Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Inductees

After the surprisingly wonderful Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert presented on HBO over the weekend (review to follow), Bruce Springsteen said, “if there is any justice at all, my next guest will be inducted to the RRHOF in 2010! Ladies and Gentlemen, Darlene Love!”

Darlene Love? You serious Boss?

On that note I’d like to consider this years list of potential inductees while reviewing the criteria the RRHOF uses for inductions.

  • Abba
  • The Chantels
  • Jimmy Cliff
  • Kiss
  • Genesis
  • The Hollies
  • LL Cool J
  • Darlene Love
  • Laura Nyro
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • The Stooges
  • Donna Summer

This list, while an accomplished list of artists, is not among rock and rolls “A” list. Most of the “A” artists are already in.

What is the RRHOF’s criteria anyway?

The Hall is concerned with, “recognizing the contribution of the those who have had a significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock and roll.” Pretty broad criteria. What is the calculus for measuring significant impact?

As you would suspect there is no empirically justifiable calculus for admission to the Hall; it’s all up to the discretion of the induction voters. In fairness, with only one major exception and a few minor ones, the committee has done a terrific job with the inductions. The RRHOF’s inductees provide a broad and fairly complete pastiche of what you would put under the umbrella of Rock and Roll. It’s an awesome accomplishment and far from the “joke” some naysayers claim it is.

What is of concern to me are the forces that come into play when the committee must choose from a list of “B” players like the one in 2010. This tacit mandate to induct five per year forces a bad hand. Can’t the Hall make inductions every couple years now rather than each year? This would ensure only “A” players get inducted thereby maintaining the significance of those already in the RRHOF.

This forced hand created the Hall’s most troubling induction, Madonna. While Madonna may strap on a Les Paul and strum a few barre chords on her recent tour, in no universe is she rock and roll. Yet there she is, crawling through the door of the RRHOF, on the floor, with her bustier and man biceps – paving the way for the consideration of other marginally rock and rock artists like this years shoe in, Abba.

Abba’s music is just weird. They are weird. While Agentha’s spandex is slightly rock and roll, the music most certainly isn’t. It’s ersatz show tunes as evidenced by the success of Mamma Mia. While they’ve sold more records than all the other nominees combined, voting them in paves the way for who, Andrew Lloyd Webber? I guess once you let Madonna in, you have to seriously consider them.

I suspect they’ll be inducted.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, while not an “A” list act are THE only deserving act on this years list. Does anyone doubt they are Rock and Roll? They perform with their shirts off, they have tattoos, and have a bass player named Flea. They continue to produce great music, listen to Stadium Arcadium. They totally rock!

They will be inducted, #2.

Donna Summer sold 130 records, and created some of the very best Disco music. If there is room for Madonna, there is room for the queen of disco. Plus, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s solo on Hot Stuff, is totally rock and roll!

She will be inducted, #3.

Before becoming a hit machine for Phil Collins, Genesis was a pioneer in progressive rock. While the Hall ignores prog-rock, Collin’s recent bout with a disorder that ends his drumming career ensures their induction – only if they promise to keep Peter Gabriel and his flower costume home.

Induction #4.

That’s it. No one else.

The only possible exception is Laura Nyro. A savant at songwriting and pioneer in the singer/songwriter movement of the late 1960’s, she penned many hits for other artists. One of David Geffen’s earliest clients, I suspect she’ll be voted in, despite her annoying voice and stage fright. The Hall loves this type of artsy artist.

The rest, forget ’em.

The Kiss army will of course be offended and assault me with makeup, but other than Rock and Roll All Night, their music never even rises to the level of decent. Bad singers and bad songs. No!

Jimmy Cliff is more a movie star than an artist. Bob Marley is already in.

The Hollies recording of All I Need is the Air that I Breath disqualifies them. This despite Long Cool Woman rocking very hard!

LL Cool J has great abs and mediocre songs.

Chantels? Really?

Darlene Love? Ronnie Spector already represents Phil Spector. Enough with the Wall of Sound already.

Finally the Stooges. Only if Shemp is included! Ba-dump-bum! Were it not for Iggy Pop’s agelessness and perpetually shirtless body, no one would pay attention to these guys. That alone does not make them rock and roll. Their music is terrible.

