Monday, March 12, 2007

Rock and Roll Hall Highlights

Not a blog like somebody with the initials "BS" per se, but rather just a compilation to at least make a point to the world that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremonies should be televised on some NETWORK every year. Hell, CBS should just carry this shit instead of the Grammys. Plus we're doing this because, well, we actually have VH1 Classic (at least for another month anyway) and they're finally carrying the damn thing LIVE and in HD to boot. We'll keep posting as the night goes on, so keep checking back (this thing could very easily last until 8pm tomorrow night).

They've already in big trouble before they get started. Let's face it, the only reason this year's event is even being televised live is because of the potential hijinks of a full-fledged Van Halen reunion. We already know Eddie has to watch the show from rehab, but now it's confirmed that neither David Lee Roth nor Alex Van Halen are bothering to show either. WHAT? Evidently, Roth couldn't get it together with the "house band", or even Velvet Revolver for that matter. The VH1 brass has to be livid and praying for REM to be REM circa 1987.

BTW, USA Today ran a piece that I don't even want to bother linking to about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in today's edition. There are many reasons to dislike the piece, so let's point out the positive: It did give Bob Lefsetz pub for his negative postings about Patti Smith. Why am I not linking to it? Well, primarily because it gave James Young of Styx a forum for him to tout why HIS band should go in, even comparing their eventual inclusions to that of "Martin Scorsese finally winning the Oscar." I think in the comments section after the article, somebody with the moniker DennisDYung wrote, "Kilroy was here." Christ. Let's just get to the show.

Aha. Wouldn't you know we now have Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone to blame for all of this, which I guess means no artist who did anything after the year 2000 will ever make the Hall of Fame.

As with all Rock and Roll Hall of Fames, Paul Shaffer is all fucking over it, including doing the recorded narratives. It's a good thing Alan Callter's so damn funny, otherwise Letterman would just have Paul announce as well. But somewhere, Hank Kingsley is finishing off his suicide note.

Now this is how it should be done: Show the montage of everyone who died in the past year as the very FIRST THING. Why can't the Oscars start out like this? Here's why this montage is so better than the one at the Oscars: They literally find everyone from every band who passed in the last 12 months (plus it's Rock and Roll, and there are a lot more casualties), and the touching part (if you can call it that) is seeing bands you grew up with or listened to and finding out that one of their members died last year. Plus you can play their MUSIC under the tributes. Big applause for Billy Preston, Freddie Fender, June Pointer (who know one of the Pointer Sisters died?), and the lead singer from Boston, who got a little more love than he probably would have if he didn't die like, this past Saturday.

Stephen Stills is on I guess just to remind everyone this is supposed to be a boring award show. The potential is already ruined. But look who they've gone and dug up to hit lead off tonight -- Mama CASS ELLIOT. Oops, it's the ahm, Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. But still, as Tony Soprano would remind Bobby Bacaliari, I think it's seriously time for you to start to consider salads. I know she's the Queen of Soul and all, but she's going on just a little toooo long. Sort of like Elvis at the end of his life, or Dylan when he gets in one of his moods. Those of you with Aretha in your death pool should feel better about things now.

Pretty classy tribute to the Ronettes. Say what you will about Phil Spector, and the world might just say "Convicted Murderer" about him any day now, but damn that man could make some music. Why wasn't this band inducted sooner? A teary Ron Santo is probably lifting a glass to them right about now, saying to himself, "Next year for me girls. Next year."

It gets better. " induct the Ronettes in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame....Keith Richards." He's got a cigarette dangling from his mouth, and I'm not making this up, I think he's so wasted that he literally forgot to light the fucking thing. Hold on, let's check. Seriously, the poor chap came out with an unlit cigarette. I hate to say this, but Keith Richards has literally turned into my Uncle Rocky. I expect to wake up at 3:33 tomorrow morning to the sound of him mixing strong bloody marys after a rough night out.

