Friday, 24 October 2008

Expanding horizons without rectifying mistakes, it seems

Although amazon.com has compiled lists of essential music as long as I have had connections wiht the site, recently I saw a list of a thousand essential recordings aiming to cover the entire history and breadth of recorded music.

Being as interested in music as I am, I was eager to have a look and compared it with other lists I knew. Although its compiler, Tom Moon, had much more to cover than Joe S. Harrington, I still could not help noting than only twenty-three of that man's Top 100 Albums were included, namely:

#2: The Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols
#6: Parliament's Mothership Connection
#17: Patti Smith's Horses
#20: Jimi Hendrix' Are You Experienced?
#25: The Velvet Underground's The Velvet Underground and Nico
#27: Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
#33: Theolonius Monk with John Coltrane
#43: Black Flag's Damaged
#45: Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica
#48: Andrew Hill's Point of Departure
#49: Albert Ayler's Spiritual Unity
#52: The 13th Floor Elevators' Easter Everywhere
#55: Big Star's Radio City
#63: The Ramones' The Ramones
#65: Deep Purple's Machine Head
#69: Love's Forever Changes
#70: The Modern Lovers' The Modern Lovers
#71: X's Wild Gift
#83: Television's Marquee Moon
#84: The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds
#86: The Minutemen's Double Nickels on a Dime
#88: The Incredible String Band's The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
#93: Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation

It is true that many other artist on Harrington's list are represented by a different album, but I imagine both Harrington and "janitor-x" would not be pleased at the omission of Minor Threat's Complete Discography - though how many other readers of the site would care??

The reason I say Tom Moon has "not rectified mistakes" can be seen from reading Danny A. Vogel's review of the 2003 Rolling Stone list. Many important artists listed by Vogel are still not included (e.g. Nico, Popol Vuh).

Also, it is quite easy to see that, at least among genres I possess any knowledge of, that Moon still does not seem to rectify commonly perceived mistakes in neglecting metal and progressive rock as much as some might wish. The few albums from those genres are as familiar as anything listed.

As for me, I can find quite a number of omissions, such as:
- Sofia Gubaidulina's Sieben Wörter/Silenzio/In croce
- on the rock side, Slint's Spiderland and Godspeed You Black Emperor's Lift Your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven could represent the omitted post-rock genre.
- Dead Can Dance's Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
- Joanna Newsom's Ys
- Third Ear Band's Elements

Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Rock Hall Backlog Part 5: Discrepant artists between lists of the "previously considered"

The last stage of assessing the Rock Hall backlog is to look at those artists previously considered by the Nominating Committee who have not made the ballot.

Before I look at individual artists, I will note a discovery that Future Rock Hall's two lists of artists of this type do not match. Although there was three years between them, most of the artists on the newer list but not the older were already eligible in 2004/2005. Since no artist first eligible in 2004/2005 or even 2003/2004 was on the older list, we will only consider discrepancies amongst artists already eligible in 2002/2003 - which means they had to have released a record in or before 1977. The full list of discrepancies arranged by date of eligibility is:

- The Five Keys
- Lee Andrews and the Hearts
- Jack Scott
- Pat Boone
- Johnny Burnette and the Rock N Roll Trio
- Patsy Cline
- Paul Anka
- Cliff Richard & the Shadows
- Johnny Hallyday
- Judy Collins
- Lee Dorsey
- Manfred Mann
- Tim Hardin
- Love
- The Monkees
- Big Brother & the Holding Company
- Procol Harum
- Ten Years After
- Blood, Sweat & Tears
- Iron Butterfly
- Blind Faith
- Nick Drake
- Linda Ronstadt
- The Faces
- solo Mick Jagger
- Fela
- solo Ringo Starr
- solo Tina Turner
- Bad Company
- Grace Jones
- Peter Tosh
- Cheap Trick
- The Jam
- Teddy Pendergrass

Neil of Future Rock Hall says artists are never officially discarded by the Nominating Committee after being discussed. He does suggest that it is rare but not unknown for artists to be discussed after being initially rejected (Chaka Khan appears to have been reconsidered during the 2007/2008 discussion).

