The 2013 Rock Hall Nominees

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its ballot for induction this year. It’s a pretty impressive list: Nirvana, Hall & Oates, Deep Purple, NWA, Chic, Linda Rondstadt, KISS, Cat Stevens, LL Cool J, Peter Gabriel, The Zombies, The Replacements, Yes, The Meters, Link Wray, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

That’s an impressive and extremely eclectic list. A couple of these have me scratching my head as to why they aren’t already in. The Hall is letting people vote on their choices through December 10. The top five vote getters will have their tallies factored into the final decision by the Hall. Fans can only vote for five each. I voted. I’m not happy I can only do five because really, 3/4 of them deserve it, and the rest all have reputations that make a case for inclusion. So who did I vote for?

Nirvana on MTV's Unplugged

Source: MTV

NIRVANA

This one is kind of a no-brainer, one of those bands that should get in on the first ballot. Nevermind was one of those watershed moments in rock when the music changed. Grunge was coming. No doubt about it. But Alice in Chains tried to be a heavy metal band before Nirvana exploded, and Pearl Jam’s label marketed them as hair metal. The combination of moody Kurt Cobain’s song writing, the frenetic drumming of Dave Grohl, and the calm center of the storm that was Krist Novocelic caused an earthquake in rock music. Add to that Pat Smear of The Germs at the end of the band’s career, and you have a revolutionary band that dragged punk kicking and screaming and into the mainstream.

The music died with Cobain, but it freed up future Hall of Famer Grohl to create The Foo Fighters with Smear, members of Sunny Day Real Estate, and Dave’s blonde, bearded clone Taylor Hawkins.

KISS live in 2013

Llan We, used under Creative Commons

KISS

Rock as theater taken to the nth degree. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have kept the hell fire burning since 1973 with an impressive line-up of side players, current drummer Eric Singer the longest lasting member.

The band went hair metal in the 1980’s after ditching the make-up, but came roaring back with the original line-up for a time, returning to their grease paint ways. KISS is definitely a marketing machine, but how many kids picked up a guitar because Paul was the Star Child, Gene was the Demon, and the rest played a whole host of other comic book-inspired characters? They might be a money-making juggernaut, but they definitely impacted rock and roll in a big way.

NWA

Source: EMI (?)

NWA

Okay, I admit it. I’m not a fan. But I’m not much of a hip hop fan to begin with. But like their contemporaries, Nirvana, they caused an earthquake in music. And they weren’t shy with the lyrics. Their classic Straight Outta Compton scared the hell out of people.

Though Easy E died in the early 1990’s, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre went on to be giants in hip hop. Dre would discover Snoop Dogg, stare down thuggish impresario Shug Knight, and do what Knight couldn’t do: Bring the world a white rapper with cred, in this case, Eminem. Before NWA, I said, “What the hell is rap?” Since NWA has faded into history, I’ve said, “What the hell happened to rap?”

Deep Purple in 2013

Photo: Jonas Rogowski, used under Creative Commons

Deep Purple

Geddy Lee of called out the Hall for overlooking Deep Purple again when Rush was inducted into the Hall of Fame. At one time rivaling Led Zeppelin, Purple has one of the largest family trees in rock. Ritchie Blackmore is cited as a major influence by a majority of rock guitarists, including his two replacements in Purple, Steve Morse and the late Tommy Bolin. The band overlapped Black Sabbath, giving that band two of its post-Ozzy lead singers, and spawned Rainbow and Whitesnake. Plus how can you go wrong when you’ve created one of the most memorable riffs in rock history? You know. Da da dah! Da da du-Dah!

Hall & Oates

Photo: Gary Harris, used under Creative Commons

Daryl Hall and John Oates

This is one duo that, like Deep Purple, should have been in long ago. They came out of Philadelphia around the same time as prog pop artist Todd Rundgren, and there’s a similarity between the sound of the two acts that’s hard to define.

But Hall & Oates were all about blue-eyed soul. “Sara Smile” is a seventies classic, but then there’s that string of eighties tunes starting with “Kiss on my List” and going all the way through “One on One.” The videos might have been silly, but the sound was real in a way many R&B artists have forgotten how to make happen.

Their approach is on display on Hall’s show Live from Daryl’s House. The music is played live, using the room (until this coming season, a restored colonial house Hall owned) as an instrument unto itself, with all the imperfections and happy accidents left intact. This is how he and John Oates have made music since 1973.

The Best Of Edged In Blue: Band Of The 2000’s: The Foo Fighters

[Originally posted on September 17, 2008.]

Monday, I listed, in order, the band of the decade for the entire rock era through 2000. Elvis, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, and Metallica, with The Rolling Stones being the band of the era.

But notice there really isn’t a “band of the 2000’s.” Why is this?

Some of it is the Internet. A lot of it is MTV and corporate radio. The coming of Clear Channel, CBS (aka Infinity in the pre-Viacom days), and Radio One destroyed local radio, which built Elvis and The Beatles and…

Much of it has to do with the sheer fragmentation of rock music in the last 25 years. Led Zep may have invented heavy metal. Metallica seems to be confined to it.

And let’s be honest. Rock as we knew it from 1964 through the end of the grunge era is a fading form. It’s one thing to see Mick Jagger and Keith Richards bouncing across the stage at 64. (Hell, Mick is more limber approaching 70 than I am leaving 40 behind.) It’s kind of embarrassing to watch Vince Neil of Motley Crue get a facelift on a reality show because 50’s coming and that’s hell on a former party boy.

