I will readily admit that once Yes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I was pretty satisfied and was only watching this year’s induction announcement with half-baked sincerity-but then some pretty cool bands got in, so I was like well there is still some fun to be had. The class of 2018 to be inducted on Tom Genes’ birthday in 2018 includes The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and a yet another band form New Jersey not named the Asbury Jukes- Bon Jovi. It’s a measured class that left off the newly eligibles like RadioHead and Depeche Mode; however, perceived snubs will occur every year so its best to look at who made it and should they have?
The Moody Blues seems to be a continuing recognition by the committee that progressive rock matters. This marks the fourth year in a row, that bands that formed the pillars of progressive rock are being inducted according to some sort of hierarchy. First Genesis, then Rush, Yes and now the Moody Blues. Though the MBs (as no-one ever refers to them as) started before all of those and made significant impact as a solid part of the British Invasion in late 1960s, but it was there long romping numbers that often included orchestrated bits and poetry set to ever changing time sequences that truly established the band as headphones ready and Hall worthy.
The Cars and Dire Straits both brought unique sounds to a rather stale radio world in the late seventies and the early part of the infamous Eighties. Though Dire Straits seismically shifted the music world with their MTV inspired “Money For Nothing,” it was the unmistakeable sound of Mark Knopfler’s guitar and an inspired dedication to sonic quality that firmly cemented their name in the annals of rock. Meanwhile, the Cars behind the generally sparse lyrics of Ric Ocasek introduced a new wave of synthesizer induced pop to the masses. Without the Cars there may not have been what we now know as Eighties’ music. The most interesting thing about the Cars is that unlike many of their contemporaries, their sound and songs have staying power.
Bob Dylan once described Sister Rosetta Tharpe as ‘sublime and splendid.” Sexual and sensual would have worked as well. As one of gospel musics’s first superstars, Tharpe also crossed the line of open sexuality in the hush, hush worlds of religion and music. She lived a rock and roll lifestyle and was only somewhat hidden about her homosexuality- breaking barriers in her art while giving hope to those of her fans who had to keep their sexual persuasion hidden. What Tharpe did for gays it could be said was meet by Nina Simone’s liberation of blacks during her epic struggles with civil rights in sound and vision. For much of the 1960s and 1970s, Simone’s mixing of jazz, blues and folk stylings was an inspiration to hordes of fellow musicians and
her dozens of live albums set standards for activism, social consciousness and pure artistic sensibilities that influenced mostly young particularly black female artists who dominate the pop and soul charts to this day.
Which leaves us with Bon Jovi. I’ll just openly admit it. I just don’t get it. But in the end I guess perseverance and preservation often times can carry the day and a career. I considered them a poor man’s Bruce Springsteen and thought his early splashes in the 1980s would be fleeting. Their third album. ‘Slippery When Wet” of course enamored themselves to young female fans and followed it up with the even more robust “New Jersey” only to take their first of many self imposed hiatuses. It apparently became a very workable mode of operation as the band’s millions of album sales will attest. It is duly noted that the people have spoken, as Bon Jovi was selected to the class 2018 by overwhelming fan voting as opposed to the committee giving them the nod.