However, it is tough to see most of the artists above ever being inducted. Pat Boone and Iron Butterfly both make Blender's 50 Worst Artists, only Love and Lee Dorsey (Ride Your Pony) can be found on best-albums lists I have read, and only Manfred Mann is a major artist on classic rock radio.

Unless Anthony DeCurtis is desperate to get Judy Collins in, I cannot personally see any artist above eligible before Love being well-enough known even amongst aging Boomers to gain the necessary votes to reach the ballot. Love would be one of the few cult groups to get in if they do, but they would probably need a few ballots to get enough votes not having the reputation as a songwriter Cohen does.

The Monkees may be interesting: I have imagined they have been discussed for the first time recently despite Jann Wenner's avowed opposition, but it is also possible Wenner has influence enough to prevent them getting widespread votes amongst the Committee.

Nick Drake would be interesting as the Hall appears even less sympathetic to pastoral/psych folk than to heavy metal or progressive rock.

I have in the past predicted solo Tina Turner would reach the ballot in either this year or 2009/2010. I still do not rule this out because her massive comeback album Private Dancer might put her in the spotlight of judges who know the 1980s better than some of the present Nominating Committee seems to.

Fela and Peter Tosh are both remote possibilities never spoken of by most Rock Hall observers, but if inducted they would be the only "world music" artists except Bob Marley to get in. Both might well appeal to much of the Committee with their political activism.

Cheap Trick and The Jam are the leading "power pop" candidates. Though this is a genre I generally detest, it has respectability among critics. Cheap Trick's movement - in reverse from popular trends - from grunge-like heavy rock to big power ballads may divide perception if they do reach the ballot.

Friday, 17 October 2008

The Rock Hall Backlog Part 4: Artists with one previous ballot appearance

This next post about the backlog of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will look at artists who have had one and only one previous ballot appearance.

It is noteworthy that no artist with only one previous ballot appearance had that single appearance so long ago that one can seriously rule that artist out. The longest space between successive ballot appearances is eleven years for Brenda Lee between 1989/1990 and 2000/2001.

Artists in this post are arranged by date of their sole ballot appearance. Artists who appeared on the same ballot are arranged alphabetically.

1) War: a product of the Rock Hall's "affirmative action" bias. They had a major hit still played on classic rock radio in "Spill the Wine", plus "Low Rider", covered in the 1990s by Korn. They did have one album in Rolling Stone's deservedly criticised Top 500 Albums, but have been neglected by other modern magazines and books like The MOJO Collection.

It is very possible the Hall will turn to other funk bands like the Meters since War were not elected in 2008/2009, but I have a grave feeling War will get in before 2012/2013.

2) Afrika Bambaataa: a pioneering hip-hop group whose major hit was "Planet Rock" before the rap revolution really began, Afrika Bambaataa were one of only two artists first eligible in 2005/2006 to be discussed by the Nominating Committee - a low that beat the three considered artists eligible in 2000/2001. They reached the ballot in 2007/2008 but missed out last year.

Despite the fact that rap is the only music since the "punk revolution" both respected by critics and commercially successful, there is still some doubt from both observers and voters about inducting rap artists, especially one who does not rank among the best-known.

3) the Beastie Boys: eligible and on the ballot in 2007/2008, despite missing out this year the Beasties, whose 1982 release was an EP out of sync with their most famous album Licensed to Ill, are probably the most certain of all backlog inductees in the long term. Many think they will get in on the 2011/2012 ballot. Since no other artist from 2007/2008's newly eligible crop apart from (inducted) Madonna and Metallica has been considered, one cannot imagine much discussion of newly eligible non-rap artists in the next few years.

4) Donna Summer: from a year that stands as the first since well over 25 years before the Hall began in 1985/1986 to have produced no inductee, Donna Summer was always regarded as the "Queen of Disco" and in her early days - though less so today - she gained considerable respect from critics as well. She made the ballot in 2007/2008 but missed this year.

This respect from earlier critics may lead the Nominating Committee to push Summer if the feel they cannot get Chic inducted. That would give her a real chance.

