Monday, March 16, 2015

Great moments in Rock Hall history - Talking Heads induction, 2002: Can we get this over with already?



So I was watching VH1 Classic's "120 Minutes" the other day, which for those who haven't seen it is a bastardization of the early '90s juggernaut of alternative rock videos. The Classic incarnation of the
show was actually pretty decent until pinhead Matt Pinfield, a former host of the original show, reappeared in the form of self-indulgent animated shorts that tell of his experiences rubbing elbows with rock royalty (for my take on it, visit www.whogivesashit.com). I can't find any evidence to suggest that Pinfield is involved in the selection of the videos, but since the shorts started airing, the selection of videos has been stale, repetitive, lacking in variety and not representative of the era or bands that influenced it (or came after, for that matter). It's Soundgarden, The Smiths, Pearl Jam, Blur, R.E.M., Alice In Chains, wash, rinse, repeat. There were other bands in the '80s, you know.

Anyway, a Talking Heads video came on - in fact it was the clip for "Nothing But Flowers," an OK
song but insipid clip featuring inane ultra-left wing factoids, artsy fartsy scenes and a taking-himself-too-seriously David Byrne striking all kinds of ridiculous poses with his now-40 piece Talking Heads unit.

The video got me thinking about the band, and whether the Heads are talking and over the early 1990s legal spat over Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz using the name The Heads, which led to a lawsuit from Byrne.

They aren't talking, and they aren't over it.

And that got me thinking well, if that's the case, were they over it in 2002, when they went into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was that an utterly awkward event?

No, they weren't, and yes, it was.

A few things to look out for:

1) Jerry Harrison giving CBGB's owner Hilly Kristal the cross-arm stance and not sticking his hand out for a shake. Really? Who the f*ck are you Jerry Harrison? If Byrne can be on the stage with you and Franz and Weymouth, you can shake the hand of the dude who made your crappy band famous.


2) Red Hot Chili Pepper's frontman Anthony Kiedis comparing his discovery of Talking Heads to the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. It's not really offensive, just indicative of the fact that whatever brains were rolling around in his skull have been melted into something resembling Flea's scrotum.

3) Weymouth's visible rack.

4) Byrne's inability to face the microphone, as if he's worried Franz is gonna jump him.

5) The sleepy, soulless, pointless performance of "Psycho Killer" and the slightly better but still limp run through "Burning Down The House." (Both not in the video below).

There's plenty of awkward to savor, so without further ado, dig in and enjoy:





Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hole for the Hall?



Go to your CD collection right now. Pull out "Nevermind" by Nirvana and "Live Through This" by Hole. Listen to them both all the way through. Does the former really blow the latter out of the water? 
Which one sounds more dated? 

Most importantly: Has there ever been a one-two punch of albums on this level of excellence, both authored by spouses leading different bands, in the history of rock?

I've been digging on "Live Through This" lately, and it hit me that right smack in the middle of this self-righteous 90s male feminist movement - in other words dudes who went to Lilith Fair and listened to 10,000 Maniacs and Indigo Girls just to get laid - Courtney Love was ravaged as some kind of talentless doppelgänger, a veritable Nancy to Kurt's Sid.

I bought the fiction. Courtney stole Kurt's tunes, Courtney got Kurt high. Courtney got Kurt killed. Courtney killed Kurt.

 

But what if the exact opposite is true?

What if Courtney actually brought out the best in Kurt? What if she kept him from becoming a drooling idiot? What if she didn't kill Kurt but actually kept him alive way longer than he would have been without her?

Actually her involvement with Kurt is irrelevant to whether she and her band Hole should be in the Rock Hall. 

If Joan Jett (who I love don't get me wrong) is in solely for her breaking of barriers for women in rock (because it wasn't for her tunes; her hits were all covers) then Love gets big numbers for the enormous push she gave to the 90s Grrrrlll rock revolution (and no I'm not just saying that to get laid).

Plus, if you stack up Hole's big three albums ("Pretty On The Inside," "Live Through This" and "Celebrity Skin") against Nirvana's ("Bleach," "Nevermind" and "In Utero") it's actually a pretty close call.
I think if "Celebrity Skin" had been the "Appetite For Destruction" that Love wanted it to be, or if she had one more awesome album in her, Hole would be a lock. As it is, we are in a race against time to see who gets in first: Hole, or Nirvana spawn Foo Fighters, whose push is being led by the blatant and pathetic campaigning by one Mr. Dave Grohl.

