Saturday, December 31, 2011

Who's in next: Def Leppard vs. Bon Jovi - Round 3

Popeye to Joe Elliott: I smell what you're cooking.
The battle rages on: Def Leppard's "Adrenalize" takes on Bon Jovi's "New Jersey" in a winner-gets-in-the-Rock-Hall death match. This is Round 3, Track 3: "Make Love Like A Man" vs. "Born To Be My Baby."

"Make Love Like A Man":


G.E. Smith: "Make love like a man. I'm a man. That's what I am." These are the Popeye-esque words that propel the chorus of the third track on the follow-up to one of the biggest albums of all time. This is kind of a problem, because the third slot tends to be a pretty prominent spot on an album, not just because IT'S THE THIRD SONG ON AN ALBUM but because there's a precedent that's been set: On Led Zeppelin's "IV," it was the kind-of-silly but kind-of-epic "Battle of Evermore." On The Doors' classic self-titled debut, it was "The Crystal Ship," weak-ass by Doors' standards but transcendent compared to, say, Muse. Then there's "Come As You Are" ("Nevermind"), "Life In The Fast Lane" ("Hotel California") and so on.


Here, however, the Leps have put a real toilet-clogger right up in the front of the pile. It would be like the horrid 1987 Chicago Cubs moving part-time starter Ed Lynch (2-9, 5.38 ERA) to the top of their rotation ahead of ace Rick Sutcliffe (18-10, 3.68 ERA). Actually, it'd be like putting Harry Caray's corpse ahead of Sutcliffe.

"MLLAM": the Ed Lynch of "Adrenalize."
I've avoided talking about the actual song here, but that's because doing so is like taking a stick and looking underneath a dead bird that's been sitting around for 12 days. You got your cowbell, you've got your mentions of gigolos, you've got your pointless midsections where Joe Elliott begs, "Gimme some rock and roll! A little bit of rock and roll!" and you find this request sincere, because there is zero rock and roll going on here.

Truly four minutes and 13 seconds of the worst music ever conceived and recorded.

RATING: .01 out of 10.

Michael Anthony: Sigh, I guess it wouldn't be right to just skip this one.

Being a Lep Lover, this is like seeing my dad go up against Mike Tyson circa 1986. It's like Glass Joe against Little Mac, with the once-mighty pop-metal singles machine Def Leppard playing the role of the undermatched, light-hitting, glass-jawed dope who gets knocked out with one punch to a 110-pound child.

Seriously, what happened to these guys? Once capable of hammering out quality meatheaded buttrock riffola (everything from this to this to this would fit the bill) - solidly written, even somewhat complex tunes, complete with their own wit, personality, and sexist charm - this is what they've been reduced to?

"Make Love Like A Man"? More like "Make Songs Like A PIECE OF SHIT", am I right?

To blame: Phil Collins or Phil Collen?
People like to give Nirvana credit for ushering in serious, introspective (and bad) alt-rock and forcing all the lame, unserious arena-rockers out of the public consciousness, but I blame this horrible song and video (also, any Van Halen video released in the 90's).

Hey, "Make Love Like A Man" - thanks for ruining pop music forever!

0.F (out of 10)

"Born To Be My Baby"

G.E. Smith: Man, I sure hope you aren't serving up some home cooking for your fellow Garden State boys. But whether the hometown pride is there or not, this tune is definitely worthy of Goodwill or the Salvation Army and not the outright dump like the rest of this landfill of music. The na-na-na's are cool but definitely hackneyed, and it seems like a cheap trick for a maestro like Desmond Child to yank out of his pants.

I always thought the video for the tune, where they show the boys working hard behind the scenes, and isolate the vocal tracks, was kind of cool. But look at it now:


Still, there are some puke-worthy moments here. It totally rips the underneath harmony from the verse of "You Give Love A Bad Name," and lyrically the story goes right back to the same kind of story where Tommy's working on the docks and Gina working at the diner all day in "Livin' On A Prayer." And then the pre-chorus seems to be in a totally different key than the verse, and then the chorus is ok again. It's almost as if they couldn't come up with something, reached into a batch of tape and threw something in there to create a bridge. Why ruin a song that's only slightly odorous and spray it with a scent that crosses skunk with burnt hair?

Rating: 4.5 out of 10.


Mystery solved: Here's what Dez looks like.
Michael Anthony: This is the sound of Hall-worthy* hired gun Desmond Child running out of steam. It's still better than most songwriters can manage on their best day, but the formula is starting to show its age. Could be why there's that awkward, forced key change that G.E. mentioned earlier. It's kind of cool that he was trying something somewhat unique, and I suppose in a way it makes the song more memorable, but it's not very subtle, and again - do we want creativity and artistic leaps in a Bon Jovi song? No, we want the balls-out hairband pop of "Living On A Prayer" and "You Give Love A Bad Name". Clearly these guys had a hard time living up to the pressure of those mammoth hits, and wilted into generic balladeers and eventually even adult contemporary country "stars". Yikes!

Still, it's got more style and melody than what we've heard so far off the limp "New Jersey," and it kicks the crap out of a putrid offering from Def Leppard. Hand another one to the Jersey Boys.

