(Love to the Mayor of Simpleton, for giving me the idea)
The news hit the AP wire today, announcing that four acts from ‘70s and Miles Davis, who died in the early ‘90s at the age of 375, were inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. They’re technically the Class of 2006, but I call them the Class of ’81, since any band whose debut album was released in 1981 or earlier was eligible for inclusion. The very fact that only two of these bands were within sniffing distance of the ‘80s leads me to believe that a ton of also-ran ‘70s bands will get in before any of the truly worthy ‘80s bands will, and that, frankly, disturbs me.
And so, without further ado and in no particular order, I submit my top ten list of ‘80s bands that should be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame sooner rather than later. U2 is already in, so they’re obviously disqualified.
1) REM. Forget the Bill Berry-less train wreck that the band’s become of late, and remember when they and U2 ruled the rock world the way Darth Vader dreamed of ruling the galaxy with Luke Skywalker. Between 1987 and 1994, they were bulletproof, and there are thousands of bands and nerdy record store clerks who worshiped at their altar.
2) Madonna. If she doesn’t get inducted in the Class of 1983/2008, she will have Guy Ritchie and her children dropped off the Empire State Building. Which is really hard, because there are these tall metal bars on the rooftop deck with sharp points that curl inward. I’m guessing she uses a catapult.
3) The Smiths. Forever changed the face of modern rock, they did. Johnny’s done some good stuff with Electronic and The The, but he has to know that his best work rests within this band’s catalog, feuds with Steven Morrissey be damned.
4) New Order. Simply put, there is no electronic music scene without these guys. Kraftwerk may have gotten there first (something I’ll get to in a minute), but New Order was the band that fused a rock and roll sensibility into those machines, which in turn created a legion of knockoff bands by the late ‘80s. Even the Cure nicked half of their best licks from these guys. “In Between Days,” anyone?
5) Guns ‘n Roses. It may have ended in a haze of lawsuits and coke, but Goddamn, when Guns ‘n Roses was clicking, there wasn’t a band that could come within a thousand miles of them. And forget Appetite for Destruction: their best stuff was all over the Use Your Illusion albums, the greatest single album that never was.
6) Janet Jackson. Because you don’t make it to First Name Only status without earning it, bitches.
7) Public Enemy. Because their records from the ‘80s still scare white people.
8) Run DMC. The kings of rock. There is none higher.
9) Beastie Boys. It’s safe to say that not even Rick Rubin had any idea what kind of band the Beastie Boys would become. After all, find another band who went from the Juvenile But Massive Debut to Groundbreaking, Trendsetting Sophomore Album.
10) Motley Crüe. If only because they lived the life of rock and roll excess to a degree that would even make Bonzo and Keith Moon go, “Whoa, dudes, let’s not go nuts here.” Few bands embody the spirit of rock and roll more than Motley Crüe. Oh, and they also wrote some kickass tunes.
Bubbling Under: Bands and artists I would like to see inducted but will likely need some help
• Duran Duran
• Depeche Mode
• Stone Roses
• Talk Talk
• The The
• Ministry. The birth of industrial, people.
• English Beat/Madness/Specials. Someone from the ska era has to be represented, dammit.
I didn’t list Nirvana (whose first album Bleach came out in 1989 when none of us were looking) because they’re a no-brainer first ballot inductee. Ditto the Pixies (comment entered after Neil totally faced me on their omission).
Five holdovers from the ‘70s
1) Kraftwerk. Man, how on earth are these guys not in? They were and are light years ahead of their time. Hell, Coldplay’s stealing their songs and claiming them as their own, fer crissakes.
2) Van Halen. And so, a generation of shredders was born.
3) T. Rex. Yeah, okay, Bolan’s dead, so he’ll never know you didn’t induct him, but for crying out loud, bands are still ripping him off. That has to be worth something.
4) Cheap Trick. Few bands have meant so much to so many different genres of music. Cheap Trick is that band. Big Star gets all the love, but Cheap Trick was the better band, by a country mile.
5) Rush. Thrown under the progressive rock bus only because no one knew what to do with them. But they have amassed a body of work that today’s popular bands would be lucky to emulate.
Comments, suggestions, hate mail? Bring it, suckaz.
Post script: It just hit me that I left off the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whom I meant to include, so you Fleabies out there, quit hatin’ right now.
Tags: Beastie Boys, Cheap Trick, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Guns ‘n Roses, Janet Jackson, Kraftwerk, Madonna, Ministry, Motley Crüe, New Order, Public Enemy, R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, Run-DMC, Rush, Stone Roses, T. Rex, Talk Talk, The Smiths, The The, U2, Van Halen