I still hold hope for the reconsideration of Chicago and Yes.

The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to the Edge is an amazing hat trick. Forgive them for Trevor Horn, and Owner of a Lonely Heart. Don’t lump Jon Anderson with Geddy Lee. Induct them!

Similarly, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago,and Chicago III is a similar hat trick. These guys pioneered jazz rock and horn infused arrangements. Terry Kath’s guitar startled even Hendrix. Forgive them for Peter Cetera and David Forster. Wait, check that, no forgiving David Foster.

Comments Welcome!


Five Great Comedies to Stream

On my soapbox again for DVD rental of TV series. This time for comedy.

Comedies are different than serialized dramas in terms of the DVD viewing experience. Most comedies fully stand on their own, and it’s not critical to connect the dots from the preceding weeks to the current episode.

Some dramas, like the Shield and others mentioned on this post, it is imperative you start from the beginning otherwise you will be lost. That’s what nice about comedy. You can jump in at any season or any episode and still have a few laughs.

These are all series that have had a relatively small viewership during their runs. One, Curb Your Enthusiasm, is potentially still in production although concluded it’s 7th season just last week.

  • Arrested Development – No laugh track, and stacks of irony piled upon satire ensured this show captured 6 Emmy’s, 1 Golden Globe, and then got canceled. This Ron Howard production boasted one of the finest casts this side of Seinfeld. Almost everyone from this show has gone on to prosper elsewhere (Michael Sera, Portia De Rossi, Jeffery Tambor, and Jason Batemen in particular). Those who are baffled by Wil Arnet on 30 Rock (this isn’t that funny), never knew him as Gob (pronounced Jobe). His magic act done to Europe’s The Final Countdown sums up this shows brilliance. Three Seasons on DVD.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm– The best comedy show currently going. Think Seinfeld for cable, dirty words and all – more Jewish – a Tuba instead of a bass guitar – and overall funnier. Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld and on whom George was based, comes into the spotlight, as a man fearless with respect to his frustrations – which are seemingly endless. Often coming across as a big jack-ass, Larry eventually grows on you, as will the terrific cast of characters including frequent cameos by Wanda Sykes, Ted Danson, and Richard Lewis. This years hyped Seinfeld reunion was a bit of bust as far as the reunion went, but the shows themselves may be some of the best of series. 6 Seasons on DVD – Don’t miss season 6 with Leon.
  • The Office or Extras– Ricky Gervais is another acquired taste in comedy. If you can get beyond the accent, there is a very nimble and comedic mind at work here in both these shows he co-wrote with Stephen Merchant. Fans of the Steve Carrell Office, will find Gervais’s David Brent to be far less likable, but that’s the fun. Gervais loves playing the egomaniac ass. David Letterman called this show “a perfect series” and he might be right. Extras is really just more of the same with many excellent cameos form Kate Winslet, Ben Stiller, David Bowie, and Daniel Radcliff playing versions of themselves.
  • Rescue Me– This is so much more than a comedy, which makes the punch lines all the more funny.  This show has some of the sharpest dialogue out there. Against the backdrop of post 911 FDNY, comedian Denis Lehrey and writer Peter Tolan create a totally believable group of firefighters, Engine 62, who are politically incorrect guys. Rites of passage, camaraderie, and the constant ball busting that goes with it, provide the characters with line after line of funny.  With a fire alarm always sounding bringing the show back to reality, this is one terrific show that succeeds as both drama and comedy. 5 seasons on DVD.
  • Gilmore Girls –Forget about the mess of season 7 – that must have been a contractual thing. In seasons 1-6 we meet the inhabitants of Stars Hallow – all people know and recognize – except for the fact they all talk unbelievably fast and pepper their conversation with cultural references from Alanis Morrissette to Waiting for Godot. Watching the show can be like playing trivial pursuit only with lots more laughter. The plots are cheesy as hell, but watching Lauren Graham delivering the brilliant dialogue of Amy Sherman Paladino and her husband Daniel Paladino is television wonder. Don’t be turned off by the title, it’s a great show.

