Jason’s Jukebox: Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Nominations

It’s that time of year, time to analyze the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame’s Nominee list and unveil my picks. This year, we have a whopping 19 performers, some of which have been nominated for the first time. Of these, only 5 will be inducted.  Let’s get started. Note: performers in orange are my picks.

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1. Bad Brains: Some of these nominees were chosen not because of popularity, but because of influence. Bad Brains is one of those chosen because of their influence.  If you are a fan of bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Black Flag, or Dead Kennedys, chances are they were influenced by Bad Brains. Notable songs and albums:“Banned in DC”, I Against I

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2. The Cars: This band started in the late 70’s, and was a big hit on both the rock and new wave scenes throughout the 70’s and 80’s. They were one of the first performers who used MTV to promote their music. Notable songs: <“Let the Good Times Roll”, “You Might Think”

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3. Chaka Khan: This disco performer was in a funk band Rufus before breaking off into her own act. She appeared in the movie “Blues Brothers”, and her music has been sampled by many hip-hop acts. Whitney Houston covered her song “I’m Every Woman” for The Bodyguard’s soundtrack. Notable songs: “I Feel For You”, “Ain’t Nobobdy”, “I’m Every Woman”
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4. Chic: This disco act dominated the genre in the 70’s. One of the members, Nile Rodgers, later became a producer and produced albums for David Bowie, INXS, and Duran Duran (does that sound rock enough for you, snobs?). Their song “Good Times” was sampled in the very first rap song ever, “Rappers’ Delight”, by the Sugarhill Gang. Notable songs: “Le Freak”, “Good Times”

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5. Depeche Mode: One of the most prominent New Wave acts, and one of the few New Wave acts to thrive past the 90’s. Notable songs and albums: “People Are People”, Music For the Masses, “Personal Jesus”

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6. Electric Light Orchestra: Formed in the 1970’s by Jeff Lynne, this band was one of the innovators of the “progressive rock” movement, along with Yes, Rush, and Pink Floyd. Notable albums: Out of the Blue, El Dorado

jgeils6. J. Geils Band One of the premiere rock bands of the 80’s and one of the earliest stars of MTV’s golden age. It should be noted that J. Geils is the lead guitarist, not the lead singer. The lead singer is Peter Wolfe, who had a solo career of his own after the band split. Notable songs: “Freeze Frame”, “Love Stinks”, “Centerfold”

7. Jane’s Addiction: One of the most controversial acts of the 90’s. When their cover for Ritual de lo Habitual got pulled from record stores for its shocking cover, they re-released it, replacing the offending image with a copy of the First Amendment. Perry Farrell, the lead singer, was the founder of the Lollapalooza Music Festival, which showcased many performers of the 90’s alternative scene. He also formed another band called Porno For Pyros. Notable albums and songs: Ritual de lo Habitual, Jane Says”

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8. Janet Jackson: Michael Jackson’s sister finally gets her chance in the spotlight. Janet didn’t make her music just like Michael’s. She was a bad girl, maybe not as bad as Joan Jett, but she was not someone to take lightly. Her album Rhythm Nation was one of the best-selling albums in the 80’s. Let’s forgive her for that infamous “wardrobe malfunction”. I’m sure she’s learned from that mistake. Notable albums and songs: Rhythm Nation, “Nasty”
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9. Journey: Journey was one of the premiere groups of the 80’s rock scene. Journey has had a bit of a revolving door with its lineup. In fact, Steve Perry, their most popular lead singer, was actually the second lead singer in the band’s history. (If you listen to Greg Rollie’s era as leader, it’s markedly different from when Steve Perry eventually took over) Even if Steve Perry doesn’t actually show up, I see no reason to not induct them. Notable songs and albums: “Don’t Stop Believing”, Raised on Radio Escape

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Jason’s Jukebox: My Nominees for the Rock Hall’s Class of 2017

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Me standing in front of the Eliminator coupe from ZZ Top’s music videos

It’s almost time for the Rock Hall to unveil its nominees for next year’s induction ceremony. Last year, they picked some great acts. However, there are still people who are always negative about the Rock Hall, especially when they’ve passed over so many performers. I’ll admit, I’m disappointed myself. But at the same time, I’m happy for the people who actually have gotten in. That’s mostly because I’ve actually been to the Hall. When you see firsthand the dedication of everyone who works there, it’s hard to be disappointed. So here are some people I think are long overdue.

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  • Yes: Yes should’ve been inducted last year at least, especially with the death of their founding bassist, Chris Squire. Jon Anderson, the lead singer for Yes, has often joked that the reason they haven’t been inducted is that there’s been too many changes to the lineup. I disagree. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fleetwood Mac, and Pink Floyd all had lineup changes over the years, and they’ve been inducted. I think it’s just the fact that Yes has never really had that big of a presence on the radio. They’re more of a “cult” band.

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  • Duran Duran: They just celebrated their 35th anniversary together, so they’ve passed the eligibility requirement. Not only that, but Duran Duran was one of the most popular bands of the 80’s. New Wave acts should be in the Hall, even if the fad didn’t last all that long.

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  • Journey: Like Yes, Journey has had a bit of a revolving door with its lineup. In fact, Steve Perry, their most popular lead singer, was actually the second lead singer in the band’s history. (If you listen to Greg Rollie’s era as leader, it’s markedly different from when Steve Perry eventually took over) Even if Steve Perry doesn’t actually show up, I see no reason to not induct them.

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  • Iron Maiden: Heavy Metal has had a bad history with the Rock Hall, and it’s a shame. The only Heavy Metal acts in the hall now are Metallica and Black Sabbath. But there’s so much more to the genre than those two. Iron Maiden has had a long, faithful legion of fans. I remember seeing Eddie (their zombie mascot) on so many notebooks and T-shirts in school. He’s an iconic mascot that every metalhead recognizes. And Bruce Dickinson’s pipes are pipes of legend!

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  • Rainbow: Last year, Deep Purple was finally inducted. Now that means we can start inducting the bands that were formed after they disbanded. The first of these is Rainbow, which launched the career of the late Rodney James Dio, another musician who I feel is long overdue. I feel before Dio gets inducted, we should induct the band where he started.

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: My Nominees for the Rock Hall’s Class of 2017”

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.