Hey Funko Pop! I Have Some Ideas for Some Iconic Stars

12.2 Funko Pop Rocks

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog entry about this Funko Pop vinyl figurines of various icons from pop culture, from advertising characters and movie/television characters to athletes and musicians. Collectors of all sorts have jumped on these figures, including this music collector. Now, I have scaled back my collection, perhaps a bit too much, but, all-n-all, I am pleased with my current collection. As of 2020, there are over 200 Pops in their Rock collection.

12.2 Pop Prince

Back when I discovered these creations back in 2012, I purchased a set of the original Kiss figures for my mom’s doll collection. If Alzheimer’s had not taken her brain away from us, I know this line of Pops would have been right up her alley. She collected movie star dolls and advertising dolls, so those Pops would have been naturals in her collection. That’s why Kiss made perfect sense for her, as those four men in their iconic makeup would remind Mom of the teenage version of her older son. Unfortunately, she never really got to enjoy them as her mind was quickly wiped of her memories of all the years after 1970. By the time we put her in a nursing home’s memory care unit, I was a “nice man from church” while her older son was just a baby and my brother had yet to be born. So, it is no wonder that I am attracted to this line of unique collectables.

12.2 Pop Kiss originals

Now, when I downsized, I made a huge mistake by selling those Kiss guys, Alice Cooper and my Amy Winehouse figure. But, I was wise to keep Joey Ramone, Rick James, Kurt Cobain, all three versions of Prince, my Rush three-pack, the two versions of Elton John, Rivers Cuomo, all five members of Duran Duran, the three musicians of Queen plus a Seventies and an Eighties Freddie Mercury AND Debbie Harry of Blondie. Of the non-vaulted Pops in the Rock collection, I’d love to get The Police, the new Run-DMC and Billy Idol, since many of my college friends associate me with him.

12.2 Pop Run-DMC 2011

12.2 Pop Run-DMC 2020

But, something has been bothering me since I noticed that the company was beginning to do a couple of retreads from their early days, such as the aforementioned Run-DMC, Tupac, The Notorious BIG and now Elvis Presley. I mean, the newer versions are terrific, especially their details. But, they have all been done before. So, today, I am here to suggest 50 more rock stars (I have well over 100 possibilities!), along with a couple of lines that might pay off for Funko. In addition to the Rock line, I feel like they should start a Comedy line, along with a SNL Cast Member line and a Late Night Talk Show Host line. With that said, here are my initial suggestions for each line.

The Rock Line:

  1. ABBA (Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, & Anni-Frid Lyngstad)
  2. Beastie Boys (Mike D, Ad-Rock & MCA)
  3. Bee Gees (Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb)
  4. Beyoncé
  5. Bob Marley
  6. Bruce Springsteen
  7. Cheap Trick (Rick Nielson, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson & Bun E. Carlos)
  8. Cyndi Lauper
  9. Daft Punk (both “robots”)
  10. Daryl Hall & John Oates
  11. Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana)
  12. David Bowie (can be from several of his eras)
  13. Destiny’s Child (Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams)
  14. Devo (Mark Mothersbaugh, Jerry Casale, Bob Casale, Bob Mothersbaugh & Alan Myers)
  15. Donna Summer
  16. Elvis Costello
  17. Eurythmics (Annie Lennox & Dave Stewart)
  18. Fleetwood Mac (Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie & Stevie Nicks)
  19. Fugees (Lauren Hill, Pras, Wyclef Jean)
  20. Gwen Stefani
  21. Janet Jackson
  22. Jay-Z
  23. Lady Gaga
  24. Lana Del Rey
  25. Led Zeppelin (Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham & John Paul Jones)
  26. Madonna (like Bowie, she has many eras that can be immortalized)
  27. Pearl Jam (Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament & Matt Cameron)
  28. R.E.M. (Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills & Bill Berry)
  29. Red Hot Chili Peppers (Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith & John Frusciante)
  30. Robert Smith (The Cure)
  31. St. Vincent
  32. Stevie Wonder
  33. Taylor Swift
  34. The B-52’s (Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, Ricky Wilson, Kate Pierson &
  35. The Bangles (Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, Vicki Peterson & Michael Steele)
  36. The Go-Go’s (Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock & Kathy Valentine)
  37. The Jacksons (Michael, Marlon, Tito, Randy, Jermaine & Randy)
  38. The Monkees (Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith & Peter Tork)
  39. The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Woods, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor & Brian Jones)
  40. The Runaways (Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Cherie Curie, Jackie Fox & Sandy West)
  41. The Supremes (Diana Ross, Mary Wilson & Florence Ballard)
  42. The Temptations (Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin & David Ruffin)
  43. The Weeknd
  44. Tina Turner
  45. Tom Petty
  46. U2 (Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen Jr.)
  47. Village People (Cop, Cowboy, Indian, Construction Worker, Soldier & Biker)
  48. Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips)
  49. Wham! (George Michael & Andrew Ridgeley)
  50. Whitney Houston

SNL Cast Member Line:

  1. Adam Sandler (SNL)
  2. Aidy Bryant (SNL)
  3. Amy Poehler (SNL)
  4. Andy Samberg (SNL)
  5. Bill Hader (SNL)
  6. Bill Murray (SNL)
  7. Billy Crystal (SNL)
  8. Chevy Chase (SNL)
  9. Chris Farley (SNL)
  10. Dan Aykroyd (SNL)
  11. Dana Carvey (SNL)
  12. Eddie Murphy (SNL)
  13. Fred Armisen (SNL)
  14. Garrett Morris (SNL)
  15. Gilda Radner (SNL)
  16. Jan Hooks (SNL)
  17. Jane Curtain (SNL)
  18. Jason Sudeikis (SNL)
  19. John Belushi (SNL)
  20. Jon Lovitz (SNL)
  21. Kate McKinnon (SNL)
  22. Kenan Thompson (SNL)
  23. Kristen Wiig (SNL)
  24. Laraine Newman (SNL)
  25. Lorne Michaels (SNL)
  26. Martin Short (SNL)
  27. Maya Rudolph (SNL)
  28. Maya Rudolph (SNL)
  29. Mike Myers (SNL)
  30. Norm Macdonald (SNL)
  31. Phil Hartman (SNL)
  32. Rachel Dratch (SNL)
  33. Tina Fey (SNL)
  34. Will Ferrell (SNL)
  35. Will Forte (SNL)

The Comedy Line:

  1. Abbott & Costello (Comedian)
  2. Amy Schumer (Comedian)
  3. Andy Kaufman (Comedian)
  4. Bernie Mac (Comedian)
  5. Bill Burr (Comedian)
  6. Bill Cosby (Comedian)
  7. Bill Hicks (Comedian)
  8. Bob Newhart (Comedian)
  9. Cheech & Chong (Comedy Team)
  10. Chris Rock (Comedian)
  11. Dave Chappelle (Comedian)
  12. Dick Gregory (Comedian)
  13. Don Rickles (Comedian)
  14. Eddie Murphy (Comedian)
  15. Ellen DeGeneres (Comedian)
  16. Gary Shandling (Comedian)
  17. George Carlin (Comedian)
  18. Gracie Allen & George Burns (Comedy Team)
  19. Jeff Foxworthy (Comedian)
  20. Jerry Seinfeld (Comedian)
  21. Jim Carey (Comedian)
  22. Jim Gaffigan (Comedian)
  23. Joan Rivers (Comedian)
  24. John Mulaney (Comedian)
  25. Jonathan Winters (Comedian)
  26. Kevin Hart (Comedian)
  27. Lenny Bruce (Comedian)
  28. Lewis Black (Comedian)
  29. Lily Tomlin (Comedian)
  30. Louis C.K. (Comedian)
  31. Mitch Hedberg (Comedian)
  32. Moms Mabley (Comedian)
  33. Mort Sahl (Comedian)
  34. Patrice O’Neal (Comedian)
  35. Phyllis Diller (Comedian)
  36. Redd Foxx (Comedian)
  37. Richard Pryor (Comedian)
  38. Ricky Gervais (Comedian)
  39. Robin Williams (Comedian)
  40. Rodney Dangerfield (Comedian)
  41. Sam Kinison (Comedian)
  42. Sarah Silverman (Comedian)
  43. Steve Martin (Comedian)
  44. Steven Wright (Comedian)
  45. The Marx Brothers (Comedy Team)
  46. The Three Stooges (Comedy Team)
  47. Tig Notaro (Comedian)
  48. Wanda Sykes (Comedian)
  49. Whoopi Goldberg (Comedian)
  50. Woody Allen (Comedian)

The Late Night Talk Show Host Line:

  1. Amber Ruffin
  2. Arsenio Hall
  3. Bill Maher
  4. Carson Daly
  5. Chelsea Handler
  6. Conan O’Brien
  7. Craig Ferguson
  8. David Letterman
  9. Dick Cavett
  10. Graham Norton
  11. James Corden
  12. Jay Leno
  13. Jimmy Fallon
  14. Jimmy Kimmel
  15. John Oliver
  16. Johnny Carson
  17. Jon Stewart
  18. Larry Wilmore
  19. Lilly Singh
  20. Samantha Bee
  21. Seth Meyers
  22. Stephen Colbert
  23. Steve Allen
  24. Tom Snyder
  25. Trevor Noah

12.2 Pop Queen

Now, let me know what you think. And, Funko, if you are out there, I am available for hire as an idea guy. Just contact me through this blog, then I will allow you to enter the World of Keller, which my family, friends and former students can all vouch is a rather weird place to inhabit. Of course, until next time, peace.

