Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

This short post goes out to Follower, who has been requesting that I rank the Beatles songs that went largely unreleased until they were part of the Anthology collections in the 90s.

  1. Real Love
  2. Bésame Mucho
  3. All Things Must Pass
  4. Leave My Kitten Alone
  5. Free As a Bird
  6. In Spite of All the Danger
  7. That Means a Lot
  8. Three Cool Cats
  9. Searching
  10. That’ll Be the Day
  11. Hallelujah, I love Her So
  12. Cry for a Shadow
  13. Cayenne
  14. My Bonnie
  15. Ain’t She Sweet
  16. The Sheik of Araby
  17. Like Dreamers Do
  18. Hello Little Girl
  19. How do you do it?
  20. Lend Me Your Comb
  21. Shout
  22. You Know What to Do
  23. 12-bar original
  24. Not Guilty
  25. Step Inside Love
  26. Rip it Up/Shake Rattle and Roll
  27. If You’ve Got Trouble
  28. You’ll Be Mine
  29. Mailman, Bring Me No More blues
  30. Teddy Boy
  31. What’s the New Mary Jane

Read Full Post »

As we enjoy the coverage of our recent #RockHall2019 inductees, I wanted to announce the next big project for the Northumbrian Countdown. Looking back, the single series that earned the most views and comments and constructive feedback was the Top 100 Rock Hall Prospects series I began nearly three years ago. Since then, I’ve learned an awful lot as the community of Rock Hall bloggers and tweeters has grown, and my own reading has expanded.

Moreover, in the three years’ worth of classes since I started this project, a number of my original Top 100 Prospects have already been inducted, or will be inducted in a few months’ time: The Moody Blues, Janet Jackson, Dire Straits, Yes, The Cure, Journey, The Cars, The Zombies, Nina Simone, Joan Baez, Roxy Music, Electric Light Orchestra, Bon Jovi. That’s 14 acts, including 4 out of my top 10. (Three other deserving artists– Pearl Jam, Radiohead, and Tupac Shakur–didn’t qualify for the project, given that my rule was that you had to be passed over at least once at the time of its writing to qualify.)

In addition, the new category of singles has shaken things up. Procol Harum and Link Wray, two other original Prospects, were inducted for “Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Rumble,” respectively. Others may disagree, but for me, that’s good enough, and these songs encapsulate their artists’ importance. It also led me to jettison a few artists who I believed better fit the singles category: Ben E. King and Johnny Burnette and the Rock n’Roll Trio (sorry Charles!) for “Stand By Me” and “The Train Kept A’Rollin’.”

Finally, there were three more years of eligible artists to take into account, which means that we are more seriously delving into the nineties. My nineties childhood was a bit elliptical- I spent it listening to The Beatles and Elton John- but undoubtedly, it will color my impressions of that time. But you can expect more alternative, 90s R&B, and even some early indie in this new batch.

So this will be a full ranking, complete with new write-ups for new additions and updated commentary for the old standbys like Kraftwerk and the Doobie Brothers. Ultimately, you can expect 30 new additions to the list.

Read Full Post »

For the next installment of our series, we’ll look at the governors’ races that are coming up within the next two years. There’s plenty of ground to make up: Democrats lost a number of winnable races in 2016, Vermont and New Hampshire being the most prominent. Even worse, only three incumbent Democratic governors are liable to run for a second term– John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, and John Carney of Delaware.

Mississippi (2019): Do you think this is a pipe dream? Think again. Jim Hood is the last blue-dog Democrat in the South, an anti-abortion, pro-gun good-ol-boy who keeps getting elected the state’s attorney general. Hood looks like he’s finally pulling the trigger on a run for the governor’s mansion. And as a rare Democratic statewide officeholder in the Deep South, he’s probably the only one who could make it competitive.

Kentucky (2019): Here’s a fun fact for you: no Republican has ever served more than four years as governor of Kentucky. Something tells me that deeply unpopular Matt Bevin won’t be the first. This fall, his disapproval rating was nearly 20 points higher than his approval rating after facing a nasty teacher’s strike and Medicare expansion controversies. Andy Beshear, another state attorney general and the son of the previous governor, seems like the guy to take him on. He’s already running- which makes this suggestion merely academic- but I’m glad he is.

Vermont: Phil Scott, the Republican governor of the Green Mountain State, isn’t a bad guy. He was elected due in part to a solid record of public service in the past and weak candidates in both his 2016 and 2018 campaigns. Vermont is traditionally hospitable to old-school George Aiken Republicans–Scott was re-elected in 2018 even as Bernie won by 40 points in his Senate race. But consider this- Vermont has two U.S. senators deep in their seventies. If something should happen to Sen. Sanders or Sen. Leahy, Scott would get to fill the vacancies. T.J. Donovan, another state attorney general (sorry…) has the best chance of nationalizing this race. He’s been burning the midnight oil addressing Vermont’s opioid crisis, cracking down on for-profit prisons, and taking on Donald Trump.

New Hampshire: Alongside Vermont, this is one of only two states which elects governors every two years instead of every four. (Believe it or not, this used to be the norm in most states a century ago.) One element that makes this hard to predict is…what will governor Chris Sununu end up doing? Running for a third term? Challenging Jeanne Shaheen for her Senate seat? Regardless, Joyce Craig is my selection for the Democrats’ nominee. Her recent election as mayor of Manchester is telling– Manchester is the part of New Hampshire that’s home to a bunch of Massachusetts tax exiles. If a progressive like Craig can win there, she has a good shot at a statewide victory.

