Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Revisiting My R&B RRHOF Ballot

With the new RRHOF nominees out, and a lot of people posting comments on how Chic and Grandmaster Flash have nothing to do with Rock 'n' Roll, I decided to revisit my
An All R&B HOF Ballot. I first did this ballot in 1999 and none of the original 15 names have been inducted. But fear not I've expanded it to 19 names. I would like to send this list to all the "R&B doesn't belong in a Rock Hall of Fame" posters.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Chic Are Rock

What can I say? One of my favorite RRHOF topics is how people think that only "Rock" artists should be inducted. I got this Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Hall Of Fame from the I Love Music Blog. I have no idea who the person who wrote it is, and I could care less after reading his diss of Chic and Grandmaster Flash and Miles Davis. As for the I Love Music Blog it has a typically "why does the Rock Hall suck" thread, and this one Idolator, All About the Music... If Only It Were barely mentions this years nominees. Anyway, getting back to my first point, I think I've made it my mission to educate the ignorant's of the world that the "Rock" in the RRHOF stands for all things music (excepting opera, classical or show tunes). From now on, anytime I see a blog that complains about an R&B or rap artist getting inducted I'll feel the need to single them out.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bored With The 2007 RRHOF Ballot?

I always like the Songwriters Hall of Fame nominee list better than the actual inductees. Get a load of the SHOF 2007 Nominees. Divided between performers and non-performers, I think the latter category is always interesting. There are people here who will never get in the RRHOF: Leon Russell, Gordon Lightfoot and David Gates. There's a great Producer/Songwriter who should be in the Country Music Hall of Fame: Billy Sherill. And they nominated Mark James who wrote "Suspicious Minds" for Elvis. And how about Robert Hunter and Led Zeppelin (Queen were inducted years ago). But the name that sticks out that should've been in the SHOF years ago is Merle Haggard. They put in Dolly Parton a few years ago, but the Hag has to be there. And did I mention David Gates?

Where Does The Buck Stop Inside The RRHOF?

At first I thought someone said the RRHOF had expanded its nominating committee. That's why I figured the nominees for the 2007 ballot were late. I read somewhere that they added more younger members. So, I was expecting a more eclectic ballot. But it was kind of boring. Of the 9, only the Ronettes don't belong. You're better with Darlene Love or the Shangri-La's. Every couple year's the Hall nominates a head scratcher. In 2004 it was Conway Twitty. In 2001 the Chantels. This year the Ronettes.
Getting back to my first sentence, I now find out that the Hall has downsized it's nominating members. Maybe that explains the rush job of only 9 nominees. I've already seen board complaints that Chic and Grandmaster Flash are not "Rock" artists. Like VH1 Classic's Eddie Trunk who complains about a lack of "Rock" artists (although he'll be happy with Van Halen), the "Rock" in the RRHOF stands for all things music (excepting Opera, Classical, Show Tunes).
But who are we kidding. Even with the inevitable induction of Van Halen, there's still some important names missing. Geez, I could go on. But the names I now find myself rooting for as future inductees:

Hall & Oates
Randy Newman
Alice Cooper
Gram Parsons
Donna Summer (shouldn't she be the first Disco act inducted?)
Joe Cocker

Oh, hell, there are too many. But what's wrong with some of those names?

The RRHOF has a lot of work to do. They can downsize or expand there voters all they want. But everything starts internally. Until the people in charge of the voting process are replaced with new ideas then the names above will be bypassed for years. Just like the 3 it took for Van Halen to finally get nominated.

Facing The Music On The RRHOF

If the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame can make room for such 60's hitmakers as the Lovin' Spoonful and the Rascals then why haven't they found a spot for 70's hitmakers like the Electric Light Orchestra and the Cars (and I should add Hall & Oates)? And if Gene Pitney why not Neil Sedaka? If we're talking influence, I'd say it's a tie between the era's. As for hits, well, ELO and the Cars can match the Spoonful and the Rascals. This is no knock on the latter two. I do feel they belong. But Jeff Lynne's production credits with George Harrison, Tom Petty and the Traveling Wilbury's should be enough to get him a nod. In no way is the RRHOF all about hits. Just because you've had a ton of hits doesn't qualify anyone for induction. If that were the case Pat Boone and Paul Anka would be enshrined. But in 2006 when you hear a Cars or ELO song you're hearing timeless hits. Pick up the recently released ELO remasters of Face The Music and A New World Record or the Cars' live DVD/CD and you'll find yourself persuaded that they at least are as deserving as the Dave Clark Five.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

2007 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Nominees

Yep, only 9 inductees this year.
Here, I've ranked my choices.