5) the Paul Butterfield Blues Band: eligible since 1988/1989 and controversial for the 2500 copy limit on a reissue, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band never had any record in the Billboard Top 50 but their influence on acid rock and jam bands was vital: they were the first to within a rock context develop jamming to create songs longer than the standard pop song.

They reached the ballot in 2005/2006, and with Steven van Zandt describing the eighties as a cultural wasteland, they may have a chance among the backlog artists though there is always the possibility that people on the Nominating Committee feel they know not enough people could vote for them because of their poor commercial record.

6) the Sir Douglas Quintet: a Tex-Mex group who were one of the originators of country-rock, the Sir Douglas Quintet had three Top 40 hit singles but disbanded in 1972 just as their influence became felt. They were eligible in 1990/1991 but nominated only in 2005/2006, the last year (for good, I am utterly sure) with more than the current nine nominees on the ballot.

Though I have never heard of them in the past, their influence on the rootsy music so popular with the Nominating Committee could well get them another nomination, though the same proviso of possible Nominating Committee rejection is applicable.

7) Cat Stevens: his notoriety for converting to Islam and supporting the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against Salman Rushdie may have actually increased his chances because his supporters feel they have more to defend.

Eligible since 1990/1991, Cat Stevens reached the ballot in 2005/2006 but with the reduction in numbers it will be tough for him to make it again and it is easier to see the Nominating Committee trying someone else than to try to have him elected again.

8) Randy Newman: a singer/songwriter who was initially a complete commercial failure but became an unlikely hero for the "punk revolution" and was, with the novelty single "Short People" in 1977/1978, denied a #1 hit only by Debbie Boone's "You Light Up My Life".

Newman has remained a revered critical figure ever since, but has turned his attention to film music since the 1980s. Eligible since 1990/1991, he was undoubtedly under the radar of the Hall for a long time before reaching the ballot in 2004/2005. If the Stooges get in, Newman, rather than the MC5, New York Dolls or Captain Beefheart, may be the next among the late 1960s cult artists in line for the ballot. With the competition so poor, his induction by 2011/2012 is certainly very possible.

9) Conway Twitty: eligible since the Hall was founded, Twitty reached his only ballot in 2004/2005. He had a seven Billboard Top 40 hits in the late 1950s inspired by Elvis Presley, but later became a country artist unsuccessful on the pop charts.

Unlike Randy Newman, Twitty is not the type of artist the Committee might return to after failure to be elected. The lack of popular support makes his induction as I see it still less likely.

10) ABBA: Eligible since 1998/1999, ABBA reached the ballot in 2002/2003. Their reputation as popsmiths is not so bad that they could be ruled out like, say Michael Bolton or Air Supply or Asia, but their relatively limited success in the US (versus having two of the top three singles of the 1970s in Australia) has made them much less of a chance than might be thought globally.

11) Kraftwerk: famous for their influence on electronica and 1980s synth-pop, Kraftwerk were eligible in 1996/1997 and made the ballot in 2002/2003. They have often been predicted for another appearance but it has not materialised, which suggests that increasingly people are rejecting the view that their influence is enough to get them inducted.

12) the MC5: after the Velvets and Stooges, the most important proto-punk band. Their Back in the USA album was #59 in Joe S. Harrington's Top 100 Albums and also listed as one of the Best Albums Ever...Honest by Englishman David Keenan in 2003.

Eligible since 1991/1992, the MC5 reached the ballot in 2002/2003 but, with the failure to induct the Stooges, they have been off the radar since. If the Stooges do get in, we can expect to see pressure for the MC5 from the Nominating Committee. It may be a wee bit easier to get the MC5 voted in because Kick Out the Jams actually made the Top 40 on Billboard due to controversy over explicit lyrics.

13) solo Steve Winwood: this is one that can probably be ruled out. Although "Steve Winwood" was only released in 1977, he was deemed eligible in 1996/1997 on account of other releases and made the ballot in 2002/2003.

Apparently there was a conflict among the Nominating Committee over whether to nominate him as a solo artist or instead nominate Traffic or the Spencer Davis Group - Winwood was the lead singer of both.

With Traffic getting in unexpectedly in 2003/2004, the question of inducting Winwood seems settled.

