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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What to make of this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees? Guns N' Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, the Small Faces/Faces, Donovan and Laura Nyro; Freddie King as an Early Influence; Don Kirshner and producers Cosimo Matassa, Tom Dowd and Glyn Johns. It seems to me that G'n'R is out of its league, likewise the Peppers. I'll grant you the Beasties, and I see the argument for Donovan, although he wouldn't be on my ballot. It seems to me that the Small Faces and the Faces were sufficiently different outfits, in style and in substance, that they each deserve their own entry. I'm fine with Kirshner and the other producers, and although it seems to me that including Freddy King is sort of the equivalent of Mormon ancestor baptism, I'm okay with his induction too.

| Comments:
Commentary on the baseball hall of fame (of which, concededly, there is much too much) sometimes makes the point that it's important to distinguish between the hall of fame players and the "merely" very good ones. Utilizing that distinction here, it seems to me that all of the acts inducted are well within the "very good" range.

The baseball hall of fame is different from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in that baseball just doesn't induct players with remarkable but very short careers (e.g., Mark Fidrych of Detroit), but that is not true of the Rock hall of fame (Janis Joplin, Sex Pistols, probably others I am not thinking of). Even accepting that distinction, I don't see that as a reason for any of this year's inductees.
 
Also, I'd add that the omission of Joan Jett from this year's inductees is unfortunate. Jett had a respectable career on her own, but she's been hugely influential on female-fronted bands like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, etc.
 
I agree with you about Joan Jet, who has had career longevity and influence that I have no doubt surprises the hell out of Kim Fowley. My criteria, were I to be given a ballot, would tend to rely on the influence of the artist or inductee. Relative to output I'd say the Sex Pistols were even more influential than the Velvet Underground, for example. "God Save the Queen" came on the radio the other day and I was cast back to the time I first dropped the needle on "Never Mind the Bollocks". We had no idea what to expect, and I think we were anticipating some sort of unprecedented sonic assault, something to make "Metal Machine Music" sound like Peter & Gordon. Instead of that my first thought was, "Wow, this is pretty great!"

As I said at the time the nominees were announced, The Small Faces/Faces belong in, as do The Spinners, Donna Summer and Laura Nyro. They Might Be Giants deserved a nomination.
 
I note from your original post that you had the same thought about Hall of Fame vs. pretty good. I'd like to say great minds, etc., but I may well have got the insight from you. This is baseball HoF season so I can't be sure.

I am not sure if The Faces ought to be in, even though that group is my standard answer to the question, "Beatles or Rolling Stones?"
 
In either configuration The (Small) Faces released a lot of solid material, and they were right in the think of things. I like to muse about what it would have been like if it had been The Move or The Faces or the Kinks (or The Pretty Things) that had broken out in the US instead of, or the way that The Who, The Beatles, or the Stones did.
 

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