5.69 (out of 10)

* Turns out Child is in this Hall.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Who's in next: Def Leppard vs. Bon Jovi - Round 2

"Heaven" it ain't: "Bad Medicine," bad haircuts.
Our prize fight, Def Leppard's "Adrenalize" vs. Bon Jovi's "New Jersey," winner gains entrance to the Rock Hall, continues. Round 2 of these two casks of cow semen pits their second tracks against each other: "Heaven Is" vs. "Bad Medicine."

"Bad Medicine"

Michael Anthony: How inventive! It may seem minor, but on "Bad Medicine", Jonny and crew give us the chorus first, which pre-empts all the bad stuff you usually get. Isn't that what you listen to a Bon Jovi song for - the epic chorus? True, there are those who listen for the faux-bluesman solo stylings of Sambora, or the occasional ham-fisted key-change ending, but with "Bad Medicine", we know what to do right away: ignore the stodgy blues/garage chord progression weakened even further by the pointlessly treated guitars - this one is all about that chorus.


Maybe it's not quite "epic" (or "Epic"), but you give me a BJ song that starts with a chorus and I'm a happy man. There's also a decent pre-chorus that gets away from the blues-riffing with a fairly striking chord change.


Ripped often, and incorrectly.
So, yes, I still like this song 20+ years later, but in some ways, they really dropped the ball.

In going for a somewhat more organic "live" sound, believe it or not, they did capture something akin to what Bruce was doing on The River, which itself was a clone of glam-rock gods the New York Dolls. Good job! However, though it aligned the Jove with the Dolls in more ways than spandex and teased hair, it was really just cosmetic and did them no favors. Who wants a "gritty" sounding Bon Jovi? (No one.) I'll take the high-gloss (pun intended) 80's junk with even more bombast and true nutless rock opera singing over this any day.

RATING: 4.69 (out of 10)

G.E. Smith: I smell the bathroom of a nasty strip club where the hottest chick has a bad c-section scar and a tooth missing. I smell sweaty mullets and cig-smoke smothered acid wash jeans. I smell the complacency of a band on autopilot because they know they can do whatever they freak they want and still hit the top of the charts blindfolded.

Still, your point is valid. I DO still dig this song, and it's funny - it sounds 10 times better without the video where the skanks get handed cameras to shoot the band, who mug for the cameras before getting their pants unzipped. We've watched the clip for this track together on Classic at 2 in the morning 20 times and ripped it to shreds, yet right now I'm not feeling the same venom.

All the telltale signs of a decently plotted but nauseatingly bland lead single are there: the aforementioned starting with the chorus, shout-along pre-choruses, another patented by-the-numbers solo by Sambora. Words are crammed in everywhere, like they discovered the music didn't match the words and just said bleep it, hit record and let's go sniff some more white stuff. Not that they said that, but you know what I'm saying.

The ending only hammers home how bad this really is. Just when you think it's going to end, JonBon breaks it down again, with a lame stab at Springsteen songspeak: "I got it bad, I got it I got it, I gotta do it again, wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on, I'm not done, one more time with feeling! Help me out now!" and then he rolls back into a chorus that is really not worth a second outro.

Rating: 3.79 (out of 10)

"Heaven Is":


Clearly Clark was missed.
G.E. Smith: OK, I danced around this in Round 1, and I know it's as morbid as Ashton Kutcher's career, but I feel the Lep sinking fast and I gotta go there: We can't underestimate the loss of guitarist Steve Clark, the Johnny Thunders-esque glam master who died after "Hysteria" came out. Why did Def Lep have so many sick singles before "Adrenalize"? Because of Clark. Why did they suck monkey balls after? Because of the Kenny G. of hair metal, Vivian Campbell.

I'm not as down on "Heaven Is" as I know you'll be in a few seconds. We've got another Cheap Trick rip in the opening riff, and if you're going to keep pilfering from a band, that ain't a bad one to hit up. The verses are pretty cool - Phil Collen bangs out some nice beefy power chords, clearly some of the same cream that glazed "Hysteria," "Pyromania" and the rest of the band's good stuff.


Anyone who could pull this off has to be a genius.
 But that's about it. The chorus has way too much Mutt Lange going on - it's like Mutt pushed the "No Balls" button on his machine before returning to picking up hot chicks despite looking like a handsome version of Beastman.

Lep shows why X-rays would reveal rocks in their head - wonder where they got the idea for this brilliant pre-chorus: "Leave your name at the sound of the tone, call you right back when I get home." Clark tried to bust out of his coffin when he heard Campbell try to ape him and fail in the solo.

It's not the worst song ever, but it's definitely the worst song with "heaven" in the title, beating out such luminaries as Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is A Place On Earth," The Talking Heads' "Heaven" and Bryan Adams' "Heaven" in complete suckitude (actually, the first and last of those are pretty sick. The middle one still sucks).

RATING: 2.1 out of 10.


Michael Anthony:
In a Joe Elliot statement on the "Rock of Ages" and "Best Of" compilation albums, he referred this song's backing vocals on the chorus sounded much like The Beach Boys, and said that it was the first time Def Leppard went that far. He also referred this song as "More Queen than Queen".


Did Joe mean these Beach Boys?
Really? I assume Joe "Chris" Elliot is a reasonable man who understands and appreciates music - and knows what The Beach Boys and Queen sound like - and it's perfectly fine if he was emulating or perhaps just listening to those two bands when "Heaven Is" was recorded.