West Virginia: Since I started following politics in 2005, a strange and somewhat counterintuitive trend emerged: a Democrat had always been elected governor of West Virginia. Even in 2016, as Donald Trump won the state easily, the Democratic candidate, Jim Justice, eked out a win. Yet within months of taking office, Justice switched parties (or rather, switched back–he had been a Republican earlier in life.) Going against an incumbent during a presidential election year is a tall order. But Justice has a negative approval rating, creating an opening for young, handsome Carte Goodwin. Goodwin was the interim senator to fill out Robert Byrd’s term after the elderly statesman passed away. Before that, he was part of Joe Manchin’s team and fundamentally understands how Charleston works. He would be well poised to lead West Virginia into a better future where it doesn’t need to decimate its environment to eek out an economy.

Missouri: Eric Greitens’ governorship crashed and burned after it came to light that he physically abused and blackmailed a woman with whom he had an affair. The new governor, Mike Parson, is a more typical, not at all flashy, Missouri conservative. That might be enough to slide by, but let’s look at Nicole Galloway instead. Even as Claire McCaskill lost her re-election bid, millennial Galloway won an impressive victory for a full term as state auditor. How did she do it? By keeping the margins of defeat lower in the Missouri hinterland. It’s helpful that she’s young and good-looking, but she’s also earned a strong reputation as the state’s financial watchdog and has proven that she can overcome political headwinds.

Indiana: Indiana’s gubernatorial races often promise to be competitive, but disappoint Democrats in the end. Well, it’s time for the future. People who follow politics have been talking up Pete Buttigieg for years and it’s time to see him tango. He’s proven to be adept in using social media and has earned accolades as mayor of hardscrabble South Bend, Indiana. As a gay man who is also an army veteran, Buttigieg has also figured out the art of serving constituents in the Rust Belt while maintaining an active progressive fanbase.  You can be progressive and appeal to the white working class. Buttigieg is going to show the way.

North Dakota: This is an exercise in futility. Doug Burgum will run for another term. Being a popular, pragmatic Republican in North Freaking Dakota during an election year, he’ll win. Erin Oban, a young state senator who represents Bismarck, managed to beat an incumbent in 2014. Oban will almost certainly lose a gubernatorial race, but it might provide her with valuable experience running statewide if she wants to look for a higher office further down the road.

Montana: There were some congressional candidates in 2018 that I really hoped would win. Kathleen Williams was one of them. She had strong environmental credentials, having worked for Montana’s natural resources and environmental divisions before becoming a state assemblywoman. Unfortunately, she lost– and lost to Greg Gianforte, most famous for assaulting a reporter on the eve of his previous election. But Williams will not be facing an incumbent if she runs for Montana governor in 2020. And she’ll be succeeding the popular Steve Bullock and has had experience running a statewide campaign (Montana having only one at-large House seat). I’d love to see her become governor of Montana.

Utah: This state has weathered its fair share of political scandals recently, and when combined with Trump’s languid popularity in the state, a plausible chance for success in the governor’s race might emerge. Jim Matheson is probably the best-known Democrat in the state, having served as congressman of the Salt Lake City-based district for seven terms. His father was the last Democrat to have served as governor, having left office in 1985. But he may find himself up against Jason Chaffetz or Josh Romney.

Washington: And so we end this exercise where we started…picking state attorney generals to run for governor. Bob Ferguson is one of the best in the nation. A fascinating guy (he is an expert chess player and outdoorsman), his tenure in Olympia is marked by consumer protection, humanitarian action, and challenging Trump- particularly on immigration.

And there we have it! Stay tuned for the next installment when I put together my ideal presidential administration.


Read Full Post »

Earlier this month, I had the honor of convening the first in what I hope will be a regular feature on the Northumbrian Countdown. I gathered some of the most insightful Rock Hall bloggers, tweeters, and podcasters to hash out the 2019 ballot, and where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame needs to go from here. This particular edition includes Joe Kwaczala of the Who Cares About the Rock Hall? podcast, Nick Bambach of the Celluloid & Records Repository, Michelle Bourg of the Iconic Rock Talk Show, Donnie Durham, and myself. Of course, there’s no shortage of other experts like Philip from Rock Hall Monitors, Tom Lane, Charles Crossley, and many others, and I hope we’ll get to benefit from their insights in future editions.

Alex: Well, let me thank you all for participating in the first-ever Rock Hall roundtable.

Michelle: Thanks for having it!

Nick: Thanks Alex!

Donnie: Thanks for inviting me to be a part.

Alex: Maybe we could just start off with a brief introduction of who we are, and what drew us to the Rock Hall?

Nick: My name is Nick and I have been interested in the HOF for 6 years or so. I knew about it my whole life and of its existence, but given it little thought I begun seriously reading/writing about the HOF since the 2013 ceremony (when Donna Summer and Public Enemy were inducted).

Alex: I’m a historian who teaches for an American university in Singapore. From upstate New York– grew up in the Adirondacks, and live in Rochester, NY when I’m home. Essentially, I found the Rock Hall by…hating it, I guess! I was a big Chicago fan when I was in high school, and I couldn’t understand how a group that was so manifestly amazing to me kept not getting in. But eventually, I discovered Future Rock Legends, and got into looking at the nominees, and the processes in a more nuanced and less fan boyish way.

