Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2019 Nominees

Well here we are, another year and another big list of potential inductees for the Rock Hall. If I sound cynical, there’s a reason. I’m 50/50 on this list. I was really hoping for people like Grand Funk Railroad, Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, and Weird Al to get the nod. What we got instead were a few people I want to vote for. (Really, Kraftwerk should already be there, and so should MC5) We also have some people I feel should wait their turn, like Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine. On the other hand, we have Devo, Stevie Nicks, and Def Leppard–now that’s something to get excited about.

But you’re not here for my complaints. You’re here for my quick breakdown of who to vote for. Well, here you go.

stevie 1. Stevie Nicks: I know what some of you are going to say: “Isn’t she already in because she’s in Fleetwood Mac?” And you’re right. But she also had a solo career, so she can get in twice. In fact, she can be the first female to do that if she gets inducted. I personally think she’s a shoe-in. As of this writing, she’s in 2nd place, right behind Def Leppard.

roxy 2. Roxy Music: One of the best glam rock bands of the 70’s, but you probably don’t know about them because they’ve gotten so little airplay on American radio (except maybe “More Than This” if you’re lucky). But I want these guys in. They need to be in because we need Duran Duran in there, and you wouldn’t have Duran Duran without these guys.

janet3. Janet Jackson: Her again? Didn’t we already have her on the ballot a year ago? And the year before that? Anyway, can we please move past the “wardrobe malfunction” that was over 10 years ago and forgive her? There are musicians with WAY more controversy that have gotten in.

prine4. John Prine: Every year, there’s at least one entry that makes me say “Who’s that?” And this year, it’s John Prine. I guess that’s what I get for not listening to country all that much. He’s a country rock star, and a pretty good one at that, judging by the songs I looked up. He’s a favorite of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Roger Waters. And he’s already in Nashville’s Hall of Fame as of 2003.

kraftwerk5. Kraftwerk: Here’s another group that I feel deserves recognition that you’re all probably scratching your heads about. Kraftwerk was a big deal in Europe, and in the rap scene here in the states. (Go look up “Planet Rock” and then “Trans-Europe Express”) But seriously, Kraftwerk is great. All that EDM you like owes their success to Kraftwerk.

devo6. Devo: Oh I can hear you guys now. “They’re a one-hit wonder! Why do they get a chance? What’s next, Men Without Hats?” Actually, Devo was more popular than you think in the 80’s. They had some big hits on the alternative stations, and that totally counts. And they fit the rock mold by being satirical. Not all rebellion is serious.

ll cool j7. LL Cool J: Here we go, the baddest boy in Old School rap! I can hear all you elitists saying Rap and Rock shouldn’t share a Hall. But if the Temptations, Hank Williams, Miles Davis, and Herb Alpert deserve a spot, then so does LL. The man totally rocks. He wrote some of the most sensual love songs, and his rap battles with Kool Moe Dee left smoke on rap’s battlefield for years.

MC5 8. MC5: The Motor City 5 is one of the longest-running punk rock bands in American music. Their song “Kick Out the Jams” has been covered by quite a few bands over the years. Musicians like Slash and Tommy Morello probably learned to play it as soon as they got their first guitars. Yeah, they deserve it.

defleppard 9. Def Leppard: Stuff the ballot box for these guys! They’ve endured quite a lot. Their drummer has one arm. They lost a guitarist to hard partying (and fired another one for the same thing early on, ironically enough). They had two big albums back to back, which was unusual at the time. What’s that? They’re at the top of the polls now? OK, you already know how big they are. Next.

cure 10. The Cure: Look, I’m not completely cynical here. I love The Cure. I already did an entry on Jason’s Jukebox where I ranked all their albums. Go read that if you want to know why this band must get in.

radiohead11. Radiohead: Um, listen Rock Hall dudes. Thom Yorke said if he and Radiohead ever get the nod, he’s not gonna show. So, I say don’t let him in. They’re too recent. They need to wait their turn. Are they good? I guess. *Looks out window and sees mob of Radiohead fans ready to lynch him*. Look, I’m only a casual fan of these guys, OK? If they had chosen a better opener for their career than “Creep”, I might’ve become a bigger fan. But I always think of their worst song. Sorry, everyone.

rage 12. Rage Against the Machine: I don’t agree with Rage’s political views, but I won’t deny they have talent. Will they be able to get Zack to get up on stage and do a show with them if they win? Probably not.

