2018 Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Nominee The Cars
No, sadly, we did not get to interview The Cars, but we love this brief interview that they did with the fine folks at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Check it out, and then vote for your 2018 choices.
No, sadly, we did not get to interview The Cars, but we love this brief interview that they did with the fine folks at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Check it out, and then vote for your 2018 choices.
Today we learned who the 19 nominees for induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall Of Fame are. As usual, there are a few obvious choices on the list, but selecting five seems to get awfully challenging.
The 2017 Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Nominees were released to the public today, and as usual, the decisions are tough. Take a look at the contenders and see which of the five you think are most deserving.
Earlier today, the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame announced their 2016 Class of inductees. I love the Rock Hall… pretty much everything about it, but the choices for 2016 are confounding. Some great bands included, like Deep Purple and Chicago, but some hard to fathom decisions as well. It’s always a matter of opinion, but let’s be honest, my opinion is right… right?
A few years ago, I started jotting down thoughts about the seminal albums of my lifetime, the pieces of musical genius that helped shape my musical being. What better time to dig out that list and freshen it up, as RARA’s Farm posts our one hundredth article.
As a self-described rock ‘n roll freak, there were many fantastic albums to choose from, but what set these apart was that every song on every album was great. Not just one great “side” for you old timers. I will admit first that for most of these, there’s no great deep personal meaning, and for some, I don’t even know the lyrics – but hey, I liked the MUSIC, and it’s my list…
My self inflicted rules: No compilations, which ruled out Bob Marley, The Baby’s, Ramones and the Beautiful South; and no live albums eliminating Neil Young, Johnny Cash and Cheap Trick. Also, I only allowed myself one from each artist. So, with all of those considerations, I think what follows would better be described as 25 Great Albums, not quite the 25 Greatest.
The albums are listed in the order that I fell in love with each of these masterpieces. You can click the iTunes link after each album to check them out yourself.
Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed – my Uncle turned me on to this one and it was my first taste of album rock – a great suggestion by a smart man. Classic rock with a full orchestra, and some pretty diverse stuff. This psychedelic treat is an amazing headphones experience. It was a tough choice between this and Long Distance Voyager, only because Voyager bridged the gap from my Aunts’ and Uncles’ musical era into the 80’s and was the first big concert I attended.
Who – Who’s Next – sure I was first attracted to “They’re all wasted” from “Baba O’Reilly,” but this album is packed with nothing but great rock, “The Song is Over” never gets enough credit – but it’s my favorite Who song of all-time. Most of these songs were penned for Lifehouse, Pete Townshend’s failed follow-up to Tommy. This was Townshend’s first major foray into integrating synthesizers and it works perfectly.
Queen – Night at the Opera – My brother loved this album before I did. I actually liked the non-Freddy tunes at first, like Roger Taylor’s “I’m in Love with My Car”, or Brian May’s “39,” but later came to appreciate Freddy’s pure genius on songs like “Love of My Life” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Another very diverse collection. I’m bummed that I never got to see these guys live.
Kansas – Leftoverture – this album was the second album I heard where everything seemed to fit together perfectly (after Nights in White Satin). The best album ever for headphone listening – can’t imagine how many times I fell asleep to this one with those soup bowl sized headphones still on, as the eight track continuously clicked through the tracks. To give you an idea how good this one was, “Carry On My Wayward Son” is the only hit, but probably my least favorite song on this great concept album.
Bruce Springsteen – The River – I loved everything Bruce did before this and a few after. With so many great albums, this was a tough decision – but this is a rarity – a double album where every track is strong. The album featured Bruce really diving into relationships and telling stories we could all relate to. “Sherry Darlin,” “Ramrod,” “Crush on You” and “I Wanna Marry You” are in my all-time list for Bruce. Born to Run didn’t exactly suck either.
Cars – Cars – an amazing debut album, and although they followed this with many hits, they never came close to a collection as complete as their initial effort. This is a rarity on the list, an album that I admire, performed by a band that just sucked live on stage. Absolutely love “All Mixed Up/Moving in Stereo,” and not at all because of the Fast Times flashback…
Tom Petty – Damn the Torpedoes – This was fabulous the first time I heard it and grew better every time I listened to it. I remember playing this often when I first moved away from home to live at college, and the familiar feel eased the transition. Such a smooth diverse album. It starts off with “Refugee” and EVERY song after is better. Great stuff!
