Cameron Carpenter: The ABC`s Of Rock`n`Roll – The Hall Of Shame

Last week we looked at the long list for the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2013. You know my thoughts and we`ll see what happens come December.

I have been to Cleveland a few times and have had a chance to go to the Hall of Fame on a couple of occasions. Maybe it is because I was Director of Marketing for the Hard Rock Café in Canada and have seen some of the greatest rock memorabilia of all time that I was not completely blown away by their collection. Maybe we are spoilt because there are great pieces all over the world and they are on public display.

When I was a kid there was nothing cooler than the old Hockey Hall Of Fame at the C.N.E. as it seemed the entire history of the game was in one room. Somehow it doesn`t seem the same in Cleveland.  I am glad it is located there and do think they have a legitimate claim to the site what with Alan Freed  on WJW hosting rock and roll shows in Cleveland as early as 1952. I have actually enjoyed all three of my visits to the city. The first time I went was to scout a local band by the name of Screwtractor who my colleague at MCA Publishing in New York was interested in. We spent a couple of days at the Euclid Tavern and had a grand old time. My second visit was accompanying Haydain Neale from Jacksoul who was asked to sing the Canadian national anthem at the NBA 50th Anniversary rookie All-Star game. A couple of the parties were hosted at the Hall of Fame and it was interesting to meet and mingle with some of the game’s biggest legends. My last trip was with Darryl Fine from Gasoline Magazine as we went down to catch-up with the New York Dolls on their first reunion story and interview and shoot them for the magazine’s cover story. Always like Cleveland.

The debate about who should, and shouldn’t be in the so-called rock and roll Hall of Fame, is on-going and never ending. There are no rights and no wrongs and over a few pints can became quite a lively discussion.

I am not going to bitch about how long it took some bands to get in (hello Alice) but about some of those who have been ignored.

With a few obvious exceptions the hall has been cold to artists outside of America. Sure The Beatles, The Stones,  Zeppelin and The Who are all in, representing the U.K. , and last year The Faces/Small Faces were inducted, but unless you had a monster hit in the good old U.S.A. the waiting list is going to be long.

Hopefully Deep Purple will get the nod this year but what about Slade, Status Quo, The Sweet, Roxy Music and T.Rex? All of these bands sold millions of records and influenced thousands of bands.

Slade was the biggest band in the U.K. for the entire decade of the seventies. They had three different singles enter the U.K. charts at number one. One listen to their 1972 best seller “Slade Alive!” was all you needed to hear to understand what rock and roll was all about. It was half covers and half originals and it set the stage for what was to become their signature sound.  That record influenced a lot of future rockers including Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, Cheap Trick and countless others.

Joey Ramone once said “I spent most of the early 70s listening to “Slade Alive!”  Thinking to myself, “Wow – this is what I want to do. I want to make that kind of intensity for myself. A couple of years later I was at CBGB’s doing my best Noddy Holder”.

From great early rockers such as “Gudbuy T’Jane”, “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”, “Cuz I Luv You” and “Cum On Feel The Noize” to latter day hits “Run Runaway” and “My Oh My” Noddy Holder, Dave Hill and the rest of the lads deserve to be in.

How about The Sweet? From bubble-gum rockers with “Little Willy” and “Wig-Wam Bam to glam anthems “Fox On The Run” and “Ballroom Blitz” all the way up to mature rockers “Love Is Like Oxygen” these guys were a solid hit machine.  Propelled by the writing and production team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, The Sweet, along with Slade brought a manly sound to the world of glam.

Roxy Music was one of the most influential English bands off all time. Their early years with Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno charted the course for English art rock and set the table for “new wave”. Violins clashed with saxophones and synthesizers, tuxedos frolicked with furs and camp was more akin to Oscar Wilde than canoes and forests. Hand in hand with David Bowie they led the glam revolution, and then, tossing aside the make-up, took music to a different level. Bryan Ferry still makes amazing solo records and Brian Eno will one day be in the Hall on his own as a producer. Roxy, along with Jerry Hall, Marilyn Cole and Amanda Lear, also combined for some of the greatest album covers of all time.