As Long as There Are Pre-Teen Boys, We Will Always Need KISS

11.30 Kiss UK 70s

Back in the early-Seventies, the first musical artist that became an obsession was Alice Cooper. That band was the perfect entryway artist into rock music. First, the band had a cartoon image, so the jump from the Banana Splits, The Monkees, The Archies and The Partridge Family was not that big of a stretch, at least image-wise, though it goes without saying that the boys in Alice Cooper were a bit more on the Charles Manson side of provocative. Plus, the band played a muscular version of the bubblegum music on which I was weaned.

11.30 Alice Cooper, 1975

Now, I had a band allegedly named after a witch, doing a freak side show from the traveling vaudeville show coupled with a touch of the B-movie horror shows you could watch on the local TV station hosted by Central Indiana legend “Sammy Terry.” And, the band was playing that bubblegum music run through a touch of Black Sabbath/Deep Purple guitars. And, their lyrics were NEVER going to win a Noble Prize for Literature. Yet, the teens and emerging group of kids called “tweens,” who were too old for “kiddie stuff” but never cool enough to hang in the back of the school bus with the high school teens. Alice Cooper was the perfect music for the annoying pre-teen kids like me.

11.30 Kiss in concert 70s

So, following in Alice Cooper’s wake were a multitude of visually dazzling artists who garnered a small but fervent following. And, I am talking about the English glitter artists, none of whom caught the mass fancy of the Stateside kids like Cooper did. Then, in 1975, a live album exploded like an atomic bomb in the lives of kids my age, meaning around 12. This was must-listen music! The album was Alive! and the band was KISS.

11.30 Kiss Alive

My initial exposure to this album occurred down the street at my second home where my non-family sisters lived. The Dunwiddie girls were two of my closest friends in my neighborhood. Almost every day, I walked down to their house and hung out with Kim and Lori. We sat in the living room, talked, did homework and listened to music. Boy, did we ever listen to music! In retrospect, these moments seemed to last hours. But Kim and Lori were my free teenage therapists, as their home became a refuge for me from the stress of the meltdown of my own nuclear family. At their home, God bless their parents, I had some place to get away from the negativity that gnawed at me on a daily basis.

11.30 Kiss on That 70s Show

Anyway, it was at their home in which I was introduced to this Seventies pot of aural nirvana called Kiss Alive! I remember just being blown away by the energy of the sound of the crowd and the performance of the band. And, no, the current knowledge that all of it was doctored up in the studio will NEVER diminish the impact of that album after Kim cued it up on her family’s console stereo. I can only imagine what a hyperactive mess of pre-teen display of testosterone-driven tribal dance I was displaying. And, my own natural inclination to this music was reinforced when Kim’s varsity basketball star boyfriend told me he loved that album too as he cued it up on the console while he was visiting her.

11.30 Kiss in concert 2019

Let’s see! First, the girls, who owned it, loved it. Then, the older boyfriend who was a basketball hero of mine, said he loved it and that some of the team were going up to Fort Wayne to see the band in concert during Christmas Break, well, I must be cool because I LOVED this band. At that moment, I became truly obsessed with my first musical group. And, that’s when I started buying Creem, Circus, Hit Parader and Rolling Stone magazines, seeking more and more information on Kiss. And, within a year, I became a card-carrying member of the Kiss Army, complete with a Pacifica belt buckle and a T-shirt that my mom created for me.

11.30 Kiss Army logo

And, that light burned bright for the band until 1979. By then, I was struck by the punk/new wave bands of the era, that Kiss seemed more like sell-outs than a band ready to take on the world. Seriously, I did not need my favorite band on a lunch box, nor did I need to purchase G.I. Joe/Barbie-sized dolls of Kiss or a make-up kit. Like many kids my age, I did go down the initial supply-side rabbit hole of Kiss merchandizing, as I stated previously that I owned a belt buckle, all of their albums, a couple of posters and wore a homemade T-shirt. Oh, and I did have the first two or three comic books the band appeared in, like the two books of my favorite Marvel character, Howard the Duck, in addition to the band’s own comic book. But, those lame solo albums burnt me out on the band. Plus, I was beginning to hear new music from Elvis Costello, Blondie, The Cars, The Clash, The Police, Sex Pistols, etc., and they were a breath of fresh air when compared to the tiresome sound of Kiss. But, from Christmas time of 1975 through the fall of 1978, I was a huge Kiss fan. After that, I was never as passionate about another artist again, even though I grew to love Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M. and Queen more than I loved Kiss back then. But, I was never as passionate about an artist the same way again.

11.30 Kiss pacifica belt buckle 1978

Whatever the reason, I was feeling a bit nostalgic, so I pulled out the old Kiss vinyl, cleaned them up and began playing them. Then, I saw the snow coming down, reminding me of that snow flurry-ridden day on which I first heard the band on vinyl. So, I cranked up my little stereo and took a brief trip in the Wayback Machine. With the Christmas decorations up in our home and the first snow flurries landing on the warm ground outside, the music mixed with those visuals to conjure up some memories that are getting smaller in my review mirror of life. But, there’s just something about Paul Stanley’s yelps that moves my soul away from its darkness toward a lighter, brighter attitude.

11.30 howard the duck meets kiss

So, with that introduction, let’s take a look at My Top 50 Favorite Songs by Kiss. A quick disclaimer: I am by NO stretch of the imagination a Kiss expert these days. Today, I am more of a passing fan, so I am not a Einstein of Kiss Trivia. However, I do appreciate the band’s music. And one last admission: I have NEVER seen the band in concert. Always wanted to, but never had the right circumstances to see them. Oh well! At least I have this list.

50. “Let’s Put the X in Sex” (Smashes, Thrashes & Hits, 1988)

49. “I’m a Legend Tonight” (Killers, 1982)

48. “Shandi” (Unmasked, 1980)

47. “Psycho Circus” (Psycho Circus, 1998)

46. “Unholy” (Revenge, 1992)

45. “Forever” (Hot in the Shade, 1989)

44. “Hell or Hallelujah” (Monster, 2012)

43. “God Gave Rock and Roll to You II” (Revenge, 1992)

42. “Creatures of the Night” (Creatures of the Night, 1982)

41. “Modern Day Delilah” (Sonic Boom, 2009)

40. “Rocket Ride” (Alive II, 1977)

39. “Plaster Caster” (Love Gun, 1977)

38. “Shock Me” (Love Gun, 1977)

37. “Ladies Room” (Rock and Roll Over, 1976)

36. “Tears Are Falling” (Asylum, 1985)

35. “I Stole Your Love” (Love Gun, 1977)

34. “Rock Bottom” (Dressed to Kill, 1975)

33. “100,000 Years” (Kiss, 1974)

32. “Hard Luck Woman” (Rock and Roll Over, 1976)

31. “Goin’ Blind” (Hotter Than Hell, 1974)

30. “Makin’ Love” (Rock and Roll Over, 1976)

29. “She” (Dressed to Kill, 1975)

28. “Great Expectations” (Destroyer, 1976)

27. “Got to Choose” (Hotter Than Hell, 1974)

26. “Nothin’ to Lose” (Kiss, 1974)

25. “I Love It Loud” (Creatures of the Night, 1982)

24. “King of the Night Time World” (Destroyer, 1976)

23. “I Want You” (Rock and Roll Over, 1976)

22. “Parasite” (Hotter Than Hell, 1974)

21. “Heaven’s on Fire” (Animalize, 1984)

20. “Crazy Crazy Nights” (Crazy Nights, 1987)

19. “Christine Sixteen” (Love Gun, 1977)

18. “Cold Gin” (Kiss, 1974)

17. “Firehouse” (Kiss, 1974)

16. “Beth” (Destroyer, 1976)

15. “Calling Dr. Love” (Rock and Roll Over, 1976)

14. “Lick It Up” (Lick It Up, 1983)

13. “Black Diamond” (Kiss, 1974)

12. “Hotter Than Hell” (Hotter Than Hell, 1974)

11. “Let Me Go, Rock ‘N Roll” (Hotter Than Hell, (1974)

10. “Do You Love Me” (Destroyer, 1976)

9. “C’mon and Love Me”(Dressed to Kill, 1975)

8. “Strutter” (Kiss, 1974)

7. “Love Gun” (Love Gun, 1977)

6. “God of Thunder” (Destroyer, 1976)

5. “I Was Made for Loving You” (Dynasty, 1979)

4. “Deuce” (Kiss, 1974)

3. “Detroit Rock City” (Destroyer, 1976)

2. “Shout It Out Loud” (Destroyer, 1976)

1. “Rock and Roll All Nite” (Alive! 1975)

Even though Kiss no longer is my favorite rock artist, they remain a band that continues to strike a pleasant chord for a day or so of nostalgia. Maybe this list will give you the subtle push to put a little Kiss back into your life. Until next time, peace.

My Quarantine Thanksgiving Playlist

Thanksgiving Peace Love & Rock

Back in the early-Eighties, while taking a college history/political science class, I was required to read a relatively new book at the time by a professor named Howard Zinn. That book was People’s History of the United States. That book changed my life. I had been aware of various “forgotten” stories in our nation’s history since my dad and uncle were both history teachers. Additionally, my favorite high school teacher, next to another one of my moms-away-from-home, journalism teacher Imy Rhule, who was the mother of a set of twins with whom I ran track and cross country for YEARS, American History teacher Denny Wallace encouraged me to delve deeper into the history of this country. Between those three men, I really got the sense of America’s atrocities in addition to her triumphs. Then, I read Zinn’s book.

Well, I bring this up because the American holiday of Thanksgiving is fast approaching. And as I aged, I came to appreciate this holiday. While I no longer buy into the American myth of Christopher Columbus “discovering” this continent or the Pilgrims coming to America in “peace.” I am fully aware of how white European settlers committed genocide on and unwittingly introduced their diseases to Native Americans that we could never repay those people.