Meatloaf – Bat Out of Hell – Meat sure could sing, but the arrangements and musicians on this album overshadow his great voice. This is one of the few where I knew every word to every song. These are still classic and timeless party songs, including Phil Rizzuto’s captivating play-by-play and the perfect boy/girl trade-offs of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” And, “No,” you don’t sound just like the record when drunkenly singing this at late night karaoke!
Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – My first words as an infant were actually “Yeah, Yeah. Yeah,” from their 1963 hit “She Loves You,” but I never realized how great the Beatles were until I got this album. McCartney and Lennon at their best, but this one also features Ringo’s best “With a Little Help from My Friends.” The way the album ends with “A Day in the Life” is the best ending to any album EVER, which is appropriate, as this just might be the best of the best, from the best.
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here – I loved all of their efforts, including The Wall, Dark Side of the Moon and 1990’s under appreciated Division Bell. But this one, a tribute to the mercurial Syd Barrett is their most musically packed. This classic features “Have a Cigar” and “Welcome to the Machine;” then there’s all nine parts and 26 plus minutes of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” just amazing…
The Alarm – Strength – One late night on my first shift on college radio I popped in the cart for “68 Guns” and fell in love with this unknown band – two years later, they released Strength, and played close by. I skipped the show because the $3.00 price tag was the equivalent of 30 beers at the Bus Stop – figured I’d have plenty of other chances. Unfortunately a few years later Mike Peters walked off the stage in the middle of “Blaze of Glory” and they were done. This album features the classic “Spirit of 76,” and the song I walked down the aisle to: “Walk Forever by my Side.”
REM – Reckoning – yeah, I confess that I don’t understand the lyrics to half of these songs – but does anybody? Every one of the tracks off of the band’s second album is a memorable ditty. Simple, catchy and fun. My first “go to” album as a college DJ. “Pretty Persuasion,” “So. Central Rain (Sorry)” and “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” were the classics, but “Harborcoat” and “7 Chinese Bros.” were just as good.
Prince – Purple Rain – Truthfully, a girl named Nikki turned me on to this one, but I did not meet her in a hotel lobby… Before this, I thought Prince was a flash-in-the-pan pop star. This album proved he was a rock legend, and that my first impressions were pretty pathetic and way off-base. Solid from the first note of “Lets Go Crazy” through the final chords of “Purple Rain;” and it includes my all-time favorite Prince song, “Baby I’m a Star.”
Alice Cooper – Schools Out – Didn’t listen to this until long after it was released when I stumbled across it on my late night Heavy Metal show. It’s another great concept album, with lots of creative stuff complementing the title track. “Public Animal #9” is pure rock, and “Grande Finale” is fantastically diverse! Mr. Furnier never got enough credit for being a great musician, and this classic never gets its just due.
Dire Straits – Love Over Gold – 5 songs. “Industrial Disease” is the only one that ever got any airplay – but this is packed with amazing guitar work from Mark Knopfler. The 14 minute “Telegraph Road” is one of my Top 10 all-time songs, and one of the great drum songs of all time from Pick Withers. It was hard not selecting Brothers In Arms, too.
U-2 – The Joshua Tree – I loved Boy, too, and Achtung Baby and Unforgettable Fire, and… This one edges them out because the non-hits are better, including “Trip Through Your Wires,” “Running to Stand Still” and “Red Hill Mining Town.” The album was driven by the band’s new found infatuation with America, but starts off with an amazing song about Belfast, a place where the streets had no name.
Thrashing Doves – Bedrock Vice – I’m about to leave the Chestnut Cabaret after an energy packed Chasers show, and these “kids” get on stage pimping their first album. I decide to hang around and loved their stuff. If you ever see this one in a bargain bin grab it. “Biba’s Basement” and “Beautiful Imbalance” were addictive, but “Jesus on the Payroll” was the most intriguing. Definitely the most obscure album on the list, but it’s an unknown treasure.