There are many more. Fawlty Towers is another nearly perfect British series from the past while there isn’t an episode of Family Guy that hasn’t had me laughing out loud at least once for eight seasons.

Next time I will review some of the comedies from this years crop of shows.


Avatar – Film Review 3

James Cameron’s Avatar is the event movie of the year if not the decade. It takes whatever technology began with Polar Express, refined with Golum in Lord of the Rings, and expanded to near perfection in Peter Jackson’s King Kong jungle sequences and takes it to a whole other level. If you don’t go to the movies much, this is the one to get off your couch and go see this holiday season – and you should see it in 3D – simply stunning! Regular movie goers have already seen it by the time this review posts, and are most likely contemplating seeing it again.

The world Cameron and his crew of over one thousand graphic designers/artists have created is a visually rich and constantly fascinating one. This world of Pandora is jaw dropping. Everywhere you look is something amazing – a constant feast for the eyes. Images beautiful and dreamlike that reference creatures Cameron found in the extreme deep, are brought to life with 3D that is never gimmicky or silly. This is that “wow” movie experience that comes once in a decade. Trying to explain it more as some movie mash-up (part 2001 A Space Odyssey part Lion King) will just diminish the experience.

This is not to say that Avatar is a movie without problems.There are many. I am not sure the story, were it a comic book or traditional 2D affair with clumsy special effects would generate any buzz. At times Avatar becomes a cliche chase-movie shoot-em-up. The dialogue and characterizations are mostly 1D, and the thinly veiled antiwar/ecopolitics/pantheism “message” is a subtle as Al Gore talking about a lockbox – and just as annoying. There are also numerous anachronisms, not unusual for a movie set in the future. It’s good the know the wheelchair will see no improvement in design anytime the future – nor will bullets, machine guns, and mechanical switches on military aircraft. Finally the movie just begs for a melody like as memorable as “My Heart Will Go On” to tie it all together.

These are minor quibbles with what will be remembered as a visual and technological masterpiece – a watershed movie in history. You may even find yourself, as I did, surprisingly emotionally moved at the end of the this 2 hour and 40 minute ride. Or, you will be like so many, just sawing “wow” over and over during and after the movie. Believe the hype, this is the movie to see.

It also a movie to see ONLY in a movie theater. This brings the magic back to movie going and requires all the technology a modern theater can offer. If you wait to see this on DVD, you will miss the whole point.

Many watershed films of the past don’t age so well, this may prove true for Avatar. This won’t be the best 3D virtual world movie ever. Costs will come down, and more movie makers will have a go at this type of thing. For them there will be a huge debt to Cameron, the  only person Hollywood would let run wild with the capital required to make Avatar. I cannot overstate the achievement of his vision.

While this may seem a perfect movie for kids, I would suggest some caution as some of the creatures are pretty intense and there is some slow slogging through plot toward the end of the second act which might make the kids restless.


Avatar – Film Review 2

I haven’t gone back to see a movie twice in many years. The last one I remember was Collateral, which I thought was brilliant. My second viewing confirmed it. That is a great movie with a terrific ensemble performance and captures LA as only Michael Mann can. It might be Mann’s best film – although I have a special fondness for Thief and it’s existential angst played against the backdrop of Chicago’s rainy streets and Tangerine Dreams soundtrack. Collateral is in that tradition (as is Heat) only tighter with a better script.

I digress.

With Avatar the motivation was different. I wanted to be less distracted by all the revolutionary stuff going on in terms of 3D and computer EFX and try to simply enjoy the movie. I did – imensley.

What surprised me, was how much faster the movie went by the second time. Initially I thought there was a bit of lag between the second and third acts, and I just didn’t see this the second time. The movie zips by.

I mentioned in my other review, there were problems with Avatar and they were no less apparent the second time around. Other anachronisms, one dimensional characterizations by some of the live actors, and the lame joke searching for a substance called  “un-obtanium” were left out of that review. These again are minor problems with what is a delicious and invigorating movie experience. These should not be speed bumps in your race to see this movie in 3D ASAP.