1. R.E.M. (First time nominees and an easy no-brainer)
2. Chic (Not just a great disco band, but a great band)
3. Van Halen (For the David Lee Roth years, not the Sammy Hagar ones)
4. Patti Smith (Should've been there before Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde)
5. Stooges (Iggy Pop-one of the great characters in Rock History)
6. Dave Clark Five (lots of hits and a great drum sound)
7. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five (I think Run DMC should be the first rap artist, but these guys were there at the beginning)
8. Joe Tex (A journeyman, but don't hold that against him)
9. Ronettes (Ronnie Spector, of course, but I'll take Darlene Love)

Playlist for 10/28

John Legend - Once Again
Vince Gill - These Days
Moby - Very Best of
Cameo - She's Strange
Heart - Dreamboat Annie
Loretta Lynn - You Ain't Woman Enough
Robert Palmer - "Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You"
George Clinton - Best of
Dan Bern - Breathe
Robert Greenwald - Season In Hell With The Rolling Stones (book)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Vince Gill Unloads

Vince Gill hasn't made a good album since 1998's The Key. But then again he's only released 2 since then. Closing in on 50, he hasn't hit the Country Top 10 since 2000. Country radio has shunned him, like they do with most older acts (except George Strait). For years he was more famous for hosting the CMA Show. And he's also become a fixture on the Grand Ole Opry TV show. So, what the hell is he doing releasing a box set as his hit days wind down?
These Days is a triumph for sure, and has been pointed out, it consists of 43 new songs divided into 4 discs: Rock (well, Country Rock), Ballads, Bluegrass and Traditional. It's the first that's most revealing. Before he scored with the slow stuff, Gill's rockers were always a highlight and here that prove's sure. There are the usual cameos, but they never get in the way. This is Gill's baby, and the fact that he no longer needs hit records proves the point of this adventure. For artists like Gill that can't get there new stuff played, why not unload everything you got and let the public decide what they like and dislike.

John Legend And The If Only

John Legend is a better songwriter than singer. At least now he is. He suffers from Brian McKnight disease that affects too many female/male R&B singers: it's called melisma, and if you've heard McKnight than you'll know what I mean. But Legend does have songs. I'm bummed that the lead track on his 2nd album, Once Again, sample "Stormy", and it's the best thing on the album. But other songs are good as well. If Legend ever gives up the oversinging, he might live up to his name. But the need for McKnight and Legend to chase Grammy's will keep us from his real voice until the hit's stop.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Playlist for 10/21

Boz Scaggs - Hits (remastered)
Steve Miller - Complete Greatest Hits
James Taylor - JT (remastered)
Rod Stewart - Still The Same ..Classics
George Jones & Merle Haggard- Kickin' Out The Footlights
Pink - "U + Ur Hand"

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Rock In The RRHOF

Last night I turned on VH1 Classic and Eddie Trunk and someone else were discussing who should be in the RRHOF. There were the usual: Kiss, Van Halen. But Trunk also mentioned Rush. The first two are yea's and the latter is a no. I've never had a problem with Rush. But I'd prefer the Moody Blues. Anyway at the end of the segment, Trunk said that there's not enought "Rock" in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is a typical sentiment expressed by people who don't understand that the founders of the Hall meant that the term "Rock" doesn't just mean Rock and Rollers but Soul, Rap, Disco, Country, Jazz, Pop Vocalists. In other words, anyone whose had an impact (in their opinion, of course) on the history of Pop Music. I often wonder if the Hall should've changed its name to the All Music Hall of Fame or the just plain Music Hall of Fame. But it wouldn't sound right. In my own universe acts like Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, Spinners, Kool & The Gang, Barry White and Willie Nelson are just as much a part of the history of Rock as Rush.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bon Jovi Inducted Into The Hall Of Fame