14) the Chantels: eligible since the Hall was founded but nominated only in 2001/2002, the Chantels were the premier 1950s black female singing group and have continued to perform to this day.

Although their ballot appearance may seem remote now, if Little Anthony and the Imperials fail, it would not be hard to imagine the Nominating Committee giving the Chantels another chance. The Chantels might not have to wait until 2013/2014 for another chance with the present Nominating Committee.

15) the New York Dolls: along with the Velvets, Stooges and MC5, regarded as the prototypes of the "punk revolution". Their self-titled debut was #90 on Joe S. Harrington's Top 100 Albums.

If and only if the Stooges are elected, the Dolls should soon re-appear on the ballot after failing in 2000/2001. It might take a long time for them to be elected, though.

16) Darlene Love: eligible since 1988/1989, she is best known for her Christmas albums and made the ballot in 1998/1999. It is hard to see her having another chance against other backlog artists with more credentials.

17) the Meters: eligible since 1994/1995 and on the ballot in 1996/1997, it would break a record for the Meters to reach another ballot. It may have been considered that P-Funk alone was the key influence on the development of 1970s funk. The Meters did have one undoubted legacy, however, in session bassist George Porter Junior.

However, Bobby Womack's election and War’s elevation to the ballot in 2008/2009 points in exactly the direction of the Meters reaching the ballot. It will be interesting to see.

18) Billy Ward and the Dominoes: pioneering early 1950s r'n'b group who began the career of Jackie Wilson, they reached the ballot in 1996/1997 and seem off the radar at present. Perhaps they are too old to be well-known to most of the Nominating Committee and too new for induction as an Early Influence. A longshot, but people say strange things do happen even in the Rock Hall.

“Greenhouse robots” might be real, but they’re not who we think they are

In the face of a rainfall for the last two months of one-sixth of the 1885 to 1996 mean and for the last three years has been only 22 percent of that 1885 to 1996 average, I have generally had the extremely minor satisfaction that Australia’s major newspapers have avoided going towards positions that suggest, contrary to all paleoclimatic data, that global warming is not man-made but cyclical.

With no rain having fallen in Melbourne since the seventh of October and none forecast for the next week, one hopes that the major newspapers will move from a position of acceptance tainted by refusal to accept the need for head-on struggle with those forces responsible for global warming such as the coal and car industries to a position of demanding radical change via protests that have been conspicuously absent despite warming from such scientists as George Monbiot.

In this context, The Australian’s most recent article, titled ‘Greenhouse robots clamp down on true climate debate’ is an embarrassment. The manner in which it asserts that the decline in Melbourne’s rainfall, which up to 1996 had a reliability as good as that of Europe, could be part of a natural cycle and that temperature increases which recent data show to be unprecedented in the past four hundred and twenty thousand years could be related to the power of the sun, clearly does not fit in with what experienced scientists know.

What The Australian might have a point about is that those who recognise man-made global warming as real do not seem to provide as wide a variety of evidence as they should. Never does one see in papers like Green Left Weekly the story of Western District lakes drying out for the first time since the Last Glacial Maximum. Nor are rainfall changes ever mentioned in even the most “alarmist” books on global warming.

Similarly, few moderates advocating desalination or more efficient water use ever realise that such moves will encourage many of the ecological problems inherent in agriculture in Australia.

Nor do people ever discuss the paradox of Australia having the least productive soils and at the same time the lowest farm subsidies in the world.

It is the failure to discuss these critical issues that amounts to “robotics” and should be challenged, not the existence of anthropogenic climate change!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Entertainment Weekly Top 100 Albums list

The magazine Entertainment Weekly has recently compiled a list of the top 100 albums from 1983 to 2008.

To be fair, most of the list appears to be a compilation of other lists, since the albums do not fit a clear pattern. Of itself, not fitting a pattern of taste is no bad thing, but the fact that it combines exceedingly popular albums but widely hated by critics with those widely praised is surprising.

