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Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Presenters Announced

Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame-LogoWe already knew the artists who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2014, but now we know who will be inducting them.

Michael Stipe will induct Nirvana. Makes sense. Kurt Cobain expressed his deep admiration for close friend Stipe on more than one occasion.

Bruce Springsteen will induct his E Street Band. The Boss is already in the Hall solo. No-brainer.

Tom Morello will induct KISS, because someone has to do it.

Chris Martin will consciously couple the Hall of Fame with Peter Gabriel. OK?

Glenn Frey will induct Linda Ronstadt. That’s a good one – the Eagles started out as her backing band.

Questlove will induct Hall and Oates, which is pretty cool. The Roots’ mainman and walking music encyclopedia will hopefully shine a nice light on the often overlooked rock and soul duo.

Peter Asher, of ’60s duo Peter and Gordon, as well as a noted producer (of James Taylor, among others), will induct Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham.

Salman Rushdie will induct Cat Stevens. No, I’m kidding, no word yet on who has that honor.

The ceremony will take place on April 10th and will be aired on HBO on May 31st. (h/t CoS)

RnR HoF Inductees

Nirvana
Nirvana

Halls of Fame are rather silly, and arguing over who has been snubbed and who should have been snubbed are even sillier, but what else are we going to do, work? Spend time with our families? Face the yawning abyss of life’s meaninglessness and the terror of our own mortality?

Nah, let’s talk about Hall and Oates. They will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, along with KISS, Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel, Cat Stevens, and Nirvana.

It’s that last one that seems most poignent and era-defining, and brings some of us around to that abyss again, because, damn, Nirvana is eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You won’t hear anyone arguing that they don’t belong there (except maybe Kurt Cobain‘s ghost, wearing a cardigan and homemade t-shirt reading “Corporate Halls of Fame still suck”), since it is inarguable that Nirvana’s unexpected success changed the course of popular music, for both better and worse.

Some might take issue with Ronstadt being classified as rock at all, since she mellowed into the easy listening ’80s as one of your mom’s favorite singers, but a quick trip through her early catalog should enlighten those naysayers. Never a rock and roll madwoman, but she was definitely making rock music.

KISS is ridiculous is sucked a lot, but they were also good and awesome in a lot of ways. With their full makeup, costumes, and fire-breathing antics, they were rock’s ultimate showmen (along with Alice Cooper) in the 1970s. For that, and for inspiring countless adolescent boys to pick up guitars, they deserve the nod.

Hall and Oates’ music is the sound of the ’80s, and that cannot be a strictly good thing, but I’ll tell you what, the songs and even a lot of the sounds really hold up. They had tons of hits and revived blue eyed soul for the masses.

Cat Stevens was a gentle folkie who wrote ridiculously nice melodies, sometimes coupled with hippy-dippy lyrics about peace and love, and then he converted to Islam, changing his name to Yusuf Islam and getting a lot of bad press for supporting a call for the death of author Salman Rushdie. He left the spotlight for many years before renouncing some of his extremism and calling himself simply Yusuf. He is once again touring and recording.

Peter Gabriel is already a member of the HoF as a founding member of Genesis, which, under his leadership, was a groundbreaking art/prog rock band. He then went on to huge solo success, owing a great deal to his innovative music videos, with a compelling (and catchy) fusion of pop, electronic, and world music.

So I don’t think there is a lot to argue shouldn’t be here. Who became eligible this year that got snubbed? Who are some of the longest-running snubs?

@OurStage
@TheRussianJano

More like this:
Sound And Vision: Guns N’ Roses? Joan Jett? Why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Is on the Verge of Becoming a Joke?
Axl Rose Declines Hall of Fame Induction
Will the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011 Right Old Wrongs Or Make New Ones?

Sound and Vision: Do Today's Pop Music Producers Have Too Much Power?

Something interesting recently went down atop the U.K. singles and album charts. Elton John reigned on the list of best-selling albums with a collection of 40-year-old songs, while Florence + the Machine was No. 1 on the singles chart for the first time ever. The band’s vehicle? A song that was originally produced by Paul Epworth, a regular Adele collaborator (Rolling in the Deep and He Won’t Go, the best song on 21) who had never managed to go that high in the U.K. working with the world’s biggest female pop star.

