Editor's Note: This is the first in a three-part series about Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees.
For a number of years, I wrote a music blog for my local paper, and did an annual three-part article on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees. Well, after a couple of years, it's time to revive it again. Basically, I'll look at the acts from the perspective of a sixty-something year old guy, try to explain if they should be in the Hall, and use a "Should They/Will They" rating system. Why three parts? There's something like 18 nominees so they need to be spread out, and besides, I'm sixty-something and get tired easily. Ready? OK, then. We're gonna start with the elephant in the room…
I guess I should probably say "Hell Yes." I'm from the Pacific NorthLeft, and Pearl Jam, like Heart, are practically home town boys, give or take 150 miles. On the other hand, I'm not, with some exceptions, a big fan of grunge rock, so I probably should take a pass… …except that I really like "Jeremy," off their 1991 debut "Ten:"
[VIDEO contains brief reference to classroom violence.]
…which kicked off a career that is still going. As a forefather of the grunge movement, I'm going to say Yes/Yes, with the understanding that I never really understood grunge.
…on the other hand, is to me a bad joke gone way wrong, as is alt medal in general. I'm never sure of what they have to say; they're one of a number of bands that all sound alike—kinda like the heavy medal ballad rock of the '80s. I am going to take a flyer on this one, and hope the Rock Hall voters do the same.
Here's a big problem. Along with Joe Tex, she's a sop to the old guard. She's an old folkie (as am I), and I get the impression she was nominated to keep the old guard happy. A great singer, no doubt, with a long career both as a singer and an activist, but when her "rock" credentials consist pretty much of…
Joan Baez - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
…something that sounds too much like Ian & Sylvia, I'm going to say No/No. There are too many other singers of her type that deserve a place in the Rock Hall, and she doesn't need to be enshrined to cement her reputation. She's just out of place here.
ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
Oh, boy, now it gets rough. I have a problem with '70s bands—ELO, Boston, Kansas and the like. I can't tell them apart. Coming on the back edge of Progressive Rock, it's as if they all found a niche and fell into it. Now, having said that, the Roy Wood/Jeff Lynne band DID have a 16-year career, turning out some good music in the process, but is it enough? I have no complaints about songs like "Evil Woman:"
ELO - Evil Woman
…except it sounds a lot like "Strange Magic." ELO sounds to me a bit like The Moody Blues long-lost cousin. I'm going to have to say No/Probably, if only on the strength of Jeff Lynne's career after the band. On the other hand, any group that can be parodied by Randy Newman…
Randy Newman - The Story of a Rock and Roll Band
…has to have SOMETHING going for it.
J GEILS BAND
Let me say right off the bat, I LOVE THIS BAND. There, I've said it. They're a great showband. They took the Mitch Ryder school of rock, where you take an old song, up tempo it to turn it inside out, and make a hit out of it. They did it better than anyone else, except maybe Kris Daniels And the Kings. A good example was what they did with the Marvellos tune from 1965:
J Geils Band - I Do
…showed what they could do. Always a better live act then a studio one (I believe "I Do" was recorded in Detroit's Cinderella Ballroom), they tripped over their shoelaces with "Freeze Frame" and "Love Stinks." But their early stuff was terrific. But was it enough to be the patron saint of every white show band this side of Wayne Cochran And the C.C. Riders? Nope. They lost out at least once before, and they're a No/No this time, too.
…is a conundrum. The only song I know well is 1985's "Autobaun:"
Kraftwerk - Autobahn
…their only "traditional" Top-40 hit. On the other hand, this German band was probably, along with Gary Newman, the driving force behind Techno/Electronica, and for that they get brownie points. But here, brownie points aren't enough. Like last year, they're a No/No. As a niche band, they're great, but outside of Detroit, Techno never really caught on. Come back Wednesday for more of our exclusive take on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballot.
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