#100: Faith - George Michael
#99: Live Through This - Hole
#98: Transatlanticism - Death Cab for Cutie
#97: Britney - Britney Spears
#96: Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea - PJ Harvey
#95: Trap Muzik - T.I.
#94: Synchronicity - The Police
#93: Either/Or - Elliott Smith
#92: The Writing's on the Wall - Destiny's Child
#91: Siamese Dream - Smashing Pumpkins
#90: Toxicity - System of a Down
#89: Bachelor No. 2 - Aimee Mann
#88: So - Peter Gabriel
#87: All Eyez on Me - 2Pac
#86: Loveless - My Bloody Valentine
#85: Home - Dixie Chicks
#84: Low Life - New Order
#83: Learning to Crawl - The Pretenders
#82: Grace - Jeff Buckley
#81: The Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails
#80: Back to Basics - Christina Aguilera
#79: Let It Be - The Replacements
#78: Vs. - Pearl Jam
#77: Dummy - Portishead
#76: Heartbreaker - Ryan Adams
#75: Born in the U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen
#74: Play - Moby
#73: The Queen is Dead - Smiths
#72: 1984 - Van Halen
#71: Rock Steady - No Doubt
#70: My Life - Mary J. Blige
#69: Give Up - The Postal Service
#68: Wrecking Ball - Emmylou Harris
#67: Metallica - Metallica
#66: The Chronic - Dr. Dre
#65: Elephant - The White Stripes
#64: Mama's Gun - Erykah Badu
#63: The Joshua Tree - U2
#62: OK Computer - Radiohead
#61: Paid in Full - Eric B. & Rakim
#60: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain - Pavement
#59: Ray of Light - Madonna
#58: Surfer Rosa - The Pixies
#57: Harvest Moon - Neil Young
#56: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco
#55: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy
#54: Rhythm Nation 1814 - Janet Jackson
#53: King of America - Elvis Costello
#52: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon
#51: The Score - Fugees
#50: Sounds of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
#49: A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay
#48: American IV: The Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash
#47: Exile in Guyville - Liz Phair
#46: Homogenic - Björk
#45: If You're Feeling Sinister - Belle and Sebastian
#44: Car Wheels On A Gravel Road - Lucinda Williams
#43: Paul's Boutique - Beastie Boys
#42: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) - Wu-Tang Clan
#41: Legend - Bob Marley and the Wailers
#40: Ready to Die - The Notorious B.I.G.
#39: Sheryl Crow - Sheryl Crow
#38: Raising Hell - Run-DMC
#37: The Moon & Antarctica - Modest Mouse
#36: CrazySexyCool - TLC
#35: Jagged Little Pill - Alanis Morissette
#34: Is This It - The Strokes
#33: As I Am - Alicia Keys
#32: Life's Rich Pageant - R.E.M.
#31: FutureSex/LoveSounds - Justin Timberlake
#30: Appetite for Destruction - Guns'N'Roses
#29: Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
#28: Illmatic - Nas
#27: Funeral - Arcade Fire
#26: Time Out of Mind - Bob Dylan
#25: Turn On the Bright Lights - Interpol
#24: Come On Over - Shania Twain
#23: The Soft Bulletin - The Flaming Lips
#22: 3 Feet High and Rising - De La Soul
#21: The Emancipation of Mimi - Mariah Carey
#20: Tidal - Fiona Apple
#19: Dangerously in Love - Beyoncé
#18: People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm - A Tribe Called Quest
#17: Odelay - Beck
#16: Rain Dogs - Tom Waits
#15: The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem
#14: Disintegration - The Cure
#13: You Are Free - Cat Power
#12: Stankonia - OutKast
#11: MTV Unplugged in New York - Nirvana
#10: In Rainbows - Radiohead
#9: Back to Black - Amy Winehouse
#8: Graceland - Paul Simon
#7: The Blueprint - Jay-Z
#6: American Idiot - Green Day
#5: Madonna - Madonna
#4: The College Dropout - Kanye West
#3: Achtung Baby - U2
#2: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Lauryn Hill
#1: Purple Rain - Prince and the Revolution

Of the list, the only ones I could remotely agree with are numbers 86 and 79. I think Björk deserves a great deal of praise and definite recognition from this list, but would have put Post, Medúlla or even the remix album Telegram (my absolute favourite album by her) above Homogenic.