But seriously? I do not hear anything remotely Queen-esque in this song. In fact, it's probably much less Queen than, I dunno, King's X. I will personally paypal $5 to anyone who can point out any valid, legitimate Queen-isms in this song.

And those supposed Beach Boys harmonies do not fit at all - with the rest of the song being as densely overproduced as it is, it simply adds up to a grotesque mush.

RATING: 1.8 (out of 10)

Who's in next: Def Leppard vs. Bon Jovi - Round 1

Next year's induction of the Beastie Boys, Guns 'N' Roses and Red Hot Chilli Peppers shows that Rock Hall voters have moved on to the 1980s and left Hall-worthy bands like KISS and Rush out of the equation.

This brought up rumblings that Bon Jovi could be next, but some - like CDNR's G.E. Smith - are saying hold on one mother-grabbing minute, what about Def Leppard? Isn't putting Jovi in before Def Lep like putting the shit before the fart?

G.E. and myself have determined that a battle of two post-mammoth-album stinkers - Lep's "Adrenalize" and Jovi's "New Jersey" - would decide who gets in next.

We present to you Round 1: "Let's Get Rocked" vs. "Lay Your Hands On Me"

"Let's Get Rocked":


Savage: Dude looks like a lady.
G.E. Smith: When I was a kid I'd pitch a small tent in my tighty whities every time I heard the intro to this song or saw the lame video that ripped "Money For Nothing." Joe Elliott asks the seminal question followed by that sweet riff and "Good" Phil Collen, that one guitarist who looks like a hot chick, the other Replacement Guitarist for the Dead Guy and the one-armed drummer chanting "Let's get, let's get, let's get" in Mutt Lange-treated vocals, followed by big beefy power chords that lead the way into the meat of this equivalent of a steam room packed with hairy men.

I gotta admit that listening to it now, I get about as soft as Jim J. Bullock at Delilah's Den by the time Elliot sings the chorus for the third time. Slickly produced, expertly played, boring as crap.

"Rocked" isn't horrible, but standing next to "Pour Some Sugar On Me" it sounds like Nickelback at it's worst.

RATING: .3 balls out of 2, which is equal to 2.87 out of 10. I think.

Michael Anthony: What riff? Oh THAT riff. The one that makes "Up The Creek" sound like "Back In Black"? Hell, it makes "Back In Black" sound like goddamn Mozart. As a huge Lep supporter, it saddens me to report that never in the history of bad-ass Def Leppard singles had there ever been such weak non-riffery in a song (up to that point, of course; anything after 1992 is actually even worse than this).

And didn't you guys tell me to get rocked a couple times before, albeit in somewhat more poetic terms? Alright, so "Rocket" ain't Bob Dylan, but as far as meatheads-telling-others-that-they-should-rock goes, it's pretty solid prose. At the very least, it'll pump you up for a big flag football game or a big rock gig. Same with "Rock of Ages." "Let's Get Rocked" makes me want to listen to like, Kraftwerk only, forever, so I never have to think about awful guitar music again. Let's not.

RATING (on the Pitchfork scale): ONEOFTHEWORSTSONGSOFTHEDECADE.1 (out of 10)

"Lay Your Hands On Me":


I'm wanted. Waaaannnnttteeeeeaaad!!!
Michael Anthony: Hey, Mr. BJ! Why does it take you almost 3 FULL MINUTES to get to the turgid point of this fetid pile of big album-opener trash? Jesus, this is worse than I remembered it, and I remembered it being pretty much the worst thing that I'd ever heard. Was it supposed to be a "Hysteria" knock-off? A Mutt Lange-inspired "Born In The USA" with lyrics about jack shit? Something more experimental? Who knows? Whatever it was supposed to be, it wasn't anything other than horrid, and the American public, with their great taste, quickly turned on Bon Jovi forever.*

To be fair, the perpetually uncool Richie Sambora does rip some semi-cool faux-Vai licks in the long intro, though, given a multi-million-dollar studio and 3 FULL MINUTES to dick around in, you'd expect a little more than some half-hearted solos and the occasional flourish of noise.

There's also this tight accidental harmonic feedback thing, which is more likely the fault of Bruce Fairbairn, uber-producer of more than a few not-so-Hall caliber albums from otherwise HOF-worthy bands, and probably has nothing to do with Jon Bon.

RATING: 2.69 (out of 10)

* Not true.

One of 30 for a penny, via the BMG Music Club.
G.E. Smith: To do this up for real, I went and dug out the TAPE version of "New Jersey," and to do so I had to wade through a sea of Robert Palmer, Huey Lewis and Al B. Sure. I feel dirty.

Anyway, yes, the rip of "Hysteria" Mutt Lange magic in the opening is right there in our face, but if you're going to lift from that album why take one of the sludgy parts from "Gods of War" on side two? What happens after this is more disturbing. Before the music kicks in Jovi does a Michael Hutchence on that spoken word part, then he's doing those David Lee Roth vocal screeches ("I've been to school-HA! Oh baby I've been the teacher.") And then Steven Tyler's "P.U.M.P."-era sex tease on the "your satisfaction is uh, guaranteed." Why the hell does a guy who dominated the world on his last album have to rip from anyone on the follow up?