Status Quo only had one minor hit in North America with 1968’s “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” but had 60 charting records in the U.K. and 20 top tens. They were the working class rockers who were never cool, never trendy but always reliable. It was straight ahead boogie rock and no one did it better. I fell in love with their 1972 album “Piledriver” and was lucky enough to see the band during their peak when they played the “Olympic Island Festival” in August of 1974. It was an interesting day and I walked away totally enthralled with the performance of Status Quo and also became a fan of an Irish guitarist by the name of Rory Gallagher who was also on the bill. I forgot that Canned Heat played that day but remember cracking up a few times to Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show. The headliner that day was Todd Rundgren (who many would love to see in the Hall but I have never been completely sold).  If you ever owned a Foghat record have a listen to Status Quo.

T.Rex was another band that only hinted at success in America with the song “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” but were monsters in their native England. Beginning in 1970 with the album “T.Rex” the band released four consecutive classic albums; “Electric Warrior” in 1971, “The Slider” in 1972 and “Tanx” in 1973. If glam had a musical muscleman it was guitarist Marc Bolan.

If I had to pick four more bands to representative England those would be the ones.  Now, you can go in the Hall as a band member, solo artist, or both.  Some folks have been inducted in two bands such as Jimmy Page for Led Zeppelin and The Yardbirds and Ronnie Wood for The Rolling Stones and The Faces. Eric Clapton is the only triple inductee for stints in The Yardbirds, Cream and as a solo artist. Three of the four Beatles are in as solo artists with the only exclusion being Ringo Starr. I say let Ringo in! He had tons of solo hits and still hits the road every year with his ever changing All-Star band.  If Pete Best had stayed on the throne would The Beatles have been the same Beatles? I think not.

Now what about Canada? As you know Rush is up for induction this year but the one band that has never been nominated is The Guess Who. This is the first Canadian rock band to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts with “American Women”.  They scored in America with “No Sugar Tonight”, “These Eyes” and close to ten more singles. Powered by the incredible voice of Burton Cummings and the perfectly placed guitar of Randy Bachman,  these guys made it cool to be Canadian in the early seventies. Cummings/Bachman are the Lennon and McCartney of Canada and both deserve to be in the hall. Maybe once the floodgates open Randy will also get in with Bachman Turner Overdrive and Burton will get a solo nod.

I decided to leave the Kiss discussion until the end as if I had led with it the sound of people logging off would have been deafening. Say what you will but Kiss were one of the most influential bands of all time and have sold more concert tickets and records that almost every band that ever existed. They are easy to hate and even easier to mock but they brought so much to the game they should not be denied entrance. Please explain to me how The Pretenders left a more indelible footprint on the history of rock and roll.

I must say I am very pleasantly surprised with the new Rolling Stones single “Doom And Gloom”. I am not going to compare it to some “Exile” song or say that it is there best in X amount of years but as rock’n’roll songs go this one’s a keeper. Not overly thrilled with another re-packing of hits (wasn’t “Forty Licks” released a couple of years ago) but  with a band working on their fiftieth anniversary there are no rules. We are in uncharted waters.

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.

3 Responses to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC`s Of Rock`n`Roll – The Hall Of Shame”

  1. Todd Rundgren should go in as producer.New York Dolls,Meatloaf Bat Out Of Hell,Were An American Band by Grand Funk,Hall and Oates,Cheap Trick ,The Band. The list goes on.

  2. I think you will agree, Cam, that the real problem is that we all live in a vacuum. Leaving out Slade is akin to, say, a Jazz Hall of Fame leaving out Bix Beiderbecke or a new Dodgers Hall of Fame leaving out Wally Moon. It becomes a matter of history rather than a true reflection of the times and if you weren’t in Los Angeles or the U.K. when The Sweet swept the ballroom clean, you don’t understand. What I don’t understand is why anyone cares? I know how important Guess Who was to me. Why do I need a HoF to confirm it? Is Fatty Arbuckle or Jack Elam in the Cinema Hall of Fame (if they have one)? I don’t know, but those names are far more embedded in my head than The Sweet, even though I would not vote against their inclusion in The Hall. We need to sit down over a few pints of beer and talk. It won’t accomplish anything, but I think you have many stories to tell that I want to hear. Hey, you don’t own that brewery, do you?

  3. I can’t agree more with this weeks blog. Last week there were a few ??? nominess but each to their own. Besides, I don’t think my life will be highly affected or will it. Great article anywho.

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