Just having read a few other books is enough to make me see that the list is very flawed. Where is the post-rock of albums like Spiderland or Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven? Where are albums like Hounds of Love, Days of Open Hand or even somthing as challenging as Within the Realm of a Dying Sun? Why is Dummy only at #79?

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Rock Hall Backlog Part 3: Artists with exactly two previous ballot appearances

This third part of the study of the backlog of the Rock and Roll Hall of fame will cover artists who have been on exactly two previous ballots without being successfully inducted.

Before I look at the four serious candidates fitting this qualification, I will note four artists who would be in this or my previous post but have so little chance they should be looked at separately:
1) Johnny Ace
2) Esther Phillips
3) Mary Wells
and 4) Chuck Willis.

All of these were eligible when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was founded in 1985/1986 except Mary Wells who became eligible in 1986/1987. The last ballot appearance by any of them was in 1990/1991, which suggests that those in charge of the Rock Hall (who have not changed since then) do not consider these four to have the qualifications for induction.

The four other artists who have had exactly two previous ballot appearances (including this year) are:

1) The “5” Royales: Also eligible since the Rock Hall was founded, the "5" Royales are viewed as a major influence on famous soul singers like James Brown.

They were nominated for the ballot in 2001/2002 and 2003/2004, which does give some possibility that the Nominating Committee does not believe they could ever gain enough votes from record companies for induction (and they never got higher than #67 on Billboard's Singles Chart).

Still, with an aging Nominating Committee unlikely to consider any but the most obvious newly eligible artists or reconsider rejected ones eligible for a long time, doo-wop acts seem likely to be prominent until the core of the rap revolution is eligible. Though the "5" Royales were not strictly a doo-wop act, they have been associated thereby by music historians.

2) The J. Geils Band A popular artist in the early 1980s so that I can recall their "Centrefold" played all the time on TTFM's "Saturday Night Party" in the 1990s, they were first eligible as early as 1995/1996 but got on the ballot in 2005/2006 and again in 2006/2007.

Apart from "Centrefold" and "Freeze Frame", classic rock radio does not play them and critics have tended to ignore the claims of their music, which is very much the type of rock and roll the Nominating Committee grew up with.

It may be this facet of a Nominating Committee that is very much part of the Boom Generation that has made the J. Geils Band serious candidates - rather than artists whom most music fans and critics would consider more deserving. Even artists who had far more hits over the same timespan, like Hall & Oates are often snubbed in favour of groups like J. Geils and black artists of questionable credentials.

Unless Wenner and Landau become too ill to do the job they do now, it's unlikely much younger blood will be added to the Nominating Committee in the subsequent decade. Thus, one should give the J. Geils Band a chance.

3) Lou Reed (solo): Inducted with the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed had a more commercially successful solo career including hits in "Walk on the Wild Side" and in Australia, "Dirty Boulevard".

Though Reed's solo career has often been as acclaimed as his work with the Velvets, recent critics have tended to see it in a less favourable light: according to Joe S. Harrington, Lou Reed "hung in there and trashed the legend".

Reed made the Rock Hall ballot in 2000/2001 and 2001/2002, but seems now to be off the radar for a further nomination so he is the least likely of the four artists mentioned to reach the Hall artists

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Rock Hall Backlog Part 2: Artists with more than two previous ballot appearances

Now that I have looked at the few artists listed as "Previously Considered: No" who might be seen as serious candidates in the future, I will look at the actual Rock Hall backlog in four stages as noted in my previous post, starting with artists with more than two previous ballot appearances.

Artists on the Rock Hall backlog with more than two previous ballot appearances include:

1) The Stooges: Critically acclaimed as one of the most important bands in rock history, the Stooges were first eligible in 1994/1995 and are on their seventh ballot.

Their influence on the late 1970s "punk revolution" and later hardcore is undeniable, and many critics I respect see them as close to the most important band in rock history. Their failure to gain commercial success (The Stooges made #106 on Billboard, but Fun House never dented the Top 200 and Raw Power only made #182) seems still to make them unknown to a large proportion of voters, especially those associated with record companies.