Thanksgiving Norman Simmons

Instead, I chose to enjoy this holiday as a day of family. When I was younger, I would have two Thanksgivings celebrations, with each relatively small side of my family. After getting married, I then spent the next 25 years or so celebrating with my in-laws, until my mother-in-law became in capacitated. Still, my wife’s side of the family kept things going in the 2010s by holding the ever-expanding celebration at various places. First, after my mother-in-law passed away, things were weird. But, we kept going, with my wife attempting to hold her family together. Now, as of August, her father has left us, so Thanksgiving was going to be especially strange this year.

But, now, with this country putting stupidity ahead of science, COVID-19 is EVERYWHERE! I cannot believe how many people I know who are either positive or have full-blown symptoms. Fortunately, none have been hospitalized, but those that have symptoms say they have never felt worse. Unfortunately, every one of those people refused to wear masks in public, mocking much of what the science says. So, because of COVID and all the idiots who think mask-wearing is weakness or being a socialist (those people were stoned during Government classes!), we will not be having our annual large gathering.

Thanksgiving Stones

As a matter of fact, we are not even having our little immediate family gathering this year. My dad is 85 and his wife is 87. While he is physically healthy, he is showing mental signs of aging, and she is beginning to have some physical problems. Therefore, they are staying home. My aunt is staying home as well, even though she does not have any kids. She’s elderly as well, so she is out. Likewise, my older son, his wife and daughter are still quarantining away from us (I haven’t seen Sloane since August and that drives me crazy!), so they’re out too. That leaves my younger son, his wife and son to come over. We watch Crosby one or twice a week as the two work different shifts. So, they are included in our bubble. So, Thanksgiving will be so different this year.

But, one thing we can turn to in order to escape the bummer of this coronavirus pandemic is music. Today, I created a Thanksgiving playlist and thought I would share it with you good people. Of course, I have removed ALL of the little kids Thanksgiving songs from this list. Anyway, if you want to add “Thanksgiving Shark,” you can, but it is as annoying as the original version. So, this Thanksgiving, let’s bring a little peace, love and understanding to the world and try to unite to make things better.

Thanksgiving Filter

  1. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” — George Winston
  2. “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre” – Arlo Guthrie
  3. “Almost Thanksgiving” – Graham Parker
  4. “American Pie” — Don McLean
  5. “Autumn in New York” — Billie Holiday
  6. “Be Thankful for What You Got” – William DeVaughn
  7. “Biscuits” – Kasey Musgraves
  8. “Check It Out” – John Mellencamp
  9. “Cooking Up Something Good”—Mac DeMarco
  10. “Cornbread” – Dave Matthews Band
  11. “Dinner” — Blood Orange
  12. “Do the Mashed Potato” — Danny & the Juniors
  13. “Family Business” — Kanye West
  14. “Family Tradition” — Hank Williams Jr.
  15. “Flying Turkey Trot” – REO Speedwagon
  16. “Give Thanks & Praises” — Bob Marley & the Wailers
  17. “Give to Live” – Sammy Hagar
  18. “Harvest Moon” — Neil Young
  19. “Home” — Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
  20. “Home” – Phillip Phillips
  21. “I Thank You” – ZZ Top
  22. “I Want to Thank You” – Otis Redding
  23. “I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful For” — Bing Crosby
  24. “Keep the Family Close” — Drake
  25. “Kitchen”—Mary J. Blige
  26. “Let’s Turkey Trot” – Little Eva
  27. “Macy’s Day Parade” — Green Day
  28. “Ode to My Family” — The Cranberries
  29. “Red Red Wine” – UB40
  30. “Roll Plymouth Rock” — Brian Wilson
  31. “Shower the People” — James Taylor
  32. “Sweet Potato Pie” — Ray Charles
  33. “Thank U” – Alanis Morissette
  34. “Thank U, Next” — Ariana Grande
  35. “Thank You” — Dido
  36. “Thank You” – Led Zeppelin
  37. “Thank You for Being a Friend” – Andrew God
  38. “Thank You Friends” – Big Star
  39. “Thank You Too!” — My Morning Jacket
  40. “Thankful” – Kelly Clarkson
  41. “Thanksgiving” – Loudon Wainwright III
  42. “Thanksgiving Day” – Ray Davies
  43. “Thanksgiving Prayer” – Johnny Cash
  44. “Thanksgiving Song” – Mary Chapin Carpenter
  45. “The Thanksgiving Filter” — Drive-By Truckers
  46. “The Thanksgiving Song” — Adam Sandler
  47. “Thursday Girl” — Mitski
  48. “Turkey Dog Coma” — Flying Lotus
  49. “We Are Family” — Sister Sledge
  50. “Young Pilgrims” — The Shins

Happy Thanksgiving! Peace.

Let’s Spice Up Record Store Day Again

11.13 RSD Logo

As if we need more heartache in 2020, the mother of my longest friend passed away a couple of days ago, and it honestly has me back in a funk. Judy was a good woman who tolerated so many shenanigans from Mike and me as we were growing up. Not to mention that she was the mother of my friend, she cut my hair all through middle and high school. It seemed like she cut my hair whenever she could corral me for twenty minutes or so each month I was there. What I didn’t realize at the time was she was the hairstylist for the high school basketball team. By getting my hair cut by her back in middle school get me in with the varsity players who went to her. When you are an awkward teen getting on the “good” side of the older guys was always a plus. And, it got you picked in pick-up games.

As Mike and I went to college, we drifted apart, mainly because I was attempting to break away from my hometown, and he was splitting too much of his time between the two worlds. I know he regrets this now, but why should he? He’s had one helluva a career and currently lives in St. Louis. Around 2000, we had a chance meeting at the hometown high school and renewed our friendship as if we never missed a beat. It seems we have a connection that is rare, from our senses of humor to our obsessions with music and sports. Still, my heartbreaks for him, and for me too since she was another of my away from home moms. Likewise, I mourn with his dad, brother and sister and all the spouses and grandchildren. Plus, the man drove all the way back from the Arch for my mom’s funeral, so how can I not be there for him when I’m right here. So, here’s to Judy! Godspeed!

11.13 RSH Black Friday

Now, Monday, I was suggesting a series of seven-inch singles that could be released to spark new interest in Record Store Day. In all honesty, the record companies could rotate odd releases by the Grateful Dead, Phish and Kiss, and that would awaken giant fan bases every three years. Then, you could always do something with the current darlings of the industry, like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and the rest.

But, what would interest the money from the Boomers and Xers? First, you could due a little series with all the old MTV Unplugged shows. If Pearl Jam’s recent release of their legendary set was any indication, there is a market for the vinyl versions. But, there are a bundle of unreleased albums by established artists from over the years that was excite vinyl collectors to get their hands on these albums. So, here is my next suggestion of vinyl that could be released on future Record Store Days.