Paul Westerberg – 14 Songs – I know this will piss off Replacement fans, but I think this is better than any of his efforts with the quartet from Minneapolis. The first time I listened straight through I assumed this was a greatest hits CD – lots of great stuff. “World Class Fad” is tremendous and “Things” is a beautiful ballad.
Barenaked Ladies – Gordon – I bought it for “$1,000,000” – but there were so many more valuable tunes in store. “Enid,” “Grade Nine,” and “Yoko Ono” are just a few of the fun ones. The album also features the magnificent “Brian Wilson, and some of BNL’s most touching stuff. The best song is the under-appreciated “What a Good Boy.”
Stroke 9 – Nasty Little Thoughts – another band I found by mistake. They opened for someone else – I think Lit – and I loved their stuff. Yup, this is the one with “Little Black Back Pack,” but it’s packed with a bunch of other great tunes. Still amazed this band never took off. On this album, we also get to listen to “Letters,” “Washin’ and Wonderin'” and my favorite S9 tune, “Not Nothin’.”
Flogging Molly – Within a Mile of Home – They admittedly get extra points because of my Irish romanticism. I love the diversity on this one, and the lyrics touch my soul. “Factory Girls,” with a guest spot from Lucinda Williams is a great ride. We get to see the band stretch themselves in new ways, and it works throughout. “Tobacco Island” is a historic flashback sure to get your Irish up.
Green Day – American Idiot – Dookie and Nimrod were great, too, but I selected this one because it showed how the band was growing and adjusting to the times, and because it absolutely kicks ass. The album is written around a fictitious character “Jesus of Suburbia” and his trials and travails. The title track is great, and one of a handful of true classics, including “Are We the Waiting,” “Holiday” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” The non-hits include some of the band’s most creative efforts to date, as well.
Muse – Black Holes and Revelations – One of the first songs I heard on XM’s old Alternative Rock station Ethel was “Starlight.” I went out and bought the album the following day, and it is packed with hard charging rock and roll, pre-Twilight fame. The final track, “Knights of Cydonia” is one of the best songs of the new century.
Arcade Fire – Neon Bible – This one is a reflection of the times – The first selection on this list where I don’t own this album, but instead have the MP3’s. Haven’t seen them live yet, but I’m sure they’ll blow me away. From “Black Mirror” to “My Body is a Cage” – they are all powerful songs. Funeral, their debut album, was another great collection.
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend – A surprise quirky Indie-Rock hit in 2008. This eponymous debut album was packed with gems that dominated Indie and Alt-Rock radio for a few years. “A-Punk” was the biggest hit, but there were plenty of other excellent tracks. “Oxford Comma,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” and “Walcott” highlight the band’s diversity.
Just missed – The Clash – London Calling – should have been a single album, there are a dozen or so great songs, but they unfortunately stretched it out to 4 sides, and Armed Forces by Elvis Costello – loved the songs and sang along, even though I still have no idea what “Green Shirt” and “Good Squad” were about…
So, there you have it – a bit longer than I thought, but that was fun for me. If you made it through the entire list, thanks for your patience, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below…
When I started this, I suspected that when we look back on 2011, we wouldn’t consider this an amazing year for music. Unlike the amazing contributions we heard both twenty and forty years ago, this year’s contributions seemed a bit more mediocre. Nonetheless, after digging through the candidates, it became clear there were a few future classics out there.
So, grab your favorite beverage, crank up the music and check out the RARA’s Farm Farmer’s Dozen, the Top 12 albums of 2011. Take a look and a listen, and let us know what you think:
Bonus Selection: The Last Royals EP (read the RARAs Farm review)
This eponymous debut from a talented band out of New York City was one of the best discoveries of 2011. Everyone knows their wildly popular “Crystal Vases,” but the rest of the EP is just as good, and quite diverse, especially for a four song sampler. These guys have a ton of potential; look for their first full length album, Twistification hitting the streets soon.
12. Angles, The Strokes
Returning after a five year respite, the lads from New York are back, and in great form. All of the classic garage sound we’ve come to love from the band, as well as some more modern stuff, and an occasional retro rock flashback – the result is a long overdue strong return. The first cut “Machu Pichu” is a great example of their newer sound.