Alas, he wasn’t exactly scaling that height with Florence either”at least not alone. And therein lies the twist in this chart saga: a good beat. Those Elton John classics had been updated with a danceable 2012 electro sheen by Australian production duo Pnau on the chart-topping Good Morning to the Night, an album featuring dozens of John songs from between 1970 and 1977 crammed into eight tracks and credited to Elton John Vs Pnau, while Florence’s Epworth-produced Ceremonials track “Spectrum” was the leading single via the re-titled and remixed-by-DJ/producer Calvin Harris (for optimal under-the-strobelight consumption) “Spectrum (Say My Name) (Calvin Harris Mix).”

When Bryan Ferry sang, “Don’t stop the dance,” was this what he had in mind? Beat-driven pop where singers share star billing with the producers who boost them to the top? More than ever, the recording arts have become a producer’s medium, in much the same way that film is a director’s medium, with the behind-the-scenes talent dominating both the sound and the vision. (The stage, in singing“when it’s actually live“as in acting, remains the domain of the performer.) With a smaller pool of star producers creating a bigger bulk of the hits, pop music has become as homogenized as Hollywood blockbusters.

According to Ron Fair, a veteran music executive and producer who has worked with Christina Aguilera, Fergie and Lady Gaga, it’s a logical progression from how records are now made. A producer today is a hybrid role of producer, songwriter, and beat maker, he says. What we used to call arranging is now called making beats, so generally, the producer is the guy who walks in with the song. Back in [Beatles producer] George Martin’s and [Linda Ronstadt/James Taylor producer] Peter Asher’s day, they weren’t responsible for making songs.

Dance music, however, has always been more of a producer’s forum than middle-of-the-road pop. But with disco in the ’70s, it didn’t always show. When one remembers Donna Summer’s greatest hits, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” or Amii Stewart’s “Knock on Wood,” the spectacular vocals probably come to mind first, then the beat.  (more…)

Old Soul

Merrily James

Seattle native Merrily James began as a gospel ingenue before being picked up, at the tender age of 17, by Showtime at the Apollo to perform in front of a national audience. Since then, she’s shared the stage with legends ranging from Linda Ronstadt to Smokey Robinson and Bobby McFerrin. Though she’s able to hold her own with elder statesmen, James’ music appeals to youngbloods, too. Street With No Name is spacious piano balladry”desolate and sweet. Here, the singer’s voice is dusky and soft, but on the jazzy Get Up Go Out she loosens up for some soulful motivation. Muted horns and wah-wah pedals help create a lazy, vintage vibe. Things aren’t always so peachy, though, and on Long Long Time James has a little fun with wordplay while taking a lover to task. Not a little rip that a stitch will fix / Now your tricks don’t look so slick she croons. It’s a torchy little number that showcases the Merrily James trifecta: vivid lyrics, a limber voice that warms every word, and an old soul.

Sound And Vision: The Year in Review — What Was Hot and Not in Pop (and Beyond) in 2011?

No discussion of the last twelve months in music would be complete without a proper shout out to Adele, the blue-eyed, soulful Brit who ruled 2011 with one album (the multiply GRAMMY-nominated 21) and two No. 1 singles (“Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You”), so here we go.

Girl!

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what was hot and not about the rest.

HOT

1. Drake: Last year, he called his debut album Thank Me Later, so now feels like the right time to express our genuine appreciation for the Canadian rapper who balances tough and tender so perfectly. With his second album, Take Care, and two of its key cuts, in particular”the fantastic first single “Headlines” and the title track (featuring Rihanna)”he brought sexy back to rap for the first time since ladies loved (LL) Cool J.

2. Girls on film: From Britney Spears’ “Till the World Ends” to Lady Gaga’s “Judas” to Jennifer Lopez’s “I’m Into You” to Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” it was an excellent year for women in pop videos. But it was Ke$ha in “Blow,” Kelly Rowland in “Motivation” and Rihanna in “We Found Love” that injected new energy into a decades-old art form and elevated it above and beyond promotional tool to indispensable companion piece.

3. Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams “Moanin'” on American Idol: I didn’t love the bulk of their solo performances during the 10th season of Idol, but when Reinhart and Abrams came together on the Top 8 results show for the vocalese version of Charles Mingus’ “Moanin’,” the unexpected result was the best musical moment I saw all season.

