Saturday, October 23, 2021


Always a bit baffled by the annual shebang of the Rock Hall of Fame, not least as it cuts so little ice over this side of the pond. Or maybe it's sour grapes cos we don't have the equivalent. It isn't really the style, especially in the arts, or, more to the point, the standard style of UK arts critique; we don't like success very much, with most British music journalism based on cutting tall poppies down to size. Whilst things are slowly changing, many, like me, are of a vintage where were we lapped up the vitriol of the inky music papers, bigging up new bands and new sounds, ahead of then slashing them to the ground with a sneer of derision. Even now, if a band or musician I like is on a run or roll of success and adulation, there comes the stage where I refuse to buy, or even listen to, their latest, for fear they get cocky and feel they can just rely on my patronage. Ha, say I, that'll learn you, with all your gold discs and sellout tours.Something that must cause them no end of tears and lost sleep, I'm (not so) sure!

There is also a hefty slab of the Groucho Marx in my personal frame of reference, vis à vis "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member". Possibly why my address book is so slim, but it is an aphorism I sort of adhere to.

But then I read that we actually had had a UK Music Hall of Fame! It was set up in 2004, to celebrate the lifetime contribution any particular musician had made, regardless of their own country of origin, to music in the UK. Rather than being a bricks and mortar building or, even, a bona fide institution, it was actually a TV show. With the idea being that (pop) music began in the 1950s, electoral colleges were split into the then completed decades, 50s to the 90s. The first five founding members were enrolled automatically, presumably by the show's producers, with further membership up to the public, who would vote from a shortlist, again prepared by the show. The 50's shoo-in was Elvis Presley, the public offered Cliff Richard. For the 60's it was the Beatles by default and the Stones by virtue, with the perhaps brave decision to appoint Bob Marley for the 70's, the public vote going to Queen. Madonna and Michael Jackson got the 80's, Michael Jackson, perhaps surprisingly, the voted rather than the de facto, with U2 and Robbie Williams rounding off the selection, again in appointed and awarded order. I would argue less with the earlier years than the later, which is perhaps why, at the time, I gave it a miss and can't even remember it.

Queen with Paul Rodgers in 2004

2005 changed the format. This time a panel of sixty industry pundits were responsible. Looking to see who made the grade for this panel prove challenging, but the list of memberships awarded is an intriguing mix of the expected, with a few odd randoms chucked in for good measure. Aretha, Hendrix, Dylan, sure, who's quibbling, with the Who and Pink Floyd not any great surprise. Eurythmics, even, huge in their day, but solo Ozzy Osborne? Of course, there was a bumper awards ceremony, aping the US model, with initiates inducted by a gushing sponsor, and some musical interludes either involving inductees or lavish tributes thereto. Interestingly, the show was sold to and shown on US TV that year, with the award, induction and performance by New Order cut from the schedule. Presumably they cut too little traction with the US audience, but, taking the award for both Joy Division and New Order, I think them worthy contenders for the honour. I admire the courage of inducting them as much the cowardice of pretending otherwise.

Joy Division/New Order in 2005

2006 was altogether a glitzier one still, even if the nominees were still stuck mainly on the side of predictable. So Rod Stewart, Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Brian Wilson, Prince. And Bon Jovi. (I have no issues with the band, but mind this is ahead of individuals like Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, and Neil Young. Surely, even they were pretty darn big stars in the firmament of fifteen years ago.) That years curveball went to Dusty Springfield, another pleasing surprise.

A possibly refreshed Rod Stewart in 2006

For no particular or obvious reason, there were no awards and no show in 2007, and, in the following year, Channel 4, who had been responsible, quietly dropped it. So the snub, for the purposes of the theme, was to the Hall of Fame itself, and never more has it been heard of again.