Fairbairn helped make this happen. I bow to Fairbairn.
Sure, that feedback thing is cool, but unlike "Rocked," this track is sloppily produced, with weak and lazy vocal takes, sloppy cut ins and uneven volume levels. This is odd, since, like you said, Fairbairn helmed some of the '80s biggest hard-hair rock albums, like Aerosmith's "Permanent Vacation" and Loverboy's "Get Lucky." Maybe Fairbairn was off his game. Or maybe he felt duped because Jovi and Sambora handed him a steaming pile of cat poo instead of a solid batch of tunes.

This is soulless corporate rock at best, most likely the product of self-congratulatory smugness and copious amounts of attention from dirty groupies and even dirtier rock critics.

RATING: .2 balls out of 2, or 2.1 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Heroes of the Hall: Neil Young

There's a million reasons to pluck a rare gem like Neil Young from the overabundance of turd piled up within the walls of the Rock Hall.

He's a veritable Babe Ruth of rock, excelling in both acoustic heartbreakers and full-on rock-your-ass off blasters. He sang "my my, hey hey" and "hey hey, my my" to bookend an album and name-checked Johnny Rotten in the process. He made 90-minute classics like "Cortez The Killer" seem like they were only 15 minutes long. He left a big fat footprint in four straight decades (a Woodstocker in the '60s, a stadium rocker in the '70s, a take-it-to-the-man renegade in the '80s and hip-old-man in the '90s) and is considered the Godfather of Grunge, and whether that's true or completely manufactured because it makes a cool story is besides the point.

At this point, he could basically hock a loogie on tape for 30 minutes, put it out with a white cover and still get four stars from Rolling Stone. And that's OK, because he earned it.

Yet nothing demonstrates Mr. Young's Hall Hero Status like his 1983 album "Everybody's Rockin'," released under the name "Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks."

Geffen Records didn't like 1982's "Trans," which featured some synth and robot crap but isn't really as crazy as everyone makes it out to be, and they didn't like the follow-up Young submitted, the all-out country record "Old Ways." They demanded a "rock & roll album," so Young went back to the drawing board.

He came back with his own interpretation of what they wanted: A 10-song pile of junk featuring doo-wop and rockabilly originals and covers from the 1950s. Technically, Young didn't defy Geffen: They didn't specify which era of rock that he had to go back to.

"Highlights" include faithful covers of songs by Jimmy Reed ("Bright Lights, Big City") and Bobby Freeman ("Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes") and originals like "Cry Cry Cry" (where Young sounds like he's ready to bust up) and the Chuck Berry-esque "Payola Blues," which calls out Alan Freed, features the Pinks chiming in with harmonies of "cash-a-wadda-wadda" and boasts lines like "Listen to me, Mr. DJ, hear what I got to say/ If a man is makin' music they oughta let his records play."

But the crowning achievement, the creme de la creme if you will, is "Wonderin'," a typical Young track written way back in his early days that's given the eff-you treatment, complete with "doo wops" from the Shocking Pinks.

Taking it over the top is the video, which speaks for itself. Thank you, Neil Young, thank you. We'd induct you again if we could.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Making a Case: Weird Al

By the Rock Hall’s standard, the most honored artists are those who don’t reinvent the wheel. It’s much easier to continue spinning it and spinning it.

A bevy of Rock Hall members and future Hall members are guilty of stealing the riffs that made them famous.

The most heinous con artists would be Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, and thrice-inducted Eric Clapton, whose careers began the moment they plundered the catalogs of black bluesmen before them.

Any Replacements fan knows that Goo Goo Dolls’ singer/songwriter Johnny Rzeznik owes a treasure trove of “creative royalties” to Paul Westerberg.
The kind of company rip-off artist Rzeznik (center) keeps.

And not too long ago, we pointed out how ungracefully Green Day ripped off the Kinks.

There are too many examples to chose from that I have to resort to a visual description of the history of rock and roll.

Which brings us to Weird Al Yankovic. What separates Al from his riff-raping predecessors is that Al makes no bones about it.

And he has been doing this since his 1979 debut. Think about it: Weird Al has had widespread name-recognition for 32 years. By pop culture standards, that’s at least 3 generations that know who he is and know at least a handful of his songs.
That’s both a cause and effect of this role within music: pop culture’s kingmaker. A pop artist isn’t a pop star until Al does them right.

Here’s a taste of Rock Hall inductees and future inductees that got a free career boost courtesy of Weird Al: Michael Jackson, Queen, R.E.M., Madonna, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Eminem, U2 and Green Day.

Personally, my favorite Weird Al tune his Devo parody, “Dare to Be Stupid,” – an original song penned by Al that was intended to sound exactly like Devo. I guess this makes me a first-generation Al fan.

If the Rock Hall prefers its music watered down by a bunch of one-trick white boys, wouldn’t Al fit that criterion exactly?

All joking aside, what case could the Rock Hall make against Al? I’d love to hear it. Because the case for him includes:
  • 12 platinum albums and singles
  • 18 gold albums and singles
  • 3 Grammy Awards
  • 11 Grammy nominations
  • Dozens of singles and albums charting across several continents
Put that up against any artist that’s in or considered a shoe-in for the Rock Hall.
If anything, just nominating Weird Al Yankovic would make the Rock Hall look a lot less of the bad joke that it currently is.

