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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Film Freak: Heavy Metal 35th Anniversary Celebration

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In 1981, a cult classic hit the theaters. The very first animated movie to be rated R, Heavy Metal. Today, the idea of a cartoon catering strictly to an adult audience doesn’t seem that unusual. This cartoon was not a big hit at the box office but became a cult classic on cable and through bootlegs (due to copyright issues with the music, it took a pretty long time to get a proper, legal home video release.) This cartoon paved the way for a new way to look at animation. I guarantee you anime would never have made it into the US were it not for the cult status of this movie.

So, what was it? It was an anthology movie based on the British magazine of the same name.  Each story adapted a specific story or comic that appeared in the magazine. To celebrate the 35th anniversary, I decided to review each short individually. Before I begin, I must warn you–this movie earned its R rating. Almost every short has nudity and/0r excessive violence. So if you’re squeamish about either of those, I don’t recommend it.

  1. “Soft Landing”–The opening short is a rotoscoped car dropped from a spaceship in space. Rotoscoping was a classic animation style that wasn’t used often, but it was a predecessor to what we know today as motion-capture. Really there’s no story here, just some cool animation of a car landing on the planet Earth. Song: “Radar Rider”–Riggs
  2. “Grimaldi”–The framing device for the rest of the movie. An astronaut brings home a glowing talking orb called Loc-Nar. This orb is the “sum of all evil.” Anyone who comes in contact with the orb is either corrupted or melted into nothing. Which is precisely what happens to the astronaut. It then comes for his daughter. Rather than kill her, it decides to tell her stories of all the people it has corrupted or killed. Some really good detail of the poor girl in each scene. The framing device is kind of sketchy, but I don’t think it hurts the movie overall until the ending, which I won’t spoil. It’s really only the logic that hurts the ending, otherwise the ending is great.
  3. “Harry Canyon”–This short inspired the movie The Fifth Element. It’s a futuristic noir about a cab driver who picks up a woman after her father is murdered by gangsters who want the Loc-Nar. The story has an interesting atmosphere, and we get our first sex scene. Probably one of the best stories, if only for Harry’s method of dispatching threatening passengers: he has a foot pedal that melts them away before they can even kill him. It’s kind of funny, in a black humor kind of way, mostly because of how Harry doesn’t even flinch before pressing the button. Songs: “Veterans of the Psychic Wars”–Blue Oyster Cult, “True Companion”–Donald Fagan, “Heartbeat”–Riggs, “Blue Lamp”–Stevie Nicks, and “Open Arms”–Journey
  4. “Den”–This short features John Candy voicing its main character. A nerdy boy is transported to a parallel world where he becomes a muscular man clad only in a loin cloth (in fact, he’s one of the few clothed humans in the story.) and saves a woman from becoming a human sacrifice. It’s an OK story, and has great animation.
  5. “Captain Sternn”–My favorite story because it’s the funniest. A rather unsavory spaceship captain has to stand trial for numerous crimes, but he’s “got an angle”–a paid witness named Hanover Fiste (get it?). Unfortunately for Sternn, Hanover has Loc-Nar, and it’s corrupting him into telling the truth rather than lying. He then turns into an Incredible Hulk-like version of himself bent on killing Sternn. It’s actually the funniest short in the movie. Song: “Reach Out”–Cheap Trick
  6. “B-17” A B-17 bomber is overrun by zombies. The only story with no gore or nudity, unless you count the zombies. Also has one of the best songs in the movie. “Taking a Ride (On Heavy Metal)”–Don Felder
  7. “So Beautiful and So Dangerous”–A robot abducts a secretary and coerces her into having sex with her. It’s the second funniest story, just because it’s so bizarre and more light-hearted than the rest of the stories. Songs: “Queen Bee”–Grand Funk Railroad, “I Must Be Dreaming”–Cheap Trick, “Crazy (A Suitable Case For Treatment)“Crazy (A Suitable Case For Treatment)”–Nazareth, “All of You”–Don Felder, “Heavy Metal Noise”–Sammy Hagar, and “Prefabricated”–Trust
  8. “Taarna”–This is kind of the main attraction, as Taarna is the woman on the movie poster and DVD cover. Taarna is a barbarian who kills Loc-Nar on a barbarian planet. And then we discover the girl from Grimaldi has the same tattoo on her neck as Taarna. Some really good animation here, and the best part is throughout the whole story, Taarna has NO dialogue. This is why I enjoy the segment–It is the perfect example of “show, don’t tell”. We know just from her actions just how powerful Taarna is. It’s worth all the fame it’s given the movie. Granted, Taarna’s armor (if you can call it armor) leaves little to the imagination, but it’s great. Songs: “The Mob Rules”–Black Sabbath, “Through Being Cool”–Devo, and “Working in a Coal Mine”–Devo

As I said, this movie is a milestone. It paved the way for anime to become an acceptable medium. I’m certain that even Akira wouldn’t have been a cult classic were it not for Heavy Metal. If you are a fan of animation and you can handle sex and violence, I recommend this movie.