4. Diana DeGarmo on The Young and the Restless: Speaking of Idol losers, season three’s runner-up’s stint as Angelina on daytime’s No. 1 soap hasn’t been so well-received by critics or fans, but I dissent. There’s both artistry and comedic gold in DeGarmo’s portrayal of a tone-deaf “singer” and daughter of a New Jersey mob boss, and I’m looking forward to being as wowed by her Pygmalion-style makeover as I was by her Idol rendition of “Don’t Cry Out Loud” all those years ago.

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Sound And Vision: Strange Bedfellows — The Best of Music's Unlikely Collaborations

“I get high with a little help from my friends,” Ringo Starr sang on the Beatles‘ 1967 classic. These days, so do many of music’s top stars. Two’s company, and so is three and sometimes four. The more the merrier, the higher and higher they get.

On the charts, that is.

In the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 for the week ending December 10, seventeen songs were collaborations between separate recording entities. Four of them featured Drake, and three apiece featured Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who both appeared on tracks with Drake and with each other. But will.i.am featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger”and debuting at No. 36 with “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever),” which the threesome performed on the November 20 American Music Awards”was probably the one that nobody saw coming.

Old-school Rolling Stones fans must be cringing at the idea of Jagger going anywhere near Lopez and will.i.am so soon after Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera went to No. 1 by invoking his hallowed name on “Moves Like Jagger.” But for a sixty-something legend like him, hit records”even if in name only, a la Duck Sauce‘s GRAMMY-nominated “Barbra Streisand”are a near-impossible dream unless they’re in tandem with other, often younger, stars.

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Sound And Vision: Guns N' Roses? Joan Jett? Why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Is on the Verge of Becoming a Joke?

Last month when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its fifteen nominees for induction in 2012, the organization really outdid itself”and not in a good way! Donovan? Not again! Erik B. & Rakim? Not before LL Cool J! Joan Jett and the Blackhearts?

What? No “Weird Al” Yankovic? Hasn’t he been eligible for four years?

The Hall of Fame has been scraping from the B-list for a while now, but the voting body should take a closer look at the A-list. There’s still a lot of unheralded talent there, and that would not include Joan Jett. Yes, Jett’s former band, The Runaways, deserves credit for introducing girl power to hard rock, but did Joan Jett and the Blackhearts really earn a spot in the hallowed Hall based on the strength of one really awesome No. 1 smash, 1981’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which the band didn’t even write? In the general scheme of things, aren’t they sort of a rock & roll footnote?

Not Linda Ronstadt. Perhaps the most influential female in ’70s rock, who spent the ’80s juggling genres from new wave to mariachi to the great American songbook, she’s the most deserving artist never to be nominated. And let’s talk about Pat Benatar and Stevie Nicks, who is already in the Hall of Fame as a member of Fleetwood Mac but whose solo career is far more worthy of the honor than Jett’s post-Runaways. At least the nominating committee finally had the good sense to give props to Heart, though I’ll eat my copy of the “Alone” Cassingle if the Wilson sisters actually get in.

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Your Country's Right Here: Caitlin Rose Talks about her Music, her Mother, and Calming Pre-Show Jitters

Caitlin Rose doesn’t shy away from talking about her famous mother, as some second-generation music insiders do.

Rose’s mother Liz Rose is legendary in Nashville songwriter circles for penning many hits including “You Belong to Me,” which won Taylor Swift a GRAMMY in 2010, Swift’s break out single “Tim McGraw” and plenty of hits for everyone from Tim McGraw to Bonnie Raitt and Trisha Yearwood. Twenty-four-year-old Caitlin makes no effort to hide her admiration for her mother but also makes it clear she’s carving her own path.

“If I was in the family business I’d be making a lot more money,” said Rose, whose father also works on Nashville’s legendary Music Row. “My mother is wonderful but it is so funny when people kind of compare our careers. She works in a very big world. She’s in a place where people win GRAMMY’s and that’s great. I am on a much lower tier as a traveling musician writing and playing my own songs.”