Nick: FRL was my discovery to seriously discussing the HOF as well.

Donnie: My name is Donnie. I first came to know of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, when they did a traveling tour, and there was some memorabilia of that year’s inductees at my mall. That was around the same time when I started listening to classic rock radio regularly which started my heavy interest/obsession with music and music history. Within a few years I found chat boards about the Rock Hall and started following it from then on. I found the Future Rock Legends site around 2009 ish, and that’s when I started discussing the Rock Hall more with fellow music fans. I also began watching the Rock Hall ceremonies on VH1 when they aired (back when VH1 was awesome in the late 90’s/early 00’s. I believe the first ceremony I saw was the 1999 one. And I also attened the Rock Hall for the first time in 2001 with my Dad.

Michelle: I’m in Atlanta, grew up in Iowa. I think I also started following the Hall back in 2013 or early 2014. I’m an adult onset Cars fan, and I was trying to figure out how to help get them in; discovered it’s just an endlessly fascinating/maddening topic. Rock Hall Monitors was the first site I found, FRL after that. My first Hall visit was in ’99-I remember the dark, silent plaque room at the top of the pyramid. It was deserted.

Joe: I’m Joe Kwaczala. I’m a stand-up comedian and writer in Los Angeles but originally from Pittsburgh. I’m a big music fan and oddly enough, a list fan, so the Hall and the inductions grabbed my interest at an early age. I’ve been watching the induction ceremonies and having varying degrees of “paying attention” and “following it” since the 2001 ceremony. I started to get more deeply back into it around 2014 and now I host a podcast called “Who Cares About the Rock Hall?” where I discuss it in-depth on a weekly basis.

Donnie: It seems like 2013/2014 was the turning point for most here on the roundtable as far as following the Hall at a serious level.

Alex: Yeah, let me just take this time to say, Joe, that your podcast has fundamentally changed the game. I learned more about “the room where it happens” from the work you’ve done than I have in the last several years on my own.

Nick: A lot of it started with the debate with my father about why Public Enemy should in the HOF and I think hip-hop should definitely belong in the HOF. He had no problems with Donna Summer because that was part of his generation though.

Donnie: Yes Joe, your podcast has changed the game of Rock Hall fandom and information for sure.

Michelle: Definitely – the most recent one had some excellent insights into fandom and the Hall for people of color; I’d love to ask him some more questions about that.

Joe: Let’s be clear: I am nothing if not a true game-changer

Alex: Maybe we could start by just offering our quick hot takes on the 2019 ballot. Most of us have had an opportunity to do so in our own blogs or other forums, but what are your thoughts?

Nick: 2019 is a step in the right direction. I think there’s more of an emphasis on post-1980s bands and bands that influenced the 80s/90s (Roxy Music, Kraftwerk especially). I wish there were more women and people of color. It’s great to Janet back on the ballot and hopefully this is her year. Happy to see The Cure back on the ballot and excited to see they’re in the top five of the fan vote.

Joe: Thank you for the kind words, everyone. And I agree that our most recent guest, Gerrick Kennedy, should have a ballot, given that he’s an extremely-informed music journalist for a major newspaper, who also happens to be young and diverse (something the Hall is apparently trying to include more of within the voting ranks)

Donnie: As for my general thoughts on the Rock Hall ballot this year, I like that they went back down to 15 nominees. I think that makes for better chances of the nominees to be inducted, and the list isn’t as cluttered and bloated. Also if you’re gonna have 5-6 inductees, 19 nominees is just way too much as a counter to that, IMO.

Nick: And 19 is such a weird number.

Alex: Yeah, I think backing off the classic rock by a few notches was a good choice. It’s still likely that we’ll have a class that is heavy in that genre anyway, but as a ballot of 15 acts? Solid.

Donnie: I’m pretty happy for everyone on the ballot. Devo and Todd Rundgren were particular happy surprises for me as I think Devo is a pretty overlooked band, while Rundgren is a “Renaissance” type of musical artist in that he can do it all. Obviously stoked to see Janet and Kraftwerk return to the ballot. The only weak points I feel are Stevie Nicks and John Prine. Although I get why both are on the ballot.

Alex: Nick is right, though…my sense is that they stacked the deck to get Janet and Stevie a path in, but it shouldn’t take these machinations to create a diverse class.

Nick: Definitely a solid ballot; more of a ‘critic’s’ ballot, not populist as in the last half-decade or so. There are no guarantees/slam dunks on this list. Very exciting since the last few have been so predictable.

Donnie: Well with the way the voting body is now, thats unfortunately how it is until changes are made.

Michelle: This ballot could serve as a bellwether for the future: the NomCom looks to be actively trying to make a move and have crafted a ballot to do that while still having to serve the corporate overlords with the Def Lep inclusion. The HOF is being hoisted on its own petard w/the “voting by peers” concept: artists can be as provincial as fans can be (You all saw Nick’s encounter w/Terry Sylvester?), so they’re having to do some scrambling before they lose all relevance. They’ve built in a fail-safe in that they don’t audit the results, though.

Donnie: I forgot about Def Leppard. Sorry to everyone here, but I’m ecstatic to see they’re on the ballot and they should’ve been inducted long before Bon Jovi.

Alex: Right– literally the 7th most important Hollie has a ballot and ain’t voting for anyone who recorded after the mid-70s.