Kickin' Em Out: 1993

Good songs, talented group, but sorry, no Hall.
New Edition should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Why?

Simple: In 1993, the Hall inducted Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers. As a performer. Not even as an "early influence" or through any other kind of b.s. induction category the lame-o voters use to sneak in their favorites.

The Hall says that their smash single "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" defined the doo-wop sound. (No mention of the lawsuit, not long after their induction, that essentially said other members of the Teenagers, and not Lymon, wrote the tune).


To their credit, they made the R&B Top 10 six times, albeit with songs that I bet you can't hum right now: including "Out in the Cold Again," "I Want You to Be My Girl," "Who Can Explain?" and "The ABC’s of Love." They're all really solid tunes, but are they Hall-worthy?

Perhaps Hall voters were swayed by the tragic story of Lymon's death - he died in 1968, at age 25, of a heroin overdose.


They should not need any swaying to put New Edition in. The group placed within the Top 51 of the Billboard Top 100 eleven times, including four in the Top 10. Don't even mention the R&B charts - they freaking destroyed them for more than a decades with tracks like "Candy Girl," "Mr. Telephone Man," "Can You Stand The Rain" and "Cool It Now." (WARNING: THE BELOW VIDEO IS BEYOND SICK):



Oh, and let's not forget the Spawns of New Edition, which are almost better than the group itself.

Post-Bobby, with-Johnny era.
Bobby Brown solo, Johnny Gill solo (his self-titled 1990 album, featuring "Fairweather Friend," is an R&B/ New Jack classic), Ralph Tresvant solo (ditto his 1990 self-titled solo album, which boasted the big single "Sensitivity") and, of, course, Bell Biv DeVoe, authors of "Poison," "Do Me," etc.

When the Hall finally recognizes modern R&B as a legitimate genre of music, New Edition should be among the first to get in.

Shit. I'm wasting my time on something that should (and hopefully will) get its own post down the road.

For now, let's focus on the task at hand: Sorry Frankie - you and your Teenagers have got to go.

Ruth Brown
Dick Clark
Cream
The Doors
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
Milt Gabler
Etta James
Van Morrison
Sly and the Family Stone
Dinah Washington

Monday, December 19, 2011

Great Guns! Chances not good for GNR Rock Hall reunion

If we can't get a reunion, can we at least get the leather hat?
It seemed like a shoe-in: Guns 'N' Roses gets in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Axl and Slash make nice for at least one night, and the band finally reunites for one freaking set consisting of two or three freaking songs.

The Duffster.
But guess what? Probably not gonna happen, at least according to two former GNR members.

- Matt Sorum, drummer of the band's wheelhouse period, predicts a train wreck at the induction ceremony a la the Sex Pistols' entry to the Hall, with no Guns Reunion. Via Blabbermouth via Australia's The Vine.

- On his blog at Seattle Weekly, Duff McKagan says he doesn't see a Guns reunion happening. 

BUT

- Duff gets onstage with Axl and the current lineup after his band Loaded opens for Guns in Seattle.


AND

Axl ejects a fan in Vancouver, perhaps hinting that the frontman is returning to his unruly ways, perhaps hinting that he'll pine for the glory days, and decide that his spat with Slash over something he doesn't even remember wasn't worth it is over. And Slash agrees, and, and ...

What's your take? Will a Guns reunion happen? Should it happen? Does it need to? Do you care? COMMENT.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Four random thoughts on Induction '12

We've taken a few days off, forcibly baptized each member of our staff in the holy holiday waters of eggnog and emerged refreshed - no more bitterness about the Rock Hall's choices for induction for 2012. What's done is done. It is what it is. They were who we thought they were.

Here's four deep - or puddle shallow - thoughts our crew had about the upcoming ceremony. Why four? Because The Man wouldn't let us have five.

1) Which guitarist or guitarists will play for the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the induction ceremony? 
Obviously not the late Hillel Slovak.
Dave Navarro?
John Frusciante?
Jack Sherman, who played on their debut?
DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight?
Arik Marshall?
Jesse Tobias, who was replaced by Navaro after one month?
All, or most, of the above?

Technically, The Mats (w/ Stinson, far right) are now in the Hall.
2) Regardless of whether Axl reunites with Duff and Slash or uses his current Guns 'N' Roses crew, The Replacements are getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Well, at least one quarter of the surviving members - Tommy Stinson has been a fixture in GNR's current touring band and played on "Chinese Democracy" which, for better or for worse, is a Guns ’N’ Roses album.

3) Will the late Larry “Bud” Melman get a shout-out during the Beastie Boys acceptance speech? Will a hologram of Melman appear during their performance?

4) Will the hall really recognize the Small Faces in the same way they’ll recognize Faces? Obviously, Small Faces were a player in the Mod scene and had a few hits, like "Itchycoo Park." But it’s a joke if they try and say that band (and let’s face it, it’s a different band. It just is) had as much of an impact as Faces. Our friends at Future Rock Legends tackled this in a stupendous post-announcement screed a few weeks back.

That's it for now. Back to the eggnog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Balls to the Hall: Rock and roll can never die

Who the bleep is Demi Lovato?