Actually, Bon Jovi To Be Inducted In UK Hall. Bon Jovi sells more records overseas on an album than he does in the States. So, why wouldn't the Brits put him in their still new Hall of Fame. But I've been wondering for years what his chances are of getting in the RRHOF. My guess is not that good. Bon Jovi have never been a critic's favorite. And the people on the nominating committee rarely nominate an act that haven't been well-received. I believe they're eligible in 2009, but if I was Bon Jovi I wouldn't get my hopes up of getting into the RRHOF.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Freddy Fender 1937-2006

You'll read a lot of stories about how Freddy Fender went from a Rockabilly singer in the 50's to a Country star in the 70's. And you'll see the words Tex-Mex used often to describe him. But I always loved Freddy Fender because he was one of the most soulful Country singers of his time. But to get there you have to dig deeper than the many compilations on him that are out there. I've got a Music Club CD from 1999 that has some fine R&B covers. Fender's 70's albums are all out of print, so comps are the only way to go. But his Texas Tornado years are easier to find. He wasn't always the featured vocalist on those albums. But his one or two solo's were a highlight. He's been long overdue for an all encompassing collection. In the end his voice was always worth coming back to. And now we all have a chance to catch up.

But What About The Music?

Robert Greenfield's Season In Hell With The Rolling Stones (Da Capo) is best when it sticks to behind-the-scenes stuff and not so good at explaining what music the Stones were making in the early 70's. It's a quick and breezy read. But, jeez, I wish someone would fact-check these things. Greenfield states that Sticky Fingers contains "Jumping Jack Flash" and spend 25 weeks at the top of the album charts. Well, not quite. Negative on "Jumping Jack Flash" being on the album and it only spent 4 weeks at #1. Somebody needs a Joel Whitburn book.

Special Radio Playlist for 10/14

I usually don't listen to car radio anymore. The stations in my area are all terrible. Only for a quick news and sports update. There's only 1 good station in this part of the world. Anyway, I listen to radio more on the computer and through Dish Network. Dish has Sirius and some good non-DJ/commercial channels. By the way, both XM's and Sirius' Soul channels are mediocre. Mostly playing the big hits. Go for AOL's or your TV's Soul channels. As for Yahoo's Radio channels, there are a lot, but I've never ventured in to them. So, here are some of my faves:

Sirius Underground Garage
Sirius Roadhouse Country
Sirius Elvis
Sirius The Vault
Sirius Disorder
XM Willie's Place
XM Deep Tracks
AOL Radio Various All Artist Channels
AOL's Progressive Channel
Dish Network Classic Soul Channel
Little Steven's Underground Radio Show
KPIG FM Freedom, CA (Americana)
Stephanie Miller Show

Thursday, October 12, 2006

While We Wait For The 2007 RRHOF Nominees

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees for this year are indeed late. Usually, by the end of September we know. But they'll be here soon enough. So let's all brace ourselves for another round of head scratching nominees, easy first time no-brainers and the usual debate over B-level acts that somehow sneak onto the ballot each year. They'll also be many complaints about those that are overlooked each year (I'll be doing a lot of this). But remember, the Hall can't induct everyone. We all have our faves, even though we know they'll never get in. It's the fun of the whole thing, right? So, let the sourpuss critic's who don't like the concept of the Hall (Jim DeRogatis) have their say, but the rest of us can state our case for its continuance.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Duking It Out With Smooth Jazz

Because my wife listens to my 1000 song ipod nano more than I do, I've tailored it more for here tastes than mine. I've got my own 5000 song ipod for my eclectic tastes. What this means is that I've had to skip my own choices for some of hers. She loves R&B (as much as me), but she also likes smooth jazz. I've had a hit or miss with this format for decades. I like George Benson's R&B stuff but not his instrumentals. But my search for good smooth jazz songs to add to the nano always means checking out Radio & Records smooth jazz chart. I wasn't surprised to find that it included a lot of covers, but most of the stuff sounded too similar to make an impact. The genre has stuck because it makes for good backgound music. People tell me that there's good stuff to be found, and I'm still looking. But even though my own Ipod has a Chuck Mangione track doesn't mean that I'll always be skeptical of smooth jazz's merits.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Amos Lee Finds A Voice