rufus 13. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan: Hip-hop loves this funk act, and Chaka Khan is a big deal in her own right. I think we should let them in. We already have Parliament-Funkadelic, and Rufus is pretty much along the same line. I know you elitists don’t think R&B deserves a spot, but I disagree. A lot of rockers wouldn’t be around if not for R&B.

toddrundgren14. Todd Rundgren: Todd don’t want to work. He wants to bang on the drum all day! Yes, this is the guy who made that song. He’s also a pretty good producer, working for such artists as Psychedelic Furs and XTC. Which means we can let him in again as a non-performer if we want.

zombies 15. The Zombies: What? They’re STILL not in? “Time of the Season”, go listen to that! It’s an awesome song! Seriously! They already should be in! In fact, most of these bands should be in. Fortunately, I don’t have to convince you. These guys are in 5th place.

The Rock Hall needs to improve, and these bands are a long way to getting those improvements. Let’s stop being cynical and complaining about the politics. Make your voice heard.

 

 

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Jason’s Jukebox: The Doors

doorsIn the late 1960’s, the “British Invasion” of rock was in full swing, thanks to bands like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and The Who. But one band was poised to remind us that rock n roll was an American invention: The Doors. Named for The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley, their lead singer had a brief life. Nevertheless, they made a lasting impact on rock for years to come, influencing such bands as The Cure, New Order, Pearl Jam, and more. They released a total of 9 albums, 4 of which are considered among the greatest albums of all time. In this edition of Jason’s Jukebox, I will rank all 9 albums.

The members are:

  • Jim Morrison–lead vocals, harmonica, percussion
  • Ray Manzarek–organ
  • Robby Krieger–lead guitar
  • John Densmore–drums and percussion

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: The Doors”

Jason’s Jukebox: Counting Crows

This edition of Jason’s Jukebox covers one of my favorite folk rock bands, the Counting Crows. Named after a nursery rhyme, the group was founded by Adam Duritz in the 90’s. The current roster consists of:

  • Jim Bogios – drums, percussion (2002–present)
  • David Bryson– rhythm guitar, vocals (1991–present)
  • Adam Duritz – lead vocals, piano (1991–present)
  • Charlie Gillingham – keyboards, piano, accordion, clarinet, vocals (1992–present)
  • David Immerglück – rhythm guitar, pedal steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, vocals (1999–present, session member 1993–1999)
  • Millard Powers – bass guitar, keyboards, vocals (2005–present)
  • Dan Vickery – lead guitar, banjo, vocals (1994–present)

august 1) August and Everything After (1993) *****

Singles: “Mr. Jones”, “Around Here”, “Rain King”, “A Murder of One”

This is one of the best debuts I’ve ever heard, and one of their best overall. “Round Here” is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard, about a girl contemplating suicide. “A Murder of One” recites the nursery that inspired the band’s name.

Best Tracks: “Round Here”, “Omaha”, “Mr. Jones”, “Raining in Baltimore”, “A Murder of One”

recovering2) Recovering the Satellites (1996) ****1/2

Singles: “Angels of the Silences”, “A Long December”, “Daylight Fading”

This was the first (and so far only) Counting Crows album to reach #1. It marked the band’s change from a quintet to a sextet, with guitarist Dan Vickrey becoming a new songwriter and Ben Mize becoming a new drummer. Adam Duritz considers this his favorite.

Best Tracks: “Angels of the Silences”, “Daylight Fading”, “Children in Bloom”,  “A Long December”

desert3) This Desert Life (1999) ****

Singles: “Hanging Around”, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby”, “All My Friends”

One of my favorite comic book artists, Dave McKean, did the cover for this album, using an image from the children’s book The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman. The album is pretty good, and a great way to continue into the new millennium.

Best Tracks: “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby”, “Color Blind”, “Speedway”, “Kid Things”

hard4) Hard Candy (2002) ***1/2

Singles: “American Girls” , “Big Yellow Taxi”, “Richard Manuel is Dead”

This album contains the band’s first cover, “Big Yellow Taxi”. Having now heard the original, I think they did a good job. In fact, I know people who are surprised it’s a cover.

