Tag Archives: The Rolling Stones

10 Glaring Omissions From The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame

The rock and roll hall of fame is known for excluding numerous bands and artists over the years.  Here’s a list (in no particular order) of artists that are eligible, but currently not in the hall of fame.

Joy Division

With just two albums Joy Division influenced generations of artists from the early U2 records to The Killers.  Emerging from the punk scene, they were one of the first groups of that era to take the lo-fi esthetic of punk and emphasize mood and texture rather than sheer energy and bombast.  Ian Curtis’ cold baritone and lyrical fascination with isolation and despair  was a perfect mix for the icy, atmospheric music found throughout Unknown Pleasures and Closer.   And no matter what you think of the genre, it’s hard to think of Emo existing without Joy Division.

Television

Television more or less invented post-punk taking cues from the Velvet Underground.  even though they began their career just as the punk scene was beginning to explode in New York City in the mid 70s.  Guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd circumvented the traditional roles of lead and rhythm guitar, specifically on such songs as “Marquee Moon”, which often led the rhythm section of Fred Smith and Billy Ficca to anchor the songs.  What’s even more profound is the lack of blues influences, which even the more avant-garde and wild groups (like The Velvet Underground) had used as a blue-print.  While U2’s The Edge gets most of the credit to popular audiences for the extensive use of delay pedals, Verlaine was perhaps the first to really explore it.

Brian Eno

To many Brian Eno is just the guy who worked with U2, David Bowie and Coldplay.  As a producer and a member of Roxy Music, he certainly deserves recognition, but his solo albums have proved to be extremely influential as well helping to popularize minimalism.  Eno is often credited with coining the term (and also creating) “ambient music” – low volume music which is meant to change the listener’s perception of the environment around them.  His collaboration with David Byrne  1981’s My Life in the Bushes was one of the first records with extensive use of sampling.

Gram Parsons

There are so many alt-country artists on the scene, that it can sometimes be hard to distinguish what exactly constitutes the term.  But Gram Parsons was a true pioneer.  He welded together his love for traditional Country & Western into the emerging rock scene in a way that was not only groundbreaking, but also respectful to its original source. Country-rock never sounded as glorious as it does on GP and Grievous Angel.  While Parsons never had huge success, his influence can be felt on many records by The Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes, Ryan Adams and Wilco among countless others.

Toots and the Maytals

Bob Marley is more universally known, why omit Toots and the Maytals, one of the key artists in reggae?  They might not have had the big names songs that the wanna-be white dude with dreads plays in his dorm, but they might be more consistent.   The band had some of the best harmonies found in reggae, particularly on such as “Sweet and Dandy” the immortal “Pressure Drop”.  It also doesn’t hurt that Toots Hibbert has often been called a Jamaican Otis Redding for his soulful, tender vocals.

Emylou Harris

Emylou Harris has one of the best voices in rock and country music that is gut-renching and aching as it beautiful and angelic. So it’s no wonder she has been a go-to back up singer for artists such as Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Warren Zevon, John Denver, and Ryan Adams among others.  Like her mentor Gram Parsons, Emylou Harris helped make traditional country cool for a rock audience.  And like many of those artists, Harris has a restless musical soul with consistently great records (Elite Hotel and Luxury Liner in particular).

Son House (Early Influence)

Thankfully the Rock Hall inducts early influences from artists who pre-dated rock and roll.  If you can include Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker and Lead Belly where the hell is Son House? Torn between his spiritual upbringing (he grew up wanting to be a preacher) and the secular and profane delta music, Son House embodied the Blues like no one else before or since.  Son House’s rhythms provided blueprint for hundreds of artists Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson to most recently The White Stripes.

