Tag Archives: Guns’N’Roses

Five More Enter The Hall…

Guarded by the Guitar Army

I must admit I was a bit surprised when I saw the list of artists elected for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (the ceremony will take place March 15, 2010)

  • Abba – on their second nomination in ten years of eligibility
  • Jimmy Clifffirst nomination, though eligible for twenty-one years!
  • Genesis – also their first nomination, eligible for sixteen years
  • The Hollies – another first nomination after twenty-one years
  • The Stooges – finally, after eight nominations in sixteen years

Amazing to see that three of the artists were eligible for between sixteen and twenty-one years prior to even getting nominated, and then they get elected on the first try. That’s just odd. How do these bands never even get to the nomination stage and then make it all the way to the podium in one move? And what does that say about the rest of the talent pool still hanging by the telephone?

Alice Cooper is still waiting. So are Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Todd Rundgren…and KISS, of course. I could name dozens more who made bigger marks than some of the current inductees – Rick Derringer, The Faces, Lou Reed, Mott The Hoople – but I’d just get pissed off again, even though I know in my heart that it just doesn’t matter.

But it’s great to see The Stooges finally beat the door down – one would expect that a band that had been nominated so many times would eventually break through. And maybe the election of The Hollies opens the door for The Turtles or Herman’s Hermits, and Abba legitimizes the induction of The Monkees. Outside of Guns’N’Roses, there aren’t many newly eligible bands in the next two or three years to provide fresh competition. (Want to feel old? Julian Lennon became eligible for induction in 2009.)

And I certainly can’t argue with any of the songwriter nominations except to say…what the hell took you so long? Mort Shuman (Doc Pomus’ partner), Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Otis Blackwell, Jesse Stone…the real crime here is that Ellie won’t get to take that bow since she passed away earlier this year. Of course, the Songwriters Hall of Fame was on the ball and elected them way back in the 80s and 90s (only Stone is not yet inducted).

Let’s hope Iggy rips ’em a new one come March.

About fucking time.

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Blast From The Past: Everclear

Sure seemed like Art Alexakis and company would take over the world at the turn of the Millenium. Everclear had just come off two popular albums in Sparkle And Fade and So Much For The Afterglow and ambitiously slated two CDs in rapid succession for 2000, despite the odds – neither Bruce Springsteen nor Guns’N’Roses was able to turn that parlor trick into success. But no one ever called Art Alexakis shy…at least not as an adult. Hence the first (and better of the two) salvo, Songs From An American Movie Volume One.

Everclear is still around – the website has been recently revitalized – but the creation of new music has slowed to a crawl. In 2008 there was an album of covers, and they are currently working on re-recording old hits and fan favorites for a 2009 project titled In A Different Light. But back in 2000, Everclear was on top of it all. Here’s my original thoughts about that classic effort nine years ago…

Little pink houses for you and me

Little pink houses for you and me

Subtitled Learning How To Smile, the first of two Everclear disks slated for 2000 finds Art Alexakis on the rebound and channeling it into his music. Although if I were a label guy, the entire Everclear catalogue could be gathered in a boxed set called More Songs About Depression And Reality. Alexakis now seems to see the silver lining in his personal clouds and equates this optimism with recollections (or yearnings for) youthful innocence and the simple joys of life, like AM radio. And if the “American Gothic” cover pose doesn’t clue you in, the lyrics certainly hammer the point home.

The song “AM Radio” opens with an aircheck and features some peppered period dialogue, a sample of the old hit “Mr. Big Stuff”, and a refrain that will put a smile on your face (“I like pop/I like soul/I like rock/But I never liked disco.”). The last note segues into a loose and funky cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”; a not so subtle reminder that radio used to be the land of classic pop music of all types, not today’s demographically segregated offerings (FM) and shock-jock talk babble (AM). As the song fades, Alexakis adds his own coda – “sing along when I hear it on the radio now..”.

Several of Art’s new songs offer cautionary promises within their supposed optimism. In “Learning How To Smile” Art says tells the girl that he will “never let them break your heart” and that “life just keeps getting smaller and we never ask why”. “Unemployed Boyfriend” finds Art promising that he “will never be like those other guys”, and in the song to his daughter (“Annabella’s Song”) his repetitive chorus reassures her that “you are never alone”. The over-the-top strings on the last track make it sound like the soundtrack from an old afternoon movie; perhaps metaphorically a pointer back to simpler times when family life was far less complicated and seemingly much more secure.

Alexakis explored his personal history (broken home) on the last record with songs like “Father Of Mine”, and spends much of his time away from music campaigning against deadbeat dads. Recently divorced, he dives into his angst again with “Wonderful”, which sounds like the type of song that would be all smiles, but is anything but. Speaking from the perspective of a child (young Art, now also his daughter), he longs for “my life to be the same just like it used to be” and pleads “please don’t tell me that everything is wonderful now”.

Many of Alexakis’ songs sound like branches from the same root, as his lyrics often have a similar cadence. But where So Much For The Afterglow sounded like variations on the same demo song, here the diversity of his production approach yields much greater results. The pseudo hip-hop beat and na-na-na chorus on “Wonderful” and “Here We Go Again” are infectious as hell, and Songs From An American Movie is littered with hooks. As much as Art’s public persona can seem to be a little overbearing at times, with every record he proves that he is one hell of a songwriter. We are a long way from “Santa Monica”, Toto.

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