Best Tracks: “American Girls”, “Richard Manuel is Dead”, “Butterfly in Reverse”, “Big Yellow Taxi”

saturdau5) Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings (2012) ***

Singles: “1492”, “Come Around”, “When I Dream of Michelangelo”

This is probably one of my least favorite Counting Crows albums. It’s divided into two parts. “Saturday Nights” is the rock side, while “Sunday Mornings” has more of a country vibe. The second part isn’t as good as the first, but it’s not terrible. Ryan Adams guest stars on “Los Angeles”.

Best Tracks: “1492”, “Hanging Tree”, “Los Angeles”, “When I Dream Of Michelangelo”

underwater6) Underwater Sunshine (What I Did On My Summer Vacation)(2012) ***

This is the band’s cover album. The only song I was familiar with before I heard this was Pure Prairie League’s “Amie”. I still like the album, but I’d probably appreciate it more if I had heard the originals.

Best Tracks: “Amie”, “All My Failures, “Ballad of El Goodo”

wonderland7) Somewhere Under Wonderland (2014) ***1/2

Singles: “Palasides Park”, “Scarecrow”

Their first album with Capitol Records after leaving Geffen in 2013. “God of Ocean Tides” in particular was inspired by the tour that resulted in their third live album Echoes From the Outlaw Roadshow, Even with such a big gap from their heyday and the current scene, Duritz is still a great lyricist.

Best Tracks: “Earthquake Driver”, “God of Ocean Tides”, “Scarecrow”

Next time, I look at the classic psychedelic rock band The Doors!

 

Jason’s Jukebox: REM

The 1980’s were a great time for indie music (or alternative). You had great bands that gained mass popularity like Duran Duran, The Pretenders, Talking Heads, and The Clash. But one band that hovered under the radar for quite a while was REM. It’s also one of those rare 80’s acts that managed not only to survive the 90’s, but put out most of their best material in that decade. This time around, I’ll be looking at their albums.

The line-up:

  • Michael Stipe: vocals
  • Peter Buck: guitar
  • Mike Mills: Bass/backing vocals
  • Bill Berry: drums

murmur Murmur (1983) ****

Single: “Radio Free Europe”
Rolling Stone may have been occasionally out of touch over its lifespan, but it was on the right track when it gave the debut 4 out of 5 stars. Today, over thirty years after its release, it’s still one of the best debuts I’ve ever heard. I just wish Stipe was more coherent, but he fixed that later on, thank goodness.

Best tracks: “Radio Free Europe”, “Talk About the Passion”, “Perfect Circle”, “Sitting Still”

reckoningReckoning (1984) ***

Singles: “South Central Rain”, “Don’t Go Back to Rockville”

Producer Don Dixon wanted this album to rock harder than its predecessor, but it doesn’t really work for me. There’s some standouts, but I don’t like it as much as Murmur.

Best tracks: “Harborcoat”, “South Central Rain”, “Pretty Persuasion”

fablesFables of the Reconstruction ** (1985)

Singles: “Can’t Get There From Here”, “Driver 8”, “Wendell Gee”

This was the only REM album produced outside the US, working with Joe Boyd as their producer. The album is one of REM’s concepts (the other being Automatic For the People), exploring Southern Gothic themes. At the time, it was REM’s highest charter, reaching #28. However, Michael Stipe wasn’t fond of the result at first, but over the years he and Buck have changed their minds.  It’s not bad, but I’m not a fan.

Best tracks: “Driver 8”, “Green Grow the Rushes”

pageantLife’s Rich Pageant ***1/2 (1986)

Singles: “Fall On Me”, “Superman”

This was REM’s first gold album. It was REM’s first foray into political themes with songs like “Fall on Me” and “Cuyahoya” heralding a trend that would continue for quite a few albums.

Best tracks: “Fall On Me”, “Cuyahoga”, “Superman”, “Flowers of Guatemala”

deadletterDead Letter Office ***1/2 (1987)

This is REM’s B-sides and rarities collection, so it’s only here for completeness. It marks the transition to Warner Bros and bigger fame. What really sells it are the covers.