Ronnie Spector thanked Eddie Money. Twice. I totally forgot that he had her sing that, "Be my little baby" part in his song "Take Me Home Tonight." Does that warrant a thank you for getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? I guess that means if Keith Hernandez ever (justifiably) gets to Cooperstown, he'll have to thank Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. Of course, she seems to be thanking everyone she can find on her twelve pages of paper she brought to the podium. Now she's almost claiming that she co-wrote Billy Joel's "Say Goodbye to Hollywood." Seriously, she's rambling the beginning of it as something she thought up. No wonder Phil Spector was so fond of guns.

Eddie Van Halen just had his last cigarette and called it a night in his bunk.

Paul Shaffer's always up for every Letterman show, but I really do think this is his favorite night of the year. Evidently, he grabbed one of the Ronettes back stage and told them how many times he fell in love to their music. Which brings us to the another fly in the ointment. While Paul leads the houseband to get ready for the Ronettes performance, we suddenly realize that not only is this baby live, but there are no commercials! Which isn't entirely a bad thing, it's fun to watch Paul get everyone together to create that Spector Wall of Sound. It's also not good that all three of the Ronettes have aged better than Aretha Franklin. At any rate, downloads of Ronettes songs at itunes will probably go up over the next few days. If Shaffer can put a house band together to make the Ronettes sound this good, what on earth was David Lee Roth bitching about? I so want to make fun to this, but it's one of Shaffer's finest hours, recreating Spector's Wall of Sound to perfection.

The Ronettes set ends with Shaffer reading from a blue index card not unlike the one's his host does everynight on the Late Show. "I've just been handed the following note....and it's signed PHIL SPECTOR." That didn't go over particularly well with the crowd. I hope for Spector's sake none of them will be on next week's jury when his trial starts.

So instead of commercials, they put together a wonderful 5-minute clip of past R&R Hall highlights. Seriously, WHY doesn't the Oscars to this shit? Some of the best clips: Seeing Eddie Vedder, at the hype of Pearl Jam (i.e. before Kurt Cobain died) singing lead with the original members of the Doors, and it actually sounds awesome; the many sightings of Steve Van Zandt, with the Boss and even inducting the Rascals, all of which has to make us ask the questions again. What on earth made David Chase think that Little Steven would make a great mobster? And how the hell is he so freaking good as Silvio? I mean, everything I'm hearing has Silvio making it through at least the penultimate episode of the series (OK, sorry, no Sopranos spoilers); Prince absolutely kicking ass on the Beatles "While My Guitar Gently Weaps". Really too many to mention. Again, they had Axl Rose singing Come Together, why isn't this thing on CBS?

The Van Halen controversy won't quit. According to a site called, Roth had a bit too much prima dona about him. The R&R Hall's official statement: "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is sorry that David Lee Roth will not attend this year's induction of Van Halen. We offered him opportunities to play and sing a Van Halen song of his choice with our House band, including his own guitar player or a song with Velvet Revolver and he refused those opportunities. We made every effort and the decision not to come was solely his, not ours." I'd say that summer tour is looking more like a no go right now kids.

Zach De La Rocha is inducting Patti Smith. I can't imagine how many chairs Bob Lefsetz is throwing around his house right now. I'm expecting an email from Bob in less than 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Patti's gone for the Diane Keaton in Annie Hall look. I'm expecting her to end her speech with a "la-di-da. La-di-fucking-da." Meanwhile, the crowd is all into Patti Smith. I better send Bob a quick email to make sure he's still with us. Just so you know, his last email he sent out about Patti Smith was at 3:24 this morning, still fuming about how only the NY inner circle of critics get Patti. Here's some of what Bob had on the brain at 3:24 AM. "They call it a Hall Of Fame, not a Hall Of Influences. Patti Smith is an all right gal. But that husband she married, none of the New Yorkers gave a shit about him until she did... I find it UTTERLY hysterical that all the Patti Smith defenders are so offended that I'm railing against her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They should be laughing, they should be egging me on. Otherwise, they look no different from Comiskey Park fans blowing up disco records, before they fucked to Chic."
Patti opens her set with an average version of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter." As Mackenzie would point out, for Lefsetz, this is like letting Babe Ruth hit off of a tee. She naturally follows up with "Because The Night" (a Springsteen song by the way, but nevertheless her most famous work). You've got to give Smith her props on this one. Even though it was written by the Boss, Smith clearly made it her own, and hell even Natalie Merchants and the 10,000 Maniacs covered it as a "Patti Smith song."

