Thursday, March 13, 2008
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is full of Rizzutos
Well, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has now joined the Baseball Hall of Fame in jumping the shark.
Actually, the two institutions are more alike than anyone suspects. The people voting on the baseball hall seem to be overly generous to the players they worshipped as kids and ignore more recent stars, who they watched play every day and became more aware of their faults.
Then you have the old Veterans Committee tossing in their buddies, like Phil Rizzuto.
The rock hall is pretty much the same thing. Note the lack of 1980s and 1970s bands in there.
Since we have long bemoaned the failings of the baseball hall, let’s turn out focus on the rock hall, which this week inducted John Mellencamp -- yes! -- and Madonna.
I’ll list bands that, like Keith Hernandez, have long been denied recognition. Plus, for each one we’ll offer up a Rizzuto, people and bands with no business in that building without buying a ticket.
Rush was hall-worthy the moment "Moving Pictures" was released. The fact that the band continues to produce outstanding music and incredible tours 25 years later and is universally respected by its musical peers later begs the question: What exactly does one have to do to get in the place? It's as if the baseball hall didn't have the game's all-time hits leader. Oh, wait...
Rizzuto: Bee Gees
The Bee Gees are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Let that rumble around the cranium for a moment or two. The personification of the disco era. I’m not saying the brothers don’t have some great songs. They do. It’s just that none of them are rock and roll. And Barry Gibb’s falsetto makes Geddy Lee sound like Barry White.
Influential? Check. Longevity? Check. Biggest band in the land at one point? Check. Best album cover of all time? Check. Cool action figures? Check. What are they missing here?
Rizzuto: Grace Slick
I have no problem inducting Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship if for no other reason than "White Rabbit" is funny as a period piece. Plus they get points for writing about "Alice in Wonderland," showing that stoned rockers can read classic literature or at least were coherent enough to watch the Disney movie.
But Grace as a solo artist? Granted, there is precedence here, as the baseball writers seemed intent on inducting every member of the 1927 Yankees. But this is one sum that is greater than its parts.
Now, if she could breathe fire, spit blood and wear menacing dragon boots, it would be different.
OK, this is sort of a combination ballot of Foreigner, Styx and Journey, the so-called "corporate rock" bands that ruled the late 1970s and 1980s. All three have been dissed, and I can’t figure out why. Some of the Styx stuff that overdoses on keyboards sounds a little dated, but much of the music from these three bands holds up pretty well. I dare say "Urgent" is better than anything in the Billboard Top 100 today. The fact that "The Sopranos" made a big deal out of "Don’t Stop Believing" shows its staying power.
Rizzuto: The Dells.
Do-wop is not rock and roll. It just isn’t. They’re in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and I’m fine with that. But they don’t belong here. And same thing goes for The Coasters, the Moonglows, the Drifers, the Teenagers, the Ink Spots, the Impressions and the Flamingos -- all of which are members.
Hernandez: Twisted Sister
An atrocity. Kick-ass Long Island bar bands should get to go to the front of the line. Standing up to Tipper Gore should at least get the band in the conversation. Where was Jackson Browne and his protest-loving ilk when Dee Snider was up there smacking down Mrs. Global Warming?
Rizzuto: Ritchie Valens
Hold on, hear me out before you start yelling. I love "La Bamba." And "Donna" is a nice song. And it sucks that Valens was killed just as his career was starting. But if a hall of fame career is based on one awesome song and one nice ballad, then you’re going to have to expand the heck out of the place. He’s the Mark Fidrych of rock, except that Fidrych was fortunate enough to just blow out his arm instead of being in a plane crash. And Mark Fidrych is not in the Hall of Fame.
I’m not a huge ABBA fan, but this is another group that made an undeniable impact. And there’s a chance they were the biggest band in the world at one point. There must be some kind of anti-Swedish bias.
Rizzuto: Dusty Springfield.
How many times in your life have you ever thought: "Dusty Springfield, she rocks!" Yes, she had some nice hits and sold some records. So did Joan Jett. And Joan Jett rocks! One awesome cameo in a Pet Shop Boys song does not make one a rocker.
Alas, we're only scratching the surface. Boston, Cheap Trick, Genesis, Yes, Asia, Motorhead, Judas Priest.....all on the outside looking in, just like Andre Dawson, Dale Murphy, Jim Rice and Bert Blyleven.