(In similar circumstances and, in the same sort of vein, the UK also had a museum of pop and rock, the National Centre for Popular Music, a big and glitzy purpose built project, located in Sheffield. It opened, with much fanfare, on 1st March 1999, closing down, in some ignominy, a mere fourteen months later. I think the failure of each of these ventures represents not a failure of a vibrant music culture on these shore, far from it, but maybe just a combination of snootily not taking such populist culture seriously, and the aforementioned hatred of any of those darn tall poppies..........)

Random link.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Rock Hall Snubs: King Crimson

King Crimson
: The Court of the Crimson King
[purchase The Condenced 21st Century Guide to King Crimson 1969-2003

I think that it was in the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract that I read, years ago, something like the only definition of who belongs in the (baseball) Hall of Fame is who gets elected. In other words, even in a statistically driven sport such as baseball (which has become even more so due to the work of James and fellow sabermetricians), there’s no formula to decide who belongs. James, and others, have created various predictive formulas, but they are not an attempt to determine who deserves to be in the Hall, but rather to predict whether the player’s statistics are the type that would convince the voters to vote them in. 

This type of determination is even harder to do with the Rock Hall, because there are no stats, really, other than maybe sales, or streams, or concert attendance-but I think most people (at least most people who read this type of blog) are unwilling to equate popularity with quality. Although it is nice when it happens. For the Rock Hall, it sort of just comes to down to gut feelings, considering some objective, but mostly subjective factors—plus a fan vote. Of course to be fair, it is hard to take the Rock Hall all that seriously when it inducted Bon Jovi a few years ago. 

My pitch today is for King Crimson, which based on the number of times I’ve written about them, their music or their members (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and most recently, here), you might assume are my favorite band. They aren’t (don’t ask me what is, though). But when you look at the quality and variety of their work, the length of their career, even with all of the interruptions, and most notably, the influence of the band on so many genres of music, it is hard to justify their exclusion. There is one full member of King Crimson who is a Rock Hall inductee (and another performer who sang one song for Crimson who is in the Hall……the answer will be at the end of this piece). 

It is hard to argue that King Crimson did not influence, among other genres, progressive rock, hard rock, various forms of metal, jazz/rock fusion, punk, new wave, grunge, math rock, jam bands, noise rock, and even hip-hop. There’s a nice summary of some of this in Wikipedia, or just Google “King Crimson influence” and fall down the rabbit hole. 

Also, arguably, Robert Fripp belongs in the Hall individually for his solo guitar work/"Frippertronics" and collaborations with Brian Eno, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel and others. 

That’s it. Show me a band or artist that is more influential than King Crimson that hasn’t already been inducted. 

The answer to the question is that drummer Bill Bruford was inducted into the Rock Hall as a member of Yes, as was Jon Anderson, who sang “Prince Rupert Awakes” on Crimson’s third album, Lizard.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Rock Hall Snubs: Little Feat


purchase [ The Best of Little Feat ]

Do we need a little background on the HoF before we explore why a band/artist who "rightly" belongs in the list has never been voted? There's a  committee who decide on a yearly list of nominees, and then a cadre of experts votes. Musicians are eligible 25 years after their first recording has been released. As of 2021, 351 have been inducted in one of several categories, such as performer or early influence, non-performer and sideman. The number of inductees varies by year. Awards may be given posthumously; 7 such were given in 2020.

So ... is there bias? Well ... if your favorite band has been eligible for years and still hasn't made the list, you're likely to think there is bias. Does this constitute "snub"? Hard to say, but I've got one that belongs but isn't, and the band seems to tick all the necessary checkboxes, but ... and here is one possible catch ... they aren't particularly relevant to many people any longer. Back in the 70s they were; today - not so much. That said, Rolling Stone magazine readers voted them #2 deserving but snubbed a few years back and they still have not been voted in.

Except ...  their best music is timeless. And their lead guitarist and vocalist was the best of the best - until he died an early death. And while the band has more or less hung in there ever since, it's never been the same. And now, without Paul Barrere, who co-wrote this one below (and passed in 2019), joining the list may be a dream.