Nick: Who would’ve thought I’d ruffle some feathers with a HOFer thou lol? I stand by my viewpoint and think his comments should be questioned, confronted and critiqued.

Joe: I really like this ballot. A good mix of deserving returning artists and “long-time-coming” new ones. Glad the number is down to 15. Mostly I’m very glad we don’t have some of those classic rock acts that have been dominating the inductions of the most recent years. Not to say bands like Jethro Tull or The Doobie Brothers aren’t deserving, but I think after the years we’ve just had, there’s no rush with them. We played catch up in that category– let’s do the same in other genres that have been passed over.

Donnie: Agreed. That’s a major problem with the voting process.

Alex: Well, let’s talk about it– maybe the weirdest thing about the ballot is its awkward mix of super-populist (Def Leppard, Stevie) with critics’ favorites like MC5 and Kraftwerk. So– Def Leppard….deserving or not? Donnie’s a yes, I’m a firm no.

Donnie: I’m a firm yes on Def Leppard! I’ll let everyone state their thoughts before I’ll defend my stance on them.

Joe: I think Def Leppard is very deserving! We’ll probably be doing an episode soon, but if you look at my categories: Pyromania and Hysteria are two MONUMENTAL albums. Both made RS’s 500 (although Pyromania dropped off when they redid it in 2012.) Tons of recognizable songs– with great riffs, if I may add. The late Steve Clark was a genius at that kind of thing. Hugely popular. Relevant for over a decade. I think they were influential, although that influence has probably waned. My mom knows them.

Michelle: Agree completely Nick. I like Def Leppard, but I don’t see how music is different because of them.

Nick: They are part of the ‘Fame’ aspect of the HOF. Popularity and commercial success is definitely a factor in Def Leppard’s candidacy. 2 Diamond-selling records in the 80s warrants their place on the ballot. Add some arena anthems and they are probably the only lock from this year’s ballot. If Bon Jovi got in, why not Def Leppard?

Donnie: My viewpoint on what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and any HOF for that matter, is that it needs to tell the entire story of it’s subject based on it’s inductions. Meaning the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame needs to represent all styles, eras and trends of rock music’s history. And that includes hair metal which was one of the defining genres of the 1980’s music scene, like it or not. And Def Leppard is the band that really kickstarted that whole era. Pyromania breaking through on MTV and the pop charts in 1983 kickstarted metal (for that time)’s rise to the pop charts. In their wake Motley Crue broke through, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Ratt, Poison and Bon Jovi became hugely successful acts. And while all of that was going on, Def Leppard remained the biggest act of that style and in that era.

Nick: I’m not a big DL fan but I can see why they warrant serious consideration. But I fear what will come in the wake of a DL induction.

Michelle: Excellent points

Joe: Anything bad that comes in the wake of a Def Leppard induction is already happening in the wake of a Bon Jovi induction

Michelle: True that, Joe.

Nick: Bon Jovi’s induction can summed up in one of their best-known songs: Bad Medicine. It isn’t what we need for the HOF.

Alex: right…my one big problem last year was “now that Bon Jovi kicked that door open, who follows”? So– we seem to think Def Leppard is a lock (I agree with that)– best guesses for…let’s say a 5-artist class?

Joe: I think that it will be a six artist class this year, but if I have to pick just five, I’m going with Def Leppard, Stevie Nicks, Todd Rundgren, Radiohead, and Janet Jackson. My sixth (which should maybe be in the five) is The Zombies

Alex: Working on the assumption that even hall of fame voters don’t know who is or isn’t already in the hall, Stevie stands out. My best guess is Stevie, Def Leppard, Janet, Todd Rundgren, and Radiohead. Hey- we match, Joe! And I’d also have the Zombies pegged at #6. They are doing well in the fan vote, and who are those rogue Vandellas and Ventures going to vote for?

Donnie: You know what? I actually think Todd Rundgren is the biggest lock of the class. [He] is critically acclaimed, has produced and worked with many Hall of Famers, is among the top 5 in the Fan Vote, and is one of the few “classic rock” acts on the ballot. I see a good portion of the voting body, both the artists and current HOFers and critics/writers voting for him.

Nick: Janet Jackson, Roxy Music, Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard and The Zombies (LL Cool J for the 6th spot).

Joe: I hope we’re not being too optimistic (no pun intended) with Radiohead and Janet!

Alex: wow– predicting a second Radiohead snub, Nick!

Michelle: Hmmm…Def Lep, Stevie, Janet, Zombies, Radiohead. I could see Todd getting an Excellence nod. I guess I’m afraid to think one of my fave artists could be an FYE, LOL

Donnie: I really don’t see why everyone thinks Todd is going to get a Musical Excellence award. Enough people will vote for him straight away.

Joe: I mean if Radiohead got snubbed already, why couldn’t it happen again? I guess the other line of thinking is maybe people last year thought they were a lock so didn’t vote for them but definitely will this time.

Nick: I feel that Rundgren might get lost in the shuffle and plus he’s fought with a lot of musicians in the past. It could come down to pettiness. He’s not as much of a lock as I thought 3 weeks ago

Michelle: You’re probably right…maybe support for Radiohead is as soft as it looks in the fan vote. If the Hall wants a “water cooler moment” Janet can provide that for sure, and Beyoncé is just one of many names who’d line up to induct her.

Donnie: Look at the trends of the Voting Body the last few years, rock artists from the late 60’s, 70’s, early 80’s mostly get voted in. Todd is one of the few artists from that era on the ballot.

