Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Ballot for 2020, the Protest version

It's been a rough couple days.  My sleep has been lousy.  My car died on the road and the repair will cost over $900.  The refrigerator is on the fritz.  We're having a mild garbage crisis.  And I may have to move, with the landlord and neighbor bickering with potential legal ramifications.  Things aren't going swimmingly this week so far, but what has been a bright spot today was this week's episode of Hall Watchers with Eric and Mary, wherein Eric released his "realistic" ballot and prediction, and Mary divulged her "idealist" ballot that wasn't so much a prediction as it was a proclamation of what should be.  For want of a better term, we'll call it a prediction.

Or more accurately, a protest prediction.  The term "protest prediction" comes from fellow hobbyist Charles Crossley, Jr.  I don't specifically recall when he first started doing it, but I love the general concept of posting a ballot that should be, and for very specific reasons why, beyond mere "They should have been in long ago!" type of arguments.  That sentiment is usually intrinsic with any artist mentioned in a ballot that has been eligible for any length of time, but a protest ballot will often have more to say than just that.  Charles Crossley, Jr. does that well, as did Mary on this latest episode.  With my week the way it's been, I'm in a mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore mood, so I'll attempt a protest ballot of my own.  And I think that these protest nominations will say enough about the problems with the Hall to be worth writing in the first place, and hopefully worth reading too.  Let's ramp up the rage.

Chubby Checker: I've talked about why he should be in until I'm blue in the face, or fingers as this is a non-aural medium, sans the clacking of keys being pressed.  I won't expound at too great a length again.  His cover of "The Twist" is more than just a faithful cover; the enthusiasm in Checker's voice takes it above and beyond where Hank Ballard And The Midnighters left it.  To deny that is to downplay the importance of the singer in the annals of rock and roll.  His importance is compounded for being the capstone artist of a short-lived, but philsophically crucial record empire.  I also have to wonder if generations as young as mine would even know how to limbo without Checker's two great songs about that craze, or if it'd go the way of other '60s dances like the frug, the slop, or the majestic.  That's not a huge part of the argument for him, except to point out that he was more than just "The Twist," and even if he wasn't more than dance songs, so what?  Other artists have been inducted despite not busting out beyond a niche.  Let's get him on a ballot.

Link Wray:  A past nominee that people have been begging for the return of, again and again. An innovative guitarist whose innovations bled easily into realms of influence until the two were practically inseparable.  And how appropriate that the man responsible for a song called "Rumble" would be featured on a protest ballot.

The Shangri-La's:  There are a few girl groups I'd prefer to get in before the Shangri-La's, but the pathos of their songs, the vocal harmonies, and the need to induct more women should be enough reason to get them in the discussion.  I don't even like "Remember (Walking In The Sand)" or "Leader Of The Pack" all that much.  Fortunately, there are also "Give Him A Great Big Kiss," "Out In The Streets," "Give Us Your Blessing," and "Long Live Our Love," just to name a few.

The Chantels:  Speaking of girl groups I'd give precedence to, let's revisit these lovely voices.  "Maybe" is, in my opinion, the female equivalent of the Penguins' "Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)."  And if not "Maybe," then certainly "Look In My Eyes" is one of the most euphoniously captivating records ever.  I'm spellbound every time I hear it.  One of the earliest important girl groups, they need to be nominated again.

Steppenwolf:  Have one anthemic song, it can possibly be dismissed.  Have two, you should be taken notice of.  Having been nominated once before, I've had the chance to discuss their role as a proto-metal band whose breed of blues rock is infectious and wakes the rebel spirit.  This is a band that has been done a disservice by radio conglomeration, but the knowledgeable music fan and historian will certainly look beyond "Magic Carpet Ride" and "Born To Be Wild."

Procol Harum:  Progenitors of prog, their breed of baroque rock is certainly unique.  So unique, that the only other artist that is routinely described as "baroque rock" is the Zombies.  And now that they're in, the only acceptable reason to procrastinate further on this act would be to focus attention on getting the MC5 in.