Although she may not be a Grammy Award contender”yet, anyway”Rose’s songs have caught the attention of plenty of music critics including those at such prestigious outlets as Q, NoDepression and NPR. The songs on her debut album Own Side Now, which was released September 27 by her label ATO Records, has drawn comparisons to everyone from Linda Ronstadt to Stevie Nicks.

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Sound And Vision: Cover Me — Ten Remakes Of Great Songs That Are Better Than The Originals

“Have you lost your mind?!”

That’s the thought bubble I could have sworn I saw spring from my friend’s head several weeks ago when I mentioned that my all-time favorite remake is Aretha Franklin‘s 1971 Sunday-morning-at-the-pulpit rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” “You mean her version isn’t the original?” he asked, totally floored. No, she borrowed it from Simon & Garfunkel, who had hit No. 1 with it the previous year, and never gave it back.

Every time I think of Franklin and the crafty way she used to take ownership of other people’s hits (Dionne Warwick‘s “I Say a Little Prayer,” Ben E. King‘s “Spanish Harlem” and most famously, Otis Redding‘s “Respect”), I remember a story Dusty Springfield once told me. Franklin was originally offered “Son of a Preacher Man,” and when she turned it down, Springfield snatched it up. Shortly after Springfield’s version hit the Top 10, she met Franklin for the first and only time in an elevator. Franklin walked in, put her hand on Springfield’s shoulder and simply said, “Girl.” Not another word. “I just about fell out!” Springfield told me, still in shock and awe decades later.

Franklin eventually recorded “Son of a Preacher Man,” and Springfield so liked what Franklin did to her hit that she began performing it in concert Franklin style. And that, folks, is what you call running off with someone else’s song. (For the record, I prefer Springfield’s original.) Now, here are ten other cases of musical robbery.

Marvin Gaye “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” Just one year before Gaye went to No. 1 for seven weeks with his biggest hit, Gladys Knight and the Pips took their gospel-infused version of one of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong’s two crowning achievements (the other being the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”) all the way to No. 2. Both are spectacular, but Gaye’s moody, brooding take, which actually was recorded first, making it a “cover” in timing only, will always be definitive.

Marvin Gaye “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (a capella)

Harry Nilsson “Everybody’s Talkin'” and “Without You” Little-known fact: The late singer-songwriter who wrote Three Dog Night’s “One” had his two biggest hits singing other people’s words. Fred Neil‘s 1966 original version of his own “Everybody’s Talkin’,” though moving, lacks the mournful tremulousness and vocal drama that Nilsson brought to it three years later. Nilsson’s emotional bells and whistles sell the song. “Without You,” his biggest and signature hit, was written and recorded by Badfinger in 1970, two years before Nilsson took it to No. 1, and has since been covered by Mariah Carey and seemingly at least one contestant per season on American Idol. The song, however, belonged to Nilsson in life, and it still does in death.

Harry Nilsson “Everybody’s Talkin'”

Billy Paul “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” Bob Dylan’s song has been done to death”by Peter, Paul and Mary, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, The Four Seasons (under the pseudonym The Wonder Who?) and so many others”but Paul’s jazz-inflected rendition gave it a certain soulful urgency lacking in every other version I’ve heard. This is one of those rare times that someone not only did one of Dylan’s compositions justice but did it better than Dylan, too.

Billy Paul “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”

Anne Murray “You Won’t See Me” I’d read it many times and always assumed it was a suburban myth, so when I met Murray in the ’90s, I asked her, “True or false: Did John Lennon really tell you that your 1974 version of “You Won’t See Me” was his favorite Beatles cover?” True. Better than Marvin Gaye’s “Yesterday,” Elton John’s “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and Aretha Franklin’s “Eleanor Rigby.” (I wonder what he would have made of Tiffany’s “I Saw Him Standing There” had he lived eight years longer to hear it.) Once again unwrapping her gift of interpretation six years later, Murray took the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” and made it listenable at last.

Anne Murray “You Won’t See Me”

Linda Ronstadt “You’re No Good” Dee Dee Warwick recorded it first, and Betty Everett took it for its first trip up Billboard’s Hot 100 (to No. 51 in 1963). As great old-school soul singers go, both were up there with the best, but what made Ronstadt’s version pop and rock and sent it to No. 1 for one week in 1975 was the mix of Peter Asher’s haunting production, a tough-as-nails Ronstadt at the peak of her vocal power and the best instrumental outro in the history of ’70s rock. Love and anger rolled into one of music’s great transcendent kiss-offs.

