Friday, August 30, 2019

2020 Rock Hall Nominee Predictions (Special Edition)

Evelyn McDonnell's piece on the lack of women in the Rock Hall was so persuasive in its argument for an all female 2020 ballot, that when it came time to make my yearly predictions I had no other choice but to follow her lead.

No I don't think the NomCom has the guts to do a women-only ballot.  But look at the Hall numbers: only 7.7% of inductees are women, and (as of this post) only 6!! out of 29 NomCom members are women.  And even worse, last year out of 15 nominees, only 3 were women. See a problem, solve a problem?  But it won't happen.  For the 2020 ballot we may see a couple more female nominees, but not a majority.

So, here's a ballot of 20 deserving women from the 1950's-90's.  What I tried to do was shape my final nominations the same way the NomCom does.  Various genres covering different decades.

In the end, I realized this was one hell of a loaded ballot, with a bunch of legendary Icons scattered throughout.   It would be hard to just vote for 5.  So, how about a big 2020 class of 7-10 inductees?

One thing Evelyn McDonnell pointed out in her post was that the system of allowing every living Hall inductee a vote needs to change. Her idea that a group of, say 5 band members, would have their percentage reduced to one fifth of a vote, is worth looking at.  But it must be pointed out, that longtime Hall Watchers, have been griping about this particular voting system for years.

Quite a few of these names below have already been nominated, many more haven't.  And others will end up getting a nomination. Some will think it’s too much of a gimmick or stunt to attempt an all-Female ballot.   But for this year at least, I just didn’t feel like contemplating the nomination of, lord help us, Motley Crue.

I also realize that a year of women only nominees means that long-snubbed acts Kraftwerk and the Spinners would be left out once again.  But for this year, I’m willing to wait.  How about you?

B-52's - The party never ended with their mix of New Wave/Surf and 60's Girl Group Pop. Might suffer the same fate as Devo, i.e., seen as too much of a novelty by some voters.  Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson sang and co-wrote on their greatest songs.

Carole King - Inducted with Gerry Goffin as a songwriter in 1990.  But her own recording career demands its just reward. Let's talk influence.  One word: Tapestry.

Chaka Khan - By now her name is a familiar one on the Rock Hall ballot. Twice solo and 3X with Rufus.  It's sad she can't get in, because she was one of R&B's powerful vocalists of her era.

Cher - Some will say Sonny has to go in with Cher..  And that's fine.  But solo Cher is where she cemented her icon status.

Diana Ross - I've probably overused the word Icon to describe certain names that the Hall has snubbed.  Here's another one. Just like Stevie Nicks, Ross had enormous success as a solo act.

Dionne Warwick - Burt Bacharach and Hal David should be in as songwriters.  And Dionne, who was the greatest interpreter of the Bacharach/David songbook, should be in as well.  Past her Bacharach/David peak of the 60's she continued to have hits, but veered even closer to the Adult Contemporary world. Some will find her music too mellow for a Rock Hall (something that will keep the Carpenters out), but play those 60's records again and you will a unique voice that sounded like no other.

Dolly Parton - The last artist with any Country leanings to be inducted (and nominated) was Linda Ronstadt in 2014.  Dolly Parton is more than just a great singer/songwriter.  She's an Industry all by herself.  Plus her songs have crossed over to the Pop charts and have been covered by Rock and R&B singers.

Eurythmics - Nominated once back in 2018.  Has to be back on the ballot again soon.  Annie Lennox solo career is fine, but it was with Dave Stewart that she was a pioneer.

Go-Go's - One of the first great female bands to come from the New Wave/Punk era.  Just a matter of time before they get nominated.

Kate Bush - A surprise (shocking?) nominee in 2018, Bush's catalog dating back to the late 70's has only grown in stature.  An inspiration to many female alternative singers.

Labelle - The Labelle records in the 60's, sound nothing like what they would become.  With Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash, they cut a visually electric R&B/Funk/Rock vibe in the 70's.

