I’m not sure what it is about them, but I love ensemble cast films. Off the top of my head, and I am by no means a film critic, the films I love tend to be based on ensembles. Films that are at the top of my list include Almost Famous, Animal House, Caddyshack, Hoosiers, Miracle, Major League, Breaking Away, Love Actually, to list a few. All of them are essential ensemble pieces that would immensely change with any main characters dropped.
This week, my wife and I, taking a break from TV shows, have been watching some of these films for perhaps the hundredth time. This time, however, I rediscovered a film that gets brutalized on Rotten Tomatoes, and perhaps rightfully so. Yet, I still love it. The film is known here in the States as Pirate Radio (or The Boat That Rocked in the UK). Back in the Sixties, the British government was openly against rock music and forbade its play on the BBC. In response, some enterprising rock music-loving broadcasters waltzed through various holes in British law by broadcasting American radio-stylized AM radio shows from ships anchored off the shore of England and broadcasting their illegal sounds onto shore. History has shown that these “pirate” stations were quite popular at the time.
Of course, I love the underdogs attempting to stick it to the man theme. I mean, who doesn’t? Sure, the characters are a little thin and plastic, but a stronger script might have made this film rise above the fray a bit more. After this film was created by the minds who created one of the better modern Christmas movies, Love Actually. Plus, this movie is about some absolutely terrific music. I love the fact that the film uses some forgotten mid-Sixties tunes to enhance the scenes. To me, it’s obvious that the creators love rock music, since where else would you hear a soundtrack with Leonard Cohen, Herb Alpert and The Turtles butting up against The Kinks and The Who, with nary a note by The Beatles and the Stones?
My favorite moment happens to be the climax, in which popular DJ, The Count, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, prophetically announces into his microphone as their station’s ship is sinking the following words:
"To all our listeners, this is what I have to say. God bless you all. And as for you bastards in charge, don't dream it's over. Years will come, years will go, and politicians will do fuck all to make the world a better place. But all over the world, young men and young women will always dream dreams and put those dreams into song. Nothing important dies tonight. Just a few ugly guys on a crappy ship. The only sadness tonight is that, in future years, there'll be so many fantastic songs that it will not be our privilege to play. But, believe you me, they will still be written. They will still be sung and they will be the wonder of the world."
In a nutshell, that’s why I love rock music. The old stuff will never die, and rock will continue to evolve. There will be peaks and valleys in its quality, but there will always be a young man or lady that picks up a guitar or a turntable in order to get their emotional teenage frustrations out of their mind, body and soul that will move their peers. From those brave artists will come the next generation of would-be rock stars. And, these days onward, these young people will come from all backgrounds and countries. Rock music was the war. Now, it’s in its evolution phase, which makes it exciting and relevant to a new generation. That’s why The Count’s words resonate with me.
Of course, The Who more succinctly about fifty-plus years ago when sang “Long Live Rock.” Which brings all the way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Rock is the people’s music, plain and simple. But the Hall is for the true immortals, those people whose music continues to inspire others to create. And, of course, I think the Hall got a little full of itself and started to become too exclusive, which goes against the rock ethos. If the Class of 2021 is any indication, the Hall may be slowly turning back toward its original agenda. And, while it takes such a large ship much time to due such a large 180-degree turn, I will continue to list artists who deserve induction, if only to keep these names alive with my small readership. And, maybe they will in turn keep many of these artists’ names alive with their readership, and so on, and so on. At least, until these people become immortalized as well.
So, let’s look more closely at my next 10 acts.
40. The Spinners (“I’ll Be Around,” 1973). Fellow Hall Watcher Tom Lane has been pimping this Philly soul sensation for as long as I have been following him on Twitter. And, his words influenced me to go back to my youth and re-listen to these soul greats. Honestly, I believe these guys will be off the board soon.
39. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan (“Tell Me Something Good, 1974). Every year for the past decade it seems that some version of this ensemble is nominated. I don’t care how it’s done, whether under the banner of Rufus, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan or simply Chaka Khan, but the singing diva who bridged Aretha and Whitney deserves her place in the Hall. Chaka Khan has become the Dave Concepcion of the Rock Hall. Or, is Concepcion the Khan of the baseball Hall? Either way, both absences are a travesty.
38. Motörhead (“Ace of Spades,” 1980). Okay, maybe they weren’t pure metal, but they sure influenced metal as much as they influenced hard rock. How are they NOT in the Hall?
37. Duran Duran (“The Reflex,” 1984). My older son loves to call D-squared “The Beatles of the 80s.” I’m not sure if he’s joking or not, but Duran Duran were the closest to that title. The women loved their looks, and rocker guys never minded their rock credentials.
36. Kate Bush (“Running Up That Hill,” 1985). Bush never quite cracked the American charts outside of “Running Up That Hill.” But, that does not mean she wasn’t an important alternative artist in the 80s. Hell, she was all over college radio then. Now, artists are universally singing her praises, so her induction will not be much longer.
35. King Crimson (“21st Century Schizoid Man,” 1969). It’s hard to believe that King Crimson’s debut album was released over 50 years ago. If you have not heard it, go listen to it. It is dark, eerie, yet so very beautiful. This is the one prog rock band whose sound does not sound date. Prog Rock has gotten a raw deal by the Hall (much like metal), but Crimson is the next obvious band from the genre that needs to be immortalized.
34. The New York Dolls (“Personality Crisis,” 1973). Back in the day, very few of my peers had even heard of this band let alone heard any of their music. Today, they are widely hailed, along with The Stooges and MC5, as the godfathers of punk rock. This would be one of those “The Velvet Underground/Sex Pistols/The Stooges” picks for influence as opposed to sales.
33. Rage Against the Machine (“Killing in the Name,” 1991). So many exciting artists broke out in 1991, and for my money, RATM was one of the best. There take on the mix of metal and hip hop was light years ahead of the curve. The time is ripe for the band to reunite, get their message back out and remind the voters that they are forever.
32. Cher (“Believe,” 1998). Cher checks all the boxes you’d want in a Hall inductee: outspoken; vocal prowess; hits across the decades; beauty; dominated TV; LGBTQ+ icon; hell, an icon in general. Cher’s induction performance would bring down the house. I mean, Neil Diamond and ABBA are in, and none of them are half the presence Cher is.
31. OutKast (“Hey Ya!” 2003). This Atlanta-based hip hop duo’s music will forever be linked to my memories of the 2004 track & field team I coached. This was workout music, but more importantly, OutKast brought the P-Funk back, whether the kids knew it or not. Plus, how can we deny the first hip hop artist to win a Grammy for Album of the Year a place in the Hall? Simply, we can’t!
And that’s the end of the next 10 artists on my list of 150 that should have a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Only three more lists to go to see who I think are the most glaring snubs, so stay on the look out for those blog entries. And, as always, peace and love to you all!