Sure, I can Google until my heart's content. If she follows the pattern of all the other cookie-cutter, auto-tuned acts out there, I can be sure that turning off Google's "Safe Search" filter will most likely reveal some pictures of her getting out of a limo and Whoops! someone forgot to wear panties. But, seriously... who the hell is she?

You're reading this from a guy who had no clue who Britney Spears was until well after her Baby Hit Me One More Time (which I still say is a thinly-veiled ode to relationship abuse) phase. When it comes to my likes and dislikes, I am firmly in the camp of rock, hard rock, and anything that makes the majority of the socially-acceptable turn up their collective noses and pray for some Michael Bolton.

I bring up that Lavato chick only because if The Hall continues to allow people in who have no cause to be associated with rock, we're going to see inductees such as The New Kids on the Block, The Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and all of those other pre-fabricated, paint-by-numbers acts that have permeated the cultural landscape since television came on the scene.

When they was Fab.
Don't believe me? Let's talk The Beatles. For my money, Paul & John were THE best songwriting duo of the latter 20th century. Period. No one will argue about George's talent, and, what people fail to realize is that Ringo is extremely talented in his own right. Unfortunately, even a bright star gets dimmed when it's surrounded by brighter ones. In any case, The Beatles, capturing a phrase from their day, were dubbed "The Fab Four" because, well, there were four of them and they had that "fabbo" way about them. Right after The Beatles were just gods among men, television created The Monkees... or, as a lot of news outlets dubbed them, "The Pre-Fab Four".

The Monkees, in their heyday, were huge... impossibly so, making them a good example of what happens when you get lucky. Don't get me wrong... I love The Monkees. They were actually my very first concert (the 1987 reunion tour featuring one "Weird" Al Yankovic as the opening act in The Mann Music Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), but I would never consider them Hall-worthy like The Beatles.

No matter which era of music you look at, you'll see an innovative look or sound or act hit, and then a slew of imposters, pretenders, and just plain losers will flood the market. Can I argue that The New Kids weren't huge? Christ, no. I have a little sister, and when NKOTB (for those "in the know", ya know) hit the scene, it was unreal. They were the grandfathers of the boy-band craze of the 1990s and beyond (of course, we can also blame Menudo, but the only reason a lot of white people remember them was the guest stint on Silver Spoons, right? Don't lie... you know know I'm right), but that doesn't make them inductee-worthy.


What I'm worried about is the dearth of true acts in 20 years. Sure, you have solid bands like Puddle of Mudd and a lot of other nu-rock acts, but they are so niche that, unless their big hit is a little salacious or adopted by some car company, no one hears of them. God forbid I take my son to Cleveland in 2025 to see Nickleback get in.

shudder

So, I reiterate: Who the bleep is Demi Lovato? Why should I care? Who are these teeny-bopper pretty people whose voices get auto-tuned to all hell? Can't we just start over and hopefully get some really awesome garage bands out into the world? I mean, truly, if I hear Justin Beiber one more time, I may just have to find a bell-tower.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Remember the '80s, Rock Hall? Cars, Go-Go's should be in

You might think we're crazy, but The Cars should be in the Hall.
News of the Hall's recent inductions have sunk in here at CDNR Headquarters - we talked Bertha out of taking a dump on the Rock Hall's steps, stopped Bifferado from lighting all of his music on fire and convinced Waldodude to not cut his ears off and eat them on a ham sandwich.

We've agreed that the actual bands and artists chosen aren't that bad; our ire has more to do with the fact that, once again, worthy bands and even entire genres have been passed over in favor of Rolling Stone Approved Bands (i.e., bands that have a guaranteed 4 star reviewed for every album they put out). We're saving a post on Rush until we find someone more qualified to write it up, and we really need to wind up for our Mega-Post on Kiss getting the shaft.

Clearly, the Hall has moved into the 1980s, but instead of starting with New Wave and the dawn of MTV, Hall voters sidestepped the question of keyboards and a return to pop-rock and went right to the middle and later part of the decade.

What about The Cars?

Let's look at the stats:

- 16 singles charted higher than No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts, including a No. 3 (the super-smash ballad "Drive") and a No. 4 (all-time great "Shake It Up"). "Let's Go," which will be sampled at sporting events until there are no more sporting events, hit No. 14.

- 7 albums in the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 albums charts, including three in the Top 5 - 1979's "Candy-O," 1980's "Panorama" and 1984's "Heartbeat City" and the most recent "Move Like This." (Really? The Cars? In 2011? Wow. And awesome).

- 3 singles in the Top 100 from the pretty bad 1986 album "Door To Door," which speaks to their staying power even as they sloped and careened to their eventual breakup.

He drove you home.
Never happens without The Cars.
None of this accounts for the band's contribution to the video era, including the then-groundbreaking "You Might Think"; the late-Benjamin Orr's creepy "Drive," featuring Ric Ocasek's hot model wife; the even creepier "Hello Again," featuring Andy Freaking Warhol and some voluptuous babe who might have been a dude; "Shake It Up"; and "Magic," where Ocasek walks on water on top of clear blocks that you could always see but always pretended how cool it was.

Never happens without The Cars.
Maybe they didn't reinvent the wheel. Maybe they didn't get smacked out on drugs and make effed up videos and boast a bass player named after an insect.