Linda Ronstadt “You’re No Good”

Amii Stewart “Knock on Wood” Eddie Floyd‘s 1966 original is a soul classic and deservedly so, but Stewart’s 1979 cover”which went all the way to No. 1”is a highlight of the era of disco balls, bell bottoms and white polyester.

Amii Stewart “Knock on Wood”

Darlene Love “River Deep – Mountain High” I know, sacrilege! How dare I say that anyone ever topped Ike & Tina Turner’s 1966 classic! But there you go. Recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Love, whose voice is one of the greatest instruments ever committed to record, covered the Phil Spector track for the 1985 Broadway musical Leader of the Pack, and nailed it effortlessly on the cast recording. She sang it with a soulful clarity and technical precision that matched and then surpassed the Queen of Rock & Roll because Love, unlike Turner, didn’t have to claw her way out of Spector’s great, big, oppressive “Wall of Sound.”

Darlene Love “River Deep – Mountain High”

Marc Almond Featuring Special Guest Star Gene Pitney “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart” Topping Gene Pitney is hard work, but when Pitney revisited his own 1967 UK hit as a male-on-male duet with Soft Cell’s Marc Almond, the result not only improved on its source material, but it gave the singer one final trip to No. 1 in 1989.

Marc Almond Featuring Special Guest Star Gene Pitney “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart”

David Cook “Always Be My Baby” In what remains one of American Idol‘s greatest moments, during season seven, Cook took a sappy Carey song I’d always despised and turned it into a grungey, slow-burning stalker anthem. In the process, he proved himself a true artist and Carey a songwriter capable of greatness.

David Cook “Always Be My Baby”

Your Country's Right Here: Mandy Barnett Offers "Sweet Dreams" To Patsy Cline Fans

Mandy Barnett has an old soul.

How else to explain her devotion to great vocalists ranging from Patsy Cline to Linda Ronstadt and Connie Francis? And how else would she be able to masterfully record some of the best-loved songs of Patsy Cline while adding a few subtle twists to make them her own?

“I am not a writer. I’m a vocalist and an interpreter of classics,” said Barnett by telephone from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville just before she was scheduled to perform. “Whether it’s the ’40s, ’50s or ’60s, I’m really drawn to the classics in each genre.”

She does them proud, too, as evidenced by the critical and popular thumbs up reviews she has received for her albums and concertsplus her theatrical role in Always….Patsy Cline. It was her role in the two-woman show that tells the story of Cline and her devoted fan Louise Seger that prompted fans to ask her to record some of Cline’s classics.

Barnett’s new twelve-song album Sweet Dreams, released May 24, includes many of the songs Cline made popular plus a few other favorites including the Irving Berlin standards “Always” and “Strange.”

Reinterpreting and recording such powerhouse songs is no easy task when you consider that most of the songs are ingrained in popular culture.

“We were trying to figure out how to breathe life into these songs,” said Barnett of the recording session. “It’s tough when you have someone like her that sings and interprets songs so beautifully. You want what you to do pay tribute to her but stand on its own.”

Although some classic Cline songs such as “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “Fall to Pieces” were recorded with the standard arrangements, Barnett is especially proud of other songs such as “Sweet Dreams” where tweaks made the songs more her own.

She credits producer Steve Gibson with working closely with her and the musicians to carefully polish the songs.

“He has been a very successful studio musician for many years now, and he’s very respectful of the music,” she said. “He brought a lot of great musicians to the table. I thought we were all really on the same page as far as the material. This was a very pleasurable record to make. It makes a big difference when you can record together [in the studio]. That really makes the most of it.”

Of course, starting with some of the finest songs in the country catalog gave Barnett and the whole team a true advantage, she said.

“The good thing is that these are all really good songs, very well written,” she said. “When you have that, you can do anything. It makes it so easy when the quality is so high.”

Find out more about Barnett and the new album Sweet Dreams on the Ryman Web site.

The theatrical production Always…Patsy Cline will run Fridays, Saturday and Sundays from June 17 until July 24 at the Ryman Auditorium. For information, check here.