What I really missed in my first review was how good the acting was by Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. I am sure this will be overlooked as they will be lumped together with voice actors in animated features. Yet, they were so much more than this. These actors, and all the other N’avi, were all bridled with head cameras that captured facial expressions which were brought into the virtual character and were the crucial link to the viewer’s emotional involvement with the story. So much of the story between Jake Sully and Neytiri was told by their reaction to each other. A glance, a blush, a pause. That is the “acting” part. They did a great job, and I am sure that wasn’t easy running around with blue screens and headgear trying to convey this subtle emotionality. Hats off to those two and the rest of the N’avi crew.

I was again surprised by how the movie caught me emotionally. Through all the bombast of bullets, bombs and profit driven imperialism, Avatar was more than a shoot-em-up with great effects, it really was a story that echos that most human of needs: the desire to be accepted, loved, and heard.

Jake Sully found all that on Pandora, and we viewers are moved because we understand and recognize those needs and feelings in ourselves. We see them played out everyday here on earth. Sometimes with good outcomes, sometimes not. 

With Avatar, the outcome is a good one.


Avatar – Film Review

It’s been a lame year for movies. I can’t remember the last time I was actually excited to see a film. Wait, I was excited enough about Inglorious Basterds to write a review (out on DVD next week!). Even there however, it wasn’t anything like the excitement I feel for James Cameron’s Avatar.

I am ready to ditch work and wait in line to see it. The early reviews are coming in, and they are all excellent. Did anyone expect anything less? Is anyone surprised?  Clearly 20th Century Fox isn’t as they have invested a reported $350 million in the production and promotion.

It’s easy to see why. Cameron has no major missteps in his brilliant career. All his films, including his IMAX deep diving tangents, are fascinating.

Finally, the technology has caught up with the visionary. This is not The Abyss which frustrated in this area. Those liquid-fying special effects needed T2 to really hit their stride. 

Take a look at the images on the movie website, they are otherworldly and fascinating. Cameron clearly has brought what he saw at the bottom of the sea (and everywhere else) to inform his vision. What a vision it is.  One assumes this is Cameron’s masterpiece.

All I can say is my seven year-old son seeing the trailer on Cartoon Network while watching Clone Wars jumped out of his seat, saying WOW, I want to see that!  This coming from someone who hates going to the movies.


Facing Ali – Film Review

Muhammad Ali is one of the most beguiling figures of the previous half century.

His place in boxing history is undeniable. With his colorful personality, quick wit, and seemingly endless charisma took the sport to another level riding on the back of the evolution of media from black-and-white TV and AM radio to the pay-per-view mega-events most major bouts are today. It is impossible to consider what boxing has become without considering Ali. His innate savvy of hyping himself and his bout remain unmatched. The shadow he casts in boxing is huge, and his record speaks for itself. Three time World Champion, and number one heavyweight boxer in history according to Ring Magazine.

He was also the most visible person of color during the tension filled sixties (and beyond). He became a globally recognized figure and hero to people all over the world. This despite a conversion to the Nation of Islam, a name change, and refusal to be drafted and fight in Vietnam. This achievement in sport and global media diplomacy is more significant than anything he accomplished in boxing. Without Ali, one could argue, there is no Michael Jordan, no Oprah, and no Obama. His contributions to tearing down barriers of race cannot be overstated. It impossible to separate his boxing career from his achievement with race relations.

This lack of separation is what makes Ali such a beguiling figure. Boxing is a brutal sport. People get hurt in the ring, sometimes for life. Michael Jordan may have stayed in basketball too long, but no one suspects overstaying his welcome caused any physical or mental damage. 

Facing Ali is documentary by Pete McCormack (based on a book by Stephen Brunt) from Lionsgate that tells the Ali story solely through the recollection of 10 who opposed Ali in the ring. This is a unique approach that hasn’t been seen before, and has an appeal that should extend beyond fight fans.

In varying degrees, in telling the stories of their bouts, these fighters capture the all hubris that surrounded Ali during his career. The good, the great, and the not so great are all told with video clips and photo montages as the fighters narrate. One can’t help but be impressed by Ali’s triumphs in the ring and out.

