Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock And Roll – Hall Of Fame

It’s that time of year again; let the debates begin as the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ready their class of 2013. There is no pleasing everyone and the HOF is no different. Now even calling it the “Rock And Roll” Hall of Fame is a bit of a stretch. My definition of rock is pretty narrow and would not include 90% of hip-hop, 99% of disco (I will give a pass to “I Was Made For Loving You” by Kiss), very little funk and almost no folk. Their definition seems to be constantly fluid and I can only agree or disagree with their choices by means of my own internal rock’n’roll barometer.

It also seems like there are a lot of decisions made by pure politics as opposed to pure passion. Let’s take a look at who are on the long list this year (four or five will make the final cut which will be announced in December).

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band 

They are nominated for their second time. It’s way too strong of a class this year for them to get in. I couldn’t name a song or album of theirs. I know they band backed Dylan when he went electric but that is not enough. Also, for the most part I don’t like the sound of a harmonica. I gotta say no chance but stranger things have happened.

Chic

This is the seventh time they have been nominated. Disco Hall of Fame yes, rock, not so sure. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards are great songwriters, players and producers but I think they will be overlooked again. “Good Times” and “Le Freak” were party starters at Studio 54 but to me were more important as the bed tracks for Grandmaster Flash’s “The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel” and The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, which are two of the most important hip-hop records ever recorded. Bonus points to Nile for producing both The Spoons and David Bowie but it won’t be enough.

Deep Purple

Finally nominated for the first time. Should be an absolute shoe-in. Every kid I grew up with who owned a guitar first learned the riff to the classic “Smoke On The Water”. Everyone owned “Machine Head”, the triple “Live In Japan” and “Burn”. They had their first hit with Joe South’s “Hush” in 1968 and the band toured Canada this year.  Look at who has played in this band and tell me any one of them is not a Hall Of Famer: Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Richie Blackmore, Tommy Bolin, Joe Satriani, Steve Morse, Roger Glover, Glenn Hughes, Jon Lord, Don Airey and the greatest left handed rock drummer of all time Ian Paice. Aerosmith have been in for 11 years and this is the might Deep Purple’s first shot? Criminal.

Heart

The second go-around for the sisters Wilson (c`mon – try to name another band member). A good band, some classic tunes, nice connection to Canada signing with Mushroom Records, but don`t think it is going to be their year. I am sure they will ultimately make it but the combination of rock, hip-hop, dance and golden oldies acts nominated this year won`t be in their favour this year. Politics will come in to play and I anticipate a balanced class of 2013.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Joan and the boys are up for the second time. Much like Heart I don’t think it is going to be their year although, just for The Runaways alone, Joan should see the hall one day.  Some classic rock and a true vision have seen Joan succeed for decades and she is still out there giving it all. Her time will come but not this year.

Albert King

Most of his blues contemporaries are in and I imagine it is only a matter of time for the man who rocked the upside down Gibson Flying V.  In all honesty I don`t know a lot of his work and was never really a blues kind of guy, however, he is the type of artist the 500 or so `music historians ‘on the HOF voting committee seem to favour.  They might think they are voting for B.B. or Freddie and slide him in but I doubt it.

Kraftwerk

Second time around for the eclectic German outfit. Hell, I would put them in on the strength of “Autobahn“ alone. If The Velvet Underground can be in the hall for influencing the onslaught of punk then Kraftwerk should be in for their influence on new wave and electronica. Kraftwerk were miles ahead of the curve and one of the most innovative bands ever. If the hall was run by me they would have been in years ago. I think they really have a shot this year as the only band from their genre to be nominated.

The Marvelettes

The Motown nod of the year and a first time nominee.  Let`s face facts here the band only had one monster hit single with “Please Mr. Postman“ and really are not worthy of the hall. Unlike The Supremes (most people can name one if not two of their members) you would be hard pressed to find anyone who blurted out “Gladys Horton!“ when speaking of The Marvelettes.  I would prefer to hear even lesser known Marvelettes songs on Top 40 then most of the current hits but I still think the Hall is a few years away for the ladies.

The Meters

The New Orleans funk band gets their second shot at the hall. Long favourites of fellow musicians (including The Rolling Stones who took them on two tours) I don`t think there is enough public awareness of who the band is to merit consideration.  I know very little about the band and I think I know everything. Sorry boys.

Randy Newman

On the long list for the second time. I think he has a real shot for the short list this year.  Randy is like the cranky sarcastic uncle you want to spend time with every holiday. He has won two Oscars and been nominated for 20, picked up five Grammy Awards and three Emmy Awards. I love “Short People“ and “I Love L.A.“ and anyone who has the likes of the great Harry Nilsson do a cover of nothing but Newman songs gets my vote. My money says he reps the singer-songwriters this year and gets the keys to Cleveland.

N.W.A.

On their first nomination they will not receive the amount of votes needed to make it as Public Enemy will steal their thunder. “Straight Outta Compton“ scared and thrilled me at the same time. It was a thrilling breakthrough hip-hop album that changed the playing field. Much like The Sex Pistols is was their one great statement but not enough to get them in at this point. Their time will come but you might see Dr. Dre get in before the band.

Procol Harum

First shot for the Brit band but I don`t think the Yanks will let them in for a couple of years. They only had one North American with `Whiter Shade Of Pale“ and it won`t be enough for the voters who tend to lean towards  American bands and have a distaste for Brit bands who can very loosely clumped under the “prog“ banner. Any band that can claim Robin Trower as a past member is OK in my books but they are still years away from getting in to the hall. Yes have never been nominated and should be in before Procol Harum.

Public Enemy

A sure shot for the long list newcomers. If Run D.M.C., Grandmaster Flash and The Beasties are in so should P.E.. Too many great songs to mention and Chuck D. brought politics front and centre to the hip-hop arena. Throw in Flavor Flav, Terminator X and Professor Griff and you have hip-hop legends and a band suburban rock kids could appreciate before they raged against their machines. Sorry N.W.A. you have to wait your turn.

Rush

Ignored for years our favourite power trio finally get the recognition they deserve. Along with Deep Purple they should be the two “rock bands“ to get in this year. The numbers are staggering ; 24 gold albums and 14 platinum or multi-platinum, 25 million records sold in the U.S. alone and over 40 million worldwide, 40 years of rock and the same three core members for all albums but their first. When they tour they do it on their terms and still manage to sell out arenas around the world. Let’s win this one for Willowdale!

Donna Summer

After five previous attempts this will be the year that Donna is inducted and her recent death will have a lot to do with it. I was never a fan but compared to other artists from the same genre she is worthy. Her and Giorgio Moroder re-shaped disco with “Love To Love You Baby” and, in the process, helped shape the future world of electronica.

So, to recap, if there are four picks I say: Deep Purple, Randy Newman, Public Enemy and Donna Summer. Fifth pick goes to Rush and if they go for the even half dozen add Kraftwerk.

Next week we will discuss who is in (and shouldn`t be) and who has been ignored.  Feel free to give me ammunition on both fronts.

Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

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Cameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

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