Marvelettes - I often think that Motown fatigue is what has kept the Marvelettes out of the Hall.  They've been nominated twice before (2013, '15).  But a Girl Group bias could be at work as well.  But I would advise anyone who's still skeptical to go back and listen to their back catalog.  They belong.

Pat Benatar - One of the biggest Rock singers during the first part of the 80's.  And turned out to be an influence on many female singers decades later.

Patsy Cline -   Once she found her calling in the new genre that would be called Nashville Sound she was off and running.  Needless to say, has influenced many Pop and Country female singers.

Salt-N-Pepa - When talk comes to the next Hip Hop artist to be inducted, its usually male names that come up. Why doesn't this trio ever get mentioned?  Here we have one of the first female Rap acts to cross over to the Pop charts and help pave the way for other women who followed them after their mid-90's peak. 

Shangri-Las - See my Marvelettes entry above.  But let me add that their greatest songs, were as a critic said, "Dark, three minute symphonies."

Sheryl Crow - For about 10 years starting in the mid-90's she was Rock's biggest female singer.  Now at age 57, she's being embraced as a Heritage act.  Bonus: she's a friend of the Rock Hall, having performed on induction night a couple of times. Oh, and she just released a new album. I've seen people write that it might be too soon to induct her.  But as a rebuttal I give you one name:  Green Day.

Sonic Youth - Critical favorites don't always get nominated.  Which may explain how these Alternative/Post-Punk/Avant-Garde Indie legends continue to be passed over.  Kim Gordon is now a much revered figure in Indie Rock circles.

Tina Turner - What a disgrace that Tina has not been rewarded for one of the great (greatest?) musical comebacks ever

Whitney Houston - Somebody mentioned on the Who Cares About the Rock Hall? Podcast that 80's R&B singers like Whitney are seen as too slick/Pop compared to the pre-80's R&B vocalists.  But Houston was one of the biggest singers in the World from the mid-80's to mid-90's.  She was a crossover artist who just happened to be blessed with a one of a king voice.  Don't know how the NomCom can continue to ignore her.

Early Influence
Big Mama Thornton
Carter Family

Musical Excellence
Carol Kaye

Estelle Axton - Co-founded Stax Records
Vivian Carter - Founded Vee-Jay Records (w/James C. Bracken)

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Playlist for 8/28

Taylor Swift - Lover
2019 MTV Video Music Awards
Eric Dolphy - Musical Prophet
Keb' Mo' - Oklahoma
Vince Gill - Okie
Brian Eno - Apollo
Can - Monster Movie
Come To The Sunshine: Andrew Sandoval Podcast - 60's Songs of Neil Sedaka
Ed Sheeran - No. 6 Collaborations Project

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Motown at 60

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Motown.  Hitsville: Making of Motown is a 2019 documentary that tells the story of Berry Gordy's vision in a breezy, efficient 2 hours.

So, this is a good time for me to once again post my Top 50 Motown songs, from a poll I voted on in 2013. 

