Monday, March 12, 2007

Latest Sign of the Approaching Apocalypse: Van Halen In Rock Hall of Fame

Tonight in New York City, the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be taking place. Don't feel too bad if you can't make it to the show, as you'll probably soon be able to watch it endlessly on VH-1.
As soon as this year's crop of honorees was announced some two months ago, the inclusion of pioneering rap group Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five raised eyebrows among rock critics. The Five are the very first rap act to be admitted to the hall and the skeptics have questioned whether they, or any hip-hop act for that matter, belong there.
The tempest in a teapot over Grandmaster Flash has directed attention from the truly questionable choice among this year's inductees.
I am referring, of course, to Van Halen.
Make no mistake, I like Van Halen. I'd even go so far as to call myself a fan. (Keep in mind, however, that when I say "Van Halen" I mean the real, "Diamond" David Lee Roth led incarnation and not the weak-ass "Van Hagar" simulacrum that popped up in 1985.) Van Halen was, arguably, the finest hard rock band of its era, which, to be honest, is sort of a left handed compliment considering the "competition." To totally honest, they produced fairly generic, radio friendly pseudo-metal calculated to appeal to preteen proto-headbangers. Despite Eddie Van Halen's guitar virtuousity, the band could hardly be called groundbreaking either musically or lyrically. Van Halen made great party records, but that's hardly a qualification for entrance into any sort of "Hall of Fame."
Actually there's a quote from an article on USA Today's web-site that pretty much sums up what I'm trying to say. It's from a man identified as "music writer Brett Milano, author of The Sound of Our Town: A History of Boston Rock and Roll," who says: "Eddie Van Halen taught a million people to overplay, and David Lee Roth ushered in the era of the comedian as rock 'n' roll front man. With Van Halen, we're to the point of bands getting in pretty much only because they sold a lot of records."
Hell, if you're gonna put Van Halen in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you might as well let KISS in, too. In fact, KISS probably deserves the nod more than Eddie and his pals. They were at least groundbreaking; not musically, but in the savvy way they managed the business side of the band. They merchandised the hell out of themselves, putting their mildly freakish faces on everything from bubblegum cards (anybody else remember when bubblegum cards actually came with bubblegum?) to lunchboxes to T-shirts to comic books (they even made a cameo appearance in an issue of Howard The Duck.)
Maybe KISS will get in to the Hall of Fame next year. Hell, maybe they'll just throw open the doors and admit Poison, Whitesnake, and Twisted Sister, too.

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