Go on, Dave, take everything. 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rock Hall 2015: Green Day to follow in Nirvana's footsteps?


Don't get me wrong. Nirvana should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nevermind the fact that they only had three studio albums. Nevermind the fact that Dave Grohl is only a mega-millionaire because of Kurt Cobain and, really, was almost a nobody before Cobain and Krist Novoselic canned Chad Channing and anointed Grohl as the new beatminder. Nevermind that "Nevermind" wasn't really as mind-blowing and revolutionary as rock critics claim it was. They were worthy first-ballot entries.

But how can you justify putting them in before The Pixies, Hüsker Dü and The Replacements, the
You be me for a
while... er, nevermind
three well-known bands that made up the majority of Cobain's musical DNA?

At the very least, the Hall could have inducted The Pixies in the same class.

Grohl and Novoselic handled the whole thing really well, and their selection of a crew of female vocalists to fill in for Kurt was super classy. All is forgiven. Let's move on.

But let's not forget. Because what could happen with the Class of 2015 would actually constitute a historical crime compared to the slight of 2014: Green Day could very well get in before the three aforementioned bands.

The absurdity of this is really driven home by Billie Joe Armstrong's recent fanboy appearances with The Replacements, one of which is captured here:



It's not even worth the keystrokes to compare the importance and brilliance of The Replacements with Green Day and their limp stabs at everything from classic punk to mainstream alt-rock to Clash-esque anthems to pop radio hits.

The Pixies' chances of ever getting in are probably crushed now that the Nirvana induction has come and gone. Same for Hüsker Dü, which probably never really had a shot anyway (despite some vigorous campaigning by the very same Mr. Grohl).

If Green Day gets in, the Hall loses any and all legitimacy. And this blog shuts down.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rock Hall 2015: Green Day must be stopped


I'm not saying Green Day is the worst band ever. I'm not saying they don't have some decent tunes that provided some cool memories for me in the early 1990s. And I'm not saying you are an idiot if they are your favorite band. 

But what I am saying is that they are not worthy of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or any hall of fame for that matter, unless it's the Douchebag Hall of Fame, or the Rip-off Artist Hall of Fame, or the Overrated Hall of Fame.

There is nothing original about what they have accomplished. Their "punk" phase that began in the early 1990s produced homogenized bastardizations and regurgitations of late '70s punk coated in a too-sweet alt-rock candy coating. 

Their big sell-out phase that began in the early 2000s spawned overproduced, radio-ready tracks that aimed to be reproductions of The Clash at their most political but only succeeded in achieving the effect of an overly earnest high school class president acceptance speech.

We've already covered some of their more egregious crimes, including "Warning," a blatant rip-off of The Kinks "Picture Book." 

But another horrible rip clicked for me last night while watching '80s videos on VH1 Classic.

Not only is Green Day's "Good Riddance" a wretched tune, but the prom theme song for every kid who got their diploma between 1997 and 2000 is identical to the massive hit "For the Longest Time."

Is it possible that Billie Joe had Billy Joel in mind?

Crud:
 

Decent cheese:



This isn't the first salvo we've fired in this war, and it won't be the last. 

Join us as we try to salvage the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's last shred of legitimacy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rock Hall 2015: A first look ahead

At some point someone's gonna
realize T. Rex isn't in. Right?
There's plenty of previously passed over artists who could make it into the Hall in 2015.

T Rex, Peter, Paul and Mary, Jethro Tull, The Monkees, Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard, Judas Priest and rap acts like NWA and LL Cool J head the mainstream list.

Kiss getting in might inch The New York Dolls (heavily influenced Kiss) and Cheap Trick (heavily influenced by Kiss) closer to consideration, and there's always a chance that someone hips Jann Wenner to Big Star and he realizes what an important act he's been missing over the course of his 68 years on the planet.

This year's induction of Nirvana gives CDNR favorites The Pixies and The Replacements an outside shot. The band strongly emulated (aped?) the loud-soft-loud dynamic that made The Pixies big and famous, and Kurt Cobain was a big-time fan of the Mats ("Nevermind" got its name from a Replacements song).

And let this be the first in our many efforts over the next year to push for The Smiths, who were not that far off from Beatles-level popularity and success in England during the 1980s and also did extremely well in the U.S. You'd be hard-pressed to find a band that boasts even the smallest element of emo and didn't love The Smiths.
Mikey Miss: Takin' a stand.

