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The great Rock & Roll Hall of Fame snub mixtape
Is there any real reason for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame other than giving us a chance to ask: Why isn't (insert act here) in there? Here are some of the snubs. There's room on the playlist for yours
Shortly after last week’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominations came out – the Go-Go’s, Tina Turner, Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Carole King and Todd Rundgren, along with special recognitions for LL Cool J, Billy Preston, Randy Rhoades, Kraftwerk, Gil Scott Heron and more – the best quick I read on this year’s class came from Andrew Scott, son of my old J&C pal, Bob Scott.
“I would absolutely go to that Lollapalooza.”
Amen to that.
The Hall of Fame announcement, while not necessarily making consequential difference in what spins on today’s playlist around here, is a good chance to ponder:
Why so long for the Go-Go’s?
Shouldn’t we all have careers that include Hall of Fame second acts (see: double inductions for Tina Turner (in with Ike Turner now, solo soon; Dave Grohl (Nirvana, now Foo Fighters); and Carole King?
How did it take six times on the ballot for LL Cool J to get the nod (that “Radio” record when it came out … man)?
And the great annual parlor game: What do you mean (insert act here) isn’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
So, let’s ponder the list. (Mine: The Replacements, even as the great Bob Mehr, author of “Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements” – easily the best rock bio I’ve read – makes a solid case that the band righteously belongs just outside the halls of proper recognition. He’s probably right.)
I asked a handful of record collectors, musicians, professors and fans with Lafayette/West Lafayette ties that question: Who belongs in next year’s class?
Jamie Long, director of Radio and TV at Lafayette Jefferson High School, home of WJEF/Jeff92
The one band that is probably mentioned the most while speaking to pre-millennial music fans about Hall of Fame snubbery is also the band that caused one of the biggest shifts in popular music and influenced many future rises in style and genre.
DEVO formed in Akron, Ohio, in 1973. Their first major-label record, “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We are Devo!” wasn’t released until 1978. Artists, including David Bowie and Iggy Pop were early fans and helped the band get signed to Warner Brothers. Though they had minimal mainstream success early, very talented and influential musicians had their backs and promoted them. They knew Devo was the future.
Their third album, “Freedom of Choice,” went onto mainstream success. This new brand of music allowed fans and musicians of every level to begin to change their perspective on what pop music could be, heading into the new decade. Devo’s use of the synthesizer, electronic drums and cynical philosophies brought upon great change in mainstream music over the 1980s. New wave, industrial and alternative artists wouldn’t have had a chance to be heard on the radio without the musical risks Devo took. They decided to take the road less traveled during an era of Led Zeppelin rock and the soft-rock ‘70s. The seeds they sowed produced future eras which made history themselves … and that’s good.
Justice Fuller, a singer/songwriter based in Lafayette, advocates here for someone on the 2021 ballot but not on the winning end.
Nominates: Kate Bush
Kate Bush’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame SHOULD have been a foregone conclusion. Her first album includes songs written when she was age 14, and she has had a singular, powerful voice ever since. The female songwriters that have come on the scene since can draw a direct line back to her. Kate Bush has been ahead of her time through her entire career – from being among the first to pioneer sampling as a pop tool with her early adoption of the Fairlight CMI to her songs about the pitfalls of online dating (decades before Tinder.). Her name is rarely included in the pantheon of auteur-geniuses, and it should be.
Chris June, guitarist and songwriter with June IND
Nominates: Thin Lizzy
I'm trying to figure out how a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame exists without Thin Lizzy in it. Yeah, I like Thin Lizzy, but I LOVE the “Jailbreak” album. Phil Lynott's thoughtful lyrics, raspy to roar voice and bass-on-the-move along with the twin-guitar attack of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson do it for me. It is headphone bliss, and its influence is immense in the world of rock. In their words, the Hall of Fame is "honoring bands and solo artists who, in their careers, have created music whose originality, impact and influence has changed the course of rock & roll." Thin Lizzy did that. Dear Hall of Fame, spread the word around.
Brittany Rees, bass player for Frank Muffin and arranger for the band’s series of track-by-track tributes to rock’s great albums.
With a little-known self-titled album release in 1977, 11-year-old Björk became eligible for a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination earlier than most people are aware. Though she’s a controversial pick because “rock” isn’t a defining term for her style, I argue that the scope of her musical influence, artistry, critical acclaim and trailblazing musicality have paved the way for dozens of others. Few can boast the variety of awards and nominations that she has earned. She’s influenced other music icons — notably Radiohead, Sia, Missy Elliott, Beck and Madonna. She embraces new sounds and styles with musical curiosity and expertise that leaves me awestruck.
David Atkinson, associate professor of history and director of graduate studies at Purdue, teaches History 371: Society, Culture, and Rock & Roll, picking up that role for the late, great Prof. Michael Morrison.