No word from Bob yet. He either doesn't have VH1 Classic (BSmoked Turkey doesn't have it either, at least I don't think he does) or AOL Live Streaming.

This just in from the Betty Ford Center. "All television sets and internet streams are to be kept hidden from patient Edward V. H. for the remainder of the evening. There's a definite concern of a relapse if he sees his band at this little awards show. If necessary, we kept five Percocets from Lindsey L.'s stay just in case something comes up."

Patti Smith just did a song I never heard of where she dropped the "N" bomb at least 15 times. Yeah, that part on network TV, not so much. Let me hit that send/receive button again. NOTHING. Bob is not on his game here. I would know more about Smith's final call, but I was interrupted by a phone call from the Most Miserable Person in the World. I'm going to borrow this little game and do it daily on our blog here. Unfortunately, I think the person that won today would win for the next 8 days easily. Plus in some small way I may have added to her misery. Let's just move on shall we and give tonight's award to Bob Lefsetz, who has to be fuming I'm sure still about Patti Smith.

More things you don't get at other award shows. LIVE coverage of the artists backstage with the press. Hell, it's like having ESPNNEWS during the ceremony. They got the part where Patti explained why she wrote the song with using the "N" bomb so many times.

We go from this to the obligatory James Brown tribute, introduced appropriately enough by....the Reverend Al Sharpton. I hope some of the staffers told Sharpton's people that they check for silverware after the show. Seriously, is the Reverend Al Sharpton the right guy for this? Was Jesse Jackson too controversial? Didn't they realize from a few years ago what Prince brings to this thing? I'd like to tell you that Sharpton isn't loud and isn't rambling, but I allegedly gave up lying for lent, and I'm not even Catholic anymore, but I am willing to relearn.

Now the montage of great old James Brown clips. They're showing the same tape that Eddie Murphy used to watch to learn how to imitate the Godfather of Soul to perfection. BTW, has everyone now heard the story about how Eddie immediately left the Oscars after they read the name "Alan Arkin" instead of his? Enjoy that link, it's the last time we'll let you go to US Weekly again.

The moment that everyone WAS waiting for...VAN HALEN. I'm sure this was scheduled for last but got moved up. At any rate, a nice montage opening with all members present on screen at least. What follows has to be amongst the biggest television disappointments since we saw Bobby Ewing peep out of the shower on Dallas and finding out an entire season was a dream. At least Slash and Duff are there with the rest of Velvet Revolver, so the censors better be on guard (turns out they have to be when Duff puts in his portion). Even when Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar come out -- alone -- you get the feeling you're at the state fair watching Credence Clearwater Revisited sans John Fogerty. To their credit, Michael and Sammy are all class in their acceptance speech, both wishing Eddie well and calling him their "friend". Michael even thanks Gary Cherone, probably the first and only time that will happen with anything involving anything with the words Hall of Fame. Hell, Sammy even thanked Dave. God bless ya Sammy, but you just aren't Diamond Dave.