Nick: I think Roxy Music has a far better shot this year. Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry are very well known and they are much respected. More so than any artist this year, I’ve seen more support for Roxy Music. They are a sleeper pick, for sure.

Joe: Also, I brought up Roxy Music to Seymour Stein, Bob Merlis, and Andy Paley, and they were not very responsive. Then I think Bob said “What about Slade?” and then we moved on.

Michelle: Their response on the podcast to Roxy and the Pixies shocked me

Alex: Well, on that line, any ideas for special categories this year? I know Questlove is trying to get Don Cornelius in as a non-performer.

Donnie: I have plenty of ideas for Early Influences, but whether the Hall will actually use that category this year, is doubtful.

Nick: Someone NYC based. Rick Rubin if LL Cool J doesn’t get in.

Joe: Maybe some of those old names Seymour Stein brought up like The Clovers or Ivory Joe Hunter? Not likely but we know they’re in the mix with his backing

Nick: I don’t think there will be an EIs this year

Donnie: I think it’d be pretty cool for Janet to get inducted as a Performer, and then same year they induct Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam in the Non-Performers

Joe: If it’s Burt Bacharach, I’m taking full credit

Nick: Jimmy Iovine would be good too (Stevie Nicks connection). Plus have Dr. Dre induct him.

Donnie: But when it comes to the side categories, anyone after 1980 is pretty much a no-go for the Hall.

Alex: I still think Willie Nelson as Musical Excellence would be a great way to honor a good artist and gin up some ratings– but he could easily get into the Hall the old fashioned way if only they nominate him.

Donnie: I’d love to see the Clovers and Ivory Joe Hunter go in as Early Influences, in addition to Roy Brown, Wynonie Harris, Amos Milburn, Big Mama Thornton, etc.

Alex: Big Mama. Absolutely.

Joe: I also discussed with those guys Carol Kaye (oddly not much of a response) and then they brought up Glen Campbell (pretty good pick!)

Nick: Kaye’s omission is a travesty

Donnie: I’m pretty annoyed at how inconsistent the side categories have been for the Hall over the last 15 years. There’s so many names for the Non-Performers, Early Influences and Sidemen/Musical Excellence, it’s ridiculous.

Alex: one side thing I wondered if we could discuss– given Joe’s love of the Cure– when are we going to see those 80s alternative acts finally break the logjam. I think we all agree on the general worthiness of Depeche Mode, The Smiths, The Cure and others…when will we start seeing acts like that get in?

Joe: It’s happening soon. The Cure is going to get close and maybe even has an outside chance of getting inducted this year. The path is being cleared.

Donnie: I think it will be either the Cure or Depeche Mode that breaks the logjam

Nick: I thought the Eurythmics would be the first

Donnie: In Depeche Mode’s case there’s a lot of HOFers on the hard rock side that like them. Which I was very sad to see them not get in. They were the first group I ever really liked, so I have a soft spot for them to this day.

Nick: At this point, probably the Cure. I love DM so much and I think they would be in the top five on the fan ballot this year if nominated again.

Joe: They’re doing very well in the fan vote!

Alex: The Cure certainly have the “time and place” factor going for them. And they certainly burned fewer bridges than various members of the Smiths.

Michelle: Love DM…they should be in, but WHY THE HELL CAN’T KRAFTWERK GET ANY LOVE??? Can’t say I’m a fan, but I know they may have more influence than anyone else on that ballot.

Nick: Kraftwerk should get in too. It’s maddening their not in already.

Alex: Kraftwerk is probably the single most deserving snub.

Donnie: I have hardcore love for Kraftwerk, and they’re the most important band in music history not yet in the HOF. Unfortunately their importance on music is mostly on modern music, which most of the Voting Committee could care less about, so they don’t get the votes. Look at people like Terry Sylvester. You got plenty of voters that don’t think anything after 1970 mattered and Kraftwerk’s music is so imprinted on all aspects of modern music, so the old fuddy-duddies on the Voting Committee just don’t see how groundbreaking, innovative, and important Kraftwerk are.

Alex: So– trim down the voting rolls. .

Joe: I have been told they are actively trying to make the voting body younger and more diverse!

Nick: I think we can also diagnose it as the ‘Little Steven’ problem too. Only 60s/70s artists aka his generation.

Michelle: Trim the voting rolls or add category choices like Tom Lane’s Veterans Committee.

Donnie: Their influence was massive on 80’s music, then in the 90’s more traditional music came in vogue (from an instrumentation perspective) so it seems like their music (electronic) would be an 80’s fad, then as the 2000’s and 2010’s came along everything became electronic-based. Now Kraftwerk is the most important act ever on modern music.

Joe: Kraftwerk is going to either have to wait a long time or be on a “weak” ballot

Nick: Part of Kraftwerk’s problem is history: voters have to remember this was groundbreaking in the early 70s. We take them for granted.

Donnie: But again, most of the Voting Body hasn’t listened to anything new since the 90’s, so to them Kraftwerk’s style was a fad or irrelevant.

Michelle: I’ve heard they’re trying to quietly modernize the voters too…but they’ll still publicly say it’s “peers” because it looks better. For once the lack of transparency could be a good thing if they’re using the power for good.

Donnie: I don’t think that’s the issue Nick. A lot of the voting committee is so old they don’t even care about Kraftwerk’s impact.

