Feb 22, 2013
I was ruminating the other day about bands that are not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and thought I was mistaken when I came up with Cheap Trick on my list. I was incredulous at the thought these four guys (still including Bun E Carlos) from the heartland have not been inducted.
Many people know the story of Cheap Trick, founded in Rockford, Illinois in 1973 and finally busting out with an over the top “Live At Budokhan” album that put them on the rock n roll map. Originally released in Japan only in 1978 the demand for the import became huge and Epic Records then released the album in the U.S. in 1979. The band has released sixteen studio albums with the last effort in 2009. Along the way they have released seven live albums including the aforementioned “Live At Budokhan.” In 2003 Rolling Stone listed “Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” of the 500 only 18 were live albums. Of the 17 artists and bands 14 of these acts are in the Hall of Fame (B. B. King has two live albums on the list). The only three that are not in the Hall is MC5, Quicksilver Message Service and Cheap Trick. You could certainly make a strong case for MC5 or QMS but neither act had the longevity nor the productivity, two of the criteria, Cheap Trick has had throughout their career.
Cheap Trick has been highly praised for many of their recordings and on many of them their Beatlesque flavoring sprinkled on their harder edge creating the Cheap Trick sound. If you think about it Cheap Trick’s style has taken Power Pop and made it accessible to a much larger audience than any of their predecessors had scaled. Let’s not discount this music genre in the Hall of Fame as their music is way past the bubble gum stage that some critics of this form have maintained.
Some of CT’s critics say that some of their albums were uneven, looking for a new form, finding a new niche for the music. My comment is, “isn’t that what artistry does?” Music critics are continually busting an artist for coming out with the next album sounding like the last one. Look at other artists with this length of time in existence, and a few bands that are already in the Hall have a similar curve. If you go beyond “I Want You To Want Me,” “Surrender,” “Dream Police,” and “Voices” you will find great artists looking to expand their music, you will find that in Cheap Trick’s recordings.
If one would go to the Hall of Fame site and read the criteria to be eligible I think you will find Cheap Trick passes with flying colors. The band has been together for over 25 years, has unquestionable musical excellence, strongly influenced other renowned artists after them, innovation and superiority and style and technique with musical excellence being the essential mark.
If one wants to discuss the number of artists who have been influenced by them it could read like its’ own Hall of Fame. Bands like Motley Crue, Guns N Roses with individuals such as Gene Simmons of KISS, Joe Perry from Aerosmith and Angus Young of AC/DC citing influences. That does not include 90’s bandleader Kurt Cobain of Nirvana who cited the band. What intrigues me is the varying styles of bands say they were influenced by CT. These bands include; Pearl Jam, Weezer, Stone Temple Pilots, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fountains of Wayne, Kings of Leon, OK Go, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, Husker Du and even Slipknot. I don’t think you can get a much broader landscape.
Breaking the band down into the four primary individuals you have the lead vocalist, Robin Zander, who has been with the band since 1974 and has had his vocal imprint on almost every song recorded by CT. It would be easy to make the case that Zander is one of the Top 10 rock vocalists of all time. Rick Nielsen, who definitely does not dabble in guitars but reportedly owns over 400 of his favorites, has lead the guitar charge and chief songwriting duties helping to create the Cheap Trick sound and look. (Nice bow-tie). Tom Petersson has been credited with originating the twelve string bass. Listening to the Cheap Trick recordings you will hear Petersson’s bass adding an all important sub sonic base for the band to weave their mastery on top. No band can have the success Cheap Trick has had without the proverbial rock solid drummer that being Bun E. Carols. Carlos moves around his kit with ease and fluidity. If you stop and think about the relationship of Carlos with the band you almost can think of him as the next generation Ringo Starr with many and way cool drum fills that Ringo either didn’t have at the time or did not show due to the Beatles musical arrangements.
Live shows have been a strong suit since for them. I first saw the band in 1974 or 1975. I had a small agency in Minneapolis and on a Wednesday or Thursday a call would come into the office from Chuck Toler or Ken Adamany, the band’s then managers, looking for a gig for the upcoming Saturday night. Chuck or Ken would say, “I don’t need a ton of money, these guys just want to play.” It was about a year later when I saw them at the Stone Hearth, a club in Madison, Wi and was blown away by the band. If not mistaken it may have been a Tuesday when Epic Records executives were in town to see the band. We booked the band and have continued to over the length of their career and I can honestly say they I have not once felt shorted by a Cheap Trick performance. I love the integrity in which they approach their shows after all these years.
