Rock ‘n’ Roll

March 22, 2010

I caught a replay of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony the other night and a few of the new inductees raised questions for me.

First, what is the criteria for selection other than being around for 25 years? Jimmy Cliff, The Hollies and The Stooges were among the honored artists this year. Some fine, influential  work, for sure. But their inclusion shines a spotlight on a number of acts yet to receive a call to The Hall.  For the record, here is my personal list of most egregious snubs.

• KISS – Not technically sound musicians, but who cares if Gene Simmons can barely play the bass — that makes the fact that they’ve had 24 gold records and sold more than 100 million albums even more impressive. Like them or not, KISS is a significant part of rock ‘n’ roll history and an army of fans will fight you over the fact that they haven’t been included. Unless the voters simply can’t get past being music snobs, this oversight must be rectified – and soon.

• Rush – Neil Peart’s work on drums needs to be represented in the Hall of Fame. The man is an all-timer.  Plus, I think it’s safe to say that any band this successful with a front man as ugly as Geddy Lee must have some serious musical chops.

• Def Leppard – Yes, we’re going from one of the greatest rock drummers of all time to a band with a one-armed man beating the skins.  But Def Leppard is no joke.  They were on the front end of the British hard rock invasion in the early 80s. They’ve sold more than 65 million records and they’re one of only five rock bands with two original studio albums selling more than 10 million copies each in the US. The others are The Beatles, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and Van Halen.  Pretty solid company.

• Journey – We end up playing satellite radio roulette at the office every so often.  If it lands on a classic rock station, it seems like every fifth song is from Journey – and that’s not a bad thing. Yes, they currently have a lead singer they found on YouTube, but you can’t deny the hits they churned out with Steve Perry on vocals. If you’re counting, it’s actually 19 Top 40 singles, 75 million album sales and the top catalog download in iTunes history (Don’t Stop Believin’).  Put the early members in, not the YouTube guy.

Enough about the snubs, the induction of ABBA into The Hall this year leads to my second question: how do you define rock ‘n’ roll? If it’s anything like Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography –  “I know it when I see it” – ABBA doesn’t make the cut for me. I don’t have enough space here to debate what constitutes rock music and what doesn’t, so let’s try something else instead.

Here’s the challenge to all you music loving Peepshow readers.  If you had to define rock ‘n’ roll for someone by playing one album from start to finish, what would you choose?

I’ll start. I could say Zepplin or the Stones, but that would be too easy.  Instead, I’ll stay true to my ’80s rock roots and go with Appetite For Destruction by Guns N’ Roses. It has big hits – including Welcome To The Jungle, Sweet Child O’ Mine and Paradise City – and for my money, it’s a perfect representation of gritty hard rock from start to finish.

Your turn.  One album that best defines rock ‘n’ roll for you.  Obviously, there is no right answer, so chime in with your choice.