  1. Amy Winehouse – unreleased material. The rumor is that there is more shelved material from Ms. Winehouse not included on the odds-and-sods collection that was released shortly after her untimely passing.
  2. Andre 3000 – solo album. Allegedly, the big personality of OutKast has a solo that is in the can, but has been shelved indefinitely.
  3. Ariana Grande – This lady has improved with each release. Still, she released a couple of EPs of Christmas music for downloads only. I bet her fans would love it on vinyl.
  4. Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash – The Dylan/Cash Sessions. Even the Johnny Cash biopic alluded to this collaboration. C’mon Bobby! This is one people have been pining for since reports of the two working together got out.
  5. Bruce Springsteen – Electric Nebraska. The Boss’ first solo album, Nebraska, was essentially the demos of the songs. Legend has it that the E-Street Band initially fleshed these stark tunes together, but Bruce shelved the tapes. The Springsteen Nation would LOVE this one.
  6. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Human Highway. Of course, this one remains on the shelf since Neil Young was going through one of his cantankerous moments. Now that Homegrown finally saw the light of day, let’s get this one out.
  7. D’Angelo – James River. After the success of Voodoo, D’Angelo began working on this album which supposedly is 95% finished. Of course, mental health and addiction problems shelved this one.
  8. Dr. Dre & Ice CubeHelter Skelter. Word on the street was the the two former N.W.A mates had collaborated on this one after their individual solo successes. Who wouldn’t want to hear these two at the height of their powers?
  9. Duran Duran – Reportage. By the middle of the 2000s, The Beatles of the Eighties had made a dramatic comeback with a well-received tour of the original line-up. So, they went in the studio and created an album that all members felt finally represented how they sounded on stage. Then, the label wanted them to be produced by some current hot-shot producers who ruined everything, causing guitarist Andy Taylor to leave the band again.
  10. Ghostface Killah & MF Doom – Swift & Changeable. Two of alternative hip hops best forces of nature joined forces to create an album that piques the interest of the hip hop world.
  11. Green Day – Cigarettes & Valentines. According to the story, this album was ready for pressing, when the tapes were stolen. Distraught, the band went back and wrote a completely new album, which ended up being their crown jewel American Idiot. Still, it would be cool to hear this if the guys would re-record the songs.
  12. Jeff Beck – The Motown Album. In the late-Sixties/early-Seventies, Beck went to Detroit to work with the Funk Brothers in order to come up with a combo of their funk and his metal. The trouble was Beck brought HIS drummer, eschewing the great timekeepers of all those terrific Motown hits. Of course, tensions ensued, and Beck took off with the only copy of the tape.
  13. Jimi Hendrix – Black Gold. This was the album that Hendrix was working on when he died. I cannot count how many times I have heard that this album was poised to be finally released. There’s no better time…
  14. Marvin Gaye – Love Man. Leave it to Gaye to plan a “dirty” album in which to stage his comeback. Unfortunately, he got divorced instead and released Here My Dear, an album whose royalties went to his ex-wife in a divorce agreement.
  15. Mick Jagger – The Red Devils collaboration. Back during the Nineties, producer Rick Rubin suggested to Jagger that he team up with an up-and-coming band called The Red Devils. They hit the studio and allegedly created some magic. Then, everything stopped, including the Red Devils’ career.
  16. OutKast – 10 the Hard Way. Here is the follow-up to their huge album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.
  17. Paul McCartney – Cold Cuts. Who wouldn’t love to hear the best outtakes by Sir Paul from his best years of the Seventies and early Eighties? I know I would.
  18. Pink Floyd – Household Objects. After the game-changing The Dark Side of the Moon, the Floyd wanted to get back to their experimental roots. So, the idea was to create music with ordinary objects found around the house. Seriously!
  19. Prince (or is it The Artist?) – The Dawn. For some reason, the Purple One had a running fantasy to release a triple album, which he finally fulfilled with Emancipation. In the year or two before that aforementioned album, Prince had The Dawn, which part of it ended up as The Gold Experience and another part as Chaos & Disorder. Bootlegs are around with the whole thing on CD. It is a tour de force and would be terrific on vinyl in a box set.
  20. Prince – Dream Factory. After Prince broke up The Revolution, he went nuts in the studio. During that time, he created THREE complete albums: the altered vocals on Camille, a triple album opus called Crystal Ball (not to be confused with the 3-CD set of unreleased material he released in the late-Nineties) and a double-album called Dream Factory. All three were cannibalized for the terrific Sign ‘o’ the Times double album. At the end of September, his Estate released a super deluxe set that contains many of the songs supposedly recorded for Dream Factory. What would it take to just release the damn thing?
  21. The Beach Boys or Brian Wilson solo – Adult/Child – It is said that during lead Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s mental breakdown, he actually created this album that has been attributed to being a solo album and a Boys album. Either way, since SMiLE was finally released, this is the next Holy Grail in America’s first great band’s vault.
  22. The ClashRat Patrol from Fort Bragg. So, as The Clash were hitting the big time in 1982, the band was suffering from extreme tensions between its two creative forces, Joe Strummer (the rocker) and Mick Jones (the pop artist-turning-into-a-hip hop-aficionado).  Initially, the sessions that would become Combat Rock were more like the one-off single “This Is Radio Clash,” a mash-up of hip hop and punk rock, not unlike what was being heard in the NYC hip hop clubs drawing mixed crowds of punks, new wavers and hip hoppers. The Clash’s manager gave the tapes to a different producer who stripped much of the experimentation of the original recordings. Who would have needed Big Audio Dynamite if this one had been released?
  23. The Killers – The best Eighties band of the 21st century spent the first decade of their career releasing download-only Christmas originals to raise money for AIDS research. Now, it would be fantastic for the Christmas music crowd to get this material on vinyl.
  24. The Strokes – Post-First Impressions of Earth recordings. These recordings were intended to be on their third album. Then, all the usual rock star problems cropped up, ending the sessions. We all know now how lackluster that third album was. This stuff had to have been better because they were in a groove at the time.
  25. Weezer – Songs from a Black Hole. Ah, that nutty musical genius-nerd Rivers Cuomo. His original idea for the second album was to create a sci-fi rock opera. Then he changed his mind when it was completed. The band recorded new material, and we got the lasting classic Pinkerton. Oh, but what might have been…

So, there’s a few shelved albums that might get people back to attending Record Store Day, be it on its usual day in April or on Black Friday. Either way, just go support your local independent record store. I can’t wait to go bin diving again! Peace.

Let’s Inject Some Excitement Back into Record Store Day

11.13 RSD Logo

After that epic exercise in daft listing, I thought I would take a break. Oh, sure, I threw my two-cents in about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and its increasingly maddening nomination process as well as its insane backlog of worthy candidates for induction. To be honest, I did not become a big fan of the Hall until my family visited it back during the summer of 2001. After that, we were all hooked, though due to my being on the autism spectrum I get a little more hooked than the rest of my gang. All of which brings us to my favorite economically-driven holiday, Record Store Day.

This new “holiday” was started in 2008 in an attempt by a consortium of independent record stores to get people back in their stores. Originally, the day was intended for artists to release limited edition vinyl versions of rare and unreleased material. Personally, I had not heard about it since my vinyl-purchasing days seemed to be a distant memory. But, it seems now that the holiday may have sparked a vinyl revival. But, I also have to give credit to the college-aged millennials back in the first decade of the 21st century who made it hip to listen to vinyl again. Once my older son moved back from San Diego, he told me about this holiday in 2010. So, my three boys and I decided to take an afternoon to see what it was all about.

Prior to that day in 2010, I had not been bin diving for vinyl since we moved from Oxford, Ohio, back in 1990 when the boys were five and one. Of course, the three of us had a fantastic day hanging out together. That day, we walked away with a special release of an unreleased single by The Rolling Stones called “Plunder My Soul,” which happened to be a terrific song that did not make their Some Girls album back in 1978. Additionally, I picked up a clear blue vinyl version of R.E.M.’s legendary debut EP, Chronic Town, that was released in small quantities that day. From that day onward, this day, and its more recently added Black Friday version, is an annual event for the Keller boys.

11.13 RSH Black Friday

Over the years, we have purchased some winners, like Seth’s 7-inch special edition Wu-Tang Clan single that is cut in the band’s logo shape or Graham’s special edition of an OutKast album. Initially, I focused on 7-inch releases, with the occasional album by one of my favorite artists, though, since I no longer have to pay for college tuition for anyone, I now have a bigger budget. Perhaps, my most favorite memory has nothing to do with any purchases, but the morning we stood in line for an hour with my boys doing one of their patented back-and-forth dialogs about they hoped a Goo Goo Dolls’ box set would still be available when they got in the store. Of course, it was all  pure Monty Python-esque sarcasm with band member quotes from their VH-1 Behind the Music episode thrown in for good measure. They had a small crowd around them laughing hysterically. Honestly, it is during those moments when I wished they had become writers for SNL, The Daily Show or some other late-night comedy show because they can create some brilliant bits right on the spot.

11.13 8.MC5 AB - Kick Out the Jams

Lately, though, Record Store Day seems to have gotten itself in a little rut. No longer are some little gems from major artists are getting released to the public, even if it was a little fad release like Jimmy Fallon’s “Tebowie” or something I thought was more substantial like a re-release of Carl Douglas’ 1974 novelty hit “Kung Fu Fighting.” And, then there are two purchases that remain my favorites to this very day, a DVD of a documentary about collecting Christmas Music called Jingle Bells Rock! or the triple-LP version of the Raspberries’ early 2000s reunion concert with each record being a different primary color. Lately, what we have been offered have been first-time offers of vinyl versions of albums that were only released on CD. The creativity and excitement are missing these days.

11.13 1.HD.GD - Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely

Back in 2011, Rhino records started a brilliant seven-inch single series of songs by the original artist and a cover version by another on some colored vinyl. Three singles were released that year with the pairings of Hüsker Dü and Green Day, Ramones and Red Hot Chili Peppers and Gram Parsons/Jenny and Johnny. It was a nice change of pace. So, I started to collect that series until it ran out of steam in 2018 with some uninspired pairings of newer bands that are way outside of the mainstream.

11.13 15.Misfits Lemonheads - Skulls

Today, I would like to suggest some pairings that I feel would revive that Record Store Day series, known as the Side-by-Side Series. I would LOVE to see all of these released over the next decade on some exciting colored vinyl.

  1. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – The Rolling Stones/Otis Redding/Devo
  2. “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” – Nick Lowe/Elvis Costello & the Attractions
  3. “Africa” – Toto/Weezer
  4. “American Skin (41 Shots)” – Bruce Springsteen/Mary J. Blige ft. Kendrick Lamar
  5. “Blinded by the Light” – Bruce Springsteen/Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
  6. “Closer” – The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey/Boyce Avenue ft. Sarah Hyland
  7. “Doin’ Time” – Sublime/Lana Del Rey
  8. “Easy” – Commodores/Faith No More
  9. “Every Time You Go Away” – Daryl Hall & John Oates/Paul Young
  10. “Freedom Highway” – The Staple Singers/Rhiannon Giddens ft. Bhi Bhiman
  11. “Funky Town” – Lipps Inc./Pseudo Echo
  12. “Gin & Juice” – Snoop Doggy Dogg/The Gourds
  13. “Hooked on a Feeling” – BJ Thomas/Blue Swede
  14. “Hurt” – Nine Inch Nails/ Johnny Cash
  15. “I Feel Love” – Donna Summer/Sam Smith
  16. “I Fought the Law” – The Bobby Fuller Four/The Clash/Green Day
  17. “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor/Cake
  18. “In Bloom” – Nirvana/Sturgill Simpson
  19. “Killing Me Softly” – Roberta Flack/The Fugees
  20. “Lady Marmalade” – Labelle/Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Maya & P!nk
  21. “Landslide” – Fleetwood Mac/The Smashing Pumpkins/The (Dixie) Chicks
  22. “Midnight Rider” – The Allman Brothers Band/Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
  23. “My Way” – Frank Sinatra/Sid Vicious
  24. “Shake It Off” – Taylor Swift/Ryan Adams
  25. “Superstar” – Carpenters/Sonic Youth
  26. “Take Me to the River” – Al Green/Talking Heads
  27. “The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley/The Ataris
  28. “The Man Who Sold the World” – David Bowie/Nirvana
  29. “Tim McGraw”- Taylor Swift/Maggie Rogers
  30. “Wonderwall” – Oasis/Ryan Adams

And, that 30 pairings is just a start as I have a total of 116 pairings that I would love to see in this series. And, that does not even count any new brilliant covers that are happening right now, such as Chris Cornell covering Guns N’ Roses’ “Patience” or his cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” both of which would make brilliant additions to the series.