Best tracks: “Toys in the Attic”, “Pale Blue Eyes”, “Femme Fatale”, “King of the Road”

documentDocument *****(1987)

Singles: “The One I Love”, “End of the World”, “Finest Worksong”

This was one of REM’s most important albums, marking the end of their status as solely alternative rock and the beginning of their more mainstream success. It was their final album with IRS, and their first with producer Scott Litt, who did phenomenal work with them over the years. For me, this was my introduction to the band, thanks to the loads of airplay “The One I Love” got. It’s still one of their best albums, even if I can’t sing around with “End of the World”

Best tracks: “Exhuming McCarthy”, “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”, “The One I Love”, “Fireplace”,  “King of Birds”

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: REM”

Jason’s Jukebox: 10 Favorite Albums V.1

For quite some year now, I’ve been posting articles ranking discographies from many of my favorite musicians and bands. But what do I think are the best albums of all time? Well, that’s far from easy! My list changes often, especially as I’ve been going through the book 1001 Albums You Must Before You Die. (I’ve only listened to over 260 of those so far.) So, here’s a new annual feature: My 10 Favorite Albums series!

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: 10 Favorite Albums V.1”

Jason’s Jukebox: The Cure

the cureIn 1979, The Cure released their debut Three Imaginary Boys. Although Bauhaus predates them as the first Goth Rock band, The Cure is probably one of the most well-known. This time around, I’m ranking all of The Cure’s studio albums.

imaginary 1) Three Imaginary Boys (1979) ***

Single:  “Jumping Someone Else’s Train”

(Note: The United States had a different debut, Boys Don’t Cry, which yielded them their first US hit with its title track. The track list for this is mostly the same as their UK debut)

Although Robert Smith would disagree, I find this debut isn’t bad.  There a few tracks that miss the mark, but it’s overall a great start.

Best Tracks: “10:15 Saturday Night”, “Foxy Lady”, “Jumping Someone Else’s Train”

seventeen 2) Seventeen Seconds (1980) ****

Single: “A Forest”

This is The Cure’s first true Goth Rock album, and is still considered one of their strongest. Not bad for an album this early in their run. It totally averts the “Sophomore Slump”, but fame would not be on their side yet.

Best tracks: “Play For Today”, “Secrets”, “A Forest”

faith 3) Faith (1981) **1/2

Single: “The Holy Hour”

This album seems like a few steps down despite Robert Smith still showing his strengths as a vocalist. I wasn’t too impressed.

Best Tracks: “The Holy Hour”

pornography4) Pornography (1982) ****1/2

Single: “The Hanging Garden”

This is a true early success, containing “One Hundred Years”, which would become a live favorite.  Simon Gallup’s bass line accents Robert’s vocals well.

Best tracks: “One Hundred Years”, “The Hanging Garden”, “Siamese Twins”

top5. The Top (1984) *

Single: “The Caterpillar”

This is the first real dud for the band. It’s mostly forgettable, save for a couple tracks.

Best Tracks: “Wailing Wall”, “The Top”

head 6. Head on the Door (1985) ***

Singles: “In Between Days”, “Close to Me”

Founding drummer Lol Tolhurst left before this album, becoming the first founder to leave (although he would return for a brief period later on) This album also marks Porl Thompson’s introduction, turning the band into a quintet. The album sold modestly in the US thanks to its singles.

Best Tracks: “In Between Days”, “Six Different Ways”, “Close To Me”

kiss me7)  Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987) ***1/2

Singles: “Why Can’t I Be You”, “Just Like Heaven”, “Hot Hot Hot”

This was The Cure’s first true breakthrough, with three big hits. It started a big wave that would continue for two more albums.

Best Tracks: “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep”, “Why Can’t I Be You”, “Just Like Heaven”, “Hot Hot Hot”, “Shiver and Shake”

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: The Cure”

Jason’s Jukebox: Foreigner

It was 1976. Disco was beginning to wane. It was time for Rock to return. And one band that helped user it back in was Foreigner. This time, Jason’s Jukebox looks back at the career of one of the greatest arena rock bands of the late 70’s and 80’s, Foreigner!

Members

  • Lou Gramm–lead vocals (currently replaced by Kelly Hansen)
  • Mick Jones–lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (not to be confused w/Mick Jones from the Clash)
  • Ian McDonald–rhythm guitar, keyboards, saxophone
  • Rick Wills–bass, backing vocals (currently replaced by Jeff Pilson)
  • Al Greenwood–keyboards
  • Dennis Elliot–drums

Mick Jones formed the band in 1976, naming them Foreigner because there were members from both the US and England. Throughout the late 70’s and the 80’s, Foreigner did pretty well. These days, they’re still around, but they just tour.

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: Foreigner”