain mangle the English language, I don’t know why Newt is still there other than to complain about the media pitting Republicans against each other (Newt, this is a debate), Bachmann tries mightily to keep her bumper sticker quips straight, my guy Huntsman makes sense but he is not Red enough for the primaries, and they hardly let Santorum even speak). Between those two serious candidates, I will strongly support Romney. The man is intelligent, and despite what he has to say in the primaries, I think that his record shows a reasonable leader willing consider good ideas, regardless of their origin.

Perry touts Texas job creation, which sounds great, but when most of the new Texas jobs amount to serving fries at the drive-through, it is not so impressive. Also, Perry does not believe in working too seriously to educate our next generation for better than minimum wage work, because Texas ranks dead last in the Union in graduating high schoolers. Perry’s solution was to slash budgets and fire teachers (as opposed to fixing a broken property tax system that will continue to deliver deficits every year until it is fixed). The only benefit to Perry’s winning the presidency is that at least he would be out of the Texas governor’s mansion.

ABOVE: Nightmare scenario

And what is Palin’s game? I know she craves the limelight like a third rate reality TV star, but I think it is more. I think she is gunning for a VP slot. She would be much more likely to be chosen by Perry than by Romney. Can you imagine a Perry/Palin ticket? One that would have a good chance of defeating Obama? Scary. Snooky could defeat Obama right now. I say this as one who actually voted for Obama in ’08 (because of Palin, but I actually really liked McCain). Obama has been beyond disappointing. Even worse than being wrong, he has been ineffectual. So the Republicans need to be careful about who they put on the ticket. That ticket will most likely occupy the White House after 2012.