Still, back on the ballot after a year's absence, it is hard to see the Stooges not being in by 2011/2012. If they do get in this year, I imagine the Nominating Committee turning their attention to the MC5, the New York Dolls and even Captain Beefheart and trying to force them through in exactly the same way.

2) Chic: First eligible in 2002/2003, Chic have been on the past four ballots but those in the know are far from certain that they will get in on this ballot.

If Chic do not get in on this ballot, it is hard for me to believe the Nominating Committee won't keep nominating them until they get in. Unless they are not in by 2011/2012 (three more ballots after this year) Chic's induction is a practical certainty.

3) Gram Parsons Briefly a member of inductees The Byrds, Gram Parsons was nominated as a solo artist in 2001/2002, 2003/2004 and 2004/2005 without success. His second band the Flying Burrito Brothers has also been considered, and there is a possibility that the nominating Committee has given up on getting him in as a solo artist. For this reason, despite his supposed "critical favouritism", Parsons is not likely a high priority in clearing the backlog.

4) Joe Tex Less known to people of my age than The Stooges, Gram Parsons or Chic, Tex had hit singles with "Hold What You've Got", "I Want To (Do Everything For You)" and " You Better Get It". In doing so, he became the first Southern Soul singer to reach the Pop charts on any scale.

Eligible as far back as 1990/1991, Tex made the ballot in 1997/1998, 2006/2007 and 2007/2008. With the bias in the Hall towards 1950s, 1960s and 1970s black music, if War get in as I strongly suspect, unless the Hall Nominating Committee tries someone like Barry White, Tex will probably be back on the ballot in 2009/2010 with more chance of induction than before.

Tex's association with Atlantic Records, as some Rock Hall critics have noted, furthers the suggestion I imagine some have already articulated that there is serious bias among the Rock Hall's Nominating Committee.

Overall, Tex looks like a certain induction in the next three ballots, unless, like Parsons, they have "given up" on him.

5) Ben E. King: A very unlikely candidate, since he was last on the ballot in 1987/1988 and, depsite having written the standards "Stand By Me" and "Spanish Harlem", it's hard to see the Nominating Committee run so low on candidates that they turn to him. The most years between a first ballot appearance and an actual induction is fifteen years for Gene Pitney, first eligible in 1986/1987 but only inducted in 2001/2002.

The Rock Hall Backlog Part 1: Exceptional artists not considered by the Nominating Committee who may have a chance

Now that I have explained the Rock Hall backlog, I will look at the artists in the backlog in eight stages:

Part 1: Exceptional artists not considered by the Nominating Committee who may have a chance owing to the low relevance of their earliest recorded output
Part 2: Artists with more than two previous ballot appearances"
Part 3: Artists with exactly two previous ballot appearances
Part 4: Artists with one previous ballot appearance
Part 5: Discrepant artists between lists of the "previously considered".
Part 6: "Popular" artists with consistent previous votes from the Nominating Committee but no ballot appearances
Part 7: Acclaimed "cult" artists with consistent previous votes from the Nominating Committee but no ballot appearances
Part 8: Artists from genres unrepresented in the Hall (or almost so) with consistent previous votes from the Nominating Committee but no ballot appearances

I pointed out in my previous post, how useless it is considering artists without previous votes from the nominating committee. The few exceptions or possible exceptions exist if and only if their earliest recorded output is so different from that which established the artist's legacy that it might not be noticed by the Nominating Committee.

In these cases, when the important part of the artists' output celebrates the 25th anniversary, or soon after, the artist should be considered if they have a chance.

I will look at these artists before getting onto the Rock Hall backlog proper. It is important not to assume these artists can in any way be considered part of the Rock Hall backlog, though.

1) Janet Jackson: since her first two albums Janet Jackson and Dream Street were very unsuccessful and do not reflect the style that made her famous with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Once Control celebrates its 25th anniversary, it will be hard to see Janet not being considered.
2) Pantera: though not likely to be inducted until at least 2015/2016 (and if their induction is far from improbable it may take years after that), they are worth noting here because their first four albums Metal Magic (1983), Projects in the Jungle (1984), I Am the Night (1985) and Power Metal (1988), were of a completely different style from the groove metal of their recognised albums. They were KISS-type glam metal but failed completely in commercial terms. With the exception of Power Metal, Phil Anselmo was also not in the band, Terry Glaze being the vocalist.