Alex: well…I hate to cut things short, but it’s 1 am here in southeast Asia and I have a class to teach at 8:30 in the morning– I wonder if we might conclude with some brief thoughts on where we want the Rock Hall to go in the next few years and call it a successful roundtable?

Nick: More women, Alternative artists, people of color and most importantly less classic rock. And more R&B and Soul.

Donnie: I would like to see the Hall finally break through and induct more 70’s/80’s R&B and 80’s/90’s music in general. However I don’t want them to shut the door on the 60’s and classic rock music. I think 1-2 60’s/70’s rock acts with 3-4 modern acts would be a good balance.

Alex: to answer my own question, I think they’ll have to figure out how to balance populism with its mission to commemorate and curate history without going too far either way.

Michelle: More women, people of colors (with POCs repped in Hall management), a move into alternative rock (although as a Boomer, I hold there are a few from my era that still deserve), a nod to worthy metal acts and more non-performers.

Donnie: But it’s time for the Hall to start moving forwards on the 80’s and 90’s. Just don’t forget The Monkees, the Zombies, T. Rex, Jethro Tull, the Doobie Brothers, Bad Company, and Pat Benatar.

Joe: In conclusion, excited to see if the Hall goes down the path that this ballot seems to indicate. I bet it will but I also bet we’re looking at least one Foreigner or other classic rock band every year until climate change kills us all. Hope we creep into the modern era more and see a more diverse array of artists!





Read Full Post »

Singles and Albums

So. The Rock Hall, as I discussed in my last post, dropped a new category on us all of a sudden: singles. The idea was to honor exceptional songs, whose artists were not presently in the Rock Hall. Although Little Stevie Van Zandt suggested that this doesn’t mean that these artists will never be nominated or inducted at some future date, this does have some of the makings of a “back-door” induction. And this is especially so for artists who probably couldn’t make it through if they were up against modern legends like Radiohead, or potential classic rock icons like Jethro Tull.

I’ve listed my immediate- and in no respect comprehensive- list of 20 possible singles, and 20 possible albums to induct by artists not presently in the hall. (A couple, such as Ben E. King are inducted as part of other groups. And Carole King, of course, is already in as a non-performing songwriter.) I tried my best to pick songs and albums whose artists were deserving of some attention from the Rock Hall but were unlikely to be inducted any time soon. Part of the challenge was limiting this to artists whose career and impact could best be incapsulated in one single or one album. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t do quality work elsewhere, of course, but it’s the main way in which their legacy is remembered (such as Link Wray and “Rumble”, or Chubby Checker and “The Twist.”) Therefore, I tried to avoid artists with a lengthier career that didn’t have one particular standout record (such as The Smiths, Kraftwerk, The Spinners, Kate Bush, and others.)

Some singles:

  1. “My Guy”- Mary Wells
  2. “Please Mr. Postman”- The Marvelettes
  3. “Stand By Me”- Ben E. King
  4. “Personality Crisis”- New York Dolls
  5. “Rapper’s Delight”- Sugarhill Gang
  6. “Love Will Tear Us Apart”- Joy Division
  7. “This Revolution Will Not Be Televised”- Gil Scott-Heron
  8. “American Woman”- The Guess Who
  9. “Remember (Walking in the Sand)”- The Shangri-Las
  10. “I Will Survive”- Gloria Gaynor
  11. “Wild Thing”- The Troggs
  12. “Chantilly Lace”- The Big Bopper
  13. “Layla”- Derek & the Dominoes
  14. “Whip It”- Devo
  15. “In the Still of the Night”- The Five Satins
  16. “Inna Gadda da Vida”- Iron Butterfly
  17. “The Train Kept A-Rollin'”- Johnny Burnette & the Rock n’ Roll Trio
  18. “Miserlou”- Dick Dale
  19. “Gimme Some Lovin'”- Spencer Davis Group
  20. “Maybe”- The Chantels


  1. Odessey and Oracle– the Zombies
  2. Tapestry– Carole King
  3. Forever Changes– Love
  4. Planet Rock– Afrika Bambaataa
  5. Trout Mask Replica– Captain Beefheart
  6. The Modern Lovers– The Modern Lovers
  7. Shoot Out the Lights– Richard and Linda Thompson
  8. All Mods Con– The Jam
  9. Music for Airports, Vol. 1– Brian Eno
  10. Marquee Moon– Television
  11. Grievous Angel– Gram Parsons
  12. Pacific Ocean Blue– Dennis Wilson
  13. The World is a Ghetto– War
  14. In the Court of the Crimson King– King Crimson
  15. Grace– Jeff Buckley
  16. CrazySexyCool– TLC
  17. Bat Out of Hell– Meat Loaf
  18. What’s the 411?– Mary J. Blige
  19. Boston– Boston
  20. The Stone Roses– The Stone Roses.

Any others? The singles’ list, especially, was difficult to cut down– just off the bat, “Happy Together,” “Duke of Earl,” “Kick Out the Jams,” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” might have been included.

The more I think about it, the more okay I am with these new categories– provided that they are done right. That means inviting the honorees to the ceremony, even if time restraints prevent them from performing. That means announcing them before the damn ceremony in the first place. But the potential here is great– every single act I’ve listed for albums, for example, would have a tough time getting voted in the usual way, with the exception of Carole King. The same goes for the artists who made those 20 singles– many of them have been nominated, or at least considered for nomination, by the committee. Yet, the larger voting body is reticent to give much attention to early rock, most forms of alternative, and R&B. The albums, especially, will allow for the Rock Hall to more credibly give attention to alternative and experimental artists who are absent from most ceremonies.