George Chuvalo is the most articulate of the opponents presented and what comes across more than anything in Facing Ali is the sense of respect and gratitude all these fighters feel towards Ali and having been able to intersect with his orbit.  Even Joe Frazier, long critical of “Cassius Clay” comes across the most soft I have seen him.

This is not a very critical documentary and offers up little of the ambiguity toward Ali of lasts years’ terrific Thrilla in Manilla HBO documentary.  Perhaps this is because it was made with the cooperation of the Ali legacy. While it is clear Ali fought too long and that boxing may have attributed to his current condition, those that faced him don’t really seem to mind. This is the conundrum that could have been explored more. How do you get any perspective in this sport when you are this man or opposing him. The answer is, you don’t.

Sadly we never get to hear from the star of the show, Ali himself. We get a few recent images, that’s it. This silence provides all the perspective we need.

Great documentary and nice addition to Ali’s legacy on film.


Frank Zappa

Dweezil Zappa continues the Zappa on Zappa Tour, and I thought this would be a great time to comment on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s most vexing inductee, his father, Frank Zappa.

Zappa is singular. There is really no one like him before or since. His output is staggering in term of volume and breadth and at times difficult to digest. He composed avant-garde classic music and wrote the most ridiculous lyrics in the history of pop. He also played a mean electric guitar, which oddly, not all guitar player know.  He shreds.

He is also one of the most articulate defenders of the rights of free speech, and many remember his appearance before congress which still make the rounds on youtube. Frank was always a compelling guest on a talk or news show. He spoke his mind, and he spoke it clearly.

In many ways Frank the man, with his signature Van Dyke mustache and complex personality overshadowed the music. I know music fans who have never heard any Frank Zappa. This is shame. He is after all, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For those curious, or a fan, a great place to start is the Eagle Rock Entertainment Classic Albums series. This series of behind-the-scenes programs, think VH1’s Behind the Music – only for musicians, is mostly excellent. This Zappa Disc is one of the best. Be sure to check out Apostrophe/Over-Night Sensation.

In this disc we get insight into two of his most commercially successful records from the people who made it. The complexity of the music and the musicianship required to navigate it are all obvious. So too is the reverence shared by all interviewed. While he may have been a taskmaster as a bandleader, no one seemed mind, as they became better musicians as a result. According to keyboardist George Duke, “working and touring with Frank, some of the most fun days of my life!”

All the talking heads shed light on the man while bringing out the subtleties of the music. The isolated playback of Tina Turner and the Ikettes is particularly fascinating.  Comments from guitar god Steve Vai will make a guitarist want to revisit some of Franks great guitar work. Throughout the disc it is Dweezil who comes across best, a son in awe of his dad. Who better to ensure his legacy.

If you have ever wondered about Frank Zappa you might pick up that DVD. You might also pick up one of those CD’s (or One Size Fits All, or Joe’s Garage). You might also check out Dweezil on tour.

Frank, we’ll never see the likes of him again.


It Might Get Loud – Film Review

It Might Get Loud is a documentary chronicling a “summit” between guitarists The Edge (U2), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), and Jack White (White Stripes). In a warehouse they chat about their pasts, development as guitarists, while sharing some of their classic riffs between them. Remote locations with each guitarist are also included in order to provide some back story.The movie is directed by Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim and is available on DVD and Blu Ray from Sony Pictures Classics. It is 98 minutes long.

The DVD cover is plastered with great reviews. To be fair it is a zippy documentary. Both the Edge and Jimmy Page come across as lovely blokes. Jimmy Page looks fabulous with his trench coat, silver mane of hair, and ultra dark sunglasses. Clearly he is the coolest of the bunch. We should all look so good at 65.  The Edge is the most accessible, equaling the cool of Page, yet seemingly unaffected by his success. If there is ego in that guy, it’s not in the documentary. Then there is Jack White. More on him later.

This is a documentary I wanted to like more than I did.

Still, any musician or fan of rock guitar would enjoy this highly budgeted and flawlessly produced documentary. Quality like this just doesn’t happen with music DVD productions often.

