The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2014 is now official: Peter Gabriel is getting inducted, along with Nirvana, Cat Stevens, Linda Rondstadt, Kiss, and Hall & Oates. Of course, that means no love for Yes, along with other worthy bands like Deep Purple and The Zombies.
Before I gripe, let’s talk the good news: Peter Gabriel is the most deserving of all the nominees, so it’s wonderful to see him get his recognition. No other nominee has such a rich discography — and none have been even close to as innovative. From his work with Genesis to his incredible solo career, Gabriel’s been a pioneer for nearly five decades. Some of you think the Rock Hall is a joke, but let’s face it: It exists. People look at it as a measuring stick of an artist’s worth. And if it’s there, we might as well induct the people who deserve it. Gabriel should have been there years ago, but at least he’s getting his due now.
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Gabriel seemed appreciative of the award. He also says he plans to attend — and hopefully play.
“Yeah, I will definitely go,” he says. “The last time I got in, it was like two days before my tour started. I would have otherwise gone. I just thought, ‘I can’t go. We’ve given ourselves very little rehearsal time.’ But it was a great honor. . . Unfortunately, my bass player, Tony Levin, is committed to a prog-rock cruise the week of the event. I have to see if I can do something about that. We want to steal him for a night. (…) I’ll probably play, though if I do ‘In Your Eyes,’ it’ll take 10 minutes and that might be all the time I have.”
As for the rest of the inductees, I’m straddling the fence. Let’s break these down individually.
Nirvana: You’d have to be an idiot to deny the band’s cultural influence — as the figurehead of the grunge movement, they literally changed the sonic landscape of rock music. (Sure, some of that credit should be directed to Butch Vig, but whatever.) Here’s my gripe: They released THREE ALBUMS (or four, if you count Incesticide). This brings up a crucial point: Is quantity as important as quality? (Also, you have to remember, one of those three/four albums is the borderline unlistenable Bleach). I can’t say Nirvana wouldn’t get my vote, but one could easily make a case against them.
Linda Ronstadt: I’ll be honest here — I’m not an expert on her music, so I can’t give an educated response. Like everybody, I love the hits (“Different Drum,” her cover of “Blue Bayou”), and I’m well aware of her impact on pop music. She certainly has the accolades to back her up (multiple Grammy nods in literally every decade of her career) and an effortlessly beautiful voice. From what I know, this seems like a logical choice.
Cat Stevens: It kinda seems crazy that Cat Stevens isn’t already in the Rock Hall. Though his work under that moniker is concentrated solely in the late ’60s and ’70s, he released a handful of incredible LPs during that time — including 1970’s Tea for the Tillerman and 1971’s Teaser and the Firecat. These days, “Cat Stevens” itself has become an adjective — a shortcut to describe a type of un-ironic acoustic sweetness and intimacy. This is a no-brainer induction.
Hall & Oates: Another no-brainer. As important as critical acclaim may be, commercial impact has to count for something, and Mr. Hall and the gloriously moustached Mr. Oates have been riding the blue-eyed soul gravy train for decades. (I know Oates has been sporting the clean shaven look in recent years — DON’T LET THE DREAM DIE.) Anyway, “Rich Girl”? “Kiss on My List”? “Maneater”? “Private Eyes”? “I Can’t Go For That”? Are you kidding? Let’s just re-christen it the Rock Hall (& Oates) of Fame.
Kiss: Can I amend my last point about commercial impact? I really hate Kiss. They’re one of those bands that I despise on a deep level but have trouble articulating exactly why. Still, let me give it a go: UGHHHLIWJDLKANOTALENTOIUIOSIDFJSUCKLKPO EIRPSLKJF. I guess my hatred stems from superficial reasons, mostly: the costumes, the idiocy of Gene Simmons, their terrible album covers. But it’s also a musical hatred: I like “Detroit Rock City” as much as the next schlub, but I just don’t see anything inventive or powerful about it. And I guess that’s the point — I just don’t like the point.
Finally, I do have to gripe for a second about Yes. I was so excited when they got the nomination, I wrote a piece about why they deserved the vote. Again, I know — awards aren’t a true indicator of a band’s abilities. Steve Howe and Chris Squire and Alan White shouldn’t give a shit. But they do. They’re human beings, and on some level, it’s like not getting picked for the basketball team. This seemed like a big step forward for the Hall — following their induction of Rush and Genesis, finally embracing the legacy of progressive rock. I won’t list all the reasons they deserve the award (I already did that in the previously mentioned piece), but I will say that it’s a shame.