Maybe they didn't rap about bad liquor and make videos with Seth Rogen.

Maybe they didn't welcome you to the jungle and make an overrated, overbloated double album that they sold in separate units to make an extra few bucks.

But if you grew up in the 1980s, you know how rad The Cars were, and you know they belong in the Hall.




Then.
What about The Go-Go's?

Let's look at the stats:


- 3 Top 20 albums in a two year span, including two (1982's "Talk Show" and "Beauty And The Beat") in the same year.


- 1 album, "God Bless The Go-Go's," that hit No. 57 in 2011 (Really? The Go-Go's? In 2011? Wow. And awesome).


- 5 singles in the Top 50 of the the Billboard Hot 100, including four of the best singles of The 1980s: "We Got The Beat," "Our Lips Are Sealed," "Vacation," "Head Over Heels."


Now.
- X number of chart-topping singles and albums if they hadn't been making music in a still-male-dominated industry - and had the benefit of cranking tunes after the falling of the walls they helped to bring down.


Head over heels for Boba.
None of this accounts for the image they cemented in the minds of music fans at the time: Girls can rock, they can write their own tunes and play their own instruments and they don't have to slut it up to do it. They took the torch from the Runaways, of course, but they put this on MTV.

My favorite period is the "Talk Show" phase, where Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock and Kathy Valentine looked like smokin' hot 1980s moms rocking out and didn't really care that they did. It was as bad ass and punk rock as anything they ever did.

Yo, Rock Hall: When you make it up to Heart for abandoning the Women Who Rock theme it seemed like you were building, make sure to include The Go-Go's.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Class of 2012: Really?

If you were hosting a party for some of the highest rollers in town, you would serve a gourmet meal - Fillet Mignon, the finest fish, maybe duck, some scrumptious appetizers, Banana's Foster and other amazing desserts. If you planned to serve adult beverages, you would reach for the top shelf - vintage wines, Grey Goose vodka, microbrews, etc. The best table cloths would come out, perhaps some plants would be arranged, a nice sound system would be set up and you'd probably put on your best clothes, maybe even a tux.

Yet year after year after year after year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame serves up frozen dinners, busts out the PBR and Boone's Farm, covers a picnic table with a plastic cover, turns up the soundtrack to "Footloose" and calls that the finest of the finest.

Out of the bands that were nominated, I can't argue with the selection of Guns 'N' Roses. They were a massive band that changed the direction of music and held the role of Michael Jordan of music for about 6-7 years.


Cheap Trick: Shafted again.
Still, how many other eligible bands are legitimately deserving, all biases or personal preferences aside: Kiss (which topped this list of bands that keep getting sh*t on), Cheap Trick, The Replacements, Big Star, Yes, Rush, Peter Gabriel, and so on.

And while the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donovan, The Beastie Boys, The Faces and Laura Nyro are all fine bands, none of them are more worthy than Heart or Joan Jett, and all of them are definitely not top-shelf material.

Let's start with the Peppers:

- I'm shocked. Maybe some day they get in, but to get in now, with so many others waiting, even from THIS CLASS, wow.

- They blended the speed of The Minutemen with the funk of Stevie Wonder and P-Funk. So one of the key ingredients of this band will never sniff the Hall, yet the RCP make it in their second year eligible?

- They wore socks on their d*cks.

- They were a goofy band, and if the Rock Hall wants to argue that Cheap Trick or Kiss shouldn't get in because they were schlocky or over the top, then the Peppers should be under the same band.

- They really didn't do anything Hall-worthy until "Blood Sugar Sex Magik," and then nothing after.

- No stability: They had three permanent members during their entire run, shifting out guitarists like Spinal Tap did drummers.
Thanks Beasties. Word to ya motha.

Beasties:

- We just covered this in a recent post. They were a novelty band. It was solidified with "Licensed To Ill" and never really changed despite efforts to get serious.

- The first white rappers. But is that really ground breaking or coincidence?

- They mixed rock and rap, but didn't Run-DMC already do that?

- "Paul's Boutique" is great, but it basically uses every song made in the last 30 years as samples to make the songs better. So should Beck get in? Should Vanilla Ice get in?

- How many rap artists should be offended that they got in before them? Eric B. and Rakim, L.L. Cool J., Big Daddy Kane ... (EPMD, Public Enemy and NWA should be a lock when they become eligible next year, right?


The Faces:

- Like Guns, it's kind of hard to argue against them getting in. They made some pretty bad-ass tunes during their short but solid run, but let's be honest - they are in because Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood were in the band. Period.


Donovan: 

- How many dozens of solo artists could get in before him, including (holding the puke in my mouth) Sting?

Laura Nyro:

- Hailed as "an innovative pop songstress." So, like, Liz Phair, Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson or Lucinda Williams? I expect all of them to get in too, Rock Hall.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Biggest Benefactor of a Guns 'N' Roses Induction: Fred Durst

Why he's here we can't quite remember.
Somebody tell me the difference between Axl Rose and Fred Durst.

What’s your case? While you think about it, here’s my case.

There is no difference. Both are giant walking egos who believe their fame is deserved – the result of their hard work and their God-given talent. 

Both put forth overwrought chart-topping albums that produced a few songs most of us wish others didn’t still have memorized. 