The best thing a documentary like this can accomplish beyond being informative on the subject is having some moment(s) of magic. Think Rattle and Hum and BB King telling the Edge, “I’m not good with chords!” Or, in Hail Hail Rock and Roll Keith Richards teaching Chuck Berry how to “play Chuck Berry.” Fegie and Mick singing Gimme Shelter with U2 backing them in RRHOF 25th Anniversary Concert. All pure magic!

There is one such moment in It Might Get Loud. It is where Jimmy Page, standing in front Jack White and The Edge, begins chiming out a fat and distorted “whole lotta love” emerges from his Les Paul. The delight and respect deferred to Pagey by the other two guitarists is a wonderfully spontaneous moment captured on the documentary. That scene along makes it a must for any fan of music DVD.

My disappointment comes from the inclusion of Jack White. He’s a great singer, good lyricist, and guitarist in the blues-based riff-oriented tradition of most of rocks great players. He just isn’t on par with Page or The Edge as a guitarist – and it appears he thinks he is. He’s articulate – to a point – but whatever ego is missing in Page and the Edge is all there with Jack White. This was annoying to me, and I found myself wishing they spent more time with Page and the Edge instead of White.

Documentaries are hard to critique because the documentary gets what it gets it terms of footage.  There is no script and wanting more out of these guys might just be the way it is. Not everyone is articulate, historically accurate, and self-editing to ensure flow and relevance during the documentary. The director and editor have to make the best with what they capture.  I just wish they got more out of Page and The Edge. More sounds, more stories, more guitar interplay. I know there’s more out of those guys.

It Might Get Loud is a different and slightly intimate look at two legends of guitar, and one who clearly wants to be.


Robben Ford

In a just world all lovers of blues-based guitar would know Robben Ford. Sadly they don’t. Allow me to introduce him to some of you, while reviewing and updating for the rest.

Robben is one of the dozen absolute finest guitarist playing today. On paper, he has had a remarkable career from the blues of Jimmy Witherspoon, the pop of Joni Mitchell, the jazz of the Yellowjackets, and touring sideman with George Harrison and Miles Davis. He has also a lengthy and varied solo career with over a dozen CD releases to his name (and his former band The Blue Line).

He is also a good songwriter – having penned a few modern day blues classics such as Start it Up and Tired of Talking.

Peel it all away and at his core, Robben is an improviser. A “cat” who jams with other “cats.” Another in that long line of blues and jazz players who bring their talents together with other musicians to interact and see what happens, that night, that recording, in that moment. Try to make some music magic.

This type of improvisational music is not for everyone. It requires active listening. Most of today’s  popular music fans want to hear music in the background. They talk about liking the “beat” – now made by a machine. They don’t want music by people (musicians), the want pop delivered by stars. No bother, there are plenty of acts who meet this criteria. That is not what Robben aspires to.

Blues and Jazz songs, with their loose structures allow for interplay between players and the chance to go somewhere new each time a song is played. That is the drug – having something spontaneous, musical and unexpected occur in the moment – which is very hard to shake once tasted for musicians. It kept Miles on the road till he died. It has BB on the road in his eighties when he can barely walk.

This I believe is what drives Robben, and most other real musicians to follow their muse. They keep pushing themselves to try new things. New styles, new collaborators, new configurations of musicians – all to create something new.

Here Robben is right in line with Sting, Prince, Neil Young, and Miles. They all can’t sit still, and in following their muse often frustrate fans who want more of the same. While we may hate Sting and his freaking Lute music, we gotta admire his commitment and not coming up with another variation of Walking on the Moon. Maybe his next tangent will be more entertaining. Miles could never make Kind of Blue part 2 despite the cry from fans to do so.  In the end he was playing Cindy Lauper’s Time after Time every night (of all things). You get the idea, artists frustrate while pursing their art. They have the right,they are artists.

Robben Ford is an artist. Sadly, he  never connected in the way some other blues based guitarists have. Maybe it’s his singing – he doesn’t have the blues growl of BB or SRV. Nor does he have the pop context of John Mayer. He does have the chops! Joe Bonamassa and Kenny Wayne Shepherd don’t have a thing over Robben Ford when it comes to playing the blues.

The last 10 years have been great for Robben Ford fans, as he has done some of the best work of career. Here is some to consider.