The Faces

While The Faces aren’t as well known (or influential) as The Rolling Stones, they’re torn from the same cloth.  If you want dirty, sloppy rock and roll for a bad-ass party, The Faces are an essential soundtrack.  And like The Stones, you can feel the sweat and sheer joy from the performance. It’s hard not to want to get up and dance when listening to songs like “Stay With Me” and “Too Bad”.  A Nod Is As Good as a Wink To a Dead House is an undisputed classic in straight-up rock and roll boogie.  It’s also proof that, despite his cheesiness now, Rod Stewart was once pretty fantastic.

The Smiths

If you can include R.E.M. in the Rock Hall, you also have to include their British contemporaries, The Smiths.  Like Peter Buck, The Smith’s guitarist Johnny Marr favored a clear ringing style of guitar that was under-stated but brilliant.  The Smiths’ jangled, melodic, alternative rock with Morrisey’s articulate and literate crooning style was a direct anthesis to the synth-pop that was over-taking the British music scene at the time.   Like Joy Division, The Smiths had a huge influence on Emo, providing the soundtrack for many alienated and confused teenagers.

Harry Smith (Non-performer)

It’s hard to over-estimate the importance of The Anthology of Folk American Folk Music (aka The Harry Smith Anthology).  Prior to this collection, many of these recordings would otherwise go unnoticed and be lost in time.  The Blues, Folk and Bluesgrass music culled from Depression-Era America, directly resulted in the Folk-Revival off the late 50s and early 60s.  Simply put, without Smith’s archival the Coffeehouse perfomances in Greenwich Village probably wouldn’t have existed.  And who can imagine music without that?

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Top Ten Rock Band List From An Unknown Magazine

According to an article on radio station DC101, a “new magazine” put out a list of the list of the top 10 best bands ever.  Note that the name of the magazine wasn’t listed, and that the article doesn’t state whether it was a reader’s poll or a staff pick.  Either way, I’m pretty sure I won’t be reading this “new magazine”.  It’s a terrible list.

Here’s the list according to the article:

1. The Beatles

2. Led Zeppelin

3. Queen

4. The Cars

5. Heart

6. Green Day

7. Journey

8. Santana

9. Rolling Stones

10. Motley Crue

Personally, I think there’s only two bands which deserve to be there – and I’ll leave you to guess which ones.

What are your top 10 bands?

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Exile on Main St.

Exile on Main St’s legendary status surrounding its conception is probably only surpassed by The Basement Tapes. (Both also by the way, are about the only two rock and roll records that seem to have a deep understanding of American music.  Dylan with American folk music, and the Stones with blues, gospel and soul.)  The story is well kn0wn – that The Rolling Stones fled England to France to escape high taxes.  They wrote songs, drank and did a lot of drugs.  But what makes Exile so special?

For me, it’s the rock and roll album.  It embodies everything that is great about rock – it’s dirty and dangerous.  On Exile, The Stones take almost every single blues, country, soul and rewrite it as their own.   If Exile has one flaw, it would be that a lot of the songs make little sense on their own.  There’s no “Gimmie Shelter” or “Sympathy For the Devil” here.

If you’ve never listened to Exile on Main St, do yourself a favor and buy the remaster.  Turn up the stereo and get lost in one of the greatest albums ever put to record.  Here’s a few of my favorites from the album.

Rocks Off

Second to “Like a Rolling Stone” for greatest opening song on an album.   There’s a short opening riff by Richards a quick drum snap, followed by Mick’s jubliant, “Ooooh yeah.”   And then they’re off.  Whether the song is about masturbation, or doing heroin (or both) is up to debate.  You can barely hear Jagger’s vocals during the verses, but the screams of “I only get my rocks off while I’m sleeping!”  is pure rock and bliss.  To add to the insanity, none of the background vocals are in sync – there’s a lot of inaudible shouting.  The background horns don’t seem to fit in either – it’s a loud glorious ramshackle of sound that only ends when the song fades out.