The Kingsmen: In addition to the party rock standard that is "Louie Louie," they kept the party going with other silly songs.  Sadly, that has become their legacy to anyone who knows more than just "Louie Louie," but as someone who loves "The Jolly Green Giant," and likes "Death Of An Angel," it'd be worth seeing the reactions of the Nominating Committee when their name gets brought up.  Additionally, the Hall has begun to appreciate rockers who also do good works; therefore, the Kingsmen could be worth glancing at further.  The Louie Louie Foundation works to purchase and return the rights of songs to the initial artists and writers, and the Hall should certainly appreciate the way that rights' ownership has a direct effect on the artistic growth and evolution of rock and roll as an artform.  In fact, if the Hall wished to lean heavily on the work of the Louie Louie Foundation as their justification, this band is one I'd probably be okay with getting the backdoor treatment as Award For Musical Excellence inductees.

Barrett Strong:  Another candidate who might be more aptly suited for induction in a different category, this was a Motown man whose biggest impact was behind the scenes, but stepped up to the microphone to give us one of the most universal songs that transcends practically every culture, certainly every developed culture.  An induction with Norman Whitfield receiving the Ahment Ertegun Award would certainly suffice, but this isn't just a ballot of nominees.  This is a protest.

Jackie Brenston And His Delta Cats:  We've listed an artist who might be better suited for the Award For Musical Excellence category, and one for the the Ahmet Ertegun Award, so let's include one that might be better suited for the Early Influence category.  Or maybe not, depending on your definition of rock and roll.  And a nomination for the group that released the song that some argue to be the very first rock and roll record would certainly force the conversation to a head.  If nothing else, that would be worth their nomination.

The Champs:  If it isn't obvious by now, these first eleven nominees are protests against the Singles category.  I don't even think of "Tequila" as that important of a record, but they were an early instrumental rock band, one of the earliest, and they did have other hits beside "Tequila," so while I would initially wince at the nomination, I'd still say it's better than leaving it at letting Little Steven have his unaired bit about the one record.

The Shadows Of Knight:  Since it was the Isley Brothers' version of "Twist And Shout" that got mention, we won't include the Top Notes in this protest.  As for this outfit, goodness no.  Garage rock bands are going to have a hard time getting acknowledged, and even inducting Tommy James And The Shondells would seem like lip service to the genre.  Still, there aren't many garage rock outfits I would see being worth inducting, much as I enjoy the style as a whole.  That said, I like this version of "Gloria" better than the one by Them, even though it is tamer.  "Here Comes The Night" aside, Van Morrison sounded much better as a solo artist.  Again, this is about protesting the Singles category, not so much about these garage rockers belonging in.

Carole King:  Now that we're done protesting the Singles category, and what it appears to do to an artist's chance of future nomination, let's get to other protests, like how the well-deserved induction of this woman as a songwriter has ended her Performer nominations to date.  Her Non-Performer induction came during the early years of the Hall, when "Small Hall" thinking very much ruled the day.  But as the rage against that machine has bubbled up to find an outlet in the populist movement, this is a woman that even self-proclaimed purists will sometimes tip their hats to and say, "Yeah, probably."  Nominate anew!

Tina Turner:  Similarly, this is another woman that was justly inducted with her ex-husband during the early years of the Hall, and likewise, the Hall has seemed content to leave it at that.  Tina wasn't eligible as a soloist when she wasn't inducted with Ike, so it's a little more forgiveable that she wasn't nominated for her later career shortly thereafter.  What's inexcusable is how the Hall has treated that induction as sufficient honors for this woman, originally listing her solo career in more detail on the page for "Ike And Tina Turner."  That success has been reduced to less than a full paragraph on that page now, so hopefully the Hall wants to give her a page of her own to expound more fully.  But that hasn't happened yet, so... protest!