Next time, I have a list of shelved albums that I would love to see be released on vinyl for this holiday, all of which would make record collectors salivate in anticipation of getting their mitts on these.

So, until next time, peace.

Batting in the Third Spot: My 100 All-Time Favorite Third Albums by an Artist

On several occasions I have heard or read an interview with Interscope Records head person and producer extraordinaire Jimmy Iovine state that he feels like an artist’s third album tends to be the most important album during an artist’s career. Generally, Iovine believes that if the artist had not yet established his/her/their vision on the first two albums, then the pressure was on them to produce a winner with their third album. In defense, he always uses three Rock & Roll Hall of Fame artists, all with whom he worked on their third albums, to make his case. Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers were all critically acclaimed musicians and songwriters but none had broken through to the masses on their first two albums. In each case, these artists broke through to the masses on their third albums, propelling their careers into legendary status.

In all honesty, most rock artists make their artistic and commercial marks on their first three albums. What separates the legends from the “good” artists is how well those first three albums are received, followed by some truly fantastic albums. Back in the Seventies and, to a certain extent, the Eighties, artists were generally given three or four albums to produce hit songs/albums before their company would pull the plug on their contracts and drop them. So, the pressure was there to perform while still given time to develop their talents. Today, it seems that an artist is given three songs to create a hit before they are dropped. Plus, generally speaking, albums are not important to Millennials and Gen Z-ers due to streaming and downloading. But, to the Boomers and Xers out there, the album remains the ultimate musical artform.

Now that I have my silly introduction out of the way, let’s take a look at my 100 favorite third albums of all-time.

100. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet (1986)

99. Madonna – True Blue (1986)

98. KISS – Dressed to Kill (1975)

97. Missy Elliott – Miss E…So Addictive (2001)

96. The Offspring – Smash (1994)

95. Bruno Mars – 24K Gold (2016)

94. Halsey – Manic (2020)

93. Haim – Women in Music Pt. III (2020)

92. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City (2013)

91. Huey Lewis & the News – Sports (1983)

90. The Black Keys – Rubber Factory (2004)

89. Ice Cube – The Predator (1991)

88. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – Album (1983)

87. The Jayhawks – Hollywood Town Hall (1992)

86. Tool – Lateralus (2001)

85. The Verve – Urban Hymns (1997)

84. Supertramp – Crime of the Century (1974)

83. New Order – Low-Life (1985)

82. Tears for Fears – The Seeds of Love (1989)

81. Squeeze – Argybargy (1980)

80. Pat Benatar – Precious Time (1981)

79. Phil Collins – No Jacket Required (1985)

78. Pearl Jam – Vitalogy (1994)

77. X – Under the Big Black Sun (1982)

76. Patti Smith Group – Easter (1978)

75. The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

74. The Who – The Who Sell Out (1967)

73. The Psychedelic Furs – Forever Now (1982)

72. The White Stripes – White Blood Cells (2001)

71. Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet (1990)

70. The Human League – Dare (1981)

69. Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)

68. ZZ Top – Tres Hombres (1973)

67. Faith No More – The Real Thing (1989)

66. The Stooges – Raw Power (1973)

65. Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger (1991)

64. Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story (1971)

63. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 3 (2017)

62. The Jacksons – Destiny (1978)

61. Eurythmics – Touch (1983)

60. Weezer – Weezer (“The Green Album”) (2001)

59. The Replacements – Let It Be (1984)

58. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (2014)

57. Dire Straits – Making Movies (1980)

56. No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom (1995)

55. Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy (1978)

54. 2pac – Me Against the World (1995)

53. Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (2016)

52. Chic – Risqué (1979)

51. Paul Weller – Stanley Road (1995)

50. Eminem – The Eminem Show (2002)

49. The Cult – Electric (1986)

48. Radiohead – O.K. Computer (1997)

47. A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders (1993)

46. Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection (1970)

45. Blink-182 – Enema of the State (1999)

44. Devo – Freedom of Choice (1980)

43. Slayer – Reign in Blood (1986)

42. The Pretenders – Learning to Crawl (1984)

41. Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!” (2016)

40. OutKast – Aquemini (1998)

39. Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend (1991)

38. Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast (1982)

37. Metallica – Master of Puppets (1986)

36. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III (1970)

35. R.E.M. – Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)

34. Black Sabbath – Master of Reality (1971)

33. The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

32. Neil Young – After the Gold Rush (1970)

31. Nirvana – In Utero (1993)

30. The Jam – All Mods Con (1978)

29. Def Leppard – Pyromania (1983)

28. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)

27. D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)

26. Queen – Sheer Heart Attack (1974)

25. Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime (1984)

24. The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)

23. Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic (1975)

22. Beastie Boys – Check Your Head (1992)

21. Big Star – Third/Sister Lovers (1978)

20. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland (1968)

19. Bob Marley & the Wailers – Catch a Fire (1973)

18. Talking Heads – Fear of Music (1979)

17. Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years (1975)

16. Janet Jackson – Control (1986)

15. Hüsker Dü – New Day Rising (1985)

14. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (1986)

13. Run-DMC – Raising Hell (1986)

12. U2 – War (1983)

11. Ramones – Rocket to Russia (1978)

10. Todd Rundgren – Something/Anything? (1972)

9. Green Day – Dookie (1994)

8. Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight (1978)

7. Prince – Dirty Mind (1980)

6. Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978)

5. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Armed Forces (1979)

4. Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (III: “Melting”) (1980)

3. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes (1979)

2. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run (1975)

1. The Clash – London Calling (1980)

And that wraps up my mini-series on the best of the first three albums of an artist. I hope it triggered some thoughts. If you have any, please let me know. Until next time, peace.

The Second Time Around – Did the Artist Improve? My 1000 Favorite Sophomore Albums

The dreaded second album – will that new artist grow or will they flame out? It’s the old sophomore jinx adage, be it a rock artist, an athlete or a television show. The bottom line is can they be as good as they were the first time around? Back in 1976, Major League Baseball was toasting a new wunderkind pitcher by the name of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. The guy was a folk hero with some strange on-mound antics, such as getting on his knees to clean off the pitching rubber, and a terrific win-loss record for the then-hapless Detroit Tigers. After being name Rookie of the Year and influencing a group of pre-teens in my neighborhood to recreate his antics while playing baseball in the one of the many empty lots, Fidrych dealt with a serious of injuries that truncated the promise he showed that rookie year.

On the musical side, in 1979 there was The Knack, who released one of my favorite albums that year. Unfortunately, the band made a series of stupid, self-caused errors during what should have been a triumphant rookie year. Instead of performing on the Grammy Awards program, Saturday Night Live AND American Bandstand, the band tried to move from small venues to arenas while on tour. Then came the requisite backlash, reliance on cocaine, the inflation of egos AND the dreaded rushed second album, which was just the rejected songs from the debut album. Second rate songs meant a second rate album, all of which translated into a shortened career. And that was too bad for such a talented L.A. band to have flamed out so quickly. Unfortunately, the sophomore slump is more common than one might think.

However, there are a number of artists who created better seconds albums, or at least one that was nearly as good as the first. And, it is those terrific sophomore albums that I am celebrating today. So, on with the countdown (once again, I will eschew the synopsis since many of these albums appeared in my 1000 favorite albums series).

100. Roadmaster – Sweet Music (1978). Indy’s favorite sons were poised for the big time after this terrific Styx-influenced album. Unfortunately, musical tastes were about to abruptly change, leaving my boys wondering what had just happened.

99. Heart – Little Queen (1977)

98. Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)

97. The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow (2003)

96. Ryan Adams – Gold (2001)

95. The Cranberries – No Need to Argue (1994)

94. Nick Lowe – Labour of Love (1979)

93. The B-52’s – Wild Planet (1980)

92. Run-DMC – King of Rock (1985)

91. Raspberries – Fresh (1972)

90. Randy Newman – 12 Songs (1970)

89. Ramones – Leave Home (1977)

88. Rickie Lee Jones – Pirates (1981)

87. System of a Down – Toxicity (2001)

86. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)

85. Iggy Pop – Lust for Life (1977)

84. Warren Zevon – Warren Zevon (1976)

83. Lionel Richie – Can’t Slow Down (1983)

82. The Monkees – More of the Monkees (1967)

81. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

80. X – Wild Gift (1981)

79. Billy Joel – Piano Man (1973)

78. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll (1981)

77. The Psychedelic Furs – Talk, Talk, Talk (1981)

76. The Cult – Love (1985)

75. Kanye West – Late Registration (2005)

74. The Smithereens – Green Thoughts (1988)

73. Stone Temple Pilots – Purple (1994)

72. Vampire Weekend – Contra (2010)

71. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968)

70. M.I.A. – Kala (2007)

69. Radiohead – The Bends (1995)

68. The Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1992)

67. Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience (1992)

66. The Police – Regatta de Blanc (1979)

65. Paul McCartney – Ram (1971)

64. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)

63. Sugar – File Under: Easy Listening (1994)

62. Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (1994)

61. Pearl Jam – Vs. (1993)

60. George Michael – Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990)

59. The Bangles – Different Light (1986)

58. Hole – Live Through This (1994)

57. Foo Fighters – The Shape and the Color (1997)

56. Queen – Queen II (1974)

55. Prince – Prince (1979)

54. New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies (1983)

53. Fine Young Cannibals – The Cooked & the Raw (1988)

52. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (2014)