Jing Chi, his collaboration with drummer Vinnie Colaiutta and bassist Jimmy Haslip have produced three very interesting recordings of improvisational music. Not for everyone, but a supremely high level of musicianship with lot of solos from Robben. Check out Cold Irons Bound and Hidden Treasure for a flavor of what’s there.

Orbit, a record by keyboardist Neil Larsen is a terrific return to the jazz rock styling of his early Yellowjackets period. Some great new Laren compositions where Robben gets a chance to show off his always great and under-appreciated rhythm playing along with great solos. Check out Orbit, and Midnight Pass.

Solo work. There is a lot to choose here. I think Indianola and Cannonball Shuffle are two of his best instrumental compositions while It don’t make sense, You can’t make peace is one of his best arrangements (here the Willie Dixon blues song). If you want to go back further, Handful of Blues and Robben Ford and the Blue Line are best of the lot – but all are worth listening to.

Other projects. Here again a lot to choose from. Larry Carlton with special guest Robben Ford a favorite. Two masters trading licks.

Robben is following his muse again for a CD and tour with guitarist Michael Landau, bassist Jimmy Haslip, and drummer Gary Novak. Solid musicians who should be able to create some musical moments of magic for those lucky enough to catch them on tour.

Tour info here.


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2010 Inductees

Today the inductees for 2010 were announced. They are

  • ABBA
  • Jimmy Cliff
  • The Hollies
  • Genesis
  • The Stooges

I have commented on these artists previously. I am neither surprised nor disappointed by this list. With Madonna’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, all bets are off to a criteria which includes any notion of rock and roll. The Hall shot themselves in the foot with that one.

I continue to insist that the the root cause of Madonna’s induction is the RRHOF’s insistence on inducting five artists per year. They should change this policy immediately to prohibit the induction of second rate acts.

I am happy for Genesis and fans of progressive rock. Maybe the door is kicked open narrow enough to let Yes in but still keep out King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Kansas, and Asia. I suspect it was their later chart topping pop that got them in, more than their prog rock roots. Whatever the case, they are polite fellows and did rock at one point in their career.

I can live with the Hollies as being a big British Invasion Band who had lots of hits that didn’t chart in the USA. Long Cool Woman is, after all, as Rock and Roll a pop song as any song can be. Alan Clarke sings the hell out of that tune and plays a mean guitar to go with it. I guess if Dave Clark Five is in (another benefactor in the choose 5 conundrum) let the Hollies in.

Jimmy Cliff and the Harder they Come is a touchstone. A good, not great, film that effectively introduces Reggae to the world. One may argue no Cliff, no Marley. Maybe. I think Marley covers all the Reggae bases.

The Stooges released 4 unlistenable albums in their “career.” Kurt Cobain loved the Stooges. So did Lester Bangs. Arguably no Stooges, no punk. No Sex Pistols, no Ramones, no Clash, no British New Wave. I doubt the stooges 4 records have sold a combined million copies. Were it not for Iggy as a rock and roll personality – and he is Rock and Roll in every way (shirtless, heroin, self mutilation, stage diving, Bowie friendship). I would be more for inducting Iggy solo. Too late, as the Stooges are now in. I am sure Iggy is already doing crunches to prepare for their induction performance.

ABBA great hitmakers in the Barry Manilow/Carpenters tradition of great hitmakers. They just aren’t rock in roll.

I feel bad for the Chili Peppers not getting in this year. Not to worry, they will get in eventually. They are 100% Rock and Roll and continue to have a great career in music. They took shirtless beyond Iggy with the tube sock. That alone deserves some consideration.

Donna Summer I don’t feel so bad about, although she is more Rock and Roll than Abba. Agnetha doing “Love to Love You Baby” during her spandex prime, THAT would be rock and roll.

Good to see David Geffen get acknowledged for his huge contributions rock and roll. First as a manager for singer-songwriters like Laura Nyro and Jackson Browne, to later starting one of the first labels to champion artist integrity above all else, Asylum Records. This “free man in Paris” did more for rock and roll than all of this years inductees combined. He legitimized the business of music, and made a fortune for himself and others in the process. Nice to see him get his due.

KISS not getting in, gives me hope for another day.