Read Full Post »


This is going to be a quick post, just so I can say that I’ve done something on the Countdown during the month of March. Several weeks ago, SLAM magazine produced its list of 100 greatest NBA players of all time. You can see the final results here, and an ESPN list that came out a year earlier here. I like both lists, and they were compiled by folks with a lot more NBA know-how than I. But there were still some puzzlers that struck me as false– Barkley over Karl Malone in the SLAM list? Ridiculous. Barkley made better copy, for sure, but Malone had a longer, significantly better career that culminated in two MVPs and the second-most points scored of all time. There was also a tendency to favor players with the allure of legend (such as Pete Maravich and Connie Hawkins) over more substantively accomplished athletes.

Here, then, is my own list of the top 100 NBA players of all time. While I tried to accommodate questions that will necessarily come from ranking players across ages– would George Mikan’s game hold up today? Would Russell Westbrook’s ranking be reasonable if he stopped playing tomorrow?– I ultimately came back to a single question: who gave their team the best chance of winning it all? If there’s demand, I might elaborate on my choices, but for now, I’ll just list my choices.

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. Lebron James
  3. Bill Russell
  4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  5. Magic Johnson
  6. Tim Duncan
  7. Kobe Bryant
  8. Larry Bird
  9. Wilt Chamberlain
  10. Shaquille O’Neal
  11. Jerry West
  12. Hakeem Olajuwon
  13. Moses Malone
  14. Oscar Robertson
  15. Kevin Durant
  16. Karl Malone
  17. Stephen Curry
  18. Julius Erving
  19. Kevin Garnett
  20. John Havlicek
  21. Dirk Nowitzki
  22. John Stockton
  23. Elgin Baylor
  24. Scottie Pippen
  25. Isiah Thomas
  26. Bob Pettit
  27. David Robinson
  28. Charles Barkley
  29. Dwyane Wade
  30. Jason Kidd
  31. Chris Paul
  32. Walt Frazier
  33. Elvin Hayes
  34. Patrick Ewing
  35. Allen Iverson
  36. Russell Westbrook
  37. Steve Nash
  38. Bob Cousy
  39. Gary Payton
  40. Dolph Schayes
  41. Clyde Drexler
  42. Willis Reed
  43. Rick Barry
  44. Paul Pierce
  45. Kevin McHale
  46. Reggie Miller
  47. Ray Allen
  48. James Harden
  49. George Mikan
  50. Wes Unseld
  51. Earl Monroe
  52. Dominique Wilkins
  53. George Gervin
  54. Dave Cowens
  55. Alonzo Mourning
  56. Kawhi Leonard
  57. Tony Parker
  58. Bob Lanier
  59. James Worthy
  60. Sam Jones
  61. Bill Walton
  62. Bernard King
  63. Nate “Tiny” Archibald
  64. Bob McAdoo
  65. Hal Greer
  66. Paul Arizin
  67. Dennis Johnson
  68. Nate Thurmond
  69. Dikembe Mutombo
  70. Robert Parish
  71. Dwight Howard
  72. Vince Carter
  73. Adrian Dantley
  74. Carmelo Anthony
  75. Alex English
  76. Kyrie Irving
  77. Sidney Moncrief
  78. Chris Mullin
  79. Bill Sharman
  80. Joe Dumars
  81. Chris Bosh
  82. Chris Webber
  83. Dave DeBusschere
  84. Tracy McGrady
  85. Jerry Lucas
  86. Draymond Green
  87. Dave Thompson
  88. Pete Maravich
  89. Pau Gasol
  90. Chauncey Billups
  91. Grant Hill
  92. Lenny Wilkens
  93. Anthony Davis
  94. Manu Ginobili
  95. Ben Wallace
  96. Paul Westphal
  97. Jack Twyman
  98. Maurice Cheeks
  99. Mark Price
  100. David Bing

Read Full Post »

So. As many of you know, I. Love. Disney. World. And not just visiting the parks, but learning about them, and celebrating their rich history, particularly the optimistic, collaborative view of the future purported by 80s and 90s Epcot Center.

Well, I just finished up my 10th visit, or the David Tennant Trip, as I like to call it. Just for some background, my last visit was exactly four years ago, under somewhat uncertain circumstances (my doctors found a lump on my neck, and I was waiting for a biopsy to determine what, exactly, it was. Thankfully, it was merely the outgrowth of a bone that had been broken many years ago and grew together funnily.) Also, my wife and I were going with kids. Not our own– they don’t exist yet. Rather, we took my wife’s brother and his wife, as well as their three kids, ages 7, 5, and 3-almost-4.  We stayed at adjoining rooms in the Art of Animation Resort.

Rather than cohere this into a narrative, I’m just going to list some stray impressions from my trip. If you’ve gone recently, I’d love to hear how your experiences may have approximated or differed from my own.