Nominates: Link Wray
Link Wray’s induction is long overdue. His 1958 instrumental “Rumble” unleashed the ominous distorted energy of punk and heavy metal, but three records he produced from 1971-1973 constitute a criminally underappreciated corpus of American rock music. Literally recorded on a three track in a chicken shack, Link Wray, Mordicai Jones, and Beans and Fatback represent an occasionally rousing, sometimes contemplative, and always thrilling blend of roots, blues, Americana and country rock that reflect Wray’s Native American heritage, his hardscrabble upbringing in viciously segregated North Carolina, and his deep connection to the rich and diverse musical tradition of the American South.
Hans Rees, guitarist and songwriter with Lafayette band Frank Muffin.
Pixies’ raw energy coupled with melodic sensibilities and lyrical rollercoasters never disappoint. Black Francis and crew deliver track after track of greatness on every album throughout the Kim Deal years (I still like the newer albums too, but they are more like Frank Black with help from Joey and David). They say that an artist should be influential to be considered. Both Nirvana and Radiohead site Pixies as an influence … is there really any doubt that they should be in the Hall?
Dave Jacoby, a former programmer for Purdue University and current guitarist for Greg Jones and Slant Six
Nominates: Gram Parsons
Country was in rock since the beginning — many rockabilly artists came from country, and Buck Owens and the Beatles loved each other – but they split (for good reason) and Gram, in the Byrds (inducted), the Flying Burrito Brothers and finally solo, tried hard to get them back together, paving the way for Uncle Tupelo, Jason and the Scorchers and inductees the Eagles.
David Paul, guitarist from Indianapolis, member of several Lafayette area bands from years ago and still a player in the local scene.
Nominating: The Guess Who
The Guess Who had many hits as well as quality albums following their initial success and should definitely be inducted. Songs like “These Eyes,” “Laughing,” “American Woman” and “Undun” are true classics. I still think “Undun” is one of the best rock/pop songs ever recorded. There's a bunch of other songs that might not have been quite as chart topping, but are still great songs, like “Diggin' Yourself,” “Glamour Boy,” “Albert Flasher,” “Rain Dance.” Too many to list. Robert Plant once called Burton Cummings the best voice in rock and roll. Pretty high praise. I remember seeing Burton Cummings with Ringo Starr and his All-Star band. When he came out and did “No Time,” another huge hit for The Guess Who, the crowd went wild. It was the biggest crowd reaction of the night, and that's performing alongside Todd Rundgren (a nominee this year), Joe Walsh and some other heavy hitters in Ringo's show that night. There are a lot of “worthy” bands for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I realize they do have to spread them out over the years to a certain degree, but some are overdue while other lesser known and less successful bands get inducted. So ... get The Guess Who in there, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
Andrew Scott, writer and editor in Indianapolis, Lafayette native.
INXS deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame because of the band’s musicianship and careful songcraft, the timeless voice of Michael Hutchence, and the fact that one four-album stretch — Listen Like Thieves (1985), Kick (1987), X (1991), and Welcome to Wherever You Are (1992) — is as good as, and probably better than, any other band’s four-album sequence from that time. Their hit singles and albums dominated the three largest English-speaking music markets for most of a decade, and they sold more than 30 million records.
Hall of Fame nominations come from “rock historians,” a group more fickle than baseball writers. Record sales don’t matter. These weasels made KISS wait for 15 years, after all, and being too popular can be a strike against a band under consideration. Quantifiable aspects of an act’s fame are less important than the legends that emerge and reshape a music act’s narrative for generations to come. A band’s story is forever altered by its lead singer’s suicide. Kurt Cobain died when Nirvana was still on top; Michael Hutchence died a few years past his band’s peak, in 1997. That gulf, in terms of each band’s story and what followed, is immense.
When a high-caliber performer dies at a young age his contemporaries write songs to express their pain and befuddlement. While several bands wrote tributes to the late singer, including Duran Duran and Smashing Pumpkins, it is the work of two Hall-approved contemporaries, R.E.M. and U2, that should serve as final proof of the lasting appeal and influence of INXS.
In the liner notes of R.E.M.’s 25th anniversary release of “Monster,” Michael Stipe says “Strange Currencies,” the best song on that album, was directly inspired by Hutchence. “At that point, Bono and I were borrowing a lot from Michael,” Stipe says. “He was a great pop star, astonishing frontman, and a brilliant lyricist.” Stipe adds that Hutchence “is an often overlooked and forgotten touchstone of our generation and of our time.”
U2’s “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” from 2001’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” is based on a fictional conversation about suicide between Bono and the INXS singer, his close friend. About INXS, Bono has said that U2 was “envious of some of their grooves,” as well as Hutchence’s “beautiful baritone” voice. Hutchence was always flirting with their girlfriends, Bono adds.
INXS was hugely popular among girls and women, who swooned for that “beautiful baritone” voice. His lyrics revealed how deeply he understood women and what they want. But the Hall is clearly misogynistic. If not, why are Tina Turner and Carole King only now being inducted? Any band that sells 30 million records, headlines a show at Wembley Stadium in front of 72,000 fans — which led to one of the best concert videos ever, “Live Baby Live” —and is good enough for R.E.M. and U2 to “borrow” from deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
YOUR TURN: Who belongs on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame snub mixtape?
The comments are open. And there’s room left on this 90-minute cassette I have sitting here.