1.  Temptations - My Girl
2.  Miracles - Tracks Of My Tears
3.  Four Tops - Reach Out I'll Be There
4.  Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
5.  Jackson 5 - I Want You Back
6.  Supremes - Stop In The Name Of Love
7.  Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Ain't No Mountain High Enough
8.  Martha & The Vandellas - Nowhere To Run
9.  Stevie Wonder - Superstitious
10. Jr. Walker & The All Stars - Shotgun
11. Jimmy Ruffin - What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
12. Miracles - Ooh Baby Baby
13. Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
14.  Marvelettes - Please Mr. Postman
15.  Edwin Starr - War
16.  Contours - Do You Love Me
17.  Stevie Wonder - Signed, Sealed, Delivered
18.  Mary Wells - My Guy
19.  Thelma Houston - Don't Leave Me This Way
20.  Jackson 5 - I'll Be There
21.  Undisputed Truth - Smiling Faces Sometimes
22.  Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On
23.  Barrett Strong - Money
24.   Miracles - Tears of A Clown
25.  Temptations - Papa Was A Rollin' Stone
26.  Commodores- Easy
27.   Stevie Wonder -I Was Made To Love Her
28.  Temptations - Ain't Too Proud To Beg
29.  Miracles - I Second That Emotion
30. Four Tops - Baby I Need Your Loving
31. Supremes - You Can't Hurry Love
32. Stevie Wonder - My Cherie Amour
33 .Temptations & Supremes - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
34. Smokey Robinson - Cruisin'
35. Jackson 5 - ABC
36. Stevie Wonder - Uptight
37. Rick James - Super Freak
38. Temptations - Just My Imagination
39. Isley Brothers - This Old Heart Of Mine
40. Four Tops - Bernadette
41. Four Tops - I Can't Help Myself
42. Commodores - Brick House
43. Diana Ross - Love Hangover
44. Gladys Knight & The Pips - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
45. Spinners - It's A Shame
46. Teena Marie - Square Biz
47. Martha & The Vandellas - Dancing In The Street
48. David Ruffin - Walk Away From Love
49. Lionel Richie - All Night Long
50. Debarge - I Like It

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Playlist for 8/22

Orville Peck - Pony
Western Centuries - Songs From The Deluge
King Crimson - Discipline
Eric Dolphy - Far Cry
Peter Frampton - All Blues
Booker T. & The M.G.'s - Soul Limbo
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018 Movie)

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Woodstock at 50

I was all of 5 years old in August 1969. So, everything I learned about Woodstock came from watching a scratchy version of the Documentary on cable TV in the 80's. Reading up on the festival at my local library was next.  And Rhino Records released a 2CD version in 1994, which made me hear the performances in a much better light than on the Documentary. Of course the iconic performances have been around my musical space for ages:  Santana, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, Ten Years After, Country Joe.

Making the rounds on PBS the month of the 50th anniversary is a 90 minute documentary titled Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation.  It's probably the best behind the scenes look to come out.  Even more revelatory was the release of CCR's Live at Woodstock.  Not on the original Woodstock album that came out in 1970, because John Fogerty wasn't happy with the bands set.  Now heard 50 years on, it turns out to be a tight hour long set that catches them at their peak.

But what to make of the festival's image itself?  It's often seen as the last moment for the Peace, Love generation.  As the 70's came along that would be more obvious.  And Woodstock's lasting image has never taken a hit because of its place in a turbulent decade's final year.

Maybe the most lasting image, and one of the most famous photos ever,  which appeared on the cover of the soundtrack, is the young couple embracing each other while surrounded by numerous concert goers on the muddy ground.  Anyone cynical about Woodstock's legacy should take a hard look at that photo and see what the fuss was and is all about.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Playlist for 8/16 (Special Elvis Presley RIP Edition)

Elvis: Rebirth of the King (BBC Documentary)
Elvis Presley: Last 24 Hours (Documentary)
Elvis Presley - Live, 1956, Tupelo's Own (Short Video)
Elvis - Making of Aloha From Hawaii TV Special - 45th Anniversary (Documentary)
Elvis Presley - Our Memories of Elvis Vol. 1-3 (CD)
Elvis Presley - Live in Vegas, August 26, 1969, Dinner Show (CD)
Elvis Presley -  Live 1969 (11 CD Box Set)

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Playlist for 8/11

Philip Bailey - Love Will Find A Way
Mark Ronson - Late Night Feelings
Aaron Watson - Red Bandana
Charlie Rich - Silver Fox
Tomb Weavers - We Dig Sounds
Black Keys - Let's Rock
Let's Go Down and Blow Our Minds: British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967 (Box Set)

Monday, August 05, 2019

Playlist for 8/5

Raconteurs - Help Us Stranger
Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis - Beautiful Lie
Buddy & Julie Miller - Breakdown on 20th Ave. South
A Star Is Born (2018 Movie)
Black Godfather-Clarence Avant Story (Netflix Documentary)
Lewis Capaldi - Divinely Uninspired
Lil Nas X - 7 EP
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