Sweet Virginia

The ultimate camp-fire rock and roll singalong.  It starts off as a country song, with just an acoustic guitar and harmonica. When the drums comes in, the song sounds fairly standard for the Stones of this time.  The true virtue of this song is the chorus – “Come on. Come on down, Sweet Virginia.  Come on honey child – beg you.  Come on, come on down  – you got it in ya.  Got to scrape the shit right off your shoes”.  If it weren’t already catchy, the background singers (again not quite in sync with Jagger or each other) turn the song into a full fledged party.  If you listen in on your head-phones you can hear people talking, laughing, and just having a great time.  The saxophone solo provides a slight break, but on the second chorus, Jagger possibly realizing what is taking place, encourages the party.  On the third chorus, Jagger is barely heard at all, and it becomes the best drunken singalong you’ve never been a part of.

Shine a Light

The absolute masterpiece of Exile, and the saddest as well.  Again taking a genre that isn’t their own (in this case soul), The Stones breathe new life into a lament about a dead friend – Brian Jones.  While the Stones had previously explored gospel on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, “Shine a Light” truly embodies soul and gospel.  It feels less forced, and more natural – which is saying something considering that “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was recorded a few years earlier.  The chorus of “May the good Lord shine a light on you/may every day your favorite tune” seems to come from a gospel song as well.  It’s kind of hard to believe that this is the same guy that wrote, “I can’t get no satisfaction”.  Mick Taylor provides a fantastic solo, bringing one of the Stone’s finest ballads to a shining close.

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Preakness Song List

So Preakness is today, and though I live in Baltimore, I won’t be going.  I feel like I missed that chance a few years ago when I lived about half a mile away from Pimlico.  One year, I was going to go, but I was too hungover from seeing Elvis Costello the night before.  (Which was one of the best shows I have ever seen, and I was about 3 feet away from him.)

So here’s a list of some Preakness themed songs:

Great Songs with Horse in the title:

Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones

Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses? – U2

King Horse – Elvis Costello

Four Horsemen – The Clash

Songs about Baltimore or that mention Baltimore

Streets of Baltimore – Gram Parsons

Baltimore Oriole – George Harrison

Baltimore – Tori Amos

Trying to Get to Heaven – Bob Dylan  (“Miss Mary-Jane got a house in Baltimore”)


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Digging Through the Vaults

As you probably know I’m pretty excited about the remaster of Exile on Main St, along with the previously unreleased tracks that accompany it.  Usually I’m a bit wary of this type of thing, as most unreleased tracks by artists are unreleased for a reason.  If the recently released single “Plunder My Soul” to promote the remaster is any indication, the rest of the tracks will be high quality.  So here are few my other favorite “previously unreleased” tracks from the vaults.

Bob Dylan – “Blind Willie McTell” (The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3).  Arguably the greatest unreleased track ever, and one of Dylan’s finest songs.  Originally from the Infidels sessions,  the haunting “Blind Willie McTell” finds Dylan on piano backed by Mark Knofler on guitar.   Named after the great American blues singer Blind Willie McTell who developed a rag-time finger picking style which he played on a then unpopular 12 string guitar.  He is noted for never playing a song the same way twice.  (A feat which Dylan is sometimes known for on his “Never-Ending Tour”).  Dylan gives one of his best vocal performances, as he traces American history though references to slavery and music. At the end of each verse he tells us that “no one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell”.  Well, no can write a rock song like Bob Dylan.  (I might actually try to really write about the song at some point.)

The Beatles – “Strawberry Fields Forever” (Demo Sequence) (The Anthology Vol 2.). This one might be cheating, since “Strawberry Fields” is an official track.  Much has already been discussed about “Strawberry Fields” and its influence on music, but I find that the demo sequence gives an added depth to the story.  The studio version of “Strawberry Fields” is usually noted for its psychedelic sound, but the lyrics reflect on John Lennon’s childhood, loneliness, and self-doubt.   The demo sequence with just Lennon  on acoustic guitar, peels away the wall of sound and reveals the sadness that is at the heart of “Strawberry Fields”.  (Thanks to Ned for bringing my attention to this one.)