11. White Rabbit, Egypt Central (read the RARAs Farm review)
The second album from this Memphis based quartet was one of the best hard rock offerings of the year. Kick Ass features a wide variety of polished powerful rock and has prompted well deserved airplay on stations like SiriusXM’s Octane. The title track is an excellent hard rock tune, while “Goodnight” spotlights more of the ballad side of their repertoire.
10. Move Like This, The Cars
These guys are back for the first time since the eighties. The only original member missing is the late Benjamin Orr who passed away ten years ago. The rest of the band sounds eerily similar to their trademark sound that made them New Wave royalty. It’s odd that so many other bands are tapping into that 80’s vein nowadays, but these true masters couldn’t get a sniff of airplay. Nonetheless, it’s a nice overlooked return effort.
9. Codes and Keys, Death Cab for Cutie
Benjamin Gibbard and Chris Walla took a new approach for Death Cab on this album, eschewing their previous guitar laden sound for more of a keyboard driven groove. It’s a refreshing change and makes the album more enjoyable than their previous six. “You Are a Tourist” and “Stay Young and Go Dancing” are prime examples of the excellent new sound.
8. Torches, Foster the People
A nice debut from the L.A. trio includes their huge breakout hit “Pumped Up Kicks.” Their sound is modern through and through and Mark Foster’s vocals truly unique. Admittedly there are a few weak tracks on the album, but the good far outweighs the bad. Make sure you check out “Helena Beat” and “Don’t Stop.”
7. Covering Ground, Chuck Ragan
The long-time punk rocker turned folk troubadour gifted us with this excellent collection of introspective songs early this year. His gravely voice is paired perfectly with the stripped down instruments: an acoustic guitar, a fiddle and a stand up bass. The songs reflect on a tough life on the road and the loved ones in his life. Grab a whiskey and give it a listen.
6. Suck It and See, The Arctic Monkeys
Album number four is the band’s best yet. It’s a different sound for the foursome, and a welcome change. “She’s Thunderstorms” is a great opening cut on an album packed with excellent tunes all the way through to the closer “That’s Where You Belong.” “Piledriver Waltz and “Black Treacle” are two of the stronger offerings. Listening to the band I’m reminded of a comfortable old favorite: Echo and the Bunnymen – good stuff!
5. Eureka, Mother Mother (read the RARAs Farm review)
In our album review, we described their unique sound as a diverse collection of alt-country-dance-funkadelic-harmonic rock. It’s impossible to classify their sound as anything but original; they sound like Mother Mother, period. Their sound is all their own, and it’s great stuff. The group revolves around the infectious harmonies of brother/sister combination Ryan and molly Guldemold. The Canadians really shine on “Baby Don’t Dance,” “The Stand” and “Chasing It Down.”
4. El Camino, The Black Keys
The Akron based duo broke through last year with the hugely popular album Brothers. This one might be even better. There’s a bit more commercial appeal to this one, and the songs will translate well into live versions on their forthcoming tour. It’s straight forward, stripped down raw rock and roll; sounds a bit like a modernized version of Bad Company, if you can imagine that. “Lonely Boy” is one of the best songs of the year, and has plenty of competition on the rest of the album. “Money Maker” and “Hell of a Season” are two other powerful tracks.
3. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Noel Gallagher and friends prove that there is life after Oasis for both brothers. Liam’s Beady Eye project was decent, but Noel’s new offering is great stuff. The talented guitarist penned all of these tunes and nails the vocals throughout. Some of the tunes will remind you of What’s The Story Morning Glory era Oasis (“Dream On” and “AKA What A Life”), which is a good thing, and all of them are well produced and written. Favorite track: “The Death of You and Me.”
2. Never Trust a Happy Song, Grouplove (read the RARAs Farm review)
A great collection of songs from this quintet who met by chance at an artists’ retreat in Crete a few summers ago. The band has put together a fantastic assortment of Alt Rock anthems. The feel of each song is distinctive yet they weave together nicely thanks to the consistent strong vocals from Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi. “Chloe” is the best cut on the album, but has plenty of company including “Colours,” “Lovely Cup,” and iPod favorite “Tongue Tied.”