(The way I see it, Pantera are proof that the simple criterion of 25 years after first release is flawed. I have thought that 25 years after first artist-acknowledged release might be a better criterion, which would make Pantera eligible in 2015/2016).

3) Ministry: a major influence on likely inductee Nine Inch Nails, Al Jourgensen vehemently disowns their pre-1986 output which was synth-pop rather than industrial metal. Ministry are a quite possible exception if industrial become acknowledge by the Hall. Whether industrial belongs in the Rock Hall is an interesting question that no one has ever considered and probably will not before Nine Inch Nails become eligible.
4) Talk Talk are a possible exception if and only if the post-rock movement of the 1990s is acknowledged.

The 2008/2009 ballot and how it will affect the Rock Hall backlog

In my previous post, I said I would be looking at the backlog of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and attempt to see which artists will be cleared betwen now and when the next major newly eligible artists appear in 2012/2013.

Whether artists like

- Bon Jovi
- the Butthole Surfers
- Cyndi Lauper
- Slayer
- the Smiths or
- Stevie Ray Vaughan

were discussed by the nominating committee is yet unknown, but even if some of them were, it is by no means certain they will get on the ballot any time soon. Importantly, as Future Rock Hall points out, it is extremely unwise to predict the induction of any artist who has not been previously considered by the Nominating Committee. With the low turnover of membership and the control of Jann Wenner and John Landau it is exceedingly improbable that Committee members would either change their mind about an artist or newly appointed members would have different opinions. Exceptions only exist if an artist's earliest recordings have been either:
1) disowned or
2) not widely released or
3) recorded by a band very different from the one which garnered fame, influence or critical acclaim

The candidates for the 2008/2009 ballot are:

- Jeff Beck
- Chic
- Wanda Jackson
- Little Anthony and the Imperials
- Metallica
- Run DMC
- the Stooges
- War
- Bobby Womack

It is very hard for me to say who will be inducted. The nearest analogues to the obvious candidates in Metallica and the Stooges (Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols and Patti Smith) took around five ballots each to be inducted. Even Run-DMC, whom I initially saw as the most certain candidate, have as their nearest analogue Grandmaster Flash who still took several ballots to get in. In contrast, the lesser-known artists like solo Jeff Beck, War, Bobby Womack (proof they have a bias in favour of 60s and 70s black music) and Little Anthony and the Imperials have amongst their nearest analogues artists who got in very quickly after reaching the ballot.

What this does mean is that if Metallica, Chic, Run-DMC and the Stooges do not get in, the Rock Hall will probably keep trying to nominate them through at least the next three ballots. If they do get in, I am much less sure that those four artists not elected will be repeatedly nominated between 2009/2010 and 2011/2012 and there will be more artists from the backlog to consider.

I do guess Metallica, the Stooges and Run-DMC will get in, but I feel little guilt if I'm completely wrong.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Introducing the Rock Hall backlog

Ever since the 2008/2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees were announced, one thing has been made clear to me.

That being that until Public Enemy, N.W.A., The Pixies and Soundgarden become eligible in 2012/2013, there are at most four newly eligible artists likely to be on a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot. The only near certainty is Guns'n'Roses, who will likely be among the inductees for 2011/2012. The other three are:

- the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who are not the certainty people think when you learn their first two albums were recorded with a different lineup (ex-Magic Band drummer Cliff Martinez) and never dented the Top 200.
- the Pet Shop Boys, who have enough respect but are far from certain simply because they lack the "superstar" status
- and rapper LL Cool J, whose induction will depend on how rap goes with the Nominating Committee.

This means that, if we want to predict with the slightest success the inductees for 2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012, we need to look at the Rock Hall's backlog. This backlog consists of artists who have either

1) reached the ballot but never been elected
2) received numerous votes from the Nominating Committee but never enough to reach any final ballot

The next posts will contain a detailed analysis of the Rock Hall backlog and look at which artists are likely to be cleared from it during the 2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 inductions.