Van Morrison – “Wonderful Remark” (The Philosopher’s Stone).  “Wonderful Remark” was a song that originally released on the soundtrack to The King of Comedy, and then released on 1990’s The Best of Van Morrison. This version while of high quality, like most of Morrison’s songs in the late 80s and early 90’s borders on adult contemporary.  The version on Philosopher’s Stone is the one to beat – and like the demo version of  “Strawberry Fields” strips away the excess – with just acoustic guitar, drums, and flute.  Ranks up with “Madame George” as one of Morrison’s best.

Elliot Smith – “A Fond Farewell” (From a Basement on a Hill).  Really any song from this posthumous album could be included since Smith was one of the finest songwriters of his generation.   “A Fond Farewell” would be remembered for its beauty if Smith were still alive, but his suicide has made the song even more memorable.  Looking back it’s hard to tell if Smith was talking about himself or an actual friend.

What are your favorite previously unreleased tracks?

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Various Random News – Stones, Max Weinberg, Ryan Adams

– Billboard has a nice article on The Exile on Main St.  re-issue.  “ It’s important for us to do really well with this,” [marketing director of the Universal Strategic Marketing division of Universal Music Group International] Andrew Daw says. “If this was to flop badly, then the incentive for the band to invest time into doing future ones isn’t as attractive.” For the love of God people, buy this reissue!

– Max Weinberg won’t be returning with Conan when his new show starts.  While I like the Max Weinberg 7, this can only be good for the E-street Band.

– Ryan Adams is possibly going to release a new album soon.   Via his Facebook page, Adams’ writes: “New songs in the morning at one studio and Finishing old tunes in another in the evening! Trying to get it all together. Fingers crossed. Who Knows, Maybe I’ll even have to dust off the bat signal this fall…” It’s been a year and a half since a studio release from Adams, which is an eternity for him.

That’s it for now.  Have a good weekend.  See you on Monday.


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Old Habits Die Hard – Mick Jagger And Growing Old With Dignity

 

Until recently I had forgotten about “Old Habit Die Hard” Mick Jagger’s song from the Alfie Soundtrack.  All 4 minutes of the song are better than the entire Alfie movie.  What really makes this song standout for me though – is that for the first time in decades, Mick Jagger actually sounds like the 66 year old man he is.  

The song is clearly about a woman.  But considering the Stones penchant for touring constantly and putting out A Bigger Bang in 2005 (which unfortunately sounded like 60 year old men trying to recapture their Exile glory days) it’s hard not to look at it as a reflection of Mick’s day job.  The song shows Jagger at his most exposed.  “I’m proud as a lion in his lair,” He laments.  “Now there’s no denying it.”  It’s as he already knows the jokes we’re going to throw at him – he’s too old to continue on the way he does – prancing around the stage with his midriff showing.  But he can’t give it up. “I act like an addict, I just got to have it,” He declares later.  

There’s a reason why Dylan and Springsteen’s latter day careers have been justly praised.  They’ve grown older with their music, but haven’t given up the traits that made them great in the first place. Their last few albums rank up there with the best of their works.  A Bigger Bang was focused more on Stones’ rockers by the numbers than subtlety.  Interestingly, I find Beggar’s Banquet to be more akin to the type of music representative of 60s year olds than A Bigger Bang.   While I do love Keith Richards, it’s hard not to wonder if he is the one who insists on churning out the material that’s found on A Bigger Bang.  

The reason why “Old Habits Die Hard” is such a revelation is because we get Mick Jagger and not “Mick Jagger” the celebrity.   This is the same person who sang the songs on Let it Bleed, Exile on Main St, and Sticky Fingers just thirty years older.  He’s lamenting his past, and not trying to recapture the days of the past.  Old Habits Die Hard indeed, Mick.

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