Warning: This will be rant. Because, yet again, two of the most important bands of the last quarter of the 20th century, Kiss and Rush, have been snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame again.
So let’s review the Hall’s own criteria, as published on its site: “We shall consider factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.”
All subjective, to be sure, but that sure sounds like Rush to me: influence on countless bands, a nearly 40-year body of work and musicianship that even their fiercest detractors won’t question. (Side note: they currently rank No. 3 in U.S. gold records, behind The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Just sayin’.)
For Kiss, the case for their musicianship is a bit less obvious (though Ace Frehley’s influence on hard rock guitar was enormous). Yet you still have a 40-year career and a place in rock history that most bands could never dream of. (Truthfully, their contributions to the field of music merchandising alone should warrant them a spot in the Hall.)
But the fact remains: the voting members have long been biased against hard rock and prog. Some cracks are forming, as evidenced by last year’s induction of Alice Cooper, the recent additions of Metallica and Genesis, and this year’s election of Guns ‘n Roses. But is there ever a Guns ‘n Roses if not for Kiss? And what of recent questionable inductees like Darlene Love, The Dave Clark Five and ABBA? More influential than Kiss and Rush? By any measure, subjective or objective, that cannot be the case.
So, onto who did make the cut:
· Beastie Boys: Fine. Ok. White guys can rap. We get it.
· Donovan: A 60s mainstay, he produced some truly great songs, namely “Sunshine Superman,” “Mellow Yellow,” the trippy “Atlantis” (immortalized by Scorcese in the most violent scene of “Goodfellas”) and “Trying to Catch the Wind,” the best Dylan song that Dylan didn’t write.
· Guns N’ Roses: This was inevitable, the joke of a band currently touring with Axl Rose notwithstanding. Most notably, they got in on the strength of only three full-length original albums, one EP and one disc of covers. But what a debut, perhaps the greatest debut album of all time.
· Laura Nyro: This choice will leave some scratching their heads, but if you allow Leonard Cohen and Neil Diamond in, surely you have to let her in.
· Red Hot Chili Peppers: Another obvious choice. Great songwriting, a virile live act and a big influence on funk/ska bands, and even (regrettably) some rap-rock acts.
· The Small Faces/The Faces: Utterly superfluous to the Hall. The Small Faces are a largely forgotten British blues act from the late 60s–an era when there were far better bands doing the same thing. They did their best work as The Faces, after Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood joined, but both Stewart and Wood (as part of the Stones) are already in the Hall.