November 29, 2005

Are you sure we need a Hall of Fame for this?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in lovely Cleveland, Ohio) announced its class of 2006 today. Now, setting aside the argument that a Hall of Fame for a single musical style is irrelevant in the first place, lets take a look.

Okay, real quick: a “Hall of Fame” for a purely subjective medium is inherently ludicrous. You might think that Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles records are brilliant and they touch you deeply. I might think that McCartney’s work since the Fab Four is pointless hackery and a waste of talent. We would both be right. Music, like any art form, is unquantifiable. There is nothing, save for the personal reaction to it, that can point good art from bad. If the collected works of Kenny Rogers warms your heart, well then Kenny Rogers is a genius, for at least one person.

That being said, this is the class of ‘06.

Black Sabbath For all the nonsense that followed both the band and Ozzy’s solo work, it’s easy to underestimate how important Black Sabbath was. Their initial trio of albums Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Master of Reality virtually created heavy metal. Unlike 99% of Sabbath’s followers, they had the chops too. The shrieking insanity of “Paranoid” and sludge of “Sweet Leaf” echoed down through metal, hair metal and grunge.

Blondie Blondie’s first album was released in 1976 and it seems some people still don’t realize that “Blonde is a Band”. More known for later New Wave stuff like “Call Me” and the proto-rap of “Rapture”, Debbie Harry and the boys were mainstays of the early punk scene. For me, this is a no-brainer pick, both for the work and Harry’s influence on later artists.

Miles Davis This is a stretch. not for Davis’ artistry -indeed, Miles Davis belongs on a very short list of greatest musicians of the 20th century- but for purely “Rock and Roll” terms, his most enduring legacy is jazz-rock fusion. His landmark Bitches Brew was released in 1969 and led to some truly awful copycat albums. Still, Davis belongs in every Hall of Fame for any musical style imaginable, if just for Birth of the Cool, Sketches of Spain, and Kind of Blue.

Lynryd Skynyrd Along with the more adventurous Allman Brothers Band, one of the two pillars of Southern Rock. Skynyrd shouldn’t have waited this long to be inducted. An oftentimes insane jam band, the best known lineup for this band featured three lead guitarists. They were probably penalized by rock critic pretension.

Sex Pistols It should be really interesting to see how Johnny Rotten reacts to this. One studio album, Never Mind the Bullocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols and tons of attitude, the Pistols were a giant and very necessary “Fuck You” to late-70’s rock. Not as interesting or inventive as The Clash, or any of the vastly superior American punks like Television, this band remains the most nihilistic example of early punk.

I feel the need to mention this post was written while listening to Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits

Like I said: all subjective.

Posted by Frinklin at November 29, 2005 10:33 PM | TrackBack
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