Editor's Note: This is the second in a three-part series about Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees.
Part two of our three-part saga into this year's nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame begins with…
Every town has a top-notch bar band. Knows all the licks, is tight, and packs the place where ever they go. Steppenwolf is like that. From 1968 through the mid 70's, John Kay and company cranked out good, serviceable rock and roll. Nothing spectacular, but solid. "Born to Be Wild," "Rock Me," and one or two other solid hits. They benefited by 1) being in the "Easy Rider" soundtrack, and 2) by being Canadian enough to get around Canadian Content laws, allowing border stations like CFUN, CKLW and CHUM to play them. That's well and good, but is it enough to get in? To me, they had one memorable song:
Steppenwolf - Snowblind Friend
…but they were still just a good bar band, regardless of the hits. That's not a bad thing mind you, but not worthy of induction. So Steppenwolf helps prove the theory that popularity doesn't equal inductability. It's a No/No. I will note that my wife, who edits this thing, disagrees with me, so it's probably Spam sandwiches for dinner tonight.
…I know nothing about. I'm not into hardcore punk/alt rock/fusion, so I'm going to give them a pass. They are considered leaders in their field, but a field full of cow dung is not where I want to be standing right now, so I'll leave it to the wise folks who vote on these things—assuming there actually wise folks who vote on these things—to make that decision. No video here, I just don't like the musical (?) form.
In a setting a long time ago (1969) in a place far, far away (Detroit), I saw the Motor City 5, and they blew me away. Then they turned me off. I guess a 21-year-old college kid can be fickle, but the band DID "Kick Out The Jams" (the language in the first part of this German video is a little more than a little rough):
MC5 - Kick Out the Jams (extended)
…and, along with The Stooges, set the groundwork for the punk revolution a number of years later. At one time part of John Sinclair's White Panther Party "revolution," their story deserves to be told in longer form. Maybe I'll do that later, but because of the groundwork they laid when it came to punk and trash metal, they're a Yes/Yes. Otherwise, they'll burn my house down.
…has been a source of friction between my brother (who IS a true rock "historian") and me. Gordon thinks Nile Rodgers, group founder, can do no wrong. He may be right, but Nile Rodgers was not nominated, Chic was, and as a disco band, they're not bad, just not noteworthy "Le Freak" from 1978 is a snappy tune:
Chic - Le Freak
…but boy, it's just pedestrian to me. If someone wants to nominate Nile Rodgers next year, I'll go for that, but The Bee Gees were just as good as Chic from a musical standpoint, and that just doesn't cut it for me. No/Probably not.
Earlier I mentioned "The Elephant in The Room," regarding Pearl Jam. (See part 1.) Good call, Morgan, because there are actually three or four elephants, one being....
I'll admit it, I'm a BIG fan. Based around the songwriting of Ric Ocasek, the "New Wave" band racked up a bunch of well written and performed singles between about 1976 and their breakup in 1988. Their spare sound made a refreshing change from the bombast of the "Progressive" era, and "New Wave" took hold.
There's a lot of late '60s pop in their sound, and I wonder if us worn out hippies slide into groups like The Cars with a feeling of exhaustion and relief. No matter, because on the Should They/ Will They scale, they're a Yes/Probably, assuming the band can stop infighting enough to show up at the induction concert.
Doug will be back Friday to wrap up his overview of this year's nominees. Have an opinion to share about the nominees? Join us on the The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like this everyday, join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.