The always controversial Rock and Roll Hall of Fame got it somewhat right this year. Somewhat.
Long overdue inductions for fan (and personal) favorites Rush and Heart top the list of 2013 honorees, and both released strong albums this year. Rush's Clockwork Angels is a victory lap around the Canadian band's forty year career, highlighting the virtuosity that earned them a slot in Cleveland. Heart's Fanatic, on the other hand, sounds remarkably contemporary while still maintaining the heavy vibe of their classic seventies sound. It's enough to make a guy forgive the Wilson sisters for the eighties.
Hip hop elders Public Enemy made the big show, too. Rap and hip hop acts always create controversy among the rock purists, but if anybody deserves a slot in the Hall it's Chuck D. Public Enemy's mash-up of politics, beats, and sonic mayhem set the stage for the likes of Rage Against the Machine and nu-metal acts Korn and Limp Bizkit. Know what? Forget the latter comment -- connecting P.E. to Fred Durst may result in a retraction of their induction.
Albert King gets the annual "See? We remember where rock and roll comes from" nod, and just in time. If the Hall had waited another year to induct the Stax legend he would've been gone 22 years rather than 21 before he was appropriately honored. Not that I'm bitter or anything.
When I think of Albert King the first thing that pops into my head is "Born Under A Bad Sign," and the next is Randy Newman. Okay maybe not, but I needed a segue. Newman has evolved into an easy punchline over the last 25 years or so thanks to an endless string of sound alike tunes sung with his unique, dopey affectation. I guess I can't fault the guy for making Scrooge McDuck piles of money repeating himself, but it's the early to mid-seventies singer/songwriter Randy Newman who belongs in the Hall Of Fame. I guess the "You Got A Friend In Me" Randy 2.0 gets in by default.
Finally we get to Donna Summer. Listen, I know she was adored, and I understand that she was a good and kind person. The Queen of Disco deserves recognition, but really? The sign on the door reads "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," not "The Disposable Dance Music Hall of Fame."
Does no one remember the Disco Wars of the seventies and early eighties? My family once hid for two hours in our attic while roaming bands of gold chainers in Angel Flights broke our Sabbath albums. Disco was the antithesis of rock and roll. Come on!
The Hall is never going to please everyone but Sweet Chubby's Checker, sometimes it's hard to conclude that their choices aren't political, sentimental, or commercial -- and of course they are, but at least make a show of it. How are we as rock and roll fans supposed to trust your credibility when Deep Purple, Judas Priest, the MC5 and -- dare I say it -- The Marshall Tucker Band -- are bumped for Randy Newman and Donna Summer?
Who do you think has been unfairly overlooked by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? I'm listening.