51. Billy Squier – Don’t Say No (1981)

50. The Stooges – Funhouse (1970)

49. Chic – C’est Chic (1978)

48. Wham! – Make It Big (1984)

47. Metallica – Ride the Lightning (1984)

46. The Cars – Candy-o (1979)

45. Lady Gaga – Born This Way (2011)

44. Jellyfish – Spilt Milk (1993)

43. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (1993)

42. Daft Punk – Discovery (2001)

41. D’Angelo – Voodoo (2000)

40. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – You’re Gonna Get It! (1978)

39. TLC – CrazySexyCool (1994)

38. The Smiths – Meat Is Murder (1985)

37. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique (1989)

36. Hüsker Dü – Zen Arcade (1984)

35. Taylor Swift – Fearless (2008)

34. Elton John – Elton John (1970)

33. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver (2007)

32. Duran Duran – Rio (1981)

31. Black Sabbath – Paranoid (1970)

30. The Beatles – With the Beatles (1964)

29. Carole King – Tapestry (1971)

28. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory (1991)

27. Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

26. Joy Division – Closer (1980)

25. Paul Simon – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (1973)

24. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

23. Adele – 21 (2011)

22. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II (1969)

21. Sinead O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990)

20. Culture Club – Colour by Numbers (1983)

19. Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair (1985)

18. The Time – What Time Is It? (1982)

17. Paul Weller – Wildwood (1993)

16. Cheap Trick – In Color (1977)

15. Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, the Innocent & the E-Street Shuffle (1974)

14. Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)

13. Madonna – Like a Virgin (1984)

12. Weezer – Pinkerton (1996)

11. Chicago – Chicago II (1970)

10. Marshall Crenshaw – Field Day (1983)

9. Big Star – Radio City (1973)

8. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

7. R.E.M. – Reckoning (1984)

6. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (2006)

5. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – This Year’s Model (1978)

4. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Abandoned Luncheonette (1973)

3. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

2. Pixies – Doolittle (1989)

1. The Band – The Band (1969)

And, that, my friends, are my favorite sophomore albums in an artist’s catalog. See you next time with the best third albums list. Peace.

Rookie Years: My 100 Favorite Debut Albums

Recently, a friend from way back in the day (we met in sixth grade), Mark Kline, suggested that I should write about my favorite second and third albums by artists that I loved. And, I thought that was a fantastic idea, but why not take it a step further and do a list of debut albums? His suggestion allowed me to put the stupid election on the back burner and waste time on researching these topics.

Debut albums have always been a curious proposition for artists. As all of them will tell you, they have had their whole lives to write for their first album, while every subsequent album has far less time for preparation. And, some of these debut albums were so magical that the artist had a difficult time every following it up (Am I not correct Hootie & the Blowfish, who, unfortunately, is not on this list?). While many others tried to follow the very same formula that brought them success or simply used recordings that had been discarded while making that debut. On the other hand, many artists had the ability to transcend that rookie season and build a solid career on it.

During this brief research, I discovered that the debut album thing is nothing new. In fact, it seems to be verge of becoming a cliché in the rock blogosphere, which has never stopped me before. Second, or sophomore, albums were a path a little less traveled. While, the third album was a topic rarely touched. So, this whole mini-series is the brainchild of Mr. Kline, once again, the opinions are all mine. Now, I am sure you will be happy about this, but since most of these albums were part of my sprawling 1000 album waste-of-time, I will forgo my silly synopses and just print my countdown, beginning at 100. I hope you all enjoy this and don’t be afraid to let me have it about my rankings.  Let the countdown begin!

100. Queen – Queen (1973)

99. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes (1983)

98. The Black Crowes – Shake Your Moneymaker (1990)

97. Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine (1989)

96. Phil Collins – Face Value (1981)

95. Adele – 19 (2008)

94. Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman (1988)

93. Television – Marquee Moon (1977)

92. King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)

91. Sheryl Crow – Tuesday Night Music Club (1994)

90. LL Cool J – Radio (1985)

89. New York Dolls – New York Dolls (1973)

88. Rickie Lee Jones – Rickie Lee Jones (1979)

87. Suicide – Suicide (1977)

86. The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat (1981)

85. Heart – Dreamboat Annie (1976)

84. The Monkees – The Monkees (1966)

83. Kanye West – The College Dropout (2003)

82. Fine Young Cannibals – Fine Young Cannibals (1985)

81. Joe Jackson – Look Sharp! (1979)

80. Patti Smith Group – Horses (1975)

79. Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – Texas Flood (1983)

78. U2 – Boy (1980)

77. Lynyrd Skynyrd – pronounced leh-nerd skin-nerd (1973)

76. Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers (1993)

75. Steely Dan – Can’t Buy a Thrill (1972)

74. Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt (1996)

73. The Stooges – The Stooges (1969)

72. De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)

71. The Pretenders – The Pretenders (1979)

70. Dire Straits – Dire Straits (1978)

69. Nas – Illmatic (1994)

68. Rush – Rush (1973)

67. Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

66. Fitz & the Tantrums – Pickin’ Up the Pieces (2010)

65. Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980)

64. Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo (1978)

63. Eric B & Rakim – Paid in Full (1987)

62. Chicago Transit Authority – Chicago Transit Authority (1969)

61. Lady Gaga – The Fame (2008)

60. Temple of the Dog – Temple of the Dog (1991)

59. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (2007)

58. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die (1994)

57. Black Flag – Damaged (1981)

56. X – Los Angeles (1980)

55. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1970)

54. Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)

53. The Traveling Wilburys – The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 (1988)

52. The B-52’s – The B-52’s (1979)

51. Terence Trent D’Arby – Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby (1987)

50. The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963)

49. Run- DMC – Run-DMC (1983)

48. Oasis – Definitely Maybe (1994)

47. The Clash – The Clash (1977)

46. Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston (1985)

45. Crowded House – Crowded House (1986)

44. Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)

43. Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (1956)

42. Ramones – Ramones (1976)

41. Pearl Jam – Ten (1991)

40. Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced? (1967)

39. The Doors – The Doors (1967)

38. Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine (1992)

37. Madonna – Madonna  (1983)

36. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)

35. Sugar – Copper Blue (1992)

34. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)

33. Blondie – Blondie (1977)

32. The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

31. The Smiths – The Smiths (1984)

30. Stevie Nicks – Bella Donna (1981)

29. Eminem – The Slim Shady LP (1998)

28. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls (2012)

27. Dr. Dre – The Chronic (1992)

26. The Strokes – This Is It (2001)

25. Raspberries – Raspberries (1972)

24. Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill (1986)

23. The Knack – Get The Knack (1979)

22. Bruce Springsteen – Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (1973)

21. Bob Mould – Workbook (1989)

20. Big Star – #1 Record (1972)

19. The Band – Music from Big Pink (1968)

18. The Killers – Hot Fuss (2004)

17. Jellyfish – Bellybutton (1991)

16. Nick Lowe – Jesus of Cool (1978)

15. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)

14. Talking Heads – Talking Heads: 77 (1977)

13. Marshall Crenshaw – Marshall Crenshaw (1982)

12. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

11. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction (1987)

10. Weezer – Weezer (“The Blue Album”) (1994)

9. George Michael – Faith (1987)

8. Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick (1977)

7. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1976)

6. New Radicals – Maybe I’ve Been Brainwashed Too (1998)

5. Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True (1977)

4. Boston – Boston (1976)

3. R.E.M. – Murmur (1983)

2. The Cars – The Cars (1978)

1. The Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods (1984)

And, that wraps up my 100 favorite debut albums. See you next time with my 100 favorite sophomore albums. Peace.

My Halloween Hundred for 2020

10.30 Rock 'n' Roll Halloween

The holidays were special to my late elementary school art teaching mom. I swear that it didn’t matter what the holiday was, Mom had decorations for it. Arbor Day? Check! She used the same tree shaped candles for that day and Earth Day. Oh, yes, she celebrated Earth Day with that old Sixties/Seventies-era candle in the shape of an ecology symbol. Now, in all seriousness, the woman was ready for Martin Luther King Jr. Day when she purchased a collectable doll of him for her doll collection just as the states were voting for his national holiday. So, Mom was prepared to decorate the house for every holiday imaginable, including some I swear she made up. Oh? Grandparents’ Day is real? Hell! I thought she made that one up after she became a grandmother.

But when it came to pulling out all of the stops, and for my hording mother, that meant she had enough crap to decorate three homes in her small house, she lived for Christmas and Halloween. Unfortunately, her Christmas decorations were only for her family and friends, as she didn’t enjoy decorating the outside. Christmas was magnificent and colorful, especially while growing up since we made many of our ornaments. But, once again, few outside of her inner circle would ever get to see her Christmas home.

10.30 Rockenstein

So, Halloween became her moment to shine in the world. And, my brother and I became her canvass. No, we never got to just purchase a cheap-ass Halloween costume like Batman. No, we had to follow what she wanted to make us. For my brother who was wired more like her, this was fine. But for me, the strong-willed child with a vision of his own, I learned to tolerate her creations. You see, Mom entered us in our town’s annual Halloween parade and costume competition. Basically, Mom wanted “us” to win every year, so she was determined to top herself each year. And, since I’m a huge competitor, I too wanted to win. That is, until these costumes became silly and got me beat up on the playground. Then, I began to stand my ground and told Mom that I was done after my fifth grade parade. From first grade to fifth grade, her costume won either the funniest or most original award in my age group, as did my brother after me. So, for the better part of the Seventies, Mom’s name was synonymous with Halloween costume championships. Like I said, we were simply her canvass.

Now, from 10 until I was 13, Halloween was a cool time to trick or treat with your friends while causing a little Halloween mischief. In rural Indiana in the Seventies, we really did not toilet paper (TP) houses, since TP was determined to be expensive. What we did do was soap windows and corn houses and moving cars. Soaping windows meant purchasing cheap soap, then going out in the neighborhood when dark and writing messages on neighbor’s windows. You had to be stealth, since you might have to wash the windows if you got caught.