  1. One thing in Disney’s credit– we stayed at a value resort, and we rarely, if ever, felt like we were getting second-rate service or that we were receiving an inferior experience.
  2. Okay- Hollywood Studios. It has been my least favorite park for some time, and we also visited at a difficult point in its development. Soon, Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be up and running. But now? Great Movie Ride is being overhauled as a fun Mickey ride. Nothing’s in the building that used to house Art of Animation or Monster Sound Show. Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the Beauty and the Beast show, and Indiana Jones are still around, but are showing their age. The park has given up any pretense to being a functioning studio– the backlot tour is long gone and you won’t see Disney animators plying their craft- but the new stuff isn’t ready yet. Star Tours, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Rock’n’Roller Coaster are still doing brisk business and are insanely fun– but that’s not a full, satisfying day in the parks.
  3. The kid’s meals were affordable and reasonably priced. Disney will find other ways to gouge you, of course, but I’m glad that’s not one of them.
  4. Also, the queues have only gotten better over time, with activities and videos to keep you entertained while waiting. Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain deserve special props.
  5. Fastpass is absolutely essential. If you intend to visit some E-ticket rides during your visit, make sure that you book Fastpasses as early as you can. I booked only a few days after my window opened, and was already restricted for some prime rides like Frozen Ever After.
  6. Speaking of which: what happens if a ride breaks down during your Fastpass window? We found out when Frozen Ever After unceremoniously broke down, to the great consternation of our 7 and 5 year-old nieces. Graciously, Disney lets you use your Fastpass at any other ride. So, Heather and I took the 3-year-old on Spaceship Earth a second time (he really wanted to go on “the big ball”) and the 5 and 7-year-old went on Soarin’ with their parents. And loved every minute of it.
  7. Those princess actresses do amazing work. We saw Anna, Elsa, two Rapunzels, Belle, two Ariels, Snow White, Mary Poppins, and Aurora during our trip, and they were poised, clever, and responsive. All the more impressive, since the 3-year-old’s interaction with each princess involved him listing off the presents he got for Christmas. The Rapunzel at the Akershus princess breakfast was a dead-ringer who had the mannerisms down.
  8. Not counting character greetings, I only did four attractions for the first time this trip: Goofy’s Barnstormer, Toy Story Mania, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and Navi River Voyage. Barnstormer and Voyage were disappointing (Ariel’s singing was very flat on the latter), Toy Story Mania is an incredibly fun ride that I would never do without a Fastpass, and Navi River Voyage is a worthy return to form for Disney in the genre of slow, immersive, atmospheric boat rides.
  9. The 7-year-old and her dad waited nearly 40 minutes in line and were nearly ready to ride, when my niece could no longer hold her bladder and asked to use a bathroom. They were discouraged that they lost their place in line, but a cast member noticed, and gave them both Fastpasses. Very classy.
  10. Future World in Epcot needs some work. Future World East is a shambles, with both Wonders of Life and Universe of Energy down. Eventually UoE will become a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction, but still…that whole section of the park looks deserted, especially with Mission: Space underperforming.
  11. I am again amazed by Finding Nemo: the Musical in the Animal Kingdom. I sang its praises when I ranked Disney attractions almost three years ago, and I stand by my positive assessment: it’s the best theatre presentation in the parks by a country mile.
  12. I’m delighted that the ladies stamping passports and doing Kidcot activities in the American Adventure were both from Puerto Rico. A courageous choice in an era of resurgent white nationalism.
  13. I’m less delighted at some of the choices in the Voices of Liberty repertoire in the American Adventure pavilion. They are an elite a cappella group in period garb. Having them sing tripe like “God Bless the U.S.A.” is beneath their dignity and their talent.
  14. It’s incredibly cool to see my nieces and nephews enjoy rides that I loved as a kid. The 7-year-old ~got~ Spaceship Earth and asked good questions about its various scenes. The 5 and 3-year-old were just smitten with Figment. Even things that I wasn’t sure would fly for kids who grew up with on-demand shows on youtube- such as Carousel of Progress and the Peoplemover- were big hits.
  15. Holy crap, Bippity Boppity Boutique. We paid for the three kids to experience this (including the 3-year-old boy’s knightly transformation), but it was worth every penny. They each got lots of individual attention, and were all clearly moved by the experience. Within seconds of being issued his foam sword and cape, and swearing his knightly oath, my nephew started whacking us with the sword and humming the Imperial March. Very disconcerting.
  16. Sit down restaurant round-up: Kona Cafe at the Polynesian continued to do great work. I had a kickass pistachio-encrusted mahi-mahi with parsnip puree. San Angel inn- where my wife and I had our best meal of the trip in 2014- was our worst table service meal of the trip this time. Slow, unresponsive service- but the margaritas were great as usual. I was surprised by how good the Jungle Cruise Skippers’ Canteen was; my dinner was a tasty veggie curry stew, my drink was a pretty decent sangria, and our server, Emma, was amazing.  Akershus princess buffet? Well, you pay for the experience not the food, but at least there was a Norwegian buffet with some neat fish dishes and flaky pastries.
  17. The crowds were at a great point during our first two days– since the WDW Marathon crowd had gone home and the MLK Day vacationers hadn’t arrived. By our last day- in Epcot- crowds were big and intense, to the point where we waited nearly 40 minutes in line for Living with the Land! And it was cold! My brother-in-law coined the term “riding the struggle bus” to describe the 3-year-old’s behavior, but believe me- between the cold, the crowds, and the exhaustion of four days in the park, we were all on the struggle bus that day.
  18. And I have come to realize that I love Disney World more when there are people I can share it with. Watching three little kids observe the magic for the first time was tremendously rewarding, and I’m grateful that the adults outnumbered them!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »