2014 Rock Hall of Fame–The Also Rans

This year, in an attempt to give some transparency to the voting process, the Hall set up an online fan poll as a way for fans to vote for their favorites. Of course, the process wasn’t real. Fans could only vote for the 16 acts that had been pre-chosen by the mystical forces of the Hall. Vote totals also didn’t guarantee induction–just ask Deep Purple and Yes, the third and fourth highest vote getters in the poll. It’s all a crap shoot. And I, for one, like it this way. More stuff to debate whilst listening to good tunes.

The Hall selected 16 acts to be on this year’s ballot. One more time and I’ll move on: “Hey Rock Hall–J. Geils Band and Warren Zevon. Just sayin’!”

10 did not get selected. Here’s how I feel about the one’s left behind:

1. Acts That Should Demand A Recount

N.W.A. N.W.A. were revolutionary. The name, the subjects they rapped about, the culture they represent–they were the first breakout gangsta rappers. The immediacy of songs like “Fuck Tha Police” should have brought N.W.A. “Straight Outta Compton” and into the Rock Hall.

Deep Purple Yeah–the Rock Hall hates hard rock. Led Zep–ok. Sabbath–took forever. Apparently they are drawing the line at the third member of the “unholy trinity” of classic English hard rock bands. Didn’t any of the Hall folks ever own a beat up copy of “Machine Head” whose album cover they used to clean out the seeds from the ditch weed they scored from their cousin while cranking “Smoke On The Water” up to 10?

Link Wray Two words: “power chord.” With his song “Rumble” he invented it. No hard rock, no heavy metal, no punk without Link Wray.

2. Deserving Acts–Maybe Next Year?

Chic Will the 9th time be the charm? They sold bushels of records, they had many of the big hits of the disco era, the two principals went on to produce many successful acts, they gave Luther Vandross his first break as a backup singer –and their song “Good Times” is one of the most the most sampled songs in history.

The Meters New Orleans band that melded the traditional “second-line” brass and blues elements with soul and R & B–one of the godfathers of funk music. They recorded on their own and backed up many other bands–who soaked up their influences. Obviously, none of the voters listened to songs like “Cissy Strut” before voting.

Yes Prog or art rock is a form of music with very strong partisans, that leaves legions of others yawning. I will try to be fair, since I’m not a fan of the genre either. Yes certainly sold a lot of records, has a strong fan base and had the coolest album covers. Not going to rush out and buy “Tales From Topographic Oceans,” but I’d applaud at their induction ceremony.

Paul Butterfield Blues Band was the first white American band to seriously play our nation’s greatest musical idiom. They were respectful, seeking out the great Chicago bluesmen as mentors. Their early work, Paul Butterfield’s great harp style and their contributions as a backing band for others is enough to let me forgive them their late career flirtation with jazz fusion.

3. “It’s Just An Honor To Be Nominated . . .”

LL Cool J He’ll probably get in someday just because of his current high Hollywood profile. But it’s instructive that hosting award shows and starring on NCIS has nothing to do with music. He did have one great jam, though. “Don’t call it a comeback . . .”

The Zombies Endless fascination with the early British Invasion has got to end somewhere or we’ll end up inducting Herman’s Hermits. These guys put out one or two albums, had a couple of hits and then broke up. BTW: Santana did a much better version of the big hit.

The Replacements I’m not bitter that this group got so drunk backstage that they cancelled their show at the Lost Horizon–but somebody owes me $10 bucks! Love the band and Westerburg’s solo career–but there’s not enough here–just flashes of a glorious career that never materialized.


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