Overall, it was like going to a great Thai Restaurant, ordering the spice level at 9, and getting served a 1. Velvet Revolver does traditional covers of "Aint Talking About Love" and "Round and Around." I feel like all members ever in Van Halen died. As the Velvet Revolver set ends, many in the audience yell out, "That wasn't Van Halen" numerous times. No need to worry, remember, MVP Paul Shaffer is here to get the house band ready for Sammy and Michael to throw the world a bone. Along with an energetic Shaffer, Sam and Mike try to do their best with "Why Can't This Be Love?" although with Paul tickling the ivories, my question was more like why couldn't they have done "Right Now." Just overhype disappointment all around. And you know what? THAT wasn't Van Halen either. And the really bad thing for the band: This would have been a great kick-off for their summer tour (if that actually happens), ala the Police at the Grammys. Now, everyone's to the "wake me when they get here" stage.

You get the feeling everyone would just fast forward to REM RIGHT NOW.

After that dud, Jay-Z inducts Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to give the show some much needed energy, and to remind everyone that there are some bands that stopped subscribing to the "Too Much Drama" classes. But before we get to see Grandmaster Flash perform, VH-1 justifiably allows us to see how Keith Richards behaves in the press room.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five show us why they deserve induction. This was just the pill (sorry Eddie) that I needed after the Van Halen debacle. Never being the biggest hip hop fan in the world, they've at least gotten me over VH and now beyond excited for REM. And yes, all four members are going to perform, I think.

For the break, they show the classic performance of Prince and Tom Petty doing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." It might be sacrilege to say, but this version almost tops the original. Also makes you realize that unless REM pulls out all the stops, tonight's show is a colossal dud compared to previous shows.

Another great montage, this time with the big finish, REM. It's quite obvious that if they were to only elect one act this year, it would be the boys from Athens. U2 gets all the ink, but wow what a body of work Stipe and the boys have. The only mystery now is what three songs they'll play to end the shindig.

The ageless Eddie Vedder walks on to induct the band. Eddie is now officially in danger of beating out Bono and the Boss for most people inducted (in an earlier montage, I swear they showed Bono inducting at least five people). He's also wearing one of the outfits from the "Vitalogy" era. Eddie starts off great, but he's now entering War and Peace territory. I don't think he's ever going to shutup. After what seems like a 45-minute induction speech, the four members of REM show up. And it looks like their new lead singer is author Tom Wolfe. Actually, that's Michael Stipe's way of dressing up for something. Anyway, it's apparent that they're going to let REM finish this show anyway they damn well feel like. It's also obvious that the band is going to let Stipe do all of the talking (in fact, Berry and Buck don't even speak, they go right from Stipe's LOOOOONG speech to playing). Oh, but in case there was any doubt, Stipe officially outted himself (or maybe it was another member of the band) by thanking, "Our three girlfriends and one boyfriend." Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Their set kicks off with "Begin the Begin", and it's vintage stuff. After Stipe introduces "Peter Buck, on the guitar", he mentions that the band wrote 30 songs before they really wrote a real one. Stipe dedicates a rollicking "Gardening at Night" to his father. Let's face it. Our generation, you're either a U2 person, or an REM person. I'll take REM over Bono and company any night of the week. I want a full-fledged tour with all four original members now. Screw Van Halen and their drama.

By now, the entire audience is standing for "Man on the Moon." But it gets better. Vedder comes out to sing background vocals. The two even trade off on lead vocals. It's a perfect rendition of a classic song. Let's face it, REM saved the whole thing, and will keep the R&R Hall of Fame televised for a few more years at least.

The show seems to be over, but Patti Smith comes out to join the group with a cover of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog". The all-star jam is Smith's own "People Have the Power", and it all works out. Eddie Vedder and Ronnie Spector get to sing some lead. Shit, even Sammy Hagar's out there. No wonder we haven't heard from Lefsetz. Somehow, they got the big send-off without having the Van Halen water cooler moments they all wanted. Everyone should just thank Paul Shaffer, who again is having the time of his life. I'm sure he can't wait to tell Letterman all about this.

Meanwhile, Tuesday saw Edward V.H. and Brittney S. look upon a California sunrise with the day's first of many cigarettes.

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