Despite all of my reservations, this year's inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame were a pretty strong lot, all things considered. The problems with the process (for those who get inducted) is that there's a hefty amount of politics along with taste lobbyists and the dilemma of popularity.
So we ain't gonna see Alice Cooper, New York Dolls, MC5, Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople, Raspberries, Turtles, Hollies, or Patti Smith get inducted this year. Let's hope they get in before Duran Duran, but don't hold your breath. Especially for those pop bands. Their fate seems sealed by the Hall's debt to "serious" artists and their indifference to the margins.
But for a year where we finally get Sabbath and the Pistols, how much can one argue? Well, of course we can argue forever. But it was nice to get Sir Johnny Rotten back into the mix whilst classic footage of The Sex Pistols playing "Bodies" was being aired on CNN last night. I like that. Johnny's predictably tart remarks also made for fun sound bites.
So I'm a bit dewey eyed about the year I discovered the Sex Pistols and Blondie via Mike Lively and Charlie Valentine's record collection circa 1979. Of course I knew of the bands, but before I moved out of New Jersey I hadn't really heard much of Blondie and the Pistols weren't played on the radio. And nobody I knew was buying any of those punk rock records. Sure, I was slowly catching onto The Cars, but everything else was from another planet.
It's crazy to believe that I needed to move out of the metro area's suburban sprawl and into the nether regions of no-man's land upstate New York to hear what had been buzzing since 1977. Indirectly it all tied back into the new wave/punk scene that really got going in 1977 and reached up into Syracuse, NY where bands like The Flashcubes and The Ohms brought life into what was a region of pick-up trucks and corporate rock mania. Flashcubes drummer, Tommy Allen spent summers up on Lake Ontario and had a big influence on the 3 Mile Point shoreline where Mike Lively and uncle Jack Miller lived.
By 1979 Mike, Jack and Charlie were regularly hitting Syracuse for records and shows and by that summer I finally got to hear a good chunk of what I was missing. Cryptic and after the fact as it was, I heard stuff like The Vibrators, Nick Lowe, Adverts, The Records, and The Sex Pistols. I also caught on to '60s garage rock and psychedelia via Mike's copy of "Nuggets." Bands like The Knack, The Police and Cheap Trick broke on the radio, too.
Looking back, it is amazing how fast it was and how much cool stuff came out between 1977 and 1980. The enormous amount of brilliant new wave, punk and power pop singles is still staggering and the flood of energy is a memory to behold. And I never got to see it in the clubs. (A recent viewing of The Jam doing "In The City" and "Slow Down" live in 1977, from "The Complete Jam" DVD, was enough to make me drool with envy. This footage makes The Police sound like Pablo Cruise and actually out-blisters The Clash.)
Following the Ramones' lead, The Pistols' atom bomb was indeed just that. Blowing the U.K. wide open and giving kids a better idea of what they were capable of, albeit with too much nihilism that led to way too much stoopidity (L.A. got the worst of it), but with end results that justified the mean means. The post-punk years, despite the selling out of many, gave us a huge amount of goodies and hasn't really left us with loads of new bands rehashing and some reinvigorating the old tried and true M.O. It is amazing to know that such an odd sea change had many shifts in its current and despite a major sidetrip underground, has inevitably found its way into mainstream culture. Who woulda thunk that a CBGB t-shirt would be hout couture? Probably the same people who envisioned Ozzy Osbourne hanging with the President of the United States.
No future indeed.