King Curtis And His Noble Knights:  In all fairness, the Hall gave up on nominating King Curtis as a Performer long before they inducted him as a Sideman in 2000; however, it still feels a little unresolved to leave him and his outfit hanging like this.  Since I'm all about the resolutions, and since I'm okay with his credentials as a session musician getting him in, let's work on a second round for him.

Ben E. King:  Just like Carole King, inducting him with his group, the Drifters, ended the push to acknowledge his amazing solo career, and that ain't right.

Chic:  I think you know damn well what this one is protesting.  Honor the whole band instead of settling for the one person.  Nile deserved his, and at this point, Chic deserves theirs.  Let's rouse some rabble and do them some justice.

Jerry Butler:  Like Tina Turner, the 1991 induction of Jerry Butler as a member of the Impressions has stifled any mention in future conversations.  Also like Tina Turner, the old layout of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's website listed some of Jerry Butler's bigger solo successes in the timeline for the group induction, which has now disappeared.  Unlike Tina Turner's situation, I don't believe Jerry Butler as a solo artist is on the Hall's radar at all, particularly because Butler was only an Impression for one major record.  It very much is a situation of including him in one aspect so imaginary space wouldn't be wasted by acknowledging him later.  I hate when the Hall does that.  Rabble rabble rabble!

The Pointer Sisters:  This last choice might seem a bit out of place.  The rest, you can see what's being protested: the Singles category, Small Hall thinking for some who maybe deserve double induction, and rectifying badly handled situations.  But this one?  What's the protest?  Well, this one is me protesting... myself.  The Pointer Sisters are a group I very much believe deserve induction.  And yet, when I wrote my fantasy post about all-women nominees, they weren't on it.  When I list African-American artists that are snubbed, somehow they are remembered later on.  In terms of '70's and '80's acts, they'll clean slip my mind on occasion.  Even when discussing acts whose ties to the Boss, and thereby Jon Landau and Miami Steve Van Zandt, give them a slight advantage toward nomination and induction... you guessed it, they sometimes get lost in the mix.  I don't know how or why, but every time I realize I did it again, I want to let out an anguished wail like Joe Cocker does in his version of "With A Little Help From My Friends."  Maybe it's because they don't fit into any one box.  I don't know.  But I want them in, and I'm upset that I forget how much I believe they should be in.  So I'm listing them in protest of me.  BLARGH!!!

If nothing else, the Hall gives us an endless amount of stuff to protest, and this list could be much longer, but I think eighteen is an alright number to work with.  So, how's that for my first protest ballot?  And thank you to Mary of Hall Watchers for giving me the inspiration to do it.  And thank you, Mary, for outing your husband as a hater, guzzling that Haterade against my Jersey Boys.  Now we know whom he'll vote against in the "Tuesday Loseday" poll next week.  But even though Eric's a nefarious foe of Frankie and the Four, I still intend to follow his lead and post a pragmatic prediction for the 2020 ballot soon.  This has been fun.  Hope to see all of your Comments below.


  1. Thanks for the kind words Phillip. To only slightly defend my better half, I think he appreciates FV&T4S and that they exist, but the song "Sherry" drives him insane. I keep my iPod on shuffle in the car, and without fail it will land on like 4 FV songs in a row if Eric is in the car with me. Makes me cackle every time.

    1. Okay, I'll cut him a half inch of slack for that. Imo, the Vee-Jay years are definitely the weaker stuff, even though that's when they had the three consecutive #1's. Those songs are okay for me, but they really pale in comparison to the stuff they put out once they signed with Phillips Records: "Dawn (Go Away)," "Ronnie," "Save It For Me," "Rag Doll," "Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'Bout Me)" "Tell It To The Rain," etc. That's my favorite era of the band. Plus, stale radio programming definitely overplayed "Sherry."

    2. "Rag Doll" is one of my favorites. That intro is so beautiful. Another favorite is "Bye Bye Baby".