In 2005 when Amos Lee's first album came out I heard comparisons to Bill Withers, James Taylor and even Norah Jones. Why the latter? Well, Lee's album came out on Jones' label, Blue Note, and it's intimacy was similar. Now his followup, Supply & Demand reveals something different. Lyrically and musically Lee is finding his own voice. Musically this is more R&B than the soul/folk that dominated the debut. There's less Keb Mo here and more of the Withers that will now dominate discussions. Lyrically Lee looks more inward with a gaze at War, but never preachy ("Freedom"). Like Ray Lamontagne, Lee started with word-of-mouth and is now gaining steam. His debut is near gold, and let's hope the same half million jump on board again.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Covers Me

Before making The Captain & Me, Elton John told an interviewer recently that his record label wanted him to do a Christmas album or an album of covers. John refused and got his way with the release of the former. But John's musings are a reflection of what happens to older singers. They don't sell as much as they used to, and record exec's aren't happy with a gold or below sales number in this age of quick sell soundscan numbers.
Take the case of Rod Stewart. Before hooking up with Clive Davis for his Songbook CD's, his records weren't selling. This month he drops another collection of covers, but they're pop/rock ones. The music is pure generic, but I still believe in Rod's voice and find his cover of Cat Stevens' best song, "Father and Son" a winner. But I expect the reviews will be as harsh as any in his career.
This year Aaron Neville, Solomon Burke, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gladys Knight put out covers albums. Barry Manilow's 50's set was his biggest selling album since the early 80's. And he's got a 60's one coming this month. Jazz artists do this all the time. Recently Herbie Hancock had his biggest seller with a duets album. Ah, the duets album. Jerry Lee Lewis' Last Man Standing, is his first album in a decade, and it's good. But there's nothing new on it, and it's all duets. As is Tony Bennett's Duets. Much younger, but it seems as old, Diana Krall has one too. I would put Bruck Springsteen in there also. His best reviewed album in years consists of folk covers. Familiarity sells and the suits know it. Mind you, I have never had a problem with this concept. Rod Stewart says radio doesn't play his age group anymore, so why do new songs. But unlike most critics, I'd like to hear some new stuff from him.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Playlist for 10/7

Killers - Sam's Town
Lindsey Buckingham - Under The Skin
Beck - Information
Pernice Brothers - Live A Little
George Strait - It Just Comes Natural
Jet - Shine On
Hold Steady - Boys & Girls In America

Monday, October 02, 2006

Killers Dodge The Bullets

The US press is having a field day with Brandon Flowers. It's the way he looks, the way he sings and his cliche riddled look at America through the eyes of a Springsteen/U2 disciple. On their debut, he was a disciple of 80's New Wave. Sam's Town will be the most talked about record of the year. And Flowers knew it back in the Spring when he said this would be one of the greatest records ever. Oh, we'll get him! So, I'm not surprised that the arena-rock rhythms and Americana lyrics are getting boiled.
But, it's funny the early reviews in the British magazines was better than the US ones. Anyway, while some say Bruce and U2, even one mentioned Simple Minds, I hear Big Country's The Crossing ("In A Big Country"). As it is I like the album, and don't review someone's personality or latest look or big ego. If this be 2006 arena rock, then so be it. But it will interesting to see what Flowers comes up with on album #3.

Super Tuesday Pt. 2

I thought the Sept. 11 release date this year was big, but the 10/3 one is also budget busting. Among the new releases, the only one that I'll get that I haven't heard is the Hold Steady.
Ranked in order of how I like 'em:
Lindsey Buckingham
There's also old titles from Boz Scaggs, Pretenders, Pet Shop Boys and Tim Buckley.
The Lindsey Buckingham is the surprise. With nary the hype of the other new releases, it's his best work since his first solo album.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Alan Jackson Contemplates

Boy, Alan Jackson's latest CD, Like Red On A Rose is a moody affair. Produced by Alison Krauss, it's meant to show that the 48 year old Jackson can be a mature Country act without the novelty songs. Critic's who don't like the latter type of stuff that usually clutter's today's Country albums will love it. But will Jackson's hardcore fans go without their share of sing-a-long songs? This album got me thinking of other Country acts who at the peak of their career decided to release a "serious" piece of work.

Vince Gill - The Key 1998
Garth Brooks - In The Life Of Chris Gaines 1999
Willie Nelson- Tugher Than Leather 1983
Lee Ann Womack - There's More Where That Came From 2005
Alabama - Pass It On Down 1990

There's more, but what all this shows is that eventually every artist wants a serious addition to their catalog.
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