10.30 Pearl Jam Halloween

And, as much fun as that was, corning houses and cars was so much better. Now, corning has got to be a Midwestern thing since you needed field corn that was pretty dry, just as the corn is all around here before it is harvested. During the first couple of weeks of October, kids would be walking into the cornfields nearby and grabbing a dozen or so ears. Then, the group of us would shuck the kernels off the cobs. Then, we’d all meet up at dusk, load up all of our pockets with corn and go off to cause maize mayhem. Basically, all this entails is that we would throw some corn against the home’s windows, or better yet aluminum siding. When you hit those things, the sound it like a series of firecrackers going off. The fun part is hiding without getting caught. If you had a big enough group of kids, you could surround a couple of homes, hit them, scatter and hit other homes until you reached the rendezvous place to regroup and hit some other homes.

Once the homes got boring, you went to cornfields near a busy street to throw the corn at moving cars. Now, a moving target is a challenge, but the sound is so sweet when you nail a car. In retrospect, it was a very stupid annual Fall prank since we could have cause an accident. But, it was just fun to see if you could hide in the field without the driver finding you.

10.30 Voodoo Lounge

Now, as an adult, I’m glad that corning cars has stopped, as well as the widespread soaping of windows. But, I do miss kids corning our home. I’d rather get hit a couple of times then getting TPed. Though, our home was the victim of two excellent TP jobs. The first was back in 1998, after one of my Alexandria track kids finished the State meet in sixth place to be All-State. The other time was by some teammates of my younger son getting our house after a big win. In both cases, the culprits did a thorough job getting all eight trees in our yard and all the shrubs in the front year, along with signs and various other items. In both cases, these were works of art.

But, Halloween finally became fun when I got to college. Now, I could wear whatever I wanted for a costume, we no longer had parental supervision and we had access to booze. Plus, college Halloween costume parties are stellar, so you must have terrific music for it. The big thing was to segue important sections from known horror movie themes into current music to make a seamless mix. That kept the people who were paying attention on their tips and added to the atmosphere. Also, you gotta include tunes from Rocky Horror soundtrack. Those are always a crowd pleaser. And, when I was in college, Thriller was HUGE, and the title song was a must at the last three Halloweens as a college student.

10.30 Iron Maiden Eddie

So, I have a list of a hundred songs from which to choose your Halloween party mix. After perusing my list, let me know what songs you would add. I know I have at least one hundred more songs awaiting for my yearly freshening. By the way, I have listed the songs in alphabetical order by artist’s name. Here we go!

10.30 AC DC - Highway to Hell

  1. AC/DC – “Highway to Hell” (1979)
  2. Atlanta Rhythm Section – “Spooky” (1979)
  3. Bauhaus – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” (1982)
  4. Beyoncé – “Haunted” (2013)
  5. Billie Eilish – “Bury a Friend” (2019)
  6. Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath” (1970)
  7. Blue Öyster Cult – “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (1976)
  8. Bobby “Boris” Pickett – “Monster Mash” (1962)
  9. Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy” (1982)
  10. Bruce Springsteen – “A Night with the Jersey Devil” (2010)
  11. Charlie Daniels Band – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (1979)
  12. Charlie Daniels Band – “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” (1980)
  13. Cheap Trick – “Dream Police” (1979)
  14. Cliff Richard – “Devil Woman” (1976)
  15. Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction” (1966)
  16. Counting Crows – “Scarecrow” (2014)
  17. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising” (1969)
  18. David Bowie – “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” (1980)
  19. David Seville – “Witch Doctor” (1958)
  20. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince – “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1988)
  21. Donovan – “Season of the Witch” (1966)
  22. Eagles – “Witchy Woman” (1972)
  23. Echo & the Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon” (1984)
  24. Edgar Winter Group – “Frankenstein” (1973)
  25. Electric Light Orchestra – “Evil Woman” (1976)
  26. Eminem Feat. Rihanna – “Monster” (2013)
  27. Evanescence – “Bring Me to Life” (2003)
  28. Frank Sinatra – “Witchcraft” (1957)
  29. Franz Ferdinand – “Evil Eye” (2013)
  30. Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” (1991)
  31. Gorillaz – “Dracula” (2001)
  32. Grateful Dead – “Friend of the Devil” (1970)
  33. Halsey – “Haunting” (2015)
  34. Heart – “Magic Man” (1976)
  35. Iggy Azalea Feat. Rita Ora – “Black Widow” (2014)
  36. Imagine Dragons – “Demons” (2012)
  37. Interpol – “Evil” (2004)
  38. INXS – “Devil Inside” (1987)
  39. Iron Maiden – “The Number of the Beast” (1982)
  40. Janet Jackson – “Black Cat” (1989)
  41. Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Voodoo Chile” (1968)
  42. John Fogerty – “Eye of the Zombie” (1985)
  43. Justin Timberlake – “True Blood” (2013)
  44. Kanye West Feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver – “Monster” (2010)
  45. KC & the Sunshine Band – “I’m Your Boogie Man” (1976)
  46. King Harvest – “King Harvest” (1973)
  47. KISS – “Creatures of the Night” (1982)
  48. Lady Gaga – “Monster” (2008)
  49. Meat Loaf – “Bat Out of Hell” (1977)
  50. Metallica – “Enter Sandman” (1991)
  51. Michael Jackson – “Thriller” (1982)
  52. Mike Oldfield – “Tubular Bells” (1973)
  53. Ministry – “Every Day Is Halloween” (1984)
  54. Misfits – “Halloween” (1981)
  55. Mötley Crüe – “Shout at the Devil” (1983)
  56. My Morning Jacket” – “Evil Urges” (2008)
  57. New York Dolls – “Frankenstein” (1973)
  58. No Doubt – “Spiderwebs” (1996)
  59. Oingo Boingo – “Dead Man’s Party” (1985)
  60. Olivia Newton-John – “Magic” (1980)
  61. Ozzy Osbourne – “Bark at the Moon” (1983)
  62. Peter Tosh – “Vampire” (1987)
  63. Prince – “Dance with the Devil” (2020)
  64. Radiohead – “Creep” (1993)
  65. Ramones – “Pet Sematary” (1989)
  66. Ray Parker Jr. – “Ghostbusters” (1984)
  67. Red Rider – “Lunatic Fringe” (1981)
  68. Rihanna – “Disturbia” (2007)
  69. Rob Zombie – “Dragula” (1998)
  70. Rockwell – “Somebody’s Watching Me” (1984)
  71. Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast – “Time Warp” (1975)
  72. Santana – “Black Magic Woman” (1970)
  73. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “I Put a Spell on You” (1955)
  74. Shakira – “She Wolf” (2009)
  75. Siouxsie & the Banshees – “Halloween” (1981)
  76. St. Vincent – “Psychopath” (2014)
  77. Steve Miller Band – “Abracadabra” (1982)
  78. Stevie Wonder – “Superstition” (1972)
  79. Sufjan Stevens – “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” (2005)
  80. Suicide – “Frankie Teardrop” (1977)
  81. Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer” (1977)
  82. Taylor Swift – “Haunted” (2010)
  83. The Alan Parsons Project – “The Raven” (1976)
  84. The B-52’s – “Devil in My Car” (1980)
  85. The Beatles – “Helter Skelter” (1968)
  86. The Black Keys – “Howlin’ for You” (2010)
  87. The Cramps – “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” (1980)
  88. The Cranberries – “Zombie” (1994)
  89. The Doors – “People Are Strange” (1967)
  90. The Outlaws – “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” (1981)
  91. The Prodigy – “Firestarter” (1994)
  92. The Psychedelic Furs – “The Ghost in You” (1984)
  93. The Rolling Stones – “Sympathy for the Devil” (1968)
  94. The Weeknd – “I Can’t Feel My Face” (2015)
  95. Van Halen – “Running with the Devil” (1978)
  96. Van Morrison – “Moondance” (1970)
  97. Warren Zevon – “Werewolves of London” (1978)
  98. Whodini – “The Freaks Come Out at Night” (1984)
  99. Wolfmother – “Witchcraft” (2005)

10.30 Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll

100. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Heads Will Roll” (2009)

10.30 Misfits

All of these songs, and I still left off the scariest song of them all – “Intruder” by Peter Gabriel from 1980. That song still gives me the creeps! I hope you all enjoy your Halloween weekend. Try to stay out of trouble, but do have fun. Peace.

Will Anyone Listen to Me? My Picks for the Nominees List for the 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

10.29 Exterior Shot of RRHOF

Now that my last blog entry proved the insignificance of this blog’s expression of rock criticism (where the hell are you Rolling Stone?), I thought I would tackle yet another rock institution which seems to be impenetrable to the opines of a coterie of people who call themselves Hall Watchers. That institution, which I both love and loathe, is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, arguably the only thing in Cleveland, outside of the Cleveland Clinic and, at times, the ballpark formerly known as Jacob’s Field, worth visiting. The Hall Watchers are some very articulate and intelligent people who write some of the best rock articles on the internet in a futile attempt to exert some street-level fan influence on the artists inducted.

The Watchers have gone so far as to create podcasts and even formed a Zoom-based nomination committee, which was so entertaining to read about or to hear on podcasts. Many of these people are very impressive in their intelligent arguments for every artists each individual backs. And, their continued influence on my little forays into Hall Watching seems to be growing by the week. 

