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Monday, September 22, 2008

Music News: Rock Hall of Fame Ballot Has Worthy Contenders, Shows Fragmentation

As the eligible nominees inch up into artists who first recorded in the 1980s, the fragmentation of rock is becoming more of an issue with two acts better known as leaders in other genres up for the ballot for this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Those two acts are so monumental and had such a far reaching effect that their inclusion ought to be a matter of course. Chic and Run-DMC defined the artistic peak of disco and early rap respectively and both caused quite a bit of backlash in their day from the rock community.

In hindsight quite a bit of this insular reaction had a racial tinge to it. Chic would heavily influence the disco dabbling of bands like the Rolling Stones and Chic and Nile Rodgers would produce artists from Duran Duran to David Bowie to Madonna. Run-DMC had their biggest hit by collaborating with Aerosmith with a cover of the latter band’s “Walk This Way.”

Also up for inclusion is the long overdue Stooges, a seminal punk band led by Iggy Pop. The Stooges made three albums before imploding in the mid 70s and in that time were massive influences on Bowie, T. Rex, The Ramones, and the entire punk and indie rock explosions of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

The other nominees are guitarist Jeff Beck, singer Wanda Jackson, Little Anthony and the Imperials, War, Bobby Womack and Metallica.

Metallica is a shoo-in and well they should be – the hard cold edge of speed metal whilst hair bands ruled they sold millions of albums with zero radio play before finally hitting the mainstream with 1991’a Black Album. One of the very few hard rock bands to be embraced by metalheads, grungesters and even math-rockers their latest album proves that they can still go at it pretty hard.

Bobby Womack is a frickin’ genius, a disciple of Sam Cooke who has been name-checked by dozens of stars like Mick Jagger. He’s more r&b than rock but I wouldn’t begrudge him a place in the hall. Jeff Beck has a rep amongst the guys who used to hog the stools at Guitar World with pockmarked skin and dead red-rimmed eyes but he’s never done much for me, his stint in the Yardbirds notwithstanding. The cat could play, natch, but that’s about it.

War were one of the greatest funk bands in the world. The rock connection is a bit tenuous coming as it does through an album with Eric Burdon with one big hit “Spill the Wine” and a horribly named album Black Man’s Burden. Still with hits like “Why Can’t We Be Friends” “Me and Baby Brother” and “Low Rider” they found their way into a lot of rocks fans music collections.

Wanda Jackson and Little Anthony are a little more sketchy to me, especially in light of the fact that for yet another year – no Shangri-Las’s! What’s up with that?

At the end of the day only 5 will be chosen – out of this batch who’s in my five?

1) 1) Metallica
2) 2) Chic
3) 3) Run-DMC
4) 4) The Stooges
5) 5) Bobby Womack
I can already hear the moaning at including Run-DMC and leaving off Jeff Beck, but tell it to The Replacements, Black Flag , The Minutemen, and The Shangri-La’s – all not even nominated this year.

Sony BMG are a bunch of morons who have disabled embedding on YouTube so no promo for Run DMC here, unfortunately.

Metallica - "Enter Sandman"

Chic - "Le Freak"

The Stooges - No Fun

Bobby Womack - "Looking for a Love"

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