I’m sure there are some who will argue, from a purely commercial standpoint, that Coldplay would be this decade’s band. While I like Coldplay, I would disagree, and many people would howl in agony at that suggestion. In fact, the sheer number howling in agony convinces me this is not the case. They are successful, but hardly earth-shattering. Their sound has too many echoes of Oasis, Radiohead, the post-Fish Marillion, and some of the poppier sounding U2. While honoring and using what came before is all well and good, being the band that “sounds like those other guys” negates any claim to band of the decade status.

Radiohead, on the other hand, probably has a bigger claim. And indeed, they were the first major act to bypass the big labels and go direct to the fans. Still, too many people my age and younger hear the name Radiohead and go, “Huh?” Is it an American thing? Or is the Pink Floyd of the Nineties label more appropriate for Radiohead? (Not a bad title, considering they don’t suffer from the instabilities of a Syd Barrett or, more mercifully, Roger Waters in his bipolar phase.)

But one band has kept its collective head down and forged on, putting out better and better albums year in and year out since their inception as a side project for one member of Nirvana: The Foo Fighters.

The Foos, or more specifically Dave Grohl, have been one of the hardest working acts in music since Kurt Cobain died. Every move is well thought out, and between commercial success and sheer creative prowess, The Foo Fighters in all its incarnations have been second to none, particularly on 2005’s In Your Honor. Whereas Elvis became The King, The Beatles leaders of a cultural revolution, Led Zeppelin the first true rock gods, U2 a political force, and Metallica an industry, The Foo Fighters simply have been pwning. No bravado. No boasts. Just great music played well and connecting with their audience like few other bands.

And perhaps that’s what makes The Foo Fighters the band of the 2000’s. They just do their job, do it well, and tell you this might be the last Foo Fighters album. They’re not threatening to break up. They’re only telling you they’re not going to indulge in post-creative suckage (A lesson learned by The Beatles and irrelevant to U2, but sorely needed by Elvis, Zeppelin, Metallica, and for a few years, the Rolling Stones).

So what about it? Am I right? Do the Foos own the New Millennium?

The Band Of The 2000’s: The Foo Fighters

Monday, I listed, in order, the band of the decade for the entire rock era through 2000. Elvis, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, and Metallica, with The Rolling Stones being the band of the era.

But notice there really isn’t a “band of the 2000’s.”  Why is this?

Some of it is the Internet.  A lot of it is MTV and corporate radio.  The coming of Clear Channel, CBS (aka Infinity in the pre-Viacom days), and Radio One destroyed local radio, which built Elvis and The Beatles and…

Much of it has to do with the sheer fragmentation of rock music in the last 25 years.  Led Zep may have invented heavy metal.  Metallica seems to be confined to it.

And let’s be honest.  Rock as we knew it from 1964 through the end of the grunge era is a fading form.  It’s one thing to see Mick Jagger and Keith Richards bouncing across the stage at 64.  (Hell, Mick is more limber approaching 70 than I am leaving 40 behind.)  It’s kind of embarrassing to watch Vince Neil of Motley Crue get a facelift on a reality show because 50’s coming and that’s hell on a former party boy.

I’m sure there are some who will argue, from a purely commercial standpoint, that Coldplay would be this decade’s band.  While I like Coldplay, I would disagree, and many people would howl in agony at that suggestion.  In fact, the sheer number howling in agony convinces me this is not the case.  They are successful, but hardly earth-shattering.  Their sound has too many echoes of Oasis, Radiohead, the post-Fish Marillion, and some of the poppier sounding U2.  While honoring and using what came before is all well and good, being the band that “sounds like those other guys” negates any claim to band of the decade status.

Radiohead, on the other hand, probably has a bigger claim.  And indeed, they were the first major act to bypass the big labels and go direct to the fans.  Still, too many people my age and younger hear the name Radiohead and go, “Huh?”  Is it an American thing?  Or is the Pink Floyd of the Nineties label more appropriate for Radiohead?  (Not a bad title, considering they don’t suffer from the instabilities of a Syd Barrett or, more mercifully, Roger Waters in his bipolar phase.)

But one band has kept its collective head down and forged on, putting out better and better albums year in and year out since their inception as a side project for one member of Nirvana:  The Foo Fighters.

The Foos, or more specifically Dave Grohl, have been one of the hardest working acts in music since Kurt Cobain died.  Every move is well thought out, and between commercial success and sheer creative prowess, The Foo Fighters in all its incarnations have been second to none, particularly on 2005’s In Your Honor.  Whereas Elvis became The King, The Beatles leaders of a cultural revolution, Led Zeppelin the first true rock gods, U2 a political force, and Metallica an industry, The Foo Fighters simply have been pwning.  No bravado.  No boasts.  Just great music played well and connecting with their audience like few other bands.

And perhaps that’s what makes The Foo Fighters the band of the 2000’s.  They just do their job, do it well, and tell you this might be the last Foo Fighters album.  They’re not threatening to break up.  They’re only telling you they’re not going to indulge in post-creative suckage (A lesson learned by The Beatles and irrelevant to U2, but sorely needed by Elvis, Zeppelin, Metallica, and for a few years, the Rolling Stones).

So what about it?  Am I right?  Do the Foos own the New Millennium?