With every induction ceremony at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the same question comes up: who should belong in the Hall, but hasn’t gotten there yet? We posed this question to the staff at the Elmore offices today, and these are some of the responses.
Staff Writer Melissa Caruso on The Blues Magoos:
“Sonic Youth are the Velvet Underground of the grunge generation; your favorite band’s favorite band, the band that convinced your favorite musicians to start playing music and the band that convinced the young, snotty music snobs who loved them to become rock critics. It’s taken a while for the Rock Hall to recognize the contributions of avant-garde and No Wave artists to the genre, and while I don’t expect Jann Wenner and co. to put Teenage Jesus & The Jerks alongside The Faces and Donovan, the contributions of Sonic Youth to popular music are too great to ignore.
For many listeners, Sonic Youth was the introduction to a wide world of music that was lurking in the dank clubs across America while synth-pop and hair metal dominated the cultural landscape. Starting off under the tutelage of noise composer Glenn Branca, guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo wove avant-garde styles into a tapestry of punk and psychedelic sounds to create something that was a little surreal, a little aggressive, and a little sinister all at once. As one of the first bands of their time to make the leap to the major labels, they used their influence to provide the bands they loved with the opportunities of a life time; imagine where Nirvana would have been had they not been brought to Geffen Records by Sonic Youth.”
And, quite honestly, “Teen Age Riot” is the kind of song that makes you believe in music again.”
Copy Editor Allison Boron on The Monkees:
“Long-shunned because of their less-than-organic genesis, pseudo-assembly-line production and slapstick television show, the Monkees are basically Rock Hall kryptonite. There is rarely a Rock Hall wishlist that doesn’t have them at the top; they’ve been bandied about as a prime choice by everyone from critics to scholars to every Monkees fan on the planet, and yet, they remain neglected.
The real reason the Monkees are deserving of a Rock Hall induction is that besides the music and the television show, the Monkees gave birth to the modern music business as we know it. In fact, I wrote my graduate thesis on this very topic. Without them, there would be no contemporary concept of marketing, music video production, or even touring.
Naysayers complain that the Monkees didn’t play their own instruments (they did), write their own songs (they did) and couldn’t outlast their television show (they did – did you catch their 45th anniversary tour last year?). The truth is that yes, these guys employed the best in talent in and out of the studio, but so did everyone in that era. The Brill Building was originally created as a stable for songwriters only – when pop artists started writing their own material, the business structure changed forever. The Monkees’ situation was not atypical. A good many Rock Hall inductees weren’t known for penning their own tunes, or playing every single note on their records. There’s proof that at least one Monkee played on every one of their albums (Michael Nesmith often used Peter Tork as a session musician on tracks that he produced from the first album on), and post-1967, the members regularly contributed as songwriters; Nesmith was writing from the very beginning.
Bottom line: Whatever fictitious argument Jann Wenner and the board could come up with for not inducting the Monkees is perfectly answerable with fact. That they’re continually passed over is enough to call the Rock Hall’s overall judgment into question.”