2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees

for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson

The 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees have been announced. The artists being considered are a mixture of worthy choices, maybes and what-the-hell-were-they-thinking. Well, here's what I'm thinking...

WAR 
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The most worthy candidates. Odd that the two songs of theirs you're most likely to hear on the radio these days (Why Can't We Be Friends and Low Rider) are novelty tunes. But these guys cooked, mixing R&B, funk, rock and Latin music. Their short association with Eric Burdon produced the cool drunken rap of Spill the Wine and a smokin' version of Tobacco Road. They had a slew of funky 45s on their own: All Day Music, The World is a Ghetto, The Cisco Kid, Me and Baby Brother, Southern Part of Texas and Gypsy Man to name a few. Plus you gotta love a band with a Danish harp player. I vote yes on whether they should get in - and I'm willing to go to war with anyone who objects.

HEART
heart.jpg
Did they pioneer the girl group thing? Not really. There were The Supremes before them, The Andrews Sister waaaay back when and long-since forgotten Fanny in between. Like Joan Jett (see below) they may be getting recognized for their gender rather than their talent, but unlike Ms. Jett, Ann and Nancy really have chops, especially Nancy who did the lead vocal on their biggest hit, These Dreams. She can also play a mean guitar. Ann's Robert Plant-like decibels occasionally threaten to shatter the ear drums, but Heart rocks as hard as any guy band and can deliver a stirring ballad to boot. I say with all my heart, vote Ann and Nancy Wilson in.

FREDDIE KING
Unless you're familiar with Grand Funk's song We're an American Band, it's a good bet you have no idea who Freddie King was. ("Up all night with Freddie King, I got to tell you poker's his thing.") Freddie may have been a good card player but he wasn't a memorable blues man...and this is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sorry, the King doesn't get crowned.

The SMALL FACES/The FACES
I don't think I'm being two faced (sorry) when I point out that these were really two different groups with some of the same personnel. The Small Faces were a mid 60s psyche/mod/rock band with a bit of attitude courtesy of their aggressive, diminutive lead singer, Steve Marriott, who bellowed with the soulful authority of Ray Charles. When Marriott departed to form Humble Pie, Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood stepped in and the tight ditties of the Small Faces turned into the sloppy pub music of The Faces. I'm splitting my vote here. Yes to the Small Faces and no to The Faces, despite Rod Stewart's presence, because rowdy Roddie kept the best stuff for his solo career anyway.

DONNA SUMMER
Again, this is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Please pack up your disco ball and do not pass go. I know Donna worked hard for the money and she's hot stuff, but let's dim all the lights on admitting her.

LAURA NYRO
A phenomenal song writer who penned a lot of hits for other artists, including Eli's Coming (Three Dog Night), And When I Die (Blood, Sweat & Tears) and  Stoned Soul Picnic and Sweet Blindness for The Fifth Dimension, plus Barbara Steisand's only tolerable foray into rock, Stoney End. She was, however, a somewhat somnambulistic singer with a wispy, blasé voice. If I had a vote it would be no, but I have a feeling Nyro gets in out of respect and remorse, which would make sense - she was overlooked during her career and died young. 

DONOVAN
donovan.jpg
About time the Sunshine Superman was recognized. The Scottish folk singer had ten top 40 hits in the U.S.: Mellow Yellow (with Paul McCartney singing background vocals), Sunshine Superman, There Is a Mountain, Hurdy Gurdy Man, Atlantis and Balabajagal (Love is Hot) (recorded with the Jeff Beck Group) to name a few. Donovan not only preached love they neighbor, he believed in it. How good was he? Future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham played on his records. How influential? When the Beatles went off to see the Maharishi, Donovan went with them, teaching John and Paul some new acoustic guitar techniques they'd use on The White Album. I'm soft on hippies, so I say vote Donovan in.

ERIC B and RAKIM
Who?

The CURE
There's no cure for these guys. Close to You made good use of Robert Smith paranoia pop sensibilities and neurotic vocals, but no. Into the mosh pit with you.

BEASTIE BOYS
Say it with me, ya'll... It's the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When the Rap Hall of Fame opens up these guys should be elected to the Board of Directors; then they'll have the right to hip hop to the podium. In the meantime, no, bro.

The SPINNERS 
I admit that I have a soft spot for the bouncy silliness of The Rubberband Man. Could it Be I'm Falling In Love and I'll Be Around are easy, breezy soul classics. If they insist on putting R&B bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame then these guys aren't a bad choice. I vote yes.

RUFUS featuring CHAKA KHAN
As their own song says: "Tell me something good." Tell me they're not getting in.

GUNS and ROSES
gr.jpgGuns and Hoses front man Axl Rose sings like a cross between Ethel Merman and Edith Bunker on E-Lax. Slash's 'do was so big he couldn't see his toes and he played like he couldn't see his strings. That aside, these hard rock hack hedonists were handed the keys to the city and choked. Just because you have a reputation for being a rebel doesn't mean you have to act like one, especially if you can't handle it. Their music was as grungy and unwashed as their personal lives. It took Axl Rose 15, count 'em 15 years to make Chinese Democracy. Ineptitude on such a grand scale shouldn't be rewarded.

JOAN JETT and the BLACKHEARTS
Jett's original band, the Runaways has been heralded as historic; that's because they were jailbait teenagers playing rock and roll in clubs when they should have been home in bed. They were loud, proud and sloppy. As for Jett, she can thank songwriter/producer Kenny Laguna for giving her better material than her former band mates, although the only things she had to say were "I love rock n' roll" (a song she stole from Gary Glitter) and the apropos "I don't give a damn about my bad reputation." Joanie made a lasting impression on me in concert. She had a nasty attitude (which was expected, this was the punk era), but she didn't have to prove she was tough by spitting out a loogie that covered everyone in the first two rows. For that alone I spit on her nomination. 

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
No they're not. They're smart enough to have a bassist named Flea whose propensity nudity distracts the audience from figuring out they can't play. Hold the chili.

Hard to believe that Yes and the Moody Blues aren't in, but the Hall of Fame has shown a decided reluctance to induct English acts. The real tragedy here is so not much who won't get in in 2012, it's who might get in.


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