Neither began or influenced their respective rock genres. Glam rock was around well before Rose doused his head with a can of hairspray. 

White boys were playing guitars and rapping was around before the Florida-born Durst donned a Yankees cap.


Their landmark albums, “Appetite for Destruction” and “Significant Other,” didn’t at all introduce a new style of music. Yet, somehow, those images are considered the faces genres. Seriously, we thought THESE guys were cool looking.

Let’s also look at Durst's guitar work while we’re at it.




Perhaps the biggest thing Rose and Durst have in common is that they were the reasons people got tired of their genre’s music. People got tired of their played-out music, their billboard-sized egos and their full-on diva outbursts. Public opinion ran the furthest distance from them within the rock spectrum – from the make-up and tights of glam rock to the undyed, unwashed hair of grunge; from the homoerotic chauvinism of rap-rock to meek and melodic ways of emo.

In fact, that should be the case against Guns 'n' Roses.

Sure they were the biggest band on Earth for a handful of years. Beyond two big albums (By my count, the “Use Your Illusion” albums count as one.), Guns 'n' Roses' biggest contribution was making people not like the rock and roll that made them famous.The end result of Guns 'n' Roses popularity was Nirvana.

Let's hear it for the Boys.
Matchbox 20 dude will induct them.
The lone difference between the two is that Rose will probably be “enshrined” into the Rock Hall. 

But even that’s debatable. Whatever Fred Durst is doing, he needs to stop and lobby for Guns 'n' Roses.
could be another. 

Even Backstreet Boys have a case now.

Their extent of fame rose and fell around the mushroom clouds that were their two big albums. 

Their subsequent albums were bombs of another nature, and their fame died almost immediately after the first disappointing week of sales.

And now all of them are active, touring and recording music. 

Rock Hall, stop this.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kickin' Em Out: 1992

Two headed monster: Beck and Page.
The Traveling Wilburys consisted of three monoliths of rock in Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and George Harrison. It also featured Tom Petty, another mega-star not quite on that level but definitely on the next shelf.

They are all Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.

Throw in Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra and we’re talking about the most amazing supergroup ever assembled.

But will the Wilburys ever be inducted into the Rock Hall? Should they be inducted? Aside from boasting a lineup that is the musical equivalent of the 2010 Miami Heat and 2011 Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation rolled into one, did they do enough - one really good album (1988’s “Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1") and one wildly uneven and maybe even horrid follow-up (1990’s “Vol 3,” haha where is “Vol. 2”)  - to warrant induction as a group?

Of course not.

Second from right: Nerdy Eric Clapton.
So given the photo and headline above, you know where I’m going with this: CDNR is kicking The Yardbirds out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Yeah, we went there.

So they had Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck at different points, or all at once, or two at a time, or who really cares - I’m not going to sift through their boring history.

Their "hits" included "For Your Love," "Heart Full of Soul," "Shapes of Things” and "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago."

Quick - hum the last three? Ah, knew you couldn’t.

And tell me with a straight face that “For Your Love” is a great song. Again, I knew you couldn’t. It sucks, right?
Fab Five? Killer Quintet? Super-duper-group?

If you want to say the Yardbirds laid down some awesome jams, I’m with you there.

If you want to say they’re significant because they contained Clapton before he did Cream and Page before he did Zeppelin and Beck before he did whatever he went on to do, I’m with you there too.

But they’re a supergroup, not unlike the Wilburys or Bad English or Golden Smog.

Maybe 25 years from now, when there are no more bands to put in the Rock Hall because music sucks, they can come back in.

Pardon the Bad English, but for now, their asses is out.

Bobby "Blue" Bland
Booker T. and the MG's
Johnny Cash
Leo Fender
Bill Graham
The Yardbirds
The Isley Brothers
Elmore James
Doc Pomus
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Professor Longhair
Sam and Dave

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Put Your Mind on Pause: Eric B. For HOF President, Rakim for Vice


Pull your heads out your white-privileged assholes,
It's time for legit Rock voters to mob the polls.
One from Long Island, the other from Queens
Slayed the whole world and the '80s rap scenes.
Sampled sick beats like a Saturday at Costco,
Waist-deep in grooves, fleshed 'em out, let 'em grow.

"Paid in Full" — that's a landmark, a watershed
Cover of the album has 'em rollin' in bread.
Who needs an epic when you're trading in truth?
Spent a week slingin' rhymes standing in the booth.



F*ck Grandpa Flash, Rakim unleashed a furious
Five, they weren't spurious, and if you're curious,
He spit fires while B. backed him up
With a thick bass line; go on, raise up your cup.


Album No. 3 gave us more of the same traditional
Wordplay and sc-sc-scratching; it's just medicinal:
"Too many milligram/But what made a iller jam,"
Give a standing O to that lyrical grand slam.


Nothing lives forever, the pair cleaved in Ninety-Two.
There were court battles royale, the rift between 'em grew.
Public still paying their respects to seminal rap duo
Thousands of hits on YouTube, immortal like Chang kuo.

Let Mr. West tell you he owes them no debt,
Run back to your bookie and place a fat bet:
It's Eric B. for HOF President, Rakim for Vice.
Turn up your hearing aid, ain't gonna say it twice.