Per several articles the voters of the Hall are made up of; academics, journalists, producers and other music industry related individuals. To you I say let’s not select an act based on whether it will sell tickets to the induction ceremony but truly look at the contribution this band has made to our industry and then realize they are indeed Hall of Famers. As Nielsen said in a ’97 interview, “We tour, we play. We don’t wait for a record to tour. Fans like us and bands like us.” Let’s enforce the legacy of the Hall by “liking them” with an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Feb 29, 2012
Today I found Davy Jones trending on Twitter and immediately thought this is probably not a good thing. Then I found out that what I had suspected had happened - Davy Jones dead at the age of 66 from a heart attack.
The Monkees were an odd band from the sense they were manufactured by Hollywood to follow in the footsteps of The Beatles and their movie “Hard Day’s Night.” They were not musicians, with the exception of Michael Nesmith and some arguing that Peter Tork could play an instrument. The fast paced, quick edits (by 1966 standards) and the fun was all taken from the “Hard Day’s Night” playbook. They did have their detractors and were sometimes labeled as the “Pre-Fab Four”, a made for television Beatles. John Lennon reportedly compared them to the Marx Brothers and would never miss an episode, but did not mention their music.
I remember the first episode found me trying to resist liking these four who you knew weren’t really musicians, but had hit the teenage dream, “I’m in a band!” Within a matter of minutes I couldn’t stop laughing and I was hooked. Think about it, in 1966 the need and desire of many teenagers was to get a bunch of mates together, buy a few instruments, find a garage to practice in and you were on your way to fame and fortune, and do I dare say, meeting young women. The Monkees helped fulfill that dream. When you watched an episode of “The Monkees”, you could believe that if they can do it you certainly could do it and probably better. The Monkees gave all of us who had such a dream something we could hang our collective hats on and helped us believe we too could be rock stars.
Not sure why I gravitated to Davy Jones since I played guitar, he did not, he was the lead singer of his band, I was not, he had a British accent, I did not and it went on and on. In retrospect, I think it was the British accent that connected for me. With The Beatles in full swing, our dream of being not only in a band and a rock star, but some far off dream that “I can be like The Beatles.” Davy was the cute one with probably his biggest songs being “Daydream Believer,” “Valleri,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” and “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow.)” Mr. Jones also had the ambition of wanting to be in the band when he stood on the wings of the Ed Sullivan Theatre and watched as The Beatles made their first appearance. Seeing the results of all the adoring and screaming fans drove home the ambition further.
When discussions ensued about their live performances and quality thereof, one of the comments made in interviews was that Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees. Indeed it is true. Also, it has been noted that Stephen Stills was one of the actors/musicians who auditioned for a part. Imagine Crosby, Nash & Young or The Monkees & Young...but I digress.
Sixty-six is too short of time on this earth, but hopefully they were sixty-six good years. Thanks for the laughs and giggles. A little bit more of our youth has been taken away today.
Feb 8, 2012
Today it was reported by several media outlets that Mid-American Sound Corporation was being fined $63,000 by Indiana OSHA. A stagehand and security guard were killed when the roof collapsed with officials saying the workers deaths prompted the investigation. Ultimately seven people died in the accident.
Mid-American said they would issue a statement later today.
What this terrible disaster has shown us is how loose many of our events truly are. There are factors in putting on a show that may lead to a rash decision with not necessarily the staging and production company having a direct decision but possibly the fair or promoter, director or owner of an event making the final call. I am not removing the culpability of the production in this case but at what point will a structure of this type withstand such devastating winds.
Much time and resources goes into an event and much may be on the line causing an error on the wrong side as in the case of the stage collapse the loss of two lives and several injuries.
Another topic that hasn’t been brought up “was there an engineering statement requested by the fair of the production company or did the production company provide such a statement to the fair during contract negotiations or through the bidding process?”
Artists attitudes toward the desire to see an engineering statement changed dramatically after the incident. Anecdotally we have heard that many of the staging and production companies have not had the proper statements but will be positioning themselves with the appropriate paperwork before next summer.
Buyers be aware that attendees, laborers and artists safety should be one of your top concerns. Make the engineering statement part of your program now.
Feb 3, 2012
I received this in an email this morning. I had to read through it twice before I realized that I shouldn't read this if I really want to get into this camp.
WANT TO COME TO PRESIDENT'S DAY WEEKEND CAMP?
We have had a couple of drummer spots and ONE guitarist spot open up for President's Day Weekend camp February 16-20. Call Beth now, because by the time you're reading this, the spots may be gone!