With that said, with this year’s nomination list being delayed into the new year, I will be making my predictions today. For the first time, I am staying away from reading the tea leaves of Hall news and hints to make predictions as to who will be on the list. Instead, this list, after much contemplation, is full of artists who I feel should be inducted soon. I find it a bunch of crap that the nominee list only has 15 artists. But I really get my panties in a bunch when it comes to the vast backlog of artists not in the Hall and by the fact that the institution still only inducts five to seven artists per year. How the hell are deserving artists ever going to be inducted when their fanbase is quickly dwindling? No, I will NOT go off a tangent!

So, here are the names of 15 rock gods, all of whom I believe should be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no say in this process. Is that a good thing? You make the call.

10.29 Foo Fighters

1. Foo Fighters – The first of two first-year eligible acts, the Foos arose from the ashes of Nirvana. The multitalented and huge personality Dave Grohl had a batch of songs he had been working on since his Nirvana days and had planned this little solo venture before the untimely death of Kurt Cobain. Since then, Grohl’s solo tinkering has turned into one of the world’s last rock bands, with Grohl playing the world’s last rock star to the hilt. This is a band whose work is both beloved by critics and fans alike, hence their nomination.

10.29 Jay-Z

2. Jay-Z – This man is still rapping, even though he did try to retire in the mid-2000s. Now, Jay-Z is a brand, as he has branched into fashion, the NBA (part-owner of the Brooklyn Nets), among many other things. And, he may be married to Beyoncé, he remains a world-class MC and producer. Oh, and this is his first year of eligibility for the RRHOF.

10.29 Judas Priest

3. Judas Priest – They began their career as a journeyman hard rock band, like an English version of REO Speedwagon. Then, they completely embraced metal the music, and they did the rest. Priest are the band that introduced leather, spikes and S&M garb into metal fashion. They made their slow ascent through the Seventies, finally grabbing the crown in 1980 with their landmark metal album British Steel. Next to Sabbath and Metallica, Priest is arguably the biggest influence on the genre.

10.29 King Crimson

4. King Crimson – If you prefer your progressive rock on the dark side, King Crimson is the prog rock band for you. Over the years, Crimson has shut down and re-started too many times to really list here. However, the one constant in all of the line-ups has been guitar visionary Robert Fripp. The shadow cast by this band goes beyond the prog rock boundaries and into the post-punk realm. King Crimson was never a band for the weak hearted.

10.29 Kraftwerk

5. Kraftwerk – This German synthesizer pioneering band should have been in the RRHOF years ago, as they have been as much of an influence on today’s music as any one artist. Without Kraftwerk, the world would have had to work harder to create synthpop, Afrika Bambaataa, sampling, Prince’s Minneapolis sound, new wave, “I Feel Love,” Electronic Dance Music (EDM), Moby, drum machines, Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, The Cars, up to and including today’s reliance on technology rather than musicianship. Kraftwerk was Ground Zero for the modern world in music.

10.29 LL Cool J

6. LL Cool J – Long before his acting career, LL Cool J was rap’s biggest star between Run-DMC and Eric B & Rakim. His rhymes were what made LL an icon to begin with. He will forever be the voice behind two early rap classic albums, Radio and Mama Said Knock You Out. He had street cred for the inner city crowd, looks for the ladies and a pro athlete’s physique that made him cool to young men. This guy was a musical badass that stood head and shoulders above all of the wannabe badasses of the era.

10.29 MC5

7. MC5 – MC5, The Stooges and The Troggs were probably the first punk bands ever. In the case of MC5, they brought a political ferocity to music that has only been matched by Rage Against the Machine, Dead Kennedys or, at times, The Clash. The band released two classic albums before imploding and becoming a major influence on the Seventies punk scenes in NYC and London. That alone should be enough for induction, especially since The Stooges are in.

10.29 Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo

8. Pat Benatar – With the aid of her collaborator, muse and husband Neil Giraldo, Benatar took her operatically trained vocals to the world of hard rock, knocking down stereotypes along the way. Benatar displayed a toughness onstage and on record that rivalled that of the Wilson sisters of Heart, all of the members of The Runaways, specifically Joan Jett and Lita Ford, and Debbie Harry. Pat, with the creative aid of Neil, pushed a feminist approach to rock music that changed how women were viewed in her wake. She is an important figure in rock history.

10.29 Rufus & Chaka Khan

9. Rufus & Chaka Khan – Initially, it was seemingly easy to write all the funky contributions of Rufus, much like what has happened to Big Brother & the Holding Company with regards to Janis Joplin. However, Rufus was filled with talented players who realized that their meal ticket rest with the vocals of Chaka Khan while holding down the music in order for her to explore her God-given talent. No set of session musicians could lay down the right amount of funk that Chaka needed for a song. They were such the real deal that none other than Stevie Wonder wrote them a song that become the band’s first hit, “Tell Me Something Good.”

10.29 Soundgarden

10. Soundgarden – When Seattle was blowing up in the late-Eighties and early-Nineties as the epicenter for grunge, Soundgarden were the first band to be signed by a major label. For some odd reason, it took these guys longer to find success, although they had the more metal-sounding band of the big four (Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains being the others). Plus, no rock band had a lead vocalist like the late Chris Cornell. A little side note about Soundgarden is that drummer Matt Cameron could become a two-time inductee as he is the current drummer for Pearl Jam.

10.29 The B-52's

11. The B-52’s – Everybody’s favorite Eighties party band is still not in the RRHOF nor have they been nominated. Their credentials are impeccable, as they introduced the vital Athens, Georgia, music scene to the world, which opened the door for inductees R.E.M. Not only that, but they were involved in one of rock’s more improbable comebacks, when, after the AIDS-related death of their innovative guitarist Ricky Wilson, the band scored a huge worldwide hit in the eternal “Love Shack,” along with their excellent album Cosmic Thing. Though not to reduce the band to a quota, The B-52’s would go a long way toward the induction of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community into the Hall. Honestly, could you imagine a hotter set of songs by a band during the induction ceremony? I think not!

10.29 The Go-Go's

12. The Go-Go’s – The first all female rock band, and unfortunately still the only, to have a number one album on the Billboard Top 200 Chart when their debut album rose to the top while the women were opening for The Police. The band’s image of five clean-cut women rocking out in a band run in contrast to their punk beginnings and their antics offstage. But, these women were a great band who broke new ground. They literally invented the whole pop punk genre two decades before a bunch of second and third generation punks began to pick up on sound of The Go-Go’s. If you don’t believe me of their worthiness, just watch the Showtime documentary on the band. The Go-Go’s rule!

10.29 The Jam

13. The Jam – Dammit America, wake up! This band came and went in the late-Seventies and early-Eighties with just a few of us jumping on their bandwagon. Just because they music did not translate into huge American sales, The Jam dominated their native UK with singles AND LPs. And outside of Elvis Costello, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, who is a better songwriter than the very underappreciated Paul Weller? The Jam combined the early energy of The Who, the soul of the Northern Soul movement and the wry British commentary of The Kinks into this beautiful punk noise. If not for The Jam, then Oasis and Blur would have been missing one of their starting points, as would the rest of Britpop.

10.29 Tina Turner

14. Tina Turner – Tina Turner’s not in the RRHOF?!?! Well, yes, she is but as the female hostage in her abusive former husband’s duo Ike & Tina Turner. Once she had the courage to run from Ike’s abusive stranglehold on her life and career, Tina fled to Britain in order to record a solo album. She hooked up with some new wave fanboys in the form of Heaven 17 who resurrected her career by producing her comeback single, a sultry cover of Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together.” That kicked off her triumphant 1984 comeback, not to mention her lasting status as one of the greatest female singers in rock history. It’s time to correct this error of stupidity!

10.29 Todd Rundgren

15. Todd Rundgren – In the history of rock music, few people have had their hands in more of it than Mr. Rundgren. The man was an engineer on The Band’s Stage Fright album; produced classic albums by artists such as Grand Funk, Meat Loaf, XTC, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, New York Dolls and The Psychedelic Furs; was an active member in a democratic band called Utopia; AND maintained his own excellent solo career that was full of hits and albums that tested the boundaries of music. And, not only that, but the man was involved in some of rock’s first videos and almost started a video music channel on cable THREE years before MTV. Rundgren deserves induction simply based on the fact that he is truly rock’s first Renaissance man. But then throw in classic solo songs like “Hello, It’s Me” and “Can We Still Be Friends,” in addition to those classics by Utopia like “The Very Last Time” and “Set Me Free.” Let’s end this foolishness now and induct Todd!

And, there, my friends, are my 15 nominees for the 2021 RRHOF Induction Class. Now, who are my inductees? Well, since for some stupid unknown reason all of them cannot be inducted at one time, here are my five inductees: Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Kraftwerk, Tina Turner and Todd Rundgren. If I can have a sixth act, then I induct The Go-Go’s. Oh, but wait! What happens if I can go to a seventh inductee, I would quickly welcome Pat Benatar. Below is my ranking of the rest of the nominees.

8. Rufus & Chaka Khan

9. The B-52’s

10. The Jam

11. Judas Priest

12. LL Cool J

13. Soundgarden

14. King Crimson

15. MC5

And, just in case you were wondering, here are my honorable mentions: Carole King, Big Star, Hüsker Dü, Duran Duran, The Spinners, Los Lobos, War, Devo, Joy Division/New Order, The Smiths, Carly Simon, The Replacements, Black Flag, Rick James, Dead Kennedys, Mary Wells, Rage Against the Machine, Miami Sound Machine, Mariah Carey, Selena, Weezer, Eric B & Rakim, Styx,  Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Carpenters, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, George Michael, The Time, The J. Geils Band, Raspberries, Paul Revere & the Raiders, The Marvelettes, Foreigner, Pixies and INXS.

And that’s my two cents worth concerning the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. See you next time! Peace.