I actually think there's an outside chance Green Day gets in, and that just makes me sick. We're starting to see some public backlash to this idea, with a big Philadelphia-area sports radio personality, Mike Missanelli, saying they shouldn't be in. What makes this noteworthy is that I'd be willing to wager that 90 percent of Missanelli's audience that tunes into his show on 97.5 The Fanatic are enormous Green Day fans. There's also this post on AV Club by a comedian who smokes the band and "American Idiot."


Among the acts that will become eligible for the first time in 2015, I see three shoe-ins:

Alice In Chains

Failed attempts to make quality, relevant new music will only hurt their chances slightly. Nirvana's induction has started a run on excellent grunge bands that no one can argue against. Big albums, big influence, amazing guitar work and songwriting by Jerry Cantrell and an uber-talented pseudo frontman, Layne Staley, who died by overdose - this tragedy is actually a huge plus in their favor as far as Rock Hall induction. Also, they did an MTV "Unplugged." So they're in.

Smashing Pumpkins

You could say that three critically acclaimed albums - "Gish," "Siamese Dream," "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Album that Goes on Forever and Isn't Really That Good So Why Did They Bother Making It A Double Album" - does not a Hall of Fame career make, but then again Nirvana only had three albums total, and the Sex Pistols only had one album total, so there goes that argument. Besides a batch of great hooks, some tasty licks, and a few classic tracks, the Pumpkins are really nothing special. But they fit the mold of Hall of Fame band to a tee, complete with the potential of a long-overdue, publicity grabbing reunion.

The Black Crowes

The Rock Hall is all about Wenner and his boys reliving the glory years of the 1960s and early 1970s. The Black Crowes and their music live in that time period. Combine this with calls for the Hall to be more forward-thinking, and the Crowes are in. Obviously, this is a huge, huge, huge mistake, but it wouldn't be the first time one was made by the close-minded dweebs that vote for induction.



Later on we'll look at some of my dream inductions and likely snubs from the Class of 2015.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rock Hall 2014: Got it right for once


Who cares if Paul Stanley's face looked like an ice cream cone that half-melted, then was frozen, then half-melted again. Who cares if Peter Criss looked like a cleaned-up Phil Spector. Who cares if Ace Frehley resembled a bloated Kenny Rogers. Who cares if Gene Simmons appeared to have come straight from his audition for a "Planet of the Apes" sequel.

Kiss was finally in, and the induction was shown in all its glory on HBO's recently released telecast of the ceremony. If Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bill Haley, etc. invented Rock and Roll, Kiss pumped it with steroids and ensured it would go on to have a Barry Bonds-like career for the ages (well, something like that).

The best part of all came when Stanley said exactly what we've been saying for almost four years now: Let the people vote and take control out of the hands of lame-ass old shits like Jann Wenner and his crusty cronies.

The other best part was Tom Morello's amazeballs induction speech. Which was the exact opposite of Michael Stipe's.




More justice was served by the induction of Hall & Oates. Seriously, these guys dominated the radio for a decade with pop tunes that people will be singing until the world ends. Nope, no way that's Hall worthy. Gotta make sure we get Red Hot Chili Peppers in there first, because they made 50 RS covers. Gotta make sure Donovan gets in there because Wenner beats it to his tunes incessantly.

You could quibble a little with some of the things that went down with H&O's induction. Like Questlove's puzzling induction speech. And Oates' bizarre forehead-framing hairstyle. And the fact that freaking G.E. Smith was not included in the performance portion (at least not the ones televised on HBO).

Without G.E., it just ain't Hall & Oates.

But hey, they're in, so it's all good.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot: A little band called Nirvana got in. They're overrated as one of the greatest bands of all time (they're not), they're underrated as hack ripoffs of the Pixies and Husker Du (they're not, well, they are a little bit), and they are properly rated as a Hall of Fame band. Most encouraging of all was the revelation that Dave Grohl does still possess a rock soul, as he played a part in one of the coolest Rock Hall performances of all time: Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, St. Vincent and Lorde fronting in place of Kurt Cobain. I mean, wow. You HAVE to watch all four performances.


Can't say that Peter Gabriel or Cat Stevens getting in really matters either way. Gabriel got in with Genesis, skipped the ceremony, so eff him, he blew his chance. He does not have a Hall of Fame career. Cat Stevens: Eh.

And so, on to 2015, where we push for the Pixies and The Replacements and try once again to stop Green Day. It won't be easy.