1. Thank You Happy Birthday, Cage the Elephant
Fantastic album that also has a cool back story: The band basically had an album in the can ready to release when they realized no one was really passionate about what they recorded. They started over leveraging songs that the band members were planning to use for their own side projects. The result is a tremendous passion-filled trip from the opening notes of “Always Something” through all dozen tunes. “Around My Head,” “Aberdeen” and “Shake Me Down are already classics for the quintet from Kentucky. It’s only their second album, but these guys are key linchpins for the future of American Rock and Roll.
There you go, twelve great albums that will define 2011 music for years to come. Let us know what you think; what did we leave out? what doesn’t belong? And, if you want to take a trip down memory lane, check out how these discs compare with some classics: The Best of 1971 and The Best of 1991.
Rock On – Cretin
Admit it, as Rock and Roll Animals, we all discriminate against old folks. Right?
You can deny it, but it’s true. Journey is touring again this year. They are supporting Eclipse, their new studio release, and playing each night in front of thousands of fans, yet no one has bought the album or heard any of the new songs. Eclipse has been out for four months, written by long-time members Neil Schon and Jonathan Cain and featuring the vocals of Amel Pineda (who sounds as good as old Steve Perry). Have you heard any of the tunes? Of course not. Why? Because they band members are old now.
Radio stations treat them as an oldies band playing their old hits, and fans aren’t much better. (For the record, the album is decent middle-of-the-road Journey stuff). We’ll all go out there and sing the Glee-ly rejuvenated “Don’t Stop Believing,” and then run to the beer counters and bathrooms when they kick into their new rocker “City of Hope.”
The Cars have also released Move Like This, their new album this summer, . “Sad Song” was the first single and it’s an excellent song. But, you’d have to take my word, because no one plays it. I have a feature on my XM radio that notifies me when a favorite band is played anywhere on their network, They have about a dozen stations where the song would fit the format. Since setting The Cars as a favorite, I’ve seen about 100 notifications that they were being played. Only once was the notification for “Sad Song” and the station that played it? Out – their gay music station. Maybe you need to be gay to appreciate the old rockers out there? (not that there’s anything wrong with that)
If they had marketed that song as Rick Ocasek’s son and his hot new band, we’d have Ryan Seacreast fawning all over it. Take a few minutes to listen to it, and see if it’s not carbon copy 80’s hit music. Half of the new bands are trying to emulate 80’s rockers, and now we have the real thing emulating themselves, and no one is paying attention???
So, this all gets me started reminiscing about the curious English band the Poppy Fields.
Back in 2004, they came smashing onto the UK music scene with an infectious punk rock tribute to the Clash called “45 RPM.” The group put out a video featuring the early 20 punk rockers bouncing around the stage. The song took off. All fo the big Dj’s across the pond loved it,Virgin Music Stores sold out all of their stock, and it hit the charts at #28. The young lads had captured a sound similar to the popular Welsh band The Alarm, with vocals eerily reminiscent of Mike Peters, The Alarm’s original front man.
Word somehow leaked out that there was good reason for the similarities. The guys in the video were actors, the real musicians? Mike Peters and The Alarm! So what happened when everyone learned of the old switcheroo? Radio stopped playing it, people stopped buying it and it became another new song by an old band. The music never changed, but the image of the guys strumming the guitars, beating the drums and belting out the lyrics changed. That’s kind of sad. Sad, and a lame reflection on the music buying public (us).
Mike Peters mentioned afterwards that consumers assumed old guys couldn’t write meaningful new songs anymore (he was in his early 40’s), and he was afraid that image trumped talent. He was right.
I found this Mike Peters interview about the whole incident. As you watch the music video snippets, they’ve interspersed the original video with the young actors, with the real 40 something band. Oddly, the music sounds the same in both cases.
So, let’s try to change this a little bit, ok? Give a listen to the new stuff by the older bands, especially if you’re going to be seeing them live on their next tour. C’mon that’s the least we can do, right? Ah, forget it, we’ll all need a respite from the hits at their next concert for our race to the concession stands…
The Cars: Move Like This
The Alarm performing 45 RPM